Saturday, December 31, 2005

Laughter

Today there was an article in the New York Times about some guy who looked through the transcripts of oral arguments at the United States Supreme Court to find out what the Justices laugh about.
My favorite quote:
"Sometimes the laughter that apparently filled the courtroom is hard to comprehend. Chief Justice Roberts, for instance, got a laugh for this observation: "The relationship between the states and the federal government has changed a little since Gibbons v. Ogden."

Friday, December 30, 2005

As A P.S. to My Last Post

The Congressional report on 9/11 concluded that a "lack of imagination" among government and intelligence agencies hindered pre-emptive response to the attacks.
Forty years ago the CIA plotted to kill Castro with poisoned cigars, exploding seashells and LSD. Now they can't imagine anyone hijacking a plan and crashing it. What happened?

KGB vs. CIA: Steel Cage Death Match!

During the Eisenhower administration the CIA created a project code named ZR/RIFLE that was responsible for "wet operations," i.e. assassinations of double agents and foreign leaders. The most famous of the ZR/RIFLE endeavors were the many intricate and absurd plots to kill Fidel Castro.

The success rate of ZR/RIFLE projects was pretty low, because the huge administrative task of covering the CIA's tracks diverted time and energy away from actually killing people. This is why the KGB was a much more successful intelligence organization. If the Soviets wanted someone dead they just killed him and then buried the evidence. Secret operations are much easier in a police state since the flow of information is strictly controlled anyway.

The CIA suffered from a schizoid personality. It's stated mission was to defend the American ideals of freedom and democracy and yet the very nature of it's work necessitated the most secretive and repressive measures. The KGB suffered no such conflicts of conscience, making it the far more formidable agency.

We can see now that the lack of foresight and self-critique that plagues the current CIA is nothing new, and is in fact an institutional dilemma - just as there is a shortage of Arabic-speaking agents today, the covert operators in Cold War Berlin and Cuba were startlingly deficient in Russian and Spanish. It is an American disorder. We seek to manipulate the world without bothering to take the time to understand it. I suspect your typical Islamic zealot suffers from a similar myopia. I'm not sure if this is a good or bad thing.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

The Politics of Boredom

I'm walking through Brooklyn trying to find a place to sit and check my email. I also want something to eat and a cup of chamomile tea. A light rain is falling. I pass a tiny cafe down a side street that has piqued my interest before, but it's completely empty and only serves coffee. I want someplace empty but not that empty and I don't like coffee so I keep walking.

In this city you always feel like you should be doing something other than what you're doing. Searching for a cup of tea doesn't seem quite an exciting enough way to be spending this particular night of my youth. It's the nights where nothing's going on that I have the most problems with.

People walk by with purpose. I hear laughter from inside bars. I would like to drink but have told myself "no" tonight. I notice that even a light rain, given enough time, can produce quite a damp jacket. I settle on Ozzie's and buy a tea and collect a bag of free muffins. The pair of unattractive men next to me are discussing the sex scene in "Top Gun." I remove my brand new Macintosh toy from my bag and watch the little internet bars fill up. I suppose I am a member of the charmed class now.

Robbie Somerville, Chalfont St Giles, Buckinghamshire, UK says

If I could modify my body in any way, I would glue monkeys to my hands and feet, then glue geckos on their hands and feet. Then I could climb up anything.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

A Mansion Has Many Rooms


James Jesus Angleton headed CIA's counter-intelligence "special investigations" unit from 1954 to 1974, outlasting several directors. Well into retirement, he was asked in an interview what went wrong with "the company" over the years. With no emotion in his voice, but with his hand trembling, Angleton replied:

“Fundamentally, the founding fathers of U.S. intelligence were liars. The better you lied and the more you betrayed, the more likely you would be promoted. These people attracted and promoted each other. Outside of their duplicity, the only thing they had in common was a desire for absolute power. I did things that, in looking back on my life, I regret. But I was part of it and I loved being in it... Allen Dulles, Richard Helms, Carmel Offie, and Frank Wisner were the grand masters. If you were in a room with them you were in a room full of people that you had to believe would deservedly end up in hell.” Angleton slowly sipped his tea and then said, “I guess I will see them there soon.”

2006 Death Pool Redux

Death Watch for Aught Six:

1. Ashlee Simpson will finally quit dicking around and just off herself, realizing what the rest of us already knew: her existence is inconsequential, and the way she spells her name is stupid.

2. Kevin Federline. I might have to kill him myself, but he won't be here next year.

3. And finally, sadly, Bea Arthur's time will expire in this coming year of the Dog. We will be left with nothing but memories of flowing pants suits and comforting, psalm-like ruminations in baritone. Unfortunately, this will not be a peaceful passing. She will go down in a hail of Miami Dade county police-fire after a confusing incident involving Golden Girls DVDs, Preparation H, and Gary Coleman. She will bequeath her estate to Fordham University.

lined up to "shuffle off..." in '06

Brendan is Wrong
my prediction

Hulk Hogan (heart attack)
Stephen Hawking (duh!)
and Billy Joel (DUH! -Take that long island)

Alt.

Andy Dick (that one will be messy)
yes, Bea Arthur (2 strikes)
& (did you know Mr. Miagi died on NOV 24 this year?)
Harry Dean Stanton

Question my authority, I dare you!

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

2006 Death Pool

Top 3 Most Likely to Shed This Mortal Coil Next Year:

1) JD Salinger
2) Fidel Castro
3) Bea Arthur

Now you go.
(Bonus points for hilarious combinations)

Post-Holiday Gripefest


Phil sent this to me, but I enjoyed it so much I thought I'd share it with the community at large.

Would you want to run into that chick in a dark alley?

And the winner of the inaugural Inventive Christmas Fundraising award is my kid brother, who bought all his presents this year with the $600 he won at Internet poker.

Monday, December 26, 2005

63rd Street, 62nd Street, 61st Street,...

I was purchasing services and goods over the phone.
The saleswoman wanted to make sure that the identity I used was truly mine.
So, after I gave her my address (I live on 63rd Street) and credit card number, she tested my familiarity with the neighborhood I claimed to live in by asking:
"Can you name a street close to 63rd Street?"
"62nd Street", I replied.
She concluded the transaction with a professional: "Thanks, and have a good day."

Friday, December 23, 2005

Books: They help reduce child injuries...but at what cost?

Harry Potter strikes again. Doctors in Oxford found out that the number of childhood injuries were lower on the days that new Harry Potter books were released. They point out that reading could have a terrible side effect...bookwormism and obesity. Hmmm...could my years of reading be the cause of my extra pounds? I knew that I wasn't to blame. Books are the culprits.

The authors of the study suggested that encouraging more book reading might be a useful way to combat childhood accidents.

"It may.. be hypothesised that there is a place for a committee of safety conscious, talented writers who could produce high quality books for the purpose of injury prevention," they wrote in the British Medical Journal.

However they acknowledged there could be a downside to a strategy that seeks to turn active children into bookworms.

Potential problems could include "an unpredictable increase in childhood obesity, rickets and loss of cardiovascular fitness".

Remedial Calm

The streets were quiet and serene this morning. Or at least they will be until the final ferocious rush of holiday shopping - of which, I, ashamedly, will be a part - rears its head.

If there's one thing the strike reinforced it's that everything is about money. Now that's no great realization of course, but it's saddening to see so starkly how our existence has been reduced to the terminology of currency. Would it be so hard to forego the lamentations over the blow to Christmas retailers? The Christmas market is for useless frivolities anyway, cards and trinkets and blinking things made of plastic. Who cares?

What bitter irony that in the end the sticking point for the union was not exactly money at all, but rather the guarantee of affordable healthcare and a decent pension plan - security. Albeit security of a different sort than that which politicians so lustily pay homage to while tapping phones and flying people to secret prisons by cover of night.

We will leave our jobs tonight, travel to places we once called home, sit with the people who raised us and the people we grew up with, paying our own lip service to the idea that there is still something warm and compassionate and special about the time of year, that it is not just a mark on the calender, an excuse for indulgence, a dartboard for quarterly expectations.

And then sweep the floors, wrap up the lights and start all over again...

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Is This All There Is?

So that's that.
All that upset for three days of mild excitement and extreme inconvenience. And what was the end point? They still don't have a contract.
I feel so disillusioned.
I believed in something for three whole days. And for what?
Will the MTA become more transparent?
Will they stop "finding" piles of cash hidden under a Starbucks cup on the corner of their desks? Will Pataki ever develop an opinion?
Where was Eliot Spitzer during all this brouhaha?
He should have been kicking ass and taking names.
And most importantly, when's the next fare hike and how soon can we blame it on the TWU?

Man. This week sucked.

Finding the Spirit

Hey ya’ll, this is liz popping her blog cherry, and giving a shout out to all of ya’ll who entertain me on a daily basis. Ah-hem. During the most wonderful time of the year, I like to reflect on those small things that truly bring a tear and a flushed face of laughter to my cubicle life. A few Fridays ago, one of these hilarities was introduced into my life. It was a Friday that I had exhausted my usual web shuffle, and most of the office had already left for holiday vacation except for me—who was to remain for the one asshole who calls at 4:58. On this special Friday, I happened across a pro-ana site. These sites are filled with endless chatter between anorexic and bulimic girls offering support to their starving sisters in need. They give each other advice on how to beat the stomach acid of hunger, and what to swish your mouth with after you vomit so your teeth don’t completely rot, but mainly they just tally up what they’ve eaten or not eaten and call themselves “piggies”. There was this one girl, my absolute favorite, who wrote in about how she had gone to a Christmas party at her church and had wrapped up a couple of walnuts in a napkin to save and put on her father’s grave on Christmas day. She had loved going to the church party with her father and he had been particularly fond of the walnuts they set out each year. They were his favorite. So this girl takes the nuts home to save, all the while starving herself and feeling guilty for having eaten three bites of banana. She writes in all upset because late the night before she had major food cravings, and in a moment of weakness she ate the walnuts she had tucked away in a napkin for her dead dad. Only to write later on the blog that she doesn’t even like walnuts. Doesn’t even like them. Merry Christmas during this most blessed time of the year.

Ask E. Howard Hunt, He's Got A Name For All This

This is nothing new of course, but it still angers me. Just another example of using the blanket threat of terror to expand the power of those in charge. I'm not exactly sure what the Critical Mass bike riders have to do with terrorism, but if there's any organization that can be trusted it has to be the NYPD, right?

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Presidential Blues

I think our president should be booted from office. Now, don't get me wrong- I'm no protest kid, I'm no damn commie, I don't think we should just simply walk out of Iraq and leave it as a battlefield for the Saudis, Syrians and Iranians with Iraqis as a side dish. But Bush, and his whole administration- they just have to go. He admitted that he is dumb enough to start a war based on faulty info. He does not deserve a second chance. Think of people at your jobs- all of you reading this- haven't you or people you've worked with from time to time been fired justly for a lot less? Tens of thousands of bodies- theirs and ours! I HAVE NO CONFIDENCE IN OUR PRESIDENT. Look at his eyes when he speaks- they're the eyes of a man who doesn't comprehend the gravity of his own actions. That gravity is pulling men low- a war machine has been set up without due respect to the beast we've manifested.

Official Strike Correspondent Reporting In...

It's been fun hasn't it? Only a labor dispute could allow me to arrive 3 hours late to work and have my boss chuckle at my "good story."

I think tonight will require a trek across the Brooklyn Bridge. It's sort of romantic I think - cold air, city lights, the unity of the common man. Blah blah blah.

Good luck and stay warm everyone.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

In Limbo

I just watched a broadcast version of "Boogie Nights" while waiting for the transit strike to happen or not happen. Some movies can survive the editing necessary for broadcast cable. "Boogie Nights" is not one of them. What was once a 3-hour epic became a nonsensical 2-hour montage that made ludicrous jumps in time and atmosphere and seemed like some college video project run amok with a huge budget. In a half hour it went from Dirk Diggler's first audition to the scene where he's masturbating in some guy's pick-up truck for coke money. Bizarre.

Looks like this strike business is gonna go down. Serious.

Monday, December 19, 2005

MTA Strike Contingency Plan

From the Metropolitan Transit Authority website:

  • If at all possible, work from home or arrange an alternative work location.
  • LIRR trains will be crowded, so avoid travelling between the hours of 9 and 5 on weekdays.
  • All vehicles must have a minimum of 4 people each with an average annual income of $150,000, or alternately, 2 people both with an average annual income exceeding $1 million in order to be allowed access into Manhattan.
  • Roads, bridges and tunnels will be heavily congested. When at all possible, utilize helicopters, yachts or parasails to reach your destination.
  • If you must use your BMW SL-E 2006 All-Terrain Torpedo Car to burrow through the sediment dividing Westchester from Manhattan, please remember that you may only do so between the hours of 11 and 3.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

reports

In an effort to understand how reporting about "world affairs" on CNN (for example) differs from reporting on BBC (for example) I came to the conclusion that CNN creates a first person perspective that includes the reader, the U.S. government, the U.S. President, and the U.S. without attempting to differentiate. This entity is always acting, never reacting. It always acts alone and often in a context-free world. The acts are exclusively described with active, dominant verbs (killing, asking for, deciding, etc.). One day I'll sit down and quantify it, until then here are two examples from June last year:

on June 9 5:20pm
CNN: Bush urges stronger NATO role in Iraq
BBC: Chriac snubs Bush's NATO request

on June 26 1:35pm
CNN: Bush asks EU to support Iraq
BBC: US and EU pledge support to Iraq

Friday, December 16, 2005

Random Thoughts

The transit workers blew their chance. It's all or nothing with these sort of things and it looks like they half-assed it. No way they strike on Monday...

Ever notice how impending adulthood leads you to subconsciously disavow certain things that meant the world to you as a teenager? I refer specifically to music. When you reach your 20s the tendency is to shun your favorite teenage bands because your tastes are more high-brow, more cerebral - because now you're making the decision to like Band X. But in truth your teenage loves are much more honest, because they occurred before you had absorbed all the frameworks and bullshit that impede you from pure unself-conscious enjoyment....

Newest theory - Oswald was involved, and was shooting from the Book Depository, but he was not the only shooter and he was unware that there were other shooters. He was set up as the fall guy and it is the other assassins (Frank Sturgis? E. Howard Hunt?) who actually killed Kennedy...

I like alcohol...

What if memory is inherently senescent just like cells are and the reason each year seems to pass more quickly than the last is because we're getting closer to death and it's possible to detemrine mathematically how much time left you have to live based on the rate that your memory is decaying?

On that note - Happy Holidays!

(under the wire)

Thursday, December 15, 2005

The Transit Workers Strike

As a person with socialist leanings I absolutely respect the right of workers to strike. It's really the only hardball tactic available in a situation where the odds are greatly stacked against them. I also appreciate the larger importance of fighting for viable pension plans and lower retirement age when national trends are rapidly stripping these benefits away. Won't it be great when our generation works until age 70 without being guaranteed benefits and pensions comparable to what our parents will receive?

That being said, I'm a wage slave myself, and don't look forward to the prospect of missing a day's pay tomorrow or being reprimanded for not coming in. But I'm sure finding a cab at 8AM will be a nightmare and I'm sure as hell not walking across the Manhattan Bridge in 13 degree weather. I don't own a bicycle.

I like the idea of simply staying home, both for convenience and in some form of lily-livered solidarity. I'm unsure of the repercussions of this, as my company has been maddeningly mute on any contingency plans it may have up it's sleeve. It's been memo after memo stating nothing other than "look out for more memos."

I am not too familiar with the nuts and bolts of the negotiations, or what the transit workers are demanding, other than an 8% raise. Is it 8% each year for three years, or just 8% over three years? I hear their average salary (including overtime) is $55,000. Now that seems like a lot to me, but I imagine it's not much for, say, rasing a family in New York. And a retirement age of 60 after 30 years of service seems like a lot, especially considering that's 30 years spent largely underground. Not to mention the photos of the toilets at the MTA locker rooms. Plus, the MTA is the most repugnant city organization around.

I'm also dismayed by the apparent low-level hatred of workers shared by a large segment of the population. This extends beyond New York. I think it's a nation-wide affliction. We are the "I want it served to me and I want it now" culture, expecting all of our services delivered to us promptly without deigning to consider the human beings whose occupation it is to deliver them.

I'm sort of rambling here. I'd love to here everyone else's thoughts...

Booze Hounds, and the New Yorkers That Love Them

As some of you know, I gave up my old friend booze for Lent last year. I had been having trouble sleeping, and while a few drinks may cause you to drop into a dreamless stupor, it dramatically decreases the quality of your sleep. You sleep very lightly, and don't fall into the replenishing Stage 4 sleep as often. It was a Catch-22, I couldn't sleep until I had a couple drinks, but the little sleep I got was almost totally useless.

So, using Jesus' suffering as an excuse, I gave up alcohol for 40 days and 40 nights. Most of us are familiar with next-day hangovers, but I was surprised by the more long-term effects of my sobriety. Predictably, my sleep was fantastic. Deep and refreshing, every night. In addition, my metabolism rose dramatically, I had a lot more energy and was clearheaded all the time. This may sound obvious, but the degree to which I experienced these benefits was startling. I hadn't expected that the weekend Happy "Hours," or a cocktail here and there throughout the week, would affect me so wholly. I felt like a real adult.

Of course you may ask, What the chilis? If it was so great, why are you meeting me on the UWS after work for beer and wings tomorrow? The sad truth? My social life almost totally disappeared. I didn't mind going to hang out with people, but it made everyone else uncomfortable. Who wants to throw a few back and get loose when the tee-totaler in the corner is judging you? (For the record, I wasn't, but still....)

"Someone declaring they're not drinking prompts an imbalance, says North Carolina-based psychologist Charlie Brown, a spokesman for the American College of Sports Medicine, whose clients include athletes. It "changes the rules of social interaction, and there's an implicit tension there." The person who is drinking "begins to question, 'Is what I'm doing right? Do I need to change?' "

I was lucky because all of my friends knew what I was doing, so I wasn't faced with the constant questions, "why don't you just have one drink?" My situation would have much more difficult socially if I hadn't had a "purpose" or an end-point in sight. And the end was a relief. Because as good as I felt physically, I missed the social warmth that a few drinks with your best friends can bring.

In a city like New York, when everyone you know is in their mid-twenties, not drinking is akin to both being Amish and insulting your friends. And perhaps we are a skewed sample, but it makes little difference. In some respects, if judgement is necessary, I would rather be judged alongside my friends, than standing alone on my morally upright pedestal. Lesson learned: you should not drink to excess. You should also do as I say, not as I do.

Oh yeah, moderation is key and blah blah blah.

Full disclosure: The title links to an article I found through Gawker.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Jackie and Tubs (Lola)


These cats used to live in my apartment. Now they live in North Carolina. They will not be forgotten.

Mischa Barton in Women's Wear Daily

"Pretty people aren't as accepted as other people. It comes with all these stigmas."

joke

okay so there are two muffins in an oven. one says, "damn it's hot in here." the other then says, "holy shit! a talking muffin!"

ABC, Showtime show interest in "Arrested Development"

"Fox Broadcasting Co. may be looking to unload its Emmy-winning comedy "Arrested Development," and other networks have shown interest. ABC and Showtime have had talks with show producer Twentieth Century Fox Television about making new episodes."

I can't give you any more info as I don't have subscriptions to The Hollywood Reporter or Variety, but good news none the less.

"Only those who want everything done for them are bored."

I am applying to an Accelerated BSN program, and my application is almost complete. Except for (dum dum dum) the dreaded personal essay.

I don't know where to start, I don't know what to say, and I'm bored just thinking about how boring it will be to plan this boring essay. Does anyone have any suggestions about how I can compose this page-length opus without:

A.) actually falling asleep whilst simultaneously scratching my own eyeballs out or
B.) causing the admissions counselors to do the same?
Any new angle would be appreciated!

Revisionists Of All Stripes

The Iranian president, who spent his youth taking hostages at foreign embassies, is of the opinion that the Holocaust is a myth. Imagine if an American politician came out and said that slavery wasn't so bad? Oh, wait.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

From Staring at the Sun, J. Barnes

"Ignorance, that was the first aspect of the engineers' modern form of death...Ignorance, but also certainty. As you fell thirty thousand feet...you knew that when you hit the ground, you would die: you would die, in fact, several hundred times over. Even before the nuclear bomb, the aeroplane had introduced the concept of overkill: as you struck the ground, the jolt from your seat belt would induce a fatal heart attack; then fire would burn you to death all over again; then an explosion would scatter you over some forlorn hillside; and then, as rescue teams searched ploddingly for you beneath a mocking sky, the million burnt, exploded, cardiac-arrested bits of you would die once more from exposure. This was normal; this was certain. Certainty ought to cancel out ignorance but it didn't; indeed, the areoplane had reversed the established relation between these two concepts...Now you were ignorant of the cause but certain of the outcome. This didn't strike Gregory as progress."

Expedition Panama: Searching for Panama's Pirate Past

Everyone knows about the greatest thing to come out of Panama: Me. But did you know that Pirates also roamed Panama's shores? It's true. Yahoo now has video from my homeland of the underwater archeologist Barry Clifford as he searches for lost booty. It's a plentiful portion of piracy and aliteration in one.

Panama's history is one of lost gold, piracy and pillage, all of which come together in the legend of the Viper Pit.

12.13.05 It Happens

Yesterday afternoon, I scuttled dutifully across 8th avenue to buy my afternoon fix at one of the dozen of Starbucks in my area.

Tossed my cigarette, pulled open the door, and found the place unusually deserted. This was likely because I was running slightly late, my addictions are normally clockwork, yesterday I was held up by one meeting or another. I stepped behind some elderly lady who was talking with the girl behind the counter.

From the behind the counter and over the pastry case an employee yelled, "What can I get for you today, sir!" My early morning buzz was still running strong and I'd had a light lunch so my stomach was feeling a bit tainted so "Just a small coffee, thanks!" instead of the regular medium (I refuse to revert to coffeespeak with its bizarrely inaccurate talls and grandes).

The elderly woman in front of me was buying coffee by the bag and was being well helped in the matter. (One of the reasons I frequent this particular branch is that the service is always pleasant). She got her bag and was offered the customary free coffee to go. "Is he having a coffee?" she asked, indicating me. "Yes" say the girls behind the counter. "Then give it to him." Without so much as a glimpse at me this woman was nice enough to offer her free drink to me. Granted, she wasn't paying for it, but given the money/caffeine grubbing state of this world/city. I was struck. "Thank you so much, that's very kind of you, have a nice day." Without a goony grimace or a stern look in the eye, she simply said "you too."

Now, the day before I was expounding for about fifteen minutes on how coffee IS the greatest thing in the world. The more I spoke the more convinced I became you can get it almost everywhere, enjoy it at anytime and it's ever more reliable than anything else in my own personal sphere of the universe, so YES I am biased. However, I know that some of you would agree with me, and would therefore have shared the sense of little elation for kindness and caffeine that I had as a floated back across 8th avenue.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Suicide Grasshoppers Brainwashed by Parasite Worms

Under this headline National Geographic News reported about a study published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B in August 2005. French biologists wondered why so many grasshoppers jump into swimming pools in southern France. They noticed that a parasitic worm swims away from each drowned grasshopper and soon they figured out that the worm makes the grasshopper jump into the water by releasing neuroactive substances. The worms find mates and reproduce in the water. They are members of a growing group of brainwashing parasites. The "brain worm" infests ants' brains and makes them sit at night on leafs of grass waiting to be eaten by sheep. Parasitic wasps can reprogram their spider-host into weaving a cocoon that protects the wasps' offspring. And toxoplasm makes mice unafraid of cats (because toxoplasm can't replicate in mice and therefore has to get into a cat somehow). I think everybody has one of these things and the purpose in life is to figure out what they want you to do. We just pass on the question to our brainwashing parasites and can live happily ever after.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Fuel Will Make Fossils of Us All

I am watching a documentary on the Outdoor Life Network about oil drilling operations in the American plains states. The images of drill rigs and oil pumps scarring the formerly pristine landscapes of Wyoming and Montana are really sad. Now they have these weird Republican Congresswomen talking about reducing dependency on foreign oil. Why do women Republicans always look glassy-eyed and robotic? Now shots of antelope herds alongside oil drills.

I don't really think you can argue that opening up wildlife preserves to wanton drilling is a good idea. Maybe that's just the "liberal" in me, but it seems that if you have any appreciation for natural beauty or our inherent connection to the natural world then you wouldn't want to just destroy it willy nilly. And what does a Congressman sitting in an office in D.C have to say about it anyway? It's just fly-over country to them, whatever their bizzare appeal to Heartland Red Staters.

I'm reminded, though, of how the governorship of Montana went to a Democrat for like the first time ever last year - he succeeded by appealing to the conservationist impulse in big game hunters and fisherman. It's an ingenious move; these guys don't want to see wildlife disappear either, because then all their recreational hobbies would die out. I hope that enough common ground can be found between the big game hunters and the Sierra Club to form a potent political lobby to prevent to much drilling in the future. That's all it is too - a hope.

Now OLN is showing something called "Total Bull." How apropos.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

His Imperial Highness Prince Takamado

I know that it is morally suspect to fantasize about ways to die but I still want to share my favorite "If it has to happen then please like this" scenario.

Prince Takamado, a member of the Japanese Imperial Family, died on 21 November 2002 on a squash court in the basement of the Canadian Embassy in Tokyo. He had a couple of drinks with the Canadian Ambassador early on this Thursday afternoon before their match. The Ambassador said afterwards: "He played really well. It was a close match." This seems like a tactless analysis of a match that killed his opponent but was presumably meant to illustrate that the highness' death came without prior warning signs (or suffering).

Friday, December 09, 2005

A Conspiracy Wrapped in an Enigma, Wrapped in a Riddle, Wrapped in a Vest

Once you get into the JFK assassination there's no getting out. It becomes a compulsion. It is beginning to seriously hinder my work. I spend probably 3-4 hours a day trawling the Internet, from conspiracists to debunkers and back again, across the whole wild, wooly spectrum of theories and anti-theories, left-wing plots, right-wing plots, internal coups and foreign acts of war, or the almost-plausible lone gunman scenario. To paraphrase Master Phil, it's like playing fantasy football with geopolitics.

The problem is there's no way to verify the credibility of anything within this twisted melange. Conspiracists often use pseudonyms and decry anyone who disagress with them as CIA stooges. The case-closed acolytes meanwhile, appear so detached and trusting of official explanations that they simply ignore glaring discrepancies. After all, there is a long and hideous history of CIA and extra-governmental acts of disruption, distortion, sabotage and murder. This is the government of Iran-Contra, Watergate and the Gulf of Tonkin. Is it so implausible to think that there are men capable of and comfortable with eliminating their own Commander in Chief?

I have noticed that the lone-gunman buffs always have the more sophisticated and organized web pages. Their sites neatly parallel their point of view: clean and clear, logically hermetic, wrapped up tight into a perfect little bundle. Scanning the JFK sites on the web offers a glimpse at the extreme psyche of the Internet. Conspiracy proponent's sites are chaotic hodgepodges of text and images, sprawling on and on with an endless barrage of names and dates, minor characters and shadowy spies, obssessively cataloging every last detail, from the mundane to the explosive, in a style befitting a high-schooler's HTML project from 1995.

Most of the conspiracists look crazy, just based on their designs. But there's something untrustworthy about the slickness of the debunkers. Their sites play like advertisements, aiming to persuade through a mix of production values and condescension (i.e. any idiot can see that Oswald acted alone and anyone who says otherwise is a nut or a moron - you're not a nut or a moron? are you??). I'm reminded of the Simpsons episode where the phone company creates a second area code and makes a promotional video to convince the Springfieldianites the change is necessary: the talking rotary phone says the even monkeys can remember nine digits and asks, "You're not stupider than a monkey are you?" to which Chief Wiggum replies, "Well, how big of a monkey?"

The point is, I think there's something to be gleaned from the conspiracy debate about the way we choose to interpret history. There are parallel interpretations that have been racing each other since November 22, 1963 - one that looks at events and sees hidden machinations and shadow governments, and another that takes on faith the events as they appear to play out, or at least favors human egotism and error over premeditated conspiracy.

As for me, too many examples of shady goings-on have come to light the last thirty years to accept the no-conspiracy line of thought. The CIA in particular has reached an apex of visibility, with discussions about it's well-known "extraordinary rendition" policies and secret overseas prisons being discussed in full daylight. I do feel that there is little likelihood that "the truth" will ever be uncovered. What fascinates me are the little details, the human elements, that have been overlooked in favor of more grandiose readings of history.

For instance: Lee Harvey Oswald made 4 phone calls while in police custody, one the night of the assassination and three in quick succession the following afternoon. No police records were kept of the numbers dialed, so we'll never know who he called but don't you wish you could? Who would he call? What did he say?? How about the fact that the three acts Jack Ruby accomplished on the morning of November 24 consisted of wiring $25 to one of his show girls, walking his dog, and murdering Oswald?

The most fascinating thing about the JFK assassination is it's window into human history, and the way little people become part of huge historical events.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Argument Builds Character.

You know what I hate? Babies.
And kittens:


But mostly babies.
Discuss.

Romance & Ambition



















We are coming to the end of another year and I say it's time to move past cynicism and self-consciousness. Let's be sincere in our desires and bold in our failures. There is nothing to be afraid of.

Sleigh Bells, Noose and Blindfold!

Here comes Santa Claus, Here comes Santa Claus...

i have a secret

i love gossip. but more than i love it, i love to spread/share it.

postsecret.blogspot.com just isn't worthy of my dirt—it would take far too long to get out.

that said, i can't share this secret. not yet. in its stead, i pose/post a question:

got any dirt?

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Is it that time again?

This season has me feeling less than festive. Thanksgiving came and went in one whirlwind day of traveling and anxiety. Even though I had my fair share of mashed potatoes, it hardly felt like the feast that we normally have. Since I didn't stay at my mother's house for more than 8 hours, I wasn't able to stuff myself for days with the tasty goodness of the season. I didn't even get seconds. And now THIS is supposed to be Christmas? I don't feel a smidgen of holiday cheer. I even want to boycott my drunken, dancing "work" party. That's a little unusual for me.

Following Thanksgiving, I was quite busy and did not keep up my quotient of normal television watching. I was able to catch up a bit this weekend and I realized that the TV commercials and shows, all featuring holiday decorations and themes, were making me feel slightly better. My theory is that the grandness and joy of Christmas is only perpetuated by the media and consumerism. If we didn't have them telling us to go out and shop, make cookies and decorate, or love some of those people that you hate, then Christmas would be a goner. All these years people complained that consumerism and entertainment were ruining Christmas, but NO! They keep it alive. Ha.

7th Avenue Freeze-Out

The Luna song Kalamazoo plays softly in the background as I look out across the tarred, antennaed roofs of Brooklyn brownstones and towards the Manhattan skyline, the slowly falling snow clustered like flies around the city lights. The scene recalls somehing in me, something more felt than thought, an inarticulable yearning coupled with a peculiar sense of belonging... we are particles in the atomic haze, specks in the electron cloud, lonely precipitation.

I look back and everyone is smiling. I cinch my scarf tighter, zip up my jacket and think, "Something is beginning to thaw."

Pulling for the Pulitzer

"The two-story apartment building where the alleged murder occurred was quiet during the day Sunday and a fresh dusting of snow covered three empty beer cans between it and Iannelli’s Ristorante. "

Beat a Drum

Saw King Kong last night. It was visually amazing. Not just your run of the mill bang'em up action flick, but a well planned out, meticulously edited, homage to old Hollywood. What hung with me after all the CGI effects and blockbuster scenery, was just the idea behind the relationship between Kong and the blonde. Simply put, he protects her, from everything from the dinosaurs, to the air force, to mincey little Adrian Brody, and he does so savagely.

Long story short, I was thinking about this afterwards and started to wonder, where has the primal nature of man gone? "Primal" meaning literally "first", instinctual, natural, animal. One might argue that the savage nature of mankind manifests itself in wars, oppression, global violence, etc, but I'm thinking that primal nature is more immediate, more eye-to-eye. I think also that what makes a primal instinct primal is that there is no debate about action, it's a singular instinct, basically on of extended survival. So where does the natural inclination for physical survival go when your food is brought to you killed, skinned and cooked, when your potential mates come from a computer screen, or through a complex and arbitrary courtship based on social mores and convenience, when your urge to strike the other guy down, to claim your territory is squelched by a system of laws and personal barriers? What happens to the beast within when we live by the law instead of the lay?
Just a question...not enough time to expound upon it now...but something to think about.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Artist = Crazy Slut

Link: http://www.nature.com/news/2005/051128/full/051128-5.html

The Toast of Batswana


This is the Toast of Batswana. It is a goat-sheep-hybrid that was born from the mating of a female goat with a male sheep. It belongs to Dr. Letshwenyo at the Botswana Ministry of Agriculture. It is a way cooler hybrid than all the ligers (lion and tiger) or mules (horse and donkey) because goats and sheep don't even belong to the same genus. It is a male and apparently a hybrid-sexual, mounting both goats and sheep even when they are not in heat. This behavior became such a nuisance that Dr. Letshwenyo castrated the Toast of Batswana. He doesn't belong to any species he could perpetuate anyhow.

Friday, November 25, 2005

More on animal dignity



You may remember the goats in the tree and how you thought they must be really happy because they decided to not care about what you think and throw away their dignity and pride?
Well, here are two guys who were born happy -- with nothing to throw away.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Words of advice

1. Never attempt to contact a guy who has videos of primitive insects fighting each other on his website.
2. Don't let them save your life because if you do they'll wonder where you are when their time has come.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

November 22, 1963

It's not raining today - that's just the sky crying for the death of the progressive ideal.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Predictive news

I watched the news last night. And here it is:
It MAY snow this week.
It is POSSIBLE that the airports will be busy around the holidays.
It COULD HAPPEN that there is not enough turkey for everyone on Thanksgiving.
Terrorists WILL PROBABLY continue killing people.
The bird flu COULD SOME DAY kill a lot of people, too.

That's the news for you!

Friday, November 18, 2005

Light A Fire

"Cadillac said we could all fly out to Detroit and give input as they start putting together their hybrid models and the way they would be presented to the public…. Artists and corporations working together, that's the 21st century. That's the true Age of Aquarius. But John's ego wouldn't let him see it was a good thing to do."

How pathetic is that? The LA Times has more. It's exceedingly creepy the way the music industry and advertising industry just speak the same language now - all shit about target markets and "brand exercises."

I remember John Densmore's essay in The Nation a few years ago, and I found his refusal to sell out to advertisers heartening. He says later on in the above article "maybe i'm just out of touch with the times," but I think in this instance, it's a pretty good issue to be out of touch with. Now only if there could be such a principled stance from someone whose music was actually, you know, good.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Security or Nonsense?

"NEW YORK - Police have stepped up patrols of hotels in Manhattan as a precaution following the suicide bombings of three hotels in the Jordanian capital of Amman."

I can't wait until the terrorists bomb a f---ing sewage plant so we can send all our cops to guard crap until some other establishments get the terrorist bull's-eye. At the same time I do respect police- plenty of them mean well but come on! American pragmatism is so childish sometimes! They bomb the towers- guard all the big buildings, they bombed the trains in Madrid- guard our trains! No! Just stop talking to me like I'm stupid- I know there's no real defense for everything on a street level- sure we need protection from our various governmental agencies- but sticking an extra cop here and there (at a lead from the terrorists themselves- always a bad idea- just like rebellious kids trying to do the opposite of what most people do- you're still taking your cues from them you moron!) planting these cops is nothing more than what George Carlin said it was a few years ago- an attempt to make WHITE PEOPLE feel safer.

Good News, Taken With Caution

Some of the more disgustingly reactionary elements of American society took a few hits this week: Republican gubernatorial defeats in Virginia and New Jersey, the President's very public humiliation in South America, the defeat of abortion notification measures in California, the retreat of Congressional Republicans from their zealous pursuit of Alaskan oil drilling, and now this.

Leaving aside for a second the issue of whether Democratic positions on these matters are really that much better, let's take a breath and savor the good news - it's been a while since we've had any - and hope that the momentum swings back in the favor of progressivism.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Nomenclature

In a recent post someone mentioned how words lose their meaning repeated enough times. Last night, for whatever reason, I started getting into this little game with my name, repeating it over and over and thinking about it's essential meaninglessness. And then today, checking my MySpace account, I was invited to join a group called "Bunch of Brendans." This is the second time I've been invited to this group, and the first time I didn't even look through it, but today it was disturbing to scroll through Brendan after Brendan, each of whom had a face that wasn't my face. I felt slighted, reduced to a mere nominal category, a member of mammalian Phylum, Genus Homo, Species Brendan, rose is a rose is a rose.

Friday, November 04, 2005

No More Apologies

Waaaaaooooouuuuuuwwwww!!!!! I caught some of The Apprentice last night and no lie- it was sickening. Thank God I only caught a little less than twenty minutes. It was plenty. You know they pick these people on purpose to be televised disasters- I bet they’re fucking disasters in their own lives as well- sorry, is that mean? Maybe that show just brings out the beast in me. It was like watching someone try to take a dump- and they’re constipated and hemorrhoids and there’s all this moaning and praying to a God that I have trouble believing in during times like these.
This goes out to all of you- reading this, Apprentice fans or not, anyone who works on that show, everyone… just promise with me- no more apologies. It’s cooler that way. Say it out loud into your computer monitors just one time- no one will hear you, no embarrassment- just say, “No more apologies.”

Thank you, goodnight.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Denver Voters OK Marijuana Possession

Can you believe this?

Under the measure, residents over 21 years old could possess up to an ounce of marijuana.

"We educated voters about the facts that marijuana is less harmful to the user and society than alcohol," said Mason Tvert, campaign organizer for SAFER, or Safer Alternatives For Enjoyable Recreation. "To prohibit adults from making the rational, safer choice to use marijuana is bad public policy."

Bruce Mirken of the Washington, D.C.-based Marijuana Policy Project said he hoped the approval will launch a national trend toward legalizing a drug whose enforcement he said causes more problems than it cures.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20051102/ap_on_el_st_lo/denver_marijuana

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Calling Bullshit on the Pro-War Rationale

James Traub and Fareed Zakaria each contribute book reviews to the Times this week, and each fall prey to one of the more obnoxiously naive fallacies surrounding the Iraq war: attributing the administration's failure to a surfeit of idealism.

A simple proposal - wars are fought for material reasons first and ideological reasons second, and often the latter is simply a rationalization of the former. Any democracy-building enterprise in Iraq is a rationalization (after the fact, I might add) for the invasion itself, which is not the same as being the primary purpose and inspiration. This is what I mean: the architects of the war believe it is beneficial to remodel the Middle East into an area more friendly to the US, an area more economically beneficial to the US and less hostile to US world hegemony (it's not as if I'm making this up, its publicly stated policy). The best way to make the Middles East more amiable to the US is to make the Middle East more like the US, i.e. more democratic. This is the actual rationale for war, as I see it, and it is quite apart from florid idealism. Installing democracy in Iraq is expedient to the goal of angling US power into a more secure position. It annoys me to see the two equated so carelessly by people like Traub and Zakaria.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

goats at peace














"There is this strange sense of peace that comes over you when you give up that last shred of dignity. It's nice."

That's what the goats in the tree think.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Electoral Futility

I see that the Times has attempted to spice up an overwhelmingly dull election cycle with some speculative reporting about Fernando Ferrer's missing middle name. Give a shit. Can't we just hand Bloomberg his re-election, thus sparing Ferrer the embarrasment?

Which is not to say that I particularly care for Bloomberg, though I do give him credit for not pussyfooting around for the last year in anticipation of the campaign. Even if his flagship policy, the West Side Stadium, was complete bollocks. And it could have something to do with his essentially unassailable position in the polls, held since forever. Still, I can't imagine voting for someone other than him, certainly not Ferrer, that swine. I dunno, is Lyndon LaRouche running?

Of more interest is the Transportation Bond Act, the only real reason to even vote at all on November 8th, though once again more a case of "damned if you do damned if you don't" than participatory democracy. Wouldn't it be just swell to assume that the MTA would deal wisely and scrupulously with any carte blanche handed to it? Part of me wants a "No" vote simply for a fuck you to everyone's favorite unaccountable transportation authority, but the subways can always use work and then fares might go up.

Then again, fares are certain to go up anyway, so maybe I'll just close my eyes in the ballot booth and let chance decide, trying my best not to laugh at the idea that any of the major decisions weren't already made before I'd even closed the curtain.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Barcelona

-Philip Truong [Barcelona] We arrived in the city at rush hour. Friday was bustling the same as any major city in America. Trendy kids were pulling open the steel shutters on their trendy shops, business men were pumping soberly through the streets and old men paced in the Plazas of the Old City. I was with Joseph and neither of us knew how to use a pay phone in Europe. We were reduced to asking an adorable girl working an information booth on Las Ramblas why our calls to confirm the hostel reservation kept failing. I swear she sized me up as a complete idiot telling me in clear English that the country code wasn't necessary, but Joseph says there was no such look on her face.
After securing a room, we showered and slept, but not for long. We had to try and call Christina Pau, the Hong Kongese girl from Manchester who had arrived with her friend two days before. After leaving a message on her cell we found a quiet cafe to drink coffee and eat Tapas, our first meal since the single-serve beef and potatos from Delta Airlines. Coffee in Spain is a revelation. Cafe American-style is like a half a coffee cup of espresso. The sugar packet they give you could hold two-and-a-half to three American sugar packets worth. Needless to say milk is completely unnecessary at this point. Just sit back and listen to yourself speak as fast as the ideas erupt.
To make a long story short, all four of us ended up together for dinner and drinks, and now I am too tired for any more details.

Can it get any better than this?

Two of my favorite forms of entertainment are uniting: Radiohead & Harry Potter! I'm not sure if you all know this, but Johnny Greenwood & Phil Selway (from Radiohead of course) have helped make three tracks for the upcoming Harry Potter & The Goblet of Fire movie with Jarvis Cocker, Steve Claydon and Jason Buckle.

You can download one of the songs "This Is The Night", but you'll have to venture over to the sometimes overwhelming Fansite: Mugglenet.com. The link below also has the song, but it doesn't always work.

http://www.ateaseweb.com/news/archive/2005/10/exclusive_harry.php

As an added bonus, Johnny and Phil will be appearing in the film as part of a rock group of witches called "The Weird Sisters" - a very popular band in the wizarding world.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Untitled

"A poet is, after all, a sort of scientist, but engaged in a qualitative science in which nothing is measureable. He lives with data that cannot be numbered, and his experiments can be done only once." --Lewis Thomas

More to come...

Friday, October 14, 2005

Dali's Exorcism

A sculpture of Christ on the cross was recently found in Rome and attributed to Salvador Dali. This piece of art was given to a priest in exchange for an exorcism. An exorcism? No. Surely not. But wait...it doesn't seem completely out of the question that Salvador Dali would have had an exorcism when we think about the bizarre images in his work. Surprisingly, though, we learn this:

"The reported exorcism took place during a period in which Dali had broken away from Surrealism and started producing more realistic works, often with religious imagery ."

It puts a smile on my face to think that Dali needed an exorcism when he had drifted away from the unusual and into reality & religion.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

The Enigma of Bob Dylan

Like a lot of people, I'm experiencing a renewed obssesion with Bob Dylan since the No Direction Home documentary aired. I used to listen to Dylan a lot in high school - my parents' old records of Blonde on Blonde and Planet Waves - and it's nice to come back to the music a little bit older and find new, deeper appreciation.

But there's been a crankier reaction to all the recent Dylan hoopla as well. I came across this article from the Belfast Telegraph, which articulates the feelings of a particularly cynical branch of the baby boomers, who apparently yearned for a more intimate understanding of Bob Dylan for thirty years and then were terribly disappointed to discover that he is a mere human being. Nothing irks me quite like the self-indulgence of the baby boomers. To a certain mindset their time (the 60s) was the end-all be-all of music, culture, politics, protest, you name it - we're all familiar with the cliche. But the boomers had the misfortune of being able to grow old and see their beloved pop idols tarnished or their totemic stature reduced to simple humanity, and damn if they haven't adopted a luxurious weariness about it. I begin to understand more and more why arch-conservatives hate the boomers so much - they're like spoiled children throwing a hissy fit.

The Belfast Telegraph author writes of his disappointment with Dylan - which is in reality his dissapointment with his own image of Dylan - in the manner of someone writing a complaint letter to a department store. This, I think, exposes the fundamental hypocrisy of the 60s generation - for all their talk of revolution and change, they couldn't recognize that their behavior still played exactly by the rules of whatever power structure they claimed to oppose. Pop stars like Dylan illustrate this perfectly - the musician/fan relationship plays out in the product/consumer model. The musician Dylan is the product that the fan consumes, and therefore feels they own. So, by extension Dylan "owes" the fan something and is met with righteous indignation anytime the fan feels snubbed. Now, pop stars are often selfish primadonnas, sure - after all they're egomaniacal narcicissts - but they're involved in a fundamentally dehumanizing situation and the self-absorption of the fans is equally absurd.

It is the logic of the person who sends back their food and is rude to the waiter while dining at a restaurant. This type of attitude is the result of privilege, and the baby boomers were and are the most privileged generation our country has ever seen. And just look at the zeal with which they cling to their tattered icons, like some ratty teddy bear from a Cape Cod childhood.

I'm just glad I can listen to Dylan as just quality music, without the attendant anxieties of the failed 60s.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Quote of the Century

"Lenin," mused Natasha Zakharova, 23, as she walked off Red Square on Tuesday, admitting that she was not quite sure whose body she had just seen. "Was he a Communist?" (from today's NY Times)

Well, it's at least good to see that a casual ignorance of recent history pervades other countries as well as our own. Even so, this is a little like being a German and saying "Hitler - yeah, didn't he fight a war, or something?"

On the other hand, some people never forget. I'm sure you could find hardline Palestinians or Israeli Jews who could recount every historical injustice ever inflicted upon their people.

I wonder which is more dangerous - selective memory or selective amnesia?

Friday, September 30, 2005

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Banned Book Week

This week is Banned Book Week, brought to us by the American Library Association.

"Banned Books Week celebrates the freedom to choose or the freedom to express one’s opinion even if that opinion might be considered unorthodox or unpopular and stresses the importance of ensuring the availability of those unorthodox or unpopular viewpoints to all who wish to read them. After all, intellectual freedom can exist only where these two essential conditions are met."

Here are just some of the books that have been most frequently challenged from 1990-2000. A lot of these books were mandatory reading in my schools and I am happy that those ideas were allowed to be presented to me. Many of these books have played major roles in my intellectual development and I would have been missing so much without them. It's amazing that these books below are still being challenged to this day. Some books that were challenged in the past, but are not included on this current list are "The Great Gatsby," "Little Red Riding Hood," "Twelfth Night," "Moby Dick," and of course "Ulysses." Who could fathom a world without Gatsby?

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
Harry Potter (Series) by J.K. Rowling
The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
The Color Purple by Alice Walker
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine LÂ’Engle
In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak
The Witches by Roald Dahl
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Beloved by Toni Morrison
The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
Lord of the Flies by William Golding
Native Son by Richard Wright
How to Eat Fried Worms by Thomas Rockwell

Between 1990 and 2000, of the 6,364 challenges reported to or recorded by the Office for Intellectual Freedom:

1,607 were challenges to “sexually explicit” material (up 161 since 1999)
1,427 to material considered to use “offensive language” (up 165 since 1999)
1,256 to material considered “unsuited to age group” (up 89 since 1999)
842 to material with an “occult theme or promoting the occult or Satanism” (up 69 since 1999)
737 to material considered to be “violent” (up 107 since 1999)
515 to material with a homosexual theme or “promoting homosexuality” (up 18 since 1999) and
419 to material “promoting a religious viewpoint” (up 22 since 1999)
Other reasons for challenges included “nudity” (317 challenges, up 20 since 1999), “racism” (267 challenges, up 22 since 1999), “sex education” (224 challenges, up 7 since 1999) and “anti-family” (202 challenges, up 9 since 1999)

Awakened from the "Dogmatic Slumber"

Just came back from the coffee bar to get some tea, and ended up in a conversation with a woman who is going to therapy to "bridge the gap between her conscious experience and physical reality." She said it. I spit out tea. What is this the 18th century? Who the fuck are you, Kant? Seriously.

Bridging the gap? I am sad to leave the office for the very fact that each and every day not one bit of sensory information makes a damn bit of sense to me. And that is funny.
When Congress agreed this spring to tighten the bankruptcy laws and crack down on consumers who took on debt irresponsibly, no one had the victims of Hurricane Katrina in mind.

Of course they didn't. That's exactly the point.

Friday, September 23, 2005

On Why I Choose 66th Street As Opposed To 68th Street On My Way To Work

I really like the man that stands on the corner of First Avenue and tells me, every day, to have a nice day. I do not know him and he does not know me, but he repeatedly wishes good things for another human being. After punching my way through another commute, this is more than I can say for myself. I am in for a rough weekend, and I appreciate his support.

Man that stands on the corner of First Avenue: I salute you.

Monday, September 19, 2005

The Michael Rappaport Minstrel Hour

Bamboozled was on TV last night. Spike Lee is the kind of guy people get red-faced about. Maybe you despise him, maybe you appreciate him, but his ability to provoke is unquestionable.

I remember how critics slaughtered Bamboozled when it came out, and upon actually seeing it for myself I can say that it bolstered my belief that the most splenetic critical reactions usually reveal more about the biases of the critic than the relative quality of the work being criticized.

As for the film itself, I think it can be parsed two different ways. As a think piece, a cinematic version of an Op/Ed column, it’s pretty effective, at least in spurring contemplation of the issues presented. As a movie it’s something of a failure, mostly because the structural technique, acting, and character development are flawed.

The idea of using the minstrel show as a satirical device is brilliant and provocative but instead of it being a huge sparkplug incident it falls flat through repetition and a muddled sense of satire. It’s hard to tell if Lee is implicating the audience of his film, since we are viewing the film’s minstrel show from essentially the same perspective as the film’s audience. There’s a scene where the black audience members are laughing riotously at the show and the white people are looking around uncomfortably and I’m sure this is a comment on something, I’m just unclear as to what.

The other problem is that Damon Wayans is simply not a capable enough actor, nor is his character developed enough, to carry the emotional weight of the movie. It’s a shame too, because he could be a poignantly sympathetic and conflicted character of huge proportions, but Wayans’ ridiculous, ever-changing accent and the confused motivations ascribed to his character prevent this from happening.

You gotta wonder about Spike Lee. He so often flirts with greatness, it’s a shame he doesn’t rein in his over-the-top tendencies a bit more. But he takes risks, and I have to admire that. I can’t think of anyone else making a film like Bamboozled, and for all its flaws I think its will only grow in stature as time goes by.

Reading Books After Midnight

I really did quit my job. Now I spend the night reading Careers with Animals, How to Start and Successfully Run a Magazine and What You Can Do With Your Degree. I do not want a career; I do not want to be anything. I want to watch TV.

No, that's a lie. But it looks sometimes like the truth. For all the things I say I really want, I sure have a hard time following-through. But in the obsessive-compulsive personality description it says, "Obsessive-compulsive personalities are so taken up with the mechanics of efficiency – organizing, following rules, making lists and schedules – that they cease to be efficient, for they never get anything important done." It's that easy. I am not responsible.

I wish. This is why I do not read psychology books (except for this one book, plucked from the shelf at random).

A few weeks ago someone asked about my history, or rather of my misfortunes, all the things that made/make me, me – the bad things of course. What about how much I like books? All this looking into sadness to figure out people makes me tired. A lot of people do it. It seems the sadness people look for is in some way related to our significance.

I am guilty too. I do this to others and to myself. I look up disorders when I think I am being lazy. Then I drink beer and pass out. Except tonight I do not seem to be passing out so soon…“For the schizoid person…One is a detached observer of life who takes a bemused interest in things as a sort of curious intellectual exercise but has no personal investment in the way things turn out.”

Friday, September 16, 2005

I Am Not and Never Have Been a Member of the Communist Party

Forget everything I said yesterday. Last night's Arcade Fire show in Central Park revived my faith in humanity. Seriously.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Is There Really No Hope Left?

Ok. So I've had a relapse. I once worked a really boring office job, and spent most of my time scrolling thru various internet sites and blogs, on topics ranging from music to advertising to sex to culture to politics to sexy music and sexual politics. I usually ended up with a massive headache.

These days I work a very similar job and find myself slipping into old habits. I just read a comments thread on a very popular music/celebrity-oriented blog (I won't say which one cuz honestly I don't want to encourage anything) that was an unholy mish mash of name-calling, middle class guilt, the Katrina disaster and an argument about Hilary Duff's "credibility." It made me nauseous. Forget the points/counterpoints of any of the arguments, the level of discourse really didn't reach much greater heights than a hysterical catfight.

Now I realize that it is hypocritical to criticize the internet forum from a position within the internet forum, and I'm just indulging in the same medium that I'm deriding and that means I'm perpetuating precisely what I'm ostensibly critiquing and blah blah blah. But this gets directly to the real issue: we are living in an echo chamber world. The dominant forms of discourse are labryinths which lead nowhere. Everything is self-aware and self-referential and any statement oh so self-consciously contains within it its own self-critique, protected by a shroud of irony, so it's pointless to even try and rebuke it, and really you can't say anything about anything, right?

So all I'm asking is: is that it? Many of us are genuinely interested in offering something of value to the world, whether physically or intellectually or whatever, but are we permanently hamstrung by the conditions around us? We all know the drill: someone does something, or says something, or sings something that grabs people's attention because it seems fresh, it seems to have integrity, and then said person becomes famous and vapid or else is crushed by the weight of expectation, in either case certainly drowned by the wave of backlash which inevitably follows a wave of praise. Can this be avoided, and through some means other than deliberate obscurantism?

Albert Camus wrote beautifully and inspiringly about creating meaning in a fundamentally meaningless world and he drove his car into a fucking tree on a perfectly clear day. So I say it again, to quote the Strokes (yeah, remember the Strokes?): Is this it?

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Anthropomorphism Run Amok

"Some of the circumstances they experienced seemed to parallel those of Christians," he said of the penguins. "The penguin is falling behind, is like some Christians falling behind. The path changes every year, yet they find their way, is like the Holy Spirit."

Or, maybe, they are birds.

Link.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Certificate of Destruction

From: (E__)
Sent: Wednesday, September 07, 2005 4:44 PM
To: E__-NYC ALL 360

Subject: Re:Shredding

To All:
Please note we have engaged the services of Confidential Shredding for secure disposal of sensitive materials. They have installed locked collections consoles on the 10th, 8th, 6th floors. Documents (stapled or bound) can be dropped through the slot into the consoles for shredding. The units are emptied at the end of the month by uniform employees and shredded into unrecognizable bits for recycling. The destruction is done curbside in one of their trucks provisioned with industrial grade shredding equipment. A certificate of destruction is provided after each visit and one of our office services staff will observe the destruction process. Note the consoles are gray and feature a drop slot. The units are located in the following large mail/copy areas:

Location: 10-12 Center of floor
Location: 8-10 Center of floor
Location: 6-12 Center of floor

The mailroom staff will be glad to assist in transferring materials to the console locations.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

The Agony & Ecstasy of Cable Television

My roommates and I have recently purchased a Time Warner cable/internet package. I finally feel like a member of modern society.

As I type this, at home at my newly hooked-up computer, James Spader is talking to Tony Aiello in a car overlooking Los Angeles. Top Gun has just finished. Has there ever been a sillier movie than Top Gun? I love the way the characters refer to each other by their nicknames even in casual conversation.

Now the guy who played the crippled veteran in Deerhunter is trying to have sex with Teri Hatcher.

My introduction to the concept of sex came via Top Gun. "Take My Breath Away" and Kelly McGillis and deeply silhouetted kissing all mixed into one unholy melange. I wonder if this has warped me somehow? How many of us have been introduced to sex by some form of mass media, be it movies or porno mags or what have you?

I can't help but think that this method of introduction has seriously impeded the sexual health of America. The other night, flipping thru channels I came across a classic Skinemax soft-core porn - some slightly overweight dude, looking completely, utterly bored as he screwed a writhing, moaning blonde against a bathroom sink. It was the least erotic thing imaginable. I pity the poor adolescent who's sneaking a glimpse of this and thinking its a reasonable approximation of sex. Except, now that I think about it, the Cinemax model probably is a reasonable approximation of sex, because whole generations have grown up thinking so. So just where is the line between reality and cable? It's enough to make your head spin.

I'm out of here, this movie is interesting...

Friday, September 02, 2005

A Long-Winded Supplement to Brendan's Last Post

We pay taxes for every second of our lives so that when this type of shit happens, we won't be on a roof somewhere past the second day, when our elderly, young, or otherwise weaker companions start dropping off from lack of drinkable water. One hundred thousand national guard troops should have mobilized to New Orleans by Thursday- that's why we fund them. The National Guard weren't off fighting foreign wars back when fucking G.W. Bush was in the service and they shouldn't be now- they should be here at the ready for precisely this reason. The shame is we have the resources, manpower and know-how to keep the situation from having dragged on as it has. At this point the only people down there with the shaft still up their ass should be random people on random rooftops with help coming directly, not God-only-knows how many stranded at the Super-dome and Convention Center. We all know many of those who hold power in our country are more concerned with fucking the new red-head intern or crushing political opponents or the next $million in shady deals or simply wielding power, but to see dead bodies on the streets of what everyone thought was a cool city as an illustration of shameful incompetence... I feel terrible. Another injury to whatever pride I have left at being an American. Haunting.

Horror

This situation in New Orleans calls into question the fundamental viability of our representative democracy.

I read today that President Bush will be touring Alabama by plane and helicopter. Well thank fucking God for that. This man, if there were even the tiniest shred of integrity clinging to his jutted primate jaw, would be standing at the foot of the Superdome handing out water and food. I'm sure the ranch in Crawford has a bit to spare.

Lest anyone decry my partisan haggling in a time of crisis, let me acknowledge that this goes beyond any issues of Republican/Democrat, it is much more essentially an issue of the attitude of those with power towards those without. The fact remains that it has been the policy of this administration, for five years now, to ignore the concerns of all who fall outside the range of their ambitions. The citizens of Baghdad and Kabul know this all too well, and now the citizens of New Orleans are learning the same harsh lesson.

We are asked to believe for 364 days a year that we are the strongest, richest, most advanced, most free nation on the planet. Why then, on that 365th day, when catastrophe strikes, are we greeted by our "leaders" with a collective shrug and an aw-shucks attitude of "well, we could have never seen this coming?" This is an outrageous lie, and those who speak it should never be forgiven.

This goes deep, to the core, into places that are frankly terrifying. If the structures of security and relief can fail so appalingly, so consistently, then I ask myself what is the purpose of electing these leaders, of buying into this system, of accepting this mode of government? When they say "we just weren't prepared" then the question is, isn't that one of the most fundamental functions of government, to be prepared, to brace for contingencies? It is, and our current system has failed, unequivocally. Where the fuck does that leave us?

I feel sick, outraged, impotent. And of course the queasiest implication, the most damning conclusion, is that the response to Katrina would have been more urgent and steadfast if the hurricane had hit New York or LA, or anywhere that wasn't predominately poor and predominately black.

Our government has failed, our elected representatives have failed. They have failed because their concerns are not our concerns and never have been. Things are bad. Much worse than we realize. It's time to wake the fuck up.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

P. Diddy's dentist

In my dentist's examination room on the wall there is an antique golden frame with two withered roses in it. Under the roses there is a little card that reads:
"You are the best dentist I ever had/Love/P.Diddy"

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Spam Poetry

I received this odd paragraph at the end of a junk email. I love it. I wonder what purpose it serves? Who wrote it?
Of course, it probably contains secret hacker code that is violating my hard drive as we speak. But it's my work computer so who cares?


Jugglers pity policemen. There is a rumor that the creationists like to torture caribou. Barbeque lovers are better looking than mothers. Housewives donate their bodies to perverts. T.V. doctors are better than swashbucklers. It is said that the
flatworms live with Macintosh users. Hippies surprise boys. Cyborgs say that the psychoanalysts warn their children about old-timers.

Monday, August 29, 2005

New Music

Just some thoughts on a few really good CDs I just picked up........

Camera Obscura, Underachievers Please Try Harder
Breezy late-summer pop. Belle & Sebastian comparisons are apt. Their charm lies in the familiarity of the execution - you know exactly what chords are coming next, making each song sound like an old favorite from the first listen. Gently sarcastic lyrics and breathy girl vocals = let's take a walk in the park and watch the leaves change.

Junior Boys, Last Exit
Elegant, melancholy electro-pop from Ontario induces swooning head bobbing. Twitchy, multi-layered beats and icey atmospherics. Makes me want to take some painkillers and ride around in a taxi aimlessly in the middle of the night.

Sons & Daughters, The Repulsion Box
So good it hurts. Manic, twangy rockabilly-dance-punk from Scotland. With mandolins! Violent and sexy. They put on one of the best live shows I've ever seen. And they're playing Mercury Lounge on Friday. I'm going, anyone want in??

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Assassination! (because it's cheaper than starting a war)

I love starting my workday to the sound of Christians sharpening their knives. I'm sure Jesus would take the razor wire and hatchet to that oil-hording Marxist, wouldn't he? Amen.

Court TV: The Hallucination Files

Late last year I discovered CSI on DVD. I began watching two or three episodes a day, to distract from my clinical depression in the face of prolonged unemployment. In addition to my naughty fantasies about Warrick, I began dreaming of entirely new episodes of the show. That is, I would invent fully casted and scripted credit-to-credit dramas during my sleep, complete with the trademark gore and science. I thought these were fascinating, and often thought about writing them down and honing them into scripts. Unfortunately, I couldn't write anything during this time, and resolved instead to watch more sitcoms, or maybe try harder to get a job.

I watched Sin City on DVD last night and it was fantastic. Fantastic in the manner of Kill Bill, where the viewer is transported to an alternate reality for a few hours. The viewer can truly escape into the new world. Delightful as it was, I was pretty sure that it would give me nightmares, and it did. But my nightmares have taken on this permanent narrative form. Last night, I dreamt an episode in the manner of CourtTV, of a murder mystery being resolved at my sister's house in Upstate NY, while I was there visiting. How funny that my subconscious enjoys a violent mystery which slowly reveals itself bit by bloody bit. How funny that my subconscious follows all the rules of good TV writing, keeping me engaged until the very end, when Aha! I bolt awake with that last gruesome image in my mind.

I raise this topic because, before my procedural crime fabrications, I never gave dreams much thought. They were a brief respite at most. I realize my recent Hollywood nocturnal excursions are mostly apery of an established form, but the way they are fashioned with original components is no less unique than any story I've seen or read. How many legends, songs, or works of art have begun this way?

Am I merely the last to discover nature's most creative fountainhead of fiction? What is going on that causes me to come up with better stories asleep than I can compose while I am awake?

Monday, August 22, 2005

I Hate Intelligent Design

I'm so sick of this.
And the fact that The Times feels compelled to address this non-issue. Bill Maher put it best on Saturday night: you don't have to show both sides of a debate when one side is full of shit.
There are some humorous quotes to be found however. I like Walter Paley: if you see a rock you can tell it was formed by wind and rain, but if you see a pocket watch, it's obviously been designed. What?? Clods.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Re: Viva la Science and Beers!

AK to AG 8/19/2005:

Sweetie, how are you? A lot of drinking last night? Did you drink yourself to a conclusion? Do you not want to tell me your conclusions because you are embarrassed that they keep changing? Don't be, my love. A conclusion is the point at which one gets tired of thinking.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Harry Potter and the recessive allele

Nature.com has posted a fascinating article which explains how children as young as five can learn the concepts of mendelian genetics by using the idea of Muggle-born, pure- and half-blood in the Harry Potter world.

Wizards or witches can be of any race, and may be the offspring of a wizard and a witch, the offspring of two muggles ('muggle-born'), or of mixed ancestry ('half-blood').

This suggests that wizarding ability is inherited in a mendelian fashion, with the wizard allele (W) being recessive to the muggle allele (M). According to this hypothesis, all wizards and witches therefore have two copies of the wizard allele (WW). Harry's friends Ron Weasley and Neville Longbottom and his arch-enemy Draco Malfoy are 'pure-blood' wizards: WW with WW ancestors for generations back. Harry's friend Hermione is a powerful muggle-born witch (WW with WM parents). Their classmate Seamus is a half-blood wizard, the son of a witch and a muggle (WW with one WW and one WM parent). Harry (WW with WW parents) is not considered a pure-blood, as his mother was muggle-born.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Escape Velocity

Ever been approached by someone while walking alone on a dark street late at night?
There's an instant of unease where, on the cusp of fight-or-flight, the body makes a split, subliminal decision on whether this figure before it is friend or foe. More often than not, the stranger passes or just asks for change or a cigarette, and the net result of the encounter is a residually fluttering heartbeat.

I've been wondering what it must have felt like to be on the space shuttle Discovery approaching the atmosphere, not entirely sure if your battered vessel would make it through to the ground.

A friend of mine was robbed the other day.

Three times in the last two weeks have strange, unintelligible men come rapping on my front door, or my window. I, like a fool, open up.

They're searching bags on the subways these days, though we all know it won't do any good.

Nagasaki remembered the atom bomb today.

If you were sucked into a black hole and looking outward, chances are things wouldn't look so different - after all, light can still get in even if it can't get out. You might not notice much had changed until the gravitational force tore you apart.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

On Water Between the Ears

Roughly five hours after swimming in the ocean, your head is bent over forward when ten to fifteen drops of salt water pour from your nose. It's surprising because they had long-since reached body temperature and you don't know what's happening until you see the drops falling. You can't tell when it will stop, either. Maybe death will be that way- you see it come out but you can't feel a thing.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

THIS IS HOW IT HAPPENS

(By M.R. KROPKO
The Associated Press

BROOK PARK, Ohio -- The 14 Marines killed in Iraq by a roadside bomb on Wednesday were all members of the same Ohio-based battalion that lost six Marines two days earlier, a Marine Corps spokesman said.)

Let's hypothesize that after a week of frustrated funerals Division headquarters sends units from this battalion into a village with orders to suppress any resistance. Resistance! You blind cigar-choking brass-wearing pigs! The only resistance is already with our troops in the form of a useless policy that leaves them tactically defenseless, militarily useless and politically dangerous- reduced to body parts on the side of a dirt road with no enemies in sight. Now let's hypothesize that there's a massacre- alleys and gutters littered with bodies- old people, women, men and children. When word gets to the rest of the world, all the protest kids will ask for justice and "bring our troops home" and court-martials for the soldiers responsible. But most protest kids are stupid- mention My Lai and you might as well be talking to an Inuit. I wouldn't blame soldiers in these situations- war breaks men mentally, not just physically. With no enemy to shoot back at after a bomb goes off, how many pounds of your friends' brains and guts are you prepared to wipe from your clothes before you go homicidal?
The fight to keep Iraq from turning into something much worse is a worthy cause. However, if this war goes on as it has these past 2 years, the kind of large-scale atrocity I described here is inevitable! I blame the administration in advance- in advance for the horrors that we'll eventually see broadcast on NBC Nightly News, CBS Evening News, ABC- results of a war policy that has Americans surrounded by men we cannot fight against in any consistent or serious way. I love my friends in Iraq- our soldiers. I blame our leaders.

CNN stands for Clearly Not News

Twenty-four hour news is great in theory. If we had twenty-four or even one hour of actual in-depth world coverage and explanations of current events, then we could make rational, well-informed decisions about how to run our lives and pick our leaders. But we don't. All we have is hours upon hours of sensational coverage. Yesterday I was watching CNN cover the Air France crash for about 2 hours and there was absolutely NO information--just an image of a burning plane. One astute reporter said, "If the pilot is alive, it could be really helpful to the situation." Well, no shit! It would be really helpful to the situation if everyone was alive. Today we found out that everyone is okay. What would be even more helpful is if CNN actually gave us any sort of facts. Why not wait an hour until you know what's going on? Why all the speculation? Who needs 2 hours of a random retired pilot's and a dopey reporter's opinion as to what happened. Isn't news supposed to be about getting facts first and then reporting them? Give us the facts!!

In light of this idiocy, I have some recommended reading for us, and any other person for that matter, who still remembers how to pick up a book and set their eyes upon it. Please pick up a copy of Neil Postman's "Amusing Ourselves to Death." It's a quick, yet enlightening read (about 184 pages) on the destruction of literacy and public discourse as an effect of the television age. You'll be surprised to find out that people used to sit through 8 hours or more of the Lincoln-Douglas debates without ever getting angry for lack of breaks every 8 minutes. This book is marvelous and even relevant to the internet age which is surprising since it was written in 1986.

Buy it today!!

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0140094385/qid=1123084133/sr=8-1/ref=pd_bbs_1/104-8489587-5902300?v=glance&s=books&n=507846

Sunday, July 24, 2005

one of my many heroes

This is Dr. Hannes Lindemann who, in 1956, crossed the Atlantic in his canoe carrying no supplies except for 96 cans of beer.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

In Between Stations

Since the unexpected demise of CBS-FM as an oldies format, I’ve been stuck in the no-man’s land of radio programming, unable to find a single station worth waking up to. Instead of Frankie Vallie ("Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You –" the most perfect wake-up song ever?), I get Bon fucking Jovi. Now I admit to a childhood fascination with Young Guns, but jolting awake to the mauled lion screeches of "Blaze of Glory" is just a bit too much.

Obligatory extrapolation to the larger world: how sad is it that New York City lacks even a single decent radio station?

Monday, July 18, 2005

Persistence of memory

People used to write letters. I used to write letters. Not so much anymore.

Now that life's documentation is nearly entirely electronic I've developed an anxiety complex about computers and email. On a given day I may be so sentimental as to save every last inconsequential email missive. Or, on another day I may feel strongly that the past is the past, nothing to be done about it, and hit "Delete" repeatedly and with confidence. My feeling on the matter changes daily, which is why I have a derelict desktop computer from 1999 sitting on the floor of my apartment, unused but not-quite-trash.

I have an old email address, which served me for many years but is now rarely checked in on. I only get junk anyway but I have a number of folders containing various communications between me and friends/acquaintances/lovers, some still around, some long gone. I am paralyzed with indecision - do I take the leap and delete the email address, or continue to log in occasionally for trips down memory lane of dubious value? I checked it today, semi-hopeful that 30+ days had passed since last log-in and Hotmail would've made the decision for me, but no, I have not been allowed to shirk responsibility that easily.

I'm not sure what it means that the records of our existence are no longer physical but instead trapped inside clumsy, hopelessly obsolete machines or else floating in some digital soup on a server mainframe lord-knows-where. I'd wager this contributes to the sense of disconnect I, and many people I know, experience regularly. At the very least it saps most of the symbolic portent from communication: one can burn letters, but deleting emails just doesn't elicit the same catharsis. It's a pattern of degradation, in the meaning and value of how we relate to each other, that began with the telephone and continues unabated in the new virtual world. Maybe this is good, maybe a more tenuous hold on the past means that the past will grip us less fiercely, enabling a certain freedom from the dictates of past experience. Maybe it's bad, maybe we're just losing that much more. Maybe it's neither, just another change we'll surely adapt to (though notice how "adapt" and its corrolaries - adaptability, adapter - have taken on electronic connotations in common speech).

In the spirit of ambiguity, here is the body of an email, sent to me long ago by someone I used to be close to. It is actually, I believe, the only email ever sent to me by this person. Many will be familiar with the Edward Lear rhyme. Incidentally, the band Luna included an interpretation on their farewell album, "Rendevouz," released last September. I had forgotten completely about this email. When I read it now, I hear the Luna song; so maybe, even with all the disconnection of the digital age, some conduit of connectedness prevails...

the owl and the pussy cat went to sea in a beautiful
pea green boat
they took some honey and plenty of money wrapped up in
a five pound note
the owl looked up at the stars above and sang on a
small guitar:
"oh lovely pussy, oh pussy my love, what a beautiful
pussy you are, you are, what a beautiful pussy you
are!"
pussy said to the owl, "you elegant fowl, how
charmingly sweet you sing! oh let us be married, too
long we have tarried, but what shall we do for a
ring?"
they sailed away for a year and a day to the land
where the bong tree grows, and there in a wood a piggy
wig stood with a ring on the end of his nose, his
nose, a ring on the end of his nose
"dear pig are you willing to sell for one shilling
your ring?" said the piggy "i will."
so they took it away and were married next day by the
turkey who lives on the hill
they dined on mince and slices of quinces which they
ate with a runcible spoon (a spork)
and hand and hand by the edge of the sand they danced
by the light of the moon, the moon, they danced by the
light of the moon.

possibly the single most romantic story known to man.



Thursday, July 14, 2005

I am trying to break your heart

There’s a danger in linking emotions to objects of art. Emotions are volatile yet art objects (songs, books, paintings photographs) remain resolutely the same, infinite in their “objectitude.” I fear I’m losing the connection to songs I use to feel deeply about. Tones have grown hollow, distant and tinny. Whatever circuit that bridges the gap between digitally encoded sound and bruised, weary eardrums, eliciting that ache in the chest and shiver up the spine, has lately been left Off. In a panic I start to intellectualize, paying more attention to the physical details of a song, it’s composite parts, recording techniques, arrangements – oops, off-key vocal there, wow these lyrics are kind of trite, that bridge sounds so forced – dismantling a marvelous device until its simply a pile of nuts and bolts. I am terrified of this happening to all the music I’ve invested in thus far, leaving nothing but a trail of used-up songs behind me, like cracked peanut shells.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Torn between frivolity and solemnity.

I am just going to throw open the floodgates here...

If you are going to position yourself against fascism then you must be against fascists in all their forms, be they president, pope, or suicide bomber. I mean you, Christopher Hitchens – it is irresponsible to so blithely laud the defeat of one third-rate despot at the hands of a leader whose main motivation was a supreme sense of entitlement. I guess “contrarian” now means ignoring the fallacies of your own ideology.

John Tierney is a dolt.
As if abstract monetary values are the sole measure of social cost. Dolt.

Space travel is nice, though it can’t but seem slightly trivial when here on the ground we’re stumbling around as if afflicted by vertigo.

Why is the American League so much better than the National League?

Pavement are an object lesson in the failings of rock journalism. When confronted with a band intent on signifying nothing, writers bend over backwards to pin their own significance upon them, only to crucify them later by those same manufactured standards. This says something about rock criticism, not the band being criticized. You cannot practice within the media machine and then hope to shirk your share of responsibility for the deviancy of the machine – let this be a lesson, ye writers of Pitchfork.

Ideology is the enemy. Always, always, always.

We are all doomed, but the beer is cold and our friends are smart and beautiful.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

today

I had a bottle of "Mike's Hard Lemonade" on the train on my way home from the Library of the New York Academy of Medicine (which houses -- among a lot of old books -- the world's biggest hairball, George Washington's upper dentures and ancient egyptian hierogylphics about construction accidents, many of them presumably involving large blocks of stone).

That was when I felt a hand on my shoulder and as I looked up, there was a cop who said "No drinking on the train." I confirmed his statement by repeating it and said "No drinking on the train." He looked at me, the paper I was reading (a copy of a copy of a discussion on the behavior of flies with amputated wings from 1874), and the "Mike's Hard Lemonade" bottle. Then he walked away.

Later I was sitting in class next to an Italian girl. The guy sitting next to her on the other side passed her a sheet of paper that said "Can I please have your email address?." She wrote her address down and passed the sheet on to me, thinking he wanted all of his classmates' email addresses. As I was writing mine down he bent over and took the sheet away saying "I don't want yours!" The girl felt sorry for me and offered me a separate sheet of paper to write down my email address. Sweet pity.

Tomorrow I'll work from home.

(If this inspires you to go to the NYAM library to see the hairball, please pretend to be interested in the books. It breaks the librarian's heart when people come just for the hairball.)