- Andante from Piano Concerto No. 21 - Mozart
- Please Don't Bury Me - John Prine
- The Christmas Song - Dexter Gordon
- Riptide - Lou Reed
- The Hippopotamus Song - John Lithgow
- The Beast in Me - Nick Lowe
- Always - Leonard Cohen
- Frosty the Snowman - Fiona Apple
- A Small Plot of Land - David Bowie
- Me & Saddam - Bill Hicks
Friday, December 29, 2006
Thursday, December 28, 2006
Geography. I'm a firm believer in it - especially when it comes to love, sex, and writing. I've been meaning to post this link for awhile but have been too busy re-reading to myself. Enjoy!
DEEP IN THE HEART OF IT
Where sounding dumb doesn’t equal being dumb.
My tenth-grade teacher, a remarkable young lady named Ann Lewis, lent me a stack of New Yorker magazines. It was a revelation. As far as I could tell, there had never been a damn Civil War in there. Or a Crucifixion. Nobody even seemed to go to church. People drank a lot, and made cutting remarks, but they were civilized, funny, even high-minded in a Yankee sort of way. My teetotal, faith-based mother wouldn’t have liked them, but you could imagine them passing muster with Mrs. Folger.
In those old New Yorkers I smelled a secular heaven. Well, no, there was scant emphasis on smells, except when Joseph Mitchell, a Southerner, was writing about the fish market, so let’s say I glimpsed it. First chance I got, I went off up to New York. In l968 I became a resident. Kids, divorce, joint custody, and going freelance brought me farther north to semirural Massachusetts, which looks a lot like North Georgia, and I like it (except in February and March), but I doubt I’ll ever entirely settle in.
Here’s what happened when I moved to New York. I hadn’t unpacked my bag before people started telling me, “You’re not from around here.” Didn’t I know that? “I see you haven’t lost the accent,” they would say severely, as if I were willfully convicting myself of narrow-mindedness with every syllable I uttered. (more)
Sunday, December 24, 2006
Saturday, December 23, 2006
Friday, December 22, 2006
Watched a movie called "Jazz on a Summer's Day". Documentary footage of the 1958 Newport Jazz Festival. What a lineup of artists. Louis Armstrong, Thelonious Monk, Dinah Washington, Sonny Stitt, Mahalia Jackson and Gerry Mulligan to name a few. But this was the day for Anita O'Day. This mesmerizing footage of an artist at her peak can be found on YouTube.com. Just search for Anita O'Day. The clearest footage is about eight choices down entitled "Anita O'Day-Sweet Georgia Brown & Tea for Two". There's also a trailer there (first choice) about an upcoming documentary about her life called "Indestructable".
- Humans from Earth - T Bone Burnett
- Everybody Knows - Leonard Cohen
- The Chanukah Song, Pt. 2 - Adam Sandler
- After the Gold Rush - Thom Yorke
- Innocent When You Dream - Tom Waits
- I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry - Al Green
- Mister Heat Miser - Big Bad Voodoo Daddy
- You're A Mean One Mister Grinch - Whirling Dervishes
- I'm Not Your Stepping Stone - The Sex Pistols
- Hombre Secreto - The Plugz
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
He’s wearing an olive green shirt. Short- sleeved and well-pressed. Blue slacks. Slacks, mind you. He’s not tucked-in. He’s spread out across the booth and gesticulating towards the ceiling with an unlit cigarette.
“Smoking is ghetto. I’m lucky I’m a sensitive guy because I’m well aware that cigarettes cut you off. If I quit smoking I’d be an emotional mess. You know what they say about touching someone three times don’t you?”
I’m suddenly aware that I’ve touched his knee, kicked his shoe, slapped his hand, and stolen his fork. I’m ahead of the game. He’s lost weight since going to L.A. Claims he’s happy in La La land. But I’ve never met anyone who was. Everyone is too shiny.
“They’re comparing me to Malkovich! Except they say I’m more butch. “
His enthusiasm takes him to his feet and he dances over to the counter orders two double Americanos and tosses a coin into the air. Mindful of the Tao.
He’s going to get work down there. His face. The camera sucks him up like lemonade through a straw. The deep crags from acne. Each one its own little Sea of Tranquility. His steel gray eyes. The left pupil torn like a cat’s eye marble. Cut by a piece of glass during a fight with his brother, Stan. His forehead, etched from worrying over his vast responsibilities and his fear of disappointing those close to him. I’m among those he cares about.
“My agent doesn’t know I’m back up here. I mean, she knows I’m up here. I haven’t copped to the permanency yet. I’m cabbing up here. Doing the longshoreman thing. I’m committed. I’m going to start being a labor organizer. That’s cool. I’m a born shit-stirrer.”
I can see his shadow stretched across the yellow wall behind us. He stops talking and ponders his situation, elbow propped up on the back of the booth, hand cupped over his mouth. He always looks up and to the left for inspiration. I always look to him.
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
Sunday, December 17, 2006
My mother snatched my plate. “Stop feedin’ that damn dog,” she said smacking my hand. A crispy piece of fat flew across the room and stuck to the wall. We sat in silence as Gertie licked at it while the fat slowly inched its way down the wall.
I took a long time in the bathtub that night because I wanted to be up when the candy came. We weren’t allowed to have candy except in our stockings at Christmas. It was also the only time we had fresh fruit; oranges and tangerines, which I loved, along with nuts, Brazil and almonds, which I didn’t. My dad figured me out though and made me go to bed even when I begged him to let me stay up. I was dead sure mom would need help unpacking the groceries. He wouldn’t give an inch. I pouted and dragged my feet into the bedroom. “You’re gonna trip on that lower lip.” “What an asshole,” I thought, but I knew better than to sass him back.
The next morning there was candy all over the house. On the coffee table next to my dad’s Lazy Boy recliner and in the telephone nook in the hallway near the stairs. It was in the bathroom in a Parkay butter bowl next to the baby blue crocheted toilet paper caddy my Aunt Betty had made. I sifted through the bowl with the sink water running pretending to brush my teeth. Butterscotch surprises, rootbeer barrels, peppermint curliques, and cinnamon bombs sifted through my hands like pirate treasure. I stuffed my pockets and headed for the front door. My mother was waiting for me with my Partridge family lunch box. “That candy is for your dad. You hear?” She waited as I emptied my pockets and then checked both my hands for strays. “I need candy too,” I explained. “I need it ‘cause I’m givin’ up butter. I’m givin’ it up for good.” Mother snatched a peppermint curlique out of my hand and shooed me out the door. “He’s gonna ruin Christmas.” I heard her say under her breath. “Ruin Christmas.”
My dad always ruined Christmas. Every year he found new and unforseen avenues to let the fizzle out of the holidays. He sparked no Christmas cheer and he wouldn’t be satisfied until we all were miserable and inpatient for the day to be done. I don’t think he was an evil man. Like I said, he was just an asshole who, for whatever his reasons, hated Christmas. Last year he yelled at me because I was scared of a piggy bank he bought me.
And who wouldn’t be? It was a haunted house with a smooth green hand that came out of the roof and grabbed your money. It gave my dad no end of pleasure – “Arlie! Looka that! It swiped that penny right outta ma hand!” I watched from the far side of the Christmas tree, quaking in terror. “Arlie! Arlie! Here’s a penny. C’mon and try it!” Why had Santa brought evil into my life? Hadn’t I been good? Hadn’t I? My dad’s voice sliced through my thought. “Dammit, Arlie. Git over here and put a penny in this here house. Where’s yer sense, girl?”
I came out from behind the tree and walked over to my dad. It was the only way out. Obey. I took the penny from his sweaty hand and held it out towards the house. “Yer got to git right up on it afore it kin retch it.” I moved closer. I held out the penny with my eyes closed. Creak! Whiz! The hand sprang out and snatched my penny. I swear it caught hold of my hand into the bargain. My dad let out a whoop. “A’ll be damned, if it didn’t do it again!” Apparently, like me, he could see the thing wrote its own rules. I screamed and ran to my mother. My dad’s face twisted up and he threw the bank across the room.
“I’ve never seen such a spoilt kid. You and yer mother you spoilt that girl, Pearl. Made her ‘fraid of her own shadda. Arlie- go pick up that bank and brang it here.” I stood there staring at him. “You hear me? Go pick it up and brang it here.”
It was wrong in every way. Curse the elf who built the plastic injection mold for that house. That house would torture my dreams until it burned up in the flames that were to engulf my room only two months later on one blistering cold February night. “Arlie! Pick up that gawd-damned bank and brang it here!”
Damn you Santa. Damn you Santa.
I reached out and picked up the house. It coughed out the hand and I screamed. A warm stream went down my leg soaking into my pink slippers and spilling onto the cherrywood floor.
Thank you for the humiliating memory, Santa. I wish I could die.
“Ruin Christmas.” My mother repeated as she shoved me out the door. I walked to school sucking on a cinnamon bomb I’d hidden in my shoe, convinced that. like my dad, Santa was bent towards the perverse.
To be continued…
Friday, December 15, 2006
Friday, December 08, 2006
- This Will Be Our Year - The Zombies
- Santa Claus Is Coming To Town - Joseph Spence
- Christmas Cookies - George Strait
- Long-Legged Guitar Picking Man - Johnny Cash
- Honey Bee - Cassandra Wilson
- Perfect Day - Lou Reed
- After the Gold Rush - Thom Yorke
- Innocent When You Dream - Tom Waits
- Better Days - Goo Goo Dolls
- I'm A Man - Iggy and the Stooges
Sunday, December 03, 2006
I've been away from home twice in the last six weeks. Las Vegas, Nevada and Regina, Saskatchewan. My wallet and I choose Regina. Beautiful city of about 200,000. Round-trip airfare from San Francisco can be found between 3 and 4 hundred. Bike paths all over the place, although you might be a bit more comfortable on a bike if you wait til March. People are open and friendly. Canadian beer is tasty. Check out Sleemans. U.S.money goes a bit farther. 120 bucks got me about 133 Canadian. And fear not you Nevada nuts. There's a beautifully restored train station converted into a casino. Casino Regina has the same machines and tables Vegas has, but no smoking and all the bells and whistles are at half volume. It practically makes gambling healthy and relaxing. One other fun thing. Natives pronounce Regina as the above title suggests.
When you get back from your trip and tell people where you've been, I find even the most sophisticated of adults experience a "Beavis and Butthead" moment.
Saturday, December 02, 2006
Sunday, November 19, 2006
Friday, November 03, 2006
Wednesday, November 01, 2006
CAUTION:Don't let the Helmet of Cinematic Popularity shield you from the following 3 movies.
DOWN IN THE VALLEY- A completely original yet familiar story that leaves you, like 2 of it's characters, steeped in both sweetness and horror, unsure of which to embrace.
THE DEVIL AND DANIEL JOHNSTON- Horror and sweetness, non-fiction style. This documentary of artist Daniel Johnston serves both up in steaming heaps.
THE PUFFY CHAIR-Brothers Mark and Jay Duplass and a stellar cast of actors you've probably never seen craft a deceptively simple story that for me either got so intense or so infuriating at points that I paused and walked away a few times. DVD's a beautiful thing. So's this movie. Check it out.
Sunday, October 15, 2006
- Did you know that six of the seven wonders of the world are gone? Vote for their replacements here.
- Images from the "Ectopia" exhibit at the International Center for Photography.
- The Final Note: short story here.
- Stephen Colbert Has America By the Ballots.
- According to my son: "there's no such thing as bunnies, they're really rabbits."
- Get a slice of book at Dear Reader. Each day you get a 5-minute email sample of a book. If you like it, you can get it at the library or your local book store.
- Turns 50 Celebrations - find one here.
Friday, October 13, 2006
It's been a long day at work. Friday. Riding my bicycle home. Have to play a Nazi in a comedy, but not feeling it. I swing by Walgreen's on Market Street to purchase Crazy Glue to bond my monacle onto my eyepatch. As I'm locking my bike on a city bike rack, it looks up at me. A generic white sticker. On it, black Magic Marker print. "God Bless Our Brave Death Squads" Take heart. They're out there and they have a sense of humor. And I have the energy to be a Nazi tonight.
Thursday, October 05, 2006
I'm not paranoid. Just realistic. I thought everything on the AM radio dial these days was owned by Clear Channel or Disney or Evangelists. I happened on this station while driving around San Francisco this week. Sounds like a college radio station run by people who've been out of college for 30 years. They play what they damn please. And good stuff too. Well, stuff I like. I've been out of college for 30 years. Check it out at 1510 AM soon, before the suits arrive and screw everything up.
Saturday, September 30, 2006
EVERMAN, Tex. — Anthony Price does not mince words when talking about corporal punishment — which he refers to as taking pops — a practice he recently reinstated at the suburban Fort Worth middle school where he is principal.
“I’m a big fan,” Mr. Price said. “I know it can be abused. But if used properly, along with other punishments, a few pops can help turn a school around. It’s had a huge effect here.”
Friday, September 29, 2006
Lott: Bush barely mentioned Iraq in meeting with Senate RepublicansWhich world is that Mr. Loot, er excuse me, Mr. Lott? Of course, in Bushworld, where, it's, only, a, fucking, comma.
From CNN's Ted Barrett
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Bush barely mentioned the war in Iraq when he met with Republican senators behind closed doors in the Capitol Thursday morning and was not asked about the course of the war, Sen. Trent Lott, R-Mississippi, said.
"No, none of that," Lott told reporters after the session when asked if the Iraq war was discussed. "You're the only ones who obsess on that. We don't and the real people out in the real world don't for the most part."
Read more from Paul the Spud at Shakespeare's Sister.
Thursday, September 28, 2006
Wednesday, September 27, 2006
A pitched battle over an intelligence assessment, covered first by The New York Times and then The Washington Post, broke out across the media today. Former Secretary of State Alexander Haig went so far as blame the whole fuss -- over the negative view of the war in Iraq and the war on terror -- on liberal journalists. CNN aired an interview with President Bush in which he declared that one day the Iraq war will look like "just a comma."If Iraq is a Comma
A Period, Not A Comma
You have a gun
And I am hungry
You have a gun
Because I am hungry
You have a gun
Therefore I am hungry
You can have a gun
You can have a thousand bullets and even another thousand
You can waste them all on my poor body
You can kill me one, two, three, two thousand, seven thousand times
But in the long run
I will always be better armed than you
If you have a gun
When the enthusiasm
of our time
yet to be born,
but who announce themselves
with a kinder face,
we will come out winners,
we who have suffered most.
To be ahead
Of one's time
Is to suffer much.
But it is beautiful to love the world
with the eyes
to be born.
to know oneself already victorious
when everything around
is still so cold, so dark.
“You know, to suggest that if we weren’t in Iraq we would see a rosier scenario, with fewer extremists joining the radical movement, requires us to ignore 20 years of experience,” Mr. Bush said. He added: “My judgment is: The only way to protect this country is to stay on the offense.”
Full article here.
From a radio interview with Noam Chomsky, September 18, 2001
A Saudi Arabian millionaire, Bin Laden became a militant Islamic leader in the war to drive the Russians out of Afghanistan. He was one of the many religious fundamentalist extremists recruited, armed, and financed by the CIA and their allies in Pakistani intelligence to cause maximal harm to the Russians -- quite possibly delaying their withdrawal, many analysts suspect -- though whether he personally happened to have direct contact with the CIA is unclear, and not particularly important. Not surprisingly, the CIA preferred the most fanatic and cruel fighters they could mobilize. The end result was to "destroy a moderate regime and create a fanatical one, from groups recklessly financed by the Americans" ('London Times' correspondent Simon Jenkins, also a specialist on the region). These "Afghanis" as they are called (many, like Bin Laden, not from Afghanistan) carried out terror operations across the border in Russia, but they terminated these after Russia withdrew. Their war was not against Russia, which they despise, but against the Russian occupation and Russia's crimes against Muslims.
The "Afghanis" did not terminate their activities, however. They joined Bosnian Muslim forces in the Balkan Wars; the US did not object, just as it tolerated Iranian support for them, for complex reasons that we need not pursue here, apart from noting that concern for the grim fate of the Bosnians was not prominent among them. The "Afghanis" are also fighting the Russians in Chechnya, and, quite possibly, are involved in carrying out terrorist attacks in Moscow and elsewhere in Russian territory. Bin Laden and his "Afghanis" turned against the US in 1990 when they established permanent bases in Saudi Arabia -- from his point of view, a counterpart to the Russian occupation of Afghanistan, but far more significant because of Saudi Arabia's special status as the guardian of the holiest shrines.
Bin Laden is also bitterly opposed to the corrupt and repressive regimes of the region, which he regards as "un-Islamic," including the Saudi Arabian regime, the most extreme Islamic fundamentalist regime in the world, apart from the Taliban, and a close US ally since its origins. Bin Laden despises the US for its support of these regimes. Like others in the region, he is also outraged by long-standing US support for Israel's brutal military occupation, now in its 35th year: Washington's decisive diplomatic, military, and economic intervention in support of the killings, the harsh and destructive siege over many years, the daily humiliation to which Palestinians are subjected, the expanding settlements designed to break the occupied territories into Bantustan-like cantons and take control of the resources, the gross violation of the Geneva Conventions, and other actions that are recognized as crimes throughout most of the world, apart from the US, which has prime responsibility for them. And like others, he contrasts Washington's dedicated support for these crimes with the decade-long US-British assault against the civilian population of Iraq, which has devastated the society and caused hundreds of thousands of deaths while strengthening Saddam Hussein -- who was a favored friend and ally of the US and Britain right through his worst atrocities, including the gassing of the Kurds, as people of the region also remember well, even if Westerners prefer to forget the facts. These sentiments are very widely shared. The 'Wall Street Journal' (Sept. 14) published a survey of opinions of wealthy and privileged Muslims in the Gulf region (bankers, professionals, businessmen with close links to the U.S.). They expressed much the same views: resentment of the U.S. policies of supporting Israeli crimes and blocking the international consensus on a diplomatic settlement for many years while devastating Iraqi civilian society, supporting harsh and repressive anti-democratic regimes throughout the region, and imposing barriers against economic development by "propping up oppressive regimes." Among the great majority of people suffering deep poverty and oppression, similar sentiments are far more bitter, and are the source of the fury and despair that has led to suicide bombings, as commonly understood by those who are interested in the facts.
The U.S., and much of the West, prefers a more comforting story. To quote the lead analysis in the 'New York Times' (Sept. 16), the perpetrators acted out of "hatred for the values cherished in the West as freedom, tolerance, prosperity, religious pluralism and universal suffrage." U.S. actions are irrelevant, and therefore need not even be mentioned (Serge Schmemann). This is a convenient picture, and the general stance is not unfamiliar in intellectual history; in fact, it is close to the norm. It happens to be completely at variance with everything we know, but has all the merits of self-adulation and uncritical support for power.
It is also widely recognized that Bin Laden and others like him are praying for "a great assault on Muslim states," which will cause "fanatics to flock to his cause" (Jenkins, and many others.). That too is familiar. The escalating cycle of violence is typically welcomed by the harshest and most brutal elements on both sides, a fact evident enough from the recent history of the Balkans, to cite only one of many cases.
Full interview here.
Saturday, September 23, 2006
Wednesday, September 20, 2006
GIRL DOLLS WRITE
TO PRESIDENT BUSH.
BY KATE HAHN
- - - -
A COLONIAL GIRL
It's 1774 and I am learning penmanship at Miss Manderly's school. I hope you find my quill scribblings legible, as I have a serious question about the inevitable War of Independence. The Patriots say we must fight in order to have a democratically elected leader, privacy rights, and freedom of speech. Yet I understand that you, along with Messrs. Cheney and Rumsfeld, are dismantling these very things. This vexes me. When I am riding my realistically rendered chestnut mare, Penny, or sitting in my scaled-down Windsor writing chair, I ask: Why must our fittest young men die if the Revolution will prove meaningless? If you will make yourself king, should we not avoid the bloodshed altogether? Please write back to me at Merriman Farm, the Commonwealth of Virginia. Lives are at stake.
AT THE SUBURBAN
IF THE SUBURBAN
WERE IN DEADWOOD.
BY KARI ANNE ROY
- - - -
MOM 1: Fucking Homeowners Association cocksuckers. Are they so slow in the ass-fucking cerebrum as to not allow a goddamned simple, commonplace, gullet-pleasing peanut-fucking-butter sandwich on the premises of their fucking pool patio?
MOM 2: Fucking power-hungry vulturine twats is what they are, that Homeowners Association you speak of.
MOM 1: I mean, fuck me if I'm gonna take the three angelic fucking spawn of my hooch and force them to hunker their tiny selves down in the back of the sweltering cocksucking Odyssey just to masticate a PB&J and imbibe some goddamned Mott's. Fuck.
MOM 2: Want I should write a letter to the HOA fuckers and invite them to a civil fucking sit-down where we can discuss this fucking asinine and irritating issue face to face?
Wednesday, September 13, 2006
- You can find a link to an interesting interview with Hunter S. Thompson over on the Owl Farm Blog. He talks about journalism post 9/11 and what was then the upcoming first anniversary of the attacks. Not that any of us need to be reminded that Bush & Co. are the most vile form of swine ever to walk upright.
- Charles Bernstein discusses the phenomenology of Bob Dylan here at the Brooklyn Rail. If you haven't read Dylan's Chronicles, I highly recommend it.
- History of Rum.
- So Rummy thinks critics of the Iraq War suffer from moral confusion. How does he explain the troops who are AWOL after completing tours in Iraq?
Wednesday, September 06, 2006
Tuesday, August 29, 2006
DENIES GREGOR SAMSA'S
DISABILITY CLAIM.By Alex St. Andrews
- - - -Important Notice
GREGOR SAMSA Is Not Eligible for SSI
We are writing about GREGOR SAMSA's claim for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments. Based on a review of his/her medical condition, he/she does not qualify for SSI payments on this claim. This is because he/she is not disabled or blind under our rules.
The Decision on GREGOR SAMSA's Case
You listed the following impairment(s) on your SSI application:
I AM A GIGANTIC COCKROACH
You said the above impairment(s) affected you in the following way(s):
I CANNOT STAND OR WALK UPRIGHT OR SPEAK ANY HUMAN LANGUAGE
I CANNOT HANDLE OR MANIPULATE OBJECTS WITH MY MANY LEGS OR ANTENNAE
WHEN I AM ON MY BACK I HAVE DIFFICULTY RIGHTING MYSELF
MY FAMILY HAS IMPRISONED ME IN MY ROOM AND IS FEEDING ME SCRAPS
Get the rest here.
Monday, August 28, 2006
"He found it an interesting book and a quick read," said Mr Snow. "I don't want to go too deep into it, but we discussed the origins of existentialism."And to think it all started five years ago with My Pet Goat. Check out the Supplemental Reading List here.
Note to GB: Do not wait for the last judgment, it takes place every day. - Camus
Anything you'd like to suggest George read?
Friday, August 25, 2006
LOUISIANA 7:00AM EST
"The Science of Astronomy must always be open to change. This rings true in our industry as well" said Lem Figg, an animation industry spokesman.
Lovable cartoon dog Pluto was given a last meal and shot behind a bunkhouse for aging "toon" animals. The bunkhouse is purportedly owned by Hanna-Barbera with ties to Disney. A visibly shaken Deputy Dawg said "This is the part of my job I could easily do without. I'm so tired." An older, greyer, and unusually thoughtful Dawg continued "What can we do? We reflect the real world. Why Pluto? Why couldn't that planet have been named Muskie?" In the doorway of the bunkhouse, an aging Droopy, frowning even more than usual, spoke softly. "So sad, so... Steinbeck." Burial is scheduled for Saturday morning. For the kids, a "live feed" of the funeral is expected.
Saturday, August 19, 2006
So you walked in on an old man peeing in the bathroom and neither one of you seemed embarrassed. He asked you for coffee - convenient because you so happened to be in your favorite coffee spot, and odd because most people keep the door locked. "No," you beg off, still holding the door open as he washes his hands and wipes his nose on the wet paper towel. "I'm Tompur" and he steps through the doorway and yes, this is the same cafe where day in and day out, you arrive in the morning and work until lunchtime over cappucino and croissant but now a separate world since this encounter and everyone down the long yellow hall staring at you while they wait to relieve themselves.
Since last Friday, it's been much like this. As if you stepped off the train to a world familar to the last detail but robbed of all convention. Freeing and terrifying, not sure how to follow the thinking, the experience, unsure of your threshold and tipping off towards insanity might not be your most pragmatic response.
"No. No." You beg off coffee and Tompur nods his head. He understands.
"Some other time. You're with someone?"
Lying and we only just met. Upstairs. Work. Notes. An attempt at novelization. Fruitless. And you, importantly, don't hunger for companionship, perhaps best to keep encounters short and tumble the memory around later like butterscotch toffee after pasta. You world has turned. Husband left informing of communicable disease and heated affair with close office associate and all the late nights and calls to apologize for missing dinners and good-bye parties for mutual acquaintances seem somehow obvious in the face of the sour truth and your embarrassment.
Hasty doctor's appointment for testing. Patronizing looks over a mahogany desk remind you of the men who've never quite stepped up to the plate or deserted altogether for no pressing reason. The violent, dodgy ones stay. Cling on in desperation. Stupid choices, unkindness, and betrayal. Wise up and move on. Study war no more.
Why does the work go on? Denial and uncertainty of the next step. You go through the motions, eye on the downspout. Can you keep this up? Suppose yes and order more coffee hoping Tompur takes no interest. Imagine unrestrained sex in the bathroom with man two feet away from you, but you require someone younger and less blonde. Maybe by lunchtime the opportunity will present itself. No. These things only come around once and now you are in no position for spontaneity.
Struggle to hold off invasion as dreams from the night before flood brainpan while you're trying to hand dollars to the barrista. Nightmares of leper colonies and the one only before twilight where a small blemish transmorgified into an enormous skinbag on your left calf and somehow expanded until clothing became inconvenient and you considered joining the circus, if only briefly, before waking to soft oranges, a full moon, and the wolf at the door.
MY 3-YEAR-OLD SAID
THAT I'M CERTAIN THE
REST OF THE WORLD
WOULD FIND SWEET
Get the rest here. Found via Get Down!
After a Walk in the Park
ME: Did you like having our silly time today?
Did you like our walk?
HIM: I saw ... walky ... and ... (Starts giggling.)
ME: You saw a walky?
HIM: I will crush you.
HIM: Be certain that I am your undoing.
I am everything. There were three things
in my beginning: my interrupted biological
sleep, a birth, and the end to a warm darkness
and silence. And now I am here with you.
And a reckoning is coming, that's all I'm saying.
Thursday, August 17, 2006
I'm a fortunate movie lover. I came of age as an adult viewer between 1969 and '73. Directors like Sam Peckinpah, John Cassavetes, and yes, Clint Eastwood fed me. Their work still sits in my guts like a hot steaming bowl of cinematic Maltex. Actor Tommy Lee Jones has crafted a film that owes a lot to those days. It oozes Peckinpah and Jones himself oozes Warren Oates. It's the best thing I've ever seen him do and I love his work. And what a cast. I'm beginning to think if you see that country musician Dwight Yoakam is acting in a project, that's all you need to know. He picks good stuff. Check him out in "Slingblade" if you haven't already. And musician Levon Helm. Barry Pepper, January Jones and Julio Cedillo. All these and more round out this casting coup. The film is called "The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada". It's a beautifully shot fable set in present day Texas and Mexico. I'll say no more about the story. Get the DVD, some popcorn, and a couple of cold ones and let it unfold.
Tuesday, August 08, 2006
According to Wikipedia, Planned Obsolescence was first developed in the 1920's. A guy named Spencer apparently missed the memo. Five days a week I deliver boxes to a building in San Francisco that has a wood and metal freight elevator. Installed by Spencer Elevator Company in 1928. It ain't pretty. It works like a charm.
Spencer Elevator Company exists no more. If poor misguided Mr.Spencer had built something that fell apart once in a while so he could sell some replacement product, perhaps things would be different. A giant corporation. A family of monied Spencer heirs posing with cocktails in a glossy society magazine. Nope. Just an elevator I use every day. Absolutely no foresight.
Monday, August 07, 2006
Sunday, July 30, 2006
I'm writing a review of "Leonard Cohen:I'm Your Man", a movie about songwriter and poet Leonard Cohen. So why post a picture of Leonard Cohen and Bono? Why the hell not? Everyone else is doing it. Bitter? Just a tad, but first off, I really enjoyed this movie. The bulk of this flick was other artists performing Cohen's work. Nick Cave, Beth Orton, Rufus & Martha Wainwright, Kate & Anna McGarrigle, Anthony, and more. The respect came through. Not to get too crunchy, but they were sometimes more like vessels of Cohen's work than performers. Even physically. I'm guessing most were graduates of The Joe Cocker School of Physical Expressionism. Sprinkled amongst these tributes were interesting tidbits about L.C. himself with different artists giving their brief impressions. Impressions are great. I love hearing impressions. And then there was Bono. He got more screen time. Consequently, his impressions turned into analysis. I'm no expert, but analysis of any great artist's work, especially when they're still alive and kicking, bugs the hell out of me. Bono going into any detail of what Leonard Cohen is about is like watching Lenny Bruce do a set and then having it broken down for you by David Spade. I blame director Lian Lunson for this. Unless Bono was in the editing room waving a gun around, there should have been a lot more Bono film stock on the floor or in that little Mac wastebasket. I digress. This was Leonard Cohen's soiree, and with the performances and most of the snippets, this sundae was ready for the cherry on top. A performance by the man himself. Performing "Tower of Song". That voice. You could feel the collective smile in the theatre. And a loving close up of Bono in the band. Then the power of Cohen. Then another lingering close up of Bono in the band. And finally Cohen. Mostly Cohen. Glad I saw it. Lian, you do good work. Next doc, stay focused on whose party it is. Avoid the temptation of training your lens too long on the gabby famous guy in the middle of the room next to the clam dip.
Monday, July 24, 2006
Sunday, July 23, 2006
Saturday, July 22, 2006
Friday, July 21, 2006
Thursday, July 20, 2006
Wednesday, July 19, 2006
Distinguishing features: None
Number of fingers: Ten
Number of toes: Ten
What did you expect?
Leonard Cohen, 1964
Tuesday, July 18, 2006
If all the Nazis had been psychotics, as some of their leaders probably were, their appalling cruelty would have been in some sense easier to understand. It is much worse to consider this calm, "well-balanced," unperturbed official conscientiously going about his desk work, his administrative job which happened to be the supervision of mass murder. He was thoughtful, orderly, unimaginative. He had a profound respect for system, for law and order. He was obedient, loyal, a faithful officer of a great state. He served his government well.
He was not bothered much by guilt. I have not heard that he developed any psychosomatic illnesses. Apparently he slept well. He had a good appetite, or so it seems. True, when he visited Auschwitz, the Camp Commandant, Hoess, in a spirit of sly deviltry, tried to tease the big boss and scare him with some sights. Eichmann was disturbed, yes. He was disturbed. Even Himmler had been disturbed, and had gone weak at the knees. Perhaps, in the same way, the general manager of a big steel mill might be disturbed if an accident took place while he happened to be somewhere on the plant. but of course what happened at Auschwitz was not an accident: just the routine upleasantness of the daily task. One must shoulder the burden of daily monotonous work for the Fatherland. Yes, one must suffer discomfort and even nausea from upleasant sights and sounds. It all comes under the heading of duty, self-sacrifice, and obedience. Eichmann was devoted to duty, and proud of his job.
The sanity of Eichmann is disturbing. We equate sanity with a sense of justice, with humaneness, with prudence, with the capacity to love and understand other people. We rely on the sane people of the world to preserve it from barbarism, madness, destruction. And now it begins to dawn on us that it is precisely the sane ones who are the most dangerous.
It is the sane ones, the well-adapted ones, who can without qualms and without nausea aim the missiles and press the buttons that will initiate the great festival of destruction that they, the sane ones, have prepared. What makes us so sure, after all, that the danger comes from a psychotic getting into position to fire the first shot in a nuclear war? Psychotics will be suspect. The sane ones wlil keep them far from the button. No one suspects the sane, and the sane ones will have perfectly good reasons, logical, well-adjusted reasons, for firing the shot. They will be obeying sane orders that have come sanely down the chain of command. And because of their sanity they will have no qualms at all. When the missiles take off, then, it will be no mistake.
We can no longer assume that because a man is "sane" he is therefore in his "right mind." The whole concept of sanity in a society where spiritual values have lost their meaning is itself meaningless. A man can be "sane" in the limited sense that he is not impeded by his disordered emotions from acting in a cool, orderly manner, according to the needs and dictates of the social situation in which he finds himself. He can be perfectly "adjusted." God knows, perhaps such people can be perfectly adjusted even in hell itself.
And so I ask myself: what is the meaning of a concept of sanity that excludes love, considers it irrelevant, and destroys our capacity to love other human beings, to respond to their needs and their sufferings, to recognize them also as persons, to apprehend their pain as one's own? Evidently this is not necessary for "sanity" at all. It is a religious notion, a spiritual notion, a Christian notion. What business have we to equate "sanity" with "Christianity?" None at all, 0bviously. The worst error is to imagine that a Christian must try to be "sane" like everybody else, that we belong in our kind of society. That we must be "realistic" about it. We must develop a sane Christianity: and there have been plenty of sane Christians in the past. Torture is nothing new, is it? We ought to be able to rationalize a little brainwashing, and genocide, and find a place for nuclear war, or at least for napalm bombs, in our moral theology. Certainly some of us are doing our best along those lines already. There are hopes! Even Christians can shake off their sentimental prejudices about charity, and become sane like Eichmann. They can even cling to a certain set of Christian formulas, and fit them to a Totalist Ideolody. Let them talk about justice, charity, love, and the rest. These words have not stopped sane men from acting very sanely and cleverly in the past.
No, Eichmann was sane. The generals and fighters on both sides, in World War II, the ones who carried out the total destruction of entire cities, these were the sane ones. Those who have invented and developed atomic bombs, thermonuclear bombs, missiles; who have planned the strategy of the next war; who have evaluated the various possiblities of using bacterial and chemical agents; these are not crazy people, they are the sane people. The ones who coolly estimate how many millions of victims can be considered expendable in a nuclear war, I presume they do all right with the Rorschach ink blots too. On the other hand, you will probably find that the pacificists and the ban-the-bomb people are, quite seriously, just as we read in Time, a little crazy.
I am beginning to realize that "sanity" is no longer a value or an end in itself. The "sanity" of modern man is about as useful to him as the huge bulk and muscles of a dinosaur. If he was a little less sane, a little more doubtful, a little more aware of his aburdities and contradictions, perhaps there might be a possibility of his survival. But if he is sane, too sane...perhaps we must say that in a society like ours the worst insanity is to be totally without anxiety, totally "sane."
Sunday, July 16, 2006
Pittsfield, Massachusetts. Mid-winter 1981. I was driving a Chevy flatbed truck for a machine shop. Had just dropped off my load. A plastic injection mold. Huge hunk of mechanical wizardry that gives birth to whatever plastic offspring it was made for. Anything from a detergent bottlecap to a dashboard Jesus. It was butt ass cold and my side windows were still frosted up. The stop light I was waiting for turned green. My left foot was easing up on the clutch to go when I saw the strangest sight. Dancing from right to left, on the horizon of my hood, was a white fluffy ball. I braked. Strange, weird, but kind of delightful. Until it passed the left side of my hood. The cute little dancing ball of fluff was perched atop the knit winter hat of a tiny little girl, no more than six years old, crossing against the light.
Somewhere in this world is a young woman, around 30 or 31. She probably has no idea that guardian angels appear in many forms. I know what hers looks like. Thanks you beautiful fluffy little bastard.
Friday, July 14, 2006
Electricity had one job. Illuminating the bare light bulb hanging from the ceiling in the boss's office. The cash register was mechanical. No plumbing. No heat. A single portable toilet in it's dirt parking lot. It was there before Henry Ford covered the land with the black four wheeled spawn of Satan. In Bernardston Massachusetts. Not far from Bernardston General Store. There it was. Bernardston Grain Company. The massive two story wooden structure next to the train tracks wasn't built for people. It was built to mix grain for cattle, horses, and pigs. I suspect either Rube Goldberg or Salvador Dali had a hand in it's design. The grain mixers were run by a series of belts and pulleys that were in turn run by rope cables set into motion by a water wheel in the river 100 yards distant. Whenever I saw boxcars on the siding I knew we were in for a long day. Unloading 100 pound grain bags. Are we making a dent? Maybe those bags are multiplying in that boxcar just to mock us. Whit smiled. "Keep your back straight or you'll curdle your milk." His name was Mr.Whitaker but everyone called him Whit. It seemed a little disrespectful. I took the coward's way out. I never addressed him by name. He was in his mid 70's. That made no sense. He was hard. He was wiry. He contained more urine and vinegar than a spring foal. He could unload a car full of 100 pound sacks faster than most 20 year olds and used that fact to taunt us. He liked me. He called me "shit-ass". I grew up without a father. A smile of approval from a respected older man was exponentially magnified in importance. Add "shit-ass" and forget about it. Made my day. I was eating lunch in my car on May 21, 1977 the day I got some perspective on Whit's age. I know the date because Paul Harvey's voice on the radio said that it was the 50th anniversary of Charles Lindbergh's landing in Paris. Later that afternoon I asked Whit if he remembered that day. He said "Sure do. That happened on my second wedding anniversary."
It's 28 years later and about that since I've seen Whit and Bernardston Grain Company. Don't know if the building still stands. If Whit does, he's 104, clutching a grain bag about waist high, smile on his face, imploring some shit-ass to keep up. I wouldn't bet against it.
Tuesday, July 11, 2006
In 1935, in his book "It Can't Happen Here", Sinclair Lewis said "When Fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross." BINGO! I'm going to keep reading this guy's work. Hopefully somewhere he'll mention the 2007 Kentucky Derby. I'll be rollin' in dough!
Saturday, July 08, 2006
Between 1971 and '74, half my life was spent aboard the USS Henry Clay, a submarine home ported in Guam. I was thinking of all the fascinating and sometimes surreal things to tell you about my experience when I recalled something way more fascinating that happened while I was there. In January 1972, Shoichi Yokoi came out of the jungle. He was a Japanese soldier who had been living there for 26 years since the end of World War ll. His first words back in Tokyo were"It is with much embarrassment that I return." He remarried that same year and passed away in 1997 at the age of 82. Apologies for my ineptitude creating links. If you go to Wikipedia, there's a good overview of the life of Shoichi Yokoi. More about the submarine some other time.
Friday, July 07, 2006
A gastronomical reminiscence. Remember this stuff? My brother and I ate this custard like it was going out of style in 1950's New England. Mom served it because: 1. It was inexpensive, and 2. In the 50's, failure of a housewife to serve dessert was at the very least a misdemeanor.
Thursday, July 06, 2006
So I'm inspired to ask- What do you think are the ten best rock songs of all time? We'll have to do one for other genres too.
Here's my list in no particular order:
- Immigrant Song - Led Zepplin
- Baba O'Reilly - The Who
- Vodoo Chile - Jimi Hendrix
- Have a Cigar - Pink Floyd
- London Calling - The Clash
- Smells Like Teen Spirit - Nirvana
- Satisfaction - The Rolling Stones
- Paint It Black - The Rolling Stones
- School's Out - Alice Cooper
- Heroin - Velvet Underground