Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Wednesday Night Libel 

Beginning in the 1970s, the [neo-conservatives] combined populist antielitism with attacks on leftists, environmentalists, feminists, gay men and lesbians, and organized labor. They advocated a dictatorship in which a "humanist" elite would rule on behalf of industrial capitalists. ... Their views, though exotic, were internally consistent and rooted in right-wing populist traditions.

A former Trotskyist, [Irving Kristol], founded the [Neo-Conservative movement] ... as an offshoot of the radical student movement. But in the early 1970s, [Kristol] engineered a political about-face ... The result was a fascist organization with some unique strengths: a dedicated, full-time cadre of several hundred members, a high proportion of intellectuals with advanced training, familiarity with leftist theory and organizing, and inside information about radical organizations and leaders.

Oh, I'm sorry -- I slightly misread the source article.

The only real difference is, of course, that these right-ward lurching neo-Trotskyites won, and those ones hang out in Union Square by the Virgin Megastore trying to trick people in buying buttons.

This Must Be How Generals Feel When They Win Battles and Lose Wars 

Hey -- we won something!

So this is how it feels. Now the four impressionable people watching MSNBC will have to depend on the anchors themselves to parrot RNC talking points about the debates -- coming into it, of course, with the Conventional Wisdom that George W. Bush has Never Lost a Debate.

just a whole load of folk bangin' into each other 

"Hope you are well. I am knackered but enjoyed my experience. Rich people are demanding, spoilt, arrogant, artificial and sad. Nightclub was shite. Geordie Drever."

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

NYU Will Raise Enough Money To Rebuild Iraq, and Then Spend It On Educating the Olsen Twins 

NYU President John Sexton's plans for world domination have been leaked to the students and staff. So that the last remaining non-NYU affiliated New Yorkers may know what the next few years have in store, I publish the unexpurgated text below:

It is my custom to write the University community during the early weeks of each academic year to talk about the priorities and prospects for the year ahead, recognizing the promise and possibilities inherent in each year’s beginning.

The things I am about to say will be, per usual, flowery drivel.

Custom aside, this is not the usual “welcome back” message from a university president. This year, we will begin to walk down an important new path, one that may well be seen years from now as taking the University to a new and better place.

We are moving NYU back to Queens.

NYU enjoys many advantages as a university: over the past two decades we have built an extraordinary research and teaching faculty; we have attracted some of the most talented students in the country; and we have created a campus in an unrivaled location in the greatest city in the world.

Every year our students get richer, and we have bought Greenwich Village to create for them a playground.

These are wonderful assets, to be sure; most universities would be grateful to have any one of them. Given what has been done, it would be easy to be complacent. However, NYU has become what it is because those who came before us refused to be content, and we must honor them and enrich ourselves by continuing our University’s tradition of bold ambition and constant striving. To nurture our affirmative lack of contentment and to propel our University to new heights, we are today announcing a seven-year, $2.5 billion fundraising campaign.

What the hell do we need $2.5 billion for? Who cares! I mean, to "nurture our affirmative lack of contentment."

Some twenty years ago, our colleagues and our predecessors began an extraordinary transformation of this University. The NYU they have built, the NYU of 2004, is not an end point; instead, it must serve as the base point for still greater transformation. This campaign that we officially announce tomorrow which will provide us resources to focus on the development of faculty, to increase financial aid across all schools, to build new facilities, and to develop academic initiatives. It takes what has been crafted over the past two decades, and pushes it farther along an accelerating course towards excellence.

Do you feel that? No, that is not a window air-conditioner leaking on you. That is the g-force of an entire University accelerating towards outstanding achievement in the field of excellence.

NYU is a university blessed with strong professional schools. Still, at the core of any great university is strength in the arts and sciences. In that regard, NYU has made enormous, widely recognized strides by assembling an outstanding faculty in the arts and sciences. However, we must do more. Our Faculty of Arts and Science is relatively small for the number of students it serves, and, simply put, NYU cannot take its next steps unless it invests significantly in building the arts and science faculty. The Middle States Commission Evaluation Team – which, led by University of Rochester president Thomas Jackson, visited here last spring -- both confirmed our sense of pride in what we have accomplished, and reaffirmed the wisdom of the steps we were then planning and are now taking.

My desire to admit more students every year and charge them greater amounts means that we may have to start hiring people to teach them.

Our aspiration is great: nothing less than making our University the home for the next generation of intellectual leadership. So, we will accelerate our efforts that have brought us to this point, and we will do it in a fashion that is uniquely our own. We will not wait for the fundraising campaign to end before we start a new, quickened pace of investment in faculty building; we are beginning immediately. We are able to do so because of an initiative involving a group of trustees who have agreed to participate in a unique program to enable us to fast-track our aspiration: “The Partners Fund”.

"next generation of intellectual leadership" = Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen. And that kid who lived in the library. And hold on to that lap-bar -- we are still fucking accelerating!

The “Partners” have donated as a group $50 million and authorized us to use it immediately to expand the number of faculty in the Faculty of Arts and Science, the Institute of Fine Arts, and the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences. Furthermore, as a condition of the gift, the Board of Trustees authorized that the “Partners’” donations will be matched by $150 million in existing University funds (which will be replenished through the campaign), creating in effect a venture capital fund that will enable us over five years to spend some $200 million to expand the number of scholars in the FAS, IFA, and CIMS by 125, or 20 per cent. When combined with the hiring that will occur because of natural turnover – an additional 125 – we expect that five years hence there will be a new generation of our arts and science faculty at NYU, representing fully one-third of the tenured and tenure-track faculty.

We have an "Institute of Mathematical Sciences"? For the kids who didn't get into the real schools? Also, as you can see, we are already totally fucking good at math.

Using the Partners Fund, this year, we will begin a period of unprecedented hiring in the ranks of arts and science faculty. That hiring will be matched by an intensive effort to improve facilities for FAS, IFA, and CIMS. With the capital spending we have planned for the arts and sciences over that same period, our investment in FAS between now and 2010 will total some $350 million.

Where will the rest of the money go? I think we'll buy the New School and force them to walk our tiny dogs while we go clubbing.

It is an enormous challenge to create such growth in such a short span of time and do it well – that is, do it in a way that maintains high standards. That having been said, our benefactors, our Trustees, and I have full faith that Provost David McLaughlin, FAS Dean Richard Foley, and their faculty colleagues will apply both vigor and discernment in identifying and recruiting from around the country and around the world those scholars who are or who will emerge as pre-eminent in their fields.

Up to two powerful adjectives will be used in recruiting new staff.

As a group, these new faculty will be institution builders in every sense of the word. They will share and embrace our view of New York University as a common enterprise university.

In my field of expertise, business law, "common enterprise" is a friendly term for when business share profit, risk, and board members. In the bad old days, this was known as a "trust."

We seek faculty members who are shaping their fields of scholarship, who love to teach and are good at it, who are comfortable crossing disciplinary boundaries when interdisciplinary approaches are needed, and who are eager to use the richness of New York City to advance their research and educational work.

If the new teachers want me to buy them a neighborhood, I will oblige.

The Partners Fund is designed to advance the FAS, IFA, and CIMS programs without creating a burden to other schools. The overall campaign addresses not just our vision for the arts and science core. The $2.5 billion it raises – which must be raised at the rate of $1 million per day going forward – goes well beyond the Partners’ Fund, and will provide resources to fulfill the dreams of all of NYU’s schools.

A million dollars a day? George fucking Bush didn't raise that much!

Universities tend to be rather hidebound institutions; dramatic change is rare. NYU’s history is distinctive: it was founded on a different model than other U.S. universities. Always been an innovator; and it not only survived a fiscal crisis some 30 years ago, but used it as a starting point for what one author called “the success story” in modern higher education.

I care not for sentence fragments. I will use a colon or semi-colon in every sentence!

Fifty years from now, this year, 2004, will be seen as one of those critical turning points in our history, the juncture where we were finally able to expand our circle of scholars in keeping with our academic aspirations, rather than in lockstep with the size of our student body.

I have been held back by the student body for far too long -- soon, my unstoppable army of robot scholars will outnumber them and crush them with comma splices!

Even absent the effort we are about to undertake, we should remember that we have sustained remarkable institutional momentum. In the past year or two alone, we can point to major advancements, remarkable achievements of which most universities would be happy to claim any one.

Take that, Sarah Lawrence. Maybe you should have been accelerating instead of reading Edna St. Vincent Millay with Alan Keyes' hedonist daughter.

A list of just a few makes the point:

• The completion of an important phase in the renovations to the Tisch School’s space, and the successful launch of its brand new department, the Clive Davis Department of Recorded Music;
• The creation of the Wagner School’s wonderful, first-ever home in the renowned Puck Building, to which all of its faculty moved this summer and which was dedicated by Mayor Michael Bloomberg last week;
• The very substantial progress that has been made in constructing the School of Medicine’s new Smilow Research Building, which is due to open January 2006, and in recruiting the research faculty who will work there, as well as the completion of the Medical Center’s new state-of-the-art cancer care center;
• Important renovations in Bobst Library to create a true learning by improving access to research resources, providing better study and work spaces for students, and reinforcing Bobst as the academic heart of our institution;
• The opening of Furman Hall, the Law School’s impressive and much needed new building, and the completion of the renovations to Vanderbilt Hall;
• The upgrading and renovation of College of Dentistry’s clinics, which serve needy New Yorkers;
• The completion of wonderful new teaching laboratories for undergraduates and the renovation of life science research laboratories; and
• The advancement of projects to add and renovate general-use classrooms;
• Over 235,000 square feet of new academic space with the addition of the Tower Video and Cooper Square sites

• We fucking kicked The Bottom Line's ass.
• We have been the home of six high-profile suicides and a couple other bizarre deaths in one short year.

Of course, such a list of easily observed improvements does not capture many of the most important achievements we made, from the recruitment of new faculty in Steinhardt which emphasize the school's commitment to improving urban education in New York and the world, to important new programs to enhance student life, to the successful completion of negotiations with part-time faculty, which we anticipate will foster a positive relationship with not only our adjuncts, but the entire university community. Each of you has played an important role in carrying our University to a place where its next important and transformative steps are possible, and I thank you.

The adjuncts will be the first to be crushed by my Robot Acceleration Force.

There may be no enterprise that is greater – more satisfying, more fulfilling, more exciting – than embracing an important educational institution and making its future better. If we use the next few years correctly – and I have confidence we will, though that is by no means guaranteed – we will serve thousands, perhaps millions, through the knowledge created here and the students educated here.

Why, Tisch School graduates alone will serve thousands of people their salads and entrees for years to come.

As we start the new academic year, I am thrilled to work with all of you in constructing this sublime and mighty future for New York University.

The bombing begins in five minutes.

It Is Late and I Have Better Things To Be Doing 

David Brooks is fucking coming all over himself with anticipation.

Missed Headline Opportunities 

Ain't That a Shame
Billy Wayne Miles really, really wanted to hear that Fats Domino song.

The 58-year-old Odessa, Texas, resident called a radio station Tuesday to request that it play "Ain't That a Shame," reports the Odessa American.

He didn't hear it. So he called again, and then again.

Finally, he called a fourth time, but instead of asking to hear Fats Domino, Miles allegedly said, "There will be a big bang at a downtown parking garage in Odessa, Texas, at 2 [p.m.] today."

...Several buildings were evacuated, and Miles was arrested by agents of the Permian Basin Joint Terrorism Task Force.

That one should have been obvious.

Obvious like the existence of the Permian Basin Joint Terrorism Task Force. I'm sure they've proved their necessity and earned their federal funds a thousand times over. Protecting West Texas from Race Music since 2001.

If only they'd been around in the Permian Period -- they could have prevented that mass extinction.

Monday, September 27, 2004

Blow Your Tuneless Trumpet 

Best blog ever.

(via BlogBites, which seems to be attempting the be the Arts and Letters Daily of self-published wanking. And, you know, without so much Arts or Letters)

Empire of the Senseless 

Billmon, who I've always liked, is completely right. Atrios has become boring and predictable -- the Instapundit of the moderate left, linking without meaningful commentary. The original point of weblogs was for geeks to tell other geeks what interesting sites they'd been to lately. When it became political, it was simply a vast proliferation of editorialists covering a broader spectrum of political views than advertiser-supported middle-of-the-road newspapers could afford to. Now, it is simply pseudo-liberal Democratic Party Line-Towers against pseudo-Conservative RNC-sponsored crypto-fascists. When you look at who gets the advertising and the hits, it's the same range of political diversity as could be found on the New York Times op-ed page on a good day.

During the first half of the nineteenth century, according to [James] Curran, a radical, working-class press thrived in England, breaking circulation records. At the same time, efforts by the government to control the press--through libel laws and press taxes--were largely ineffective. Rather than being constrained by government action, the British working-class press was undermined by the changing economics of the newspaper business whereby the less politically inclined middle-class papers turned the advertisers, instead of readers, as a central source of revenue. The resulting impact suggests the significant, albiet often unintended, power of advertising to shape the content of media systems.
-David Croteau & William Hoynes, Media/Society

I promise -- there will be very little blogging about blogs from now on.

Just In Case, I Always Make Sure To Remain Less Than 500 Miles From Canada 

All right. There's been a lot of talk about drafts and who's going to be drafting who and why. Frankly, I'm not all that threatened. If a draft was instituted, and it was the kind of compulsory military service that can't be easily weasled out of by the middle and upper classes, it would be political suicide for whatever politician proposed it, and it would amass enough popular displeasure to immediately end whatever war the draft was drafting draftees to fight. Despite the best efforts of the Best and Brightest, Vietnam Syndrome still applies. Even President Bush, should he manage to retain his hold on power and use his new immunity from the electoral threat to institute a draft of the sweeping variety that now scares the liberal-leaning middle class, would find mass popular dissatisfaction translating into congressional disapproval -- even this cowed legislature has been known to pretend to fight the President when it is in the interests of their next election, always less than two years away for a fair number of the scum of Capitol Hill. Plus, once military service stopped being a problem merely of the poor and working-class, the easily and profitably ignorable, and becomes a problem of the consumer class, you will hear about it from the mass media -- it's extremely unlikely that at this late stage the Bush Administration will be able to drum up enough popular support for the current war(s) or any future ones to cow the people into acceptance of sacrifice in the name of a vague cause (World War I-style), or convince them of their Righteous (and Win-able) Moral Duty to Protect the World.

Now -- this is only why I'm not worried about a draft affecting people like me, the college-attending middle class. It is a very real possibility that we will see, should Bush return for Four More, the return of the draft system in which the Rich can easily buy their way out of the running.

Anyway, TalkLeft has actually done the research into who has suggested what, and they conclude that with Kerry/Edwards, there won't be a draft, and with Bush -- well, who the fuck knows. But the proposals currently before Congress and making their ways into the Inboxes of scared parents are just scare tactics -- sort of a liberal version of the Culture Wars Flag-Burning Bans that reappear every four convenient years.

Those gifted/talented kids at Pandagon have more. Their conclusions are a little different from mine, but they've been in the New York Times Magazine, so what do I know?

But should a draft become a real threat, I have a quick and easily implemented national campaign prepared that would stop the Selective Service in their tracks:
Draft the Homos!

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

If This is Anyone But Steve Allen... 

McSweeney's stole my bit.

Where Were You? 

If this is satire (could it be?), it is brilliant satire.

Then later on, when we got in my spa, we ended up playing spin the bottle. Anyway, after a while we ended up holding hands underneath the water, and rigging the bottle so we got to hook up. That was pretty kewl. And he has the most wicked playstation game called singstar, man it's kewl. You set it up to play songs and you sing! you can have battles, or play a compitition. Man i'ts so much fun. I got some really good video footage of lizzie and Nicky singing don't stop moving by S Club Seven. It's hell funny. And a lot of footage of elliot. Anyway, i just remembered that this story was supposed to have a point, and here it is. I really like elliot. I talked to Lizzie afterward, and she dosen't have a problem with me liking him. My mate was at a party the other night and he was looking for me. My friend just found out that she had cancer, so i stayed with her instead of going. She's ok though, and she has finally got a decent boyfriend.

W Is For Women. White Women. 

Times lede:
It was no accident that John Kerry appeared Tuesday on "Live With Regis and Kelly'' and recalled his days as a young prosecutor in a rape case. Or that he then flew from New York to Jacksonville, Fla., to promote his health care proposals. Or that on Thursday in Davenport, Iowa, he will preside over a forum on national security with an audience solely of women.

Whaaaa??? Those weren't accidents??? You mean the Democratic candidate for President has some sort of intentional and organized pattern of media appearances?

Explain more about the intricicies of American Politics in 21st Century, O Grey Lady.

One Democratic strategist said Mr. Kerry's failure to fight back against that attack [from the Nixon's Enemies List Character Assassin Veterans for Truth] fed a perception, particularly among married women, that he would not fight for them and their children. And, the strategist said, it is one reason Mr. Kerry must now "rebuild his image on strength."

This is so fascinating -- I'm learning a great deal about the psychology of vast, faceless demographics. And "character issues." And this bizarre and foolish minority known as "women." I wish someone with a David Brooks-like penchant for delivering meaningless and vast generalizations as established fact could explain it to me.

This year, Ms. Lake said, the gap between how married and single women expect to vote is greater than it has ever been, largely because of the emergence of what analysts call "security moms," who tend to be white, married women who have children and who are fearful of another attack within the United States.

"Security moms" are an outgrowth of the "soccer moms" who had emerged in previous elections as important swing voters. But soccer moms tended to live mainly in the suburbs and could vote either way. Security moms live everywhere and are leaning Republican.

Oh. So this new and important made-up group is an outgrowth of that older, equally made-up group. Man, elections are fun! I don't really understand why the Democrats have traditionally had the support of "women," or why married suburbanites are fearing terrorist attacks, or what actually differentiates the candidates or their parties, but I'm learning a lot about people I never have to see or learn anything about!

Considering that a well-informed populace is crucial to the functioning of a representative democracy, I'm glad the New York Times is around to give me these insights: Soccer moms drive SUVs to Wal-Mart in Red States. Hence, they vote Republican. Security moms are scared that someone may try to prevent them from driving their SUVs to Wal-Mart, and they feel John Kerry won't do enough to prevent their children from being killed by Chechan nationalist seperatists. Hence, the Kerry campaign is sneakily trying to trick women into voting.

But this article seems to be leaving some things out. There are other demographic groups with catchy names that will play an important role in this year's no-holds-barred Presidential Cage Match:

NASCAR Dads: Mostly white men who impregnated and gave birth to cars.

Mr. Moms: Tend to be fish out of water. They have little experience operating vacuum cleaners or voting, and do both with hilarious results.

Mothers of Invention: Mostly white men who feel superior to everyone else because they listen to pretentious novelty music. Tend to vote Libertarian.

Sitcom Dads: Mostly white men, married to women far out of their league. Tend to observe and comment on foibles. Look for leaders who can solve minor crises in 22 minutes.

Mamas and Papas: Tell pollsters they are religious, but they generally only pretend to pray while dreaming of California.

Vaginas: The membranous canal leading from the vulva to the uterus in women and female mammals. Tend to support penises.

The Frequency 

This astoundingly irritating Slate article actually lays out a pretty comprehensive list of reasons why everyone should love Dan Rather.

Honestly -- does anyone genuinely believe that it is the job of the anchor to verify the authenticity of documents? Really? It seems like the fact that the man is nuts, "cocooned" from the pressures of profitability, and that he once "harangued" George H. W. Bush about Iran-Contra makes him some sort of national treasure.

These days, network news survives in hermetically sealed cocoons—free of commercial pressures and calls for financial viability.

First of all, that is less true now than ever before in television news history, and second of all, shouldn't the fucking news be "free of commercial pressures"?

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Miles from Dulles 

The former Cat Stevens denied entry to the former land of the free.

All I can say is, the INS better watch out, cause Jon Stewart is gonna get totally sarcastic on their ass.

It's things like this that makes me wish I could actually watch the Daily Show instead of simply composing angry rants in my head. (Now available in blog form!)

It's not even a simple case of mistaken identity; no, he was personally "interviewed" by the FBI and determined to be a security risk. The famed folk-wuss-rocker who wrote such fiery calls-to-arms as "If You Want to Sing Out, Sing Out" and "Peace Train" is a security threat to the United States of America.

I bet they really wanted to ban Donovan, but when they tried he beat them up and stepped on their little earpieces, so now they're taking out their aggression on the most harmless person in the world that isn't currently dead. I think there's actually documented evidence that Cat Stevens has lost fights with flies.

No offense, Yusuf, I'm just trying to make a point. A fairly obvious point, true, but the government has just gone so completely batshit nutso that I can either start drinking heavily or make light of the situation. And I have homework to do.

For the record: I like Cat Stevens. But I mean, come on, Raffi is scarier than Cat Stevens. Baby Beluga has some scary shit on it. At least, that's how I felt when I was younger.

It's a good thing Dylan's already back from his European tour, cause you know they're just itching for an excuse to ship his ass out of here.

Look Out! He's got facial hair!


Monday, September 20, 2004

More Than a Linguist 

"Anyone who says, 'I don't care if Bush gets elected' is basically telling poor and working people in the country, 'I don't care if your lives are destroyed. I don't care whether you are going to have a little money to help your disabled mother. I just don't care, because from my elevated point of view I don't see much difference between them.' That's a way of saying, 'Pay no attention to me, because I don't care about you.' Apart from its being wrong, it's a recipe for disaster if you're hoping to ever develop a popular movement and a political alternative."
-Noam Chomsky, 2004

In other news, did anyone notice Boston (yes, Boston) release an anti-Bush album in 2002?

I leave you tonight with a choice lyric from those anti-corporate radicals, Boston:
Fare thee well,
global extinction's forever.
So what the hell,
order your Mercedes in leather
Veal crates, ozone holes
and toxic waste
And don't count out religious hate
Who can survive this manmade fate?


Sunday, September 19, 2004

Something that's been bothering me for some time 

I don't remember exactly what happened to the Joker, but it was some kind of tragic accident, wasn't it? I guess that's just what you get from years in the company of killers, thieves, and lawyers.

(A closer, scarier look.)

Friday, September 17, 2004

Whose Streets?
Our Streets, Until 5 p.m.!

I haven't written about being in New York during the Republican National Convention because the city and the cops did such an effective job of making it a non-story. Thousands of people standing in place or marching from one prescribed street to another -- the kind of directionless anger that makes intelligent would-be protesters frustrated.

And of course, there were the massive, mostly preemptive arrests. New York is a police state, and that weekend was simply the most visible manifestation of that inescapable fact.

police state
A state in which the government exercises rigid and repressive controls over the social, economic, and political life of the people, especially by means of a secret police force.

Source: The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition

I disagree with that definition partially, as every Marxist worth his salt knows that repressive states stay in power through fear and explicit displays of State power every now and then. A Secret Police force is well and good, but basically useless unless people are aware of it and have some understanding of its power.

On the final night of the festivities at Madison Square Garden, I was standing on 6th Ave a couple blocks away from the convention site. 50,000 people were standing around with me, many with signs or funny costumes. Then, a couple hundred uniformed police in full riot gear stormed in from all sides. Not much happened. As George Bush accepted his nomination, 50,000 people tried to figure out if things were going to get ugly or if they should go home. The futility of the whole enterprise hung in the air, unspoken but palpable.

In the end, in four days, 1,781 protesters were arrested. That doesn't sound like that much, really -- but consider that in the same few days, only 3,620 people were arrested in all of New York City. All five fucking boroughs. And there was no real violence or destruction of property by protesters at any of the events. They even did as they were told and stayed off the Great Lawn. And the arrested protesters, as detailed partially in this article and in better detail in recent Village Voice pieces, were detained without charges for days, kept in lockdown without access to lawyers and without regard for civil liberties.

But, hey. Let's be reasonable. They were kept off the streets for a few days, out of trouble, for their own good. It wasn't that bad at Pier 57. No one was raped or abused, the food was more or less edible, and everyone agrees that a few toes must be stepped on in the name of order and keeping New York safe for tourists and others with income to be disposed of. The right of public dissent and civil disobedience is secondary to the right of the rich and powerful to be comfortable and unhassled.

Fuck. I would have preferred a repeat of Chicago '68 to the four-day self-righteous bullshit session we got. It was simply more proof that the left is perfectly happy to be marginalized and ignored as long as no waves are made. Go ahead and step on us. We may express our disapproval on a clever sign, held aloft on a Police-sanctioned cardboard tube, and marched down the street we applied to the city for permission to borrow for an afternoon. Stifle dissent, will you? Why, we may have to file a suit with the state's Division of Criminal Justice Services!

If I have a point in this post, it is this: that if we want to change the direction of this country through channels other than electoral politics or the mass media, we will have to be prepared to do a bit more than chant.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

One of Us Most Know 

I should point out that there are now two contributors to Buck Hill. I'm Alex, the old guy. The new guy is Ross. We're pretty much the same, except that Ross' dad is a dentist and I live in New York.

So just make sure to check the little byline at the end of the post, before you start wondering how it is possible for one man to post with the smarm of two.

Why can't Johnny Breathe? 

Johnny Ramone is dead.

I thought that, being a crusty old bastard, Johnny would live forever. I would feel worse, but I'm sure Eddie Vedder, Rob Zombie, and Vincent Gallo will do a more than adequate job of mourning him.

Ah, well. He's still a Ramone. Goodnight, sweet prince!

Lassie Got Her Gun 

Who knew June had it in her?

Here is a secret from those days, one that not even Ms. Lockhart knew when she was playing Ruth Martin: Some of the "Lassie" scripts came from writers who had been blacklisted after refusing to name names in the heyday of McCarthyism and the House Un-American Activities Committee.

She mentioned Adrian Scott, one of the Hollywood 10 who went to prison for contempt of Congress. His wife, writing as Joanne Court, attended story conferences and gave her husband notes so he could do rewrites. She also mentioned Robert Lees, who was listed in the credits as J. E. Selby. (He was murdered during a break-in at his home in Hollywood in June. He was 91.)

"So when people come up to me and say, 'Well, sure wish we had wonderful American shows like that the way we used to in the 50's,' I say, 'Let me tell you who wrote those scripts,' " Ms. Lockhart said. "Yes, they were good Americans, and they were in jail."

That does explain the episode where Lassie organizes all those garment workers.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Gimme Gimme Economic Shock Treatment 

Thank god Reagan destroyed the Soviet Union once and for all.

Russia may still be an autocracy, but it is no longer one which is ideologically opposed to us. Which is good news for the vast majority of Russians who have a significantly worse standard of living than they did in the post-Kruschev USSR, but can now drink all the Pepsi they want.

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Little Victories 

I am the number one result on Google for the following term:
"Our Sprawling, Supersize Utopia" summary

If I can prevent just one person from actually reading David Brooks, well... I'll have left the world a little better place.

Hypothetical Irony 

Here's something interesting to consider.

Quite a bit of activist outrage about Bush administration activities centers around the fact that the bastard wasn't elected. While everyone can argue about how the elctoral college count should have ended up, it's objectively clear that the guy did not win the popular vote. It's insanely undemocratic to have allowed this guy to become president -- hence, "Re-defeat Bush" bumper stickers, etc.

Now let's think about this year. Nationally, it's a statisical tie, and will likely remain so, barring a big October Surprise (still a definite posibility). But, electorally, Kerry retains an uncomfortable lead.

(check out this site for a Kerry-biased electoral map based on the most recent polling -- I disagree with the methadology behind counting statisitcal ties as "leaning" one way or the other, but you can calculate it however you want based on the available data, and Kerry comes out just a tad ahead)

(for a Bush-biased site with the same purpose [but with worse html skills], check out this site, which has Bush ahead in just about everything, but has this posted, without comment, among the otherwise universally positive news:
Bush gains New Hampshire!
Changes due to State Polls:
Iowa to Kerry
New Mexico to Kerry
Oregon to Kerry
Maine (district 2) to Kerry

So -- what will we Democratic "count every vote" types do if Kerry wins electorally but not popularly? Will we fight tooth and nail for Kerry to assume the presidency or will we accept that the massively and criminally uninformed people have spoken, and chosen the destruction of their country and way of life?

Obviously, there will be other factors -- massive voter fraud will be a problem this year, both high and low-tech, the media will be easily cowed into repeating the ruling class' party line, there will be no paper trail for much of the country, and so on. But I really can't imagine what sort of consequences there will be if Kerry clearly comes out ahead electorally and loses popularly.

Well, I do know that it will be the end of the electoral college. But it'll force a lot of principled people to fight very strongly against their own self-interest.

Friday, September 10, 2004

The Parties Continue Their Elaborate Grooming Rituals As the Earth Dies Screaming 

In the Most Important Election Of the Last Twenty Years, Both Parties Still Want to Make Sure You Don't Give A Fuck:
Mr. Kerry named the leader of his team, Mr. Jordan, a close friend of former President Bill Clinton, back in June, as a way to show he was ready to debate whenever Mr. Bush was. Mr. Bush, on the other hand, did not name his team until this week, a signal that he will take his time in granting Mr. Kerry time on the same stage as him.

It's almost like some sort of rich, white, gay courtship ritual -- except with the lives of 290,809,777 people at stake. So once these boys figure out who's bottoming, we can politely ask them for some health care. Perhaps John Kerry will drop some prescription drugs in his mad rush to distance himself from every principled stand he mistakenly made in the period after Vietnam and before he sold his soul to Clinton advisors.

Yet I want there to be debates, and I want to watch them, and I feel like they can only help our cause... which is pretty fucking stupid of me.

Still, one Republican official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the perception that Mr. Bush was ducking the debates did serve a purpose, by helping to lower expectations for Mr. Bush, who exceeded all expectations in his debates with Al Gore in 2000.

Because in this world of political Absurdist Theater, reality is completely subjective, and if the New York Times decides Bush's debates were impressive, then there's nothing you can do. That's the narrative. The old metaphor of political campaigns as horseraces is bullshit. In a horserace, you know who won.

Kerry is fucked. Bush has, at his disposal, one of the most powerful unelected men in the world. Kerry has Bill Clinton's Bagger Vance.

Our long national nightmare is over: Apple Day Has Returned 

I can't tell if this article is incredibly bitter or incredibly stupid:

"We're sensitive to what happened three years ago, but we also want to get back to living as normally as possible -- and for us, having Apple Day the Saturday after Labor Day is normal," LaVerna Leipold, co-chairwoman of the event, said Thursday.

"We're not dishonoring anyone. We'll still be thinking about the people that died. But isn't it time to move on? Haven't the terrorists taken enough away already?"

Ms. Leipold then excused herself as she had an appointment with a reporter from the national news weekly The Onion.

Meanwhile, Gov. Pawlenty has declared Sept. 11th to be "Patriot Day," as the dozens of more appropriate monikers were apparently already in use. I suppose he knew that his little Orwellian flourish would go unnoticed as no one will ever refer to September 11th as anything other than "September 11th," or "nine-eleven," or possibly as "the day the music died."

But the idea that suburbanites in the Midwest no longer care in any personal way about 9/11 is nothing shocking. I'm sure this article could have been published in 2003 or even 2002, had this year not been the first that September 11th falls on a weekend. Maybe I'm old fashioned, but I feel that human interest stories should either be about animals or contain something resembling real news. For example, they could have figured out exactly how long it took before people stopped giving a shit, beyond the requisite utterance "If we don't eat pie (or get married, become a woman, sit around watching college football, undermine the social safety net, completely ignore terrorism, etc.), the terrorists have won." That would have the added bonus of giving the newsroom a new topic for the office betting pool.


Thursday, September 09, 2004

I'm Up To One-Hundredth Of a Pack A Day 

Air pollution hurts little kids.

Yet, bizarrely, I don't see New York, Minneapolis, Dublin, Washington, Kansas City, or Manitoba banning cars.

Which is odd, considering their great concern for public health and the protection of lungs from people like me.

Now, I'm not a rabid libertarian smoking-is-good-for-you angry old man, but I would like to point this out (with the caveat that it comes from the site of one of those aforementioned types):
Fact: On page 3-46 of the report the EPA estimates, based on nicotine measurements in non-smokers blood, "this would translate to the equivalent of about one-fifth of a cigarette per day."

All I Really Wanna Do 

Still on a music kick:

Go fucking buy Paul Westerberg's Folker immeditately.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Hope Is On the Way 

So what if a year-and-a-half has passed since this interview. Keep a very slim but prominent place open on your bookshelf.

KR: Are you presently at work on a second collection?

David Berman: Yes. I've been picking up the pace a little bit lately.

KR: Can you describe more specifically how you’re going about working on it?

DB: No. I can’t really describe it. I’m clueless until I get closer to the end. I have to decide how many prose pieces to include for one.

KR: Does it have a working title?

DB: Yeah: Richard Simmons 1950-?.

In other good news: I've been really getting into public domain music recently -- it's free!

They Can't All Be The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll 

Salon had a piece a little while ago by their mildly annoying music critic ("mildly" only by the standards of other music critics, of course) in which he reviewed a series of modern protest songs. A buncha free music to download, which is nice, but most of it really sucks. Dan Bern sucks. Billy Bragg has written better ones. So have Sonic Youth. Really, sadly for our generation, wherever you draw the line, the best one is by old folkie Loudon Wainwright III. It's worth a listen -- especially if you are Dan Bern (or worse, the excoriable Chan Poling) and want to know what anti-Bush songs should sound like. And if either of you are reading my blog, Dan -- you're not Elvis Costello or Billy Bragg. You're not even English. And Chan -- spell your fucking name right and stop crying, you big baby.

Actually, that wasn't entirely accurate. Anti-Bush songs should sound more like anti-Thatcher songs. That is, filled with unimaginable bitterness and bitchy clever-dickery. Or just some ska.


"Theirs is an American tragedy in which we all have played a part.." 

On This Day...

Well, one good travesty of justice deserves another. If there was a God, and he worked through scandal-mongering, this would take Bush down.

It's much too early for me to be clever or even all that outraged, but it's worth noting that Bob Graham's accusations have a great deal of authority coming, as they do, from a respected Sentator on the Intelligence Committee who is known for almost obsessive documentation of his life -- and it's a couple paragraphs from the AP.

"Cheney Warns of Terror Risk if Kerry Wins", however, is bullshit fear-mongering by the politician who, it is generally accepted, has no scruples about anything, save a very tenuous support for the right of Lesbians who are His Daughter to not be strung up. And it appears to be front page material. There are four fucking names credited with authoring the article -- they couldn't send one of those hacks back to D.C. for Graham's press conference?

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Note To Mr. Edwards 

Cheney's Praise of Bush Takes a Dig at Clinton (and Reagan)
Earlier in the day, while speaking to about 150 people in a suburban backyard outside Milwaukee, Mr. Edwards accused the administration of covering up a struggling economy that only recently has begun showing signs of improvement.

"They are going to try over and over to put lipstick on this pig, that's exactly what they're going to try to do," he said. "You can put as much lipstick you want, but at the end of the day it's still a pig."

John: While suburban Milwaukee is technically a part of America's Heartland, the down-home Dan Rather metaphors aren't going to impress anyone.


Easing Back Into This Whole Political Blogging Thing 

Ted Turner looks like Dick Van Dyke.

Monday, September 06, 2004

Our Long, National Nightmare is Reaching the Half-Way Point 

That last post... just kidding. I didn't post a damn thing all summer, and spend most of my time not drinking wine on porches but, rather, drinking gin in apartments. Which is less fun. I also worked for one of the dreaded 527s, called ACT. Check 'em out. They probably don't need your money, unless you're George Soros-level wealthy/principled, but go ahead and volunteer if you're in a battleground state.

So -- politics. I've decided it's all too boring and from now on this blog is about indie-rock and where to get the best breakfast for your buck in Minneapolis.

Can you fucking believe Pitchfork gave the new Joan of Arc album a 5.3?!

Check out the Sunny Side Up Cafe on Lyndale Ave for the best french toast west of the Mississippi!

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?Weblog Commenting and Trackback by HaloScan.com