Turn Your TV and Your Computer Off

Bowling, Harlem Lanes
Bowling for basketball

Josh weighs in the Golly Ralphie Show. The media talking heads are becoming such an embarrassment. They have no problem either making shit up or regurgitating whatever pap the campaigns dish out. (Obama’s is not quite innocent either.) They’ll call a five-point lead in a poll a “statistical dead heat”.  Sigh.

Happy 4th of July! Do the patriotic thing and turn in any terrorists you may know to the authorities. Listen to some Louis Armstrong and throw a touchdown pass. Please don’t wave your hot dog in the face of your vegetarian sister and say “Meat is murder. Tasty murder.”

Heat, Speed, Time, Voting

Lake George motel

Lake George motel, night
There has to be an invisible sun

That song reached No. 2 in the UK charts when The Police released Ghost in the Machine. While I’m intrigued by pastoral scenes infused with poetry about what’s going on elsewhere, it could never be a convincing vehicle of persuasion. The Police video was banned in Britain in its day for shoving it down our throats. Today we’ve got Madonna’s “4 Minutes” which is pretty open to interpretation although as one of the commenters put it, “Why not 5 minutes?” Why can’t anyone make a banned video anymore? Oh wait, there are some recent ones…

That’s it… I’m voting Republican for more banned videos.

Upstate New York Road Trip Notes, etc

Boat under barn
Moosehead in barn attic
Only in barns

I got back on Tuesday night from upstate New York. We got as far as Lake George. My two cents are: It’s a beautiful place, however, it wasn’t all salt water taffy and shelling peanuts. No, no, no. My car Fyyffer, while not pouring out much white smoke anymore or leaking power steering fluid, is now leaking transmission fluid like a colander. It’s chugging about a third of a bottle every time I drive her. Calling on AAMCO® soon. (Just FYI, we spent about $85 on gas.) The other real bummer that happened was I fell down in the mud while it was pouring rain and we were setting up the DJ equipment in the reception barn. No chance of hitting on the catering staff after that.

The next day, we “took the cure” at the mineral baths at Saratoga Springs. S joked that the girl at the counter was the same girl from the 1930s when the place opened — some sort of mineral bath vampire. She didn’t even have to change her dress. Anyway, the water is a rust-brown color and effervescent and tastes like Alka-Seltzer®. Despite my snarks, it was very relaxing. I noticed later that my pee smelled a lot weirder than after asparagus so the osmosis really works somehow. Incidentally, “taking the cure,” used to be a euphemism for drying out or rehab but in quotes, I guess it means “something else.”

My friend is actually writing about the rest of the trip for the New York Post and I’ll be submitting photos (not that any will be published) so I’ll link to it when it’s time.

We visited Bill and family in Oak Hill where there will be a massive bluegrass festival in mid-July. I’m planning on going.

For my NYC friends, Friday night will be the last Soul Clinic at the Ding Dong Lounge. Be there!

Politics aside: Congrats to Obama. As Atrios notes, hardly anyone mentions the Iraq War when waxing stupid about why Clinton lost. No antiwar vote, no candidate Obama.

TomDispatch posts about a wacky new $80 billion Cyberwar program that would “allow the Air Force to fry any computer on Earth.” Crime doesn’t pay… unless you’re a politician or a military consultant.

The (Latin) South Shall Rise Again

Union Square, 9 pm

Sometimes you think about something and then a few days later, a story appears that corroborates your thoughts. Synchronicity. It’s true that Naomi Klein has also written on The Iraq Effect on Latin America in The Shock Doctrine. Regardless of what you think of socialism, this is the first time since Spanish imperialism that Latin America is able to pursue its own agenda, free of the U.S./Euro/China/NAFTA axis, largely thanks to U.S. entanglement in the Middle East. “East is east and West is West…” I always wondered why Kipling left out the North and South. Bring on the brujeria!

Geopolitical intrigue aside, I also enjoy the odd hilarious flame war leaking into the internets. Dude, go wax your chest again.

The Next Feminist Platform

A fountain in the Brooklyn Botanical Garden
Riding a fish is funner than birthing one.

Feminism isn’t a topic I’ll post about much but I find the idea of Orgasmic Birth fascinating. Any wedge that puts a dent in the conventional Biblican wisdom, here specifically Genesis 3:16 –(“…I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children…”) — now that’s a good kick in the pants. Further irony lies in OB’s strong foundation in new age type spirituality and things like water birth, yoga, meditation, the “spiritual diet,” and ye, even Robert Bly stylee Male Energy. Contrast that with the criticism of Islamic attitudes towards women (not uncalled for) and you can see a clear modern-day evolutionary arc of human spirituality. Any anthropologists out there wanna discuss this?

I’ll almost be surprised if ABC follows through with broadcasting a special about this on 20/20 on May 16. If they do, it’s because of the sexy title and you know they’re going to have a C-section specialist crowing that a C-section is the safest, most pain-free way to have a baby and how could there be anything better than Modern American Medicine? Snort.

On a tangential note, just now, Martha Nussbaum was on Bill Moyers’ show talking about “Freedom of Conscience” and how the right doesn’t get it. This OB thing is going to be heavily ridiculed by the establishment thought police.

(Full disclosure: My upstairs neighbor, who I respect very much, is a doula specializing in water birth and also a talented birth photographer. And I read Feministing once in a while. I suppose that makes me a sensitive new age terrorist.)

Celebrity Endorsements
Obama sports a much vaster and cooler list of celebrity endorsements than Clinton does. Huffpo rightly puts this stuff in their Entertainment section but why not also list McCain’s celeb endorsements? Maybe because he’s only got four although I’d wager conservatives consume more celebrity gossip than others do.

Torture Through the Centuries; The Concise Wingnut

buffet from above

Walk on the ice cubes, not the hot coals

Want to know more about torture? I know that you do. Condi apparently discussed whether detainees should be beat, slapped, sleep-deprived, water-boarded, all the above. McCain’s own accounting is that he broke and falsely admitted to war crimes to make it stop. And yet he has recently flip-flopped on his advocacy. Torture is mostly useless for information-gathering. At best, the threat of it and knowing that it happens is a fear tactic used by tyrants to keep the hoi polloi in line. We’re no better than “our enemies” if we do it. I’ll take the soft cushions please.

My favorite wingnut watchdog has a big piece up at the Village Voice on the conservative blogosphere.

Good Photos at Joe / I am an Elitist

StairsStairs again
Elitist stairs beat elevators
The Joe Coffee Bar on 13th and 5th Ave. is showing great photos after my own heart by Joseph O. Holmes. Nice silos from the American Museum of Natural History, dude.

I also saw some great art at the Jonathan Levine gallery last week. The Date Farmers installation feels like an incredibly hip Mexican taco stand and the surrealistic Alex Gross displays some impressive new stuff that might have been — probably was — ripped out the pages of Juxtapoz.

I definitely have bones to pick with stupid people — my own stupid form of elitism — and this blowup over Obama’s “bitter” “elitist” remark is moronic. Do I really have to listen to Hillary Clinton, George Will, Tim Russert, and Brit Hume tell me what elitism is? An administration that shreds the constitution, tortures people, ignores all polls, steals elections, funnels taxpayer money to cronies in the mercenary military, oil, and healthcare industries while neglecting infrastructure and disaster needs — that’s elitism and “out of touch.” Before I bust a vein over this, I’ll point you to the three best blogs I’ve seen about it: Roy 1 and Roy2, Josh Marshall’s, and Jay Rosen at Huffpo about the breaking of the story. Bring on the class war!

Shorter Mark Alexander

“Barack Obama is a terrorist. And all of his followers are terrorists. And his grandmother who he threw under the bus is a terrorist. And by the way, Michelle? Terrorist. All the priests he knows are racist. And terrorists. But we conservatives could never be sneering racists like those leftist terrorists.”

My sister worships this guy and I have yet to see him excoriated by anyone. Maybe I’m not looking in the right places.

Roy has one of the best rejoinders for this sort of nonsense here.

Giant lobster chomps on little people in the subway

14th St. - 8th Ave subway
A Tom Otterness lobster
Tom Otterness Rocks 8th Ave.
For those who have never been there, here’s more info. What’s Tom up to now?

I watched Under the Volcano. While Albert Finney rocks this sort of drinking and drugs kamikaze movie (e.g. The Dresser, Leaving Las Vegas, Hurly Burly, Boogie Nights, Requiem for a Dream), I’m tired of them. The Day of the Dead (the Mexican holiday) footage is nice. On the other hand, Resident Evil: Extinction is a much more satisfying clusterfuck with its numerous homages to itself and several other horror and sci-fi classics. Plus it’s totally believable.

I’ve been following the protests over the Olympic torch. The media attention is extraordinary and yet, last week, it was confirmed that the USA is yet another country that officially ytortures and the administration literally conjured up legal excuses for it. As it turns out, Jack Bauer and Fox’s 24 provided some of the inspiration. I’m sure a lot of us are outraged (also for finding out we were lied to again). Where is the media on this one? Oh, I see… it’s U.S. you’re talking about….

It’s a long way to the top

long way to the top
water tower
The view from almost everywhere in Madhattan

I’m trying out taking pairs (or more) of pictures with the camera in the same spot but a changed angle. The top one is all about the negative space.

Holy cow, it is so nice to be off of myspace. I can link to whatever the hell I want! I can put a few ads up! Yes, they’re probably coming as soon as I can figure it out. I need another column in the blog design… I don’t know if I like how links are capped. Hmm. Hmm. Anyway, if you’re a new reader, thanks for checking me out and you should be aware my topics can jump around sometimes in a serious way and sometimes in a half-assed way.

Very excited that some of the Bang on a Can Marathon program has been released. Now, I understand that this kind of music isn’t for everyone. But please don’t tell us you’d rather “chew on shit” than listen to it. I’ll bet you’d happily stew to Steve Reich’s “Daniel Variations” rather than masticate on shit. If I’m wrong, you’re probably not going to live very long.

So General Betray Us® is coming to testify again. What’s missing from this debate is the usual reality check. Via Digby and Spencer Ackerman, ajunior officer in Iraq puts it like this:

In my opinion, what everyone fails to realize is that this is not a counterinsurgency. If we wanted to stay in Iraq, then it would be a counterinsurgency. But it is clear that our goal is to turn over power and pull out. So, in building our strategic endstate, it’s pointless to set goals that relate to our presence in Iraq. If the “insurgency” is a function of our being there, then it is not an insurgency in terms of our endstate. For example, if one of our goals is to stop IED attacks on US forces, that is pointless. When we leave, there will be no more IED attacks on us forces. So our endstate needs to be different. We need to ask “if we left tomorrow, what would happen in Iraq?” and from there, we need to determine which of those anticipated results are unacceptable to us. Then we must aim our efforts on making sure those unacceptable results do not occur.

When I look at the problem that way, it becomes almost impossible to find a purpose in what we do. Regardless of what we do, the Shia are going to take control. They have completely infiltrated all the security forces. The only kind of leader who could keep them in check was a tyrant like Saddam. And when the Shia take control, as soon as we leave, they are going to be as brutal as they like against the Sunni and there will be little we can do about it. That is what will happen whether we leave tomorrow or in ten years. As far as the foreign fighters, they will leave Iraq when we do. So what are we trying to accomplish here? Train the Iraqi forces? History shows that training forces in the Middle East can backfire. Any training we offer these people will find its way to our terrorist enemies.

Does everyone forget Osama Bin Laden probably received training and guns from the U.S. in Afghanistan?