Saturday, December 30, 2006

Justice?



So, Saddam Hussein went to the gallows early this morning. I can't say I feel good about it. I can't say that the world is any better or worse a place than it was yesterday, or three years ago, or ten years ago. This medium is too limiting to discuss the morality of the death penalty, which I remain rabidly opposed to, even in a case like this. Saddam Hussein was undoubtedly guilty of the crimes he was accused of--but if you want to start hanging world leaders guilty of the deaths of thousands of people, the line forms to the left and extends quite a way.

It just seems to me that the sequence of events runs thusly: We (the citizens of the West and our leaders) created a president. We created a dictator. We enabled a ruthless murderer. We took action to depose and remove him when the association with him became cumbersome. We absolved ourselves of the crimes we aided and abetted. We created a puppet government with puppet courts. They convicted him of crimes we were complicit in. We called it justice. We created a martyr. We declared the world a better place for these actions.

The revenge killings have already begun. Now, our president called it a first step, but that begs the question... towards what end? How long is this all going to take? How long before the reaction to this extends beyond the borders of Iraq?

I've asked this before: Is it really worth selling our souls to save our asses? I have no answer to that at the moment. I recall my initial reaction to the World Trade Center attack, and what I would have condoned in those first days for some sense of security, even for a day. I recall that upon reflection that I felt shame for those thoughts and that sense of shame and complicity in all the tragic events of that day and those that preceded it, and those that came after.

Don't get me wrong--I have no feelings of admiration for Saddam Hussein whatsoever, but it's telling that his executioners wore masks while he refused to. And I feel with no small amount of shame that we are the people cowering behind those masks.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Holiday Greetings

It's that time of year again, and with it comes the time of memories and reflection. It's been quite a year and despite some humps and obstacles I can say that I'm happy and grateful... grateful for people and blessings in my life... grateful for acts and deeds of grace, compassion, courage and true kindness. With that I offer you all A VERY HAPPY HOLIDAY SEASON AND A NEW YEAR FULL OF CONTINUED HEALTH AND JOY Thank you all, you know who you are, for filling my life with love, friendship and wonder.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

The Real Poop

Lest you all think of me as merely another pseudo-intellectual blowhard, here's the real poop:

There is something to be said for cultural relativism, but there is some SHIT that I will just never understand. This is right up there with the French fascination with Jerry Lewis (which may or may not be URBAN LEGEND but who really knows?

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Joseph Conrad: Nostromo



I will admit freely to never having read anything by Joseph Conrad but Heart of Darkness until recently when I picked up NOSTROMO from a box on top of a garbage can down the street. One of the benefits of living in a neighborhood full of transient students is having a vast "lending library" right out on the sidewalk that's open all hours. I Googled it and it was said by all accounts to be Conrad's best work. Given my lack of experience on these matters, who am I to judge? I will say that it beats Heart of Darkness hands down, BUT the book still left me unsettled.

It's a powerful book, set in tumultuous times in turn-of-the-century South America. It historically captures the politics, the instability etc. It's a wonderful story, captivating plot etc, but that's not the most striking aspect. Before I get into that though... the book... is an in depth study of... a nearly Biblical examination of, human flaws: greed, avarice, obsession, selfishness, vanity etc. It's spread out amongst a broad and varied array of players in the story, and while none of them could be said individually or more so than any others to be any more or less good or evil than the rest, they are all afflicted and corrupted to some degree. Even when they are not without noble and admirable characteristics, they are still portrayed as being infected by humanity, rather than uplifted by it.

Most authors I've read, of any genre, cannot help but inject some bit of their own sentimentality into at least one of the characters. Even Camus, who wrote with perhaps the least warmth towards his cast of players, would turn out one here or there that you couldn't help but feel affection for, like perhaps Tarrou from The Plague. Conrad almost does that here with Emelia Gould, or perhaps Don Jose... but ultimately portrays their better qualities as sentimental weaknesses. I still felt sorry for them but felt I was being forced beyond empathy.

So I'm reading it a second time through to see if I may have missed something, just in case. The tale is tremendously compelling. I've never read an author who had such a sneering contempt for some of his subjects--such sarcasm in lines like "the great man condescended to write the letters in his own hand!" The characterizations run from one knockout punch to another--but this might be the first book I've ever read where it was clear that the author had little or no affection for any creature of his own creation. Absolutely chilling!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

The Guerilla Poetics Project

Okay, THIS is where I was going with all this craziness. The Guerilla Poetics Project--I like what these guys are doing also. Thanks to poet G. Emil Reutter for making me aware of this band of folks that I'm lucky enough to share Brooklyn with (me and about 2.5 Million other nice people).

Guerilla Publishing



SHOOT!!!!

Close but no cigar...

Gorilla Publishing



CRAP!!!!

Wrong one.

Monday, December 11, 2006

ZOHAR PUBLISHING

I really like what these folks are doing. I started collecting installments of BETWEEN EPIPHANIES earlier this year at the Commonwealth Bar (5th Ave. @ the corner of 12th St. in Park Slope). The whole concept of how this little novel is being published and distributed is just so intriguing, as well as being a good read, that it's become yet another reason to make the hike down the hill (or The Slope, if you will) specifically to look for the next chapter. Commonwealth, by the way, is probably the best bar in the neighborhood--best staff, best clientele, by far the best juke box. But Zohar Publishing... really one of the more interesting concepts to come to Brooklyn in some time...

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Best of 2006

So this is the moment you've all been waiting for--asking yourselves--what has Greg been listening to? What makes Greg happy? How can I be more like Greg? Well, here you go, kids--these are some of the gems that I've been enjoying this year. It's almost unfair of me to make this list because I don't really feel that I've participated in new music and new recordings in 2006. I have, in fact, been as uninvolved as I've ever been in following and listening to new bands and new releases from existing outfits. That said, there is some kind of vindication in respect to the naysayers and various stylish negativists whose yearly proclamations would have one believe that it's been "the most lame year for music in memory." I would assert that if they can't find treasures, then they're simply not paying attention. If I can compile a list from 2006 with no real effort, of releases that are not only great in respect to the current year, but keepers for all time, then anybody with any kind of taste should be able. So with no further ado and in no particular order:
Heartless Bastards--All This Time* (P)
Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan--Ballad of the Broken Seas* (P)
Willie Nile--Streets of New York
Neko Case--Fox Confessor Brings The Flood
Parts & Labor--Stay Afraid
Joan Jett--Sinner
Joe Lally--There to Here (P)
Michael Franti & Spearhead--Yell Fire (P)
Dirty Pretty Things--Waterloo To Anywhere*
Mission of Burma--The Obliterati**
Raconteurs--Broken Boy Soldiers* (P)
Radio Birdman--Zeno Beach
The BellRays--Have A Little Faith** (P)
Sonic Youth--Rather Ripped
Nikki Sudden--The Truth Doesn't Matter (P)
Old Crow Medicine Show--Big Iron World
The Evens--Get Even (P)
The Hold Steady--Boys and Girls In America (P)

Key:
(P) Ringing endorsement from IHoP/Kosher for Passover
*Top 5 Honors
**Tied for #1 for 2006
Now there are a couple releases I only heard for the first time today--one of them is Beirut, and the other is Love Is All. I'm going to have to give them another listen and they might be added to the list. Stay tuned.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Real Heroes Don't Carry Guns

I have no words to do justice to the hero of this STORY so I'll just thank CelticGods for forwarding it and move on.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

TERROR IN THE SKY



Under new security measures sanctioned by THE PATRIOT ACT your last meal could put you on THE NO FLY LIST!

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Twelve Angry Men



Tomorrow morning I report bright and early for JURY DUTY. This is the fourth time in my life I've been called and I've been chosen to sit on a panel the previous three visits. It's an experience I've mixed feelings about. It's not hard to see why so many people do their best to be excused. It's tedious at best and when you're chosen, it can be horrible. To date, my cases have been two dreadfully boring civil cases, and a murder trial in which a young man was accused of beating his 75 year old father to death during a dispute. Hearing (and seeing) the evidence in that case (the evidence included explicit photos, bloodstained clothing and stomach turning medical reports and police testimony, is an ordeal I don't care to repeat.

It was during this case though that I realized that rational men and women do truly have a duty to serve. It was quite obvious from the beginning that most people do not believe in the "innocent until proven guilty" rules that are supposed to govern the justice system. You see very quickly that we live amongst fearful souls who are ready to convict despite any paucity of evidence. Many of those chosen to serve, even those trying desperately to avoid serving, take this opportunity to strike back against their own fears and prejudices. If rational people (and I pray for the strength to be one of them) do not serve, then the system is given over to that fear.

Recent reports indicate that there are currently more than 7 million Americans in "the system," that is incarcerated or paroled. Sit on one murder case and you might begin to wonder not only how many are wrongly imprisoned, but if we might be prosecuting the wrong people.

So I'm resigned to go tomorrow and be a part of it, and see how it turns out. I will not lie and say I hope I'm chosen, but I can't help thinking (though it sounds egotistical) that someone may suffer if I don't.

Addendum 12/01/06: Jury duty officially over. Sat around all morning in the Supreme Court in downtown Brooklyn, checking email and reading Conrad and ogling women. Just before lunch was sent over to the civil courts to do the juror interview thing. Realized midway through the afternoon that I had done business with a partner of one of the jurors--which means automatic exclusion from the case. Went back downstairs to wait to be called to another "part." Was dismissed a short time later. That's it. No drama, no case, no nothing... except some interesting observations on the hoops that some assclowns will jump through to get exactly what I got--sent home.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

This is sooooo baaaaaaaad!!!!



Some days the news is slower than others. Some days it's just too strange for words. This is one of those days. I don't know where to go after GOAT BALLS L'ORANGE.

It's like... Uh, you broke up with me, you stupid __________(insert misogynist expletive here), so I'm going to paint your goat's balls orange.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

I Can See My Future



Ahhhh Sunday night... I've had 5 days of holiday weekend fun in NYC! Five days of revelry and relaxation and just beginning to feel human. Tomorrow though, it's back to the business of being the little bronze man down in the train station, headed off to collect the copper.

Though I suppose if the prospect of going back to the same ol' thing tomorrow seems a bit dreary I could apply for AN EXCITING NEW CAREER IN ESPIONAGE!!!

Saturday, November 25, 2006

TRUTH



Let's be FAIR. It's not that hard to tell the truth. The PROBLEM is that not everybody wants to hear it.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving Everybody!

That's it... short and sweet. Hope you all have a happy and safe day. I can't list the things I am thankful for. It would take all day, and there are pies to be eaten and bottles to be uncorked.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

PLAGUE



In the DARK AGES the socially conscious and sometimes the HYSTERICAL AND PARANOID would paint warnings on city walls to steer travellers clear of horrible MALADIES that may befall them if they entered the gates.

This in mind, could the lurid red lettering on the wall in this photo be some warning of a brand new EPIDEMIC????

LEMMY IS GOD



You know it! I know it! And even the KIDS know it!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Waiting for the Barbarians



JM Coetzee has received just about every award known to the literary world, and then some. I think he's the only Nobel Laureate about whom I've never heard accusations of "politics," associated with his winning. I've never heard nor read an ill word spoken of his novels. That said, I'd never chased after award winners, and I'd never read his work.

So... Waiting for the Barbarians: What can I say that hasn't already been said, about the book or the author? He has far more learned and articulate fans and supporters, so why not start with what it meant to me? In short, this is the best book about and against the current War On Terror that has ever been written. Nevermind that it was written in 1980 and is not at all about any current conflict in the world. Nevermind that it is fiction set in a time before skyscrapers or airplanes or nuclear and germ warfare threats. The book has more relevance to current events than any newspaper I've read in the last five years. The policemen and the soldiers of "The Empire" mouth words and ideas that have spilled like waste from the mouths of Bush, Blair, Rumsfeld, and any number of creeps within the last month. It's absolutely stunning, like a lump hammer to the side of the head. There is only so much I can say here without giving it all up--but in light of the abject cruelty of Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib--acts that despite our horror we allow to continue, it's frightening to realize that this story was written a thousand times in our history, a thousand times before Waiting for the Barbarians. Add to this that to the best of my literary knowledge, every word of praise ever bestowed on Coetzee is well deserved--the narrator of the story, the Magistrate, is one of the most perfectly written characters I've ever experienced. His horror, his painful self awareness, self-revulsion, and his outrage, and especially his sense of guilt. I am blown away.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Frank O'Hara




If I were Frank O'Hara
I would don my sportjacket and stroll out at lunch with my chicken salad
And Bryant Park would be filled with people who amaze and amuse me
And I would munch and muse
I would ruminate and furtively suck celery out of my teeth
Before heading to ComputerWorld to type a poem
The steady rhythm of Olivettis a thing of the past
As out of fashion as my sportjacket.
Are you looking for a laptop or a desktop, the sales clerk, to me...
Are you talking about computers or women, son? I'll take one of each.
Chuckle, chuckle, and I would feel clever.
I'm actually looking for my muse
We have a special on Hewlett Packward but no Muse.
And I'm back on the street still tasting the slight tang of mayonnaise.

(Editor's Note: Okay, don't mind me. But read Frank O'Hara... Really!)

Sunday, November 12, 2006

The Strange World of Blogging

Okay, so we all know that the internet is a strange place, and blogging is a good way to experience some of that. I have one of these Stat Counters that tells me how many people have visited the blog, where they're from, and what key words they may have done a search on that brought them here. Today, a visitor from Manchester, England came across Glossophagia after Googling "Wanking" (see prior post) and BTNG. It's nice to know that there are people out there in the world who are still concerned with the spiritual health of others.

Friday, November 10, 2006

The Perils of Incessant Wanking



If you don't stop playing with that darn thing you're going to develop a serious PROBLEM

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Post-Election Weirdness

There is a lot to process these last couple days since the GOP took what even Curious George calls a "thumping." He looked positively shellshocked yesterday during the 1 p.m. press conference, and was even less articulate that usual. It was surely a big day nationwide for the anti-war movement, for the women's rights movement, for the gay rights movement in several states. My fear though is that progressive thinkers will rest back on the laurels of one of the biggest populist/progressive victories in decades and not see it as the call to arms--the time to push harder for freedom and peace. Despite all the rhetoric from both sides, about concessions to unite and work together, I don't see Bush and Nancy Pelosi coming together happily in the realization that we all need to be pals and like Danny & Sandy fall in love and work things out.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

THIS ONE SAYS IT ALL



DON'T LET THE DOOR HIT YOU IN THE ASS ON THE WAY OUT.

WHY I OUGHTTA



THAT DAMN HILLARY CLINTON I'M GONNA RING HER FRIGGIN' NECK!!!

YOU JUST WAIT



YOU JUST WAIT UNTIL I TELL YOUR FATHER!!!

Monday, November 06, 2006

Crime & Punishment

Election Day Eve, and I'm really troubled. I've been mulling over the Saddam Hussein sentencing since yesterday... lots of thoughts. It's hard to feel bad about such a scumbag meeting his end. It really isn't so simple though, is it? It goes beyond opposing the death penalty, and I do very much so, but now is not the time for that argument. This whole business just isn't that simple. I was halfway through writing up something on it when someone forwarded this to me, and it pretty much says everything that was on my mind:

Robert Fisk: This was a guilty verdict on America as well

Published: 06 November 2006

So America's one-time ally has been sentenced to death for war crimes he committed when he was Washington's best friend in the Arab world. America knew all about his atrocities and even supplied the gas - along with the British, of course - yet there we were yesterday declaring it to be, in the White House's words, another "great day for Iraq". That's what Tony Blair announced when Saddam Hussein was pulled from his hole in the ground on 13 December 2003. And now we're going to string him up, and it's another great day.

Of course, it couldn't happen to a better man. Nor a worse. It couldn't be a more just verdict - nor a more hypocritical one. It's difficult to think of a more suitable monster for the gallows, preferably dispatched by his executioner, the equally monstrous hangman of Abu Ghraib prison, Abu Widad, who would strike his victims on the head with an axe if they dared to condemn the leader of the Iraqi Socialist Baath Party before he hanged them. But Abu Widad was himself hanged at Abu Ghraib in 1985 after accepting a bribe to put a reprieved prisoner to death instead of the condemned man. But we can't mention Abu Ghraib these days because we have followed Saddam's trail of shame into the very same institution. And so by hanging this awful man, we hope - don't we? - to look better than him, to remind Iraqis that life is better now than it was under Saddam.

Only so ghastly is the hell-disaster that we have inflicted upon Iraq that we cannot even say that. Life is now worse. Or rather, death is now visited upon even more Iraqis than Saddam was able to inflict on his Shias and Kurds and - yes, in Fallujah of all places - his Sunnis, too. So we cannot even claim moral superiority. For if Saddam's immorality and wickedness are to be the yardstick against which all our iniquities are judged, what does that say about us? We only sexually abused prisoners and killed a few of them and murdered some suspects and carried out a few rapes and illegally invaded a country which cost Iraq a mere 600,000 lives ("more or less", as George Bush Jnr said when he claimed the figure to be only 30,000). Saddam was much worse. We can't be put on trial. We can't be hanged.

"Allahu Akbar," the awful man shouted - God is greater. No surprise there. He it was who insisted these words should be inscribed upon the Iraqi flag, the same flag which now hangs over the palace of the government that has condemned him after a trial at which the former Iraqi mass murderer was formally forbidden from describing his relationship with Donald Rumsfeld, now George Bush's Secretary of Defence. Remember that handshake? Nor, of course, was he permitted to talk about the support he received from George Bush Snr, the current US President's father. Little wonder, then, that Iraqi officials claimed last week the Americans had been urging them to sentence Saddam before the mid-term US elections.

Anyone who said the verdict was designed to help the Republicans, Tony Snow, the White House spokesman, blurted out yesterday, must be "smoking rope". Well, Tony, that rather depends on what kind of rope it might be. Snow, after all, claimed yesterday that the Saddam verdict - not the trial itself, please note - was "scrupulous and fair". The judges will publish "everything they used to come to their verdict."

No doubt. Because here are a few of the things that Saddam was not allowed to comment upon: sales of chemicals to his Nazi-style regime so blatant - so appalling - that he has been sentenced to hang on a localised massacre of Shias rather than the wholesale gassing of Kurds over which George W Bush and Lord Blair of Kut al-Amara were so exercised when they decided to depose Saddam in 2003 - or was it in 2002? Or 2001? Some of Saddam's pesticides came from Germany (of course). But on 25 May 1994, the US Senate's Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs produced a report entitled "United States Chemical and Biological Warfare-related Dual-use exports to Iraq and their possible impact on the Health Consequences (sic) of the Persian Gulf War".

This was the 1991 war which prompted our liberation of Kuwait, and the report informed Congress about US government-approved shipments of biological agents sent by American companies to Iraq from 1985 or earlier. These included Bacillus anthracis, which produces anthrax; Clostridium botulinum; Histoplasma capsulatum; Brucella melitensis; Clostridium perfringens and Escherichia coli. The same report stated that the US provided Saddam with "dual use" licensed materials which assisted in the development of chemical, biological and missile-system programmes, including chemical warfare agent production facility plant and technical drawings (provided as pesticide production facility plans).

Yes, well I can well see why Saddam wasn't permitted to talk about this. John Reid, the British Home Secretary, said that Saddam's hanging "was a sovereign decision by a sovereign nation". Thank heavens he didn't mention the £200,000 worth of thiodiglycol, one of two components of mustard gas we exported to Baghdad in 1988, and another £50,000 worth of the same vile substances the following year.

We also sent thionyl chloride to Iraq in 1988 at a price of only £26,000. Yes, I know these could be used to make ballpoint ink and fabric dyes. But this was the same country - Britain - that would, eight years later, prohibit the sale of diphtheria vaccine to Iraqi children on the grounds that it could be used for - you guessed it - "weapons of mass destruction".

Now in theory, I know, the Kurds have a chance for their own trial of Saddam, to hang him high for the thousands of Kurds gassed at Halabja. This would certainly keep him alive beyond the 30-day death sentence review period. But would the Americans and British dare touch a trial in which we would have not only to describe how Saddam got his filthy gas but why the CIA - in the immediate aftermath of the Iraqi war crimes against Halabja - told US diplomats in the Middle East to claim that the gas used on the Kurds was dropped by the Iranians rather than the Iraqis (Saddam still being at the time our favourite ally rather than our favourite war criminal). Just as we in the West were silent when Saddam massacred 180,000 Kurds during the great ethnic cleansing of 1987 and 1988.

And - dare we go so deep into this betrayal of the Iraqis we loved so much that we invaded their country? - then we would have to convict Saddam of murdering countless thousands of Shia Muslims as well as Kurds after they staged an uprising against the Baathist regime at our specific request - thousands whom webetrayed by leaving them to fight off Saddam's brutal hordes on their own. "Rioting," is how Lord Blair's meretricious "dodgy dossier" described these atrocities in 2002 - because, of course, to call them an "uprising" (which they were) would invite us to ask ourselves who contrived to provoke this bloodbath. Answer: us.

I and my colleagues watched this tragedy. I travelled on the hospital trains that brought the Iranians back from the 1980-88 war front, their gas wounds bubbling in giant blisters on their arms and faces, giving birth to smaller blisters that wobbled on top of their wounds. The British and Americans didn't want to know. I talked to the victims of Halabja. The Americans didn't want to know. My Associated Press colleague Mohamed Salaam saw the Iranian dead lying gassed in their thousands on the battlefields east of Basra. The Americans and the British didn't care.

But now we are to give the Iraqi people bread and circuses, the final hanging of Saddam, twisting, twisting slowly in the wind. We have won. We have inflicted justice upon the man whose country we invaded and eviscerated and caused to break apart. No, there is no sympathy for this man. "President Saddam Hussein has no fear of being executed," Bouchra Khalil, a Lebanese lawyer on his team, said in Beirut a few days ago. "He will not come out of prison to count his days and years in exile in Qatar or any other place. He will come out of prison to go to the presidency or to his grave." It looks like the grave. Keitel went there. Ceausescu went there. Milosevic escaped sentence.

The odd thing is that Iraq is now swamped with mass murderers, guilty of rape and massacre and throat-slitting and torture in the years since our "liberation" of Iraq. Many of them work for the Iraqi government we are currently supporting, democratically elected, of course. And these war criminals, in some cases, are paid by us, through the ministries we set up under this democratic government. And they will not be tried. Or hanged. That is the extent of our cynicism. And our shame. Have ever justice and hypocrisy been so obscenely joined?

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Public Image Ltd.



What do you do if you're the Son O'God and you're having a problem with media visibility? You hire a P.R. firm, of course! Jesus H. Murphy has signed on with the Park Slope Christian Tabernacle, known in Brooklyn as The God Shop. Insider Scoop: Jesus has a serious image problem what with all these guys that can't keep their trousers up and their noses out of Capitol Hill business. We want to bring J.C. back to the people. We're talking about a Jenny Jones Makeover. His look is a little outdated even when you consider all the bearded hipsters down in Billyburg. We're talking Bringing Sexy Back. We're talking about a licensed clothing line. We're talking about an MTV Reality Show! We're talking about MAKING JESUS FAMOUS! Can you dig it?

Who's up next? We're thinking Chuck Heston and his gunplay have smudged the good name of Moses. We'll probably leave Mohammed out of the equation but any of those four-armed Guys & Dolls from India are always welcome!

Oh James Joyce, You Want To Do What????

Jimmy, Jimmy, Jimmy.... we need to talk, pal! Yeah, maybe if you were alive today you'd know from the MasterCard advertisements that your most private thoughts would be published for all the world to see. Right now I should start by saying just one thing: Your lusty, filthy letters to your wife all over the internet...

PRICELESS!!!!

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Stupid Is As Stupid Does

Thomas L. Friedman has finally said something that makes sense (regards to Field Editor CelticGods for forwarding this). Okay, I'm not saying that the Flat Earth business made no sense, but it may as well have been written in Chinese for me. But this is plainspeak that even phony Texans and their yahoo cohorts should be able to understand.

November 3, 2006

Op-Ed Columnist, NY Times

Insulting Our Troops, and Our Intelligence
By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN

George Bush, Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld think you’re stupid. Yes, they do.

They think they can take a mangled quip about President Bush and Iraq by John Kerry — a man who is not even running for office but who, unlike Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney, never ran away from combat service — and get you to vote against all Democrats in this election.

Every time you hear Mr. Bush or Mr. Cheney lash out against Mr. Kerry, I hope you will say to yourself, “They must think I’m stupid.” Because they surely do.

They think that they can get you to overlook all of the Bush team’s real and deadly insults to the U.S. military over the past six years by hyping and exaggerating Mr. Kerry’s mangled gibe at the president.

What could possibly be more injurious and insulting to the U.S. military than to send it into combat in Iraq without enough men — to launch an invasion of a foreign country not by the Powell Doctrine of overwhelming force, but by the Rumsfeld Doctrine of just enough troops to lose? What could be a bigger insult than that?

What could possibly be more injurious and insulting to our men and women in uniform than sending them off to war without the proper equipment, so that some soldiers in the field were left to buy their own body armor and to retrofit their own jeeps with scrap metal so that roadside bombs in Iraq would only maim them for life and not kill them? And what could be more injurious and insulting than Don Rumsfeld’s response to criticism that he sent our troops off in haste and unprepared: Hey, you go to war with the army you’ve got — get over it.

What could possibly be more injurious and insulting to our men and women in uniform than to send them off to war in Iraq without any coherent postwar plan for political reconstruction there, so that the U.S. military has had to assume not only security responsibilities for all of Iraq but the political rebuilding as well? The Bush team has created a veritable library of military histories — from “Cobra II” to “Fiasco” to “State of Denial” — all of which contain the same damning conclusion offered by the very soldiers and officers who fought this war: This administration never had a plan for the morning after, and we’ve been making it up — and paying the price — ever since.

And what could possibly be more injurious and insulting to our men and women in Iraq than to send them off to war and then go out and finance the very people they’re fighting against with our gluttonous consumption of oil? Sure, George Bush told us we’re addicted to oil, but he has not done one single significant thing — demanded higher mileage standards from Detroit, imposed a gasoline tax or even used the bully pulpit of the White House to drive conservation — to end that addiction. So we continue to finance the U.S. military with our tax dollars, while we finance Iran, Syria, Wahhabi mosques and Al Qaeda madrassas with our energy purchases.

Everyone says that Karl Rove is a genius. Yeah, right. So are cigarette companies. They get you to buy cigarettes even though we know they cause cancer. That is the kind of genius Karl Rove is. He is not a man who has designed a strategy to reunite our country around an agenda of renewal for the 21st century — to bring out the best in us. His “genius” is taking some irrelevant aside by John Kerry and twisting it to bring out the worst in us, so you will ignore the mess that the Bush team has visited on this country.

And Karl Rove has succeeded at that in the past because he was sure that he could sell just enough Bush cigarettes, even though people knew they caused cancer. Please, please, for our country’s health, prove him wrong this time.

Let Karl know that you’re not stupid. Let him know that you know that the most patriotic thing to do in this election is to vote against an administration that has — through sheer incompetence — brought us to a point in Iraq that was not inevitable but is now unwinnable.

Let Karl know that you think this is a critical election, because you know as a citizen that if the Bush team can behave with the level of deadly incompetence it has exhibited in Iraq — and then get away with it by holding on to the House and the Senate — it means our country has become a banana republic. It means our democracy is in tatters because it is so gerrymandered, so polluted by money, and so divided by professional political hacks that we can no longer hold the ruling party to account.

It means we’re as stupid as Karl thinks we are.

I, for one, don’t think we’re that stupid. Next Tuesday we’ll see.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Always Outnumbered, Always Outgunned



Today's headline is the title of a book that's captivated me for the last couple days by Walter Mosley. I had said a couple days ago that I didn't read crime fiction but I'd forgotten a couple in Mosley's "Easy Rawlins" series. They were entertaining but didn't really float my boat. The Socrates Fortlaw books are a different story. This is an eye-popping work of fiction and it is HIGHLY recommended. I don't even know where to begin, but I'd put it up there towards but not quite reaching Richard Wright's Native Son. That said, I don't know if I could give the same recommendation to everything by Mosley, but this is a hell of a book.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Awwww damn!

R.I.P. William Styron
What's there to say? If he had never written anything after Lie Down In Darkness, up there with the best American novels ever, that would have been enough.

He was no relation at all to this lovely young lady. It was just this morning (do you remember this morning?)that I was happily bouncing along, listening to Oh Bondage Up Yours. Confession: The reason I added this last little message is that we've got Election Day coming up on November 7th. Now, if you look at election statistics for the last 20 years, it has been women who have been responsible for a good part of the most liberal and/or progressive and/or leftist trends and results every single time. So if you fellows can't do the right thing, please stay home. Ladies, we're counting on you.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Music Calms The Savage Breast




MAMA WEER ALL CRAZEE NOW!

Sad news: R.I.P. Red Auerbach I guess he had a good run, dying at 89. He certainly lived well. Any maybe it's me that I feel sad for. It's hard to forget the frantic road trips up to Boston to see the Celts at the Garden. They will have other championship teams, but I won't have another '84 Championship and there will never be another Red Auerbach... ever.

So after you've calmed your savage breast, why not try your hand at writing that NOVEL you've always secretly dreamed of penning.

But if you really want to know true calm, fulfill another dream and send your job OVERSEAS. Admit it, you wanted a little vacation anyway.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Rankin File--The Book Report

Ian Rankin is yet another writer that might have slipped under my radar were it not for another fortuitous word-of-mouth recommendation. Crime fiction, and genre fiction in general, has never really been my thing. I'm not a literary snob by any stretch. It just never really appealed to me, unless you count science fiction in high school and a lengthy James Ellroy binge in the 90s. When someone describes a writer though, as offering keen portrayals of class struggle and strife, explorations of moral and ethical questions that go beyond the standard good vs. evil cops and robbers games, along with very believably human characters, it's hard not to give it a shot.

With this in mind, I delved into Rankin's Inspector Rebus series with still a little SKEPTICISM--which I will say flat out was entirely unfounded. The series is set against the backdrop of Edinburgh, Scotland (mostly) where the inhospitable weather becomes nearly as central a character as Detective Inspector John Rebus. Rebus is a hard boiled, hard nut, obsessive sort, not at all stereotypical, but familiar to the genre. He's almost an anti-hero, surly, drunk, seriously flawed, anti-social, self-destructive, self-depracating--Do you like him yet? He is actually very hard not to like. He's got a lot of traits, including vulnerability and a self-sacrificing willingness to do the right thing no matter what, that every guy at some point in his life at least secretly aspires to attain more of.

So I'm on the tenth book in the series in about two months, so this can't really be any sort of a review or a report, and space limitations prevent me from hammering down the several thousand word "Why You MUST Read This" screed I wrote in the throes of legendary vodka haze a few days ago. I can say that you will probably enjoy these books unless you're seriously feint of heart.

The series is also somewhat of a noir-ish travelogue of a Scotland you won't see as a tourist--and a treatise on Scottish culture, which being a first generation American of Scottish descent I found particularly illuminating. There is a companion book to the series also, called Rebus' Scotland (special thanks to the Blogistani for posting this one from downtown Karachi)which is a great read as well. Ethnic background is something I've always taken for granted so the last couple months have been rather an eyeopener.

So, start at the beginning. Another great reward is not just seeing Rebus and assorted returning characters and their dynamics developing and changing, you get to watch Rankin grow as a writer as the series progresses. The first book is Knots and Crosses.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Public Television Damages Children



If it wasn't bad enough when the NEA turned every last one of us into homosexuals, and we have to go to New Jersey to get married, now we've got PBS out to ruin our innocent young children. IT'S MADNESS!!!!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Grateful Dead?



Why is this man smiling like the Mona Lisa? Does he know something we don't? Does he have the answer to some cosmic question? Has he just had a good meal? Great Sex? A prescription to Xanax with unlimited refills? Looks like he's got something on his mind doesn't it? I'll tell you exactly what it is. It's because he's FRIGGIN' RICH and he doesn't even have to go to work to make his dough!!!! Wouldn't you be smiling?

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Cafe Glossophagia



SPECIAL OF THE DAY:
French Fried Tourists

Belgian Waffle

Plastic Bertrand after whom the Belgian Waffle was named, is just cool enough in an odd way, to make it into the Glossophagia Hall of Fame. I will humbly admit that I've never heard more than the one song that appears on the above menu; it's his "cover" of Jet Boy Jet Girl, by The Damned--But it's enough. It's more than enough. Thank you Bertrand (Plastic?) for getting my eyebrow locked permanently in the Spock position.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Tribute to Pablo Neruda

Spanish is a romantic, lyrical romance language
Even when ideas don't translate well to English
But gentleman, do not despair
When you have failed to please her.
I will take over
And send her reeling towards ecstasy
With my Native Tongue

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Tribute to Allen Ginsberg




I saw the best grocery boys of my generation destroyed by Nintendo, starving hysterical naked,dragging themselves through the produce aisle in California at dawn, running from Walt Whitman. And America... I said to the hippies in Grant Park:
OM
OM
OM
OM
OM
OMIGOD
That's a nice ass!

And lest you think I disrespect the man, I'd like to add this:
DAMN NEAR THE GREATEST POEM OF ALL TIME. This is so far ahead of its time that it not only still applies but will unfortunately continue to apply for generations to come.

Stories From Home, Part 1

*****Editor's note: This is a submission from the anything but submissive blogger heretofore and hereafter known as CelticGods. I will certainly entertain any and all submissions from any willing participants. Enjoy******
Sunday Football, Kingston 13

When my wife and I moved from New York to live with her mother in Kingston Jamaica, I came to love Sundays. Friday had been my favourite day of the week previously.
There is just a certain feeling about a Sunday in Jamaica.
I would rise as early as I normally did, perform my ablutions, chase the dogs out into the yard, and take up my position on the verandah. My wife would sometimes call out from the kitchen at the back of the house : "Hey Bwoy, get up off yuh backside and guh roun’ the coolie man shop and bring a poun’ a flour (or stick of butter or box milk) and a Gleaner, or yuh nah get any dumplings."I would slip on my yard shoes and scuff around to 7th street to the shop. More likely than not I would run in to one or more of the boys lounging by their front gates, trying to recuperate from Saturday night’s entertainments and diversions, making plans for Sunday’s traditional football match.
"Wha’ appen Supe’?" Bird said.
"Mornin’Bobby, Yes, Picky Bird, Greetings Chiney Dread!"
"So, Supa John yah guh play in goal fi wi today?" asked Chiney.
"Suppose to, what time?"
"We will come check you at yuh gates ‘bout one"
‘Nice. Lickle more time, right now, me deh pon a mission"
I continued to First Avenue and around to 7th Street and stepped across and into the shop.
"Mornin’ Miss Ramtulla"
"Good Mornin, Mas John"
"Beg yuh a pound a flour and a Gleaner."
"One Dollar ten cent, please"
"Oh, and a Craven A please"
"One?"
"Yes, please"
"Five cent more"
"See money here, Thanks, Later now"
I walked around the other way down 7th Street, lighting my cigarette from a stick match drawn from the pocket of my ‘501's (which btw were the envy of several older gentlemen in the area) reaching to 2nd Avenue and then down quickly to 6th Street corner and back home.
"See it here Darlin"
"Give me the flour and go and sit down an read yuh paper, see yuh coffee here. Yuh breakfast soon come."
Yes, This Was Life: sun dappled through the leaves and branches of the two julie mango and two pomegranate (pronounced: pongo nut) trees in the front yard. The yellow, soft, life-affirming sun, a warm cup of coffee and the Sunday Jamaica Gleaner. The Gleaner....Ian Fleming put these words in his master spy’s mouth to describe his feelings: "Good old Gleaner", exclaims 007, The Times he would read for concealment; The Gleaner he read for pleasure" Fleming wrote in The Man With the Golden Gun. I always had a small anticipatory thrill as I opened the main section and turned immediately to the Editorial and Commentary pages which were populated in those turbulent days by Morris Cargill, John Hearne, Carl Stone, Dawn Ritch; yes this was a newspaper with a personality.
Soon my wife came with two plates of sauteed callaloo, with Scot’s Bonnet pepper, onion, scallion and salt cod, fried dumplings, fried breadfruit and boiled banana and more coffee for me and a cup of cerassee tea for herself.
Mmmmmmm, nice.
I made short work of mine and then it was back to the paper, giving the main news to my darling missus and moving on to the Sports section. How, I often wondered, did the Gleaner, manage to have better Grand Prix motor racing coverage than the vaunted NY Times? Little past 1pm, I saw the lads coming down the street, playing keepy-uppy with the football as they progressed. The venue would be Tinson Pen today.where there was proper pitch, instead of street football with the small goals and front walls of the yards as touchlines.
I joined them as they reached our gates and we walked together and turned down Second Ave and down to 5th street as the breeze picked up and big rain drops started to fall. Tropical raindrops so large that you feel each one individually as they pelt you and they soak instantly through your clothes to your skin. The skies can blacken in moments and it can rain like the end of days for 15 minutes and then, back comes the sun, clouds move off, and quickly it is like nothing ever happened.
All 7 or 8 of us ducked into a man’s little shop to wait out the storm. We huddled there smoking cigarettes, waiting and talking, while it poured, the scent of dust, tobacco and sweat filled my nose, as the ancient thunder rumbled across the Liguanea Plain, and the torrents drummed on the zinc six inches above my head.Where I leaned against the wall, I could see out of the shop, through the small window and down the street and into the distance, far up into Red Hills where in those days just a few large white houses sat on the crest of the cool hills, high up, gleaming brightly out over the hot dusty Kingston sprawl. Truly, it wasn’t so far in distance to Red Hills, only a couple of miles as the John Crow flies, but in reality it could almost have been another planet to where we were standing in a little West Kingston shop made from tongue and groove boards, a corrugated zinc roof a display counter faced with wire mesh, crocus bags of rice and chicken feed, in a dirt front yard store of a ghetto street in Greenwich Farm.
After the storm had passed, the sun gleamed bright and baked off the rain as we walked the rest of the short distance to the football pitch near the small Tinson Pen aerodrome.The brief rain had left the surface unplayable for more than a kickabout with large puddles in both goalmouths and in other places on the pitch.Bobby and I found a dry spot and sat down under a tree. I fished in my pockets for a packet of Rizla and a stick of sensi which we divided and set to building our spliffs.
These we smoked in silence while we sat and watched our brethren kick the ball around, feeling the cool breeze after the rain, untilwe got up and headed home for supper.
Bwoy, I did love a Sunday!
by Donal McCallum copyright

Friday, October 20, 2006

The War: Real Perspective

If you want the real perspective, this statement is a must read. Pat Tillman's story is only the tip of the iceberg--just one of hundreds of thousands that make up the big picture--the lies that we have tolerated--and the guilt that we will all bear until we take some kind of real effort to make it right. Chanting rhyming slogans outside government offices on our days off are not enough. Voting for the "less of two evils" is not enough. It's time to shut this down. Thanks to CelticGods and Jimmy Sligo for sending this article my way.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Rule of the Bone: Book Recommendation


I've got great luck with book recommendations, probably because I'm lucky enough to have some well read friends. The luck is doubled when you live in a neighborhood where people leave boxes of books for the taking out in front of their houses. That's what happened with this one. Just when i was getting ready to buy, there it was... So, that said, this book has been described as a modern day Huckleberry Finn, and the elements are there in the story, but more in the narration. Russell Banks successfully finds the voice of a 14 year old kid from upstate New York and runs with it. He absolutely nails it, which makes me green with envy but that's another story. The narrator isn't so much a runaway as one of those kids that's been cast aside by his alcoholic mom and abusive stepfather. It's a common enough story but there's nothing really common about getting inside the head of someone that's been through it and that's where Banks got me. I can't really do a proper review because there are a lot of images and thoughts I'm still processing--and I should warn that it's not a wonderful, pastoral jaunt through the north woods. Saying that some of it isn't so pretty is an understatement. The story is filled with an army of lowlife types that most people are lucky enough never to encounter--and hearing about it all from the voice of a kid--albeit a streetwise kid--makes some of it all that much more unsettling. But I'll list this one as Highly Recommended.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Will your progeny be Morlock or Eloi?


You know longer have to feel guilty for being a superficial cad because you're now doing it for Science and the future of mankind!!!

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

CURSES!!!!

In one of those spells of weird cosmic confluence, the first two telemarketers to bollocks my early-to-bed plans were the Policemen's Benevolent Association and the New York Blood Center, both telling me what a hero I would be if I'd drain some of my excess stuff into their coffers. After their calls I unplugged the phone but my sleep was disturbed by dreams of Sally Struthers and having a round faced, sad eyed penpal in Bolivia.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Heave ho, let it go

New York's Most Musical Toilet Closes For Good This Time




I've willfully ignored free passes to several of the last shows at CBGBs, because I don't really want to be part of the faux-sentimentality surrounding the story (and I'm also pretty sure that Hilly isn't a victim here and got over big-time). It's really a question of nostalgia and they ceased being vital years ago anyway.

That said, I was watching the news the other day and two things pissed me off:

1) Every news story plays up the CBGB's is headed to Vegas and "punk is dead" angle. They never got the significance anyway, much the way they never really get anything and can't even get a weather forecast right most of the time. Mainstream media never supported punk but if they look around, the basic sound and fashion (or the watered down, revisionist version) has gone mainstream and as Ben Folds said "Officer Friendly's little girl has got a mohawk." Every Buffy and Skip are tattooed and pierced and the frat boy types that used to group up by the baker's dozen to whip my ass now all sport London '77 punk fashion, which never reflected the downtown New York scene anyway.

2) Two networks couldn't find a single person over 25 to interview for their stories, with the exception of Hilly Kristal, who looks terrible, btw. I suppose it's no worse than the alternative media exhuming nothing but old nostalgia junkies but it still rankles. That'll teach me to watch the news.

Mike Ness, whom I love but recognize that he is the king of all poseurs (but he's been doing it so long that it's real) says, "Does anybody remember when this music was dangerous?" I watched the series of Tom Snyder "punk" episodes recently--and I remember seeing them the first time with my parents, but I don't remember quite how I felt then--I remember my parents reaction was no worse because they'd already lived through T Rex and David Bowie and Alice Cooper and were pretty convinced it was all about drugs and homosexuality anyway. Now I just want to see that old episode of CHiPs where they had to infiltrate the punk "gangs" and bust drug dealers.

Honestly, I don't remember feeling dangerous, nor superior, and least of all like I was part of something or special. Quite the opposite, it was just a sort of "place" to be. Most people I knew/know who were punks, or hippies or freaks weren't dropping out of anything or rejecting anything. Most of them, myself included, had already been excluded or rejected anyway, or felt it. Quite the opposite of trying to be special, it was more like basking in anonymity--the fashion show came a few years later.

Anyway... if you remove my soapbox now perhaps I will have become weightless and levitated.

Last of the Mohicans

Sunday, October 15, 2006

And here we go





This is the start of things. This is the start of what I always promised I wouldn't be involved in. Now, for the first time, I am eating my own words. I suspect it will be the first of many times. Hey, at least I admit it.