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


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


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????


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







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...


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

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


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.