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!