30 June 2005

The Evens at Fort Reno Tonight

Barring a weather disaster, I plan on attending the Fort Reno show tonight featuring The Evens and the Routineers [Full disclosure: Ian MacKaye is one half of the Evens and his sister Amanda MacKaye is one of the Routineers]. If you've never been to a Fort Reno show, you should get to one soon. It's laid back, it's free, and it's right off the Tenleytown Metro stop. Sure, most of the time the bands are little known outside inner inner hipster circles, but more well known (less lesser known?) locals like Monopoli are playing July 14th and Q and Not U are playing July 18th. Del Cielo will probably be a good show, too.

Check the schedule out, because there are still dates to be filled and who knows who might play...

29 June 2005

The Real Haterz

Unless you're a Republican, you probably understand that racial bigotry didn't die out with the Civil Rights movement of the 1960's (in fact, many culturally conservative minded people hearken back to the pre-Civil Rights era for their idyllic "Happy Days" and blame the Civil Rights movement for creating racial bigotry...). I found this interesting map about hate groups in the United States on the Southern Poverty Law Center website. These are active hate groups.

Check the numbers. The capital state for hate is apparently South Carolina, with 47 active groups. But Florida, already stinging from being second in executions behind Texas, is vying for first place with 43. I think, though, that it's important to put these numbers in perspective. South Carolina has a population of 4,147,152, whereas Florida has 17,019,068. As far as percentage goes, Florida has a lot of catching up to do. And California may look like a hotbed of hate with its 42 groups, but the population is 35,484,453. So here are the ratios, per capita, for hate:

  • SC: 1 hate group for every 88,237 people.
  • FL: 1 hate group for every 395,792 people.
  • CA: 1 hate group for every 844,867 people.

DC, by the way, has five hate groups listed, three of which are Black Separatist groups. In some strange oversight, they don't list the Heritage Foundation.

28 June 2005

How can this guy keep his job?

I'm still trying to figure out the popularity of George W. Bush. Sure, his ratings are at an all-time low, but still his disapproval rating is only 53% -- not bad for a guy who alienated nearly all of our European allies, has seemed oblivious to the stagnant economy, and who embroiled us in a seemingly endless war with no discernible point.

The question really is "Why isn't this guy fighting for his political life?" How much longer can Americans sit around listening to the chimp spout truisms like "support the troops" and "stay the course"? Assertion that you have a clear plan is not evidence that you have a clear plan. Or any plan at all.

The fact is that Mr. Bush planned to enter Iraq at any cost for any reason. Besides the Downing Street Memo, more British intelligence documents are coming to light revealing how clearly BushCo wanted this war, despite lack of any sustainable reason. London's Sunday Times printed a cabinet briefing from summer 2002 that laid out British government concerns that Bush lacked any sort of forethought:
The US Government's military planning for action against Iraq is proceeding
apace. But, as yet, it lacks a political framework. In particular, little
thought has been given to creating the political conditions for military action,
or the aftermath and how to shape it.

In other words, BushCo had a desired goal, but he needed to fix the intelligence to create a climate for war. Disgusting. Here in mid-2002, the British government was aware not only that the Bush administration was preparing for war, but also that they had given no thought to what might happen after a war (after all, why bother thinking, when the "Iraqis will strew flowers at your feet"?). Knowing all this -- knowing the fix was in -- the British government under Tony Blair still went ahead with the boondoggle. Maybe that's why British pundits call him "Bush's Poodle" and "Lapdog."

So it goes...

27 June 2005

Wow Images. Cool.

Hey I'm thrilled about this image thing on blogger. Now I don't have to deal with these third party places when posting material. I hope I'm within fair use on this one.

26 June 2005

Well that puts it all in perspective...

Opened up the Washington Post today and was reading through the paper when, blam, I turn to the Style section. Splashed across the entire top fold is a photo (can't link directly to it...I'm not that smart, but here's the gallery) of this 680 pound man and his wife, who goes 250+ herself, sort of hugging. The man is bare, except for a sheet around his waist.

Now I'm trying to lose a little weight myself, but my problems pale in comparison to his. This man can't walk because his legs can't support his weight. The Post reports that the National Aquarium in Baltimore had to lend their whale crane to workers who were trying to move him.

Me, I'm trying to go from 170 to 158. That's nothing (although I suppose if you wanted to go with percentage of total weight, my trying to lose 12 pounds would be like this guy trying to lose 48 pounds).

These extra pounds crept up on me over the winter. I entered the fall weighing a respectable 160 or 162, but somehow I stepped on the scale one day in January and weighed 170. I was shocked. I hadn't weighed 170 since 1994, when my diet consisted mainly of Popeye's Chicken, purchased close to midnight at the 14th and N Popeye's. Love that late night drivethru.

Since Popeye's is no longer in my regular diet, I'm guessing these extra pounds are sympathy weight from my wife's pregnancy. That and in your mid-30's you don't burn calories the way you did a decade ago...

24 June 2005

Redefining Success

Oh sweet Jesus we're all in trouble now. Dick Cheney, who a few weeks ago declared the Iraqi insurgency was in its "last throes," explains what he really meant:
"We will succeed in Iraq, just like we did in Afghanistan," he said. [cnn.com]

You mean the kind of success where you can't travel outside of the capital city? The kind of success that means a continued military presence? The kind of success in which the US military is still engaged in fierce fighting with the supposedly vanquished Taleban?

Is Cheney channelling George Orwell? Or has his pacemaker shortcircuited his brain?

NetFlix Movie Reviews: The Cook The Thief His Wife and Her Lover

Sure this movie's from 1989, but I never saw it. Now through the beauty of NetFlix, movies I haven't seen surprise me on a weekly basis (they surprise me because my wife handles the queue -- I have no idea what's coming). So we settled in to watch The Cook The Thief His Wife & Her Lover this week.

Almost the entire movie is set in a restaurant owned by a thuggish criminal, and as owner of the restaurant he dines there nightly in the coarsest manner possible with his drunken entourage generally looking indifferent if not downright bored. His wife, played remarkably by Helen Mirren, begins an affair with another restaurant patron, Michael, who brings stacks of books to his table and dines alone. They carry on their affair in the restaurant -- first in the bathroom stalls and then in the kitchen with assistance from the chef and for several encounters neither speaks to the other. Eventually of course the oafish husband catches on and in brutal manner first uncovers the lovers' whereabouts and then murders Michael.

So as not to spoil the entire movie for those who haven't seen it, all I'll say about the finale is that the title Thief gets his just desserts.

But enough of the plot. The set design alone would justify watching this movie. The restaurant is stylized, with an immense kitchen that looks as if it's an entire factory floor. The camera pans in cross-section style from the back alley entrance, through the kitchen, through a narrow hallway, and into the dining room, visually dividing the world of the movie between surface coarseness and invisible depth.

In addition to the physical walls dividing the spaces of the restaurant, the movie utilizes a color scheme that places each area in stark contrast. The dining room is a deep red, while the bathroom is pure white. The kitchen is nearly always green, although certain parts are yellow. Helen Mirren's attire often changes color as she moves from room to room. Visually, the movie is very beautiful.

Despite the aesthetically pleasing visuals, the movie in the end conveys a pessimistic worldview. The Thief, Albert, quite obviously is top dog who does what he wants and how he wants: he physically and emotionally humiliates those who stand in the way of his goals, and he is not called to account until the end of the movie. His wife, Georgina, is more of a possession to him than a wife, and her description of their intimate life is harrowing. Her lover, Michael, is a meek book collector -- the sensitive, arty type -- whose sensibilities stand no chance against the rage of Alpha Male Albert. As for the Cook, he is complicit both in the front he provides for the Thief and the front he provides for the two lovers. He relies on the Thief's patronage for his livelihood, but he detests his patron.

23 June 2005

I'm celebrating 8 years.

Yesterday was my wedding anniversary. My wife and I hit Sushi Ko in Glover Park where I discovered I really didn't like chilled sweet sake. Should have gone for the dry stuff.

Afterwards, we wandered up Wisconsin a bit, to the Guy Mason ballfield where an SEIU softball team was taking on some other team under the lights. Some drunk woman was leaving the bleachers with what I presume was her boyfriend. She got involved in some discussion with two men that was inaudible until she blurted out, "It wasn't nice of him to say I enjoy anal sex, because I don't."

As her boyfriend/pickup/whatever hailed a cab, she stood in the curb lane and half bent over while looking at the two men. "I don't enjoy anal sex...at least not with strangers," she continued.

We walked on by and crossed the street for some ice cream. Not bad. In fact, pretty damn good.

For anyone else who got out last night, you know what a great evening it was, with that fat moon glowing amber through threads of clouds. Beautiful.

22 June 2005

No...the deck chair really belongs over here.

What the hell is wrong with these morons? The House -- faced with an ongoing quagmire in Iraq, an unresolved and ill-defined war/peacekeeping mission/rearguard action in Afghanistan, a healthcare crisis, a retirement crisis, a record deficit -- decides it's time to get tough and work on a flag desecration amendment.

Do they understand they are coming even closer to proving Tom Frank right? Probably not, since none of these half-evolved slime trogs (warning: offensive content) seem to have much in the way of analytical abilities. Or, more upsettingly, they understand their audience and Tom Frank is right AND they know their audience doesn't read Tom Frank.

For those unfamiliar with Frank's thesis in What's the Matter with Kansas?, Frank argues that the Republicans have successfully redefined elitism from a economic-based analysis to a cultural analysis: for instance, while old-style Populism championed the small farmers and labor against the giant corporations and financial institutions ("Mankind shall not be crucified on a cross of gold" etc), the new cultural conservative populism sees the elites not as the bankers and multinational corporations who control the economy, but rather the elite are the Volvo driving "latte liberals" who denigrate "real people" who believe in God, watch NASCAR, and eat meat.

It's pretty sad, but as the working poor and shrinking middle class vote for these unrealized and often unrealizable cultural goals, they vote for their own very often realized economic annihilation. As an example, Frank points out that cultural conservatives have railed for decades about the debauchery coming out of the television and movie theaters, yet all their lofty minded smutsmacking representatives have failed to do anything about this sin -- in fact, television and movies are more permissive now than when the decency crusades began.

It's an oft-told story: When asked, "What sort of government have you given us?" Ben Franklin replied, "A Republic, if you can keep it." I wonder how we're doing.

21 June 2005

From Sea to Shining Sea

I still have a few friends, which isn't bad for someone who has difficulty recruiting new friends and is prone to making few phone calls and returning even fewer.

One of my friends, who has since left this Washington for the Pacific Northwest Washington, recently came back to town for a short visit. About two hours. Then she was off with another friend on a cross-country auto trek -- not the Jack Kerouac "balling that jack" bullet across America, but rather the meandering John Steinbeck "Travels with Charley" trip. Okay, maybe not that slow and aimless.

Still I was happy to see her and though we talk only sporadically on the phone, her visit had a warmth and ease that made it seem like she was just stopping by on her way from Dupont to Mount Pleasant instead of making an appearance that may not be recreated for another year or two.

Two days later, she called from the road. After a brief trip to Connecticut to put some family business in order, she was on I-80 near Clarion, Pennsylvania, on the first day of an indirect journey to the west coast. Her goal is to see all those crazy roadside attractions that the freeway system has all but rendered obsolete.

20 June 2005

Father's Day

Father's Day was a hoot. The day started later than most days. However, at 9 a.m. I received the following: Get Behind Me Satan by the White Stripes and a mug that can be taken apart, allowing you to change the insert that wraps around the mug. My son had colored the current insert at school and it had a sport motif, but he says he's going to draw a picture of the family to put in the mug. He pronounces "mug" with a very hard G at the end.

After lazing about the house a bit and cutting the grass (cutting the grass takes about five minutes, so it's not heavy work), we eventually headed out to the Waterfront to buy some fish. I had no idea that place was such a scene on weekends. First off, it's a bunch of crummy old fake boats that they sell fish from. There's nothing to see. But there we were stuck in traffic trying to get into the parking lot of the place.

On a side note, I don't think there's anything as obnoxious as a Hummer urban tank. So far I've restrained myself, but everytime I see one I want to have a sledgehammer handy.

Having secured the fish and some of what turned out to be the most pathetic mussels I've ever had in my entire life, and having wasted about an hour, we got out of there, returning home to ice the fish, and headed out to the park to enjoy the late afternoon.

[Really I'm still trying to figure out at what point someone's development has to be arrested that he or she would find driving a Hummer cool. They scream tacky classlessness. As much as I find BMWs insufferable, they are ten times -- maybe even twenty times -- more classy. People who drive Hummers simply scream, "I am an emotionally stunted egotistical selfish shitbag." Or as Shrek would say, "Do you think he's compensating for something?"]

Had some good salmon, some good wine, and some really terrible mussels. They were dirty, first off. Really dirty. Then they were tiny. Little tiny fingertip sized. Many were simply not there, or at least not there in recognizable form. Note to self: do not buy mussels at the Waterfront any more.

19 June 2005

Maybe they'll finally burn all Detroit down...

The NBA playoffs are on. I almost care. In related news, Wrestlemania 23 is coming up soon.

I'm trying to think if any other professional sport is more debauched than the NBA. I'm not talking about the behavior of the athletes, since that's been happening forever in all sports. I'm talking really about the fact that in most major pro sports, they change the rules to make the game harder: the NFL makes you get two feet in instead of one; MLB makes you use wood bats and has huge stadiums. Only in the NBA do they loosen the rules to make it easier on the offensive end. Refusing to call walks, giving players five steps, and continuation cheapens the game so much. Likewise, it's only in the NBA that you know pretty regularly the first three quarters of the game don't really matter; it's all phoned in until the fourth quarter.

I think I love basketball too much to like the NBA.

17 June 2005

I'm Making a List, Checking It Twice.

Man there is so much to get outraged about today. However, I have my own problems, with my car being out in Arlington for a scheduled service. Where to start?

Downing Street Memo. Finally, someone in Congress shows a little bit of fortitude and decides to go inquire into an official British government document alleging that BushCo was cooking the books on Iraq, much like his buddy Ken Lay cooked the books at Enron. Birds of a fucking feather my friends. Only problem is, no one seems to care about this outrage that has cost, to date, 1700 U.S. armed forces lives, not to mention the other forces of the "coalition" and the countless Iraqi civilian lives. In the mainstream press (the one that's supposedly so liberal), the story remains secondary to other news (such as being linked to the Bolton nomination) and is even downplayed by "liberal" apologists. Where the hell are Woodward and Bernstein when you need them?

2. U.S. pressures G8 to strip language on global warming. The biggest question here is why on earth did the other 7 go along with this discredited administration's bullying? The Bush administration has brought with them the biggest pseudoscientific quacks this side of a Scientology rally. Here's the choicest bit from the Post's story:

Last week, the New York Times reported that a senior White House official had
altered government documents to emphasize the uncertainties surrounding the
science on global warming. That official, White House Council on Environmental
Quality chief of staff Phillip Cooney, left the administration last Friday to
take a public relations job with oil giant Exxon Mobil, a leading opponent of
mandatory limits on greenhouse gas emissions.

Quack-Quack-Quack-Quack, Quack Quack.

3. Senator/Physician Bill Frist contends he wasn't making a medical diagnosis on Terri Schiavo. A transcript of what he said back on March 17th is available on the crypto-fascist National Review website. He claims he is speaking "more as a physician than as a United States senator." Hmmm. Sounds like he's bringing his medical expertise into play here. He quite clearly invokes his specific medical background as a "transplant surgeon," which apparently has some bearing on Terri Schiavo's case of brain damage. After yakking on interminably using lots and lots of hedging words -- "maybe," "from what I've heard," etc. -- and repeating over and over the misleading assertion that somehow this whole Schiavo fiasco was the result of one judge acting alone with one neurologist acting alone with one husband acting alone to terminate this woman who would be vibrant and healthy again if only she could get some physical therapy, he finally gets around to the basis upon which he determines that Terri Schiavo is not in a persistent vegetative state: "I question it based on a review of the video footage which I spent an hour or so looking at last night in my office here in the Capitol." Now that the autopsy has shown Frist up as the charlatan he is, Frist is trying to weasel out by saying he didn't make any diagnosis on the Senate floor. Hmmm. I guess when he says he's speaking as a physician he's not making a diagnosis. What a goddamned fraud.

    But back to my car. I had to drive out into Arlington to drop the car off. OK, no problem. I drive out over the Roosevelt Bridge, take Spout Run to 29, take 29 a mile or two and drop the car off. It's quick. Then the dealership shuttle takes me to the Ballston Metro. Ballston metro? I drove about five minutes and now I'm coming in on the Metro from the friggin boondocks? I had to watch out for all the banjo picking extras from Deliverance. But I jest, my dear VA friends, so don't get your knickers in a twist.

    14 June 2005

    To Those Who Bemoan Political Correctness...

    Political Correctness (PC) is a joke. It is a reactionary term (even if its origins are not) used to belittle and divert questions of bias in our society.

    Jacques Lacan states that the unconscious is structured like a language. Language is central to the ways in which we understand the world: our grammar, our vocabulary, our syntax. Language is also descriptive and formative: if we describe an object as slimy, eventually that descriptor forms a powerful association in our culture (e.g. lawyers). It doesn't take a genius to understand that centuries of racist thought formed powerful associations in the way the dominant culture of the United States looked upon minorities, in particular Black minorities. What descriptors attached themselves to Blacks through language: lazy, smelly, unintelligent, child-like...the U.S. had a fine tradition of the "minstrel show" that operated on these overdetermined qualities.

    Of course, Blacks aren't alone in having been hated minorities. They just are lucky enough to be long-standing and continuous targets. In their time, the Irish were also seen as sub-human, and in the early 20th century, one of the greatest threats apparently facing our nation was the influx of nasty Italians. Especially those from southern Italy. All you have to do is read any of the several books Lothrop Stoddard published through the 1910's and 1920's to understand the leverage gained by bringing the language of science to bear on racism. Stoddard was no fringe figure -- he was central to a powerful eugenics movement that helped push through the Immigration Act of 1924, which was aimed largely at non-Western Europeans:
    The new law cut the quota for northern and western European countries by 29
    percent, but slashed that for southern and eastern Europe by 87 percent. Italy's
    quota, for example, was reduced from 42,057 to 3,845 persons.

    Stoddard's own descriptors of these supposedly loathsome immigrants are found all through his work. Dig around.

    However, at some point -- long before the term "PC" ever came into existence -- it became a bad thing in polite society to use terms like "wop" or "nigger." As a society, we began to see these terms as indicative of institutionalized and condoned racist thought. Likewise, the people who used such terms were understood to be either ignorant or racist or both.

    PC is a term co-opted to counter anti-racism and movements to provide equal access in society. It is a way to turn the focus away from the bigots and onto false grounds of "thought police," "speech nazis," etc.

    How many people remember the old apologist's saw that the Civil War was fought over States' Rights? Sure, technically it's correct to argue that the South was upset by the prospect that the North might get powerful enough to pass federal laws contravening their state laws, but only a moron would overlook the fact that these laws had to do with slavery. Slavery was the cause of the Civil War and the cause of every damn compromise from 1820 on. Hide behind the states' rights argument all you want, the fight was over whether our nation could continue to hold other human beings as domestic animals.

    PC is bullshit.

    Cleveland Park Old Boys Club

    Things sure were shaking over on the Cleveland Park Mens Club blog yesterday. Apparently one of their members (they all have cute names -- don't we all) called Capo recently took an airplane to Providence with his girlfriend, who was travelling (domestically?!) under an expired passport. Long story short, Capo's recap of events touched off a comment storm: 127 comments as of 11:45 a.m. today.

    Some people laid into him for his actions at the security checkpoint. The Senator came to his defense, but then he got laid into. Capo made matters worse by defending himself in some questionable language, stating the following:
    I grew up in South Florida. “Warrantless” searches were reserved for greasy
    Colombians and other denizens of blow-producing South American counties, not you
    or your grandma.

    Now he's just called all citizens of Colombia greasy; or maybe he's talking about unbathed as opposed to bathed Colombians. Either way, he's also saying that all residents of drug-producing South American countries deserve the treatment that he so abhors. Maybe he didn't mean that. Maybe he meant only drug dealers should get shaken down (although this would imply a priori knowledge of drug dealers by TSA), and several posters rushed to his defense, mistakenly interpreting the comment as only applying to drug dealers. Unfortunately, my command of the English language doesn't allow me such a generous interpretation. Just like the San Francisco 49ers "training video" revealed a bit more than it should have about team culture, so too did yesterday.

    Paging Dr. Freud.

    12 June 2005

    Whirlwind Tour of I-95 Corridor

    Saturday began with a trip north up I-95 to New York City, onetime capital of the United States. If it were still so, we wouldn't even have a D.C. I'm still trying to think if that's a good or bad thing -- not a referendum on DC as it is today, but what if this goofy place that has no representation in U.S. Congress and questionable status anyway as a city/state had never existed. I imagine Peter Angelos would be happier.

    We were running up to New York City to meet a friend and eat some lunch. Oh yeah, and buy a bag. Going to Manhattan is always incredible and it energizes me to be in that city. Unlike DC, which I love by the way, New York will never be accused of shutting down after five p.m. (yeah, I'm aware there are pockets of clubs that are open late, but don't even try to compare DC and NYC street scenes after midnight). Hung out a bit in Tompkins Square Park.

    However, the real reason we headed up north was to go to a birthday party out in New Jersey Saturday evening. So like a glutton who can only afford an appetizer, we headed out of the big big city for the suburban green of Scotch Plains, New Jersey. The birthday girl, who is pregnant (lotsa fun carrying a kid around through the summer by the way), and her husband may be my most interesting friends, largely because they took so long to settle down despite being among the first in my crowd to get married. For about ten years after college they moved around following their dreams. Their dreams didn't exactly come true, but they also didn't disappear into bitterness and remorse. Now one writes mortgages and one teaches school. And they're going to have a kid.

    It was a great time and there were other children there for our son to run around with. Our infant daughter on the other hand had to content herself with being ogled by various party-goers and sleeping. She held up well.

    Unfortunately, we had to get up early the next day to get home for the Washington Nationals' game. When I first agreed to go to the game with a friend, I had no idea when it started. I thought foolishly it would be an evening game, but the game started at 1 p.m. We got into DC at 12:00 p.m. and were at our friends' house by 12:45 p.m. and only missed the top half of the first inning.

    I was exhausted by the time my son and I headed home on the 96. What a weekend.

    10 June 2005

    Haterz Unite!

    Now I'm noticing an interesting thing about some of these blogs about town. Occasionally, the blogger presents a post that someone or many someones take offense to. It happens all the time. A tremendous amount of commentary is generated. That in itself is not so interesting. It gets interesting when you realize that close to half that traffic is generated by people coming to the defense of the blogger with witty comebacks like "it's his/her blog and he/she can write whatever he/she wants" or "if you're hating it must be true."

    That last one in particular makes a whole lot of sense. Because anytime anyone objects to something, it must be because it's true. For instance, when people protest the KKK, it's obviously because what the KKK says is true. I'm not sure I follow that logic, but I got a pretty good dose of it from reading a recent post on another blog. Here's what one sparkling wit had to say: "Keep it up DCB. All the hating means you’re on to something." Uh-huh. On planet Earth, where I come from, generally a huge groundswell of protest means you're barking up the wrong tree.

    Or try this little gem on for size: "People who hate on a blog need to get a life…it’s not like this is scientific fact finding - it’s just opinion and commentary!" Obviously this observer, who goes by the name Asian Mistress and blogs for the Butterfly Network, doesn't understand the power of blogs to affect public opinion. Dan Rather, though, does. Even little local blogs that are read by 10, 50, 500 people have an affect. The reach of the web, especially through search engines such as google, make it attractive for even the looniest people to have websites. Racist nutcases have websites in which they state their opinions and commentary. Simply because a blog is composed mainly of opinion and not of research-based science does not protect it from public excoriation.

    If you put your opinion out there, you can expect to find some disagreement.

    It'd be nice if the people who agree with you come up with better support than "Haterz are just jealous." Yawn.

    Half the fun of some blogs is reading the hater comments anyway. This was true of the Washington Socialites blog, especially in its sad last months.

    Those who hate the haterz need to come up with better comebacks.

    Five years ago yesterday my life changed forever.

    My son turned five yesterday. At his school, we had cupcakes and he passed them out to all the students. He beamed with pride as they sang him "Happy Birthday." I felt so wonderful knowing that he felt comfortable and accepted in his classroom. Outside, he climbed a short fence and then jumped off, announcing, "See what I can do because I'm five!"

    These are the little things that make sleepless nights and countless re-watchings of The Muppet Movie worth it. Not that there's anything wrong with The Muppet Movie; it's just that watching it seven times over a weekend might tire anyone.

    Double-digit movie viewings:
    Every Pixar film.
    Wizard of Oz.
    The Aristocats.
    Kipper videos.
    Thomas Tank Engine videos.
    The Big Lebowski. (ok - that's not because of my kid)
    Lilo and Stitch.
    Mary Poppins.

    So people out there don't think all we do for our kids is turn the TV on, let me say right now, we don't have cable. Therefore, if PBS isn't showing children's shows, a video is the only viewing option.

    08 June 2005

    Maybe we aren't descended from apes, but are evolving into them...

    As if progress narratives weren't already in enough danger, along comes the Tulsa Park and Recreation Board to give it a further kick toward the cliff. These brave souls voted 3-1 to include a Creationism display at the zoo -- in the interest of "fairness" of course.
    The Tulsa Park and Recreation Board voted 3-1 on Tuesday in favor of a display
    depicting God's creation of the world in six days and his rest on the seventh,
    as told in Genesis, the first book of the Bible. [CNN]

    Coming soon: Noah's Ark and the explanation for why unicorns are now extinct.

    File Under: No Shit Sherlock

    So the Post is reporting that liberal Democrats (I wasn't aware there were many of these left) are "rethinking" the infamous compromise that kept Frist from trying to scuttle the Filibuster rules. It shows an incredible poverty of leadership and foresight on the part of Democrats that they even agreed to the compromise to begin with. For those of you too lazy to read the Post article, here's a summary of the compromise: The Democrats gave up their right to use the time-worn tradition of the filibuster to block extremist judges. The Republicans gave up their support for Senator Frist's proposal to dismantle Senate tradition.

    This so-called compromise can be summed up by the following analogy: on the playground, Billy threatens to punch Andy in the arm if he doesn't give him his lunch money; Andy decides to make a scene in hopes to attract attention; Billy and Andy then compromise: Billy removes his threat so long as Andy doesn't make a scene and gives up his lunch money peacefully.

    Let me repeat for all Democratic Party Operatives who monitor my statements so closely: You are all morons if you think you can negotiate with extremists. George Bush is looking to dismantle as much of the common good as he can, and he only has 8 years total to do it. If you keep acting as you have been, by 2008 we will be looking at a rollback in history to pre-Teddy Roosevelt days. Environmental laws? Gone. The Middle Class? Gone. If you goddamn idiots want the two Americas to consist of exclusive gated communities and dilapidated scrapheaps, then keep it up.

    Here's a juicy tidbit from dear Judge Brown:
    "Where government moves in, community retreats, civil society disintegrates. . .
    . When government advances . . . freedom is imperiled, civilization itself [is]

    In other words, the rule of law means shit. Or more fully, laissez faire and damn the 95% who don't own everything.

    As I've said before, what these libertarian morons don't understand is that government is what ensures the existence of civil society -- without government there is no social contract, there is no belief -- true or false -- in an impartial arbiter of the common good. As Willy Yeats said, "Things fall apart, the center cannot hold; mere anarchy is loosed upon the world." These idiots think they're living in some kind of market utopia, where the losers will obviously bow to the logic of the market and go quietly to their graves. Sorry, Milton, but it won't work this way.

    Rain Cloud

    Tom Sietsema knocks the hot air out of cloud in his review:
    But Cloud is no Jaleo or Zaytinya, the city's first-class purveyors of small
    plates. Cloud's barbecued shrimp are good by themselves, but they're served with
    an avocado dip that tastes as if it had been poured from a jar. A Caesar salad
    has zero anchovy flavor and what smacks of Miracle Whip in its overthick
    dressing. And a dish of hummus contains raw bits of garlic. When I start to look
    around, I notice a few other things that diminish dinner here. Foil-wrapped
    butter looks out of place in this clubby venue, and the selection of wines by
    the glass approaches that of your typical frat party

    Ouch. Frat party. But for a place where it's more important to be seen than to be substantial, that makes a whole lot of sense.

    Then again maybe I'm just a hater who doesn't have one thread of shiny fabric in my wardrobe...

    07 June 2005

    Walking in the Heat

    So the doctor tells me to stay off my bike for ten days (I've got four days to go), which means I'm walking or busing. Mainly walking. It's not bad, though, because I've been able to use my iPod, which generally only gets use in the car. This morning for instance, I ventured back to Massive Attack's Blue Lines. Still exquisite. Although I noticed that there's a crackle in the left "ear bud" that gives me a good excuse to ditch those things.

    Yesterday afternoon, though, in the sticky heat, I trudged up New Hampshire to Dupont Circle because I wanted to pick up some photos at MotoPhoto. Somewhere between 20th/New Hampshire and Q/Connecticut, my jeans decided to cling to me, which made every step annoying. But that's sort of beside the point. I was listening yesterday afternoon to Malkmus's debut "solo" album...full of gems like "Black Book" and "Jenny and the Ess-Dog."

    So the iPod is getting some use. Today I was smart enough to bring a pair of shorts to change into after work.

    06 June 2005

    Untimely Meditation: The Anti-Jumbo Slice

    About half the time when you read someone's blog about how they came into Adams Morgan for some wild partying and shagging in an alley, they talk as if the Jumbo Slice were some kind of culinary delight akin to Thrasher's Fries in Rehoboth. Like an evening isn't a success if you didn't get your jumbo slice. Even the Washington Post sang the praises of this rancid slab of grease in one of those "You haven't lived here if..." segments. And Washingtonian magazine. And a whole host of bloggers. Even Jason at DC Foodies -- who normally can't stand to have a plate come out 2 degrees short of perfect -- lists the Jumbo Slice in his top 5 pizza places.

    Let me tell you, friends, the jumbo slice is no friend of yours.

    There used to be only one jumbo slice on 18th and it wasn't the pizza boli joint. The Pizza Mart had the first and at that time thankfully only jumbo slice. It was nice because when the health inspectors came around and shut it down, no drunks left jumbo slices on your front yard or car overnight.

    A few people at least understand the repulsiveness of the so called jumbo slice: noting a recent health code closing at Pizza Mart, Rock Creek Rambler properly questions whether the stuff they sell is even pizza. Yes, the February 2005 closing of Pizza Mart was hardly a first, although I have to admit they've closed less frequently than they used to. However, a search of the DC website reveals some older closings: September 2000 for, among other things, "Evidence of rodents inside of premises." Yum yum. I wonder if that's a premium topping. And a month before that, in August 2000, Pizza Mart had been closed yet again for, you guessed it, "evidence of rodents inside of premises." Yet the idiots still line up to eat their rat fur and shit.

    But I don't want to pick only on Pizza Mart. Pizza Napolis also received some health department attention. They were closed in September 2003 (the same week by the way as O'Nasty right around the corner on Columbia). Both establishments received $1000 fines for "Evidence of rodents inside of establishment" among other things like "basic inadequate sanitation." And of course, the aforementioned Pizza Bolis couldn't keep their mugs out of the Health Inspector's blotter: they were closed down in May 2004 for "improper temperatures of potentially hazardous foods" among other things.

    Folks, lay off the jumbo slices, please. Maybe they'll go away then.

    Paik it in.

    It's far worse than I thought. This band, Paik, who apparently really do hail from Detroit, liken themselves to be quasi-revolutionary. Here's what they say about themselves on their website...no let me check that. Here's what their website says someone has said about them:
    a giant, swirling, maelstrom capable of filling most any venue with lush,
    textured soundscapes, at volumes that let the listener stand briefly in this
    trio's shoes, and feel the truth and honesty from which their music

    There's so much wrong with this assessment. I will begin with the idea that it's a "giant, swirling, maelstrom." Swirling implies movement. Maybe not interesting movement, but some sort of movement. A maelstrom implies power, an uncontrollable natural force. In Paik's case, we're talking about a guitar, a bass, and drums playing heavy droning chords that sound like nothing so much as slowed down Black Sabbath. And without vocals mind you, which means you have to rely on the music alone to get any sense or feeling. There is no feeling to be found.

    But let me continue: "lush" and "textured" are utterly out of place with what I witnessed on Saturday evening at the Black Cat. Both terms imply that the music is deeper than some guitarist masturbating with his instrument while the drummer pounds out a heavy beat and the bass player looks both bored and underused.

    "Truth and honesty"? Are you kidding me? The truth, to be honest, is that I could sit in my basement with two friends and get the same results, only it'd be more fun because we'd all be getting drunk at the time. Jesus, I could sit on the toilet and produce something more lush and textured than Paik.

    05 June 2005

    Malkmus at Black Cat: Post Game Report

    Holy crap I survived the zombie-inculcating opening act to witness a beautiful Steve Malkmus and the Jicks show. Seriously, the opening act was this band called Paik that claimed they were from Detroit. They're giving that city a bad name. Pointless noise and endless "songs." Their website claims they "undertook the quest for new and unexplored soundscapes using whatever means necessary." I hate to tell them this, but there's nothing unexplored about playing power chords and letting the guitar feedback. Thankfully the guitarist's amp blew out and they had to quit early.

    Malkmus was his usual sardonic self and the band was tight. I gotta get to bed right now because I'm mighty tired and will get no chance to sleep in. He tossed some nuggets to the local crowd with name checking on Gilbert Arenas and also a short reference to the Nationals. It would have been nice if he'd have tied that one into a Jicksified version of Pavement's "Major Leagues," but no such luck.

    I merched out: new CD and shirt. Saw the members of Paik manning their own merch table and I avoided eye contact. Christ they were awful. Really, I may need another post just on how thoroughly shitty they were.

    03 June 2005

    To all the quasi-fascist creeps out there who criticize Mark Felt for leaking information to the Press about Nixon's criminal activities:

    Let me remind you that the government of the United States is still "of the People, by the People, and for the People." Mark Felt's duty to the People of the United States overwhelms any so-called loyalty to a criminal scumbag like Nixon. Mr. Nixon sought to deceive the People and subvert the political process. No government official owes any loyalty to a leader such as that.

    Nixon's own taping devices caught him and his cabal plotting the cover-up among other dirty tricks and utterly racist speculation. They also reveal that he controlled Felt's superior, L. Patrick Gray, so STFU on crap about how he could have worked within the FBI:

    During the confirmation hearing Gray defended his agency's investigation,
    however, during questioning he let it be known that he had handed over the files
    on the investigation to White House Counsel John Dean, in spite of the fact that people with strong links to the White House were being investigated. [Answers.com]

    Watergate was not some illicit extramarital affair, fools. It was a serious crime that threatened to subvert the American political process, and it involved burglary, wiretapping, breaking and entering, and bribery. Not to mention Nixon used his position to appoint toadies like L. Patrick Gray to authoritative positions so they could squelch or corral any problems. Ever hear of the Saturday Night Massacre? Serious, serious abuse of power.

    Get real, freaks, and try to keep straight who it was that ordered the break-in and subsequent cover-up in Watergate.

    02 June 2005

    Back out of the Saddle

    Had a bit of a relapse of the back injury, so when I went to see the doctor I was told to get off the bike for ten days. Walking or taking the bus is a great inconvenience, because walking makes my commute about 40 minutes and I can't take the bus so conveniently because I have to take my son to school first. However, since I'd much rather be able to walk straight in my later years -- or walk at all let's say -- I will follow the doctor's advice. Unfortunately, the doctor didn't refill my percocet. Maybe it's better that way. I don't want to end up like Rush Limbaugh, buying drugs in parking lots with paper bags full of cash.

    My wings, indeed, have been clipped.

    Speaking of prescription drugs, I took one of my muscle relaxants last night and I think it affected me all day. As far as I can tell, these things are just mislabelled sleeping pills. Knocked me right out, and I woke up groggy, stumbling down to the bathroom, and then stumbling right through the day.

    Tomorrow is Friday. Be careful out there.

    Looking forward to Saturday

    This hasn't happened in a few years, but this Saturday I'm heading to the Black Cat to see Stephen Malkmus. Except to buy my tickets last weekend, I've never been to the new location. I think the last time I saw a show it was at the 9:30 Club and it was Billy Bragg.

    In preparation, I watched Slow Century and have put the Pavement/Jicks stuff in heavy rotation. Back in '94 I caught Pavement at the HFStival; they were the first act and the stadium was about 1/8th full, if that. This is a band I drove to Cleveland to see, and discovered that ticket prices are much better in Cleveland. Malmus's solo/Jicks stuff has been a bit hit or miss, and I don't have the new album yet, but still I'm pretty excited to see him again.

    Memorable shows I've seen at the Black Cat: Superchunk probably 6 times, Social Distortion, Rancid, Sleater-Kinney (a brilliant show), several Make Up shows -- never a dull one, SeBaDoh -- memorable mainly for all the times Lou Barlow stopped to tune his guitar.

    This month it's a feast of good music: Pixies on the 13th, Bloc Party on the 16th, Ted Leo on the 23rd, Sleater-Kinney on the 25th, Wilco on the 26th. I wish I could go to them all. Or even one more of them.

    Well, at least I'll get to this show. I wonder what beer is selling for these days at the Black Cat.

    01 June 2005

    Washington Post: You Call This Media Liberal?

    I usually ignore the Business section of the Post, but I had some extra time on my hands and read Steven Pearlstein's commentary on the French "non" vote on the EU Constitution.

    I couldn't believe I was reading the Post, which likes to portray itself as sophisticated, cosmopolitan, and urbane; it seemed I was reading the W.Times or some publication of the John Birch Society. Pearlstein begins with this little dig against "non" voters: "otherwise intelligent and cultured people think Polish plumbers, Turkish chambermaids and American hedge-fund managers are the reasons their pay is stagnant, their children are unemployed and their health and welfare systems are fraying at the edges" [italics added]. Apparently this opposition to so-called free markets has something to do with xenophobia, Pearlstein implies. Certainly, France has plenty of xenophobia to go around (although to the best of my knowledge they don't have "minutemen" patrolling their borders), but Pearlstein just displays his ignorance when he ascribes the defeat of the EU Constitution to this cause.

    It gets worse, though, with Pearlstein asserting that the French, and Europeans in general -- oh yeah, with the exception of England -- are lazy and unambitious. Somehow he forgot to throw in that they smell funny and the women don't shave their armpits.

    Pearlstein did a "live online" today in which he resorted to pathetic name-calling when faced with challenges to his snide column. Here's an example:

    good deal, but it is a fantasy -- it is unsustainable: You mean, of course, that its utterly unsustainable by having a near total trade balance, and very limited
    govt. debt. I totally agree. Our "muscular free market capitalism" is so much
    more sustainable, especially with those ever so sustainable huge debts and trade
    deficits! We're doing fab! We can keep this up forever!
    Spare me. I'd buy your argument if you'd bother noting that our supposed "free market" system was in even worse shape than the Euros are in. Between our huge debts, and our addiction to SUVs and gas guzzling, we're far more likely to go down than they are.
    Who's kidding themselves?

    Steven Pearlstein: Maybe you should move to
    the eco-socialist paradise of Finland or Sweden.

    Wow. Take that. America, love it or leave it.

    And so it went for the live online chat, which I read after the fact. When confronted with evidence that free market capitalism had structural issues and also relied on heavy (if hidden) subsidies from government, Pearlstein consistently retreated to name-calling and redirection. Not what you'd expect from a seasoned reporter.

    As an example of Europeans' supposed laziness, Pearlstein gets on his high horse about their paid holidays: "If the French and Italians aren't serious enough about reform that they can give up one of their dozen paid holidays every year..." [WP]. 12 paid holidays? The sloths! I hope Pearlstein realizes that here in the hard-working U.S. of A., it's fairly common for workers to have 11 or 12 days paid holidays a year. In fact at GWU right here in the District of Columbia, employees are granted an astounding 12 days! The damn Francophiles. I mean, what is his point?

    Are the massive national debt and the long-running trade deficit seen as "sustainable"? At what point do we collapse under the weight of our debt?
    One of the best things about the revelation that Mark Felt, former #2 at the FBI, is "Deep Throat" is that we get to revisit the weird world that is Richard Nixon's White House. Here's a juicy tidbit from that freak's self-incriminating tapes:

    "Is he Catholic?" Nixon asked. Told by Haldeman that Felt was Jewish, Nixon
    replied, "[Expletive], [the bureau] put a Jew in there?" To which Haldeman
    responded, "Well, that could explain it."

    Contrary to their belief, Felt is not Jewish. [from the WashPost]

    Ah, feel the love. Being Catholic or Jewish can explain a lot...I suppose Nixon was speculating at first that Felt may have been acting on orders from the Pope, but Haldeman nipped that in the bud by revealing he was obviously an agent of Israel.