Last night I went out on somewhat of a culinary limb and grilled small heads of cauliflower for a pasta dish. That was damn good. Cauliflower is sort of the Ralph Nader of vegetables--needs a little something to actually make it to the table.
Saturday, June 28, 2008
Welcome to our new film roundtable, entitled amazing/never again. Recently, my good friend and courtroom videographer kyle dropped an amazing film on me:
This movie meets all of my criteria (crime, 1970s, method acting, verite pretensions, implicit class critique) but almost jumped the shark of seventies thriller-style grit and gestalt all the way into overtruthfulness and, ergo, un-watchability. Which brings me to the topic of our conversation, one I hope will carry on for all of our sakes’ for as long as possible:
Which films have you seen that made you think, simultaneously, this was wonderful and i never wish to see it ever again?
In literature the works of Conrad best exemplify this weird kind of anti-transcendence for me, in which once-heroic victims of their own successful quests for truth wreck their own lives and the lives of others trying to outrun the horrors they were brave enough to confront and idiotic enough to mistake for being somehow nourishing. Some, if not all, of life’s big lessons seem to me to be dark. And some films are so good at pointing those out that I don’t need to see them more than once, artistry notwithstanding. Here’s my first submission:
Bad Timing is a film by Nicholas Roeg, the director of Performance, The Man Who Fell to Earth, Eureka, Don’t Look Now, Insignificance and a bunch of other art-damaged features that nonetheless somehow won studio funding and influenced the whole wide subsequent world of indie rockers and auteurs.
Art Garfunkel plays a petulant, Freudian psychoanalyst prancing around Vienna, who falls in lust, love, lust, hate, lust, love with, and loses himself in pursuit of Theresa Russel. Russel herself gives a very three-dimensional performance that gestures way beyond Madonna-Whore-Femme Fatale - Film Noire Gal, and somehow positions herself in my memory, at least, as less a victim or object of Garfunkel’s narcissism than the subject, the animating presence, the magnet of desire, that moves the film. Harvey Keitel is woefully miscast as - you guessed it - an Austrian homicide detective who prevails upon the stop-start, flashback/flash-forward structure of the film’s narration, and tries in a Hitchcockian way to apply deductive reasoning in the corridors of unreason.
Is this film a critique of Freudian narcissism or a Freudian parable of the collusion of sex and violence? Is this film anti-intellectual or the masochistic face-scrubbing of an irrevocable braniac? Is it about the poison enlivening the maddening, luxurious desiring that certain sexual subjects favor, or is it about the death drive that universally haunts all of our procreative functioning? I don’t know, and I won’t soon figure it out, because this deeply flawed film is also the most probing, brilliant and unwatchable slab of film I’ve ever had to deal with. I shan’t be dealing with it again, nossir.
Now what about you? How about a title, brief synopsis, and reflection upon whatever films’ you loved enough to know better than to mess with ‘em again.(Honorable Mentions: The Deer Hunter, A Woman Under the Influence, Compulsion....)
I guess we already knew he had the torture-denier vote locked up.
HAIPHONG, Vietnam (AP) — John McCain has an unusual endorsement — from the Vietnamese jailer who says he held him captive for about five years as a POW and now considers him a friend.
"If I were an American voter, I would vote for Mr. John McCain," Tran Trong Duyet said Friday, sitting in his living room in the northern city of Haiphong, surrounded by black-and-white photos of a much younger version of himself and former Vietnam War prisoners.
At the same time, he denies prisoners of war were tortured. Despite detailed POW accounts and physical wounds, Duyet claims the presumed Republican presidential nominee made up beatings and solitary confinement in an attempt to win votes.
You are free to believe whatever wacky nonsense you want — you can believe moody teenagers are possessed by demons, and you can believe that cutting out the hearts of virgins will guarantee that the sun will rise tomorrow, and you can even believe that barbecued babies are especially delicious — but you are not free to act on those beliefs in a way that infringes the rights of other people. The Texas court, in its zeal to protect religious beliefs, has gone too far and has endorsed the right of a church to do harm in the name of their god.
Friday, June 27, 2008
I take issue with Wallis from a slightly different angle. Here's his quote:
“Taking abortion seriously as a moral issue would help Democrats a great deal with a constituency that is already leaning in their direction on poverty and the environment,” said Wallis. “There are literally millions of votes at stake.”He seems to presuppose that Dems, because they support abortion rights, aren't taking it "seriously" (alarm! alarm!) as a moral issue. Yes, because the only "moral" position to take is in line with a conservative Christian definition of morality. There is no morality in the argument that the state has no business telling a woman what she can do with her body. There's no morality in keeping the state out of medical decisions. There's no morality in trying to keep a legal medical procedure viable for poor women. There's no morality in protecting young pregnant women who don't feel safe discussing the issue with their parents. Nope, this is all just wacky liberal anti-morality for the sake of being shocking and anti-Christian.
Thanks Rev. Wallis, but I think we'd do best to keep our slopes as non-slippery as possible on this one.
1 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
5.0 out of 5 stars So good I might get another pair., May 20, 2007
By Jerry Napier "Constant Evolution" (Chicago, IL) -
You know how sometimes you worry that the picture may look better then the real thing?
Well, this is the exception.
I saw these Samba's online and was a bit skeptical... but I know my shoe size in adidas because I have other pairs so I thought 'what the heck' and bought em'.
When they arrived I was more then pleased, they fit perfectly and look great.
"The Girl is Mine" - Michael Jackson (w/Paul McCartney)
It was difficult to move from an angry and raw tale of drunken murder fantasies driven by domestic alienation to a saccharine MJ and cheesy Sir Mac woo-off. But the lyrical shift from "Christ, you're an idiot!" to "I'm a lover, not a fighter!" was nauseatingly awkward.
Thursday, June 26, 2008
• [Labor's] alliance with the Democratic Party is the logical extension of business unionism to the political realm. The lack of ultimate or even long-range goals, the embrace of the system with some modifications, the business-like relation to limited goals (lobbying for legislation), the top-down nature of political decisions and tactical choices, the self-importance that comes from associating with those in power, the notion of measured advances through a semi-institutional partnership with those who administer the system; all of these features f business unionism fit well the alliance with the capitalist party most open to compromise.
• The problem is that these very same attributes fit poorly with the notion of labor as a social movement based on class and class conflict. How to inspire African Americans or Latinos to vote in larger numbers for candidates that shrink from addressing their issues? How to turn immigrants into citizens and working class voters? How to attract working-class white, particularly low-income ones, to vote for their real interests? Clearly, the Democratic Party cannot do these things. But can a business union leadership that shares many of the same ideas, cautions, and fears of class conflict and mass mobilization?
Everybody but Uncle should check out the strong, interactive Net presence the House of Labor (1.0) has already rolled out. Boom!
That said, a simple image search on "obama unions" will take you to this Double-Boom! delite.
The Vatican's Exorcists: Driving Out the Devil in the 21st Century, by Tracy Wilkinson.
Kudos and jabs to Wilkinson for neither succumbing to a Faces of Death-style exploitation piece, nor extrapolating her way into philosophical or anthropological explanations for the persistence of exorcisms and exorcists in the life of the Church.
An LA Times bureau chief, Wilkinson gains access to several 'live' exorcisms, and does the worthy work framing the Enlightenment and Counter-Reformation contexts in which "modern" exorcism and its supporting theology emerged. Most interesting are Wilkinson's profiles of four exorcists, career priests who've found themselves on the wrong end of the Church for varyingly flagrant attempts to foreground demonic possession, Satan, and 'evil' as such in the lives of their parishoners. The various exorcists are smart, sallow, sardonic, steadfast, opportunistic, etc., just like other real people you know.
While not as even-handed as Blatty's telling of The Exorcist, Wilkinson respectfully sits psychologists and exorcists at the table and allows them to say their pieces. It's only in off-handed moments that Wilkinson betrays what seems like a kind of moral functionalism, if not a politicized "moral economy" approach. In bits of narration we are jostled into juxtaposing modernity, industry, etc., with a deficit of spirit and ecstasy. It's kind of rote, kind of trite, and completely ubiquitous in any and every exposition on religious culture of this day and age, be it from PhDs or shock-jocks.
Mourners: A Nameless Detective Novel, by Bill Pronzini
Pronzini is a seasoned elder statesman of the pulp-worshipping, locked-room-murder-puzzle, lone-existentialist-gumshoe-in-hippie-California genre. If you're me, this last is another way of saying "Pronzini is essentially workmanlike at churning out that which helps pattyjoe breathe."
I've read six or seven installments from this series that began in the 70s, and features the aforementioned "Nameless" protagonist adrift like some Ulysses, solving mods' murders in alternately white ethnic, hippified and multicultural San Francisco. This time I jumped out of sequence, ahead into the 2000s, to find Our Man having undergone important but non-radical personal life changes. Meanwhile, Nameless stays entertainingly busy as people keep dying in weird, intellectually-sexualized ways in CA (thank god for that!)
You are familiar with those two iconic American filmic achievements, Polanski's Chinatown and Altman's Long Goodbye?
Well, if you know these films you will recognize Nameless' alienation before 2005 SF, CA. However, knowing these films, you will also wonder if Nameless' alienation stems from something inward, and if his external sociopolitical surroundings aren't just a useful scapegoat.
There's a weird "I guess I just wasn't made for these times" thread that runs through Chandler, Ross MacDonald et. al., that typifies a sort of "California PI" vibe that's now truly a global, multimedia phenomenon... Is it a sort of pop existentialism, like the kind Fredric Jameson locates in the work of Philip Roth and Dog Day Afternoon? I dunno. I just know that Pronzini is a worthy vessel for another instantiation, another reiteration of this timeless-yet-oddly-timely format. Praise to him!
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
I hear he's running again this year, which is...unfortunate. I've tried to just look the other way and pretend not to notice, like when a good friend gets shitfaced and pisses themselves in a corner at a party. Then he has to go and do this. (Zombie) Jeebus, Ralph. WTF am I supposed to think about this shit?
There’s only one thing different about Barack Obama when it comes to being a Democratic presidential candidate. He’s half African-American. Whether that will make any difference, I don’t know. I haven’t heard him have a strong crackdown on economic exploitation in the ghettos. Payday loans, predatory lending, asbestos, lead. What’s keeping him from doing that? Is it because he wants to talk white? He doesn’t want to appear like Jesse Jackson?The true believer in me want to insist that he must have been misquoted or his remarks taken out of context -- something, anything. There must be a perfectly reasonable explanation for this, right? Sadly, no.
I guess what other folks have been saying for years is true. The man apparently has no shame. It's over between us, Ralph. Before I just wanted to see other candidates. But now I just want to be done with you for good.
Fortunately, John McCain has stepped up to remind us why we are supporting the guy in the first place.
I hope this means that conventon-goers (conventioneers?) can rock some dank falafel while watching Sen. Menendez or whomever's Keynote on that sure to be "Hot" August Night in Denver.
It's a big day for the money people today. So imagine yr a capitalist.
Yr sitting in an antique chair in Elvis' Jungle Room, and some rook hands you the latest financial data with a pair of silver tongs.
You've got a housing slump, with aging Baby Boomers everywhere facing negative savings. They are about to have their only earthly assets, their homes, foreclosed upon - poor Boomers. You've got half-assed Senate Bills compelling Banks not to foreclose upon the bankrupt Boomers, because, shit, it's not like there's anybody out there to buy these foreclosed-upon mortgages anywho.
You're convinced that if people don't own homes, they won't have the personal ATM necessary for them to continue purchasing at the hospitals, restaurants and bars that make our economy grow. You need for their to be "easy money" available to do business, but you are patently opposed to higher wages, progressive income and capital gains taxes, decreased military spending or various Keynesian-y public investments.
So what do you do, lower interest rates? Sure you do. Make it easier for banks to lend each other money to lend to other people? That seems like the most logical solution in the world. Why reproduce labor power through wages or social services when you can financialize the process? That way, wages, benefits and standards of living once thought of as "rights" can now be reckoned as "debts:" somebody else's cross to bear.
Two problems, though. First, nobody's positive that the credit crunch has finally, fully unfolded, and for all you know all that is solid (insert financial institution here) may very soon melt into air, unleashing a concomitant burst of market terror; bankrupting the occasional municipality; and threatening to bring about a more concerted, more ubiquitous "run on the bank" vibe at home and abroad. Lowering interest rates increases lending and may defer our getting to the bottom of the credit fuck-up and allowing you to cut out the cancer - remember yr a capitalist, so this is about "a few bad apples," and not a structural problem."
Second, everybody everywhere else is making moves against impending inflation, and that means raising interest rates, not lowering 'em.
So what is to be done? I have no idea whether the Fed will raise or cut rates today, but I think it will be a while longer before you see an active "war on inflation" a la Volcker that's filled with rate hikes.
Too many people are hurting too much, still, and it's an election year. And this is that unlikely bout of inflation that many attribute to commodity price increases rather than blaming on overpaid workers.
Weird times. A new chapter of neoliberalism. This is the political economy we're navigating or not navigating, labor movement. Don't expect President Obama to be able to tell us how to find a good restaurant here.
Max Fraad Wolff takes us as close as we're going to get to a punchline with his newest expose on an almost pomo indecisiveness around inflation:
A newly enhanced interest in blaming foreign actors smoothes political and media discussion. The confluence of today's high prices with declining home prices, stagnant wages and dimming job market prospects helps explain radically different perception of the new inflations. In the end, none of this explains it all. We seem to have decided some hyper-inflations are good and some are bad. Ultimately, we like hyper inflation in what we already own and hate it in what we have to buy.
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
I have to admit, I'm getting an education in the veritable rainbow of American racism this election season. Here's three of those wonderful colors that I've identified:
- Your old school "they're less than human" crowd
- The "it's actually a privilege to be black in the USA!" gang
- And the "Amerikkka: The Blackening" bedwetters
What colors of the racist rainbow have you grasped?
The following batshit is from Richard Cohen who writes for the Washington Post. Not reading the Post on a regular basis, I assumed that this guy was a regular at Townhall or pj's. Holy F Batman. I'll take the R-G any day of the week.
The wingnut in question wrote this after admitting that McCain has flip-flopped on many, many important issues, but apparently we know that he'll really, really stand up for his core principles, which, so far, are confined to not being a propaganda tool for Communist regimes.
[...H]ere is the difference between McCain and Obama -- and Obama had better pay attention. McCain is a known commodity. It's not just that he's been around a long time and staked out positions antithetical to those of his Republican base. It's also -- and more important -- that we know his bottom line. As his North Vietnamese captors found out, there is only so far he will go, and then his pride or his sense of honor takes over. This -- not just his candor and nonstop verbosity on the Straight Talk Express -- is what commends him to so many journalists.
Obama might have a similar bottom line, core principles for which, in some sense, he is willing to die. If so, we don't know what they are. Nothing so far in his life approaches McCain's decision to refuse repatriation as a POW so as to deny his jailors a propaganda coup. In fact, there is scant evidence the Illinois senator takes positions that challenge his base or otherwise threaten him politically. That's why his reversal on campaign financing and his transparently false justification of it matter more than similar acts by McCain.
A presidential race is only incidentally about issues. It's really about likability and character. Obama is, to paraphrase what he said about Hillary Clinton, more than "likable enough" -- in fact, so much so that he is the most charismatic presidential candidate I've seen since Robert F. Kennedy. But the character question hangs -- not because of any evidence to the contrary and not in any moral sense, either, but because he is still young and lacks the job references McCain picked up in a North Vietnamese prison. McCain has a bottom line. Obama just moved his.
Fuck the election, McCain earned the presidency thirty some-odd years ago in Hanoi! Obama can be president when he serves time as a POW and proves he won't crack.
Seriously though, this is all they have? McCain may be a Bush clone that will kowtow to the far-right, but he won't kowtow to the North Vietnamese? [Insert Zombie Jesus reference here.]
I like this. I think it's good. Hopefully it will do some good. Although I do believe a prominent labor scholar has questioned the value of job training.
thank you, First Read, for this fascinating glimpse into the McCain team's environmental policy wonks. i'm glad to see they're finding good weed on the road:
"In the short term I'd like to give you a little relief for the summer on the gas tax," McCain began, referring to his controversial proposal to temporarily suspend the federal tax on gasoline. But then he made a surprisingly candid admission: "I don't see an immediate relief, but I do see that exploitation of existing reserves that may exist -- and in view of many experts that do exist off our coasts -- is also a way that we need to provide relief. Even though it may take some years, the fact that we are exploiting those reserves would have psychological impact that I think is beneficial."(chop, chop....onwards to the Car Battery Challenge.)
"In a visit to Fresno on Monday, McCain did not bring up offshore drilling, instead emphasizing alternative energy sources such as alcohol fuels and announcing a $300-million challenge to develop a more efficient electric car battery."Wow. What was that Ivan Drago said to Rocky? Oh yeah, it was, you will lose.
Monday, June 23, 2008
But really, seriously? What in the name of zombie jeebus were the producers at Hardball thinking when they slapped this graphic up on the screen as a teaser (ha!) to talk about Michelle Obama's so-called "image makeover"???
So instead of (in addition to?) being the stereotypical Angry Black Woman, now, thanks to her "new outlook," she's -- what? help me out here, people... A stereotypical Jezebel? A sexy stripper? Here I thought she appeared on "The View" to show a "softer" side of herself. But apparently MSNBC has (or had, until they decided to drop it) an exclusive story that will reveal that Michelle actually plans to re-tool her image by appearing as a video dancer.
Christ, what's next? Calling her Obama's baby mama? Oh, right...
Where to go next? I mean, what's left here? Welfare queen? Mammie? It's only June and we're running dangerously low on novel stereotypes!
Of Rice, Mushrooms, and Lies [Douglas J. Feith]
One viewer of my interviews with Peter Robinson wrote in that among the "lies" of the Bush administration was "Rice's line about the 'smoking gun/mushroom cloud.'"
CNN's Wolf Blitzer asked then-National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice on September 8, 2002 how close was Saddam Hussein's government to developing a nuclear capability. Rice said:
"You will get different estimates about precisely how close he is." She presented a summary of what the CIA was saying at the time about Iraq's nuclear weapons program, and then added: "The problem here is that there will always be some uncertainty about how quickly he can acquire nuclear weapons. But we don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud."
Rice was highlighting the limits of U.S. intelligence. While emphasizing the disparate estimates about how close Saddam was to a nuclear bomb, Rice was saying that the CIA would not necessarily know when Saddam acquired one.
She was warning that we might not learn this until after a detonation. This was an important and accurate statement.
Everyone now knows that the CIA's intelligence about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction was deeply flawed. (It was a diplomatic and political disaster that Rice and all the other top Bush administration officials relied on erroneous intelligence - though they did so in good faith.) Rice deserves credit for stressing here the gaps and uncertainties in U.S. intelligence.
The comment about the mushroom cloud was a way of telling the American people not to expect their officials to know the state of Saddam's nuclear program at any given moment. It was a clear and proper warning that our country was subject to surprise. And it made the unarguable point that we would not want that surprise to take the form of a mushroom cloud from an Iraqi weapon.
Rice's reference to the mushroom cloud has been widely denounced as a gaffe or a lie. But it was neither.
UPDATE:I'm riding the "Vicodin Dragon," as the kids say, could someone with some skills take the ad out?
Sunday, June 22, 2008
Download the May 2008 comp, (minus one Box Tops' track that's you'll need to go after in the marketplace. In fact, I recommend you pursue a market transaction with of each of these artists, which is why I've included links to merchants wherever possible.)
miniature parade bob mould
golly i'm hot on bob mould's district line, which is the 2000s equivalent of yr jackson browne or yr joni mitchell-style "confessional" alb, but featuring fugazi's brendan canty on drums and on the boards, as well as some of mould's toughest power-punk hooks since Sugar. mould's "dance-y" production tactics are even cool with me, cuz sonically it comes off equivalent to throwing a disco ball into an auto-wrecker.
everybody loves the sunshine roy ayers
easily the theme song of pattyjoe's adventures in the 2007 ford focus he knows so well. when my special lady enthusiastically approved of my submersion into a funk/soul/disco-geek-out phase, i don't imagine she figured i'd end up here. top of the world!
hey, dour nyc guys! nice peacoats! but seriously, ladies and chaps... this first interpol record belongs aside what's the story and southern harmony in the pantheon of great ersatz-rock.
this is the band that bridges the gap between steady diet fugazi, spiderland slint and goat-era jesus lizard. what else to say? i actively pursue every record played upon by all the ex-hoovers and all their forebears and all their descendents. priceless.
note the downbeat vibes in the verses. pretty expert for the kids at the basement show to be dropping.
flowing teenage fanclub
up until a year ago i had not gotten any further than bandwagonesque, and now i've taken to saying they've eclipsed even pavement as standard-bearers for my goes-without-saying debt to slackerish-ness and big star. and they continue to be great, too. Man-made is to me way better than anything Tweedy and O'Rourke have perpetrated together.
d.c. blues gary louris
now we veer into adult-contempo terrain with this here ex-Jayhawk. pretty song, but i hold it in contempt cuz i wrote an acoustic record myself this year and his is like, 7,100 times better. that said, the production palette might've been cooler if it was a little more like that of if i could only remember my name and a little less like tapestry. but whose fault is that? it's producer chris "twice as awful" robinson's fault, actually.
salvation blues marc olson
and here is the other ex-Jayhawk, with a song that's almost ruined from day one with an icky lead guitar intro that suggests lyle lovett ain't far off. nah.... beautiful chorus and ramshackle acoustic-ish-ness.
atrophic revolutions hal al shedad
this band is another all-time fave combo of arty, indie dynamics and face-melting-ly aggressive emocore from the day. atlanta's finest, bar none.
what was kerosene 454
a more "midwestern" contribution from this recent discovery of mine... almost braid-like in its' sing-song-iness and buzzing SGvibes.
breezin' george benson
the first time i heard this song, i was receiving a lecture from a former Assistant Coach with the Utah Jazz.
pink frosty fugazi
creepy, slint-y tactics from the mature fugazi that gave us the mindblowing End Hits.
traded green trees corm
it's at this point in my May 2008 comp that i drive the Ford Focus off into the rest area and think, god i'm hitting it hard with the mid-90s emo 7"s this month. yeah, well...
in a free land husker du
that's more like it. i know this song because of the overlooked Everything Falls Apart comp. featuring the huskers way before and just after Land Speed Record. in contrast to that record - as staunchly "hardcore" an LP as the band ever produced - Everything Falls Apart houses a whole spectrum of sounds, including this tear-wrenching anthem, praise be. note the second bob mould appearance on this comp.
evening gown alejandro escovedo
a mick jagger cover... what can i say? i love the line about "sports clothes."
the leanover life without buildings
hello???!?? these vocals caught me by my pleasantries.