Saturday, July 12, 2008

solidarity forever

Thank you, Dan Carey, wherever you are...

On this day six years ago you changed my life forever when you walked up to me in a bar during the CGEU conference in Toronto and said, "Hey, there's someone I think you should meet." Truer words were never spoken, my friend.

Your hope was that I could make common cause with the dark-haired, smiling, sparkling-eyed unit chair from Berkeley and that together we could strategize ways to improve relations between the AFT and UAW. In retrospect, it's hard to see what the two of us talking (yes, just talking!) into the wee hours of the night realistically could have accomplished in this regard. But no one can accuse us of failing to build a lasting solidarity, if only on a micro level.

S., I was lost the minute you cast your wicked gaze in my direction. But you had me at Zizek says narrativizing is inherently problematic.

♥ ash

Big Jew

I know this is old and I am stealing from LGM and I am still sort of boycotting the Daily Show, but this was right on so many levels and it echoed issues already discussed here, that I had to post it.

My favorite is "Brought to you by, ten years of making even people who agree with you cringe."

Should I be disappointed?

I'm by no means old. I can still party down with at least the top 25% of them. But in the graduate employee union world, I think it's fair to say that I'm something of an "elder statesman." Should I be disappointed that I was the last to leave a drinking sesh of grad employees?

Friday, July 11, 2008

Faces Reunion, Now? Why?!? Okay...

I am not sure this will go off as well as the Slint or Burma reunions, but who knows? All I know for sure is that I won't be able to afford the ticket. That's right, people, the lads are coming back.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

blog wank talk

A coupla weeks ago Doug Henwood hosted an awesome conversation with Corey Robin - a Brooklyn Prof who recently wrote an amazing review article in the Nation that puts forth a very cultural reading of the American right and their identity politics. Robin is flanked on the right by Reihan Salam, the twentysomehing-sounding point man over at the American Scene, and also author of Grand New Party, a work that no less a mind than David Motherbleeping Brooks thinks is just the knife's dice. Salaam is a smart guy, no doubt, though I cannot understand why anybody would spend so much time or energy on such a generous and esoteric reading of the American Right. Anywho I've ended up subscribing to the blog at the Scene, which offers a weird glimpse into the 'politics and poetics' of our foils in the culture-trenches. Weird.

I've found an american communist blog that's worth spitting at, though this week it featured an International Socialist Review screed against "identity politics" that tries to calls Laclau and Mouffe out, and quickly gets in way over its head. I have a feeling that all of the sausage-making, "inside baseball" political operations I am working on will result in a post-November Left Turn. It's weird how many trotskyists are too purist (puerile?) to do what it takes to maintain members, but also rigidly inattentive to Marxist theory. If it's necessary to maintain this pretentious disposition, is it also essential that you ignore Western Marxism?

Dean Baker's "Meltdown Lowdown" is a weekly review piece on the US economy that features even zingier zingers than his Beat the Press blog, which i'm of course addicted to. Par Example:

It's amazing what you can find reading obscure documents from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). The CBO's analysis of the Dodd-Frank housing-bailout package projects that 35 percent of the 400,000 homeowners (140,000) who get a new mortgage through the program will still eventually be unable to pay their bills and will lose their homes in foreclosure.

These families can look forward to two or three more years of struggling to pay their mortgages, sacrificing health care, child care, and other necessary expenses in order to hang on to their home. At the end of the day, these 140,000 families will end up out on the street with nothing.

This is what D.C. policy wonks call "asset building."

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

I think not

I will ask in advance for your indulgence for what follows. Since I shuttered my own blog last week, I am now forced to vent about my work-related issues here at the OG. So...the Women's Center where I work periodically collaborates with our university's Public Safety Department to offer a self-defense course for women. Now, for reasons I'll get into in a minute, I'm not wild about this. And the fact that the program is called RAD, an acronym for "Rape Aggression Defense," does not help matters any. But the courses tend to be popular, which would seem to suggest that they are filling a (perceived) public need, and it's not like I am opposed to the idea of women learning to defend themselves from an attack, so I go along and keep my misgivings mostly to myself.

Anyway, an officer just e-mailed me to ask if we could get together and talk about turning the RAD program into--get this--a first-year seminar offered through Women's Studies. This, she reasoned "would be a great way to incorprate everything and allow us to touch on other subjects as well that women have to deal with." Oh. My. Gawd. Where do I even start with what is (so very very) wrong with this idea?

First, I am sorry, but this has to be said: A cop. Teaching Women's Studies. Um, no. And furthermore, NO! Let's face it--law enforcement does not exactly have a reputation as a feminist institution. (which is not to say that individual cops can't be feminists. who knows, maybe this one is.) But let's see...what's one of the institutions that contributes to making sexual assault such a woefully underreported crime (through their insensitive, victim-blaming, rape myth-reinforcing behaviors)? Oh enforcement! This is not just an abstract possibility. Our campus safety folks have a reputation for being hostile to and dismissive of survivors. They utilize a very narrow and conservative reading of the Clery Act to justify refusing to take blind reports in sexual assault cases. The cops themselves have been accused of assault and harassment. So no, I'm not imagining a particularly productive dialogue about rape being led by a campus cop in a Women's Studies course.

(And don't even get me started on the ridiculous assumptions that are built in to this particular cop's idea of Women's Studies. I suppose she is qualified to teach a WMST course at a research I institution because, like, she is a woman and all, so she totally gets all those "subjects that women have to deal with." I mean, it's not like WMST is a real academic discipline or anything. Hence, we don't need actual content. We can just hit and kick things, then fill the rest of the time gossiping. Or bitching. Or whatever. You know, girl stuff.)

Second, while I have not personally experienced the RAD program, I'll just go out on a limb and make a prediction that this is not about feminist empowerment. Defining rape as a "safety" problem and offering self defense as a "solution" is deeply problematic. Suggesting to young women that self-defense certification will prevent them from being sexually assaulted is dangerously misleading. Making assault prevention (by whatever means) women's responsibility (as opposed to, say, making it men's responsibility to, I don't know, stop raping women!) is obnoxious and unfair.

There's almost nothing about this that feels right or good to me. Or even helpful, for that matter. 9 in 10 survivors are acquainted with the perpetrator in sexual assault cases on our campus. Alcohol or other substances are involved in more than half of all cases. So we're not talking about beating down the stranger who jumps out of the bushes when you're walking alone at night. Most of the time we're not even talking about a violent struggle. So for most women who are going to become part of that all-too-familiar "one in four" statistic, these skills will not serve them particularly well.

A first-year seminar structured around thinking through ways to dismantle rape culture? I'm there. A seminar focusing on creating healthy relationships and on getting and giving consent? Sign me up. A first-year anything that includes frank discussions about alcohol and assault? Definitely. But a first-year seminar that ignores all the root causes of violence against women in favor of learning to kick men in the balls and stab them with our car keys? No thanks. I can see that as a PE class. But a course in the Women's Studies curriculum? Not so much.

Goin' to...

So Very Dissappointing....

The senate passed a bill that I can only hope (though I am not holding my breath)the SCOTUS finds unconstitutional, immunizing the telecom cos and letting bush and co. off the hook for violating the 4th amendment and FISA.
While that was bad enough, it seems Obama felt the need to join in the madness. Especially disappointing considering he taught con law, and had promised to oppose it.
from (one of the best bloggers in existence) Glenn Greenwald:
The Senators then voted for "cloture" on the underlying FISA bill -- the procedure that allows the Senate to overcome any filibusters -- and it passed by a vote of 72-26. Obama voted along with all Republicans for cloture. Hillary Clinton voted with 25 other Democrats against cloture (strangely,Clinton originally voted AYE on cloture, and then changed her vote to NAY; I'm trying to find out what explains that).

With cloture approved, the bill itself then proceeded to pass by a vote of 69-28 (roll call vote here), thereby immunizing telecoms and legalizing warrantless eavesdropping. Again, while Obama voted with all Republicans to pass the bill, Sen. Clinton voted against it.

Obama's vote in favor of cloture, in particular, cemented the complete betrayal of the commitment he made back in October when seeking the Democratic nomination. Back then, Obama's spokesman -- in response to demands for a clear statement of Obama's views on the spying controversy after he had issued a vague and noncommittal statement -- issued this emphatic vow:

To be clear: Barack will support a filibuster of any bill that includes retroactive immunity for telecommunications companies.

But the bill today does include retroactive immunity for telecommunications companies. Nonetheless, Obama voted for cloture on the bill -- the exact opposition of supporting a filibuster -- and then voted for the bill itself. A more complete abandonment of a clear campaign promise is difficult of imagine.

So very sad....

ACLU Announces Legal Challenge To Follow President’s Signature, link here
Today, in a blatant assault upon civil liberties and the right to privacy, the Senate passed an unconstitutional domestic spying bill that violates the Fourth Amendment and eliminates any meaningful role for judicial oversight of government surveillance. The FISA Amendments Act of 2008 was approved by a vote of 69 to 28 and is expected to be signed into law by President Bush shortly. This bill essentially legalizes the president’s unlawful warrantless wiretapping program revealed in December 2005 by the New York Times.

“Once again, Congress blinked and succumbed to the president’s fear-mongering. With today’s vote, the government has been given a green light to expand its power to spy on Americans and run roughshod over the Constitution,” said Anthony D. Romero, Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union. “This legislation will give the government unfettered and unchecked access to innocent Americans’ international communications without a warrant. This is not only unconstitutional, but absolutely un-American.”

Forgive Me If I Go Astray

I had a dream last night wherein Wobs, Lex, Malone, and I were drinking beers in a bar on campus (I think it was the now-defunct Busters) talking over the state of politics in Oregon when we hit on a brilliant solution that would solve all our problems. We decided to head back to the GTFF office to work on it.

Despite the fact that it was a Saturday night at 7 pm, there was a crowd waiting outside the door of the office. Knowing GTFs as well as I do, I immediately resigned myself to helping them with their health insurance needs and did not even bother pointing out that it was Saturday. Night. One of the people waiting on the stairs was a UO administrator who was giving a set of parents a tour of campus. They wanted to sign their son up for health insurance.

As I let everyone into the office and sat down to fire up my computer, the first person to sit at my desk was a Japanese GTF wearing one of the newer GTF shirts. She informed me that when she joined the GTFF as a full member, I had promised her a surprise/gift/present (I don't remember the exact word) and she wanted it right then. Given that she already had a shirt, I began casting around for what I could give her. I finally suggested a hat, but she already had one. I was at a loss and I was desperately trying not to point out that it was Saturday at 7 pm and it was a bit unreasonable of her to expect me to just produce a surprise of some sort, but I also knew that she had only joined to get the prize (ah, the organizing model as practiced by Dave) and she would withdraw her membership if I didn't come up with something. Then it hit me. This is what I gave her:

Make yourself a tuna fish sandwich. Then make an egg wash by lightly beating one egg with a tablespoon of water. Brush the egg wash on the bread. Lightly sprinkle the sandwich with bread crumbs (I assumed she'd use panko), but get the sandwich thoroughly covered, including the sides. Chill the sandwich for at least an hour to let it firm up. Then place the sandwich in a deep fat fryer for 2 minutes.

Voila! The deep-fried tuna fish sandwich. I had invented a delicious taste treat for her.

As you can imagine, I woke up at this point, as I had blown my own mind while I slept.

I have to take off on a camping expedition. If anyone wants to try to make the sandwich and let us know how it went, I'd be obliged if you'd make a note of it in the comments.

Everything from ABBA to Zeppelin, Led

I'm currently reading Douglas Brinkley's The Great Deluge about the Katrina catastrophe. While it's certainly not a funny book, this quote on page 60 cracked me up:
The bar was holding a midsummer Mardi Gras party featuring the legendary George Porter, founder of the Meters, the seminal New Orleans funk band that influenced everybody from Phish to Widespread Panic.

Call me crazy, but I think the Meters' influence spreads farther than from a white, neo-hippie jam band from Vermont to a white, neo-hippie jam band from Georgia.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Hard Case Crime

I just joined the Hard Case Crime book club. Like your average mope in these stories, I can't see how this could come back to haunt me, although everyone else can.

I read the title at left. It's the hard luck tale of Max, a businessman who simply wants to have his wife killed so he can marry his blonde, 38DD (a bit small for Max), Irish (oh, but that accent) secretary. Max remains constantly amazed throughout the book that the fulfillment of this simple desire can get so complicated.

Bruen and Starr pull off the difficult trick of making none of their characters particularly likable, but writing them in such a way that the reader has a rooting interest in their success and feels pained by their inevitable undoing. Max in particular is a difficult hero in that 90% of the time he's hugely offensive, but he has just enough naivite that you can sympatize with his plight. After all, he only wants to have his wife killed.

There, but for the Grace, go we all.

Mould and Norm - Pic of the Year?

Pride week, indeed: we are a better country for having these men around. Give them both Rockefeller grants, please.

And what's this? The Bob Mould band joins My Bloody Valentine at their forthcoming ATP? With Tortoise (performing Millions Now Living) and Shellac and Bardo? Mebbe my one true love and I should go East in September.

Was "Operation Nocturnal Emission" Already Taken?

Did everybody already know about Operation Midnight Climax? If so, these are the kinds of things about which I'd like to be informed.

Monday, July 7, 2008


The seed for this beautiful flower of a PRM had its genesis in a conversation about branding. Go figure. Have some B-52s.

"Hot Lava"

The mandatory "Rock Lobster"

And what qualifies for epic in the genre of New Wave, "Planet Claire"

We jam econo

So when, exactly, do I become a member of this coastal cultural elite that I hear so sneeringly derided? I don't think that I'm a member, although I'll readily admit to wanting to be an "elite..." something or other. But although that vilified segment of the population sounds a lot like me, I have a hard time thinking of myself as any sort of elite.

I mean, I like lattes, but at $3.50 a pop, it's not a taste I can regularly indulge.

We like to do Big Cultural Things, but our access to that relies on T.'s practiced eye for must-sees and good deals rather than being able to just randomly decide we'd like to try that opera thing.

I'm sure the mythical Martian sociologist would classify us as culturally as "creative class," but we're definitely on the lower edge of that spectrum.

I'll cop to being a snob when it comes to some things, but elite? C'mon. I don't even know the secret handshake.

We are going to be sooo rich!

How can you not want to believe in someone who promises to deliver results?...(from politico)
“The McCain administration would reserve all savings from victory in the Iraq and Afghanistan operations in the fight against Islamic extremists for reducing the deficit. Since all their costs were financed with deficit spending, all their savings must go to deficit reduction.”

I especially love all the details in McSame's proposal... It would take some time to dig through and really crunch the numbers, but I assume all their figures are rock solid.

Man, just think of the savings we'll get from Iran, Syria, etc.....
(h/t mydd)

Made with Real Frut

I was eating at Taco Bell today because I hate myself. The tables were festooned with placards adverting their new drink the "Frutista Freeze." I spent my lunch wondering why the fine folks at Taco Bell were thinking with the spelling there. My guess is that 'Mericans think that fruit is spelled "frut" and calling the drink a Fruitista Freeze befuddled them. I also spent some time wondering how this drink name is pronounced. Maybe the name is just an in-joke for Bellers who have a larf at the rubes who don't call it a Frut-rhymes with slut-ista.

It's a Different World

Apparently, in Funky Winkerbean land, the cops appreciate a smart-ass retort and will tear up a ticket if you strike their funny bone. In Eugene, this is a Taserable offense.

I Am Less of a Man Than I Should Be

I can say with some confidence that I know or do 23 of these things. How many you got?
Thirty things to know or do by the time you’re 30:

To take your hat off while eating.

To bring a hostess gift.

Have a valid passport.

How to make small talk.

Your credit score.

And your blood type.

How to do laundry.

And scramble eggs.

Your parents’ birthdays.

How to drive a stick shift.

And order a bottle of wine.

How to set up, and check, bank and credit card balances online.

How to wrap a gift.

Own a suitcase.

Have a local florist, not 1-800 FLOWERS.

How to negotiate.

And compromise.

How to jump a car/change a tire.

Have a retirement plan.

When to stop drinking.

How to file a complaint.

How to make a bed - complete with hospital corners.

How to play a sport (excelling not required).

How much cologne is too much.

When you need a dinner reservation.

How to read the bus schedule.

To tip the maid in a hotel.

To make exceptions for children, and seniors.

How to apologize.

How to give a good hug.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Sunday Tape: June 2008 + an important SOIVAY!

Please download the June 2008 Sunday Mixtape, and please purchase the works of those included thereupon.

Feb 14 Drive-By-Truckers... I am relatively new to this band, having scored their newest alb after "hearing good things" for years. Rest assured it's great blackout music if yr a leftist labor dork in Portland. I guess my loving them, Uncle Tupelo, Whiskeytown and their children makes me a (reluctant but nonetheless) devout alt-country guy. How embarrassing, how true. This song drives me like I wish I could say all the Replacements stuff did. Patterson Hood rules as a singer, which is, natch, very important for this Sticky Fingers + Darkness on the Edge of Town rock palette.

1,000 of Anything Giant's Chair... Oh god! Sadly out of print, Giant's Chair deserves mention alongside Chavez' Gone Glimmering and Unwound's Future of What when it comes to arty, guitar-rock glory. Oh god, lucky you the gentlemen at usedbinforever made it available!

Valentine Number One Toshack Highway... Denser-than-average, synth and drone-drenched placidity for your nearest beachside. Seriously, lay your towel down in the somehow Pop-pointillist sand. Good for you.

The Innocence of a Child Catherine Howe.. I don't begrudge any latter-day folkies nothing, but it's a wonder it took the geeks so long to remember an alternate 60s where hippies swooned in addition to Molotov Cocktailing or even just druggin'. Where's the moral imagination, you punk rock aesthetes? Just like you, people everywhere always end up doing things besides necking and punching and "keeping it real." You didn't know about other versions of 1968 until 2004, huh, really? Thank you Catherine Howe for constituting the wispy, swoony Return-of-the-uh, ur-Relaxed. Great, buttery throat. I hope right now somebody's taking off the Devendra and turning on to you.

I Found You Anders Parker...Despite spending the last coupla years high on Anders, I'd never gotten around to purchasing AP's Wounded Astronaut ep until just this last month, the one called June of 2008. 'Turns out this ep houses more layered guitars and more Sonic Youth-y dialectics of melody/dissonance than is found on either of the solo albs he's made since taking down the Varnaline tent. Lady vocals, too.

Mick Jagger... This is from the solo Mick alb I've been so happy to laud beyond reason. Maybe it is true, Mick.

Witches Wand Sloan... I had heard nothing from this grew since their Buzz Clip-era debut in them early 1990s, but between Tom Scharpling's endorsement, my recent resurfaced devotion to Teenage Fanclub, and my increased distaste for the very idea of Belle and Sebastian... well, mebbe Sloan is where I need to go for my not-un-indie Beatles-y twee. This song has at least three killer hooks and gets out in three minutes. (ps - Am I wrong to blame Belle and Sebastian for the Decemberists? Probably? I dunno, but I know that even the very droll Belle and Sebastian are seeming unsustainably overwrought when I try to put 'em on the box and place 'em in my life-world. I wish life was a big, fun sweater commercial here in Eugene - it ain't. Nor am I an undergraduate, apparently.)

Allentown Billy Joel... because it's cause for an important survey question: is "Allentown" or "Born in the USA" the 'best' of its era when it comes to popular evocations of male, white ethnic 80's (class) angst?

100 South of Broadway The Philadelphia Society. From the often-banal, always-fantastic second installment of Soul Jazz' Philly Soul series. 'Makes me think of the woman I love, who everyday wafts around my life like really good Saxophone Disco.

The World is in the Turlet Ted Leo and the Pharmacists (Lyrics penned spontaneously by Tom Scharpling and the Best Show callers during an historic episode, while the Pharmacists toiled in the studio to churn out what they churned.) Good christ, the limited time frame and inanity, insanity and genius of the lyrics make for a Ted Leo song that encapsulates all Ted Leo songs within itself in a manner not unlike that perpetrated in the "Circe" chapter of old what's-it-called. In particular I commend you to the uncharacteristically "raw" solo and ascendant "moment of triumph" crescendo.

Police Police Me Hey Mercedes (Less embarassing than my alt-country disposition but nonetheless embarassing is the fact that) I have a higher threshold for certain poppy tendencies in 1990s emo than many friends of mine. Given this penchant and giving the adroit lyrics of Bob Nanna, both Braid and their latter incarnation Hey Mercedes have always been tasty red meat for "driving in the car" pattyjoe. In this instance, Hey Mercedes are hip to shout out les Beatles with this song-title, tho in actuality they're still playing some very hard rock beneath the harmonic, chiming SGs. Just dig it on its own terms, people. While the Get-Up Kids, Promise Ring et. al. seemed always either too dressed-down, too dumbed-down or too derivative... Bob Nanna's work looms large on my Bucket List.
Skip a Rope Henson Cargill Thanks, Kyle! This here is some "message music" from the storied realm of 60s studio country. Good god, divorce is killing our children! And have you seen how they dress lately? They should get a job, is what they need to do. Seriously.

All Going Out Together Big Dipper In different ways, Husker Du, REM and NZ greats like the Clean were all capable of elevating indie sounds to a place that almost merited the earnest title of "pop-rock." 'Turns out that Big Dipper belong in that class as the very least, this song belongs in yr walkman. Taken from the magisterial and overdue and magnanimous 3-cd Anthology of Dipper stuff that just emerged from Merge. I love the Tom Scharpling essay, but better still are the very deadpan and very balanced appraisals from ex-Dippers who lived through the Homestead Records era to experience abject, major-label squalor in the post-Nevermind era. If guitar-based indie rock a la SST et. al. ever really "comes again," it'll be in part because of people's coming together around lost luminaries like Big Dipper.

Bikini States Electro Group... Now as ever I am thankful to builtonaweakspot for keeping me half-abreast of contemporary shoegaze pockets. The main lick sweeps from chords to single-notes in a Polvo-y manner that arouses me. I'm always slapping the steering wheel when this one comes down.

Wait Mom and Dad Julia... If only I'd known about this stuff as it were happening. More of the slint and dischord-infused "hardcore" that was peculiar to the South in the late 1990s. Great, smart guitar chord-ing and the swaggering vocs that all the lex dexters dig.

I Want You
Marvin Gaye...ooh, and then there's this alb-opener from the overlooked Marvin alb. You're psyched, there's nothing else I can say.

Coalmine #666 we're talking. What time signature is this? And for all the herky-jerky, how can it rock so much. While Rodan and Slint always end up covered in praise-silt when it comes to the Louisville rock canon, the mighty Crain must be honored and praised as the slightly more oaf-ish, slightly tougher sibling in the litter. This track is culled from the bonus cd that accompanies Simple Machines' legendary Working Holiday comp. Tasty and nasty, spicy and cool.

My Noise Superchunk.... An early anthem from the big kids. Free yourself, teens! Whatever.

Can't Let Go This Feeling Spotlight Kid... Oh, my...we're lifting off. We may never get to actually fall of an actual bridge or make love in a lunar module, but we do have this kind of weightlessness. For me this sub-mode of post-whatever is like having a waterfall-like, frameless system of LiteBrites forever shimmering in the corner of mine eyeball. If life en general turned into something more like this music pocket, everybody would opt out of pants and opt into flowing combos of fleece and astroturf. Bean bags everywhere. Take a seat or lay down.

The Turnpike Down Lemonheads... Weird that I ever felt a need to revisit Shame About Ray these ten years on, but weirder still that I dig it. 'Like a vintage Dinosaur album recorded on acoustic guitar and snare drum. Even the alb tracks like this one stand up fine. Evan Dando is the perfect frontman for this band in the same way that the Doors'd've been utter shite had Jim Morrison actually been really smart or poetic.

Forever Idaho... Another band from the "they existed for how long without me noticing?" category. Crushing guitar haze is dribbled over the choruses of this dirge in a manner befitting "Cortez" or Come or even Codeine. Let's get lost again.