Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Arlen Specter: What makes a Coat Turn?

[Andrew Napolitano, you are so lucky. Arlen and swine flu has postponed your colonscopy at my hands yet again. Lawd.]
Anyway, here's the usual crap on Arlen, from the right: "Senator Arlen Specter has been called many things by his former fellow Republicans over the years, but “classy” has never been a term they used for the man. His announcement today that after nearly 30 years in the Senate as a Republican he will cross the line to join the Democratic majority is the capstone on a career built not on ideological purpose or seeking after the right course for the country, but on service to the worst kind of personal interest, a lust for manipulative control of every situation, and the crass pursuit of power for power’s sake.
For months, Specter has insisted he would not switch. A few weeks ago, Specter was
bending NRSC Chair John Cornyn to his will, hitting opponent Pat Toomey for being too conservative to win a general election. Today, by his actions, Specter admits it is he who is out of step with his electoral base–not just in policy, but in manner–and only a political move this desperate could bring him any chance at the victory he craves. Unlike Joe Lieberman, Specter didn’t wait for his likely rejection in a primary–nor did he take the principled route of registering as a political Independent."
(Joe Lieberman--principled? Wait...wasn't this the Loserman of "Sore-Loserman?" Ah the hypocrisy of these folks. Ah how the worm turns...)
Look, Arlen was getting sick of Limbaugh-ism, Fox News lies, the let's brign back Ft. Sumter derangement which he'd done a good job of double-talking around or whitewashing with Kihl's primer for years. Nat has sources close to the Biden camp who'll confirm that there's principle afoot, not just self-interest. Perhaps that's what bugs the wingnuts the most--that there just may be a principle at stake. Obama's victory stripped the primer and the ugliness soaks through. Of course he's a self-interested self-aggrandizing careerist. Who isn't in our government. But that's the beauty of this move: his naked self-interest tells him even he can't keep the Oz like curtain over these lunatics in and around his party. They are distasteful, so here egotism and principle converge. Makes perfect sense to me. [n.b. Look for Susan Collins next, when the first Maine citizens start coughing from swin flu, and she's the poster child for a moderate Republicans being forced to carry wingnut water--it was she who was the public face of stripping pandemic funds from Obama's Stimulus.]
People switch up for all sorts of reasons. Most relate to a slight or reproach or threat, or egomania, or greed. So no, it often has nothing to do with tribalism or ideology. Benedict Arnold, Quisling? No complex motives there. What about Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell? He left the Democratic Party merely because of a silly parochial spat with local Colorado officials. Perhaps a person switches, snitches or remains with "the wrong side" because it's all he/she knows, and resistance is futile anyway. Note the slaves who dug trenches, teamstered wagons etc for the Confederacy. It's too facile to say "even the Robert E Lee had his coons." What makes a coon in the first place should be the point of analysis, not whether or not they exist. Coons are notoriously unhappy in their cooning. KGB mole Kim Philby and our own Benedict Arnold proudly went on to work for the Soviets and Brits, respectively, and yet died miserable despite the monetary rewards and accolades. What reward inured to the slave who sold out Denmark Vesey? Similarly, Clarence Thomas sports very interesting psychopathologies that shaped his attitude towards his own people and the law. He likewise nested in his adopted tribe's (e.g. the rabid white right wing's) good graces yet remains petulant rather than contented. Cooning as a form of turncoat behavior is complex, indeed. Regardless, there doesn't seem to be any principle at stake. Indeed, take the Neocons, born from Jewish liberal, even Marxist roots. Their figurative mom and dad, Gertrude Himmelfarb and Irving Kristol (and literal parents of Bill Kristol), turned-coat--hellbent on smashing all progressive views and creeds. There were a lot of triggers for their rebellion, even weird ones like Vietnam war protest, John Lindsay's kowtowing to unions in NYC, black ghetto denizens going batshit on all levels--and blaming Jews for it. So what was the "principle" here for abandoning liberalism for the mirror opposite creed? Disagreement over direction? Corruption in thought or of finance? Nope. It was that unworthy beings were taking over and challenging their intellectual hegemony. Time to gypsy off to the Gentiles and offer your services, like the nerd kids (often Jews) who're suddenly befriended by the cheerleaders and dumb jocks. That's hardly a principle.
Specter's not in those categories, in my opinion. He left because of, not in spite of Limbaugh, or Pajamas Media blogs, or Govs Rick Perry and Sonny Perdue, or crazy American redneck Taliban trying to take over legislatures in places like Louisiana or Florida. He's not John Quincy Adams trying to save the Federalists by turning them into National Republicans. He's not Lucifer in Pandemonium, making a Heaven of Hell because he revolted against God.
Think of another Jew named Josephus. Hero, general of the army of Judea in revolt against the Romans. The revolt's crushed and Josephus is a POW. He wants to keep the legions from more slaughter, destruction. So he collaborates. He gets no riches or commissions in the Roman army. He's not feted by the emperor or given an atta boy by the Herod-like conservatives who didn't want the revolt in the first place. Recall, he was a leader in the revolt. He tried to stop the violence. The Romans destroyed the Temple was destroyed in Jerusalem anyway (some now say it was accidental, and a command/control failure). But without him, we wouldn't have known about this time period or this critical swath of Jewish history, about the siege of Masada, about the infant Christian movement or the Dead Sea Scrolls. His chronicle was his penance. There was principle here of having a culture survive, not merely saving one's ass.
Likewise, think of Werner von Braun. He wasn't an ardent Nazi, or a strident anti-Semite. No, he was worse. He was part of the majority of regular Germans who tolerated this crap. Who went along for the ride. And what a ride--unfettered resources flowed so he could realize his rocketry dreams. His dreams even clouded the sight of slave laborers building his launch and test facilities. But with defeat looming, he had a choice: serve the same type of regime (Stalin being on the flipside of the coin from Hitler), and hisown ego--or flee to the Americans and contritely renounce his opportunism of 1938-1945. Well yeah, self interest pushed the latter choice. But there was also principle in that move. Penance, subconsciously. Even his detractors admit so. And see what he accomplished for all mankind. Was it enough penance? No. Not for what he did 1938-45. But it was a start.
Specter, like Von Braun, overlooked and tolerated a lot sh*t bubbling from the loonies in his party for 30 years. As of 2009, that roiling mess can no longer be hidden or explained away. Now his balls are on the concrete. Self interest indeed dictates that you make a move. And yet even in it that, there's a higher principle. Arlen the cancer survivor has seeded his own penance...

Saturday, April 25, 2009

RIP Bea Arthur. You would have shredded Andrew Napolitano...

"Maude" was the last of the 70s fightin' liberals, like US Court of Appeals Judge David Bazelon. "Dorothy" was a tough old bird and not the stereotype of the creepily creeping Florida retiree (you know--the ones whose state rights were trampled by the supposedly federalism-loving, non activist GOP leaning Supreme Court in making George Bush president in 2000). BTW Andy Nappy, Nat hasn't forgotten about you. Tune in Sunday 4/26.
Bea was much teased as the big ugly woofer woman. Trust me when I was entering puberty I watched Maude with my Mom merely to staple my eyes on Adrienne Barbeau's tee-ties. But I appreciated, even at age 12, how amusing and skilled Bea really was. And how many of these tools who called her a man (LOL) ever saw her on Broadway, or any stage? She was the best. RIP, Bea. And God'll get you for that, Hannity...

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Fox News, Glenn Beck, Limbaugh & Co, want to tell you about Dred Scott

"Judge" Andrew Napolitano, is unfortunately, a Princeton grad. Not the superstar alum. More in the vein of Fatal Vision killer Dr. Jeffrey MacDonald, Aaron Burr, Justice Alito, and several folk who brought you the economic meltdown, memos gleefully supporting waterboarding, attacks on fellow Tiger Michelle Robinson '85. He's also a well paraded and circuited per the taliing points and exposure plan, on Fox News. That helps book sales. And in Dred Scott's Revenge (hey...no fair! Copy cat!), Napolitano has the conceit to tell us all about slavery (day to day on what appears to be a Gone With the Wind-like plantation), the Civil War, the esoteric yet impactive postive (codified, legislative) law vs. natural rights contrast, Dred Scott, Reconstruction, the Klan, Woodrow Wilson (oops another Princetonian), assholes named FDR/JFK/LBJ/HSTruman, a weirdly deified MLK, Jr. and of course the Abomindable Dr. Phibes himself: the black president taking office on the day government turned evil, 1/20/09...how ironic is that, fanboys & girls?
Phew!!! I put "Judge" in quotes. Sorry Andy. Being the facetious tool I am, this was a dig at your dust jacket, where your publisher lists an endorsement from lawn jockey Michael Steele and his title is "Gov." He was Lt. Gov. of Maryland. And thrashed in the Senate election by a mousey Jewish guy with 80% of the blacks who cast votes in what was supposed to be his coronation. Love the other endorsements from Glenn Beck and...yikes...Juan Williams, Geraldo. Poor Juan...
Full review to come, but feel free to go the bookstore, thumb through this thing, and laugh. Dred, you deserve better, so Nat's gonna give you some true revenge...

Monday, April 20, 2009

RIP J.G. Ballard

Sounds esoteric as hell but one of my favorite memories of my late mother is our spending a rainy afternoon watching Steven Spielberg's adaptation of Ballard's novel "Empire of the Sun," on HBO a couple of years ago. My father was napping, of course. My then fiancee was back in DC hanging with her Howard girlfriends. I'd just come for a visit basically. In her unrepentent Brooklyn accent she said, "Christapha, woo-tch this movie with me. It's based oo-wn a book, right?" Yep. The film featured a little boy actor named Christian Bale, who was 11 when principal photography begain. This was "serious" Speilberg: "Schindler's List," "The Color Purple," & "Amistad" vintage. And semi-autobiographical: like Bale's character, Ballard was a Brit colonial (though older in real life) captured by the Japanese in the morass and tragically unknown World War Two front that was China and interned till after the atomic bomb ended the war. A few weeks after we saw the movie I got my mom Ballard's novel; she took it to Delaware for her beach reading but never got to it. As of this past season it's still there sandwiched between her old Ludlum tomes. Oh she understood who Ballard was, his import. But here's what she told me. She said the looks on the child's (Bale's) face in different shots, scenes, were enthralling, haunting enough. Reading the book would "spoil that." As an author that was troubling to me, but hey, it worked for her and I respected that.
Ballard wasn't a touchy-feely writer. He was the anti-Jodi Picoult, and with all due respect to my fellow Princetonian Ms. Picoult, thank God for that. If you ever want those bitter-sour-salty areas of your tongue assaulted to submission, taste his novel Crash, which was also adapted for film (Holly Hunter, James Spader were in it...it's not the one which won Best Picture starring Don Cheadle). Crash was about people who used car wrecks and accident injuries--both watching the mishaps, being in them--as sexual fetish. That was Ballard, all the way. I think Mom saw that one on Starz or Encore. Ballard's short story "The Sound Sweep" inspired the Buggles' iconic (and oddly prophetic) 80s pop song "Video Killed the Radio Star." In 1981 it was the first video ever played on MTV. I was home on Christmas vacation, with Mom, and likely saw the second, which had to be Haircut 100 or Duran Duran and I recall Mom asking "Christapha, whut that hell is that?" Perverse alright. MTV no longer plays real videos and Mom's dead. Would have made a great subject for Ballard's next dark study, had he not died.
Darkness wasn't what my mother and I shared in our love of Empire of the Sun, of course. Ballard's mezmerizing story, whether on screen or paper, was the key. Well, okay...not the key--the vehicle. She and I were the key. As sticky-uncomfortable, as Ballard's work was, there was always something more human, more hopeful than any of the sugar-coated crap or romances which constantly outsold him at Barnes & Noble. Funny, therefore, how it was over his stuff was what Mom and I shared a unique moment. I still joke with my wife, whenever I reminisce about my mother, through my warbling the notes of the soundtrack's song Exultate Justi by the Ambrosian Boys Choir. Okay, it's strange, but it worked. Just like Mom and I. Just like Ballard.

RIP, both of you...

Saturday, April 18, 2009

More lunacy, more guns--but in Maryland?

I was going to post my reflections on Paule Marshall's memoir Triangular Road but this took my breath away.
Middleton is in the more rural-whitebread part of Maryland (west toward Frederick, as opposed to east to redneck-eastern shore or The Wire B'more or Little El Salvador in Langley Park). This stuff is very hard to take. Lord have mercy...

Friday, April 17, 2009

Jamie Foxx & Miley Cyrus, U.S. Soldiers Raped

Let's explode this crazy (yet useful for some) myth of the pure warrior. Too often miscreants or loony patriots have enlisted in the military (and more than a few of these folks become cops, so there's the compounded worry lol). In our Red State stimulus package of the last 20 years, the military's been the employer of last resort; as for warrior thing, how many actually do "fight," even from a distance, pressing buttons? So it's no shock that there're problems to which we'd love to remain deaf and blind. Columbia U. Journalism Prof Helen Benedict has flipped on the light and shouted. From Reuters: "Female U.S. soldiers serving in Iraq and Afghanistan have more to fear than roadside bombs or enemy ambushes. They also are at risk of being raped or sexually assaulted by fellow soldiers. “The Lonely Soldier: The Private War of Women Serving in Iraq,” a book based on 40 in-depth interviews, recounts the stories of female veterans who served in combat zones and tells of rape, sexual assault and harassment by male counterparts.
Some were warned by officers not to go to the latrine by themselves. One began carrying a knife in case she was attacked by comrades. Others said they felt discouraged to report assaults."
And that's just overseas in combat areas. Buy it here.
Next story: Jamie Foxx has apologized to for his comments on satellite radio aimed at poor little Miley Cyrus. "Gummy bitch?" Ok the girl's got big gums but come on, Jamie. That was the mildest comment. Billy Ray the daddy went off on Jamie, so did others; the story supplanted Somali Pirates, Taliban murdering elopers and Bo the Dog for a hot minute.
And yet--isn't this the same Billy Ray who's pimped his daughter for millions and fame? Isn't this the same Miley who, as a teen, is dating a dude who's in his 20s, who dresses and acts like she's some 20-something herself? A celeb public figure? Prima Donna, and yes--whore for Disney? (click the word "whore" for my previous post on Hannah Montana from almost one year ago!) Hissy fit thrower at Radiohead? She's fair game, sorry. She's no shy litle child. She's put herself out there. No way this brat should cry foul. Jamie's only crime is being extreme and over the top, being ham-fisted. That's it. Otherwise he's a comedian and this is his thang. Miley's a brand, a product, not a person. That's the world we allow to exist and buy into, so we (and her little child fans, their parents) are just as dumb when we express "outrage." I don't get outraged if someone disparages my brand of milk, or cell phone service. Billy Ray, Disney et al were merely protecting the product. Wake up, people...

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Only in America can a Dog Upstage a President

Jeez. You had Checkers (OK, Nixon was VP but so?). Fala, the Scottie who belonged to FDR, is now cast in metal at the FDR Memorial (Fala's statue is the size of baby triceratops). LBJ had "Little Beagle Johnson." Yes, Johnson had ego issues ("LBJ" for the dog's name, too?)...yes, he held the dog up by his ears...yes, there was a public outcry...no, LBJ didn't give a damn about that! Other presidents had hounds of every species and temperment. Then comes Bo. In a 24 hour news cycle, this fluff gets bigtime ratings. Something Kennedy-esque about this.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Screed on the Tea Parties

George Santayana’s storied saying about forgetting the past has been cliché-ized in our pop and pablum culture. You know what I mean. Kids who can memorize presidents and British monarchs are featured on the Today Show, yet kids who can tell you about these presidents & kings/queens’ policies, their strand in this spider web of history—no, they’re boring nerds. What George meant was you don’t look at the past robotically, nor do you robotically respond. But you must be vigilant.

So I come to these “Tea Parties.” Let's drill down and look at the facts: it’s certain these aren’t “grassroots” events nor are they righteous expressions of freedom. Concurrently, it’s axiomatic that the average fool who follows this stuff hungrily wouldn't believe you if you had carved-in-granite proof it's a scam. Now let's look to the past we're always condemned to repeat. Back in the day the average yeoman, the average poor clown neither understood or cared what or who was behind the curtain, Oz-like, in 1860, when another fellow from Illinois became president and somebody’s world was rocked. Or in 1866-1876—Reconstruction. Or in the 1880s and 90s, when the Populist and Grange Movements, true grassroots movements designed to help these very whitefolk, fell apart thanks to race baiting by the authors of the same rebellion which reared in, well, 1860. Full circle.
The South got its way on the direction of this nation from 1800 to Lincoln’s election. There was no mention of state’s rights, or Texas governor Rick Perry’s redneck drawl of a pledge to his “base” about a state’s primacy under the 10th Amendment just last week. Not when you control the federal government. They made sure we were kept as pets, even overriding local laws to do so, or leading the charge out West. Fomenting war with Mexico. Then comes 1860, and all that patriotism evaporates. Ft. Sumter. Bloody war with these same type of clowns who drool at Rush or Glenn or believe this Tea Party is real, as cannon and rifled-musket fodder on fields, along creeks or up wooded hills from Pennsylvania to the Virginia Tidewater to the Mississippi. Fomenting race riots in the North as well. Even creating terrorist weapons of mass destruction, targeting Washington, Philadelphia, New York. Murdering black soldiers who truly were fighting for freedom.
Then came the ultimate act of terrorism as the proponents of the Stars and Bars, whipped up into a psychotic trance, murders OUR President (and wounds other government officials) 150 years ago this month in their own personal “tea party.” Accident of timing? What would George say?
But they were heroes to many folk. Fighting tryanny. As were the “Bourbons” and Redeemers who destroyed Reconstruction. In 1915 D.W. Griffith released the wildly popular “Birth of a Nation” (aka The Klansman), showing presumptive, usurping mulattoes in charge. Hmmm. Dark skinned blacks preening and picking at themselves like apes, or attacking white women. Swallowing up good American virtues like self reliance and piety, replacing them with collectivism, “wealth transfer.” Even for poor whites. But the only fate for these miscreants is death and torture and re-subjugation. And all is well…
Yet we, too, forgot the past. Forget valor, the sacrifice, and laud the coarse, the flashy, the ignorant, the loud. Sad. Despite this a black man, his black wife, his corn-rowed beautiful daughters, moves in the same President’s mansion that freed slaves refused to help marauding British soldiers and marines burn in 1814 because America was their home, too. All is not well. The world’s turned upside down and rather than adapt, find common ground, compromise—even create workable alternatives, we have venom and destruction. We have assault weapon sales ballooning. Tim McVeigh, who killed more Americans (and children) than anyone else until Mohammad Atta & crew, could have blended in easily. Meanwhile the hypocritical lies continued. No one wanted to stop the de facto stimulus packages in Red State land: farm subsidies, construction pork, grant money for crony businesses, military bases and the military itself as employer of last resort, funding for online diploma mills for this built-in constituency( but let's cut their health care, protection from predatory lending, etc.).
So it's time for us, too, to remember.
Time to respond as only these folk understand. Which is why I posted that artwork of ole William T. Sherman. He knew how to treat these folk, even during Reconstruction. Sadly, it was the yeoman whitefolk who took the brunt of his fury. But the authors of the rebellion suffered horribly as well. I wonder what he’d say…or better yet, do… to Sean Hannity or Michelle Malkin? (big smile).
Then again, after the Civil War, he also tried to exterminate the Plains Indians. But that’s why we study the past: to spot where to cut off the allegory... (big sigh)

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Where the Wild Things Are (No, not at one of the Tea -bagger Parties)

I've been waiting for this since I was little boy. My mother was a bit shaken by Sendak's prose, especially when Max says to his young mom: "Shut up, shut up or I'll eat you up." Allegory, folks.
I'm no fan of Spike Jonze (neither is Sofia Coppola--check her movie Lost in Translation). But I must say making James Gandolfini and Forrest Whittaker two of the endearing monsters is inspired casting...

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Easter: My have things changed

The stone was rolled away, the tomb was empty as Michelle Bachmann's head and our hearts changed forever. Indeed, here's something else to celebrate. Who'd have thunk that only a few years ago we were in big biz/bumpkin paradise, and Easter was this (compliments of wingnut wackjob Mel Gibson):

But now, it's this (the Easter Egg Roll is Monday!):


Thursday, April 09, 2009

Steve Harvey Book: more fat for the fire

As you know, I don't usually comment on "celebrity-musing" books, whether by African Americans or not. These things are often dangerous, distracting...stupid...and propelled by vanity. Terrie Williams's Black Pain is an exception, as it is both groundbreaking and impacts lives directly; Hill Harper's stuff, likewise is good work. (Tavis Smiley's stuff gets no pass, however. Meglomania disguised as selfless public service is the highest form of social betrayal, frankly).
Now, the latest comes from comedian/radio jock Steve Harvey. I sat in Barnes & Noble over coffee and stale scone and read the whole thing in about 30 minutes. I don't know if that's good, bad or by design--given that a big demo in his audience are...okay...bammas who crave something "uplifting" yet a quick read from one of the their superstars. The book's nothing offensive or sily, yet nor is it exceptional. The thing that sets it apart is that some people are claiming Steve plagiarized.
In this craven publishing world (now a subset of the craven mass market entertainment sector) that's not a sin. Truly. Furthermore, why plagiarize in such an elementary genre? Recall the target audience. Indeed, how many such books merely puke up cliches, Biblical passages, the obvious or the false? The celebrity or pseudo-shrink or false prophet mega pastor (what would Jesus think of that word: mega-pastor? ha!) authors get nice advances for shoveling pablum to an eager public. Think about it this way, in Steve's defense: You gotta be of meager talent to plagiarize stuff like this. Or, more insidious: you and your agent, publishers think your fans have infantile tastes and don't know any better?
But here's the author, Sharon Carson, the supposed rip-off victim (excerpted news): "...Chicago, Ill. April 5, 2009 -- Author Sharon P. Carson of Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man, says the Steve Harvey's book of the same name is a misrepresented take on her original work. Carson, who is pursuing her rights under unfair competition laws, secured a copyright for the title in 2004, and then established www.actlikealadythinklikeaman.com.
Harvey's book, published in January of this year, copies the title and theme of her work, says Carson, and takes some of her authentic thoughts and conclusions and contorts them into a detrimental message for women. Carson says his approach is a distorted view of her original vision. Carson says her self-published book was written, "To encourage women to accept and appreciate who they are both inside and out and to respect themselves and demand respect from their male counter part." She also felt women need to be as tough minded as men are in relationships, which is how she created the title, Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man.
Harvey has stated the title for his book came through an editor, but originally contained the word "girl" instead of "lady," a substitution for which he takes credit.
An excerpt from Carson's book discusses the unnecessary concept of women changing themselves physically for their partner: "Why should women become someone they hate in order to please someone they think they love? What if the relationship ends, will they have to change again to please the next man?"
An excerpt from Harvey's book, on p. 207, mirrors Carson's point: "But if you’re telling your man you want a nose job and he sees nothing wrong with the nose you already have then maybe you ought to think about leaving your nose alone. Why run the risk of something going wrong when your man is already happy with the way you look? Why lose the extra weight if your man is happy with you the way you are?" In addition to reworking her original ideas, Carson objects to the anti-empowerment message of Harvey's take on a successful woman, per p. 182: "If you’ve got your own money, your own car, your own house, a Brinks alarm system, a pistol and a guard dog and your practically shouting from the roof that you don’t need a man to provide for you or protect you, then we will see no need to keep coming around."
Carson asks, "How does this message empower us as women? Should we prepare for success so that we can provide and protect ourselves or should we forgo that and wait for a man come along and do it for us?"
While Carson is looking into protecting her own rights as an author, she also is concerned about getting her message out there—that women are their own authority, they are complete with, or without, a man..."
We have celebrities and pundits and realityTV and stupid books shoved down our throats because (1) it's cheaper for producers/publishers/"news" outlets and (2) because like sheep we take it, and don't demand better. If Steve Harvey indeed ripped off Sharon Carson or distorted her original message, the risk and tiny reward of fighting will all be bourne by: Sharon Carson. Unfortunately, we're stuck with that paradigm. I wish her the best, however, if Steve indeed took unnecessary shortcuts. Sometimes the underdog, in losing, delivers a bite that festers, infects.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Subway Rape Victim: Expect More as Transit Authorities Cut Back

This was on the Today Show today. There are similar stories cropping up in locales around the nation as county and municipal governments, transit authorities, etc. cut everything from security/surveillance to police overtime to...yes...teachers. All the while fees, fares, taxes rise. I guess, as Glenn Beck and loonies like Michelle Bachmann espouse, we should spend $$$ on more guns before the evil Barackian gun confiscation arrives. Lawd. People are becoming more desperate and crazy, however, and public employees more put-upon and thus more surly, lazy. It's only human when you are not valued, or your spot's being taken by cheaper, younger or dumber folks,or folk who just a week prior couldn't speak ANY English. Or your union's impotent. Still, they soldier on almost as volunteers. Just not in NY's MTA, I guess...

Monday, April 06, 2009

More Proof Publishing is Dead: Publish the Dead!

I'm way beyond the biting the hand that feeds me worry. HarperCollins announced today that it is publishing two books by Jurassic Park author Michael Crichton. He's dead, recall. They are dressing up two manuscripts found in a box, no doubt. One's about pirates in Jamaica. Yes, pirates. The other's "science fiction," coming out in late 2010.

No need to be creative, or develop anything new, okay? Sheesh...

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Marion Barry & taxes: Like Roland Burris Old School Strikes Back

"I am a great mayor; I am an upstanding Christian man; I am an intelligent man; I am a deeply educated man; I am a humble man." -- M. Barry, Mayor of Washington, DC
That's the most benign of quotes in a lexicon of craziness. I spared you those of the "He dead...what do it matter?" vein. In any event, Nat is asking hizzoner what the f**k is up with his federal and DC taxes. Nat is the King of 1099s, and thus I am always under the leer of the stern, Sam the Eagle from the Muppet Show eye of the IRS, Maryland and the District tax centurions.
Check out the details listed in the story by "Loose Lips," political wonk for the Washington City paper. N.B. LL=Mike Debonis; there have been more LLs since the 90s than there have been comic book Green Lanterns (from Hal Jordan to the brother, John Stewart). Marion's been prosecuted for tax evasion, yet not even been tapped with a wage garnish? Professes no assets tho seems to find time and money to zoom to Jamaica with his "troubled" son Christopher (troubled is the nicest word I can use) whilst campaign staffers await their checks? This is serious stuff, and clearly no conspiracy by Mr. Charlie. And of course, he's been re-elected to the DC Council over and over and over.
His take? He deserves reelection. He like many of his generation are utterly unrepentent for the old school "l'etat et moi...apres moi, le deluge" brand of black politics, of Sharpe James and Coleman Young, and Congressmen like Gus Savage, Bill Jefferson in La., of "Du" Burns in Baltimore, indeed to great extent of Harold Washington and Wilson Goode. One step forward, six back. And yet there are an awful lot of bammas and ghettofab folk who pine for the good ole days. Why?
Or...put it this way--has anything really changed? What's the difference between Coleman Young and Kwame Kilpatrick (da hip hop mayor)? Don't our new crop of goo-goo (Good Government, term from the Progressive Era) light-skin-ded mayors like Adrian Fenty, or Corey Booker, have a cadre of disciples, cronies? Pet developers and business contacts? Are the women any better--Sharon Pratt Kelly in DC after one of Marion's downfalls? Sheila Dixon in Baltimore, under indictment? And of course, there's Roland Burris...
These aren't rhetorical questions. I want to know. There's a school We seem to be shifting, rather than demolishing old paradigms and establishing new ones. That's Paul Krugman's basic problem with Barack & Co. boiled down, I suppose.
My view on Barry isn't subject to any more questions, however. He needs to be removed from the DC Council, from all public life. Put in a figurative museum. There, safe behind the velvet ropes and glass, he can be either worshiped or despised. But on display nonetheless, whence he can do no more harm...

Friday, April 03, 2009

Is Tracy Ullman Racist? Hell No

Adopting red state white children "To save dem from stoo-peedity."

And here's Chanel Monticello, TSA agent...

Martin Luther King, Jr Pictorial from Life.com

Ressurected 1966-68 pictorial n time for the 41st anniversary of the MLK's assassination in Memphis.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

The Three Stooges: More Evidence of the Apocalypse

USA Today described Tuesday how TV networks are playing it safe and cheap with a new crop of dull shows and cheezy realityTV for Fall '09. My boy Stephen L. Carter writes how the decline of the publishing industry and books means curtains for culture and democracy--ditto for newspapers and journalism in general.
Then comes this. MSNBC and New York Magazine report that the Farrelly Brothers (whom I dig: "There's Soemthing About Mary," "Outside Providence" et al were amusing movies) are making a Three Stooges flick.
Great. Wonderful. Just what America needs now. Lord...
Starring? Yep. Sean Penn, Benicio Del Toro. Jim Carrey. I'll leave it to you who's Larry, Moe or Curly (or Shemp? Curly Joe?). Yes, two of our best dramatic actors (and the USA don't have many as compared to England, etc.) are doing this. I expect it from Jim Carrey, who's an overrated tool, but hey Red State America (such that it is) loves him. Funny how he's tried to become a "serious" actor of late. Irony is that more genuine/pure comic moments have come in Farrelly films like "Me, Myself & Irene."

I'm anticipating with all the angst of an AIDS test result for an announcement that Tyler Perry's going to produce/direct some big budget flick with our best and biggest African American dramatic actors. They're even more hard up for work; studios are only gonna green light the dumbest shit for the broadest demos/least common denominator. Thusly, lok for more crap from all of Judd Aptow's crew as well. Oh joy.
The corollary to this orgy of dumb might very well be a nightmare of stupid. Et Voila--

Be afraid. Be very afraid. (that's from David Cronenberg's "The Fly" by the way).