Sunday, July 31, 2005
So here it is. Laguna Beach follows the exploits of unbelievably spoiled suburban white kids in California as the fuck each other and then fuck each other over. It's a like a soap opera, except, dude, it's real!
So why not add another show right alongside Laguna Beach? It could take place at Chicago's Robert Taylor homes! You could follow the exploits of young kids as they get shot at, come to shell-shocked and completely underresourced schools, and go back to their broken and lifeless neighborhoods! Be there as they slowly begin to realize that most of society does not give a tenth of a shit about them!
Both shows would be completely silent, so you could watch the rich spoiled white kids squabble with each other and at the same time watch life in one of America's premier slums!
Come on MTV, whaddya say?
Saturday, July 30, 2005
Yesterday I was at the DuPage County Fair manning a table for the DuPage Dems when some true believer of this or that Christian Supremacist Society popped by the table to let me know that our candidates are the part of the Death Machine (by which she meant constitutionally protected medical procedure supporters). Glazed eyes and all. And she was not high, except for on the love of the Lord.
Now, I know that the correct response to this woman, is yes, I think is one issue upon which you and I will have to disagree. It can't be the only issue that's important to you and your family. I mumbled something to that effect.
The question is, how did the republicans get their legions of followers/admirers to internalize this level of buy-in on this issue? It is as though no kid went hungry last night, no one got laid off, no family went in need of medical attention and couldn't afford it. There were no other problems except for the Death Machine. I know goddamn well what the republicans' issues are (even if they are utterly full of shit and transparently phony when it comes to actually governing on those issues). And I hate their issues, yet I know what they are:
1. Family Values--we republicans believe that the God of our choosing knows how
best to make your fertility and family planning choices, and also that gays are
abominable. Aren't they? I mean, look at their pride parades. Downright creepy.
2. Guns. We love 'em. Will not, under any circumstances take 'em from
3. Taxes. Must be lower. At all costs. No matter who it puts out. They
will be lower. Every single time.
4. Military. We love 'em. We love the flag
too. We won't give 'em any extra benefits or actual support, but we will by God
use them as backdrops during elections (kind of like Democrats and labor!).
So here's what. I challenge anyone reading this to boil down what you believe in to four statements like the above. I'll go first.
1. People need a fair shake. The living wage is a family value. So is solidarity. Eviction and unemployment are not. Our country is rich enough to give most folks the necessities for them to make successes of their lives. Our economy needs to work for people, not against them. Companies that abuse people and their communities should be punished and brought into line. Fuck sweatshops.
2. We need to treat other people around the world with actual respect. Not
platitudes. We need less CAFTA. Less war. More fair trade. You can do more good for people you've never met from buying fair trade coffee than a million Free Trade
3. The government has no business, none, inserting itself into
my family's reproductive issues. I barely trust myself with the authority to
make those kinds of decisions, why in the world would I trust the arguably criminal
Tom DeLay or the reprehensible Bill Frist to decide what's right for my family? I don't, and neither should you.
4.Education really is the great equalizer. We should value it more than we
value Pentagon contract shysters and crooks. More than Wall Street whiz kids and
fly by night fraudsters. We should actually fund it and quit shitting around
about it. Teachers should be paid what they're worth.
5. Our politics should look like the golden rule. Call me a naive fuck (and you'd not be the first do so), but I think we should treat people how we expect to be treated.
That's it. Whose side are you on? Do you embrace winner-take-all cutthroat greaseball ideology? Or are you a solidaritist? Do you believe people working together are better than their various selves individually? Do you believe that no one has any responsiblity to their brother, sister, neighbor, fellow citizen? Or do you believe that you're only as strong as the weakest among us?
I know where I stand. Seven years of constantly thinking about this shit and that's what I've come up with.
Monday, July 25, 2005
I'm running on zero sleep because in our constant efforts to save the world (one animal at a time) we're housing a cat with an upper respiratory infection. Which drives our dogs nuts. Which means they don't sleep at night. Which means neither do we.
Saturday we caught up with Ryan (of Valient Thorr) and hung out at the Warped Tour all day. His set was a blast. VT have a whole cultish philosophy that goes with their music. They're from Venus, you see. So, uh, when the lead singer took his shirt and drenched all of the sweat out of it and drank it, it had something to do with their alien-ness. They also rocked the fuck out. Honest to God, if Ryan weren't my friend, I'd spend money to go see them. It's not a disappointment. They're awesome guys as well. Very friendly and happy to be playing music still, which is nice.
We also caught a couple of very interesting non-headliners. Two standouts were Gogol Bordello and Bedouin Soundclash. Gogol Bordello were this weird Gypsy punk band replete with strange outfits, accordion, and fiddle. They really rocked. I've seen lots of bands sweat, but none quite like that. Bedouin Soundclash were a dub band, and just for the uniqueness of their sound, they really stood out on Saturday. Their cover of 'Johnny Appleseed' by Joe Strummer & the Mescaleros didn't hurt my feelings, either.
We also got to see the Offspring. I have to admit, I'm not the world's biggest Offspring fan. They're fine. Nothing really mind-blowing or annoying. Ryan hooked us up and we got to stand on the stage behind the band while they played. That was pretty fun. There must have been 3,000 kids in front of us. Believe me, I'd rather see the Offspring on the stage with the band than down in that hellish gravelpit with a bunch of sweaty 15 year-olds. They also made a stark contrast with VT's 'happy to be playing' philosophy. I wondered what happened when bands are setting up and it takes them 20 extra minutes to come out. What the fuck are they doing? Well, apparently the Offspring stand there, smoking cigarettes. Whatever.
The other big event (other than the bloody mucus from the cat) was that we went to see Charlie and the Chocolate Factory with friends last night. I have to say, I really hated the original movie. I know this blows some people's minds, but it was completely treacherous to the book. The book meant a lot to me when I was a kid. I read everything Roald Dahl wrote, which was a lot.
One thing struck me watching the movie (which was good, and faithful except for a foray into Willy Wonka's upbringing which was never in the original story). It really seems appropriate that this story was written halfway through the last century, when factories still existed in the Western world and were seen as something positive. The whole plot of the fairy tale is that the kid wins, and gets to go to a factory.
Man, if you tried to tell some kid today that they're going to a factory, unless it's a Playstation factory, forget it. It seemed strangely anachronistic that a factory would be a focal point of a children's story, as if it were only something that could have been written before the age of globalization, inc.
If Dahl had written the story today, I just don't think it would have the same impact. Factories are a dying breed. Here in Chicago, Fannie Mae closed up and headed south. In addition to being hog-packing capital of the world, Chicago used to have several candy factories (none of which were as fantastic as Wonka's). The Ferrara Pan people are still visible off the Eisenhower. Wrigley Field, where the cubs play? They used to make Wrigley gum here in Chicago.
If written today, the Oompa-Loompas wouldn't have been imported, Wonka would have been encouraged by his corproate shareholders to move the entire factory to Loompa-Land, where England's strict labor and environmental laws would be a children's fantasy. Probably England would have granted him a tax credit for increasing England's export-import ratio. You get the point. It's a distinctly 20th-century story.
But man, it's one of the books that made me love to read.
Onto the week.
Saturday, July 23, 2005
I won't repeat his entire post, but one of the illuminating things Chris discovered was that even in heavily Democratic West Philadelphia (West Philly is almost entirely minority, and is in fact, the old stomping grounds of one Will Smith--Big Willy Style!) no one is involved in the local party. At all.
Which means a relatively few people who get involved can greatly change the way things are done. Michael Moore made a similar point in Downsize This, but at the time when I read it, I didn't know what exactly a precinct committeeman was. Now I see that a small bit of effort can make a difference.
That's the feeling I get from being involved with the York Township Democrats. They're seemingly very open to all kinds of input. My modest suggestions were taken on face value because I was one of a few people who bothered to show up. I'll quote Bowers below:
"We all know that talking to your neighbors about politics is more effective
than moving to a swing state for two weeks and talking to strangers, so why
shouldn't you run for committee person if you have never been contacted by your
local precinct captain? I know I am going to do so. It is a fifty-state
strategy, it is local, and it very well might be uncontested. It is almost too
Now, Chris and I actually go back. Not back like, we grew up and yanked each others hair and tussled on the playground. In fact, I doubt he'd recognize me on the street. He was working as an organizer with one of the other competing unions, and it was a pretty dirty campaign between us.
I'm not just saying this because we were competing, but it was a situation where we started a campaign with a particular group, and the other union got mad at us because they represented some other folks at the same worksite. Well, they had ignored these folks for years, which is why we got involved, but I digress. They really played rougher than I thought was necessary.
So, long story short. I met Chris because we would hang around the same areas waiting for employees to catch. He struck me as a decent enough fellow, but I got the impression that that campaign wasn't his main one. I believe he was involved in a different, very large campaign in the City and was pulled off of it to pitch in. Much later, I contacted him and told him how much I enjoyed his blog, and we exchanged pleasantries.
It really is a small world. It's nice to see that folks who are cut from the same cloth come to the same conclusions about what can constitute effective activism.
*See post on Valient Thorr for value of such comments.
Wednesday, July 20, 2005
Preparing to bargain for next year!
As I live and breathe.
I will leave you with this however. For all of you reading this (see post below about the value of such comments) I would like to leave you with one album that has changed my life. Maybe I'll do this periodically. It certainly wouldn't be hard to come up with a list of artists and their contributions that have shaped how I feel about things. But for now, I leave you simply with this:
An amazing amazing album. I still listen to it and marvel. And I know I heard "Aside" as the credits rolled at the end of "Wedding Crashers". Which wasn't a bad movie. Dr. Inallmyyears and I sang it to each other in the theater. We're nerds.
Tuesday, July 19, 2005
My wife did cook a yummy dinner and then we went to "Haunted Trails mini-golf emporium" in Burbank. For a complete rundown of the majesty of Haunted Trails, catch a copy of "Hairstyles of the Damned" by Joe Meno.
*Ha ha! They didn't schedule it, it just happened! If they had scheduled it, they could surely have not picked a worse time for it happen. It could be worse, while they tore down parts of my fence, thus ensuring that I have to actually stand with my dogs to watch them poo, I think my next-door neighbor is really screwed.
Monday, July 18, 2005
It was another fantastic event put on by local progressives to tackle an important issue. On hand were:
Bob Mueller: Industry type guy who mainly talked about how insane the billing systems are for the services you receive when you're sick. He kept laughing during the presentation when he'd get to some absurdity or another, and I kept thinking "This isn't funny."
Emilie Junge: Representative with the Hospital Accountability Project (courtesy of SEIU), she basically focused on SEIU's industry-wide presence representing health care workers on both coasts, and how they're focused on increasing their presence (read: organizing new members) here in the midwest. She talked about her experience on general assistance (read: welfare) and how it drew her into organizing. She seemed like a very decent lady.
Kara Murphy: Access DuPage representative. She gave a dizzying rundown of the numbers of the uninsured here in DuPage County. The long and short of it is that we're not as bad off as some places, but because of our high population (nearly a million--and climbing!) even having 10% of your population uninsured or underinsured is a pretty big impact. I would not want her job.
Dr. Linda Murray: She was hilarious. She works on the west side as the Chief Medical Officer of Ambulatory Services for Cook County Hospital and talked about the basic justice issues surrounding the health care debate. My favorite line: "Let's cut through the bullshit."
Ah, indeed. Let's.
Stephen Challinor: An accountant from Carol Stream, whose chief qualifications for this panel seemeed to be that he's Australian, and witnessed the changeover from private to public health care delivery down under (as they say).
His bottom line: You Americans are insane for putting up with this. Maybe it's because you enjoy the torment of picking out different health plans, but we Aussies, in our laid back way, prefer not to worry about that much. So for us, just having the government pick up the tab makes a lot more sense.
So let's put another shrimp on the barbie and crack a Foster's! Okay, I am making that up. He did not say that last part.
He did say that Australia is much more sparsely populated than the US, and we could actually benefit more from a system like theirs, given our health care infrastructure and population distributions.
Last but not least was Dr. Quentin young, who is famous in Illinois for being a proponent of single payer health care systems. Funny, lively, and he has a wealth of knowledge about our system and why, in a word, it sucks. He's also national coordinator for Physicians for a National Health Program, an honorable group.
My very first 'assignment' for the Urbana Indymedia Center was covering an event that Dr. Young and Pat Quinn (before he was Lt. Governor) were attending where they were talking about a push for a constitutional amendment in Illinois (the Bernadin Amendment) which would guarantee heatlh care for Illinois' citizens.
I remember it well. Then too, I had no idea what the fuck I was doing trying to cover that event. How things change. Now, I have no idea what I'm doing blogging, or being a precinct committeman!
Also, Wurfwhile covers the Saturday gig I posted about below.
Saturday, July 16, 2005
I like canvassing, which I used to do a lot as an organizer with my union. It's a chance to talk to people, and in my case, they'll be my neighbors, many of whom I don't know. I definitely have a few houses in mind where someone has a peace and justice bumper sticker on their car, and I want to talk to those folks.
Besides let's say I really suck at it (an entirely likely outcome). The York Township Dems don't have a committeeman there now, and I can't possibly be any worse than no committeeman.
See, that's how you set goals. I'm better than no one! I can't possibly suck as bad as no one!
Try it yourself, it's fun.
At today's function, I was gladhanded by none other than the Honorable Richard Durbin, Democrat. He seems like a pretty decent guy. He recently got into a flap as of late, when he basically stated that our camp at Guantanamo Bay isn't different enough from a Soviet Gulag, or the Khmer Rouge, or a Nazi concentration camp.
There was sound and fury (signifying nothing, of course) from the usual corners about how Durbin had compared our troops to Nazis, or whatthefuckever they were talking about. I don't know, I mean to say our troops have engaged in torture is not exactly a revelation. And to say that A,B & C other nations have engaged in these other acts is not exactly news either.
But to somehow draw the two sets of events together is apparently treasonous. Maybe Durbin should have used more careful language, but when he's talking about the torture that is in fact going on (despite the Chicken, two kinds of fruit, and rice pilaf that are no doubt served before the prisoners get urinated on), it's pretty hard to justify those things.
But, I'm a liberal, so what do I know?
This week (by which I mean two days later) World O'Crap adds a few more to the tally.
I have one of my own: "The Harry Potter Defense": Rove can't possibly be sent to jail, because he IS, in reality, Voldermort, and Harry has to fight him again in the last movie. So Rove can't possibly go to jail, because how, logistically would Harry fight him there?
Get sent to jail on pot charges, where after being taken in by the local Aryan brotherhood, he finds out Voldemort (Rove, which would explain a lot) is their leader, which results in not only a bloody gang prison fight, but one that involves magic as well?
I mean, that would just be ridiculous. Rove must stay free, so Harry can fight him in the Rose Garden at the White House. But if they do make a movie about it, I have the copyrights.
Update: My dear sweet good buddy Ryan (of Valient Thorr fame*) is totally getting us comp tickets into this year's Warped Tour. Which only more strongly validates my point that they're an amazing band whose worth and talent should never be questioned by anyone.
*And yes, I realize that fame is quite subjective, and by most people's subjective standards, they're not famous. But my standards, as always, are loose, open to changing, and if comp tickets or comp booze are involved, entirely up for grabs.
Thursday, July 14, 2005
Har! Har har!
(and another tip of the hat to Kevin Drum--you'd think it's the only site I read).
2. The leading republican candidate for congress in my district (suburban 6th all the way baby!) took some money from Grover Norquist, king-maker for the radical, rapture right.
Roskam! Pete Roskam! I'm a Runnin' for Congress! Thanks for the check Mr. Norquist!
Wednesday, July 13, 2005
I won't tell you which of the two it was.
But here's the thing. I actually enjoyed the shit out it. The conversation was engaging, there was some very heated discussion about what function a local party organization should serve, and some lively debate about organizational platforms and the role that they should play individual candidates.
And, dear readers (I type that just for the sheer comedic affect it has on me) I think I'm going to be a precinct committeeman.
Yup. The 90th precinct in Lombard may not know what is about to hit it.
Like a hurricane!
I'm going to another party-type function this Saturday where I'm told all the secrets of the universe will be revealed before me.
Kind of like the upper levels of Scientology--just kidding, don't sue!
Or if the secrets of the infinite aren't spread out before me like some cosmic deli tray backstage at a Spinal Tap show, then at least I can meet other folks from the same political party (again, my lips are sealed) and try and figure out what the fuck is going on.
And in this, my new phase of activism, my overiding mantra remains the same.
I don't know what the fuck I'm doing, but that's never stopped me before.
Tuesday, July 12, 2005
This is relevant in so far as these same screwups would be prosecuting a war.
In fact, there were many people who were supportive of the war on ideological grounds --fools-- but opposed the Iraq endeavor based solely on the Bush administration's track record of complete incompetence and basic inability to govern this nation, let alone one where the folks affected by shitty decisions couldn't vote against the morons who made them.
Well on that note, we learn the following:
According to a book titled "Squandered victory" by invasion enthusiast Larry Diamond...
oh hell, I'll just cut and paste the whole damn quote:
"One story that really got me was the tale of former ambassador to Yemen Barbara Bodine suggesting to Rumsfeld in March of 2003 that it would behoove the Bush administration to develop a plan to pay Iraqi civil servants."Well no shit. Actually paying civil servants--get out!"Rumsfeld replied that American taxpayers would never go for it and that he was not concerned if they were paid for several weeks or even months; if they rioted in the streets in protest, he said, the US could use such an eventuality as leverage to get the Europeans to pick up the tab."
But hey, it's not like Bush had a consensual sexual relationship with an adult who wasn't his wife. That'd be an impeachable offense.
This is just garden-variety venal stupidity.
(hat tip to Kevin Drum)
Puffy face? Pasty skin? Looks like he's been losing sleep since he figured out Satan was serious about that whole 'your soul for unlimited power' thing?
Who am I kidding? Why would Karl Rove care about losing his soul?
So last night we went to War of the Worlds, which didn't hold out much promise of blowing my mind. It was fine, but not mind-blowing. What was mind-blowing was the capacity of the fuckhead behind us to talk pretty much throughout the picture.
Just when you'd start to get into the movie--BAM! There goes loudmouth running his damn yapper.
So how about that Karl Rove, eh? Turns out he's likely a criminal.
Color me fucking shocked.
And on top of that, the President (and I use the term loosely) said, through his official mouthpiece, Scott McClellan that whoever was involved would be fired.
Actually, his exact words were "At a minimum."
I wonder if that will happen?
(Insert sounds of crickets chirping, to be followed by sound of hell freezing over.)
Monday, July 11, 2005
Willie's set was great, with his son on lead guitar and the rest of a good band behind him. He ran through his songs pretty quickly, and was wonderful to hear his voice and see him up on stage. I respect Willie for many reasons, for instance his relationship with Johnny Cash, he backed Dennis Kucinich in '08, he made an appearance with Crackers the Corporate Crime Fighting Chicken in the Awful Truth, he just seems like a pretty swell guy all around.
So add this one into Willie's swell column. Seems old Willie started up a biodiesel gas station back home in Austin and folks are going nutso for it. Right on, Willie, right on. Pack another bowl, man, you earned it.
I've seen Dylan twice now, and each time, I didn't recognize any of the songs (even the ones I know). He's changed the arrangements a lot, I suppose because he's tired of playing the same damn songs, over and over again. I can't blame him, but it makes for a different kind of show. When I've seen Dylan, I feel like I'm doing something I should, more than enjoying an entertainer or rocking out at a show. Don't get me wrong, It's great to see Dylan, it's just a different kind of show.
So, all in all, the classic definition of not a bad afternoon.
Dancing with my wife. Check.
Willie Nelson. Hoo-boy! Check.
Lots of hippies getting high all around us. Check.
Now, on to the rest of the week. Arbitrations, Unfair Labor Practices, and bargaining.
Saturday, July 09, 2005
That's why I was so glad to see James Wolcott take on this important topic with one of his latest.
There never was a better head of the office than Adam Schiff, and while I disagree with Wolcott (like he gives a shit) about his views on Jack McCoy, he's right on the money when it comes to Jerry Orbach. The quintessential New York cop, there will be no replacing Lenny. I was actually sad when Orbach passed away.
The most obvious weakness on the show is in the 'assistant' role. Since Angie Harmon left, it's been kind of downhill, and their current place-holder is not making much of a dent.
The worst touch was to add actual right-winger Fred Thompson into the cast as the latest head of the department, where he weekly (and weakly) spouts awful lines that remind me why I dislike the conservative approach to dealing with real problems. His lines are hokey, they're too simple, and too often they're patently cynical and self-serving.
Just like I didn't know that the Misfits were punk when we listened to them in grade school, I just thought it was cool that the guy had a song where he belted out "I ain't no goddamn sonofabitch".
Just like that.
Right. So this is my shot at therapy from the day's unrelenting asault on our senses and sensabilies.
All the small defeats a day demands, like the song says.
I hope it's good (or at the very least not completely embarassing) but one can never tell with these things.