Monthly Archives: August 2007

longing for the old plantation


Must resort to CODE WORD today because of dental surgery in the morning. Here is my question: what place do you miss terribly right now, and can you link to a picture of it?

Here’s mine:


the hoops court on the 2nd floor of our barn

she makes the bed and he steals the covers


Got into a few interesting debates over the weekend on the laws of romantic attraction and long-term retention. It has always been my belief that “opposites attract” is the biggest dollop of burning horseshit ever fed to a desperate public looking for love; it’s one of those clichés like “cold water boils faster” that is so untrue as to be nearly painful.

First off, it completely mixes up the notions of something being “opposite” and something being “complementary”. For instance, Tessa is great with schedules and is amazingly organized, and I am not – but I do provide a constant tailwind in the direction we want to be going, and I like to think I keep her from doing things she doesn’t actually want to do. This is a complementary relationship (albeit one that puts more burden on her), but a dumb reductivist would say “Tessa is proactive and Ian is lazy – wow, opposites attract!”

Secondly, there is no evidence I’ve ever seen, at least in my own four decades of anecdotal observation, that reverse polarity functions as anything but a massive pain in the ass. Big-time partiers who marry agoraphobes, “old-fashioned values” men who marry independent and strong women, the fundamentally angry marrying the fundamentally defensive… one word describes them all, and that word is “divorce.”

I am left with very few theories on romance, and awfully few illusions; like John Malkovich said in “Dangerous Liaisons,” I lost them in my travels. But one element has stuck with me: when I met someone who was preternaturally similar to my own spirit, I felt “love,” and it was totally different than what I was sold by decades of novels, TV shows and cliché. It lacked the 4am stomach churn of the aching yearn, and it was such fabulous relief.

Besides the obvious tyranny of physical attractiveness, what trait do you find most instantly attractive in someone, and is there another trait your partner possesses (or would possess) that could keep you with them forever?

south-east of the river down-town


Before the weekend, I’d like to share a bizarre coincidence. I’m in a band right now, making some demos for songs I’m bringing in, and one of them is temporarily called “Iowa”, based on my early upbringing in Cedar Rapids, IA. I’m trying to change the chorus because it’s a little twee, but most everything else is inspired by the summer in Cedar Rapids when I turned 11.

Unrelatedly, we were at our friend Heather’s restaurant tonight, and she told us about her myspace page where she keeps a blog. I’ve already got a MySpace page from years back that I rarely see, but I wanted to check if was available. Turns out, it’s not, because…

…a guy named Ian Williams has it who happens to live in Cedar Rapids, IA (!) and is a musician working on demos of his own(!). And his music is actually kinda cool, poppy in tangents to my own taste – I was even thinking about covering one of his songs for fun, which is on an album called “11 Songs For Summer”(!). The coincidences never end, my friends.

Do any of you have MySpace or Facebook pages, by the way?

and on the 8th day, the buddha awoke


If you’re fresh out of people to hate, how about hating on someone who is recently dead: may I present Norma Frickin’ Gabler.


This unassuming housewife, who looks exactly like one of Gary Larson’s old ladies from “The Far Side” cartoons, fought for “accuracy” in school textbooks, and indeed, made a cottage industry out of finding errors in our nation’s schoolrooms. She was also a right-wing, Jesus-obsessed, racist homophobe who fought tirelessly to dumb-down every book you ever studied. Among her victories was to ensure that marriage was defined as a lifelong bond between a man and a woman – and she had the entire publishing industry by the nutsack.

Let me explain. Texas OWNS the schoolbook industry. Every textbook writer in the country wants to land the coveted Texas account, because if one school in Texas holds ’em, they all have to. My family knows this from personal experience, writing music books for Macmillan/McGraw-Hill and Silver Burdett – if you didn’t land Texas, you might as well de-grease the mats at Denny’s.

That’s why all of you were forced to learn “Yellow Rose of Texas” and “Deep in the Heart of Texas” when you were kids, even if you grew up in Minnesota; the concessions made to please the Texans gave them enormous sway on textbook content. My mom even had to do half her recordings down there in a shitty studio, mostly just so she could say she did it.

Enter Norma Gabler in 1961. After being offended by one of her son’s schoolbooks in a backwater town near Dallas, she and her husband went on a 40-year crusade to “clean up” all texts via the Texas legislature. They objected to stories by Edgar Allan Poe because they were too gruesome, pushed for perceived weaknesses with evolution, forced “Under God” to be inserted wherever possible, tried to shove morality lessons down the gullets of unsuspecting 4th graders, and they were such freakazoid free-market buttwenches that they actually argued Robin Hood was not a hero, but a dangerous advocate of income redistribution.

Of course, their evangelist freakshow was given gravitas by their ability to ferret out typos and historical inaccuracies, something they did with equal fervor. But if you’ve ever wondered why your school textbooks from the ’70s through the ’90s were so terrible, Norma Gabler’s your huckleberry. And since she had such sway over the Texas legislature, it meant she had sway over every school textbook published in the United States, which meant she had sway over you.

Progressives just don’t get how much energy is needed to counteract these people, and those that bother always manage to get “kookified” by the right. You’re trying to get Nebraska to let a 10th-grade sociology textbook leave the door open for gay marriage? You’re a goddamn kook, and you probably like little boys, too.

Conservatives from the Reagan era onwards were brilliant: first, they vilified the word “liberal,” then they resurrected the term “Political Correctness,” then they trumped up a devastating backlash to political correctness itself. The next time anyone says you’re being “too PC” or preface a comment with “I’m sorry it’s not politically correct…“, please, please tell them to go fuck themselves.

Until homosexuals are granted the same coupling rights as the rest of us, until women are paid the same, until someone gives a shit about the minority underclass, and until this country HAS ANY REMOTE HOPE AT EQUALITY, political correctness, in all its messy and imprecise glory, should not only be tolerated, but exalted.

You got a joke about Mexicans? You know the one about the black guy’s last meal in prison? How about one about the slut where you get to say the “c-word”? I have a better idea: why I don’t I just slam your nuts in a car door? Your Hispanic nanny, the guy on death row in Mississippi and that flight attendant you harassed will think that’s SO MUCH FUNNIER!

Tessa and I are as white as can be, two heterosexuals in love, with an awesome daughter. Most of Bush’s devastating financial policies actually benefit us. This is why it is morally incumbent on us to say something about how WRONG everything is going. We have no dog in the fight, no special interest, no personal crusade other than to see some of our best friends become less marginalized, and to give Lucy a fair shot at growing up in a country that doesn’t make us all wince in abject embarrassment and clockwork horror.

If we’re not moving to France, or Iceland, or Canada, then we have to stay here and be unrelentingly annoying. The backlash backlash has begun, thank god. Norma Gabler is dead.