Monthly Archives: August 2008

falcon hears the falconer

8/28/08

ObamaNYT(bl).jpg

Wow, that kicked ass.

I remember sitting in my living room in 1980, watching the Republican convention, and when the first state gave their nomination to Ronald Reagan, the place went apeshit. They cheered so long that they cut away for commercials, came back, and they were still cheering. Even at that age, I loathed Reagan and everything he stood for, but I understood the moment for what it was: the country was going to change, one way or another.

Tonight, after the bio film and the introduction, Obama came out to a similar wave of ecstasy pulsing through the stadium. It wasn’t creepily Messianic, nor blindly frothing – it felt like a release, an outpouring, a moment whose time had come. And suddenly, I completely got the way all those people felt about Reagan, but this time, THE GUY WAS MINE.

In a way, my guys – and the guys and gals of all progressives – have been losing since that very moment in 1980. Yes, there were the Clinton years, but Clinton mostly had a Republican Congress and while I always remained his apologist, he could break your heart.

But tonight, when Obama yelled into the microphone “ENOUGH!” and it reverberated over the Rocky Mountains, I could feel the ship of America list slightly to the port side, as if the gears had unlocked, and an old wheel began to turn again. The Brits say “hope springs eternal,” but in America, maybe it springs every 28 years or so.

worldgears(bl).jpg

charlie, i’m really ever so not well

8/26/08

Last night I watched Intervention on A&E, and when the daughter confronted her dad in the actual intervention scene, I started blubbering. Then I watched a bio of Mr. Rogers, and started blubbering again. Then, this morning, Lucy and I snuck in an episode of Charlie and Lola, and when the kids went playing inside a Van Gogh painting – as the thick clouds came to life and the trees started to swirl – I kinda had to stop myself again. Yeah yeah, I’m working on it.

Today’s CODE WORD: what television now, or in the past, consistently brought you to tears?

longitudinal butter

8/25/08

This just in: cows tend to align north-south when left to their own devices! I find it stunning that no hunter, over the course of a hundred thousand years of organized language, ever figured it out – but better late than never, right?

Apparently they might be sensitized to the magnetic field of the earth – a lot like many fish, whales, birds and bats. Really, think about all the times you’ve been lost in the countryside, hobbling together makeshift compasses out of paper clips floating in water, when you could have just asked a herd of dadgum cows.

I decided to test this theory with the precision of my prep school science labs, because, well, shit: we’ve got cows, and I know which way is north! So I looked at all the random pictures from the farm to see if there was a north-south trend among our lovely milk-providing friends in the fields.

Picture #1 – It’s about 2am, summer 2002, and I hear a bunch of rustling in the field outside. I grab my camera, tiptoe outside, walk as silently as I can into the meadow, and stop somewhere in a patch of grass. It’s a new moon, and there is absolutely no light anywhere – total pitch black. So I lift up my camera, press the button, and the flash lights up:

CowsEyesCrowd(bl).jpg

needless to say, I was scared SHITLESS

Cows orientation: all facing south

Picture #2 – Summer 2003. Much to my wife’s chagrin, I grab her and take a self-picture of the both of us. Unbeknownst to me, cows lurk on the field behind us, and across the street:

TessaIanDoorwayCows3(bl).jpg

Cows orientation: 75% of them facing north

Picture #3 – Late summer 2004, it’s unbelievably hot, and I’m thinking the cows must be miserable. I stand on our fence and snap this languid shot:

CowsSummerHill04a(bl).jpg

Cows orientation: all except two facing or sitting north/south

Picture #4 – Spring 2006, and I’m taking pictures of the farm for our rental listing. I figure the gals are in the field, and indeed, they do not disappoint:

CowsClassof06b(bl).jpg

Cows orientation: 7 of 11 facing north or south

So there you have it: it’s all absolutely true. I don’t know how you can possibly get more verification. So next time you’re fiddling with your GPS or pulling over to a shitty gas station to ask directions… well, you know what to do.

goliath was faking

8/24/08

I want all of you to know I just experienced a MASSIVE CULTURAL AND POLITICAL NADIR. Put simply, my Nexus of Hell is an auditorium where Kobe Bryant wins a gold medal, Koach K wins a gold medal, both applauded by the entire Bush family. Frankly, I’m surprised Christian Laettner didn’t show up with the guy who shot John Lennon. If I hadn’t actually fainted from abject hatred, I would have thrown up ON THE CEILING every time they showed Olympic basketball.

It came down to this: Kobe decided to actually play, and Lebron James was allowed off the bench. Throw in some extra passes, and it was Game Over. Yes, I realize former Tar Heel Larry Brown didn’t do us any favors in Athens, but he was dealing with a post-Dream Team that hated each other and lit their farts on fire with burning $1000 bills.

ballball.jpg

It’s positively sickening to think Koach K will now be given any credit for “bringing gold back to America” (read my prediction from 2 years ago), when the whole thing was such kabuki theater from the start. You know when they start selling “Redeem Team” T-shirts, sweats, shoes, pencils, spatulas and fabric softener sheets that it reeked of an NBA and American Professional Sports® maneuver, and indeed it was.

The Arizona Diamondbacks owner and president of USA Basketball is a guy named Jerry Colangelo who, of all things, wanted this Olympic basketball team to resonate “AMERICA” and to even connect the team to our military. Who better to do that then Koach K, whom Tommy Craggs nails perfectly: “Krzyzewski and his towering persecution complex are well-suited to the kind of young players who masochistically self-identify as the Redeem Team.”

So they brought in maimed soldiers from the Iraq War to show our hoops players what “Team USA” really means. Even Washington Wizards power forward Etan Thomas called bullshit: “It would have made me feel ashamed, angered and saddened that this soldier was blinded at the service of a war we shouldn’t have been in in the first place.” And not to nitpick, but fucking Jerry Colangelo and Mike Krkykerwkswy have never served in combat – what is with these people?

The military, masochism, bullyism, a persecution complex, mindless jingoism… hey, that sounds like somebody else we know! USA Basketball is the perfect team for Team Bush.

Not that it seems totally obvious or anything, but Jerry Colangelo is one of the brain trustees behind Battin’ 1000!, perhaps the most egregious anti-choice, anti-stem cell, rabid right-wing collection of Americans you’re likely to find. Colangelo held Battin’ 1000!’s first press conference at his stadium (which was paid for by taxpayers – thanks, Battin’ 1000!) and his group handed out shirts that said “Abortion is Homicide” and “You Will Not Mock My God”. They oppose a woman’s choice even if she is raped, or if her life is in danger.

Well, you know the score. Not that my opinion counts for much given the vast expanse of the solar system, but I’ve always had antipathy for Kobe Bryant, my tomes on dook’s coach could fill a coffee table book, and if it weren’t for loathing our sniveling fratboy thug President, it’d be hard to keep this blog going. You will all have your opinions, and we all know who thinks what around here, but for anyone out there who saw the Redeem Team and it seemed a bit… creepy? This one’s for you.

no caffeine until she’s 4

8/21/08

I don’t exactly know why I turned the camera on, but most of my family was at our place in Venice last weekend – my brother Kent and Tessa were talking about something, and my sister was teaching Lulu how to make espresso shots. Dunno, I think sometimes these little impromptu, nonsensical snippets can be better than filming the obvious.

i was looking for a job and then i found a job

8/20/08

I’ve had a rough time lately. We’ve gone through some very tough situations personally, and this time, I’m having trouble fighting my way out of it, having it make thematic sense. Career-wise, things are going wonderfully crazy, and Lucy is – as always – a bright blue-eyed beacon of light, and Tessa and I just celebrated five years of marriage, every day better than the one before. But sometimes even a sober understanding of your blessings can’t pull you out of certain depressions.

August has always been a rough month, famously crappy for everyone except the French, who leave their homes and go gallivanting in the tropics. My deepest lows have always found a home in the dog days, most likely some pervasive recollection from childhood, or the constant feeling I was being left behind. It was in August that I developed my worst OCD habits, and my most destructive magical thinking.

I wish I could list some of the actual things that have led me down this path, but it’s just too personal, and besides, this is where I hope people come to hear fart jokes. One thing I can say is this: I miss my friends. I miss New York, I miss the crowd I spent 25 years making, I miss my family far away, I miss hoops at Mulberry Street Garden, I miss folks in Atlanta, Wichita, Carrboro and Chicago. Yet our prime career success is right here, and this is where we must be.

And I can say one other thing: it may sound silly, but I’m apoplectic with disgust and fear over the political future of our country. Quite simply, I can’t fathom an electorate where John McCain is essentially tied with Barack Obama. Perhaps that will look even goofier when I read this entry years from now, but if so many of my fellow Americans can vote for McCain after the last eight years… that’s pretty much it for me, I want no part of it. And thus, again, I’m stuck.

The big picture always combines your prevailing winds with an average of your ecstasies and miseries. Usually the Celexa keeps me from going too far down the rabbit burrow of existential darkness, but perhaps there are some things you simply must feel, and then be proud you conquered.

make mine a cement mixer, jimbo

8/19/08

REDEMPTION! Or at least, some form of redemption, as apparently another one of my gadfly Krusty Old Fart™ predictions has come true. Seems that college presidents are now lobbying to lower the drinking age. And these are not the pater familias of South Miami Dade Bartending School, these are the presidents of W&L, Maryland, Johns Hopkins, Dartmouth, Tufts, Syracuse and even (gads) Dook, among others. They all state that raising the drinking age in the mid-1980s has only encouraged binge drinking.

People like Ron Slepitza, president of Kansas’ Avila University (affiliated with the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, no less) said that talking sense to 18-year-olds was working before the 21 law passed, but now students just binge “underground and off-campus.”

Back in the Dark Ages, known to you and me as the year 2003, I wrote: “My guess is that a sort of “speakeasy” vibe has taken the place of a keg, a clandestine knock that is answered with a bottle of unmarked Pabst. Or maybe students get smashed on Rumplemintz in their dorm rooms, and then drive over to the party.”

Even last year, I bitched and moaned that the drinking laws were “leading students to take five shots of Jägermeister at the beginning of the evening, effectively erasing the slow buzz of a casual evening out with the girls, and replacing it with a season-ending barf at 8:30pm.”

It has always been my position that history views “the restriction of basic human desires” as a virus and finds a way around it; when The Man told college kids they couldn’t drink until they were 21, it didn’t foment self-actualization and encounter groups, it made fraternities buy laminating machines in order to forge identification.

FreshmanLodgePic(bl).jpg

about to enjoy a LEGAL Sun Country Wine Cooler, April 1986

The drinking age should have stayed at 18 for the same reason that Sun-Tzu warned to “keep your friends close, but keep your enemies closer” – the only way to neuter a potentially bad habit is to make sure it remains in light. The 21 law made alcohol more precious than gold, and it became a means unto itself, rather than a social lubricant.

Like John McCardell (president emeritus of Middlebury) said:

The 21-year-old drinking age is bad social policy and terrible law. It is astonishing that college students have thus far acquiesced in so egregious an abridgment of the age of majority. Unfortunately, this acquiescence has taken the form of binge drinking.

This is the hard lesson of prohibition that each generation must relearn. No college president will say that drinking has become less of a problem in the years since the age was raised.

In fact, if all these university presidents are on the right track (and my own experience bears out), the 21 age limit has put tipsy kids behind the wheel, set the scene for date rape and unwanted pregnancies, and actually created alcoholics. Nice job, Congress! The United Arab Emirates, Oman and us have the most Draconian drinking age laws on the planet, and it’s workin’ like a charm!

pardon my trespasses

8/17/08

I get it: it’s a free country, and people are allowed to congregate and practice religion wherever they want, and by golly, even CNN is allowed to film it. But I can still have my opinion, and in my gesamtkunstwerk, having a major policy debate for the American presidency at a evangelical Baptist megachurch is Complete Fucking Bullshit. I don’t care that 80% of Americans say they’re some form of Christian. I don’t care that no actual laws were broken. I am sick of my home country being held theological hostage by people who happen to believe in stories that I do not.

Here’s where the chorus comes in: “yes, but these Christians are sick of what they perceive as moral and ethical decay in their home country” – sure, whatever, but their so-called moral authority comes from a belief system that was explicitly separated from government by our founding fathers. No matter what statistics you’ve got, the United States IS NOT and WAS NEVER SUPPOSED TO BE a Christian nation. Our brilliance, now tarnished and faded almost beyond recognition, was always rooted in the firmament of secularism.

Besides, if history has left us any clues, Christianity and power do not mix. Any religion combining with power becomes toxic. The religion-power cocktail robs all drinkers of their ability to appreciate any culture other than their own; it turns otherwise-empathetic people into drunk triumphalists. No, I’m not talking about your hometown church with its supportive community and edifying brotherhood. The problem is not with the trees, it’s with the forest.

When America exploded the atom bomb in 1945, the rules of humanity changed, and the idea of a country being unduly influenced (or controlled) by religion suddenly stopped being funny. That means us, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, India – it doesn’t matter. For my daughters’ sake, for your kids’ sake, you had all better hope cooler heads prevail for the next 500 years. I’m not so optimistic.

In the meantime, there’s a few things the agnostics among us would like. At the very least, a mega-church like Saddleback, or any congregation that tries to influence elections because of a religious agenda needs to lose their tax-exempt status. It’s one thing to whisper in the future President’s ear about the death penalty, about denying rights to homosexuals, about how God gave the environment to Man to do with as he pleases, about womens’ right to choose… but it’s quite another to make me pay for it.

school’s out forever

8/14/08

Since this is one of those Friday weekends when no rational American can possibly let their mind wander to where the water runs deep, I’ll just say this: most of my entire family is gathering in LA this weekend, and that includes my elusive brother Kent and his wife Melissa (my favorite babysitter from 1976-80).

One reason, besides the need for familial succor, is that my band THE STRIKE is playing at Molly Malone’s at 9pm tonight, so if you’re feeling in the mood for some high-harmony, sweetly ironic but not snarky melodious dance pop, well, you should come and drink Toasted Almonds with us.

thestrike(sm).jpg