Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Anthony Dellaventura 1948-2010

I don't remember our first conversation, but it was probably about Catholicism. Later, we moved on to every other subject in the universe. But in the beginning, I can remember that we were discussing health supplements and alternative medicine (he was an almost-daily customer in the store where I work), when the rather intimidating ex-NYPD cop suddenly reached out and touched the St Jude medal I was wearing.

"Patron saint of lost causes," he mused, in his heavy New York accent. Luhwust Cuhwuzzes, is how it sounded to me.

"Yeah," I agreed.

"Are you a lost cause?" his voice turned suddenly gentle, and I was caught off guard.

"Probably," I admitted.

He narrowed his eyes. "You are not. You are a very intelligent and beautiful person." He seemed to be speaking very honestly, and I was struck silent, which never happens. I was embarrassed to be complimented.

"You don't believe me," he was inspecting my face. All at once, I was aware that he had been a professional interrogator. "You believe what all these assholes say," he waved his hand around, as if to encompass the whole world (and particularly the Catholic Church) in "all these assholes" and I laughed.

He narrowed his eyes again, "Really. It isn't funny. You do. Well, don't. They dunno shit." And then he smiled. An amazing, award-winning smile.

And for a few years, Tony Dellaventura brightened my life. I saw him nearly every day. He drove an enormous custom Harley-Davidson and dressed in leather; tattooed from head to toe, able to bench-press 200 lbs at age 60, he was a striking figure. His name was Snake; the name tattooed on his throat, right above a snake. It was a long time before I knew his real name.

"Are you tattooed everywhere?" I once asked, curious.

"Every inch," he assured me. And he said he had a dragon down below, the dragon's tail becoming, well, you know.

I'm sure my eyes popped, "Didn't that hurt?!?"

"Oh hell yes," he said, matter-of-factly.

We argued about politics mostly, after it was discovered that we were in near-total opposition, yet agreed on certain libertarian basics: Let people have their guns, their dirty movies, their weed. (The mention of weed being illegal made him roll his eyes.) He particularly liked Ron Paul (as I wrote here once before), and was suitably impressed that I had gone to the Peace Center Amphitheater to hear Congressman Paul speak, even as a lefty. We would argue until we were interrupted, or until he would get thoroughly pissed off and walk away from me. But he was never rude.

Sometimes he would return later in the day, "And another thing..." and reply to what I had said earlier. He always heard me out and let me make my point, sometimes granting that I was right. It was during these conversations that I would hear references to his experiences as a cop; things he had seen that influenced his views in often surprising ways. Even as a fairly right-wing guy, he would freely admit (for instance), that gay people were unfairly targeted, since he had seen it himself so many times. And his New Yorker-honesty and bluntness always impressed me a great deal, since it was steeped in the harsh reality of what he had actually witnessed.

He ate a very healthy diet, almost fanatically so. When he told me he had pancreatic cancer, I was shocked; he seemed like Iron Man. (I knew the odds and I was upset.) And after that, Tony lost weight rapidly. He went back to New York City for treatment, then returned to South Carolina. I wanted to take his photo at one point, but he wouldn't let me, "I don't look so good right now, wait until I look a little better."

I didn't see him after that.

From Tony's obituary in the Staten Island Advance:

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — Anthony (The Snake) Dellaventura, 62, of Huguenot, a lifelong Staten Islander and a retired NYPD detective and private investigator whose rough-and-tumble workdays were dramatized in the television show “Dellaventura,” died Thursday in Calvary Hospital’s hospice in Brooklyn, after a long battle with pancreatic cancer.
I have never seen the TV show named after him, but I loved knowing someone who was the subject of a TV series.

He was exactly the sort of larger-than-life personality that great TV-characters are made of.
Mr. Dellaventura joined the NYPD in 1969. After two years in uniform, he spent five and a half years as a plainclothes anti-crime officer, charged with posing as a drug dealer. Described as a “cop’s cop,” he later was assigned to the Organized Crime Control Bureau, and was promoted to detective in 1981.

A fourth-degree black belt in martial arts and a weapons expert, he had been in a shootout with a robber in the parking lot of the Staten Island Mall.

Upon his retirement in 1984, he opened his own private investigation company and was hired by attorneys trying to uncover hidden funds during divorce cases, property owners looking to rout crack-dealing squatters, and film studios who wanted to destroy bootleg copies of new releases being sold by vendors on city streets.

The secret to his success in business, he once told the Advance, is being both a good sleuth and establishing confidence and good faith with clients.

Known as “The Snake,” he told New York Magazine in a 1992 profile that his friends gave him the nickname “because of the way I strike, like a cobra. But you couldn’t pay me a million dollars to beat someone up or kill somebody.”

He also said he was willing to do anything necessary for a case, as long as it didn’t include breaking any laws. Instead, Mr. Dellaventura’s hulking physical presence and intense face — he rarely cracked a smile — were often enough to intimidate even the most hardened criminal.

Actor Danny Aiello portrayed him in the drama “Dellaventura,” which recreated some of Mr. Dellaventura’s real-life cases during its run on CBS from late 1997 until early 1998. The episodes were based on events straight out of the detective’s caselog, with details changed for confidentiality.

Mr. Dellaventura told the Advance in an interview when the show debuted that he was pleased with Mr. Aiello’s performance, noting the actor resembled him physically — minus Mr. Dellaventura’s collection of more than 240 tattoos, which would have taken a makeup artist hours to recreate.

Mr. Dellaventura also served as a bodyguard for notables including Jack Dempsey, Sid Caesar and Harry Connick, Jr.

A deeply committed, born-again Christian, he was an active member of Faith Fellowship Ministries in Sayreville N.J., and Grace Fellowship Ministries in Greer, S.C., where he had a second home.

“He was just a tremendous friend to people,” said his wife, Susan. “You could call him at 3 in the morning and he would get up and drive to California to come to your aid.”

Mr. Dellaventura’s passions were rooting for the New York Yankees, riding his Harley-Davidson through the mountains of South Carolina, boxing, and watching old movies.

Most of all, he loved spending time with his family.

Surviving, along with his wife of 20 years, the former Susan Villani, are his sons, Anthony, Philip, Nicholas and Salvatore, and his daughter, Lucianne Dellaventura.
I met Susan and Salvatore, but not the rest of his family. My thoughts and prayers are with them.

I will miss you, my friend, as well as our spirited arguments and your solemn promise that you would settle the hash of anyone who messed with me. Your wild tattoos and multicolored, humongous Harley, making all kinds of rumbly noises in the parking lot. Must be Snake, I would think.

Reflexively, I sometimes still think it's you.

There are only a few in the world like you. So few. If you have indeed found that Afterlife we so often argued about, put in a good word for your favorite Lost Cause. I love you, and we sure do miss our favorite ex-NYPD cop here in Carolina.

Rest in peace.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Monday Music: Why we build the wall

I was driving through the bleak, forgotten areas of Jim DeMint's old congressional district today; not deliberately. En route to somewhere else and got lost. Ended up in the old Greer mill village, which used to be entirely composed of poor whites, then during the 80s it was entirely poor blacks... and now it is 100% Hispanic, including all of the skimpy corner food-marts (that don't sell actual food), the hair salons, gas stations and other tiny businesses. Does Senator DeMint know all of these brown people are here? Miles and miles of them? He must know. Do they mow his lawn or launder his dress-shirts that he wears to important Tea Party events?

Obviously, from the looks of the place, he counts on them not voting.

It had grown cold and dusky, as I meandered through the extremely depressing atmosphere... when suddenly, I heard this song on WNCW... it was perfect accompaniment for what I saw everywhere, all around me. It made me cry.

An excellent introduction to the holiday season. As Ebenezer Scrooge famously asked, Are there no poorhouses?

~*~

This amazing song is from Hadestown by Anais Mitchell. I could only find this version (with two songs). "Why we build the wall" is the first, "Our Lady of the Underground" is second. "Why we build the wall" ends at approx 4:00.

You must hear it.



The first song features Greg Brown, the second, Ani DiFranco.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Have a cruelty-free Thanksgiving!

Have a great Thanksgiving everyone... and as I do every year, I hereby counsel you all to LEAVE THE INNOCENT TURKEY ALONE! He or she did not do anything to you!

(I guess the new cool thing is actually going out and killing your own turkey, like you are on Survivor or something?)

See you all in a couple of days... eat lots of mashed potatoes! :)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

What kind of magazine are you?




You Are a News Magazine



You are well informed and bright. You feel like you have to know what's going on in the world.

You are savvy and serious. You don't like a lot of fluff or filler in your life.



You are truly curious about people, ideas, and politics. You are very cosmopolitan.

You can usually explain the news to your friends and family members. You have a broad understanding of what's happening.


Reflections on Jack Ruby

Depending upon who you read, Jack Ruby was a petty strip-club gangster or an important mobster-friend of Sam Giancana.







NOTE: Last year at this time, I posted this and I've gotten a fair number of hits on it ever since. I am running it again, since it accurately captures my nostalgic feelings/memories at the end of every November. Comments welcome on both posts.


~*~


It was November 24, 1963.

I remember that I was sitting on a footstool, my nose approximately 8 inches from my family's black-and-white TV set. If I got too close, I couldn't see anything, but I was intent on getting just as close as I could. I wanted to see it all.

It was Sunday morning, and I remember well the hubbub of the adults in the kitchen. I was the only one in the small dining room that served as our TV room. I heard the TV-news announcer say that Lee Oswald was going to be transferred in an armored vehicle. I didn't know what an armored vehicle was, but it sounded awesome. And yet... that little guy? As a six-year-old, I was surprised that such a skinny little guy could be the villain of the hour. I had expected the president's assassin to look something like Brutus, the dastardly evil man of the Popeye cartoons... or at least, he should bear some resemblance to Lex Luthor. This skinny, slight, soft-spoken fellow who calmly denied being near Dealey Plaza? Well, he was just spooky, that's all. They kept calling him a Marxist and a communist, words I didn't yet understand but knew meant that he was a bad person. (I would say the word "communist" in 1963 had the similar gravitas of the word "terrorist" in 2009.) I was enthralled by the constant TV-coverage, the switching back and forth from Dallas to Washington... to our new president, Lyndon Johnson and then back to the basement of Dallas city jail. It was as dazzling as space travel.

Middle-American culture had changed utterly and completely in only two days.

For one thing, the TV had not always been on before. You turned on the TV to watch something, and when it was over, you turned it off. Sometimes you left it on, but usually not. Among the working classes, it was not unusual for some families not to own a TV at all. There were often anti-TV holdouts in these families; cantankerous, old-school types who thought TV was all rubbish and probably unchristian. But after this weekend? This archaic viewpoint was consigned to the dustbin of history. Back in my first-grade class, I would hear about parents who had rushed out to buy a TV at long last. They simply could not bear to be left out.

The TV had been turned on, and stayed on. It was on when I got home from school, dismissed early due to the tragedy, and it was on throughout the funeral. And it stayed on forever after.

And the TV was on as they transferred Lee Oswald to the armored vehicle, or attempted to. There was much talk about security because tensions were running extremely high; there was palpable fury throughout the city of Dallas. When police had forcibly taken Oswald from the theater where they had discovered him, hostile mobs surrounded the police car, and it was said he might have been torn to pieces if the crowd had been able to get their hands on him.

Listening to all this, I was riveted. I remember peering intently as they brought him out, my nose almost right on the screen: There he is!

And then, the inevitable disappointment: such a nonthreatening little dude he was.

I peered and peered and then... bang. Oswald was down.

What?

It was so quick. If not for the firecracker-noise of the gun, I would never have known.

"They shot him!" I shouted, "They shot Oswald! They shot him!"

The adults stampeded as one entity, from the kitchen to the small dining room where I was. My mother, grandparents, some other relatives I have since forgotten... possibly my cousin Charlene.

"I SAW it!" I was shouting, "I SAW IT!"

SSSSSSSssssssshhhhhhhh! Everyone was shushing me. Had I really seen that? The adults' eyes were collectively popping. I felt pretty important for being the one to see it.

"He must be really mad about the president, huh?" I asked.

Nobody answered. They kept shushing me, as obviously-shaken news-announcers talked about what they had just witnessed.

And then, the adults were all looking at each other, that way adults did when they were thinking things that they would not share with children.

Finally, my grandfather said, in what I have come to call his Christian Science Wisdom voice: "Well, that really stinks."

My mother's eyes were wide, wide, wide.

My grandfather shook his head and said "Stinks!" again, rather emphatically. My mother nodded gravely back at him.

I didn't know what he meant then.

The TV-announcers were saying his name: Jack Ruby. The man's name was Jack Ruby.

~*~

Like millions of Americans that day, I saw a murder on live television. Because the murder was widely perceived as an act of justice, nobody worried about the ill effects on all of us children who saw it. And later, many years and decades later, when we began to doubt that what we saw was justice and instead wondered if it had been the silencing of a co-conspirator... nobody worried about the erosion of our morality and the consequential development of our cynicism.

But I trace it all back to that day, the day in the basement of the Dallas city jail.

They ask us, do you remember where you were when John F. Kennedy was assassinated? But I always ask, instead: What did you think when his accused murderer was pronounced dead? Because the silencing began then, the questions asked that will forever remain unanswered. (As Norman Mailer once explained the existence of the angry kids of the 60s: They hated the authority because the authority had lied.)

My grandfather was right. It certainly did stink. And the stench covered everything.

The lies of the powerful were uncovered and exposed before us, that morning in the basement of the Dallas city jail.

Some of us never forgot.

Monday, November 22, 2010

American Electra by Susan Faludi

The funniest aspect of the mass internet-responses to Susan Faludi's much-discussed HARPER'S article, is that young women already run the joint. Therefore, when blogs like Feministing authoritatively announce:

We mulled over how to respond most effectively here at Feministing, and have decided to publish a week-long series of responses from a diversity of young voices in our community
Say whaat?

Um, isn't that who ALWAYS writes for Feministing? How is this any different from business-as-usual? They write as if this week-long special event is somehow different from the norm, and of course, it isn't, which is the hilarity.

In truth, "a diversity of YOUNG voices" (emphasis mine) is the typical demographic for ALL of the Big Feminist Blogs. The fact that a tiny middle-aged squawk over at HARPER'S (a magazine you have to BUY to read; it isn't online for everyone's perusal and I still haven't read the whole damn article) can create such a fuss, is telling.

I long ago unsubscribed to HARPER'S, after their Andrea Dworkin hit-piece, which I didn't like (see comments here). However, Susan Faludi commands widespread respect, even from young feminists. She is likely the primary reason for the overarching concern this time; even Amanda Marcotte, major Youthquaker, notes that she was eager to read Faludi's account. (For my part, I have been howling non-stop about ageism within feminism since my arrival in Feminist Blogdonia in 2007... nobody cares, and in fact, I am usually shown the door for bringing it up.)

What is immediately striking is how this mass counter-attack would not happen regarding any other form of discrimination, except (as we have seen numerous times) for fat. I very much doubt that if this was an account about racism in feminism by Alice Walker (and she did write one), the response would be, "to present a diversity of white voices in our community." (Or would it?)

Yes, it is the same.

Maybe worse, since Faludi outlines the incontrovertible facts: Second Wave feminism gave birth to the Third Wave, and this feud tends to imitate the elements of a mother-daughter fracas. Since that's what it is. Basically, many Third-wavers are spitting in their feminist foremother's faces. Faludi writes: "The contemporary women’s movement seems fated to fight a war on two fronts: alongside the battle of the sexes rages the battle of the ages."

Yep. (NOTE: Sorry I can't provide "a diversity of older voices" to reply along with me, but there are EXCEEDINGLY FEW of us online... and the Third-wavers have banished even those few, in favor of young folks talking endlessly about Lady Gaga. Thus, it is very difficult for us to even find each other.)

I still can't find the entire text of Faludi's piece, so if you can find one online, please link here. But here are some excerpts from what is currently posted:
Why does so much of “new” feminist activism and scholarship spurn the work and ideas of the generation that came before? As ungracious as these attitudes may seem, they are grounded in a sad reality: while American feminism has long, and productively, concentrated on getting men to give women some of the power they used to give only to their sons, it hasn’t figured out how to pass power down from woman to woman, to bequeath authority to its progeny.
...
I’ve been to a feminist “mother-daughter dinner party” where the feel-good bonding degenerated into a cross fire of complaint and recrimination, with younger women declaring themselves sick to death of hearing about the glory days of Seventies feminism and older women declaring themselves sick to death of being swept into the dustbin of history. I’ve been to a feminist conclave convened to discuss the intergenerational question where no young women were invited. After the group spent hours bemoaning the younger generation’s putative preference for a sexed-up “girly girl” liberation, one participant suggested asking an actual young woman to the next meeting—and was promptly shot down. I’ve delivered speeches on the state of women’s rights to college audiences whose follow-up comments concerned mostly the liberating potential of miniskirts and stripping, their elders’ cluelessness about sex and fashion, and the need to distance themselves from an older, “stodgy” feminism.
Gee, she sighed, I wonder why no young women were invited? (I can't imagine.)

Interestingly, Faludi uses the word "handicapped"--the type of old-fashioned term that makes young women (and me too, and I am older than Faludi) wince. (I wonder how often our language-choices 'mark' us as older, online?) She writes at length about the stylistic differences in Second and Third Wave feminists, and I suddenly remember my recent post in which I exhorted women to sass back to fatophobic doctors, advice that came almost verbatim from early issues of Ms. magazine, as well as Our Bodies Our Selves. I was lambasted for expressing disgust that women so often act like victims, instead of paying customers, which we are. This is the kind of thing that got me lauded (as a writer) in the 70s, but now, I get excoriated for saying the exact same things.

How radically have our sensibilities changed, that what I say can be taken (by my generation) as a praiseworthy goal, but by the young women as somehow insulting?

Faludi writes about the recent NOW [National Organization for Women] presidential election:
The candidate who seemed to be in the lead was thirty-three-year-old Latifa Lyles, a charismatic speaker attuned to a youthful sensibility, a black woman who insisted on a more diverse constituency, a technologically savvy strategist who had doubled the organization’s Internet fund-raising and engaged the enthusiasm of a host of feminist bloggers. A feminist activist since she was sixteen—when she told her mother she was going on a “school trip” and ran off to the 1992 reproductive-rights demonstration in Washington, D.C.—Lyles had worked her way up the ranks in NOW, from chapter leader to national board member to youngest-ever national officer. She had spent the last four years as national vice president for membership under [Kim] Gandy, who championed Lyles as her successor. “It’s hard to ignore the fact there’s been a generational shift in this country, and an organization that doesn’t recognize that is living in the past,” Gandy declared. “Latifa’s youth is not a detriment but an advantage. She’ll take NOW to a different level.”

“I never paid attention to a NOW election in my life until I knew Latifa was running,” Jessica Valenti, the founder of Feministing.com, a leading young feminist website, told the Associated Press. “This could be the moment where NOW becomes super-relevant to the feminist movement again.”
What kind of Major American Feminist isn't paying attention to the NOW election? I had no idea you could be a Big Feminist Blogger and Big Feminist Author and not care about NOW. (shows what I know)

If anyone wants to know what's wrong with modern feminism, doesn't that sum the whole thing up in a nutshell? The young women don't give a shit about NOW, unless the prez is a young hipster like themselves. Can we be forgiven for thinking they might not be too serious?
The preoccupations of the younger side of the generational divide were on rampant display the next afternoon at the young feminist workshop, which included tips on how to recruit other young women (do not use the NOW logo when advertising your event) and a prep session on Twitter marketing, led by a young woman in stiletto heels—along with tirades on the transgressions of NOW’s elders, people “so grumpy and crotchety that as a young woman, you come into that meeting, you’re like, ‘I’m never coming back here.’ ” “Many a time I’d hear, ‘Oh, why are you wearing high heels? We fought for so long not to have you wear those high heels!’ ” “I’ve been in meetings where Seventies-ish women say to me, ‘Oh, we’re so glad to have some young blood!’ It’s creepy, and we don’t like it.”
Do not use the NOW logo?!?

(They won't use the NOW logo, but I betcha they DO take those extra salaries, birth control pills and legal abortions that NOW secured for them.)

Lord have mercy, what a lousy state of affairs this is.

One young feminist I respect a great deal, because I know she heartily works for the Forces of Good, is Natalia Antonova, who wrote:
Inter-generational conflict always exists, and it affects way more than simply mainstream American feminism. Faludi’s assertion though that there is a “nightmare of dysfunction” within American feminism is, well… funny. For me, “nightmare” relates more to systemic exclusion of trans people. Or, say, how the concerns of those who are not middle-class and don’t get invited to sit on panels can easily get lost in the shuffle. Is that too much theory, perhaps? Theory, of course, is another thing that Faludi says that younger feminists are too preoccupied with.
Indeed, I have to say that bringing THEORY into the mix is something I genuinely appreciate about the youngsters. Recently, when I commented on another blog that [Bourgeois Feminist] didn't speak for me as a working class woman ... well, they heard me. They got it. I admit, older feminists often didn't, and still don't. They still don't understand why we all didn't vote for Hillary.

So maybe I wouldn't like the whole article, even as I enjoy the relatively cheap shots that I have quoted here. Maybe I'll even get to read it one of these days.

In the meantime, I am very pleased with my own daughter, as Jessica Valenti is proud of her own mother. Maybe that is key. Generalizations are one thing, and I can relate to them. But how do we really feel?

I am personally proud of young feminists when they stand up to patriarchy (pardon old-fogie terminology) and pave their own way... and that will never change.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Shannon Hoover Trio

A lovely afternoon of beautiful jazz fusion with the Shannon Hoover Trio at Horizon Records.

Yes, I notice four musicians (count em, four), rather than three. So maybe a quartet? Actually, several folks were preparing to sit in, so I guess an impromptu jam session. Very nice, and somehow just perfect for Autumn.

~*~

We are approaching the busiest time of year for retail employees, so I apologize if my appearance at the blog becomes a bit spotty. I just finished a VERY LONG week; we have one worker out on maternity leave, and I picked up the slack like a (very exhausted) trooper. It was so nice to relax with some good music today.

Thanks Shannon and compatriots!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Just like heaven

It really is!

~*~

Just Like Heaven - The Cure

Friday, November 12, 2010

Classmates.com is major scam

Classmates.com just automatically charged me a renewal fee of $39.00. I did not ask for a renewal. I do not want a renewal.

Background: I did not attend my 35th high school reunion last July, but I did avail myself of the bargain-priced $9.95 Classmates membership that came with my reunion notification. (This is what I think Classmates.com is worth.) I used it for maybe 3 days. I did find some people I was looking for, which was my intention. (HI FRIENDS!) I paid the fee. End of story.

Ha. Not in our digital-rip-off age.

I saw the pesky, unasked-for renewal-fee, after it showed up on my September credit-card statement. I protested to my credit-card company, who duly took down the information. I called Classmates.com, for which I was only given a long-distance phone number, no 1-800 toll-free number, so I was already pissed.

Classmates puts you on hold (as the expensive meter runs, depending on your particular long-distance service), whilst you listen to the theme of The Breakfast Club, "Don't you forget about me"--over and over and over. Unfortunately, they never even let the whole damn song play, they interrupt it at various junctures to insert obnoxious and contrived sales propaganda. They claim 40 million members, for instance, and one can't help but think that at least half of them were hoodwinked into membership, just as I was.

As the Breakfast Club music plays, various voice-overs tell you little just-so stories about couples who broke up in grade school and have reunited decades later, all due to the wonderfulness of Classmates.com. The testimonial tells you they are GETTING MARRIED!!!! Now, how cute is that?

Finally, after listening to the same marriage story about 3 times, I got Jules. Employee number 4379, something like that. Jules stonewalled very well and I would give her a big fat 10 on her monthly quality review. When I got tired of the stonewalling, I asked for her last name, which she would not give. (We always had to, when I was in customer service; no bullshit "employee numbers"--which can be easily changed to cover one's ass.) When I asked for her supervisor, she claimed to have no supervisor for me to speak to. (Again, at my old job, protocol was immediate: you turned the call over to what was called a "coach"--not a real supervisor, but good enough for customers.) Classmates doesn't have any such protocol, obviously. No supervisor?

I told her it must be nice not to have a supervisor, what a cool job.

Jules sighed, "I do not have one AVAILABLE," she clarified.

"I can wait until one is available," I said, conscious that my long-distance charges will easily equal the $39, at this sorry-assed rate.

Jules said the supervisors call people back in the order the calls are received.

Ohhh, I bet they do. (Note: they haven't.)

I gave her my information. I shall be old and gray (older and grayer) by the time I hear back from Classmates, no question about it.

AVOID, folks, with all your might. I just found this from the New York Observer; which was published in August. Too late for me to have seen a year ago, but I certainly wish I had:

Ever visited a shady section of the internet, been presented with a popup from a certain company and wondered to yourself, "What does she look like now?" Don't take them up on their offer to show you! Classmates.com is officially a scam.

Andrew Cuomo, clearly going after the big guns in his last few months as attorney general, announced today that Classmates.com was among a group of six websites that will collectively pay $10.1 million in refunds and fines for defrauding customers with hidden fees.
And all I want is my $39 back!!!!

This story is still developing, as the big bloggers say. Meanwhile, I can at least warn the rest of you.

PS to Classmates: Facebook is free, did yall know that? Must be some pretty stiff competition, hm?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Can you imagine how *I* feel about it, Dmitri?

You know how we've always talked about the possibility of something going wrong with the Bomb? The Bomb, Dmitri... The hydrogen bomb!... Well now, what happened is... ahm... one of our base commanders, he had a sort of... well, he went a little funny in the head... you know... just a little... funny. And, ah... he went and did a silly thing... Well, I'll tell you what he did. He ordered his planes... to attack your country... Ah... Well, let me finish, Dmitri... Let me finish, Dmitri... Well listen, how do you think I feel about it?... Can you imagine how I feel about it, Dmitri?... Why do you think I'm calling you? Just to say hello?... Of course I like to speak to you!... Of course I like to say hello!... Not now, but anytime, Dmitri. I'm just calling up to tell you something terrible has happened... It's a friendly call. Of course it's a friendly call... Listen, if it wasn't friendly... you probably wouldn't have even got it... They will not reach their targets for at least another hour... I am... I am positive, Dmitri... Listen, I've been all over this with your ambassador. It is not a trick... Well, I'll tell you. We'd like to give your air staff a complete run-down on the targets, the flight plans, and the defensive systems of the planes... Yes! I mean i-i-i-if we're unable to recall the planes, then... I'd say that, ah... well, ah... we're just gonna have to help you destroy them, Dmitri... I know they're our boys... All right, well listen now. Who should we call?... Who should we call, Dmitri? The... wha-whe, the People... you, sorry, you faded away there... The People's Central Air Defense Headquarters... Where is that, Dmitri?... In Omsk... Right... Yes... Oh, you'll call them first, will you?... Uh-huh... Listen, do you happen to have the phone number on you, Dmitri?... Whe-ah, what? I see, just ask for Omsk information... Ah-ah-eh-uhm-hm... I'm sorry, too, Dmitri... I'm very sorry... All right, you're sorrier than I am, but I am as sorry as well... I am as sorry as you are, Dmitri! Don't say that you're more sorry than I am, because I'm capable of being just as sorry as you are... So we're both sorry, all right?... All right.

~*~

Don't miss Dr Strangelove on Turner Classic Movies tonight. (Above dialogue by Terry Southern, whom I coincidentally mentioned here at DEAD AIR a few days ago.)

In Stanley Kubrick's now-classic anti-war film, the amazing Peter Sellers plays three different roles (with three different accents). He was so great, lots of people who never check movie credits do not even realize the three roles are played by same person. (Captain Mandrake, President Merkin Muffley, Dr Strangelove) Many British actors find it nearly impossible to deliver a realistic-sounding flat-US-Midwestern accent (by contrast, southern accents are "fun" to do), but Sellers could do anything. His placid President is just perfect.

Slim Pickens, Sterling Hayden and George C. Scott are also terrific. The movie largely defies description, and every peacenik should see it multiple times! (And everyone else too, of course.)

~*~

I am still deliberating over last week's election (Dr Strangelove is perfect accompaniment), and sorting through all the post-mortems, teeth-gnashing and hand-wringing.

Some links I found especially pertinent and interesting:

Terrance at Republic of T has an in-depth four-part series titled The GOP’s Pyrrhic Victory: Why It Won’t Work. (I certainly hope he's right!) Read em all!

Check out Glenn Greenwald's The self-absorption of America's ruling class. And as Greenwald notes (see link), my Senator (and not the one you expect!) is now itching to start a war with Iran. (Saints preserve us.)

By way of fabulous Onyx Lynx (blows kisses!), I found Glenn W. Smith's post, rationally titled Why the Fear and Loathing? Excellent question.

Amanda Marcotte spins the election for the Guardian and I am not convinced. She seems to think the conservative Tea Party women did not do so well... apparently she hasn't visited South Carolina lately. If you had informed me even two years ago, that South Carolina would have a Woman of Color as governor in my lifetime? I'd have laughed at you.

This IS a sea change in politics, and the more liberals try to deny this, the longer the Tea Party will reign.

WAKE UP EVERYBODY, no more sleeping in bed.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Saturday, November 6, 2010

I never saw Lynyrd Skynyrd, but I sure saw AC/DC

It's Saturday and time for my weekly earworm roundup. Yes, earworms all through the election and beyond.

~*~



Here is a 70s song I've always identified with, particularly on a religious/spiritual level. Yep, I know just what he means.

I've always loved the line "and I nearly died from hospitality"... ohhhh, me too.

Couldn't Get it Right - Climax Blues Band



~*~

In the US, the hit version stopped right after "funny how tiiime fliiiies"--but the British version goes on about 45 seconds longer. I like the original better.

Head over Heels - Tears for Fears



~*~

For my beloved Mr Daisy! "I never saw Lynyrd Skynyrd, but I sure saw Molly Hatchett..."

It's a righteous song indeed, that genuflects at the name of the late Bon Scott. (My spouse goes through periods of playing this over and over, hence the unavoidable earworm.) If you ever see the Truckers play this live (we did), you will witness a giant crowd of hopped-up rednecks screaming in unison "With Bon Scott singin LET THERE BE ROOOOOOOCK!!!!!" which I bet is scarier than shit. (But what a lotta fun.)

Let there be rock - Drive By Truckers



~*~

Wait, why don't I just show it to you?

Let there be rock - Drive By Truckers (live)



Repeating my goal: to come back as Shonna Tucker in my next life!

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

A devastating blow to our antiquated systems

The recent election may seem strange, you say. What can possibly be happening to human beings? Well, Jack Nicholson had the answer DECADES AGO, and explained it all... but were we listening? No.

I say, we all listen AGAIN, because it all makes (as that antique-store proprietor on the old Friday The 13th TV series was always saying) A Terrible Sense.

Apparently, they made a lot of this dialogue up on the spot. Dennis Hopper "directed" Easy Rider, so to speak, and the "script" was officially credited to Peter Fonda, Hopper and Terry Southern. I credit Fonda for bringing "Wow!" into the adult lexicon; before this time, "Wow!" was mostly reserved for children and comic books. Fonda's famous stoned "Wow!"s made the quiet utterance of "Wow!" cool--and we haven't shed this verbal habit since.

We now know that in real life, the situation (in the movie) was likely reversed, and it was Jack that probably showed Peter Fonda how to smoke weed.

Proposition 19, Rest in Peace.

~*~

"If they're so smart, why don't they just reveal themselves and get it over with?"

"Why don't they reveal themselves to us? Because if they did reveal themselves it would cause a general panic."


I'd say they revealed themselves, at long last, yesterday.

~*~

Jack Nicholson explains things - excerpt from Easy Rider (1969)

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Nikki Haley is South Carolina's first woman governor

Nikki Haley makes history as the state's first non-white, female governor. (photo from Greenville News)

In national news: Tea Party rides to victory, nation on verge of anarchy. Infrastructure in dire peril. Cops and firemen deemed unnecessary as private security company business goes through the roof! Oh, sorry, getting ahead of myself...

But my predictions were correct, Haley took Sheheen by 65,000 votes in the largest SC turnout for a gubernatorial election ever.

Haley leads GOP Surge
By Ben Szobody • Staff writer • Published: November 03. 2010 2:19AM
Greenville News

South Carolina voters picked Nikki Haley to be the state's top executive Tuesday, boosting an Indian-American child of immigrants and political ally of Gov. Mark Sanford from a desk in the Legislature to the Governor's Mansion amid a conservative wave.

It caps a remarkable, 18-month rise in which Haley defeated a primary slate of establishment Republican figures, then an evenly funded opponent from one of the state’s prominent Democratic families.

More than 1.2 million people voted — the most ever for governor — and nearly 52 percent broke for Haley, giving her a 5-point, 65,000-vote margin over Democratic Sen. Vincent Sheheen.

It was the smallest margin of victory for a South Carolina governor since 1994 but also part of a broader Republican surge that girded GOP control in the state's General Assembly and recast Congress as a more conservative body.

Greenville, as it had for Sanford, delivered a major rush of votes to Haley late in the night after what had been a seesaw ballot count for much of the evening. She ended up easily carrying the Upstate while Sheheen picked up many of the rural Midlands and Pee Dee counties.
Translation: the rich white people I wrote about in my last post, carried her through. The poor black counties voted Democratic.
In a year of political meteors, Haley has already become an icon, smiling from the covers of magazines and highlighting European coverage of U.S. elections that swung in part on the tea party phenomenon, frustration with Washington and a female constellation of so-called “mama grizzlies” — all of which Haley harnessed on her way from fourth place in a crowded Republican primary to the state's top elected office.

It was a rise sparked by the endorsement of former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and capped with her historic victory as both the first woman and first minority governor in the state’s history.

She told an enthusiastic crowd of supporters after midnight that the message of her campaign — a better economy, better schools and a more accountable government — was “simple.”

“To every citizen of South Carolina, regardless of how you voted, I'm going to get to work for you,” she said. “You've taken a chance on me. I will never stop trying to make you proud.”
Let's hope she remembers to pay her taxes, now that she has been elected. (/snark)

Worried.

And I will stay that way until the Tea Party era is over; by my humble estimation, between 3-6 years (depending on leadership capabilities and other related factors).

Mourning in America.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

And now it's up to the voters...

... and looking around Thornblade precinct, where I voted, that is a damned scary thought.

I was undoubtedly the poorest person there. Despite the fact that my apartment complex is part of the precinct and is mostly composed of minorities, there were ONLY whites at the polling place during the half-hour or so I was there. Hm, interesting.

Update: During FALL FOR GREENVILLE, I decided I would park at St Mary's. And to avoid getting towed, I hung an old brown rosary from my rear-view mirror. And miraculously, all the vicious road-rage incidents directed at my lefty bumpers stickers, magically STOPPED. TOTALLY. NOT A SINGLE ONE SINCE. South Carolina boy said it was a great idea, when I showed him. And he also agreed: my eye-catching jumble of bumper stickers was risky business in these parts... and I admit, I let the whole thing get out of hand: Another Mama for Obama (which I refuse to scrub off, even when I am mad at him); Vegetarianism is good for the planet; Peace now; Spay or neuter your cat; Grateful Dead; WNCW; etc etc. Some pretty radical stuff for DeMint country!

But the rosary trumps it ALL. The rosary is a TALISMAN to ward off right-wing thugs. Once again, the Blessed Mother protects me. As she always has!

Good Lord, why didn't I think of this before?!? -- clearly, I wasn't thinking.

Today at the polling place, though, the rosary almost didn't save me... my little bumper-sticker-festooned-Saturn was hemmed in by two different Mercedes--one black, one gray--with the black one bearing a giant, triumphant DeMint sticker. (Just perfect, I thought.) It took me some fancy maneuvering to inch my way out of my parking spot on Thornblade Boulevard, but I managed not to scrape their precious pricey vehicles. Yeesh.

First, I took the opportunity to do some last-minute windshield-leafletting for Tom Clements. (Yes, I was at least 100 feet from the parking lot; I know the rules!) One affluent, designer-clothes-clad woman pointedly declined my leaflet and snapped "Our minds are made up!" (speaking for her companion) and I have no doubts about that at all.

I got inside, where my conservative chiropractor friend was standing in line to vote. Being a friend, he is tolerant and good-natured, and joked that our votes would cancel each other's out. (The rest of the room, intolerant and NOT good-natured, glowered at me.) He also joked we should take our pictures voting and holding hands and post it on Facebook, to show democratic-system-goodwill and all that patriotic voter-stuff. (More glowering in my general direction; I could tell the rest of the room didn't believe in that shit AT ALL.)

And the Haley/DeMint stickers and signs, blinded me all the way back home.

Pertinent quote of the day:

Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.

HL Mencken
Stay tuned, sports fans. I'll try to be back by tonight and I will try not to sob TOO hard...