Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Davy Jones 1945-2012

Daisy's very first imaginary boyfriend has passed on:

No doubt you're humming Daydream Believer or Last Train to Clarksville as you read this.

The lead singer of The Monkees, Davy Jones, has died.

His rep tells TMZ that he died after suffering a heart attack this morning in Florida. Jones was 66.

TMZ confirmed Jones' death with an official from the medical examiner's office for Martin County, Fla.

Jones is survived by his wife Jessica and four daughters from previous marriages.

Jones joined The Monkees in 1965, with Micky Dolenz, Michael Nesmith and Peter Tork.
I wrote about the Monkees here.

Goodbye old friend. (((sobs)))

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Should we talk about the government?

Pop Song 89 - R.E.M. (caution: topless ladies)

Monday, February 27, 2012

Girl Scout cookie time!

Four years ago, I posted this lovely photo of a DEADHEAD BROWNIE, and I have been getting hits from hopeful hippies looking for stoner-recipes ever since. No, not those kinds of brownies, you reefer-heads! I mean GIRL SCOUTS!



Yes, it's time for Daisy's beloved CARAMEL DELITES, which have more calories than candy. Munch, munch.

I assume you have all heard about the recent Girl Scouts controversy over the transgendered Girl Scout, which has been all over the news. Short version: the Girl Scouts of America are FAIR and we can be PROUD of them:

A group calling itself HonestGirlScouts.com has posted a YouTube video calling for a boycott of Girl Scout cookies in response to a Colorado troop's decision to allow a 7-year-old transgender child into its troop. Gay rights and transgender rights groups have reported a grassroots LGBT movement of supporters buying Girl Scout cookies in response to the video.
...
After an initial burst of publicity around the nearly 8-minute video featuring a teen Girl Scout wearing a Girl Scout sash, the video has been made private on YouTube. However, it's still available for viewing elsewhere on the Internet.

"I ask all fellow Girl Scouts who want a true, all-girl experience not to sell any Girl Scouts cookies until GSUSA (Girl Scouts of the USA) addresses our concerns," says the girl, identified as a teen named Taylor, a troop member from California, in some news reports. "I ask all parents who want their girls to be in a safe environment to tell their leaders why you will not allow your girls to make any more money for GSUSA."

The video was prompted by the case of Bobby Montoya, whose mother told a CNN affiliate in October that a troop leader initially told her that Bobby couldn't join the troop because Bobby "has boy parts," even though her child identifies as a girl.

The Girl Scouts of Colorado blamed the initial decision to exclude the child on ignorance of the scouts' policy. The state scouts said Bobby was welcome to join Girl Scouts. "If a child identifies as a girl and the child's family presents her as a girl, Girl Scouts of Colorado welcomes her as a Girl Scout," said the Colorado Girl Scouts, in a statement to a CNN affiliate.
I bought extra boxes. To be supportive and all, of course. Glad to do my part, she said, her mouth full...

And I made sure to tell the nice middle-class, bright-eyed, suburban Girl-Scout-troop-leader-mom WHY I was buying extra cookies this year. She looked totally stunned. This IS upstate South Carolina, after all.

Do your part! EAT EAT EAT! How often do we get to eat and feel great about it! SEIZE THE OPPORTUNITY!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Volkswagen sucks

Volkswagen is using Ted Nugent's misogynist "Stranglehold" in a commercial. The major controversy online seems to be why the Motor City Madman (as he is known), would endorse a German car, which is some major Detroit heresy. Nobody cares about the woman-killing in the song.

This isn't the first time the song has been used in ads (the instrumental parts of the song are great), but it IS the first time the lyrics, "I got you in a stranglehold, babbehhhh!" have been included.

It makes me furious enough never to buy a VW for as long as I live, and yes, I AM poor and I WAS considering it, so your loss, Volkswagen!!!

Time for some pertinent questions to all the 'men's rights' folks (anti-feminists, mostly) I have currently been arguing with online:

When is the last time a woman's song about strangling a man was in a TV commercial? For a major world corporation?

Further, when did any woman even RECORD one?

Has a woman ever strangled a man in the history of the WORLD, who wasn't safely drugged or ASLEEP? (The song is obviously about the sheer delight of violent struggle; if she was asleep, he never would have written it, too boring.)

If a woman did indeed write and record such a song, would it be a big million-selling heavy-metal album? Would the woman who recorded it be accepted as a rich Republican donor in good standing (as Nugent is) and given a steady gig at the Washington Times (as Nugent is), or would she be considered a major loony-tune man-killer?

Totally laughable, isn't it?

There simply isn't any equivalent, and that is why I use the word PATRIARCHY: because we live in one.

~*~

Blogger is currently all screwed up and has been for about a month now. It will not allow me (and lots of other bloggers) to update the blog-links list. So if you think your blog belongs on it, and it's not, you are probably right.

Blogs I have tried to add to my illustrious list:

Cheap Signals (Hi Gretchen!)

Shuffle (Carolina's indie music scene)

The Good Men Project (sometimes I can post there, and sometimes I can't, for mysterious reasons)

ClarenceGrad72 (Hi Becky!)

Consider this a consolation prize for not being able to update my link list.

~*~

A little fun on the website titled your past life diagnosis. Here is mine:

I don't know how you feel about it, but you were male in your last earthly incarnation. You were born somewhere in the territory of modern USA South-West around the year 800. Your profession was that of a map maker, astrologer, astronomer.

Your brief psychological profile in your past life:

Timid, constrained, quiet person. You had creative talents, which waited until this life to be liberated. Sometimes your environment considered you strange.

The lesson that your last past life brought to your present incarnation:

Your main task is to make the world more beautiful. Physical and spiritual deserts are just waiting for your touch. Keep smiling!

Do you remember now?
Well, okay, that is a random computer program and relatively dopey... but... do you remember my Groundhog Day post here and how I described feeling unaccountably drawn to Chaco Canyon? That would be the place and time-frame described above, the time of the Anasazi, and now I am a bit spooked. (I love maps AND astrology.)

Probably just a coincidence, she muttered, reaching for her Tarot.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Old movie trailers

... from movies you've never seen. Unfortunately, I didn't find certain ones I was looking for. However, finding some of these was worth the whole expedition, and you are in for a real treat.

And I regret to say the various uploaded trailers for "It's Alive" (1975 version) are not nearly as funny as I remember.

~*~

A forgotten movie of the 70s, almost qualifies as cinéma vérité. The two leads seem not to be "acting" at all.

I suppose it also matters that these are my favorite actors. :)

Scarecrow (1973)



~*~

This is an old-school trailer for one of the best B-movies of all time.

The movie had a famous fake-out ending, which catapulted director Jonathan Demme to the top. (He later went on to fame and fortune as director of "Silence of the Lambs.") And B-movie queen Barbara Steele takes center stage, which makes us wonder how this proper British lady ended up as warden of a nasty American women's prison.

The right woman for the job!

Caged Heat (1974) (caution: nudity, NSFW, sexism, violence, etc)



~*~

Brian DePalma's horror movie about conjoined twins, which simply defies rational description. Margot Kidder was stunningly beautiful!

Sisters (1973)



~*~

Rosemary's Baby and The Exorcist go to the drive-in, starring Juliet Mills, who played Nanny in "Nanny and the Professor." (really) This trailer was shown for weeks on late-night TV, and was very popular with 70s potheads.

Beyond the Door (1974)



~*~

In this movie, a nice middle-class white couple go broke and decide to go into robbery to make ends meet. (Why don't they make heartwarming family tales like this any more?)

Jane was heavily into her JANE FONDA'S WORKOUT phase, and she looks mah-velous!

Fun With Dick and Jane (1977)



~*~

I guess you didn't know that the infamous Gates of Hell have to be guarded? And how exactly would one audition for THAT job?

Well, it probably won't surprise you to learn that you get DRAFTED for the position, and you have no say in it at all. (screams)

The Sentinel (1977)



~*~

Before Terry O'Quinn got mega-famous on LOST, he was a very believable serial killer.

The Stepfather (1987)



~*~

O'Quinn reprised his bang-up role in the rather cheesy and predictable Stepfather 2. This movie came out the same year John List was arrested. It is widely assumed the first movie was inspired by John List, but in fact, List was still at large in 1987. By 1989, the "List story" had entered the national consciousness and you can clearly see the influence of List on the narrative.

Stepfather 2 (1989)

Wordless Wednesday: pick your favorite!

Okay, today we have a sweet, sleeping baby grandson (held by my son-in-law), and my daughter's new tattoo.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Fat Tuesday reflections: When will we fall down?

I can't remember the last time I did not go to Ash Wednesday Mass. Can't remember. Must have been the 80s. Really.

The photo is from last year, when I already didn't believe in what I was doing. Why was I there? Habit. The sublime order of the liturgical year, which is encoded in my DNA somewhere. My body even seems attuned to it. I have often complained (like in comments on this endless thread from 2009) that I find it impossible to leave the Church.

And of course it isn't impossible, but on some other level, of course it is. This is what I have trouble explaining to people.

Someone suggested that I replace the Christian rituals with Buddhist rituals. Alas, one of the things I am trying to expunge is clinging to ritual itself, which is exactly what I am trying to avoid. I have clung to rituals of some kind my whole life; rituals help me make sense of the passage of time, they help mark these passages in an introspective, moral fashion, examining my conscience. What, I would ask, have I done since last year? And the passage of time, these careful yearly markings, would cloak me in feelings of safety.

As one leaves the Church, this feeling evaporates. It is like you are exposed and naked; I get the unwelcome mental image of a naked woman (me) descending the steps of a huge and beautiful cathedral, completely defenseless and at the mercy of the elements. That is how it feels NOT to go to Ash Wednesday Mass, NOT to go to today's Fat Tuesday pancake suppers.

But I have a movie-series to tend to, I have other places I must be tomorrow. It is a lot like an old Twilight Zone episode--I know if I can go the entire 24 hours, I will have it in the bag. But this day, Ash Wednesday, is somehow even more compelling (to me) than Christmas or Easter, since it is about doing penance. Who will forgive me? And why am I so focused on forgiveness to the exclusion of other aspects of Christianity? These are questions it will take me years to answer... and I know the answers are not where I thought they were.

It is my task to answer them.

But first, must resist the hypnotic draw of the ashes.

Ashes, ashes, we all fall down.

~*~

And speaking of falling down, that made me think of Toad the Wet Sprocket, a band name that I immediately spotted as having been named after a Monty Python routine. At the time the song came out (1993), I was riveted by it. Years later, as it became something of an alt-rock staple, I decided it was about my daughter. Now, I realize that it was actually about me, stranded within Christianity (in what I now call my pseudo-Opus Dei period), trying so hard to conform and fit in with secular Carmelites and people like that. Who was I kidding?

And so, it is a perfect song for today, as well as today's blog title.

Toad the Wet Sprocket - Fall Down

Monday, February 20, 2012

Where do we go from here?

At left, our Occupy film series is pretty well-attended for Republican Greenville! Last Wednesday we viewed the historical account, A Force More Powerful (Part 1). This coming Wednesday evening we will be featuring Part 2... be there or be square!

These will be at the Hughes Library in downtown Greenville, SC.




Our Occupy Greenville meeting yesterday was endless. It was rainy and cold, so we went to the Coffee Underground and had one of those interminable "What Is To Be Done" meetings. (The Yippies, goofing on Lenin, used to name these meetings, What Is To Be Undone.) Although I feel that I must attend such meetings, I have never particularly enjoyed them. (Note: I described the meetings-glut period of my life in this post.) Why can't we just DO THINGS and come up with ideas as we go along? Damn, I miss the Yippies with every fiber of my being... we never had to have mountains of meetings.* We made shit up in the car, by the time we arrived someplace, we were ready. All this verbiage, all this dithering, all this arriving at consensus (sorta) and stuff, argh.

Just do it. (Apologies for stealing an advertising slogan, which by the way, they stole from ordinary basketball players and NASCAR drivers.)

Speaking personally: I would like to physically occupy foreclosed homes, something Occupy Atlanta has been doing. Others seem to eye this concept with skepticism, and would actually prefer to confront rich CEOs personally, as the Verizon strikers so memorably did. My consigliere confides in me that he is skeptical of that approach; he worries that the right-wing will successfully paint us as whiners, jealous of an individual's wealth, rather than successfully connecting-the-dots to an unfair system that denies workers the fruits of their/our labors (while making CEOs so untouchably rich). We would have to depend on the mass media to make that point. Can they do that? We have been surprised at how the media has used Occupy's talking points, for instance, the now-well-known "60 Minutes" piece on the robo-signing of mortgages would likely never have happened at all, without the force of Occupy Wall Street.

And the Beat Goes On. Please show up at the film series, we need you to get involved! (commercial) And what do you think we should be doing at this juncture? COMMENTS WELCOME!



*Yes, admittedly, this is because we were all alike and thought the same, as I said in this old comment a couple of years ago.

**PODCAST of Saturday's radio show is up, have a listen.


~*~

Yesterday, driving down the street in the awful cold rain, I suddenly heard "Far East Mississippi" on WPCI, the most amazing radio station in the universe, and I was suddenly happy happy happy as the proverbial clam.

Last month's piece on the infamous Ohio Players album covers is here (CAUTION: they were something else). This incredible piece of music comes from Contradiction (1976) (warning: another naked lady on the album cover, feeding a horse this time).

If you listen, you can hear the Great God of Funk, who decided to come down from funk heaven (in George Clinton's Mothership, one assumes!) and consecrate this music, which is how it got to sound like this: Unbelievable!

Enjoy!

Far East Mississippi - Ohio Players


Friday, February 17, 2012

The Lynching of Willie Earle

65 years ago, the last lynching in South Carolina took place about 10-15 miles from where I live. And last year, after a very long 64 years, a memorial was finally erected on the rural back road where it happened. I originally posted this in February of 2011, when the memorial was placed.

[Caution: disturbing and violent content]

On February 16, 1947, Thomas Watson Brown, a white cab driver, picked up a black man on Markley Street in Greenville, South Carolina. Brown was later found half-dead, his taxi driven off the road in rural Pickens County. He had been beaten, robbed, and stabbed three times.

The Pickens County sheriff reported that muddy footprints at the crime scene led to the house of Willie Earle, about a mile away, where officers reportedly found cash, a blood-covered knife and bloody clothing. (Many of these facts have always been in dispute, but this is what was presented at trial.) Willie Earle, age 24, wasn't at his residence; he was in another cab, driven by a man who would later become one of the 31 defendants.

Earle was arrested and put in the Pickens County second-floor lock-up.

The news of Brown's stabbing traveled like wildfire, as did the news of Willie Earle's arrest. The nexus of unrest was the Yellow Cab office on West Court Street, where Greenville's taxi drivers had congregated in an angry pack, and started passing around a bottle of whiskey.

The Greenville News, recently granted access to some of the trial records and police reports, offers some chilling accounts:

The attitudes of the time are reflected in the casual manner in which one of the defendants, Hubert Carter, explained in his statement to police how he joined the mob.

The 33-year-old driver and father of four called for a ride home from the Cleveland Street taxi stand at 1 a.m. on the 17th, according to the Greenville Police Department file. He was picked up by another defendant, Paul Griggs, who "asked me if I wanted to go with the others to get the Negro being held for stabbing Mr. Brown.

"I told him I'd go along with the crowd," Carter said in his statement.
And so, in a tableau reminiscent of the famous scene in To Kill A Mockingbird (and perhaps it was an inspiration for it), the taxis all lined up in the early morning hours and drove in formation out to the Pickens County jail, maybe 20 miles away. It was February 17th.

I have often re-imagined the striking sight of the line of yellow cabs driving down the old rural road I have traveled down so many times myself. Did other people see them? They must have. Did the onlookers know where they were going? Did they tell their wives or girlfriends first?

And there was, sadly, no Atticus Finch to stand by the door. Instead, there was a jailer named Gilstrap, who suddenly had two shotguns pointed in his face. He didn't argue.

The mob took Willie Earle from the jail.

A call to Greenville's black funeral home, notified authorities of where the body was.

Thomas Brown died six hours later.

~*~

The first lynching since 1912, the murder of Willie Earle became big news. The trial was biggest lynching trial the state had ever seen. Most lynchings had never even been investigated, while this one had then-Governor Strom Thurmond threatening to put the perpetrators away (yes, you read that right). Time magazine sent reporters, and The New Yorker sent no less than Dame Rebecca West to cover the event.

From Time magazine:
Somebody "pulled the Negro out of the car by his belt." The drivers ''hit him several times with their fists and knocked him to the ground." One of the drivers pulled out a knife. "Before you kill him," he said, "I want to put the same scars on him that he put on Brown." Said Jessie Lee Sammons: "I could hear the tearing of clothing and flesh."

Then the drivers "beat the side of his head with a shotgun." Said Marvin H. Flemming's statement: "I could hear some licks like they were pounding on him with the butt end of a gun. I heard the Negro say, 'Lord, you done killed me.' " Finally, said Charlie Covington, he heard Roosevelt Carlos Hurd Sr., a Blue Bird cab driver, cry out: "Give me the gun and let's get this over with." Just then, "a tall, slender boy with bushy hair hit the Negro in the mouth and knocked him down. The Negro started to get up when Mr. Hurd took the shotgun. He shot the Negro in the head. He unloaded the gun and called for more shells. . . . Mr. Hurd shot the Negro two more times." The tissue of Willie Earle's brain was left hanging on the bushes. The lynchers went back to Greenville and drank coffee.
Of course, it was an all-white jury. Of course, they offered no defense at all. And of course, they were acquitted.

Of the acquittal, Dame Rebecca West wrote:
There could be no more pathetic scene than these taxi-drivers and their wives, the deprived children of difficult history, who were rejoicing at a salvation that was actually a deliverance to danger. For an hour or two, the trial had built up in them that sense of law which is as necessary to man as bread and water and a roof. They had known killing for what it is: a hideousness that begets hideousness. They had seen that the most generous impulse, not subjected to the law, may engender a shameful deed. For indeed they were sick at heart when what had happened at the slaughter-pen was described in open court. But they had been saved from the electric chair and from prison by men who had conducted their defense without taking a minute off to state or imply that even if a man is a murderer one must not murder him and that murder is foul. These people had been plunged back into chaos.
Chaos is the word. Chaos was the state of race relations in the south until the Civil Rights movement, when the chaos was at last addressed.

Next week, after many long decades, the spot where Willie Earle was murdered will be officially and historically marked. Future generations will not be like me, driving by a rural place in the road without knowing whose blood was shed there. We will see, and we will know.

Tessie Robinson, Willie's mama, died 8 years ago. I am so sad she will never see the memorial to her son.

For black people, a memorial and a reminder of what they already know and do not have to be told. For us white people, a souvenir of our savagery, and the cover-up of that savagery. Which is why the memorial has taken 64 years.

Rest in Peace, Willie Earle.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

A Mark, a Yen, a Buck or a Pound

Unfortunately, all the YouTube clips from the actual film, have "embedding disabled by request"--which means this one will probably get pulled eventually too. But I thought I'd try anyway... I played this on my radio show! I LOVE THIS!!!!

From the film Cabaret (1972)--here is a song we can all relate to in these harsh economic times.

Money - Liza Minelli and Joel Grey (from "Cabaret")



For the entire movie clip in context, featuring wonderful Bob Fosse-choreography and fabulous Weimar Republic-inspired fashions--go here.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Friday, February 10, 2012

Stray Cat Strut

Stray Cat Strut - The Stray Cats



As my late mother, the musician, would say (and did, the first time she ever heard this song), DO YOU HEAR the difference in a big-ass stand-up bass (as she called it) and a regular electric bass? Ka-thump, ka-thump, ka-THUMP.

Lovingly dedicated to one of the greatest cats of all time, Maurice. He was named after the old Steve Miller song, wherein Some people call me Maurice/Cause I speak of the pompitous of love. He sure did. But mostly he would "slink down the alley looking for a fight/Howling to the moonlight on a hot summer night." I owned Maurice at the time the song came out, and used to sing it to him. (He knew the song was all about him.)

Of course, cat people know that he really owned ME.

And I miss him.

I send him my most loving Deadhead vibes in his next lives and hope to someday meet him again.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Bring Joe-Bob back to the Drive-In, and other horrifying updates

Joe-Bob Goes to The Drive-In was the name of Joe Bob Briggs' old B-movie column in the Dallas Morning Herald. These reviews were compiled into a very entertaining book by the same name. The book's sequel was titled, of course, Joe-Bob goes back to the drive-in (introduction by Wayne Newton). Both books are totally indispensable and absolutely necessary for any serious trash-culture fan!

Joe-Bob Briggs was really John Bloom, and with his TEXAS MONTHLY writing partner, Jim Atkinson, wrote a very good true-crime account of one woman killing another with an axe. I sure never forgot THAT one! (Aside: An Amazon reader informs us that this woman, Candy Montgomery, is now a nurse in Atlanta... remind me never to go to the hospital in Georgia, for any reason.) He hosted his own TV show for awhile: Joe-Bob's Drive-In Theater. This was one of the great treasures of the 90s, my friends. You may also recall Joe-Bob as the host of the more mainstream 90s cable-show MonsterVision, which brought us some far-out B-movie classics, such as the inimitable Basket Case.

Joe-Bob has been in a few movies himself, and was even in the mini-series of THE STAND, playing a character named Deputy Joe-Bob Brentwood (attesting to Stephen King's excellent B-movie sensibilities). He was also in Martin Scorcese's Casino, one of my favorite movies, where you may remember him getting fired by Robert DeNiro and hollering in protest, "This is not the way to treat people!" (I remember thinking, is that Joe-Bob Briggs he is firing????) Unfortunately, his scenes were deleted from Texas Chainsaw Massacre II, which I am sure upset him terribly.

My question: WHERE is the contemporary Joe-Bob? Why are we Joe-Bobless? It doesn't seem fair that we have no trash-movie impresario on regular TV these days. (Note: I'm sure one of the millions of satellite channels has this kind of programming, but I refer to mass-market TV.) I grew up with horror movies hosted by the incomparable Ghoulardi of Cleveland, and I love that kinda stuff.

Come back, Joe-Bob!!! And no offense, but you can leave your politics back in Texas. Nonetheless, if I have to put up with Libertarian jabber to get some decent B-movies, I am willing to do that.

~*~

Some more stuff:

:: Conspiracy theories! As an ex-Yippie, I eat em for breakfast. (I also figured this would go well with Joe-Bob.) Bin Laden Death Deemed Murder of CIA Case Officer as 9/11 Coverup:

President George W. Bush knew Osama bin Laden was a CIA agent and in no way ever involved in 9/11. He knew bin Laden personally from family visits and knew bin Laden had been to the White House while living in the US under the cover name of “Tim Osmon.”

This has been verified by CIA officials.
It has? Well, color me surprised.

I definitely need to hear more about this one.

:: Monica runs a video from Ellen DeGeneres, calling out the "One Million Moms" (actually only 40,000) who have targeted her as a gay spokesperson for JC Penneys. (I also thought homophobes go well with horror movies, so that is the reason the link goes here.)

:: And finally, from Politico: The political transformation of Barack Obama, which has most assuredly been horrifying.

Add your own, play along at home.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Hello America

I filed for an unemployment-benefits extension today, which I did not know was even possible. I learned of my extension-eligibility from a very helpful state employee at the Greenville-area One-Stop center yesterday.

And so, I girded my loins and prepared for today's long bureaucratic process at the unemployment office, where I have not been since November.

I am always somewhat obsessed with bean-counting the minute I enter the unemployment office. It is just so glaringly obvious. Today, about 50 people, give or take (very hard to count precisely, since people are constantly entering and exiting)... with only three white men in attendance, and they all appeared to be over 40. The rest of us, women of all colors and ages, and black men, all ages.

As I said, interesting.

Ever since I started counting, the results have been more or less the same.

My question: Are the young white men really staying employed en masse during this economic crisis, or are they too proud to apply for unemployment?

~*~

At left: Interior of Greenville Mall, around the time I worked there. (from Deadmalls.com)




The One-Stop center is in an old shopping mall, McAlister Square, that has been utterly transformed--you might say the building was recycled. I used to take my daughter there when she was a child; I recall St Patrick's Day and Halloween events that she loved. And now, when I walk in, it is still jarring to me that it is no longer a shopping mall. But I am so glad they managed to find some good purpose for it.

There is a website that I find fascinating, Deadmalls.com, since I am one of those people who actually worries about the proliferation of big-box stores and malls. I often wonder WHAT ON EARTH we will ever do with them.

Ever since I read JG Ballard's Hello America, I've wondered what these entities will be in 100-200 years from now. I imagine the enormous suburban office buildings chopped up into tiny apartments; I see the big-box stores turned into homeless shelters for hundreds of people... or possibly turned into hospitals, schools, or condos. What else could you do with them? Simply knock them down when they are no longer needed?

Greenville Mall, where I worked for awhile and had one of my fender-benders, is now gone; torn down some time ago. It was once the big deal around here, and now it is history. I think of it as a symbol of the fleeting nature of fads and fashion and why it's futile to try to be cool. (Buddhist aside: Empty malls that once attracted the moneyed young, filled to overflowing with hustle and bustle, are a good subject for anicca [impermanence] meditation.)

Cool lasts for a week or a day, and then something else is cool. I always tell people, I was totally cool for about an hour in the late 70s, during which time I visited both Max's and CBGB's. But the hour passed, and I descended back into my usual uncoolness.

It was a nice hour while it lasted.

It's not just for Vulcans anymore

The first one came from none other than George Takei! Suitably, you might have to be a trekkie to get it.

The second one came from (I think!) Yellowdog Granny.

Happy Wordless Wednesday!


~*~










Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Tuesday linkage

Stuff you should be reading:


flyover or drivethrough country? a little about class and air travel
: And how do you feel about that snotty term, "flyover country"?

Josh Horwitz on the Secret Market Segments of the Gun Manufacturers: Mike asks the pertinent question, if the gun lobby and gun manufacturers are going to such great lengths to conceal the exact numbers of sales, what are they up to?

Behold the most racist political ad of the year: You've been warned. It appears they managed to locate Charlie Chan's long-lost daughter, to do this awful commercial.

Merck pays a pittance for mass deaths: Question: Who killed more Americans —al Qaeda crashing airplanes into the World Trade Center, or Merck pushing Vioxx? Answer: Merck, by a factor of 18. Are you surprised?

Human Rights Campaign's New York Gala Dinner Protested By Queer Occupy Wall Street Group: On Saturday, a subset of Occupy Wall Street protesters calling themselves "Queer/LGBTIQA2Z Occupy Wall Street" protested the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) gala dinner at New York's Waldorf Astoria hotel because the organization was honoring Goldman Sachs.

Dennis Kucinich v. Marcy Kaptur: How GOP Redistricting Will Force Out a Top Progressive Congressmember: Two of the best in congress, which one would you choose? I have much empathy for my home state on this one.

Chris Hayes: Why Clint Eastwood’s commercial devastates Republicans: For the life of me, I can't figure out all the hoopla over the SuperBowl Clint Eastwood commercial. Hayes explains it.

Madonna, M.I.A., 'Bad Girls': The Dangers of Co-Opting Cool: As I stated yesterday, there were more tweets about M.I.A. flipping the audience the bird during the SuperBowl, than about the entire war in Afghanistan. I mean, you know, a star flipping the bird on live TV is big news. Everybody wants to know why she did it, and Joshua Ostroff explains why. (Although I did have to leave a post, correcting his iconography.) In addition, she may face a hefty a FCC fine.

Newt Gingrich's last comeback: (screams) Oh no, not another one.

I have always intended to link this great blog that you should visit every day: A PHOTO A DAY FROM PLANET EARTH. They're always outstanding!

And we end with another incisive observation from the Dalai Lama, courtesy of Mills River Progressive.

~*~

Sitting in an old Midwestern dining room with curtains flapping in the breeze. Where was it? Not my house. But it was dusk and the strong spring scent of lilacs flowed through the room. I remember peering out the window, but I don't remember the view. I do remember the song. :)

Warning: it's old and was obviously recorded right off the psychedelic teevee. This version (with embedding disabled) is more listenable than the one below, which ain't saying much.

My apologies for poor quality, but of COURSE it would have poor quality. :)

Blues Magoos - We Ain't Got Nothin Yet

Monday, February 6, 2012

Take me back to the place where I first saw the light

Since the dreaded Super Bowl is over, its time to get your political seriousness back on!

For the record, I have never seen so many Tweets over somebody giving the middle-finger on live TV; there were probably more Tweets about that than about the entire war in Afghanistan.

~*~

I once told the story on this blog (or touched on it briefly), of the time I was shaken very hard by a bigshot leftist.

If you are up-to-date on your true-crime scandals, you have likely heard of the death of Yeardley Love, University of Virginia lacrosse player, who was shaken so hard by her ex-boyfriend/defendant, that her head hit the wall. (First-degree murder?) The trial of the accused, George Huguely, starts today.

As the young feminists say, this story has triggered and upset me, as I consider the fact that the only unpleasant repercussions I had from my shaking episode was a terrible headache, neck and shoulder pain. It could have been far worse, I realize now.

And what were the repercussions for the important lefty honcho who shook me in front of 5 witnesses? Nothing. Not a goddamn thing. I now realize I could have had him arrested for assault, but who thought of such things in those days? Cops were widely regarded as "the enemy". It would never have occurred to me, and so it didn't.

The fact that men "shake" women, as you would discipline a naughty child, is something that has greatly bothered me ever since. It's one of those things that simply doesn't happen in reverse: women do not "shake some sense" into grown men, or at least, I never heard of anyone doing that, never read about it, never seen it in movies or on television. As I increase my participation on various blogs that deal with men's gender issues, I am highly skeptical when they tell us men are raped and harmed by women, just as often as women are raped and harmed by men (some even claim MORE often). Although I am sympathetic to the male dilemma (as I have tagged it), we just don't hear about male lacrosse players shaken so hard by their girlfriends, that their heads hit the wall and they die. (Such a story almost sounds laughable, doesn't it?)

And how exactly would one prove that a male was raped by a female, unless some object was used? Vaginal bruising and tearing are one form of evidence for rape of women, but is there an equivalent for males?

I am open-minded enough to listen, but I remain skeptical that gender-violence goes both ways as often as the Men's Rights contingent insists that it does.

Where are the dead male lacrosse players?

Further, I think many women could tell a story similar to mine--random violence (or threats of violence) from men (not necessarily domestic violence).

Can most men tell similar stories about women?

I don't know any who can.

~*~

Chris Hedges, whom I usually respect, has written a rather hysterical piece titled, THE CANCER OF OCCUPY. (Cancer? Really? Somebody has not read Illness as Metaphor by Susan Sontag, and has not learned of the inappropriateness of the term.) Hedges' piece reads exactly the way so many alarmist anti-war movement screeds once did, back in the day--particularly concerning the Yippies: THE ANARCHISTS ARE INVADING, AIYEEEEE!

First, like the poor, the anarchists we always have with us. Deal.

Second, the Malcolm X/Martin Luther King dichotomy stands. The radicals make the liberals look reasonable. You're welcome, Chris! Take the position of the reasonable liberal and SHUT UP. The radicals are helping us. Only scared liberals afraid of not staying in charge, could fail to see it this way. Hedges announces:

Because Black Bloc anarchists do not believe in organization, indeed oppose all organized movements, they ensure their own powerlessness.
Is 'Anonymous' powerless? Like, when they brought down PayPal? Bullshit. They have power that can't be quantified, can't be controlled, and that is what the Hedges-types (whom I usually respect, as I said) do not understand.

Occupy is about the 99% and unfortunately, the 99% (includes even Republicans) are not going to agree on What Is To Be Done. Further, everybody in the 99% seems to have an opinion, even people who haven't actually spent lots of time Occupying. Although Hedges distinguished himself by getting arrested in front of Goldman Sachs, Occupier John Penley comments on Facebook:
I am tired of these intellectuals getting more fame and money writing about and attempting to direct the movement. By the way Chris... The Zapatistas wear masks and carry guns. I have spent a lot of time in Chiapas and much of the material aid and physical support for the Zapatistas came from black bloc types and I am sure they would not be happy about Hedges speaking for them like I am not sure why he feels he can speak from his high profile position so much about what the Occupy movement should or is doing.
The so-called "split" in Occupy, between pacifists and direct-actions protesters, mirrors every other political group I have ever been involved in. This is an old split, it is PRIMAL. Some people always want to chant and pray and sit, and some people always want to throw rocks. There are always ill-mannered punks who invade the porn store and trash it (I helped do this once, after solemnly promising I would not join the breakaway-faction that ran in to trash the mafia-owned business that specialized in violent "beaver loops") ... and some want to inflict even more damage and/or openly confront (and fight with) police.

What they do, you do not have to do.

What they do, is NOT ABOUT you, unless you choose (as I did, during the aforementioned 'Take Back the Night' march/demonstration) to jump ship and join the anarchists. The nice N.O.W. ladies did not approve of us young ruffians running in there and ripping up rape-pin-ups, and that is exactly why we didn't tell them what we were planning to do. They had a march-permit and were terribly well-behaved--and could therefore honestly claim to law enforcement that they had no clue a bunch of punk-rock-witches would suddenly break away and run inside the porn store, shrieking like Furies (that's what we were going for, anyway). As a result, we protected the march from possible arrests, AND we managed to inflict the damage.

But you know, you should not PLAY at rabble-rousing. If you give a bang-up speech saying 'women take back the night!'--do not be surprised when someone actually does.

When you say "We are the 99%--hoo ha!"--do not be surprised when the actual 99% shows up. Like, ALL of them; bikers, ex-cons, angry veterans, etc... and they may not have your peacenik, lets-get-in-a-circle-and-chant-OM values. Are you ready for that?

If not, Occupy is not for you. Because it really is about the 99%, that isn't just empty propaganda. Be prepared when the 99% really does show up... and they are, like the rest of us, extremely pissed off.

They may not show their anger in the nicey-nice way that you have come to expect.

~*~

If you missed my non-interview of Noam Chomsky, it is here.

Also recommended: 29 days on Drugs – Day 2: The President’s Pot Problem. The best analysis I have read, of why Obama seems so terrified to discuss freeing the weed.

Mentioned in the post is The New Jim Crow, by Michelle Alexander, a book about the drug war (and its focus on minorities), which I will certainly be reading and discussing on my radio show.

~*~

Caution: bluegrass ahead! This lovely, traditional old song is apparently now in the public domain; author unknown. The first line of the song is today's blog post title. (What would I do without WPCI?)

Take me back to the Sweet Sunny South - Jerry Garcia and David Grisman


Friday, February 3, 2012

Noam Chomsky update II

Back in the 70s, during the PR campaign for the Chicago Rock-Against-Racism event (which I helped organize), I attempted to interview Patti Smith... which basically turned out like this interview. Just as we got introduced, we got cut off. I always wondered if it was a right-wing roadie or somebody, who did that. Well, today, I can't blame right-wing roadies, I blame Gregg Jocoy, my well-meaning consigliere, who could not refrain from fiddling with buttons and various electronic gimcracks whilst I introduced myself to Dr Noam Chomsky. Suddenly, BEEP, cut off. Shades of Patti Smith! Major panic, sweating, hot flashes, etc.

When I called the good professor back, he was unperturbed by the interruption (obviously used to dealing with clueless hippies), but it was then that I lost the recording on Free Conference Call.com. Gregg kept on fiddling with knobs, but I could tell by his grim expression that we had messed it up and done A Bad Thing. (Ah, the ever-illusive spirit of radio.)

It is notable that the interview took place not in our usual digs, the WFIS radio-station studio, but in Gregg's mother-in-law's bedroom. So we ain't exactly high-tech. After the disappointing quality of Jeff Sharlet's interview, we really wanted to do better. Gregg bought some electronic do-thangs that were supposed to solve all our auditory problems and MAKE IT BETTER.

And in trying to do better, we did worse. (sob)

So, I will not be running an interview (much less a transcript), since we didn't GET the damn thing... BUT YES I ACTUALLY TALKED TO HIM! (PS: My side of the interview recorded fine! LOL) I am going to try and recall the substance of the interview as best I can. Below is a paraphrase of our conversation, which was about 12 minutes long.

~*~

I introduced myself as a South Carolina Occupier and asked what he thought of the Occupy movement in general.

He replied, it is a tremendous thing, and goes against so much of what Americans have been taught: not to care about each other. The networks of caring and connection that have been recently established have been as important as the movement itself. The concept of Occupy has caught on like wildfire; everywhere he goes, he said, he meets Occupiers, in small towns and even during a recent visit to Australia, there were Occupiers. It is a tremendous spirit that has taken hold. (last sentence is a direct quote)

I told Dr Chomsky that we were excited about the Al Jazeera article (focusing on SC Occupiers), which made us feel important down here in South Carolina, and he said we should be proud. I also said I felt that the history of secession and Civil War here in SC (first state to secede from the Union) has made people afraid and leery of politics, even now. At the least, many "moderates" seem unduly skeptical of ideology and political involvement. Dr Chomsky said that was very interesting. YES, NOAM CHOMSKY OPINED THAT I SAID SOMETHING INTERESTING! (Now fighting back the self-aggrandizing urge to add the blurb "Interesting!"--Noam Chomsky, to the margin of this blog.)

At this point, we discussed the fact that there is still a confederate battle flag flying at our state capitol. Dr Chomsky wishes that the Martin Luther King memorials would mention the Poor People's Campaign, which actually began here in South Carolina, something I hadn't known. Northern liberals liked Martin Luther King Jr as long as he was fighting ignorant Alabama sheriffs, Chomsky said, but when he brought his battle up north and confronted northern racism, they weren't so happy to see him. And he also believes King's legacy should pointedly mention that he strongly believed in helping all of the poor; Civil Rights was only the beginning of his work.

And finally, I asked him if he thought there were specific problems with the word OCCUPY, as some progressives have said.

The world-famous linguist chuckled, and offered the very common-sense observation that you can use any word any way you like, and Occupy is a good word to start with. It is precisely because it was used in a colonialist way, that it is a good word to use now. It shows that people understand what has been going on: Occupation. And now, WE are going to do some occupying.

The word belongs to everybody, he said.

I wound up by telling him at least one SC Occupier had been inspired by him, and cited him as the reason why he had decided to join the movement. Dr Chomsky replied that we were the inspiring ones. I was thrilled!

~*~

Of course, I wasn't thrilled when I realized we didn't have the interview recorded, but figured I had at least gotten further than I did with Patti Smith.

Gregg is upset, but not so upset that he doesn't have a million more ideas for the show, innovations galore, including podcasts. He doesn't miss a beat! If it wasn't for his amazing resolve, I wouldn't even be doing any of this stuff in the first place, so I can't fuss at him. Besides, I knew it was dicey--we are still amateurs. As Gregg says: we attempted to walk before we could crawl. But you have to learn some kinda way... unfortunately, trial-and-error still seems to be the learning method of choice.

I figure my paraphrased interview is better than nothing. And it was incredibly wonderful to talk to a living legend. Tomorrow's show will feature my paraphrasing of Dr Chomsky (which I have done to the best of my ability here) and I will be having some sport with Gregg and his love of electronic thingamabobs, and why he needs to keep his feverish pre-game button-pushing to a mimimum.

(sigh)

But in all honesty, it WAS a stone gas.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Noam Chomsky update

We are planning a taped interview with Noam Chomsky tomorrow, and intending to run it on the Saturday morning show.

Needless to say, this has made me a nervous wreck.

As Mr Daisy told me, "Well, you'll be talking to a living legend, but don't let that intimidate you."

Ohhh, I wouldn't dream of it!

I am hoping to transcribe the interview for the blog. (It occurred to me a day or so ago, that I used to transcribe silly doctors and lawyers for a living, so I think I know how to do that!) Stay tuned!

Or as Don Cornelius (R.I.P.) would have said, its gonna be a stone gas. (We'll miss you, Don.)

~*~

I had a longish post in the works about left-wing talk radio, or rather, the lack of it. It kind of fizzled... and for that you have my profound apologies. Like Stanley Kubrick, I had intended to go back to the Dawn of Radio and explain how this unfortunate state-of-affairs came to be, but as it turns out... I only knew the semi-official explanation.

Yesterday, I went to an organizational meeting for Deb Morrow, fabulous 4th District congressional candidate and Spartanburg Occupier. I met up with my friend Tom Davies, an experienced campaign consultant who once wrote a dissertation on the rise of right-wing talk radio (which made me feel rather stupid on the subject). He positively overflowed with information and ideas, so I put my post on hold. He started riffing impressively on the repeal of the Fairness Doctrine (in 1987), which he said was the genesis of the trend. It was? So, the government GAVE BIRTH to right-wing talk radio?

Ah, so no wonder there wasn't (and consequently, isn't) a huge wave of LEFT WING talk radio.

My concern is: how cheap and available radio-time is, compared to television. Shouldn't it therefore be a bastion of LEFT WING sympathies? Why isn't it? Aren't we all about providing the poorest people with information and arming them with facts? (Radio is free to whoever has a radio, unlike cable TV, and is therefore a poor-people's medium, especially as satellite-radio gains popularity.)

Is the dearth of left-wing talk radio another salient example of how the American Left lost the working classes? Or as Tom said, is it simply that the Right rushed in to buy the cheap airwaves, since they had the loot on hand (and the necessary, additional financial backing) to do so?

Opinions welcome. How did the Right-wing take over talk radio?

~*~

And of course, in answering that last question, there is the irreverence factor. As an ex-Yippie, I possess the necessary irreverence and iconoclasm for talk radio... but I do wonder if I have the necessary THICK SKIN.

Recent theoretical brawls in Blogdonia have left me exhausted and bloodied, and even more than that, remembering what I wrote back in October about Ann Coulter and Michelle Malkin. Again, I ask: How do they do it? I wish they'd give us a nonpartisan workshop: How not to care what people say about you, a Workshop for Political Women. Something like that.

When they start trashing political women in a specifically sexist and personal way, saying "Man Coulter" and calling Malkin racist, anti-Asian names--how do they handle this stuff? Do they just turn it off and refuse to read the insults? Does it ever keep them awake at night? Do they have bodyguards? Have they had stalkers? Inquiring minds want to know!

I have recently had the experience of being called all kinds of vicious names by total strangers who have not interacted with me, ever. This is patently weird. I am used to people who have interacted with me (or claim they have), announcing I am full of shit and/or evillll, but total strangers? This is a new phenomenon in my life; it means I am getting semi-famous, or at least, infamous. (Am I ready for that?)

Eeeeep! I would appreciate a workshop on what will happen as we take my radio show to the next level, and how I should gird my loins for the umm, FANS, who might come out of the woodwork.

Going into the six month of the show! Can you believe it? WHOEVER THOUGHT we would continue this long? The Green Party (my current sponsor) appreciates my blather, and I appreciate that they appreciate me.

As stated before, stay tuned. Its gonna be a stone gas.

And happy Groundhog Day!