Sunday, January 31, 2010

hey, i haven't seen you in awhile!

Scott Campbell's art blog, which features art that I think is okay to refer to as stupid cute. He has a lot of great stuff, including this series of musician illustrations, which the above is detailed from-- everyone from Devo to the Ramones to Mozzers shows up. Also check out the intriguingly titled Adorable Battles, from while my new desktop image (which changes daily) is culled. After the jump, a rawther entertaining Adam Ant vid (as post-Adam & the Ants, as in my songs are all labeled as AA & the As so now I gotta go figure that all out ugh). . . there are like tapdancing WACs or something.

Continue reading!

yr scene gonna fight my scene.

unbeknownst to most, not all skinheads are racist, but all of them happen to own the entire skrewdriver discography, included. they’ll tell you they like them “only for the music”. most find this excuse hard to believe since there hasn’t been a single oi record released that doesn’t sound like it was recorded anywhere but a toilet.

inevitably all skins begin to save up their hard earned money to convert their wardrobe over to all of the latest rockabilly gear as part of his skinhead retirement plan

heh. So you all know about this site already, and I had totally forgotten about it til today because I met a real life scene queen (or something like it crossed with this thing) last night-- you know, the one who thinks paint stripes are from Solange Knowles not. . . like, Adam Ant. Or Indians-- featherhead not red dot-- anyway, went to a show last night in the BK shiiit. And it was shit. Only band that was good was the roomie's (why are you still in the bathroom, I gotta pee) sister's band, despite their own problems. This is not favoritism. You can check out the lineup here (yesterday was Saturday) and see which of those acts actually doesn't make you look around like you're worried your neighbor or guardian angel noticed how bad the shit you're listening to is.

Anyway, if it hadn't been roomie's (yooo son you still in there?) sis' gig-- ok, I don't think I would have thrown down especially because no- getting- drunk- til- February but GODDAMN. These kids suck. Hey, guess what? Yelling about your vagina might get your New England dynasty, including your great uncle ex robber baron who still looks for Thomas Nast cartoons in the newspaper in order to get agitated, riled up, even so far as to threaten to take away your trust fund because you are shrieking about your ladybits because it's OMGSHOCKING & OMGREBELLIOUS but hey guess what-- to the rest of us? It's irritating and ohmy you said condom really loud too? . . . yeah, still gotta work on it. And your face paint and you and your buddy chasing each other around the dance floor while wagging a wee baggie of, well, gee, I don't know what it was because I probably can't afford it-- heyyy how about this? Use it, sell it, or put it away. We can't all get off charges as fast as you got that pony when you were 8. Oh yeah, and touching my roommate's face like it's okay to? I think they call it getting all up in someone's face and that's never been cool. And best of all you were crashing into me when you weren't dancing. Like the moment I got there. And you guys know how it is. Somebody bumps into you, you don't like the way they look. . .

Anyway, the excerpt above was what convinced me that the site is legit. The guy knows his stuff. It's all funny. It's not as mean as it seems like it would. SO DEAR READER I'm not gonna ask which sucky scene you're in because introspection is a lot to ask for on a Sunday night. Which scene would your scene fight? I believe the question is as absurd as integrating oneself into a "scene," so let's go! (Aw I wish I could afford lovely Fred Perrys.)

some aus-rotten for yer aus-sunday. or, some aus-rotten for yer rotten-sunday. that covers all the bases.

they are making the inferno into a video game what?

EA will be releasing it in February following a massive marketing campaign that I completely missed-- though I will probably not miss the crowning glory of it, at least, during the Super Bowl. I don't really know, and I'm not clear on how good the game is being said to be. Detailed info is available at Wikipedia, which stresses that the game is loosely based on the poem.

So basically Dante isn't a whiny little bitch who keeps fainting when he can't figure out how to get across a river. Okay. Is Virgil in it?

“The story line is not Dante’s, period,” said Teodolinda Barolini, the Lorenzo Da Ponte Professor of Italian at Columbia University and a former president of the Dante Society of America. “It’s kind of a mishmash of current popular ideas, projected back into the Middle Ages [...]

“I’m not in the least bit turned off,” she said. “I’m very intrigued and I want to see it” [nytimes].

It's an interesting idea and since it is so clearly departed from the original work, I don't think anyone is complaining. Dante's Inferno has become a defining architecture for people writing about hell, so it's not like this hasn't been done before. If it gets kids to try to read the poem, that would be great. The game's website has what appears to be a fairly well put together section about Mr Alighieri and the poem. Though this brings us to the real problem-- the marketing of the actual book using the video game's art, which is ludicrous. Now that I think of it, I'm not sure which edition we have in the house, but it definitely doesn't have a picture of an extra that showed up to the 300 filming thinking it was a movie about the Albigensian crusade. (That doesn't quite work, but whatever. People massacred, wrong period costume. You so funny.)

Saturday, January 30, 2010

sometimes saturday nights are awesome and sometimes they're not. this clip will guarantee that there is a little bit of awesome to start off with.

George Smiley is awesomeness guaranteed. Alan Rickman is the freakin added bonus. and-and. . . AND MORE.

not-quite-new janelle monae track!

NUFF SAID. Oh, besides here is a behind the scenes and I want her shirt and yes I'm totally embarrassed that I am like three months behind on this news oh and you can LEGALLY DOWNLOAD IT too.

now i know. i wish i didn't.

"The fucking man," The Rejectionist says, "always wins." Indeed he does. It also tipped me off on places to avoid like the plague-- Urban Outfitters has a blog. (Of course they do, ugh and I know people like that-- so glad they're moving to Philly.) But the reason I mention this is because I had really wanted to change the way this bloggyblog looks, somehow, to something different, and for a second had toyed with making it all in Courier, or maybe the posts. Which I find hard to read, but I thought, well this is still supposed to have some semblance of the punk blog it started as (cos I posted punk music), and besides, like Impact (white on black, pink on gross, blahblahblah) Courier is so omgDIY and I am so omgnotDIYcosIgetmad BUT in other news FOUND my Fred Perry button that fell off because that is what happens when you buy those shirts on eBay from Bangkok because that's what happens when- OH- Urban Outfitters (the one time I woulda) & Bloomingdales only sells boy Fred Perrys- so I gotta sew that shit back on. (Yes, 99x is excellent and does sell them but I had a Bloomingdales giftcard.) Oh whoa, bummer, 99X shut down. That's too bad, the people there were awesome. I'll blame Urban Outfitters for it. goddammit the man does always win. The question, why give attention to something you are trying to argue is not worth our time? Because I'm a girl. And that's what we do.

Anyway, I'm jettisoning the Courier idea faster than an escape pod leaves a Rebel blockade runner. The Urban Outfitters blog uses it like it's going out of style. Which it should have. & now I know that the winds of change etc. (LOOK UP THERE I DID IT IN PAINT TOO SO IT'S SUPER WHATEVER.) Speaking of the man, I love what the Simpsons did with the company that makes myfuckyouTunes.

Friday, January 29, 2010

i like morrissey as much as the next guy,

but if we're talking about Ingrid Newkirk & how awesome Kelis is, this is pretty appropriate:

haha kelis just kinda said it the way i want to hear it.

"There is no humane way to kill anything, let me start there. It’s unfortunate but it’s part of life. With that being said, I would eat pterodactyl if you found some and you told me it was meaty and delicious."

Fuck yeah you got that right. Reprinted in full below the jump, via Rap Radar--

Continue reading!

Good morning all!

Ok, so you’re gonna love this. The other day I got a personalized letter from PETA! Lol so after some thought I’ve decided to write one back. Goes a little something like this:

There is no humane way to kill anything, let me start there. It’s unfortunate but it’s part of life. With that being said, I would eat pterodactyl if you found some and you told me it was meaty and delicious. And after doing a very minimal amount of research……. I found out that the founder Ingrid Newkirk is completely batty. I had a feeling but she far exceeded my expectations. I mean certifiably insane! Lol this chicks will is nuts, google it – it’s a riot! Beyond the fact that I think she’s a diabetic, which means she needs insulin, which is taken from lab pigs (I know this because my sister happens to be in veterinary school), which would be completely hypocritical. It’s like don’t abuse animals unless it can help me.

I feel very strongly about a lot of things such as the sweatshops that spin cotton and the blood on their hands. Btw it’s not just the look of fur. It’s warm as hell and feels glorious, ever rubbed faux fur on your body? Nothing luxurious about that. Then the letter proceeded to name artist and designers who don’t wear real fur. Great! More for me! I don’t judge them, don’t judge me.

If I started wearing endangered animals like polar bear or orangutan then talk to me. (Which btw for the record I would not – I do believe in the preservation of endangered species) But the minks and chinchilla that quite honestly are rodents and if weren’t in the form of a coat I would demand they be put to death anyway are not an issue to me.

The death of high fashion. Ugh.

I eat meat, and in fact my mouth salivates as I type the word meat! And the paint throwing that’s just ridiculous! What if I was hurling Loubitons and Pierre Hardy’s at every sad poorly dressed person on the street? As right as I may be it’s just fanatical and crazy. And people have the right to feel as they please. What about art? Survival of the fittest. Natural selection? No let’s just let all the rodents run free and over take our cities. Oh wait they have, NY and LA in particular are infested! Why don’t u save them all from scavenging on the streets and ruining my evening strolls, take them home. Make them pets! Get off my back! Pun intended!

Underpaid minorities picking your vegetables, now that’s fine for you right? Please, fight for their rights. How about the poverty in the communities of brown people around the world. She had the nerve to say (and I quote) “get over it” talking of the issue of black people and slavery in this country verses cows being slaughtered. Is she kidding me? Lol yes she must be. Actually, she’s lucky most black people have real issues to worry about in the U.S and don’t give a crap what her delusional privileged opinions are. But she should try saying that again just for kicks n giggles on the corner of Adam Clayton Powell Blvd in Harlem n see how well people “get over it” lol.

If u want to preach do it about something worthwhile don’t waste my time trying to save the dang chipmunk.

Find a worthwhile cause like the women being maimed in these Middle Eastern countries. Or female circumcision. Or women’s rights here in America, we still get paid less for doing the same jobs as men. Quite honestly if you hate the world so much go live in the forest where no one else has to hear you complain about the perfectly good food chain the good Lord created. Everyone has the right to an opinion, and that’s mine on that! xoxo

Ingrid "euthanasia is awesome!" Newkirk says shit like this, by the way--"No, I’m not really a sad person, except when I lie awake at night in winter thinking about all the animals out without shelter, and then I’m sad! Who wouldn’t be? Wouldn’t anybody be sad if they have a heart? It’s just that I’ve seen so much [x]." That's a lot of shit to be sad about, if you take into account the amount of winters we've had since, like, animals were invented ("invented." You know. Before humans. Who invented the shelter she's talking about.)

aw fuck your money. i wanna go to ralphs.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

i don't like family guy but the rock is fabulous.

hey chris matthews

So I had to read your book Hardball for Gov/Econ in high school, and I don't remember much because it was a summer reading assignment and I did it like the day it was due, like everyone else, and I don't watch your show or any newstalk or news shows because I am an ignorant git and don't have a TV.

But I'm gonna stand by you. I don't agree with your statement for a number of reasons--
  • I think "post-racial" is bullshit and will never happen and shouldn't happen. There is a double standard where whites are expected to get over race while racial and ethnic groups continue to consider "whites" as something completely different and in opposition to their enclave when instead whites are likewise a racial and cultural group(s) with all the same type of problems and difficulties. If people continue to believe that racism is only a white problem, nobody is gonna get anywhere.
  • Obama isn't black. He's a half-ie/y. If people continue to try to shove biracial people into one or the other category of the parents without acknowledging that it is possible to exist away from those lines or in between, we're still stuck in a racist-- not racial-- era.

But you are taking flack for what was not an insult. It was a faux-pas for people who like to think they are beyond race but twitch everytime somebody says something that isn't sterile and PC-- hey, psst- Oriental. I think it was sincerely meant while I don't agree with it, and really, it is essentially what everyone was saying when Obama got elected-- oh look, we elected a black guy. How historic. How racist?

The only time I "remember" that Obama is "black," ie-- when I am reminded that I am supposed to take this into consideration-- is when someone says stuff like "our first black president." (And really, that's a lie in itself. He is suddenly "black" when it suits people, when they need something to celebrate since the term has just started and it's easy to talk about simple shit like that when we are dealing with an increasingly complex national role occupied by a single person responsible for an overwhelming amount of decisions.) Normally, he's the President. That guy. Oh haha, you can buy Obama hats at Herald Square from the Nigerians. But I guess that is racist. Because they might be from Ghana. And I still think they cursed our last apartment.

I think this commenter says it well, so it's worth checking out since I went off about other things. The threads are also worth browsing, and there are some disturbing things about ideas of "blackness"-- especially how it is okay to consider that a viable model for something-- whether it's something a black person or white person or other believes in, or something one person is accusing another of harboring as a notion. This guys says some of that & more much more coherently.

Eh, Blackness, whiteness. How about a "don't fuck with me I won't fuck with you"-ness. Or "fuck with me and I will fuck with you (or run away)"-ness-- based on social interaction rather than race. Sure, it's hard to separate the two, but I'm sure somewhere out there can.

You know what? Speaking of awesome? Go look at the rest of this picture by MS Corley-- who PS has an Etsy page. Than go see Night Watch. I am rather ashamed that this movie completely slipped my mind when I was doing the best of the decade-- Night Watch is in like Flynn, yaddamean. Great action sequences, strangely moving stories, beautifully shot. Fabulous antihero. Completely confusing but equally awesome sequel. Most amazing subtitles ever-- really wish that style had been picked up by more studios.

fuck yeah! oscar wilde!

Came across this via the LA Times lit blog, Jacket Copy. Hey Oscar Wilde! It's Clobberin' Time combines 2 of the most awesome things in the world-- literary figures (characters and authors) and badass illustrators.

Like. . . Pia Guerrra does Philip Marlowe! Shit, if that's not enough awesomeness for the rest of your week there is no pleasing you.

And somebody I don't know but now want to know all about does Phileas Fogg! Shit! And Mike Mignola, some Lovecraft for you dorks, and much more-- I've already found a bunch of new favorites just by browsing the archives. Make sure you check out the headers (detail above from the one by Ming Doyle), too, which are hilarious. It has also reminded me I need to finish The Master and Margarita.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

thoughts on the new Star Fucking Hipsters album (finally!)

It's growing on me. I am quite fond of the first album, "Until We're Dead," (appropriately misspelled as "Until Were Dead" in my fuckyouTunes-- I will fix that), and so on the first listen of their sophomore album, my misgivings centered around how it didn't sound any different. The typical "eh" reaction.

But why be upset that I'm getting more of the same kind of goodness? I asked the same question with the new Green Day album, which while schmaltzier was pretty much the same as American Idiot-- whether it's ok for a band to not develop at all, to not fix what wasn't broke. What happened when Green Day decided to fix what wasn't broke-- we got American Idiot. Not my favorite, but not a bad album. Good, even. (I hate to bring in the Green Day example because I am liking SFH much more than the new Green Day stuff, as you can imagine.) On the other hand, I have trouble differentiating most of the songs between the two SFH albums, though that might be a function of listening to both very short albums all the way through all at once usually. The kind of patchwork/ransom note quality of blending genres and leitmotifs and vocal duties also adds to this melange quality that expands over both albums, and I like it.

So "Never Rest in Peace" is pretty much the same thing as the first album. The same sentiments, the same idea, the same songs. And I really really like it. They're like twins-- arguably aesthetically the same (musically-- auditory aesthetics), but each with their own appeal-- It's another catchy, fast, aggressive, melodic set of tracks, and I guess after I thought about it, I wasn't asking for much more. The really catchy tunes stand out, and the "filler" (not a fair label, maybe, but--) is good, too.

Dick from Citizen Fish & Subhumans again appears on several tracks, most notably on "The Civilization Show," which is pretty clearly a Citizen Fish track backed by SFH-- as does Miguel, who is a very lovely person and an outstanding musician who probably gave us bedbugs (as did every other person who visited us this summer-- I'm blaming them all, and myself.) He's the nice trombone solo on that track.

That said, I think the new Rancid is growing on me, too, and I'm actually moving away from the acoustic tracks and now listen more often to the faster, more classic Rancid tracks. What's going on? Again, I think once you become acclimated to an album, you stop worrying about intellectually deciding anything about a track as you come to recognize & memorize certain tracks by the merit of their crafted (crafty!) catchiness.

So I guess I give the album 5/5 for doing what I expect it to. If they are not trying to do anything new, than I don't see the point of holding them to some vague and grand telos of music that I couldn't possibly understand, anyway.

So my favorite tracks, I think, are "Severance Pay" and "Heaven" (with the Degenerics)-- I love what they do with the sudden introduction of a pure female voice, really cuts into the music in the contrast. Check out their Myspace. Buy the album from Alternative Tentacles. Read the well-informed & informative Punk News review.

zak smith kinda just said it the way i want to hear it.

In response to Stephen Elliot's defense of hipsters, Zak Smith writes--

"Hipsters are the enemy".. . . . Continue reading!

"A hipster takes pride not in knowing things, but in knowing about things. They are “hip” to stuff–that is, aware of its existence and basic cultural valence of everything from roxycodone to America’s Next Top Model.

"A hipster is someone who sees passion as a source of weakness and thus affects boredom with anything that isn;t itself boring and passionless. A hipster may attack, usually with humor, but never defend. And never attack passionately or earnestly.

"I think the pre-eminent hipster statement was made by Kim Gordon of Sonic Youth when they asked her if she was going to be a “cool mom” and she said something like “Of course not, you can’t entertain a baby by acting detachment and bored”

"In other words, hipsters think being cool is a pose rather than a result of having actual ideas or feelings about whatever individual piece of stimuli happens to be in front of you.

"To a hipster: Thinking hard is “nerdy” feeling hard is “emo” and believing in things is “cliche”.

"The hipster is generally a libertarian, a cokehead, a rich kid (so he or she knows all about the next big thing because s/he has a subscription to everything and can afford to buy new shit all the time), a social person, and is headed to business school and meth addiction simultaneously.

"A hipster is aware that almost everything good is made by the committed and the romantic, but is unable to commit to the idea enough to actually make anything good.

"The hipster is aware s/he will never make anything good (except when really high) but knows it would be uncool to complain about it, especially since they are hiply aware that this won’t stop it from making money which they like because they’re not, y’know, against capitalism or whatever.

"The hipster style is calculated pseudo self-sabotage: wearing stupid glasses because looking good might imply you actually wanted to get laid, wearing American Apparel because cheaper and better clothes might imply you needed to save money, or believed in it, liking Britney Spears because not liking it might imply you had serious ideas about the way music should sound.

"The hipster aims to seem as though s/he is aware of all things–all products, all the meanings of those products, all the implications of what they’re wearing or saying–and yet has resisted the urge to think seriously about any of them.

I would also add to the glasses thing & the poorly dressed thing that this stems from a basic assumption of the hipster's part that they are indeed attractive and beautiful &c. Those who have self-esteem issues would never dress down to that extent. We are indeed dealing with dangerous people.


ok kids. this is the only time this man will show up on this blog.

I have this song stuck in my head. My preferred version that I love dearly is Dwight Yoakum & Flaco Jimenez, but this one is easier to find on Youtube. This song & some of GG Allin's country songs keep me from writing him off entirely. Normally I can't even look at the man; I think it has something to do with his mustache, frankly.

The Case of the Disappearing Jewlery Co., or, what's up with that maaaan?

So I bought this beautiful ring in a ten minute window of my self-control collapsing-- also got a nice necklace & a bracelet that I've had my eye on for about a year-- all at like 40% off, which was sweet. (I mean, I still spent money, but I can rationalize it to some extent.)

Problem was-- note the solid gold band-- it was the wrong ring. Or rather, an incomplete ring. That shit's supposed to have a lovely filigree band-- not a scary cigar-chompin' hairy mobster solid gold band. I mean, I do like it, I really love it-- it's quirky and sort of Victorian, makes me think of British Egyptmania. It also makes me think of the Mummy Returns. Like Patricia Valasquez. Like shut up, I love those movies.

Funny thing is, if you go on Etsy, it's a pretty standard ring band, that filigree one. Check it out here-- same exact one Lucky Loo Loo advertised on their website. I have always liked Lucky Loo Loo, which does rockabilly and costume jewelry, and I have a few pieces from them. They've always had great costumer service, and the jewelry, despite being purchased a week or so before Christmas, showed up in a few days. Awesome. They had also included a pair of free earrings, which are kinda ugly? but it was a nice thought. So I wasn't going to be too cranky about calling in and requesting an exchange.

But they never answered my phone call or my email. And then. . . this. They're gone!

Oh well. It looks like they're still selling stuff at other sites. And anyway, I still have a pretty sweet ring that it turns out is quite dangerous. The pointy scarab legs have ripped a pair of my tights and cut my finger. So I guess if I ever get in a fight. . . I will still lose, but it will be more colorful.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

So I was trying to figure out why I like this dress-- it's named after Winona Ryder's character in Beetlejuice, Lydia Deetz. And while I love the film & the characters, anyone inspired by Miss My Whole Life is a Dark Room makes me want to run the other way. THEN I realized that the dress recalls Rosalind Russell's outfit in His Girl Friday! Case solved, article written, court adjourned. I no longer have to secretly covet it.

I'm chairman of the-

I never thought of boredom as a concept that had to develop, so it's very interesting to read this--

Boredom, scholars argue, was something new, different from the dullness, lassitude and tedium people had no doubt been experiencing for centuries. In her ingenious study “Boredom: The Literary History of a State of Mind” (1995), Patricia Meyer Spacks describes it as a luxury — and a peril — born of the Industrial Revolution, reflecting the rise of individualism, leisure (especially female leisure) and the idea of happiness as a right and a daunting personal responsibility. “Boredom presents itself as a trivial emotion that can trivialize the world,” Spacks writes [source New York Times, emphasis mine.]

this is being played repeatedly around the house right now.

And not by me. By the guy who used to merciless mock me for liking-- loving-- T. Rex. I have had the last laugh, finally. I think. Until he plays it again.

But no, it's a great song, long haired hippie Tolkien-y silliness aside (or, thanks to. I love me some Tolkien. As does China Mieville. But I hate long hair. As China Mieville appears to.) Some things I didn't know about this song: released in 1970, it is considered the "first" glam rock song, or at least genre defining. Also, Naomi Campbell covered this song, to little artistic success. Though she seems to be as batshit as Marc Bolan's lyrical narrator seems to be. So maybe it's a good match, meta- and thematically?

Eh, actually, having listened to the Campbell track on Youtube, I'm finding it hard to argue any point that could suggest her version should exist.

I love how it looks like Bolan couldn't seem to convince anyone backing him to dress up. So we have guy who looks like he wandered off the Come On Eileen set and keyboardist who is predicting 90s college fashion, leaving Bolan to rock that. . . um-- well, let's just say, guess what American Apparel? Marc Bolan did it before you. And same to you, Johnny Depp.

"a stupid little checklist"

From the New Yorker, where you can read the whole article. Very interesting-- hopefully with the recent publication of his book, we'll see more initiatives/investigation/implementation in this area.

Gawande recommends using checklists in hospitals, taking as a model those used by pilots, and test-run and developed by Peter Pronovost at Johns Hopkins, where he found in early attempts that "the checklist had prevented forty-three infections and eight deaths, and saved two million dollars in costs." Here Gawande explains one of the reasons (in the article from 2007) why it will be some time before it is picked up in earnest.
Something like this is going on in medicine. We have the means to make some of the most complex and dangerous work we do—in surgery, emergency care, and I.C.U. medicine—more effective than we ever thought possible. But the prospect pushes against the traditional culture of medicine, with its central belief that in situations of high risk and complexity what you want is a kind of expert audacity—the right stuff, again. Checklists and standard operating procedures feel like exactly the opposite, and that’s what rankles many people.

It’s ludicrous, though, to suppose that checklists are going to do away with the need for courage, wits, and improvisation. The body is too intricate and individual for that: good medicine will not be able to dispense with expert audacity. Yet it should also be ready to accept the virtues of regimentation.

The still limited response to Pronovost’s work may be easy to explain, but it is hard to justify. If someone found a new drug that could wipe out infections with anything remotely like the effectiveness of Pronovost’s lists, there would be television ads with Robert Jarvik extolling its virtues, detail men offering free lunches to get doctors to make it part of their practice, government programs to research it, and competitors jumping in to make a newer, better version.

In the NYTimes review of the book, the argument, or rather reservation, against a checklist's complete success is outlined:

Checklists may work for managing individual disorders, but it isn’t at all clear what to do when several disorders coexist in the same patient, as is often the case with the elderly. And checklists lack flexibility. They might be useful for simple procedures like central line insertion, but they are hardly a panacea for the myriad ills of modern medicine. Patients are too varied, their physiologies too diverse and our knowledge still too limited.

I have no experience in medicine, but my understanding is that the point of using the list on "simple procedures" is to reduce later complications, allowing doctors to focus on the "several disorders [coexisting]" without having to deal with new ones popping up each time somebody gets sloppy-- which is reprehensible when dealing not only with people's lives but in a system that, as a whole, values human life so much less than profit. Again, it will be interesting to see where this goes. [Image Richard Prince]

Friday, January 22, 2010

"Where's the money?" one shouted, according to Miles. "Where's the gun? Where's the drugs?" the other two said.

(these stories are getting scarier and scarier & less, if they ever were, surprising-- here's one that at least has a living victim. I have omitted some paragraph breaks but no text.) NPR reports--

"Where's the money?" one shouted, according to Miles. "Where's the gun? Where's the drugs?" the other two said. "It was intimidating; I thought I was going to be robbed," Miles said. That's when he says he took off back to his mother's house but slipped on the icy sidewalk. Before he could pull himself up, Miles said, the men were at his back.

"That's when they started beating me, punching, kicking me, choking me," he said.

Not until 15 minutes later, when uniformed officers drove up in a van and Miles overheard their conversation, did he realize he had been arrested, he said. Initially, when the handcuffs were clamped around his wrists, he thought he was being abducted, he said.

The police believed Miles, who appeared to have something heavy in his pocket, was carrying a gun, according to the affidavit. The police say they used a stun gun on the teenager. According to the affidavit, the object in Miles' pocket turned out to be a bottle of Mountain Dew. But Miles says he didn't have anything in his pocket and rarely drinks Mountain Dew.

"The story just doesn't make sense when you read the affidavit," said Lewis, the teen's attorney. Miles said the family is considering suing the police department and the officers. "I knew that he hadn't done anything wrong," his mother said. "That's just not an option for Jordan."

Pittsburgh police have reassigned the three officers and put them back in uniform while the city investigates, spokeswoman Diane Richard said. She declined to say whether racial allegations are part of the probe.

As Raymond Chandler, whose books frequently featured police brutality, wrote in The Lady in the Lake--
"Police business," he said almost gently, "is a hell of a problem. It's a good deal like politics. It asks for the highest type of men, and there's nothing in it to attract the highest type of men."

Jay-Z, MIA, other people with letters for names.

I want to get M.I.A. out of the way. Her new slapdash track is apparently a protest song against an article the New York Times ran about tourism coming to Sri Lanka, and the track is dull and nonsensical, which isn't much of a protest, unless going in front of Focus on the Family and throwing confetti in the air for three hours is a good kind of protest. Protest should say something and offer alternative information. As far as I can tell, MIA's description of the problems in Sri Lanka are as one-sided as the NYT's was, and so this protest has consisted of a mediocre spacey track and twittered picture of war atrocities found around the web, though even those images have been questioned-- hard to tell if the government forces or the Tamils wrought them. Of course, what has been happening there is horrifying and I guess some part of her intentions are good, but she's not doing much to enlarge public understanding of the situation-- especially by picking on what is essentially a puff piece in the Travel section. So the track offers nothing new to her catalogue & you won't learn anything but you can stay hip and check it out here. I sat through about a minute or so of it. Sorry.

On the other hand, Jay-Z's new track-- ok, it's not fabulous. I think the last good song he did was "Roc Boys" though I only rarely listen to him, that referring to listening to on purpose because "Empire State of Mind" is kind of still not going away for some reason. But his new track "On to the Next One" is catchy, better than "Run this Town" because we don't have to listen to Rihanna singing out of her nose. But like "Run This Town", it has amazing visuals-- this time, black and white occult, gothic & horror-inspired imagery, gorgeously shot-- each moment you could freeze & blow up & put on your wall. Jay-Z has recently been accused of participation in cults and this is said to be a tongue-in-cheek response. The man is good at tongue-in-cheek so I'll give him the benefit of the doubt.

Ok, lied about the other people with letter names-- oh, actually, I guess they sell ODB shirts at Urban Outfitters now in what is either a Warholian color scheme or an homage to fucking Apple computers-- so kind of the big three of consumerist Go Fuck Yourself; I'm so stoked to see 13 year olds wandering around the city in them. Run DMC is SO last summer.

I'd rather go back to Bloomingdale's and see the Flipper shirt they had there.

Not sure how I feel about this pt 2.

But wait! Since yesterday, I think I figured it out. At first, I thought author-I've-never-heard-of (which of course doesn't mean anything but you'd understand if you saw the hilarious preening that goes on in her piece) Susan Hill was also saying something about affirmative action (which she is not, it turns out.) I have a slightly mixed but mostly negative & suspicious view of affirmative action, which is unarguably a racist enterprise. It can go very, very wrong, but I also think it ignores the real problem-- more effort needs to be put into education at the start: let's say elementary school-- that is how to put people on an equal footing. Letting minorities into college for fun(ding) doesn't, nor does it mean it will improve things from the top down-- there are now enough examples of the disadvantaged going to college and succeeding, the time for affirmative action has passed. It is trickle down. It's time to start the hard work and reform the early portions of education, or even start with high school-- the really hard one. Also, to expect a minority to "go back" and help "their people" is a very odd impression and demand that borders on tribalism, projected & enacted. It also ignores poor whites as what, I think, will-- if it is not already-- become a group suffering under the same prejudices as racial groups are saddled with.

But Susan Hill is talking about something else. Continue reading!Herself. Susan Hill was asked to participate in-- and I haven't been able to find really good info on exactly what-- but it sounds like a public exhibit that includes published authors and non-published ("amateurs") writers. From what I have gathered their pieces are posted (on a wall?) anonymously. This has been done before. Susan Hill took great offense to this and wrote a piece in her column in the Spectator entitled "No, amateurs are not 'Just as good as. . .'"

The reason for my confusion on how I felt about what she was specifically saying was because she does not in the end provide any kind of real argument. She splits time between criticizing the practice of including writers only because they are from the margins of society-- though I can't imagine there wasn't a screening process for quality if a large group of marginal-types applied-- and between hysterically defending her position as a published author, which has nothing to do with choosing people of a certain background-- what she actually has a problem with is being presented anonymously, though she avoids directly saying this.

Hill understands publication to mean you are automatically good and uses herself as an example: "If someone writes a marvellous short story I don`t care where they come from – the sewer, the street, prison, a palace, a university…if the story is as good as one William Trevor can write, say, or Helen Simpson - or me - then good, let them go up there." In the first part of the sentence, she is making a straightforward argument for good quality as the supreme qualifier. But then. . . William Trevor, yeah, but he's the greatest short story writer of our time. I don't care how good Susan Hill actually is, but it's quite clear now how good she thinks she is.

I agree with this sentiment if you isolate it:
I can neither draw nor paint. I have zero – no, sub-zero – graphic talent. So, if I get some crayons and a bit of paper and have a go, should that have equal right to go up there next to David Hockney? Well, I mean, why not ? It’s part of the democratisation of crayon on paper isn`t it? No. It is not. You might just as well say the ‘democratisation of sound’ means I have a right to pick up a violin and join the Halle orchestra.

That is not the same as amateurs, though. An amateur is "one who engages in a pursuit, study, science, or sport as a pastime rather than as a profession" and the word comes from a Latin root that means "to love." An amateur has an enthusiasm for something rather than a profession. Usually it would imply no formal training either, or at least nowadays it does (definition 3.) Of course this gets us into bad territory-- painters who can't paint, avant-garde improv music bullshit. But even punk rock needed real instrumentalists-- Sid isn't on the Pistols' album. So I don't want to talk about how many problems I have with recent philosophies behind "art" (or "post-art"), as I'm not qualified and then I will start sounding like Susan Hill-- not the ego, I know I can't paint, but the incoherence. The point is, Susan Hill's examples (violin) describe lack of skill and training. There is no evidence that the people who will be submitting have never written before or have no idea how to spell.

She has already decided that anybody who doesn't have a bibliography behind their name is automatically terrible. I'd say, yes, some of the time that is true, but it's also true of some of those who have been published, Stephanie Meyer-- who is actually terrible, I know now because I tried reading a few pages of the sparkly vampire books in a bathroom in PA.

So really, there's nothing confusing about how to object to Susan Hill's piece once you realize that she doesn't really take it anywhere other than patting herself on the back while nervously swatting out against an obscurity that these amateurs have that she fears. Also, this one event was designed around this one concept-- an event that has decided to be selective based on something besides the actual writing (though how do you prove you are disadvantaged, names alone can't show that.) I would be, again, surprised if after this first "who is disadvantaged" filter the event doesn't then get down to looking at the actual pieces.

It's interesting that one event is enough to get Hill stocking up on shotgun shells & Spam and boarding up her windows. She sounds reactionary & scared, worried that, yes, the cream will still come to the top but when they put the names back on the pieces it will turn out some unknown wog (or anyone else) will be that cream and she'll be left with nobody to join her in patting herself on the back.

i loved this. you will too. or else.

Read "Eric" (12 panel comic-- worth the three minutes it takes!) by Shaun Tan from Tales from Outer Suburbia

Thursday, January 21, 2010

harrison ford. you are wrong.

Says he--

I think it would be interesting to deepen the relationship between he and his son [Mutt, played by Shia LaBeouf] and play on that relationship. .... It's full of opportunity.

Nooo. No, it would not be interesting. Nobody wants (wanted) to see the relationship between Rebels & Ewoks deepened, or the relationship between Jar Jar Binks & the Jedi deepened-- or the relationship between JJB & Ewoks with the audience deepened. . . unless it involves a lightsaber. Ha-ha. Or maybe a Blastech E-11? Which is where I stop?

So, maybe it is safe to announce that there is no hope. Though I do love what Sean Connery thought of the new movie-- "rather good and rather long." Aww, he's just being nice, and he always knows what to say. Just try to fuck with that man.

But I think in the end, the problem was, really-- all the good that was in Indy IV was not good enough to make up for how failure-y the failures were. Much like that sentence.

room with a view. of a big ugly building. and a pretty sky!

not sure how i feel about this pt 1.

First is Royal Caribbean's decision to dock at Labadee. Yahoo News writes, "[Y]ou'd probably think there's no way that cruising tourists could have returned to frolicking on Haiti's beaches mere miles from where people are trapped beneath the rubble of a decimated city. Unfortunately, you'd be wrong." The cruise line's defense is that it is first of all also delivering aid and that, second, re: the economic stimulus the people they are offloading provide.

I find the latter to be a better defense because the relief they are physically delivering will probably prove to be a relatively minuscule amount when compared to their earnings over the course of these tours as well as in comparison to the amount of money poured into running those boats-- much like the seemingly astronomical donations are probably just specks in the twinkling firmament that is a celebrity's annual income. The Rumpus wonders--as usual making a good point-- if the cruise line is taking a cut from the vendors they claim to be helping. If this is the case, that is reprehensible-- and yet somehow different from the cuts relief organizations are taking, perhaps because a non-profit is more palatable than a purely commercial enterprise. On the other hand, I would doubt, or hope, that a cut is able to be taken if the place looks anything like other tourist destinations, where difficult-to-regulate shadow economies tend to thrive. And unfortunately, sometimes--arguably all the time-- a profit with a cut taken is better than nothing at all.

I guess the thing that makes me the most uncomfortable is the implication that people shouldn't be partying so close to the disaster site. Emotionally and on first reaction, I agree. It is frightening, but I think it is more easily lambasted because it is an immediate display of the wealth and quality of living gulf that you don't often get to see so closely juxtaposed.

What I have trouble with is-- how is it different from partying it up all the way out here in NYC while Haitians are being dragged out from under rubble? I do not think it's hypocrisy to decry the cruise line while doing 5 shots for $10 all day at that place by St Marks. I do think it strange to use proximity as the excuse to only point fingers at what has always been a classic and easy sign of indulgence (the cruise.) I for one was out all day after work on Tuesday drinking. So were a bunch of other people. And one of those Red Cross $10 donations would have put me out for that night of drinking-- I don't have that much money and that one text message would have been a sacrifice, one that I ultimately did not make. As for these relief benefits that promise a good night (or at least 3 hours) for a donation of $5-$10? Sure, 100% proceeds are supposed to go to an aid organization-- no promise how much gets to the people, in light of bureaucracies, basic logistics, corrupt officials, evildoers gone down to Haiti to extort & bribe-- but the reason why these venues & individuals host such events is for the profit they make before & after the event, when you can't stop drinking, can't stop dancing, can't go home or to a candlelight vigil, and for the political capital displays of generosity provide for their enterprise. The extremity of wealth represented by cruises simply makes a good and simplistic poster child for the greed of capitalism, but to hold only the large displays accountable is to not try to make any advancement on the ground.

On the other hand, are we supposed to wear black and beat our chests until Haiti is back on its feet, if it arguably ever was, whether or not we ever gave the place a thought before this happened? (Once. . . I read The Comedians.) No. Mourning should never outlast the grief, which is certainly based on a personal barometer. Should I be enraged, taking an example replicated all over the internet, that the site I plan to link to below has an article about Haiti next to an ad for the Miss America pageant and pictures of rich young things making out at a fancy sponsored event? No, though it is a degree of the same thing as the cruise upset. But I don't know what we're supposed to do, though I think things done in earnestness, while sometimes quite dangerous (to give another Greene example) are often the best examples of what can be done (despite being an old fashioned and somewhat schmaltzy sentiment)-- especially in reaching out to others so that awareness expands at an exponential rate.

This brings us to another point, that donations to Haiti have exceeded donations to other recent disasters, including the tsunami and Katrina. Or maybe discomfort that this is even being reported? I don't know if it's supposed to make people feel good about themselves-- eh. Or if they should feel bad that they didn't step up earlier-- again, not a good reaction. I'd like to believe that it is a result of using technology to an even greater advantage-- especially the texting thing-- and that it is simply this new and fast ability to push forward awareness that has led to such outstanding examples of collective giving. And that its result will be that people will, collectively, see how much they, as individuals, were able to do & then do so the next time something as tragic occurs, using the knowledge that they were able to help what was initially a seemingly insurmountable devastation. On the other hand, people will argue that it is racism, that it is white guilt, anything. And yes, it is hard to argue for selectively geographic compassion when the entire world is suffering, but even more difficult to argue that this means you should shut down & do nothing in the face of the enormity of this task of universal empathy that demands that the net be cast over the entire globe, which is an infinitely huge place. People take up specific causes for a reason to make their comprehension of what is going on more manageable and to make their impression of their own impact more palpable-- this is not a bad thing. I believe such causes should always be taken up in context. Which is again, why I think awareness is key. Easily marketable boutique causes need to be done away with until every cause is a "boutique"/grassroots/micro-cause because it is able to use details to appeal to the basis of human suffering, and that is why people should be readily & succintly given facts and streamlined options of aid constantly via the media of all that is going on, not just when a something massive & terrible happens. I think this is happening to a degree already, but I think the response to Haiti is an example of how it can be improved and, hopefully, how to keep a cause from fading. (Naturally, not all causes are easily boiled down to a root, and that is not what I am arguing for-- rather, a wide range of facts should be made available in an act that symbolizes trust in the people being solicited, as well as in their own cause. This is oversimplifying it, still, though, and I'm not equipped to go into this part of the argument.)

And so in the interest of education but not simplifying, the next step is to make people aware that rescue is not the only critical stage in a response, but rebuilding.
"Here was the worst place hit, so maybe it'll be the first to recover," reasons Jonas, standing next to the crushed factory. . . Although Jonas mourns his sister — as well as the loss of his brother and mother, who died when the family's home collapsed — he says it's time to move on. "I need to find a job so I can help what's left of my family. They are depending on me" [TIME.]

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

at least it's not being used for any sort of. . . social commentary.

it just keeps on going & going.

Since I don't have anything smart to say about it because I'm somewhat shocked & most of all disgusted, hopefully this will be the last that we hear of these types. But I want to go on record that I've never liked Westwood's stuff anyway. So there.

Sunday, January 17, 2010


  • Tony Judt's essay "Night" in the latest NYRB issue is worth reading (available online)-- not only because he addresses an intensely personal subject that could have easily turned into a spectacle, but because it is so beautifully written. His lecture on Social Democracy is also v. interesting.
  • And, finally, if you have a second-- it literally takes a second-- go show Jim your support in the 2010 Scotblog Awards. Jim has an excellent music blog dedicated to bringing attention to a lot of bands you've never heard of but should hear, and he is an awesome fellow.


Some of these books have been written by authors who held very lucrative positions and had the resources to help them through their financial downfalls. Some booksellers wonder if the average reader will be able to empathize with them.

Indeed, early in Ms. Browning’s memoir, she contemplates a trip to Brooks Brothers to buy a pair of pajamas for better lounging. And in “The Bag Lady Papers,” Ms. Penney writes of having to sell two of her three homes and describes how a friend takes her to the Four Seasons Grill Room for lunch to commiserate.

“I don’t know that a lot of people are going to be relating to a Dominique Browning or an Alexandra Penney,” said Karen Corvello, adult buyer for R. J. Julia Booksellers in Madison, Conn. “A segment would, but not that broad a segment.”

--New York Times Book article on rash of I-lost-my-sweet-job-&-third-house books that are coming out & will no doubt sell very well despite that slim segment, and ignoring for a sec how irritating this opulence sounds, I can't imagine these books would be all that interesting, as I don't usually go for this type of reading.

Later the article notes--

Loss is loss, said Ellen Archer, publisher of Hyperion, the unit of Disney that is releasing “The Bag Lady Papers.” Even a person who has a lot of money to begin with suffers when it is gone, and goes through a lifestyle re-evaluation.

“It makes you think, ‘What if that happened to me? What really is important to me?’ ” Ms. Archer said. “I think it’s a very relatable question.”

But keep in mind that there is a lot more fat available to trim before you hit nasty old bone when these described individuals are forced to ask these questions. . . which I guess makes for a longer book. In the end, I'm not sure what to think, at all, (huh? angry? dismissive? envious?-- because really, they didn't lose their jobs if they were able to secure a book deal and find themselves-- that's a job) and it will be interesting to read the reviews when they are made available.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

this sounds awesome.

June 1962. The Crescendo Club on Hollywood's Sunset Strip. Ella Fitzgerald and her quartet have settled in for a two-week run in her adopted hometown. In the middle of a set, she starts singing "Too Darn Hot," which had been a highlight of her 1956 album, "The Cole Porter Songbook." But a few notes into the song, Fitzgerald is interrupted by the sound of kids dancing the twist in another joint upstairs. She decides to go with the flow: Drummer Gus Johnson and pianist Lou Levy start pounding out a boogie-shuffle beat, and the singer improvises lyrics about how hard it is to sing Porter while everybody's twistin'. She then launches into the "Kiss Me Kate" show tune with the kind of energy and swing that the young twisters couldn't even dream about. It's a brilliant, spontaneous moment, and a wonderful insight into the thinking of one of the iconic interpreters of the Great American Songbook.
--WSJ's Will Friedwald on the new 4 disc Ella Fitzgerald "Twelve Nights in Hollywood"

the devil. true story.

"Something happened a long time ago in Haiti, and people might not want to talk about it," he said on Christian Broadcasting Network's "The 700 Club." "They were under the heal [heel] of the French. You know, Napoleon the third, or whatever. And they got together and swore a pact to the devil. They said, we will serve you if you will get us free from the French. True story. And so, the devil said, okay it's a deal." [Pat Robertson via Ta-Nehisi Coates]

Ok, we all heard about that and were suitably outraged and embarrassed. There's a bit of a thing going on at The Atlantic's Coates' blog-- a blog I often find things to take issue with but continue to visit on occasion because it does provide interesting and smart discussion.

Coates posted about Robert Tabor's "A Qualified Defense of Pat Robertson." As Coates eventually points out, this article suffers from a misleading title. Besides a brief conciliatory note, which I don't think is hardly ever a bad thing and is, anyway Tabor's opinion, I don't find that Tabor is defending Robertson's intentions. He is instead explaining the background Robertson is drawing upon. It's a very interesting article on its own, just in terms of ideas and history, and gives a brief focused primer on Haiti's political woes. It's well-written and most importantly, it provides a description of what needs to be thought about when viewing Robertson's as-usual nasty remarks.

I take issue with people's reactions to the article. Many are quite nasty themselves, saying that the history and information Tabor's article contains is irrelevant or shouldn't be mentioned if it is used to cast a wider, more revealing but not necessarily more negative light on Robertson.

Both these objections represent the same frightening strength of uninformed opinions. I don't understand how revealing further information about a comment is irrelevant. I agree that Robertson should be criticized, but he must be criticized using as much information as possible to do so. Simply dismissing his statement as loony racist pseudo-Christian babble is, Tabor has proven, not the entire truth. It is the result of a loony racist pseudo-Christian's ideas, but it not itself only something PR dreamed up. Robertson is using information to misinform, a very smart piece of demagoguery because the tiny kernel of fact present, however distorted it eventually becomes, tends to make for even more convincing and thus more dangerous arguments for those willing to believe something.

I think people are upset that Tabor didn't offer anything that outright refuted or proved Robertson wrong. This is obviously not something he chose, and Tabor is doing a favor for those who would rather lazily wholesale dismiss Robertson's comments based on their admittedly warranted dislike of him. Tabor is helping people form informed opinions, vital to any dialogue that is going to get anywhere. Tabor is providing context that anybody who wishes to form criticisms must take into account if they want to create a strong and solid counter-argument. Vitriol only gets you so far, and it tends to bring any and all opinions, no matter how diverse, to about the same muddy place to spin your wheels in.

Coates is smarter than me. This is obvious and so I think I may be misunderstanding what he is saying here:
What really got me, and perhaps too much, was the idea that the history--while very important--offered any kind of defense of Robertson. Suffice to say, I still believe that, and I still stand by my point about the generous reading.

I am not sure about this. The history Tabor provides is the background. It is not defending what he said or what he meant. It is showing that Robertson is not making shit up all on his own, but that he is distorting things. And again that is his real crime, taking something and using it to misinform. Tabor is allowing people to not be misinformed, because those who think Robertson pulled it out of his ass (which thought until I read Tabor's piece-- when I, funnily, caught up with Pat Robertson re: some aspect of Haiti's history, distorted or not) are just as misinformed as those who believe he is telling the historically accurate truth-- in any aspect history is not just "very important," it is critical. Which Coates does say in the same post: "As I told Robert, and I think as was clear in the thread, I certainly do not object to anything that helps clarify the history and origins of Haiti. It's important to understand. Pat Robertson's ugliness aside, I think, as one commenter said, the good thing is we've all been a little enlightened here." History isn't the core of the argument, but it is still vital information.

But is Coates also saying that no context should be given if it makes Roberston look a little less. . . crazier than usual? Because that's what some of the more hysterical comments on all the posts mentioned here are saying, and I find it hard to believe that Coates agrees. But regardless what he's saying, others are saying it. It's a dangerous thing to deny history when you disagree with it. We all know that and all the easy examples of why this is so are found in the last 100 years, which gives us some nice material evidence that is harder to locate the further back in time you go, for example Haiti at the end of the 18th century with an educated non-native elite. See also, Timothy Snyder's article "The Holocaust: The Ignored Reality" for a description of the problems with relatively recent history (again despite the existence of a greater amount of primary, some still living, sources) and how it has been distorted, to history and to its victims loss, by cherrypicking facts.

I appreciate that Coates has provided a forum for mostly reasonable exchange. (Though not quite so in his original post, which contains some odd assertions.*)He is eventually very gracious towards Tabor, who provides a good clarification of what he was writing, and it is good to see a space online for that kind of interaction.

Bonus funtime music: Satan is Real - The Louvin Brothers

The Rumpus has a good roundup of ways to help Haiti.

* Coates draws this comparison:
Again, if I go on TV and claim that the Boston Tea Party was actually the Boston Cocaine Party, then claim that the drug trade is what liberated America, and then further claim that the Meth epidemic is a direct results, saying "But there was a party," isn't a defense--not even a qualified one.

This is hyperbolic and does not draw any kind of parallel to Tabor's article. There is no myth, oral tradition, or anything that involves cocaine; Coates is presenting this as the devil of Robertson's argument (and I suppose trying to be as silly as Robertson is), but it doesn't make sense if he is trying to attack Tabor. This is different from Tabor's description of the trajectories of syncretic Haitian traditions and institutionalized Christian traditions.

One of the first things that comes to mind in any discussion of Haiti, Voudou is a complex blending of West African and popular Catholic traditions. Paul Farmer gave the best description of Voudou’s place in Haitian culture and society when he thus described a firmly Christian peasant: “Of course he believes in Voudou. He just believes it’s wrong.” The Voudou question strikes at the heart of Haitian religious life. For its practitioners, Voudou offers a pantheon of friendly spirits, or lwas, that offer avenues to healing and hope. For its opponents, including many conservative Protestants and Catholics, it is spirit possession and satanic worship. The two sides disagree on what percentage of Voudou involves curses and malevolence, but both agree that such things are part of the religion. And, for those who oppose Voudou, Boukman’s ceremony in Bois Caiman sold the country to the devil.

Tabor isn't saying "there was this party." Coates is simplifying what Tabor has bothered to spell out and expand on in his article. Tabor is saying "there was this party, and there are some sources and traditions that suggest they were smoking rocks."


In November, Salon posted AP's top compensated private school presidents according to their filed taxes. My alma mater's prez made it at #5, which I didn't really want to see, especially because he came in about $100,000 over the NYU guy. This is mostly because about 70% of interactions I have had with NYU kids over the years-- NYU undergrads who are still in school-- has gone like this--

NYU kid: Where do you go?
Me: Columbia.
NYU: Oooohh. CO-lumbbiaaah.
Me: Oooh. Fuck off.
NYU: Columbiiaaah. Polohhh. Yachts. Rooohwwwwing.

Despite the fact our tuition ends up about the same and I'd wager we have just as much nasty little New York private school grads as they do in our graduating classes. It's just hard to draw out the vowels in NYU into a sort of blue blood accent thing.

But beyond this silly faux rivalry that only crops up when you have nothing else to think about (and the other kids always bring up), I had trouble with Salon's posting this list because it seemed like it was trying to imply something but the original poster was too lazy to think about what, exactly, was being said.

I had a great experience at Columbia with the professors, the classes, facilities, co-workers, and the other kids there, and so I am happy to defend it. I don't pretend that there is transparency where there is not, and I don't pretend to get mad at what little gets through the bureaucracy just so I can have something to be outraged by. I think Columbia has made some ostensibly stupid decisions, like giving into the hunger strike kids to pour more money into some kind of ethnic studies program-- whatever that means-- and pouring sunshine and justification into their liberal middle-class/white guild souls. I certainly think they need to make sure that the kids are better taken care of, and I think, like everyone, that I-- and, especially, my family-- should not have been forced to incur so much debt. But I also think they-- PrezBo included-- have made some wise decisions, including allowing the President of Iran to speak, despite what the hysterical groups on campus tried to suggest. (And waiving some overdue fees too after I graduated, but that's because they were lazy, I think.)

So I thought, ok, who cares, I don't care if PrezBo and his hair are getting fabulously overcompensated, nothing I can do. Nothing I can do. Columbia has a stupid amount of money, and it should be seen in context, right? Thing is, Salon ran the list without commentary, they're being as lazy as I am, so it's cool. But what are they saying, or trying to say? They're clearly trying to elicit an immediate reaction-- because indeed, that is too much to be making, for anybody to be making-- but now what? There is no breakdown, no indication of what percentage of the universities' endowments these salaries are being snatched from. A well-compensated president means he probably has a name in the field and can thus solicit donations and attract top-of-the-field professors, which increases the prestige of an institution and frankly, makes (or would I guess in a different economic climate) your degree & diploma worth a little more.

And just like any professional, he is extorting the institution (think baseball players)-- his skills for millions, or else he'll take it somewhere else (maybe to NYU, Harvard, Brown!) The downside, and source of understandable moral objections, is that he is a single individual occupying a massive part of the budget, in part necessitating those donation solicitations that ensure he has a job as top salesman-- one of the many reasons I did not contribute to any of the senior funds. C and J have recently been having huge problems with getting their tuition covered, despite having already completed 75-90% of the degree. College is fun and it is stimulating, and when within the community it is easy to forget that you are dealing with a sprawling business, easy that is, until they suddenly decide they "can't" give you money. Yes, then it is especially frustrating to realize that this one guy is making a bazillion dollars. But Salon didn't discuss any of this and the more incendiary comment on the post (kill them, etc, education should be free) doesn't even discuss why it is such a problem that these salaries are so outrageous-- something I would have liked to see from a respected source that would know more about the politics and ideas behind both education and economics. I want a description of reasons to be opposed to this logically, morally, theoretically, not just emotionally, which is all posting a list sans commentary will result in.

The best comment on the post came from october271986, who copied a similar list.

1. Charlie Weis, Notre Dame $3,300,000

2. Pete Carroll, Southern Cal $3,000,000

3. Kirk Ferentz, Iowa $2,850,000

4. Mack Brown, Texas $2,550,000

5. Bobby Petrino, Louisville $2,500,000

6. Jim Tressel, Ohio State $2,450,000

7. Bob Stoops, Oklahoma $2,400,000

8. Tommy Tuberville, Auburn $2,200,000

9. Joe Paterno, Penn State $2,100,000

10. Philip Fulmer, Tennessee $2,050,000

11. Bobby Bowden, Florida State $2,000,000

12. Dennis Franchione, Texas A&M $2,000,000

12. Urban Meyer, Florida $2,000,000

Notice where the presidents' list starts--
1. Shirley Ann Jackson, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute: $1,598,247

2. David Sargent, Suffolk University: $1,496,593

3. Steadman Upham, University of Tulsa: $1,485,275

4. Cornelius M. Kerwin, American University: $1,419,339

5. Lee C. Bollinger, Columbia: $1,380,035

6. Donald V. DeRosa, University of the Pacific: $1,350,743

7. John E. Sexton, New York University: $1,297,475

8. Jerry C. Lee, National University: $1,189,777

9. Nicholas S. Zeppos, Vanderbilt: $1,275,309

10. Amy Gutmann, University of Pennsylvania: $1,225,103

As the poster points out, #1 paid Ms Jackson would be the 34th highest paid coach. Now I like college football as much as the next guy-- okay, maybe not as much, but I enjoy it-- but if this puts anything into perspective, it is that fabulous amounts of money are being drained into the accounts of individuals all over the country, for a wide range of difficult to defend reasons.

With the crisis in the UC system (as well as the accompanying poorly planned protests which begged the question why didn't you protest when the government made the cuts, why wait until the schools were forced to carry them out) and the mounting inability to afford higher education, particularly by the middle class whose economic situation is virtually ignored by the formula for calculating financial aid, it is definitely an uncomfortable experience to see how much money is going to one individual in an institution that is supposed to be the sum total of all its participants in quality and output and, implied by this, is supposed to be a result of an even distribution of investment in each individual. But frankly, killing these guys & making education free (that commenter also makes what are either bad jokes or sincere I-wear-Che-shirts statements about kulaks, so I'm not sure what he/she is up to) is a silly suggestion because it does not address the problem. I still believe one of the first steps is to eliminate ETS (and here is where I say violently, if necessary, by tearing their ability to hold tests violently away) and breaking apart all markets-- test aid, test prep-- that have formed around it.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

is it, like, ok to make zoolander jokes again? because i think that's what these people are, like, doing?

"'We're going to burn everything, it's like opening Pandora's box,' Kate said. . . The result would offer an antidote to 'high gloss, high fashion, glamour, put-together, shiny, perfect-- everything too exact,' as Laura put it."

From the New Yorker. Rodarte dresses go for astronomical prices. I thought high prices were supposed to mean, like, well "put-together," maybe even "exact." (That's the point of Ikea, right? They are priced low because they are not "exact.") I understand their pieces tend to be highly detailed by hand, but the philosophy they are pushing is the same one behind ripped jeans.

And then this from Erin Wasson:

"The people with the best style for me are the people that are the poorest. Like, when I go down to Venice beach and I see the homeless, like, I'm like, 'Oh my God, they're pulling out, like, crazy looks and they, like, pulled shit out of like garbage cans.'" [via the Cut]

Like the guy who used to sit outside our apartment with his shirt off and pick at the seams? Because he had bugs? From pulling shit out of garbage cans? The guy wearing mismatched sweatsuits? I thought it wasn't cool to say this anymore, no matter what Brooklyn keeps vomiting out.

So second week back at work and I'm admitting the holidays are over. Been having a bit of bad luck with my computer. Virus! Very funny tvshack, but I managed to eradicate it thanks to the magic of internet forums. Also, I decided to downgrade my iTunes because iTunes 9.fuckyou.0 is a piece of bloated shit, but hilariously, that means having to reload my entire library. Which means, hilariously, having to relabel and re-album-cover-ize my entire library. So I'm like halfway through that, then I have to reapply all the album covers, which I get obsessive about for some reason. (I think everybody does.) Oh, and we have bedbugs again.

I think the point of this post is to say one, I hope you guys had a great holiday season! and you're easing back into the swing of things not-too-hard, and to repost what I thought was a deeply clever holiday "card" picture (up there) before I retire it until next Christmas. It's a riot a minute with Noise Annoys. See? A Santa hat. It's funny because. I don't know. The only way that guy on the stoop's day is going to get worse is if that wreath falls on him, though. And that would be funny. The commercial-religious institution is always coming down on me, maaaaan. (In your head say it like the bus driver in the Simpsons.)

The art of letter writing is not dead, but it is hurtin.

Despite the increasingly incomprehensible emails, texts, and messages this modern age sends out ("urrgggh. ick. ok. cool. see you then." was one gem that went out yesterday), the art of letter writing is getting some cheerleading from joint sites Letters of Note and LetterHeady (via TheRumpus.)

I never really had a penpal growing up, though I corresponded with my best friend who had moved 40 minutes away. Recently, I was wanting to start that up again. Last year I bought from the Met some nice stock cards with a beautiful gold embossed Tiffany bee design, but it's been languishing in my drawer like it's waiting for somebody to invent a WABAC machine so I can, like, write to my cousin in 1920. "My dear cousin. Thank you for the preserves and relishes. Everyday the light fades a little earlier. Blah blah blah." I think it's also waiting for my handwriting to improve.

Looking at the letters as well as (especially) the designs of the letterheads-- which include those of Hitler, Churchill, Nat King Cole, the Man in Black himself, Einstein, and a super sweet old motel letterhead with a cowboy-- makes me want to write fantastically elegant and well-phrased (and legible) letters to people (who I don't know.) It even makes me want to stay at a hotel and use their letterhead, which is something I haven't seen in awhile. Rather than providing whole sheets of paper, they usually just have a half-used notepad, which I have used to write letters, but it's not the same. Small cramped letters poorly written using the hotel/motel cheapo ballpoint pen. Boo. Point is, seeing how nice things used to be inspires a revival. I have always had huge issues with instant messaging and the like, but it was always about the degradation of social interaction and responsibility etc. Now I'm feeling polemic about the aesthetics.

Actually, I think the last letter I sent out (this was for work, thank you notes for the 5 year old's birthday) was "Dear Blah, Thanks for the KNex set. It is fun and I like to build things with it. Thank you for coming to my birthday party." Which is definitely not deserving of a letterhead. (And it should have said, "Thank you for the KNex. I LOVE TO LEAVE IT LAYING AROUND IN PIECES SO SOMEONE ELSE-- THAT'S B--HAS TO PICK IT UP FOR ME. FUCK YOU FOR GIVING HIM THAT THING.")

The White Stripes - Death Letter

Found at

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