Monday, February 28, 2005

Blogger Turns Podder




Well, not yet. For now I'm writing a twice-weekly column for the newest in online/podcast expression -- sportspodnet.com. (For more on this little venture, check here.) I'll be operating under "American Fan." Yeah, I know, that's the title of my second book. But I like the name. Works well as a brand. And besides, Little Green Footballs is taken.

Once I get my voice tech support in place, you'll be able to hear me rant as well! Soon you'll see what my friends and family have to put up with.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Pope TV




Can't get enough Pope coverage? Do you want Pope access 24/7? Well pilgrim, get off your knees and run to your set because now your prayers have been answered!

Yes, Pope TV brings you all Popes, all the time. They're all here -- from St. Linus (67-76) to St. Deusdedit (Adeodatus I)-(615-18) to Pope Callistus III (1455-58) to Pope Blessed Pius IX (1846-78) right up to Pope John Paul II! So many Popes that you'll swear you're living in the Vatican!

Want encyclicals at 4:37 AM? We got 'em! Desire historical re-enactments of papal decision making? Deliverance is but a thumb click away! And don't miss the first in what we hope will be a long line of exclusive mini-series, "Crucifix & Swastika: Pope Pius XII Meets The Nazis," starring Michael Caine as the most misunderstood Pope of all time!

So call your cable or satellite provider RIGHT NOW and demand Pope TV!

Remember, it's not just Pope TV -- it's Must Holy See TV!

Thursday, February 24, 2005

More To Come




In the middle of several things, including a new sports media project that I'll reveal next week. Plus, I'm trying to expand my right wing List which, so far, many people seem to like. So, I'm a bit clogged at the mo, but I will give you this --

Remember that my List is inspired by David Horowitz's Discover The Network. It's my humble view that we pro-Islamic fascists shouldn't be left outta the fun. But it appears that Horowitz is yanking out clumps of gray because we're not taking him seriously enough. Here he is, trying to be the Red Channels of our time, and his intended victims are laughing at him! (Also proof of our "paranoia," etc.) Michael Berube's response sums it up.

Me, I've got much tapping to do.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Lone Hunter




Decided to stay with the Doctor for another day. As I've said, he was a great influence on me, and I'm terribly saddened by his death. I'll return to other matters in due course. The bastards aren't going anywhere, alas.

Been going through my HST book collection -- and I have just about all of them, including a 1967 hardcover of "Hell's Angels" which I got for a steal at an outdoor book stall on NYU's campus (trying to be fair, I asked the guy, "You sure you wanna sell this for that?" pointing to the price, and he muttered, "Y'wan' it or not?") -- riding the various, beautiful riffs within. Many of his obits focused on his persona, his themes, his public vaudeville. But few really studied the man's technique. When you wave off all the other horseshit, you realize that the Doctor could just plain write. Even his later output, like "Better Than Sex" and "Kingdom of Fear," while not as majestic as his earlier work, contain some dazzling wordplay, lunatic concepts, and boss energy. There's a reason why I was never impressed with Hemingway. HST did it better.

Went to the local off-campus vid store with the crazy idea that I might rent "Breakfast With Hunter", last year's docu showing some of Thompson's private world, along with archival clips. Certainly The Kids will have snagged the DVD by now, I thought. Amazingly, no. There it was, sitting next to Nick Broomfield's "Biggie & Tupac", defiant gonzo fist for all to see. Didn't know whether to be thankful or pissed. Why wasn't this out? Why isn't some college sophomore smoking a bowl and taking in HST's run for Aspen sheriff in 1970?

Ah, well. Mine now. Take it to the counter where the lanky, nerdy, smart hip kids hang, listening to soft techno, trading poses.

"Hey man!" one says to me. "Did you know that guy killed himself yesterday?"

Stare at him for a beat. "Yes. That's why I'm renting it."

"Oh yeah. Maybe you should buy it."

"I probably will. But for now borrowing's fine."

"Cool."

The kid informs me that Criterion's edition of "Fear and Loathing" is loaded with Thompson extras, giving me the menu rundown as I wait for my change. Wanna tell him that I know all this, that my wife worked for years at Criterion and still has many friends on staff. But no point. Smile, say thanks, walk out into the slush.

"Breakfast" has some great scenes. My fave is when HST meets with Alex Cox and Todd Davies, the original director & writer for "Fear and Loathing," to discuss some script ideas. Apparently, Cox and Davies, in their script, took this passage from "Fear":

"And that, I think, was the handle -- that sense of inevitable victory over the forces of Old and Evil. Not in any mean or military sense; we didn't need that. Our energy would simply prevail. There was no point in fighting -- on our side or theirs. We had all the momentum; we were riding the crest of a high and beautiful wave. So now, less than five years later, you can go up on a steep hill in Las Vegas and look West, and with the right kind of eyes you can almost see the high-water mark -- the place where the wave finally broke and rolled back."

And turned it into a cartoon where Thompson's Raoul Duke would ride the breaking wave back to Vegas. Pretty fucking stupid, and contrary to the meaning of the passage. Of course, the good Doctor heats up, gives them both a decent tongue lashing, then throws them out of his house. While some of his performances in "Breakfast" are clearly for the camera, this one feels genuine. Cox, who recast Sid Vicious and Nancy Spungen as junkie angels, was cheapening Thompson's poetry with dopey visual splatter. No wonder HST went with Terry Gilliam.

The one sequence that made me cringe was the 25th anniversary party for "Fear and Loathing" thrown by Jann Wenner & Rolling Stone. Apart from some real affection shown to HST by close friends like P.J. O'Rourke, most of the behavior is that horrid, glossy media bullshit that all writers should reject. It's a false world, antithetical to honest expression and literature. By that point, though, Thompson was trapped by his celebrity, the downside to the success he enjoyed. Sell enough books, influence a generation, and the beasts begin nuzzling your legs. The trick, as HST clearly understood, is to keep them from going for your throat.

Close friends said that Thompson preferred the solitude of his Woody Creek house to anything else. This was obviously true, for when the final moment came, that's where he was, alone, far from the corporate revelers and demographic hustlers. A brutal solo to end The Show. Just what the Doctor ordered.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Gone-zo




Once the weird turn pro, there's no going back. You push whatever you're driving to the limit till it either runs outta gas or hits a wall.

Looks like it was the latter for Hunter S. Thompson.

Fucking gun to the head. Some are saying it was inevitable, that a guy with such a deep attachment to firearms & intensity would eventually turn on himself. Maybe they're right. Who knows what was surging through his overworked brain in those final moments. Whatever the incentive, it certainly put a serious exclamation point on Thompson's life.

I didn't grow up around books. Had to seek them out. Read whatever looked interesting on the local library's shelf. But that's not where I discovered HST (not in my conservative 'burb). In my mid-teens a friend lent me "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas." I'd never heard of Thompson, been to Vegas, done acid or fired guns in the desert. But from its killer opening --

"We were somewhere around Barstow on the edge of the desert when the drugs began to take hold. I remember saying something like 'I feel a bit lightheaded; maybe you should drive. . . .' And suddenly there was a terrible roar all around us and the sky was full of what looked like huge bats, all swooping and screeching and diving around the car, which was going about a hundred miles an hour with the top down to Las Vegas. And a voice was screaming: 'Holy Jesus! What are these goddamn animals?'"

I was hooked. Who wrote like this? Why didn't my English teacher assign this? And as you know, "Fear and Loathing" never lets up. It's a literary speed trip with fantastic, hilarious images. I'd been writing and scribbling since I was 11 or so, sentence fragments, jokes, one-liners. But HST's prose made me want to go the author route, something I hadn't ever considered. He was the first writer to stir that desire within me, which is why I always read whatever he turned out. Quality didn't matter. I owed the great bastard at least that.

HST was extremely well-read. He'd digested most of the American classics, including, of course, Jack Kerouac's Duluoz Legend, which influenced much of his writing. (As he put it on the wonderful -- buy it or burn it! -- CD, "Kicks Joy Darkness," Kerouac "was and remains one of my heroes.") And no one, not even Pat Robertson, made better use of the Bible, especially the Book of Revelation. Thompson understood and appreciated the poetry found in the description of the End Times. When he needed that extra visual punch, or when, as he openly admitted, he needed to fill narrative gaps, he reached for the Good Book. To him, it wasn't a prop to pound the pulpit. It was Serious Literature and deserved eternal respect.

Thompson also got celebrity culture, and used it shamelessly to advance himself. What American writer wouldn't? Anyone who's dealt with the publishing world knows what a rotten place it is, populated by some of the emptiest, most cynical fuckers you'll ever encounter (showbiz and politics complete the triumvirate). They hate the people they sell books to and do everything they can to push writers in the dumbest directions. HST broke through that and rose above it. He was envied and despised for pulling it off, and he knew it, which was why he could behave the way he did and write whatever the fuck he wanted. Any author who condemns him for that is a hypocrite. We who scribble should be so lucky.

Bill Murray and Johnny Depp played him on film. Murray's take in "Where The Buffalo Roam" is decent enough -- but the movie is at best second-rate. Depp took his HST further, deeper. Had the good Doctor shave his scalp so to give his performance that added Method edge. The film version of "Fear and Loathing" is a minor classic, in my view. Cartoonish enough to be funny, dark enough to be strange. CBS should show it every Thanksgiving in prime time, uncut, uncensored, like "The Wizard of Oz." Perfect evening fare for overstuffed Americans.

There's so much more to say about Thompson, but I'm too sleep-deprived make every point I could make. I will say this -- many believe that HST burned out long ago and went through the motions in order to cash the checks. Yes and no. It's tough even for a writer with Thompson's talent to keep detailing the increasingly foul and corrupt nature of American society and not repeat himself. If you are to accurately portray what's going on, and do so without blinking, then you must take it where HST took it. That wears you down. It's like carrying the ball 88 times a game against the Patriots' defense. Not for the weak. That Thompson carried the ball well into his 60s says something about his ground game. It would make Barry Sanders weep.

On the eve of the '72 election, when it was clear that McGovern was doomed and that Nixon would win in a landslide, HST typed these timeless words:

"This may be the year when we finally come face to face with ourselves; finally just lay back and say it -- that we really are just a nation of 220 million used car salesmen with all the money we need to buy guns, and no qualms at all about killing anybody else in the world who tries to make us uncomfortable."

This is Thompson the Optimist. We never did, and probably never will, come face to face with ourselves. November 2004 proves that.

Hunter S. Thompson might have seen where this mad adventure ends, and didn't want to stick around for the bill. If so, then God help us all.

Farewell, Hunter. And thanks.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

The List Grows

So many terrible people doing horrible things. Once you really dive into the shit, you see just how nightmarish it all is. Screams. Murderous insanity. Blood-choked confessions. Bodies everywhere. Rough stuff. Sometimes the will just isn't up to the task.

Yet, the work must -- will -- continue. Ambrose Bierce had his Devil's Dictionary. Call this my Catalogue of the Damned.

Alan Keyes



Far right commentator and failed public office seeker.
Favors a religio-fascist society where the state determines what is decent and obscene.
Supported the Vietnam War while in college, but used student deferments to avoid combat.
Opposed sanctions against South Africa's apartheid regime, but regularly calls anyone who disagrees with him "racist."
Public defender of South African-backed Angolan terrorist Jonas Savimbi, whose UNITA cell slaughtered Angolan civilians and shot down UN-chartered planes.
Compares doctors who perform and women who receive abortions to al-Qaeda.
Virulent anti-queer bigot. Disowned his daughter when she came out as a lesbian.
Believes that God exists in a piece of felt he waves at opponents during debates.
Has been seen in public crawling on all fours, yelling, "What time is it? IT'S KEYES TIME!"
Beats dogs with a cane in order to instill "Christian discipline."

Jonah Goldberg



National Review editor, talk show windbag, son of Lucianne Goldberg.
Used his mother's notoriety in the Monica Lewinksy scandal to become a public figure.
Offers semi-digested thoughts and ignorant statements as political and philosophical truths.
Compares the UN to Hitler, Stalin and Hamas.
Avowed McCarthyite.
Believes that France hates America because the French hate Jews.
Revels in public embarrassment. Attacks intellectual betters with flimsy arguments, then whines and plays victim when he is taken apart in return.
Ultra-pro-war cheerleader who refuses to enlist, hiding behind his family and citing physical "problems."
Worked as a belly dancer while in college.
Suffers from extreme halitosis, causing many to gag in his presence.
Believes that, while wise, the Founding Fathers "were probably fags."

Michelle Malkin



Syndicated right wing columnist and television freak show.
Daughter of Filipino immigrants who wrote a book bashing immigration.
Defends racial profiling and retroactively supports the internment of Japanese-American civilians during World War II.
Patriot Act booster who advocates for a reactionary, authoritarian state.
When not sliming liberal minorities for playing the race and victim cards, plays the race and victim cards when criticized.
Another rabid war lover who refuses to enlist.
Believes that those who oppose torture are "America haters."
Says that when discussing the 9/11 attacks, the American corporate media covers for al-Qaeda.
Suggested that there be a Torture & Deportation Olympics.
Can belch Lee Greenwood's "God Bless The USA."
Tips three percent in restaurants.

Charles Krauthammer



Smug neoconservative writer and imperial propagandist.
Ex-psychiatrist who blends psycho-babble with extreme nationalist statements.
Coined the term "Reagan Doctrine" to describe and celebrate that administration's state-sponsored terrorism.
Still defends his support for Osama Bin Laden in the 1980s.
Believes in US military hegemony. Favors smashing smaller, weaker countries.
Helped to write George W. Bush's second inaugural speech, but failed to disclose this connection when praising it on TV.
Seeks to dismantle Social Security.
Given to hallucinogenic rants at social gatherings, trapping guests for hours.
Collects pig fetuses and dresses them in military garb.
Shaves without water in order to "toughen" himself for perpetual war.

Armstrong Williams



Prominent African-Republican and Fox News marionette.
Yet another pundit-warrior who calls for extended bloodshed overseas.
Believes that the US should be a Christian Empire.
Extreme supporter of the Drug War. Has stated that alcohol should be illegal.
Anti-queer bigot.
Was handed $240,000 of taxypayers' money to push Bush's plan to privatize education. Failed to disclose this connection when arguing for privatization on TV and radio.
Was disgraced when this connection was finally made public. Lost his syndicated TV show. Newspapers dropped his column.
Initially took responsibility for his actions. Later blamed "lesbians and Satanists" for targeting him for "career genocide."
Seen walking around DC wearing a sandwich board that reads "Will shill anything for the low six figures."
Currently making ends meet by performing his Screamin' Jay Hawkins tribute at white GOP gatherings.

Next -- Heavier Media Hitters, Policy Makers, then the Real Meat.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Make Your Own Enemies List




Gotta love David Horowitz. The guy never quits. Hour by hour he battles America's Real Enemies, y'know, those who didn't vote for Bush, or worse, who publicly criticize him and his cronies. It's a profitable racket, and judging from Horowitz's latest venture, a fun one as well.

Who doesn't enjoy compiling an Enemies List? All that scum you secretly wish would be thrown into a damp cell and beaten Abu Ghraib-style. A very American pastime, and Horowitz is nothing if not a True Red American.

His Discover The Network site presumes to "expose" the nefarious and vast Left Wing Threat to our national survival. Horowitz's busy staffers have scoured every source they could lay their hands on, and the result is downright hilarious. (I especially recommend the Individuals and Media lists -- click on the pix and enjoy!) And as is always the case with anything Horowitz does, there are numerous factual errors (John Candy did not die while making Michael Moore's "Canadian Bacon" -- he died on the Mexican set of his last movie, "Wagons East") and outright fabrications (the requisite smearing of Noam Chomsky is of course included, leavened with Holohoax charges by the far-right nut Werner Cohn). But hey, why allow reality to get in the way of the fun?

Horowitz doesn't stop at politics: he revels in personal attacks and will publish pretty much anything. I admire his chutzpah. In fact, his new site has inspired me to begin one of my own. Consider the following a work-in-progress, a sketch if you will. And if the MacArthur people are reading this, a modest stipend would go a long way to help me finish my project.

David Horowitz



Former Black Panther groupie turned right wing panhandler.
Claims that conservatives are suppressed by liberals.
Even though the Princeton college paper ran one of his ads, Horowitz refused to pay for it because the paper's editors ran a critical editorial next to it.
Believes that opposition to the Patriot Act is treason.
Believes that opposition to any Republican administration is treason.
Believes that opposition to any American war is treason.
Believes that refusal to spell TREASON in all caps is treason.
Routinely asks bus boys, cab drivers and janitors for their Green Cards.
Drools when he speaks.

Ann Coulter



Right wing columnist and TV talk show character.
Calls for the US to bomb all Muslim countries and force the survivors to become Christians.
Said that she wished that Timothy McVeigh had car bombed the New York Times building instead.
Regularly calls for the deaths of American journalists.
Berated a paralyzed Vietnam vet for "losing" the war.
Believes that all liberals are traitors.
Makes a citizen's arrest of every dark-skinned person she sees.
Attends public functions on the arms of fascist homosexuals.
Has eaten human flesh.

Bill O'Reilly



Right wing talk show blowhard.
Routinely makes up stories where he's a masculine action hero.
Shouts down guests who disagree with him, oftentimes cutting their microphones.
Throws tantrums when challenged or has his "facts" corrected.
Supports the carpet bombing of Third World countries.
Brags about engaging in phone sex.
Charged with sexual harassment by a former female colleague.
Known to run through the Fox News offices wearing a cape and making siren noises.
Challenges children to fights.

Christopher Hitchens



Former Trotskyite turned neoconservative propagandist.
Said he felt "exhilaration" after watching the Twin Towers collapse on 9/11.
Revises his arguments as they are disproved, making them fit "new realities."
Calls anyone who disagrees with him an "Islamofascist."
Supports the foreign corporate domination of Iraq.
Slanders former friends and snitches for political gain.
Leaves cryptic and threatening messages on strangers' voice mails.
Crashes other people's speaking events and heckles them from the audience.
As an act of public defiance, smokes cigarettes in emphysema wards.
Regularly attends and wagers heavily on bum fights.

Dennis Miller



Right wing stand-up comic and host of a low-rated cable show.
Rabid Bush apologist.
Supports US invasions of various Middle Eastern countries, including Iran.
Advocated that the US drop a nuclear bomb on North Korea.
Referred to North Koreans as "zipperheads."
Condones the torture of people not charged with any crime, sometimes using them as punch lines to weak jokes.
Keeps a jar of live beetles on his desk, crushing them with his hand to show his staffers "who's boss."
During commercial breaks, pretends he's a fighter pilot and tells his studio audience that they're "collateral damage."
Signs autographs with chicken blood.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Chaldean




Been talking on & off with a couple of Iraqi Christians who run a small local business (I won't give their names or the type of business they're in -- even after Saddam's fall, they remain on guard), and the stories they tell me about their relatives in Iraq are not happy ones. Being part of the Chaldean Christian minority wasn't a pleasant experience under Saddam; but now that the Shi'a majority, flush with electoral success, appears intent on establishing some kind of political/religious hegemony, many Chaldeans are looking for a way out (and have been since before the election).

They've told me about male cousins who've been blown up or machine gunned to death for selling alcohol. About female relatives and friends who've been beaten and threatened with death for not wearing the veil. They would love to see a true multi-cultural Iraq, but they seriously doubt that a Shi'a government will allow this.

They concede that not all Shi'a are the same. There are of course moderates. But the moderates are not the ones intent on enforcing their version of Islamic law. Chaldeans are also targets for common criminals who believe that Iraqi Christians are rich, and so kidnap relatives for ransom. And then there's the fact that some Chaldeans are working for the US occupation, which puts them in the crosshairs of Sunni guerrillas and Ba'athist militants.

Interestingly enough, many of these Christians are finding safe haven in Syria. Given the current anti-Syrian tumult after the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, this may seem to some an odd choice. But Syria, for all its crimes, has for years taken in numerous refugees from other Arab countries. (And for the Syrian state to have committed this assassination, especially at this time, seems suspect to me. Maybe they were behind it, but it doesn't make any political sense, as the present outrage shows. Why give the US a green light to push for direct conflict? Juan Cole offers his thoughts.)

I ask my Iraqi friends if they'll ever move back home. They look at me with edgy smiles, slowly shake their heads "no." They get back to work. A bronze crucifix hangs over their labors. Their faith in God is strong, but not strong enough to resist those of more strident faiths. And so they remain in exile, their country's "liberation" mere images on TV.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Guns For Tots




It's become a common story. Working people, thinking they've fulfilled their military service, either get their tours in Iraq extended or are pulled from civilian life and thrown into BushCo's Iraqi meatgrinder. Donna Cote, mother of two young kids, is one of the latest people to face this dilemma.

"My children, who's going to care for them? I'm a stay-at-home mom, my husband works 80 to 85 hours a week and I don't have any family here in Rhode Island that can care for my kids."

Now, you'd think that some of the swivelchair commandos would read this and say, "Hey, I support the war in Iraq. Maybe I should enlist and try to take Donna Cote's place so she can raise her kids. After all, she did her time. I should do mine."

Umm, right.

Steve Gilliard started a White Feather campaign to get the National Review's Jonah Goldberg to hit boot camp in preparation for combat duty in Iraq (the image alone of Goldberg running an obstacle course or crawling in mud under barbed wire and live M-60 tracer rounds is worth the effort -- UPDATE: Steve G's posted Goldberg's reaction, a beaut). I think the same should be done to Michael J. Totten. Here's a guy of military age who feels no shame in drunkenly lecturing Iraqi exiles on how they should conduct their internal affairs, who calls for political assassinations (that post aged well, eh Tots?), and who generally makes war whoops from the safety of his stateside desk. But at a time when the likes of Donna Cote face life-changing choices and the possibility of death overseas, Tots, tired from urging others to die and kill, has taken a vacation in Puerto Rico.

Isn't time that Tots face the fractured music he's helped compose? If you agree, email the guy (michaeltotten001@gmail.com) and ask him why he feels that mothers of young children should do the fighting and dying for him while he lounges in Puerto Rican sand. Send me any replies and I'll post them here.

In Defense Of The Trey




Interesting piece in yesterday's Times Magazine by Michael Sokolove about the lack of fundamentals in the NBA's game (read it before it goes offline later this week). I agree with much of what Sokolove says, which is pretty obvious: as the pro game has skewed younger, trolling high schools for talent (which causes a ripple effect down to middle schools, where 12- and 13-year-olds are hailed as The Next Big Thing), basic hoop skills are not being taught, and the old concept of team play has been replaced with Star Player and Supporting Cast. There are exceptions, like the San Antonio Spurs (and this year's Phoenix Suns). But by and large, as Sokolove points out, 18- and 19-year-old millionaires are given remedial ball lessons by assistant coaches at the pro level. Never used to be like this.

Sokolove offers a few suggestions. One, ban dunks. This will force players at the high school and college levels to work on their shooting skills instead of going for hi-light reel slams. Conceivably, yes, it would. As Sokolove reminds us (and those of us old enough to remember already know), the former ban from 1967-76 had this effect on marquee players like Kareem-Abdul Jabbar, Bill Walton, Julius Erving and David Thompson. But, as Sokolove concedes, this ain't gonna happen. Too much money at stake. Besides, several generations have been conditioned to the slam. To yank it from the game now would be merely reactionary. May as well go back to peach baskets and jump balls after every score.

Sokolove's other suggestion is simply ridiculous:

"The three-point shot is another matter altogether. No reason it should not just disappear. 'The dagger!' announcers sometimes call it, as if it were the shock-and-awe of the hardwood, a weapon that brings opposing players to their knees. The three-pointer is a corruption of the sport, a perversion of a century of basketball wisdom that held that the whole point of the game was to advance the ball closer to the basket. If its intent was to increase scoring, the three-point shot definitely has not done that, and if it was to make the game more wide open and exciting, it hasn't accomplished that either. The unintended consequence of the three-pointer has been to make the game more static as players 'spot up' outside the arc, waiting for the pass that will lead to the dagger."

This is a veiled attack on my beloved ABA, which introduced the three-pointer in 1967. Contrary to Sokolove's dim view, the trey opened up a conservative game and did indeed generate more scoring for quite some time. It also gave a much-needed jolt to the college game, where coaches like Rick Pitino incorporated it as part of a full-court attack. If contemporary players are having trouble hitting threes, that's not the ABA's fault. There were specialty players, like Billy Keller, Louie Dampier and Mack Calvin, whose job it was to hit those shots when needed, or to act as decoys to open up the inside game. Today it seems that anyone and everyone takes a crack from beyond the arc, and naturally many of them miss and miss badly. The three-pointer was designed in a period where there were more pure shooters. Getting rid of it will not increase shooting percentages. Practice, discipline and focusing on fundamentals will do that. Hell, many players cannot hit free throws with any consistency. Should we eliminate foul shooting too?

Sokolove's right about one thing -- it may take the ongoing influx of foreign players to show Americans how the game should be played. We saw that in Athens last summer. American "individualism" goes only so far. Today, team play is the new cutting edge.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Happy Birthday




To my beautiful Blue State wife, who looks a lot like Charlotte Rampling (esp in the above photo -- no, honest, really, ask anyone who knows us). So no blogging today as I must pay full homage to the woman who saved my life (an Ivy Leaguer who married a high school grad with a C minus average), who's a vibrant, creative, passionate force, a great mother to our kids, and who laughs at my dumbest jokes and impromptu musical numbers (think tone-deaf Sondheim mixed with a low-rent Fosse).

I love you.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Beyond Ward Churchill




Cable & Web outlets have been choked with endless, sometimes hysterical, commentary regarding Ward Churchill and his post-9/11 essay. If you want some backdrop to all this, go here here here here. And of course, all this attention, death threats, etc., has made Churchill a rather hot commodity.

I hotly criticized Churchill's essay when it first appeared, and still think it terribly mistaken, especially when lionizing the religious fascists who committed that mass murder. They were no friends to anyone with a twinge of progressive feeling -- indeed, they emboldened and strengthened our domestic phalange -- but it appeared, and to a degree still appears, that Churchill will latch onto pretty much anybody who "pushes back" against the US war machine, even if they take out thousands of civilians, many of whom are working class, immigrants, and children. The "collateral damage" Churchill so rightly denounced overseas seemed, at least initially, not to upset him when the same occurred in lower Manhattan.

Still, given all that, Churchill did touch on a reality that many of his current bashers either miss, ignore, play down or deny -- a country that has so much foreign blood on its hands will, inevitably, suffer the consequences on its own soil. That should be obvious to anyone who's read any global history. Yet there's a feeling among our uber-patriots that the US is exempt from this, or should be. We can do whatever we want and the world must love us for it. If they don't, we'll threaten, boycott or bomb them until they see things our way.

I've heard this reasoning expressed on panels, radio shows, and in informal discussions with some of my more conservative relatives. And you can see it daily at numerous blogs and websites (Free Republic and Little Green Footballs host some of the crazier comment threads in this regard -- and no, I won't link to them. If you want to read that crap, look 'em up). It's this type of mindset that I believe Churchill was swatting at, however stupidly and clumsily. But even if he'd made similar points without engaging in the "little Eichmanns" rhetoric, I still think he'd be under attack. Because if 9/11 taught us anything, it was that Good Americans open their mouths only to praise the state, Dear Leader, his perpetual wars abroad and his privatization at home. Question any of this, or worse, acknowledge America's contribution to the world's misery, and you show yourself to be treasonous scum. End of story.

It seems a waste of time to point out the obvious, but given some of the extremist reactions to Churchill, the obvious needs as much advertising as possible.

And you know that when the rightwing plays the "It's taxpayers' money!" card (as Joe Scarborough did in the vid link in the first graph above), they're looking for a "legal" way to shutdown or marginalize speech they hate. This may shock them, but I'm sure there are plenty of Colorado taxpayers who agree with Churchill. And I bet that Churchill himself pays taxes. Taxpayers' money finances all manner of repugnant things -- like the invasion and occupation of Iraq (along with the torture and mass murder that came with it). Taxpayers also pay Dear Leader's salary, and I dare say that his statements and lies have had a far, far more destructive effect than anything Ward Churchill could ever hope to have. When Churchill's words lead directly to things like this, then perhaps we can find a more equitable mode of outrage.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Super War America




Following the entertaining exchange between Juan Cole & Jonah Goldberg, I came across this sitting on the National Review's Corner:

"I just wanted to pass along a short story from [watching the Super Bowl] last night. I am currently doing a Ph.D. in History at a prestigious northeastern university, and with one possible exception (aside from myself) everyone in my department (staff, faculty, grad student) was crushed that John Kerry lost. In any case, last night a few of my friends who I was watching the game with were complaining every time a vaguely patriotic image came on the screen. One ridiculed the reading of the Declaration of Independence (which I had missed), then continued during Alicia Keyes, and then the National Anthem. When the Anheuser-Busch commercial came one, they just shook their heads and exclaimed that they wanted to move out of the country.

"They were truly disgusted by the displays of love for America, feeling that it was nothing more than militaristic/jingoistic/nationalistic/neo-fascistic pap. These are the next generation of professors, teachers, and text-book writers by the way..."

Well, I'm not an academic. Nor did I attend college. I'm just a blue collar scribbler who loves sports, and I thought many of the game's displays, along with much of the pre-game pro-war banter, were indeed "nothing more than militaristic/jingoistic/nationalistic/neo-fascistic pap." Why deny it? That's what the Super Bowl is during wartime -- a six-hour commercial for American imperial might with no dissenting views expressed. I know that those who read and write for the Nat Rev feel that "love for America" exists strictly on their extreme nationalistic terms, which, I'd think, would justify the feelings of those tortured libs who watched the game with the emailer quoted above (and what was this person doing in such an "anti-American" setting? Couldn't he/she find some war whoopers to share pretzels with?). But they should happily embrace the obvious. Those who put on the show certainly did.

As for the game, close but clunky, and the Pats were never in any real danger of losing. They're not as flashy as Montana & Rice's 49ers or Aikman & Irvin's Cowboys, but they are in the same league. The Eagles simply didn't take advantage of the early openings that the Pats gave them. But Philly will be back, esp in a mediocre NFC.

And how about that Paul McCartney holographic/automaton half-time mini-concert? Looked almost like the real thing.

Friday, February 04, 2005

Corporate Love




This'll warm your heart -- South Korean capital, distressed by the growing anti-corporate mood of that country's youth, have formed the Corporate Love Council. Because commodification and low-wage zones are simply a different way of saying, We Care.

Thankfully, Americans don't need such a council since we already love our corporations. And we know that our corporations love us. Watch the Super Bowl this Sunday and feel the vibe all around. I'm happy to see another country like South Korea follow suit. And think about the prospects in Iraq! All those people just waiting to love foreign corporate domination. Kinda gets you here.

Shameless




Is what Dear Leader is. But that's what makes him Dear. Honestly, would you want a humane, humble, intelligent W? It might be nice for the planet, but where's the fun? the blood-caked slapstick? W was built this way. For a reason. Pay attention and appreciate the show.

DL's State of What Passes For A Union (I'm mildly surprised that W's crew hasn't erased "Union" in favor of simply "State") was worthy of some of the better Soviet-staged offerings, the lofty rhetoric, the martial posturing, the mechanical applause from the Politburo. I used to think that the Reagan admin was bad, and it was, but RR's style was more "Gee whiz ma'am, juss' doin' my job," than the pompous, chest-thrusting approach that W prefers. I always knew he was arrogant, but now I'm beginning to think that the man is losing his mind. All that power combined with all that denial and hubris -- phew, toxic, man, toxic.

And of course DL danced atop American and Iraqi dead, oblivious to reality or even shame. And where were the howls from those who berated Michael Moore for featuring Lila Lipscomb in "Fahrenheit 9/11" when DL dragged out a grieving mother of his own? Karl Rove and Co. aren't shy about ripping off scenarios from their enemies. That's what makes them so good. And the ink-stained fingers! How could I overlook those? Forget the fact that the Bush gang opposed direct elections in Iraq. Forget that they caved in to Ayatollah Sistani rather than face a massive Shi'a insurrection. Forget that Iraq's election did nothing to loosen the US grip on that country (we'll see how long Sistani and his followers go along with the imperial charade). Just dip your finger in some ink and think nothing but happy thoughts! (Groupthink hasn't been this groovy since Jonestown.)

On deadline, so I pass the rant baton to Arianna Huffington, Marc Cooper (scroll down to his Wed post), and Justin Raimondo. What they said.

Oh yeah -- our Noble Crusade to spread our Superior Values has hit another snag. Maybe some of those giddy GOP bloggers I linked to above could help fill the ranks. Wrap those ink-stained fingers around an M-16's trigger and get to work!

PLUS: Read Wolcott's funny take on Andrew Sullivan's extended exit from blogging.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Duh




Professional dope and all-around clown act Ann Coulter tops herself yet again, this time on Canadian TV. Coulter shows that D-minus History students have a real shot at a big time media career (strident nationalism helps). Think of all the young Coulters who took part in this recent survey. Fox News finally has a farm system!

Heavy Lifting




On Social Security, by Jon "Mega-Flex" Schwarz. Read & learn.

BTW, the above Soviet stamp is not meant to imply that Jon is, uh, y'know, "Red" or anything like that. That's between him and his commissar. I just like the image.