October 2002 - A Hard Row To Hoe
October 31st Walburgisnacht
Girls Girls Girls. A packed and pumping Halloween party tonight at good old Stingy Lulu's. I remember that bar from freshman year, when drag queens were new and frightening and the city was alive with mystery. It's still an ok place, and full of the beautiful people tonight. I was better dressed than I thought I would be as a caveman (thanks to Julia) but in a bum mood because I've been sickly. Would that I had the sprit to party, I could have danced and laughed and gotten phone numbers. As it was I had a good chuckle at Sam's "Freudian Slip" costume and ducked out before midnight.
I've been lusting after the simple things lately, imagining a cool and uncomplecated life full of good conversation and easy company. I long to grow a beard and wear corduroy jackets with long woolen scarves, drinking port wine and admiring the sunset. I had a dream not too long ago that I was managing the Cinnabon in the mall back home and it was good: I had comradery with my employees and we played good music while we worked. I even had some intra-mall romance if I remember correctly. In real life I hate the mall on an almost cellular level, but the simple beauty of the dream sticks with me and I'm reminded that I don't let myself have enough fun these days. "Don't carry the world upon your shoulders..."
Things are kind of feckless here, trying not to get any more sick. As usual, illness invades my body by creeping in through my ears. I can't hear much out of my right ear today, but at least it doesn't hurt very bad.
How I wish I'd never discovered littlegreenfootballs.com. Look at the comments. What a cesspool. It makes me want to study the fine arts of crapflooding, trolling and other online-community-ruining behavior. Ugh, I'll try to channel some of that badness into positive stuff.
Talked with Mark the other night for a while. We've been thinking the same things about how humanity needs some Big Projects to organize ourselves around. Stating the goal of eliminating poverty, inequity, dearths of opportunity and repression will never get it done. To do real revolutionary good in the world you need to a Big Idea, one that solves those nasty problems as a cute secondary benefit. The Big Idea of the Moment is war, which is not only a Big Bad Idea, but also doesn't have those good side effects either.
This begs the question though; what Other Big Idea has a chance of competing? We need someone with some vision! In reality, we can thank Soviet hubris for getting our ass in gear for the original space race. We need something similar, some great dreams for humanity, that we might be inspired to look higher and longer than getting our hands on that ellusive pre-owned Lexus. Utopia or Oblivion, friends.
October 29th Pitched Cultural Battle
Holy Shit! Check out nycbloggers.com. Fascinating! And I found a bonafide neighbor!
JT's writing some stuff about criticism. Good stuff, and of course most critics are on some level frustrated creatives. However, one needs also to understand the difference between criticism and a review. Reviews are a normative summation of an experience (it was good/it was bad), usually intended entice or warn a potential experiencer to or away from a certain work or performance. Criticism, on the other hand, is the deconstruction of something in search of its source of meaning/power/essence.
Good criticism is hard to come by, but quite brilliant when you find it. Good criticism also depends on a subject that is worthy of the intellectual endeavour. Good reviews -- meaning one that is honest and doesn't color, de-mystify or otherwise spoil the experience -- are also hard to come by, but that has more to do with reviewers' propensity to be bought off and/or inability to refrain from telling it all than anything else. Great reviews borrow some thunder from the realm of criticism without becoming pedantic or affecting the eventual experience.
With that said, I think it might be cool to write more cultural reviews and criticism. Keep the mind active and all. I've done it before. My mother sent me the latest Beck album Sea Change (which I didn't like: too much irresponsible sadness) and After the Quake: Stories by Haruki Murakami (which I'm enjoying for his lovably minimalistic style). Maybe I should review/critically evaluate those.
Also in the world of self-refferential site-specific nattering, Julia and others have requested that I add more people pages. I suppose it's entertaining to hear what I think about the people I know. Kind of like talking about them behind their back, except not. I'll make it a little personal task to put some new-ones online in the next week or so. The list of content features to be called forth is growing. Remember that if you read something you don't want the world to know (or you just patently disagree with) you can ask me to remove it and I will.
Here's a good quote re-printed via Warblogger Watch:
"A true war story is never moral. It does not instruct, nor encourage virtue, nor suggest models of proper human behavior, nor restrain men from doing the things men have always done. If a story seems moral, do not believe it. If at the end of a war story you feel uplifted, or if you feel that some small bit of rectitude has been salvaged from the larger waste, then you have been made victim of a very old and terrible lie."Yes indeed.
October 28th Autumn Rhythm #2
The point of that title is that it's great. It's got a wonderful cadence and timing, and calls to mind all sorts of delightfully firtile imagery. Riding home in the bonafide cold tonight I was treated to a heavy enlarged 1/3 moon, riding low in the horizon like some celestial breast or other life-giving curve.
Here's a thought: why don't we take up a collection so Willie Nelson doesn't have to endorse the Gap. Every time I see that billboard I want to scream or cry or beat some soulless ad executive into submission. If we can have savekaryn.com, we can do better for the Red-Headed Stranger. Come on, I'd give $5 to not have to ever see Willie pitch the gap (or hear Johnny Cash say, "eating good in the neighborhood") ever again. I can't be the only one. When will selling out be uncool again? Damn you Moby!
Hung out with Julia and Andrew tonight after hitting the Gym and dropping off postcards for The Mouse That Roared. Good catching up, though the bar's music was a bit loud to talk over. On the way home stopped in at the Palace to hang with the guys for a beer. While having some food warmed up for me (Monday Night Football = free vittles!) overheard Danny (one of the bartenders) answering the pay phone that serves as the bar's business line: "Hey. Oh, yeah? What! Did your wife kick you out again?"
I love that bar.
October 27th Autumn Rhythm
The name of one of Pollack's greats. Browser doesn't do the piece justice though. Part of the point is that it's about nine feet tall. On the image tip, here's a good gag: it bashes both Bush and MS Word at the same time!
October 26th S*H*A*M*E
What's wrong with me? It's Saturday night and I'm fantasising about foreign policy instead of trying to get laid. Stupid brain! Why won't you let me be happy!?
My life is a Kris-Kros song. I missed the bus. The alarm clock didn't go off, but that's a pallad excuse. I woke up at 4am of my own accord and thought I could grab another half hour. Next thing I know it's 5:50am, too late. I feel like when I bombed my first test in high school: not a huge loss in the big picture, but a deep sense of embarrassment and failure. Anyway, it looks like 200,000+ got it together. I don't know about CNN (last I checked they're reporting that protesters are gathering by "the hundreds"), but you can see some of it on c-span. Also, there's live audio on indymedia.
Anyway, the energy displacement is causing a lot of internal turmoil. I'm writing. I'm thinking. I'm mulling it all over. The products may just commute my transgressions. You can be the judge of that.
Have a look at this flash animation. Loads more good ones at toostupidtobepresident.com
October 25th All Systems Go
Mix tape and boombox, check. Flag, check. Ironic costume, check. Provisions, pending. I'm getting ready for a little adventure!
Catching up on other things around the web, JT's got some quality introspection with all the lurid details. The truth is endlessly fascinating.
Still riding something of an updraft, mood-wise. Frank is living large as well, and I think high tides are raising all the boats around here. Fiscal solvency aside, life is pretty good. Spoke to my dad on the phone last night, a rare treat, triggering fond anticipation of the holidays, of simple things.
October 24th Revolving
I'm getting juiced up (and making costume preparations) for tomorrow's critical mass, and I have my bus ticket for saturday to DC. There are still some seats left on the NYsaynotowar bus in case anyone is looking.
Strange day today. Was running errands in the city. Someone tried to rob the bank while I was there, but chickened out, just slid a note across and then seconds later walked. I didn't know what happened until after the fact. Then my bike broke down, but George fixed it just for the cost of labor because it was the part he'd put on last month. I also saw Jackass the Movie tonight for free 'cause Christine got passes. It was ok. What makes it work is that the guys are obviously just having a great time. The weather is cold and lovely, full of nostalgic smells. I feel good, and so everything seems nice. I like the way that works.
Frank sends this link: blackpeopleloveus.com. Laugh out loud funny. Pushing the envelope just enough.
I don't know how much time any of you spend on-line, but I'm out there a lot. I don't watch TV except for the Simpsons or when I need sedation, but I do surf the internet for fun and profit. I think of it as a kind of civic duty for the information age. Think about that: if Labor Unions were the economic voice of "the people" which emerged from the Industrial Revolution, what is the equivalent for the Information Revolution? Ho ho ho.
So I spend time online. I see a lot of bullshit warblogging. It makes me mad. Thankfully, I occasionally find some great critiques. Here's one of the best. And here's something else that's even funny: a send up of that bastardly mannifesto I linked to yesterday.
Here's a thought: when rockstars make songs for peace, we'll be well on our way. Right now I'm not sure where the kids are at, but these people are clearly racist motherfuckers.
October 23rd Rage! Rage!
First, a hit of politics. Here's quick link to some health-care shenanigans going on back in my state of origin. Go Oregon, go! And here's some brilliant argumantation against what's going on with Us and Iraq. And here's something I find very frightening and infuriating, and someone who's already done a good job refuting it.
Eric Raymond is a bigleague geek. He's written some cool software, but he's also completely jingo. Having walked among geeks for many years, I can tell you this: they don't understand politics. They don't understand politics because they're emotionally immature (or at least emotionally inexperienced) as a class. Let me give an example. When I was going back and forth with Stephen Denbeste, something came out of our last email exchange that I didn't publish, but I feel should get out there now.
joshk: One last thing, do you actually have friends and family in the military? Just wondering if that last line, "sons and daughters" and so forth, is real or rhetoric.
denbeste: It's both. I do not know anyone in the military, but it isn't empty rhetoric either. I really do feel that way; I had tears in my eyes when I wrote that.
That's what I'm talking about. That level of unchecked sentimentality is what I would call "unstable," and I think it's scary that people who are that out of hand are making waves, on the internet or anywhere else.
On a lighter note, my old buddie Nate directed me to a great little paper titled "Notes on Postmodern Programming". There's also an HTML translation (thx Google!) if you don't like multi-meg PDF downloads. It's interesting and exciting and motivating stuff. Makes one want to code. I like the general feel of "get out of the ivory tower and just do it!" The best way to learn anything -- be it scientific or artistic, and on the bleeding edge what's the fscking difference? -- is by experimentation and intuition and rigorous notation.
On the code tip, I'm thinking of integrating some real blog software to my site here. My original goal with oj.com was to make significantly more than a daily blog (my ideal is kind of a personal blog/wiki, but I'm doing it by hand). But I'm looking at the possibility of being on the road in the future, or temping, or just wanting to not have to code up a comment mechanism on my own, and my experiences using b2 on nycpeace.com have been very positive. Plus I just love the RSS feeds... gadgets!
But are these communications tools the seeds for information-age revolution? The proof is always in the pudding, and until someone can set up a viable datahaven or hacksquats start popping up all over the abandoned industrial tracts of American cities without the backing of trust funds, VCs or demeaning day-jobs, the postmodern prophesy will remain something of an ideal for me.
Although it can be done. I went to a party the other night at some folks's house in Brooklyn who subsist by making highly specialized movie-camera components from scratch. These guys take big trips to Flint and Deerhorn michigan and buy up scrap lathes, presses and other metal-fab tools from old GM plants, haul them back to brooklyn and make custom hardware for high quality filmmaking. They have a great big space full of machinery and old computers and cables and the smell of WD40. And an indoor basketball half-court.
Fast forward 10 years and we could do the same, except replace Flint and Deerhorn with Silicon Valley and Redmond, scrap lathes with source code, and hardware with software. The Internet, representational of the first truly shared metaphysical "space" is the postmodern frontier for the 21st century. I like to think of myself as homesteading.
The problem I run into is that most CounterCulture I enjoy participating in is kind of sedentary, happy just to be, or if not sedentary then so far from a viable replacement for mainstream reality that it might as well be. I was watching IFC the other day (we get free cable for some reason, thanks AOL/Time Warner!) and they had a documentary about Berkeley in the '60s. It was all interesting and nostalgic, but the thing that really hit me about it was how the people who were a part of that scene really believed in what they were doing, that it could become the dominant way of life for most of America.
That's the sentiment I miss. The idea that, "hey, this is the right way to live and we've got to spread the word." Right now they've got the guns and the numbers, and we don't have much, except I think we're smarter and that justice is nominally on our side.
But what am I talking about... Idealism! I need to get a job.
October 22nd Now I remember!
Wow. Axiom was a really good time last night. There was some seriously hot shit there, and the space (thankyou Jay Sterkel!) was amazing. I haven't performed in a while and I was nervous. The piece I did wasn't my usual kind of didactic intellectual bit or a sexy/funny crowd-pleaser. It was closest to the Radio/Active bit I did about a year ago based on bikeman, though nowhere near as well developed. It was a character, yet also a little more of me that I would like to admit. Anyway, it went off ok, remembered the lines, kept pushing it out at a pretty high fidelity, so it was good.
The point is though that afterwords I felt a real sense of pleasure and relief. I forgot that doing a quality performance is like a drug for me, the feeling of release and fun, it's better than drugs. It's even better than sex, though it's not really quite on the same level as love. Although performing well for people you care about and then watching them perform well for you... that's the artists equivalent of an orgy, or at least love-fest, I suppose.
Anyway, it was nice, and I feel real good today. I'm waking up.
October 20th Continued...
Cleaned house with Frank today. Life is lighter now, thank goodness. And this is a great webcomic. (Feeling a little paranthetic today, bear with me).
Last night there was class resentment (great Krugman meditation on plutocracy in the NYT magazine, folks), cynicism, frustration, bitterness, all the things that make up the sparkling frosted top to my cupcake of soulful irritation. Poor metaphors are the rainbow sprinkles. Seem to be struggling with some kind of identity crisis, a lot of spinning of the wheels.
Last night I hung out with two, count 'em two, ex-girlfriends. It was actually ok; good to remember a time when I slept with people. Yuliya and I saw Secretary, a lush sensual film about self-mutilation and dominance/submission. It's really quite good. We went out for coffee and some conversation (she's content/bored, going to grad school, looking good though) and then I took some photos for The Mouse That Roared and then we went for drinks with Sam. He and I got into some philosophical discussion about idealism vs pragmatism, and I started to hate the words that were coming out of my mouth. I've slid a long way from many of my core beliefs.
So the truth. After getting kind of tipsy with Yuliya and Sam, I headed down to the East Village to wish Christine a happy birthday. I hung around and talked to JT for a while, then talked to a girl for a bit. I was kind of attracted to her, but really I just had (lust) cheap thoughts on my mind, plus I was a little drizunk. I've come to the realization that although my body wants sex pretty bad these days -- It's been a while -- the experience of fucking someone I don't really like is a loosing equation for me. It's just not worth it.
That's a hard thing to keep straight when someone's lower pelvis keeps nudging into your knee: it makes you want to put your mouth on their body and forget about the world for a few hours. That's a fantasy though, and it requires trust and understanding (usually meaning time) to work it over to reality. Christine and her more recent (ex?)-boyfriend were getting close, doing the hookup shuffle. He gave her a ring with his wisdom tooth in it. I gave her a book. I'd already stayed too long. It was time to leave.
Went to an amazing loft with an underpopulated party going on out in the depths of Brooklyn, near Pratt. Had a few beers, played basketball in their indoor court (!), broke the rim (still clumsy at times), grew weary and waited for it to be ok to bail. Rode home without music because I dropped my mp3 player again. Ended up in low spirits as you can see below...
October 20th - Late Nite Secretary
Confused and polluted tonight, feeling lonesome and more than a little bit desperate in spite of good fried chicken and french fries. Food, it turns out, is a poor substitute for getting down.
October 18th Do you have cred?
It's alive. NYCpeace.com, the blog. I'll be posting most of my anti-war shit there from now on, with only the occasional every day or two link back to old outlandish, or maybe I'll pick up the RSS feed. It's neat to set up this blogging software. I chose b2 for security and a small footprint. Powerful stuff for getting info out fast.
Are you a superstar? Do you have reservations against this here war? Are you a motherfucking rockstar? You might want to be on the Rockstar Bus to DC: http://www.apocalypsewow.org/. On the other hand, if you're poor as fuck (like me), you'll want to check out the cheaper bus. I'm seriously thinking about getting on the damn bus. Need to get a few friends to go with me though.
October 17th Widening Gyre
I feel like change is coming. Political, economic, artistic, emotional, geographical, intellectual, spiritual, occupational, existential change.
There was something of an air of finality to these last two Quick Fix gigs we did at Pace college. It was exhausing work, and not because it was so much work but because it was so poorly organized. Very hard working without a director for much of the process. I'm ending my working relationship with LogReport also. I'm thinking about how I'm going to make ends meet, about the prospects of some freelance jobs and the crushing reality of debt from college, credit cards and the steady march of rent and utilities.
I'm thinking about what a lonely year its been, about how in many ways this life isn't quite working for me.
That's the depressing part. I'm also encredibly hopeful for the future. It's possible to do really great things in this world. It's possible to have almost unimaginable amounts of fun and to create and propogate sweet morsels of truth and of beauty.
But it's hard damn work to make life worth living, and sometimes my resolve slips, the reserves of energy run low. I'm not generating a lot. I'm a bit sedentary to tell the truth. The most troubling thins is I don't quite know the way out of it. I'm about to finish my big journal, the big paper book I've been writing in since I graduated from college.
It's a new thing now.
October 13th BiPolarBiPolar
Just more evidence that the administration's olive branch offerings are a sham. From a time.com article, "7 Questions to Ponder" about war. This is from question #4:
"Pentagon war plans assume that precision air attacks with smart bombs can find and safely destroy hidden caches of bio-chem agents that inspectors have failed to uncover."Call me silly, but how can precision air attacks "find" weapons stashes? And if the Pentagon has information on such stashes, why wouldn't they be taken care of by inspectors and not by bombs? And isn't blowing up barrels full on nerve gas a pretty bad idea in the first place? What the hell passes for a war plan these days?
Made it yesterday to see Bowling for Columbine with JT. I give it a strong recommendation. It really is Michael Moore at his best, a scathing indictment of the American Culture of Fear, so you'll probably either love it or hate it. It did a good job provoking the two of us though, excited jumpy conversation afterwards over pizza slices and "what the fuck are we going to do?" These problems we're inheriting, they're ours. We've got to step up and deal with them sooner or later.
Wild mood swings lately, up and down up and down. Things are coming to a head. I've been drinking a lot more coffee lately and a lot less booze. Results so far are less sleep and an acute sense of agitation with the state of the world. The regimen of sedation is slipping and reality is beginning to pierce my somnambulent cocoon. It's kind of unpleasant actually, but I take it as a good thing. No pain no gain.
Reminds me, when I was a freshman back at the venerable old ETW, we had a basic physical training class -- yoga and shit -- designed to kick our soft little 18-year-old asses into a higher body-gear. It was something of an initiation, lots of sweat and stretching and discovery of limits. One of the questions the instructor asked was, "what is the difference between pain and new sensation?" It's a question worth pondering when your world becomes just a little too familiar and the light from outside begins to hurt your eyes.
I also spellchecked this page. Fucking phonics.
October 11th Cure For Pain
Politics/Debate update: I've amended my pro-war assessment, and posted some specific takeaways from my continuing correspondence with quick-witted hawk Steven Denbeste.
Been listening to a lot of Morphine and Nina Simone and Miles lately, moody soulful music to go with the grey rainy days and crisp Autumnal nights. I'm going to see Michael Moore's new film tomorrow (Saturday) at 4:30 at the Landmark Sunshine theater. Be a part of an outlandish crowd and come along too.
You'll notice I've posted a response to this invite to the right there. Hopefully these little front page columns from my housemates will become a regular feature. I'm all for it. Takes the content-production duty off my back and broadens my site's appeal. Now to set up that lucrative advertising contract with... oh right, it's not 1998. Shit. Oh well, I hope you enjoy Jeremy's fine sense of humor.
Talked with Luke and Mark last night on the phone. Oddly enough had a better talk with Luke than with Mark. Luke's traditionally not much of a phone person, but he's really coming into his own. He explained to me how he's seeing this whole march to war thing from his graduate-level sociology perspective. I'm glad he's thinking about it, that he's seeing a lot of the same things that I am.
Apparently, like anything else, Marx has a theory to explain the manner in which faltering economies distract themselves (e.g. with war) in order to create (with the end of war) the sense that the world is safe for investment again. See, the reality is that one of the reasons that the economy's in the tank is that there's a lot of money that's just sitting it out. Very few new businesses, products or ventures are being initiated. The theory goes that war will distract people from the immediate problems, and when it's over a flood of investment will be cut loose and the economy will surge forth. Problem is, what if there is no "over?" Occupation and colonization aren't things you just walk away from.
More interestingly, Luke is considering writing his Master's Thesis on the cultural manner in which corporations operate, of course taking the sociological perspective. This is important work, given the degree to which corporate entities influence our daily lives. It could also lead to some lucrative private-sector contracts. Way to go, buddy. Props.
October 10th Running Strong
Ha ha! The debate is on! Steven has come back with a refutation of my pro-war assessment. I also got some mail from his fans telling me I've got him all wrong. I'll be updating the pro-war bit with a lot of new content soon. It's quite a treat to finally get into it with an intellectual competitor.
Curling aspirations of wit aside, I'm feeling a little of the old Irish melancholy. I chide myself for lacking in humility, constantly in fear of falling victim to hubris. I stumble on innumerable occasions. I become petulant and passive-aggressive when irritated. I can be a snake at times. I've cheated before. I'm demanding. I'm hypocritical. I'm me.
I have flaws enough to make me a person, I have tasks enough to keep me busy if I cared about them enough to really get on the ball. Ok, I've got problems, but in spite of it all I'm starting to feel a little soulful. It's autumn and the cool slightly damp air and new music on the bike ride are giving me good feelings all over. I just talked to Chrisitna on the phone for the first time in a while. I really have missed her. And snarf, of course. How could I ever forget snarf?
So maybe it's important to hang on to good friends. Maybe it's important to get out and run alone. Maybe it's important to commit yourself to what you love. Maybe it's important to pay the rent. Maybe it's important to do what you need to do to live with yourself. Maybe it's important to not disclaim too often. Maybe it's important to do all these things. Maybe it's just important to do.
Yeah. I like that one.
October 9th Quick Update
As I said, I've been corresponding with this fellow Steven about his hawkish views. Out of that debate, and a lot of pro-war reading, I've written a little examination of why people are for the war. I feel that it's very important to understand this if we are to avoid violent conflict. Read on: Why War?
Update: Steven didn't like my characterization of his position (can't say I blame him) and has said he might respond. I like that! If it's not going to happen in Congress, let's have the debate online!
...taking a trip to the temple...
Had a pleasant little fantasy last night while taking a hot bath and relaxing. I imagined a world full of people with strong bodies, free minds, kind hearts and clean consciences. Where women are athletic, taught from a young age that sex is a normal part of life, and take divine pride in pleasure. A world where men are free to plumb the depths of their soul, chart the vast wildernerss of the heart, without having to worry about looking cool. It's is a world full of love, ideas and spirit.
JT's been talking online with a teenage girl, at least he's honest about it. Sparked some thoughts of mine about the whole younger girl thing. Age and Relationships.
October 8th Life
Try as I might, I can't stop writing about the war. It's consuming my mind to an unhealthy degree. But first (again) some humor. Ward Sutton is a pretty acerbic comic wit. And the village voice has a great flashtoon.
On a personal note, it's lonesome being a dove. I find myself living with similar thought patterns on both topics of peace and love. I can see how it works in other places, imagine how it might happen, but have little real cause for personal hope. I'm gripped with fatalism.
I should really try to work more, as I need to get a new machine in the next six months or so. The venerable cube is getting a bit pokey and full, and my monitor occasionally gets the shakes. I keep waiting for the coming TiBook upgrade and thinking how much low-APR credit card balance I have to burn... ahhh consumer fetishism. Do you need a pauper genius?
Saw the prez on the telly last night, nothing new. Same old fear-mongering about suitcase bombs and lab-bread diseases. I don't know if it was just me, but from the subtext of the address, it's clearer than ever that GWB doesn't really see any which way but war. So unless there's another Gulf of Tonkin incident (a.k.a. manufactured flashpoint for conflict) this is going to continue playing out the way it has been for the past month: fearful invocations of 9-11 followed by supplications for the authorization of military force. They don't have anything to push public opinion over the top, and the UN isn't going to rush to war without some provocation. On a hopeful day I can see this thing grinding to a halt.
But I've been conversing via email with some pro-war people. Finally someone to debate. It's enlightening to realize that the pro-war argument basically does boil down to fear and Pax Americana. Again, on a hopeful day I can see that argument loosing its steam.
October 7th Get it Together
First some humor.
Well, it's been a rather dour time around this particular website. As I review the past few entries I see myself struggling with my own politicization and using my website as a bit of a bully pulpit. I don't know if that's really right. It's not wrong (sing along! "it's my website and I'll rant if I want to, rant if I want to, raaant if it want to...") but I suspect that it might be profoundly dull for people who take the time out of their lives to visit this corner of the metaphysical universe. Were I you, I would hardly desire being constantly subjected to the raging doubts and idealistic desires of some kid in Brooklyn. By all means, correct me if I'm wrong.
Anyway, while I'll still push my agenda here, just like everyone with an agenda does wherever they are, I'm going to try and take a more outlandish track on things. No need to be so serious all the time. I've got some other thoughts (juicy confessions, unfashionable ideas, lurid tales of debauchery and decadence) that are ripe for the posting.
Yesterday I attended the not in our name rally in central park [photos here]. It was good. It was big, but a lot of people (friends of mine in particular) were missing. The only news coverage I can find is from Jordan or the BBC. This is dangerous, because it turns people off to even "serious" news sources, it shunts people into an alternate information environment in which there is little to no standard of journalism. I wrote the following to the NYT:
On Sunday, October 6th more than tens of thousands proud Americans gathered in Central Park's east meadow to protest the growing momentum in this nation towards a bloody war with Iraq. This gathering coincided with numerous others nationwide, a direct and distinct show of opposition to the President's war agenda.
After attending the energetic event, I was dismayed to return home and find that despite the presence of Hollywood stars such as Martin Sheen, Gabriel Byrne, Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins, the local media found a mock Olympic torch relay to be of more interest. To be clear, an event that drew a few hundred tourists and which will have no bearing on our city for a decade has been determined to be far more newsworthy than mass nationwide rallies in protest of war.
Sadly, the NYT is following suit in ignoring the protests. In the past weeks, this paper has elected not to cover the enormous (400,000+) anti-war marches in London, and now this paper has elected to ignore what is going on in its own back yard. I hope you, the editors, realize that you are contributing to the creation of a cynical generation who does not trust even "reputable" newsmedia, who see important events occur with their own eyes and then observe established sources of information behave as though such events never happened.
The world needs a standard of journalistic excellence. The world needs a free and inquisitive investigative presence. The world needs to have news organizations it can trust. Today, you have failed us on all counts. Shame on you.
October 6th Have a Taste of This
At the moment, the Bush team is leading the nation much more by fear than by hope. The Democrats can only win, or only deserve to win, if they can offer a bold alternative. That would be a program for strengthening America based on hope not fear, substance not spin, a program that addresses the primary concern of Americans now: the future for the kids whose pictures they carry around in their wallets.
That's from Friedman's latest editorial in the NYT. S'what I've been trying to tell people for months now. Let's hope the message starts getting around.
October 5th Freemasons Run the Country!
I found that bit I saw Wally Shawn do w/Andre Gregory the other day. It's a cracking good read.
Points of light aside, the media atmosphere is almost enough to make you believe in shadowy government conspiracies, in smoky boardrooms where crusty old white men make the decisions. I can't find anyone in real life (e.g. not on my TV) who's willing to make a pro-war argument. I've been thinking about going out and trying to start some debates on the street... make it safe with theater somehow. I'm working on the idea.
Conspiracy theories are a waste of time and energy though. They appeal to people who don't like the way things are and don't feel they have any power to change things. It gives them a reason why everything is fucked up and a release from responsibility. It's almost like religion. Conspiracy-theorists can lead whatever life they want to, and they know why things don't go their way. I once had a conversation with an acquaintance of Mark's in which he revealed a deeply-held belief that freemasons are controlling the world. It was sad, because here's a nice enough, smart enough guy, and he's decided to insulate himself from the world, from the course of events, with this belief.
I feel the same way about the "Bush knew" folks, I don't want to confront them (don't feed the Trolls), but I also think it's a mis-direction of energy.
But really. Conspiracy. Sometimes the idea appeals, but the reality is just that there's a lot of politics and propaganda going down. I was reading Andrew Sullivan the other day -- I do this for the same reason that I occasionally flip on FoxNews: to keep myself sharp -- and it's really unbelievable, the kinds of arguments that are being spouted. It's classic propaganda: making quasi-logical but very simple arguments aimed at non-intellectual people. It assumes the people are stupid.
But the people continue to poke holes. I found an amazingly great post in response to the usual rhetoric over at Slate, which I will quote from here:
So why is Iraq so scary to Saletan and the others? I can't fathom it. But then, I can't fathom how a person can urge the unleashing of massive death and destruction on a nation that has not attacked us, and will never really attack us. Couldn't figure out how the Germans convinced themselves it was cool; can't figure out how we are about to do the same thing. If we had a fraction of the guts that we claim to have as a nation, we would not be so ready to kill out of pure, unadulterated, cringing fear. I guess to follow up on Rumsfeld's tact: the home of the brave is the residence of the craven.
October 4th The Liberal Life
This is hilarious. And it goes on. Manly humor.
And now back to serious stuff. In spite of my disagreement with the use of the work "liberal" as a derogatory term, I carry a certain amount of doubt around with me. It's like I am about being an artist, sometimes proud, noble and righteous, but also sometimes bashful, apologetic and full of self-loathing. Did a little planning this morning for some artist-started action at ground zero with some professional liberal creatives. Grown ups. I don't know if they're role models, but I like the life, the habits, the space, the purpose, the comradery. If we can keep showing up, keep getting our message out, maybe we won't loose the propaganda war.
Last night I went to this rally, an evening of conscience, which was a real good time. I got Frank to go, and I think it turned him on too. I mean, how can you not get excited by the opportunity to sing along with Pete Seeger? The real highlight for me was the bit that Wallace Shawn and Andre Gregory did, a clever turn on the format of "My Dinner with Andre." It was a transcendent bit of intellectual stagecraft, two masters of the theater just having fun on the subject of war and power. There were many other great moments: one of the organizers spitting genuine bile for a moment -- giving voice to our collective rage against 'those lying, filthy, murdering motherfuckers who call themselves leaders of the free world' -- some incredibly clever stream of consciousness poetry, a great inspirational rant from Tony Kushner.
I heard the latter disfavorably compared by some old timers to Ginsburg, but who would compare otherwise? But let's get down to brass tacks. Ginsbug is dead. Keasy is dead. A lot of the people I admire are dead. I'm thankful for what we've got, and I believe that what we've got is only going to get better. I personally have so much more energy and excitement after last night, it's really something. I'm sure Ginsberg, Kesey and the others would echo the great Wobbly Joe Hill: Don't Mourn -- Organize!
I'm pleased and excited to see that college kids of the fresh-faced variety are involved. I'm pleased and excited that Mos Def and Saul Williams are into it. Hip hop is today what rock & roll was 40 years ago: full of prurient messages exhorting sex and violence and emptyheaded consumption, but also real, relevant and capable of inciting people to action. Chuck D, are you listening? I love rock & roll, but as a musical style it really doesn't matter these days. That could change but it seems unlikely, especially with hip hop running so strong.
October 3rd I'm Thinking About Peace
In case you haven't gathered, I'm pretty anti-war. I've got a real bad feeling about this. I've put my thoughts on an anti-war movement together into a little essay. Thanks to those of you who commented. I've improved it a bit, methinks. Put the good stuff up front.
October 2nd Wild Mood Swings
Quick human entertainment: missed connections. Fascinating. Maybe I should log an entry for the (Alex) tall blonde woman (with tatoos!) I met quite briefly at trivia night (smart-girl glasses) there at Pete's Candy Store. I asked here not too long ago where to meet the smart girls and that, friends, seems like the place. Well, let's skip the human drama of 'missed connections' and show up next week, see if the connection can be un-missed.
Last night went to an anti-war meeting with artists that Steve helped organize. A few downtown-scene celebs (Schechner, Talen, Finley, others) but the real zing came from the kids. Especially the one who's not in Tisch and who's doing a newspaper, staffing tables, actually making the shit go down. He made the rest of us look bad. Earnest, pragmatic, motivated and practically brimming with truth. But he's just a kid. Artistic egos crowd the room, stuffy, too many people trying to talk, but maybe that's how things get started. Still, highly frustrating.
What the left needs is some leadership; a new rant coming soon. Progressive people need to think outside the box. The big media outlets aren't going to help us. They've made the logical choice to be pro-war on the basis of ratings. Ergo, the revolution will not be televised. I think we all knew that though.
Anyway, it's lonesome town out here. I'm steadily loosing my will to live, not in a suicidal sense, but definitely in an existential one. Need to keep up some routine, get inspired. But the bitter truth is that I'm consumed with angst. When not fucked up or otherwise anesthetized I really do feel like breaking down. What's the way out of that? Acceptance? Becoming one of the mass? I don't hate society so much that the thought does not appeal, but I don't think it's something I'll do.
October 1st A few changes...
As you can see, I'm making a few changes around here. It's only the beginning. It's always only the beginning. Time to Grow, evolve, mutate, miscegenate, propogate, disseminate. Peaceful people should find something to participate in on sunday, because if we don't start making noise and getting the Other Point of View spread around now, it'll be too late.
Personally, I feel like I'm in a bit of a sticky spot. I am truly and deeply freaking out about war, becoming unhealthily obsessed. But I'm not the only one. Steve told me he's been obsessing too, and he's a grown up so I don't feel so bad about it. Still, it's hardly a way to live, constantly feeling at odds with your surroundings, encircled with what seems like a panopticon of filth, greed, corruption, evil. Yeah, that ain't no kinda fun.
And yet I'm slowly getting charged up. Heading into uncertain times I feel a kind of guilty excitement for the coming turmoil. It's not going to be the end of the world, or at least let's hope not (ice age coming?), but it is going to be a crisatunity (search for that word here). I'm making art with the Quick Fix and Valhalla and Axiom and that feels really really good for a change. If the Beatles (I love the fab four... why don't we get teen pop like that any more?) can make all that great music in the midst of the Vietnam war and all that other bullshit, maybe there's still a place for non-escapist beauty in this modern world. Maybe that's something I can do.
Last night screened "The Salton Sea" downstairs with John and Sarah and Frank. It's a great little bit of pop-art cinema with good old Val Kilmer as a mysterious speed freak. The highlight though is Vincent D'Onofrio's turn as a cranked out hilbilly dealer. Good film about revenge and need and friendship, like all worthwhile 'drug' movies. Makes me wonder how amphetamines went from the being the drug of choice for the Beats and accomplishment-minded hippies to the domain of truckers and rusted out cracker tweakers. How did the stimulant culture go so wrong? How did the rest of us get mired in this slurry, problematic realm of sedation and gloom? "More coffee for me, boss. More coffee for me. More coffee for me boss, 'cause I'm not as messed up as I want to be."
Back in time to September: Electric Faithful