"Undermining my electoral viability since 2001."

The Fog of War

No War Kid
This is the kind of think that keeps me going. Thanks to NDW for (indrectly) linking me up with this image.

Waching the 24-hour news like a good info-junky, observing the fog of war, I can't help but balk at the resemblance between the war coverage and a football pre-game show, right down to the drawings on screen and the "tale of the tape" run-ups. I'm just waiting for John Madden to pop up with some commentary: "And here comes the MOAB -- you know Jim that's short for 'Mother of all Bombs' -- and boom! That's gotta hurt."

Plenty of Hummer commercials too. Yeah, baby. "Like Nothind Else."

A fragment of conversation coming back up to mind, maybe from St Pats. "This war is more fucked up than incest. It's like watching your dad go over and kick the crap out of your neighbor's dog, and then being told to 'stand up for the family' when you try to raise a voice in protest."

I just re-read a bunch of my own postings here, and it was kind of boring. I'm really getting tired of mouthing the same basic sentiments dressed up with whatever "news" makes it through to us today. I'm starting to feel like everything is pretty predictable, which is not really a very good feeling. Like the great Marvin Gaye, I just want someone in charge to answer me, "what's going on?"

The british are coming
Brits training in Kuwait... a kind of strange visual resemblance to Baywatch, no?


If you've become a radiation mutant with a deformed hand, remember to close the window. No one wants to see that shit.

Lately I've been countering this growing sense of zombification by perusing direct postings from the field, real words from real people in real places as an antidote to the more or less plastic reality that surrounds me. Today this site from Kuwait is reporting that the US has already entered Iraq. I suppose that's referring to the DMZ, so we knew this. They also have live pictures from the area (where I got the running gas-mask guys here) and are reporting rumors that the "official" push will begin at 4:15am tonight, which makes it 8:15pm eastern. Sounds about right, providing that sandstorm dies down. Precisely 24 hours after the prez's little ultimatum, at least that's on-target.

I'm a little demoralized, politically. Even the rage is beginning to dissipate. I'll probably watch the jolly little war on CNN just like everyone else. God, what a tragedy. I don't even belive in God, but it's still a tragedy.

I shared the "give the statue of liberty back" site with Frank today, being as how we'd joked about spreading that idea around in Jest. His response was quite good:

... I had seen it before but now I posit another sarcastic commment/prediction: the use of french words in US military vocabulary. I mean, most of our military organization was done by the French and therefore many of common vocab words are French ones. For instance the word "sortie", (a mission) is the from the french verb "sortir" to go out. Will we have "Freedom" instead of "triage" units? Will combat units "freedom" instead of "rendez-vous" at a given pick-up point? Keep your eyes peeled, young Koenig, the stupidest is yet to come.

Wars aside, the rest of life continues to go well. Went to see comedian Rick Shapiro last night w/Sasha. Holy shit, that man is channeling something. Maniac rants against all things mediocre, scum-bellied sweaty-chested honesty, and a way of snapping back from tangents that makes Spaulding Grey look like an ameteur. Sign him up as the official comedian for the subculture of truth. We can still laugh, so we are still alive. On that note, here's another good ready.gov parody (link from doc).

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Still Alive

St. Patrick's day massicre. It's a long, shallow, dimly-lit blur for me. I remeber drinking Guiness in the back yard in the afternoon. I remember Sam bringing in a red bucket of popcorn to the bar. I remember some kind of conversation. I remember feeling more sober at 1:30am than at 8:30. This morning I staggered weakly back to consciousness, hurting badly, crapping out mushy black stuff and enduring a cold sweat. I watched the president's speech via C-Span's archival service, vomited a couple of times, took a nap and now at last am beginning to feel human again.

There's a certain point in a long day of drinking where booze acts like a disassociative, where one starts seeing things from an almost out-of-body perspective. This is usually where you do something really stupud, but it can also be a time to realize some things about yourself. The slow punishment of a truly awful hangover inspires reflection, like a moral sentence, a form of pennance, a kind of masochistic meditation. Even more than cheap laughs and animal hijinks, this is one of the things I appreciate about alcohol.

Luke and Mark both emailed me today, which was a welcome surge of energy. Luke sent a lot of poll figures, Mark talks of returning soon from Equador. I stumbled upon a great new source of direct information from Iraq: http://www.kevinsites.net/. It's a been a hazy day, and now I'm off to meet Sasha, who's been supervising the development of the big end of year show the students put together at her school. "It gives chaos a whole new meaning," she says. "It's more reckless than an episode of Cops."

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Game Over Man

They pulled the resolution. There will be no vote. Diplomacy over. Stay tuned for the president tonight at 8, and then for war.

Update: The fallout has begun in Britan, with the former Foreign Secretary and Labor party leader of the House of Commons resigning. Things look bad for ol' Tony. I don't agree with his position, but I do respect him for having the guts to face all the opposition he has in the UK. All those video clips of him taking painful questions from average brits on TV and then facing stony silence (or worse, that slow, synchanized clapping) at the end. That takes balls.

By the way, if you're reading this, you have time to complain by phone or email to the white house and your elected officials:

White House Comment Line: (202) 456.1111
White House Email: president@whitehouse.gov, vice.president@whitehouse.gov.


Pass it on.

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Happy Note

Just so you don't think I'm all mopey and depressed. I had a fabulous date making dinner at my place with Sasha on saturday, today me n' Jeremy n' Frank rode our bikes to Coney Island, and tonight I picked up half a loaf of good vibrations from the Union Square Candlelight Vigil. Life is difficult, but full of personal joys.

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Bush: Gonna Give it to Ya

First he's gonna BOMB, then he's gonna ROLL... Bush gonna give it to ya...

My god-dammed irritable and petulant head of state addressed the world today, cutting off Henry Kissenger giving his analysis -- cold, insightful, the kind only a war criminal can proffer -- in the CNN pregame show. The most quoted line is the "moment of truth" soundbyte, but to me the really interesting stuff was the candid responses on the margins, like when he jumped in on top of Jose Maria Aznar (the Spanisn PM), eventually apologizing, or when he uttered the phrases "the wars of the 21st Century are going to require a lot of international cooperaion," and "it's important for the U.N. to be able to function well if we're
going to keep the peace," in consecutive breaths.

"The wars of the 21st Century," and "if we're going to keep the peace." I think I'm going to pop a blood vessel. Notice the plural on wars. Wars. This really is prepetual war for prepetual peace.

If you want a reaction for a Portugese blogger, it's here. God bless the internet. She also give a link to the complete transcript of the affair, if you're interested.

As I said to Frank, there's nothing worse than a fucking spoiled rich kid from fucking Connecticut, flunks his way through Yale on some gentlemen's Cs, then takes his trust fund out to Texas and decides he's a damn cowboy, comes back East and is tryin' to tell y'all what it's all about. He didn't learn shit about being a cowboy out there; he learned how to be a failed oilman, a baseball team owner, and backroom dealmaker. These people have got to go! They're a pack of cheaters who've been taken in by some very delusional academics, are blatantly using fear to achieve their ends, are comfortable making public statements that can't be trusted any further than they can be thrown, and they're got my future in their hands. Let me tell you, I don't like their brand of business. They're people who are valuable because they can "make things happen," not because they have any real bright ideas about the world. It's frightening.

Sometime this week, we will have officially failed to prevent a war. The question now is where are we directing our energy next?

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A Scathing Indictment

If you've never read Dear Raed, today is the day to start. This blog is updated from within Baghdad by an Iraqi citizen, and his writing is precise and insightful. Today's entry is a scathing indictment of the international dumb-show that has more or less destroyed his country lead us to the brink of war.

What is bringing on this rant is the question that has been bugging for days now: how could “support democracy in Iraq” become to mean “bomb the hell out of Iraq”? why did it end up that democracy won’t happen unless we go thru war? Nobody minded an un-democratic Iraq for a very long time, now people have decided to bomb us to democracy? Well, thank you! how thoughtful.

The rest of it is even better. Salam takes on the sanction, the rise of fundimentalism and tribalism, and basically takes the west to task for half-assing his country to death. It's on the money. If there's anything that Afghanistan, Iraq and N. Korea can tell us is that's when you isolate nations, leave them without hope and let them marinate in dispair and lies, bad things happen. That was also the lession of Post-WWI Germany too, now that I think of it, but I've called a truce on any Hitler-related analogies, so I'll let that one lie. What we need now is a strident policy of engagement, a worldwide program to promote peristroyka. Instead we've got the Cowboy in Cheif, alienating the world and embittering people against us with his policy of violence.

Direct engagement can work. It's what about the demise of the USSR... flood the black market with American Culture, drop the punative sanctions, keep up inspections to keep Hussein on his toes, contain, deter, engage, and most of all let the people prosper again. When the people are strong and can support themselves, they will be able to cast off the shackles of dictatorship. This goes for Cuba too, by the way. Punative sanctions keep dictators in power -- they keep populations weak and provide dictators with endless excuses for hardship. Indigenous progress towards democracy is possible. It's happening in Iran right now, though Bush set that movement back about 5 years with that Axis of Evil bullshit, and now they're geting (justifiably) paranoid that they're going to be next. If only we had someone who could see this, who wanted to really be involved in ushering in a new era of progress and prosperity rather than just being the biggest kid on the playground and consolidating his power. It's tough time to be an American.

In other news, I'm in search of our contender for 2004. I've said it before and I'll say it again, these people have had their way long enough. It's time for them to go. If you've got ideas on who I should back and how I should back them for 2004, please chime in.

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Trying a new format here... one lifenote post, one political ramble (see below). The adjustments to new tools continue.

Last night we drank copious amounts of nearly free beer at the Brooklyn Brewery. They debuted their seasonal beer, a dry Irish stout just in time for St. Paddy's. It's quite good. Frank, Andrew, A-Stock and I had a good time sitting on sacks of barley and malt, watching the crowd, letting a tasty cheap buzz wash over us. I really liked the atmosphere at the tasting party: there were a lot of little kids running around, dervish bohemian hellions, children of the beautiful people, a true and honest family vibe. There's something intrinsically earthy about a brewery, something that speaks of salty breeze and woolen caps, long days watching clouds and oceans, of soil and spirit and human-scale connections. It's a kind of home.

Andrew is just now back in the city, getting his feet under him, living with our old friend Sam out in queens, an apparently spacious apartment full of things he procured from Pottery Barn on Long Island. He was very drunk, but full of energy, glad to be back in action I think. It's good to see him again. After the brewery we all (sans A-Stock) went over to Julia's, a bona-fide reunion, the Rubin Hall crew together again. It's good to keep up with people. Andrew passes out almost instantly and we sat about in various states of dazedness just shooting the shit. On the way home Frank and I bought pints of Ice Cream and swapped bikes: me feeling the promise of a finely tuned gear system and a 10-pund frame. The seat was too low and the balance-points made it feel slightly rickety in comparison to my old warhorse, but the thrill of speed was unmistakable tearing up Nassau Ave at 1am.

Today is looking good. The weather is unadulterated beauty. I have a meeting for the next big art show and then a date to cook dinner with Sasha and then into the great wide open.

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Straight Talk

The news is the news, same as it ever was. People are protesting, and people are counter-protesting the protesters. It's America, it's democracy, it's kind of beautiful in all it's contradictions and inconsistancies. I was talking with my friend Kate last night about how depressing the state of journalism is, how the press has slowly become just another impotent institution mired in the tar-pit of corporate America. We talked about how the talking-head anchors sound so different from people in the field, how interviews are almost indistinguishable from one-on-one press conferences, how toothless everything seems to be. We lament the death of integrity, of guts, of good old honest muckraking.

The President (gasp!) left the house to go pow-wow with his war buddies on an Air Force base off the coast of Portugal. It's another one of the things that annoys me so about Bush, his seeming belief that he can get diplomatic traction though a few phone calls and one speech at the UN. It smacks of pampered rich-boy spoiledness. The thought that getting a coalition for war together might involve lots of hard work and travel never seems to have crossed his mind. Now it looks like they're trying to plan the big move, "I flew all the way over here, now let's fucking roll." You know it's not really about the UN, because if it were they'd at least have buddy-buddy Bulgeria in on the talks, if not also a number of the swing voter nations. No, this is about how to get around the UNSC, not go through it.

The prez is in a real bind. They're not getting a resolution. Blair can't back Bush up 100% without one or he'll face the very real prospect of going the way of Marge Thatcher, booted out of office by his own party to stem a popular revolt. Going in without Britan makes us look even more like cowboys than we are, a fact that people here are finally starting to wake up and realize is a bad thing. Sure, there's been a surge of chauvinistic nationalism -- mostly directed at the French -- but the smart money says going it alone -- now almost literally -- is probably not going to get us a happy outcome. It's a recipie for quagmire. I think we're to blame here for starting the diplomatic pissing contest, though the resistance has also solidified to an undreasonable degree. In any case, we've reached an impasse, and unless someone comes up with something truly innovative, there's a train wreck in the offing.

And me personally? I'm going to the candlelight vigil, I'm going to the march next week, but I've accepted that the war is probably going to happen. I hope it's quick and as painless as possible. I hope the Iraqi army surrenders and Saddam flees the country. I hope it's over in a week and no one gets hurt. I'm not too optimistic about any of this, but I'm not cynical to hope it goes bad just so my resistance will be vindicated.

The bottom line though is that these people have got to go. They've had their way for quite long enough, and I want my damn country back. I'm going to be active and pragmatic in 2004 (anyone but Leiberman, please!). Also, the Republican National Convention is going to be here. You're coming to my town, bitches? Wave your flags and dance on some graves? Well this time it's personal; you gonna hear from this cat. Frank and I are resolved to make a scene.

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Pi Day Friday

Maximum Pedagogical Value
It's 3.14 and Einstein's birthday. Do something for science. Christopher of Back to Iraq has been written up in Wired. I encourage you to donate to his fund if you can spare $5. We can buy our own damn corispondent. Also, here's yet another good collection of arguments against war, as if it really matters at this point, but still. Sometimes it all clutches up around my throat, the most bitter satire seems naive, and I feel like this, but today life is too full of truth and beauty for me to be brought down by the ugly misinformation we call the news.

It was an evening and a night and a morning. I went out for dinner with Christine -- ever full of sparkling conversation and good-hearted inquisitiveness -- at delictable cafe gigi. Four cheese pizza with fresh basil, salad with olive oil and balsamic, bottle of wine. It was a good time, in spite of strangely diffident foreigners and the fact that people kept coming halfway in to the over-crowded restaurant, letting in acres of cold wind to wash over us. We talk of philosophy and ethics and war and relationships, only the high points. She gave me some key insight on morality in a way which I want to weave into what I've been writing lately. I let slip my new (and now official) crush, which causes some excitement.

From there, we hit up the Cherry Tavern and various conversations. There was a lot of girl talk, and I started zeroing in on the conversation behind me; a fairly drunk, slighly lisping man making some kind of slipshod pro-war argument -- essentially boiling down to the divinity of American power and might equating with right. I was near to turning around and collapsing his rhetorical house of cards when one of his cohorts vomited all over the floor and they were all obliged to leave. I felt it to be a kind of karmic justice. We put tunes on the juke, talked a bit with a native New Yorker musician and another Portland transplant, small world connections and agreements abounding about the importance of not trying to be someone or thing other than yourself.

Eventually I got the call from the afformentioned crush -- sweet divinity carrying me further south and into the lower east side. How that neighborhood has changed as well... it's not nearly as standardized as the East Village, but in some ways it's even more upscale, reminds me of where SoHo was at before it became a designer shopping mall. I met up with Sasha and we saw a friend of hers perform: Baby Dayliner. It's one man singing along with his own synthesized pre-recorded back-up band. I really dug it, a sound like Modern English, a style and performance as intentional and specific as David Bowie, and a surprising amount of heart. This kid conjures imagery and has a fantastic voice. The whole thing gave me the resonating urge to create.

So now I'm getting all lubricated with my coffee, listening to Bob Dylan in the sunshine and feeling perversely optimistic about the world. It's a dark time in many ways, but I sense an edge of opportunity rising amidsts murk. It's cool to think about things and it's cool to work hard and it's cool to be live and real and true. Now more than ever. Monkey emails are flying in preparation for this years OCF. I'm smitten with a girl who seems to be smitten right back -- I want to make art with her and do crossword puzzles and cook food and furiously engage in all the vagarious business of living. It's an incredilbe time to be a human being, and in my minds eye I can already see and smell the fresh-cut grass of summer, the dust of progress, the candle-lit dinners of revolutionary consciousness, a rickety wooden house on a hill with lanterns and candles and banjo-pickin' moonshine-driven storytellin' escapades. All this and more in a great wide open future, the pace and pitch of which sings in my bones and makes sweet midnight promises to my blood. I'm a lunatic and my spelling sucks and I'm in love with everything.

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Depressing Reading

Much as I'd like to believe there's some light at the end of this tunnel, it appears that there is not. Christopher at Back to Iraq has a piercing analysis of the diplomatic situation, and a depressingly accurate (to my eyes) assessment of the likely outcomes.

This isn’t the start of World War III, it’s the start of World War I — a very stupid war, started thanks to a tangle of alliances, national pride and personal egos involved. It never had to happen...

...When it’s over and the dust has settled, the United States will stand supreme in the world, powerful but hated, its boot on the throat of Iraq. The international frameworks built over the last 50 years, including the United Nations, will lie in ruins or will be about to collapse. Resentful young men, hearts full of fear, hate and Allah will find refuge and a raison d’etre as explosive martyrs. The world will be less safe — for everyone. And thousands of people — soldiers, civilians, innocent or not — will be dead. And for no good reason at all.

The whole thing is here.

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