"Undermining my electoral viability since 2001."

Poll Numbers

Tom Tomorrow brings to light some distressing poll numbers. Our informed citizenry. This is the sort of thing that really frightens me. It honestly does feel like we are starting to slip into some sort of Orwellian nightmare, where facts are completely mutable, controlled by the state, and the Memory Hole gobbles up whatever is inconvienent to the current Plan. This is largely the result of confluence of interestest between the government and the media since 9-11, and it raises serious questions (for me anyway) about the essential health of our democracy.

I hope everyone can see that the spread of disinformation and bullshit is a bad thing. It leads inexorably to widestpread corruption and retards progress, as people who are concerned with being 'on message' must in some way sacrafice their concern for telling the truth, for being honest. Just as scientists who serve an agenda (rather than science) do not produce worthwhile results, politicians who serve and agenda (rather than the people) similarly fail to make things better. The line between ideological kowtowing and honest pursuit of justice is much fuzzier in social contructs like politics, but there is still a line.

And then there's this: the International Hummer Owners Group: I-HOG, no kidding.

Read More


Forward Progress

So I more or less have a job through June. This is good news, and it's making my stress-load feel much lighter than ever before. I'm also working on some interesting peace stuff and a new site feature. I want to add a little grafitti board in place of the poll, which I can never seem to come up with good questions for. Maybe we could have both. I'm also thinking about room-renovations, a new desk, some new hardware, etc. And I'm making travel plans for Ren Fayre and the little monkey gathering that's brewing later this month in Boston.

Read More



Real quick I have to brag. Here's an excerpt from an interview with the lady I'm besotted with, done by her roommate amy:

Sasha: Although, we've been known to have a swooning affect on people.

Star: I've witnessed this swooning you speak of.

Sasha: eeeeeee! And I understand that you've heard some as well, I apologize.

Hehehe... the emphasis is all mine.

Read More


Looking Up

My mother used to send me little laminated clippings from magazines and such in care packages when I was in college, and I would stick them around my dorm room or whatever. They were really pretty cool images: things like students in Paris rioting in '69 and a human egg being artifically inseminated. One of my favorites was an image of Ollie North on a television with the Oscar Wylde quote, "we're all lying in the gutter, but some of us are looking up at the stars," superimposed over the top.

As I traversed the city in the beautiful weather this past fine Sunday I began to regain some of my lost affinity for my fellow man. Occasional smiles from strangers picked me up in little ways, and the cosmopolitan heart of New York pumped strong loving blood, a lone saxaphone playing man on 5th and 43rd echoed soothing basanova through the hollow canyons of midtown. In front of the central park bandshell capable people were playing games with gravity. A band of unicyclists occupied one corner, while another was controlled by young men performing personal cicular acrobatics with tricked out BMX bikes. There were plenty of regular people too, rolerbladers and dog-walkers and dudes playing catch. All around were freindly, beautiful, open faces of many ages and colors. I watched it all, conversations and acrobatics, people being people, and I thought to myself, yes, this is America.

A little closer to the lush closed off green of the sheep meadow -- still off limits so the sodding process can fully take -- there was a band of dreadlocked men in outlandish garb and loudspeakers playing some world beat fusion with a crowd of uninhibited people, smiling people, dancing in an unconscious and gleefully unorganized way. I thought that, yes, this too was America.

Then on my bike again to Grand Central I had another thought about how I'd seen so many clean, fit people with nice clothes and nice toys -- the fashionable long-haired woman with the acoustic guitar she couldn't really play; "just a prop," she said to her friend -- and I realized with more than a trace of bitterness how much I missed hanging around friendly affluent liberal people. They'd abounded in college, coloring the atmosphere with freewheeling funloving optimism and an earnest, if inexperienced, progressive consciousness. In the years since graduation I've lived in more austere company, class lines and parental cutoffs reducing my social sphere to that of people more in line with my means, and for a moment I feel a sense of regret and longing, to be a part of the soft pretty world that so often comes bundled with a lack of material concerns.

On my way out of the park I passed a man trying, poorly, to teach his daughter the finer points of riding a bicycle in busy surroundings. "Main road," he kept saying to her in a disconcertingly passive-aggressive tone as she drifted toward an exit spur, prompted in part by my lead. "Main road." She clearly didn't understand and was upset that she was upsetting her father, and I remarked to my self on how easy it is to fall into a pattern of forcing things.

Walking into grand central there's a skinny young National Guardsman with a black military baret and a high and tight haircut cracking jokes with a African-American female NYPD officer. More America, in all its spelendor, right under my nose.

And so I begin to feel a little better about everything. I don't need to have parties all the time, but I do need to help people join the 21st century. In spite of all their flag-flying, my neighbors are to my mind kind of unamerican. With that realization it occurs to me that it's up for debate; the nature of this country. My thought on the train, an optimistic one, as I rolled north past 125th St and the sun set over Harlem, was that America is this -- all the beautiful things I've seen and a helping loving hand outstretched to the ugly and maligned -- but only if we want it to be. If we want it to be and we will work for it, it is. Because it's the truth. Equality. Love. Justice. These are the truth, and they always feel better.

Read More


War-Planner Idiocy

In case anyone needed further proof that the clowns who planned this war are completely unqualified to manage a Denny's, here this from yesterday's Meet The Press:

MR. RUSSERT: But why is it that we had 600,000 troops for the Persian Gulf War to remove Saddam from Kuwait, when we only have 300,000 to take over all of Iraq?

MR. WOLFOWITZ: It's a long and complicated answer, but I think the simplest part of it is what I have just said. If we had waited to put 600,000 troops in place, we would have lost all elements of surprise.

Yes. I'm sure the whole world was surprised by the invasion. Especially the Iraqis. Shocked and Awed, I hear they were. Yes sir. No matter that no actual military man would believe this in a hundred years. I'm glad we've got civilian ideologues running this show, and I'm sure the Iraqi's are too. Congradulations, liberated people.

Also, I may be trapped in Westcheaster by the storm.

Read More



Well, we had a big party here last night. It was our usual 3 kegs/full bar extravaganza, but this time with more room in the basement and a few more people from the 'hood in attendance. I really like having people from around over to the party, even if it does occasionally cause a little tension. It's the future, as far as I'm concerned, and the future sometimes requires effort. However, things really took a nose dive for me when the neighbors got pissed.

The thing is, we've done this many times before and it's never been an issue. However, this time the man living next door (his father owns their building and is always outside smoking a cigar and listening to mets baseball) came in shouting, wanting us to clear everyone out and turn off the music or he would call the cops. I tried to reason with him but he was livid. Even after the music was off he persisted in complaining, saying there were "too many people" in our house. When he let slip a commet about "mixed races" I realized that I wasn't going to get anywhere with him that night. The truth was he was mad about the noise, but what he was really mad about was the sort of people we had over at our house. There's no reasoning with that, especially not at 12:15AM, and so I set in to wait for the police to arrive.

The 94 squad car appeared in due course -- our man Archie correctly predicting a delay because of shift change. I thought I would meet the police at the door and discuss the issue there, but they had other plans.

"We're coming in," they said.

"I don't think so," I replied, at which point they shoved open the door with the excuse "this is a public hallway." Bullshit. If it's a public hallway, then way are all the locks on that door?

At that point, I thought things were going to go wrong. Usually if you resist the police and they get past you it gets ugly, but the cops did a strange turnaround. Advancing three or four paces into the building, they stopped, simply told us to keep the music off, and then left, pausing only to warn me that if I got in their way again when they said they were coming in, then they were going to take me off in handcuffs. Not really all that constitutional, but I'll take it.

My take is that they quickly realized they had no reason to immediately bust us and that the guys next door were at the very least overracting. I also intuit that they've been called out by the guys next door before. Known complainers, perhaps.

At this point my evening was pretty much shot. There was no getting rid of the tension. It's still with me now. After making the rounds and trying to assure everyone that things would be ok if we left the music off, I retired with Sasha, who blisfully breezed in with a gaggle of beautiful people all wearing wigs. Thank goodness for that, or else I might have just broken down and cried or something.

In the morning, I found my camera was missing (so was Frank's wallet), which really makes it all worse. On the one hand, I'm very angry at my neighbor for blowing up essentially beacuse of the kind of people we have over at our party. On the other hand, I'm angry at whoever was disrespectful enough to steal from me when I invited them into my home. I'm also mad at myself for being dumb enough to leave the camera out, for which I again partly blame my neighbor for if I were not so agitated and stressed I wouldn't have made that mistake. The camera isn't even the issue. I can buy another camera, but I had some really fucking good pictures in there too. Intangable shit.

And so a lot of people still had a grand time, I hear. This is good. It's why I like to throw a party. From a safe distance, I'm sure this evening will provide me with untold hours worth of interesting spectulation. The manner in which groups behave, mixed up wonderful energetic groups, is endlessly fascinating to me. The delecate balance of creating a good vibe with people is something of an art. We were getting good at it until we had to expand our scope to take in the people next door.

But right now the whole thing is putting a damper on my faith in humanity today. Why can we not just be real and truthful with one another? It's possible. Example:as I was trying to keep the music off, one of the guys from the neighborhood kept turning it back on. He and I had a mild confrontation about it, which ended with me holding his hand away from the power switch and simply laying it on the line. "It's not about you," I said. "It's about me and my house and my neighbors and the cops and I'm afraid. I'm sorry and I wish I weren't but I'm afraid, and I need to keep the stereo off." At which point his resistance melted. The truth always feels better.

And now I'm off to Chappaqua. Peace.

Read More


Anachronism (Smoking Chums)

Reading Mr. Capodice's comment in my most recent smoking-related post, I must once again commend his tobacco leaf rhapsody, the scallywag. To wit, I think it's beautiful and evocative. Perhaps while nicotine gives users little in the way of accute intoxication it teaches them valuable lessons about desire and longing. In any event, I'll take the poetrey where I can find it.

I resonate with Nick's sense of temporal displacement, the continual feeling that this is not the right time for me. While he longs for a rum-runner's card-sharking black and white classic paradise, I find myself wishing I could ramble the great green beatific earth in the era just before "peace and love" became a marketing slogan, when hard bop, bluegrass and the first strains of rock and roll were the tunes of the day, and real outlaw culture was creeping up everywhere in the shadows of main street USA. I've thought about this often in my day, and the only conclusion that I can come to is that living in the past is always an exercise in frustration. Are we with our affections for less popular species of retrospective living any less ineffectual than the hipsters who merrily wallow in their 70s/80s electroclash mishmash?

Today's youth are too reactionary for their own good, living submerged in passed-on fashions, the regugitated symbols of another generation. If we are to truly ride forward in our breif time alive, we'll have to really try and come up with something honest and powerful, more than just style. We must plumb the depths of our historical affections, not in search of arcane minutae to display for one another in the grand and primal tussle that is the social pecking order, but to seek out the pearls of truth and essances of being that are the source of an era's cultural gravity. These elements of an epoch transcend time -- I fully believe this -- and if we are to mint a bold new future, these distilled liquors of the past are a necessary ingredient in our progressive potion.

I still hold that the act of smoking itself -- or any drug use for that matter -- has little intrisically to do with the era that one is whisful for. It may be an elegant symbol, but symbols are merely signifiers of deeper, more tidal forces. What does sucking down the fumes of dried tobacco have to do with a vagabond's spirit? Surely it's a poetic gesture of self-immolation, but just as surely the gamut of human experience provides plentiful alternatives, perhaps even superior ones.

I believe the whithering we see in our world -- this slow creeping end to fun and intrigue and mystery and romance and truth and passion -- has much more substantial roots than our lastest public health pogrom. While is seems we must agree to disagree on the merits of this particular point of order, I'm ready willing and able to join with anyone and everyone who wants to strike a blow at the heart of stale smug fat bland starbucks-bathed cubicle-pushing euphamism-spouting bullshit 21st Century America. There's an alternative to all this plastic; if you will it, it is no dream.

Read More


Amazing War Editorial

Here is one of the most worth-reading pieces of opinion/global criticism I've yet read in these troubled times, clever invokations and all there is to be bitter about, yet still some causes for hope. Arundhati Roy of the Guardian tells it like it is (fixed link!)

Also, for the more rational of heart and head, here's a quite interesting analaysis of metaphors and war. I especially like the conclusion:

First, the anti-war movement, properly understood, is not just, or even primarily, a movement against the war. It is a movement against the overall direction that the Bush administration is moving in. Second, such a movement, to be effective, needs to say clearly what it is for, not just what it is against.

Third, it must have a clearly articulated moral vision, with values rather than mere interests determining its political direction.

Amen to that, brother. Like I've been saying...

Read More


Chris Is In

If you havn't read back-to-iraq lately, it's time to catch up. Christopher has made it to Iraqi Kurdistan. The acccount of the border crossing is a harrowing read!

As mom sez in the comment, english.aljazeera.net is online, though it appears only the headlines are working at this time. This is good news for fair and balanced meta-coverage.

Interesting update on the articles not appearing on aljazeera.net: the content is there (look at the page source) but it's not being displayed because of the craptacular MS html coding. My professional view looking at the HTML source for those pages... it's an abomination, renderable in Explorer, but not in Mozilla, Navagator or Safari. Looks like I'm back to using IE for a while. Score one for the bad guys!

Read More


Smoking Guns

Some lively responses to the smoking ban post from Nick and Alex. Thanks for the input, even if it is contrary to my position. I suggest everyone read the comments, as they're good representations of the pro-smoking viewpoint from both a smoker and a (usually) non-smoker. I must say that Nick's rhapsodic appeals don't hit home for me. Two posts ago:

[NYC is about] sheisters, grifters, 'if a guy gives you a ration of crap, flick a cigarette in his eye and kick him in the knee', a city that was once owned by a one-legged guy from Amsterdam, a town where you actually get a buy-back if you drink a lot, where there are transvestites, where Limehouse Chappie opened up the first 'big store' in the 30's, the only place in the world that embodies 100% class and sleaze at the same time.

Other than the flicked cigarette part, I fail to see the connection between any of the above and smoking, but that's more likely than not because I'm not a smoker and have little emotional chemical to the chemical or the act. Smoking fails to resonate with any of the imagery he puts forth. Nick writes that "The cigarette is an INTEGRAL part of a style of living." Does that mean that as a non-smoker I will never have that same style of living? Being as I like the images he evokes, I hope not.

One other thing: "But it's a habit, and smart people will soon quit." No they won't. This is something I feel very strongly about. My father, a very smart man, smoked for 30+ years until prostate cancer gave him a wake-up call. My mother, a very smart lady, smokes even today, despite the fact that her brother -- another highly intelligent individual -- passed away of lung cancer after 20+ years of lighting up regularly. Nicotine is the most addictive drug known to mankind. More addictive than cocaine or heroin. The longer you use it and the earlier you started, the less likely you are to quit. Smoking is not a habbit, like picking your nose. It's an addiction. That's a fact, and it has fuck all to do with how smart you are.

Read More