"Undermining my electoral viability since 2001."


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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Not By Typewriter Anymore

In yet another happy accident of browsing the web, I found out that William Gibson has a blog. He's a writer, that cat. I've always appreciated the fact that he invisioned a whole science-fiction future based on kids playing pong, then slapped it out on an old-school typewriter. There's something pure about that -- people who are deep into tech are often too deep in to see the forest through the trees.

Speaking of machines through which we communicate, I've been noticing how implementing this blog tool has changed my style. It's increased the frequency of my posting, but also made it more broken-up and topical. I'm not sure if I like it like that, but I'm also not sure what the alternative is. Since this little experiment is at least 50% for you, the people who take the time to consume my etchings in the ether, what do you think? Check the new poll.

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Progress On Praxis

Well, since I didn't have much real work to do and last night Sasha was asking me to explain what it is I do, I've been scratching a creative itch all day. Passed the 6,000 word mark on Praxis, and I've gotten great visions for what I want to do with it to communicate the vision to the world. Flash animation. I'm going to try and get Jeremy to do some illustrations (I'll pay him back by agreeing to work on his site some more, I suppose) and maybe crank out a few small bits. It will likely feature me reading selected portions as wells a on-screen text. Maybe music. I want to have the whole thing done by my 24th b-day, which is in about 2 months.

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NYC Opposes War

Bam! NYC opposes war with Iraq in a City Council resolution that just passed, albiet with some softer language that other cities have used. My representitive, David Yassky was one of the primary sponsors. Now if only this would prevent the administration from using our tragedy as a conver for their aggression...

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Got money to burn?

As someone who was sickened by the savekaryn phenomena, here's something I can get behind. Christopher Allbritton wants to report from the field in Northern Iraq, and he's asking for donations to get him there. I've chipped in. This is what it's all about, people: tired of corporate media whoring? Buy your own damn corespondent!

I might whip up some banners to start a campaign.

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You Can't Make this Up

So there's been all this noise about the Big Bad Scary Iraqi BioWarfare Drone, yeah? Turns out it's made of balsa-wood and duct tape, with an eyesight-guided range of 5 miles. Seriously. Not only that, but the original declaration did include the drone, but misstated the wingspan by 10 feet. A subsequent letter from Iraq clarified this w/inspectors. No kidding. Salon.com breaks the story.

And here's a laugh-out-loud user comment from the blog that turned me on (daily kos):

Why wouldn't the Iraqis just go ahead and attack us with the small balsa wood gliders that are powered by rubber bands? They could strap a vial of some sort of chemical agent to the underside and let 'em go. Of course, if the wind shifted, the planes could crash on their helmets, thereby creating a friendly fire incident. Or, how about those rockets you pump up creating water pressure and then releasing the rocket. Maybe you could put a small warhead on one of those. In fact, just yesterday I saw someone of Middle Eastern origin in the toy isle at WalMart...

Welcome to Dick Cheney's America, where the WallMart greeters are watching you!

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McCain Sells Out

Heavy blogging, I know. What can I say. Coffee!

But let's get right down to the point, Fuck You, John McCain. I used to like you and your straight talk. I used to think you stood for something, but it looks like you're falling into line, just like every other spineless GOP toadie. Come on man! Listen to this bullshit he got published in todays NYT:

The main contention is that we have not exhausted all nonviolent means to encourage Iraq's disarmament. They have a point, if to not exhaust means that America will not tolerate the failure of nonviolent means indefinitely.

This is complete doublespeak. Nonviolent means resulted in the destruction of hundreds of thousands of munitions and thousands of tons of chemical and biological agents as well as the dismantling of their nuclear program. If we hadn't been using the UNSCOM team to spy for the Pentagon, they might have gotten even more done. Nonviolent means have by no means "failed." Iraq has not attacked America or any other nations with or without WMD since inspections began in 1991. That's success, people.

These critics also object because our weapons do not discriminate between combatants and noncombatants. Did the much less discriminating bombs dropped on Berlin and Tokyo in World War II make that conflict unjust?

Let's ignore for a second the absolutely luidicrous assertion that the military and moral imperative of stopping Nazism and imperial Japan equates with disarming Iraq and remember that what we did to Tokyo, Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Dresden, Hamburg and Berlin were absolutely awful things that may or may not have had anything to do with winning the war. Then let's stop ignoring the fact that the analogy is ridiculous. By Mr. McCain's logic, why not just nuke Baghdad? I know it won't be such a boon to Northrop and Boeing (3,000 cruse missiles is $3 billion in their pockets) but it sure would show those damn A-Rabs we mean business. Again, I can't believe he's actually saying this.

Many critics suggest that disarming Iraq through regime change would not result in an improved peace. There are risks in this endeavor, to be sure. But no one can plausibly argue that ridding the world of Saddam Hussein will not significantly improve the stability of the region and the security of American interests and values.

What? What!? No one can argue that Saddam magically disappearing wouldn't be a good thing. However, there are many many very plausable arguments suggesting that a US invasion could radically destabilize the region in very bad and unpredictable ways. McCain is either grossly underinformed, or is spouting pure and unadulterated lies to rally support for the war.

Isn't it more likely that antipathy toward the United States in the Islamic world might diminish amid the demonstrations of jubilant Iraqis celebrating the end of a regime that has few equals in its ruthlessness?

John, did you let Wolfie slip you a happy pill? I don't doubt that the surviving Iraqis will be glad to be out from under Saddam's thumb, but people don't dance in the streets for you after 3 days of non-stop ariel bombardment. People don't cheer you when you killed their brother/sister/mother/father/grandma/lover/friend. People don't cheer for you when your sanctions regime has resulted in outbreaks of polio because your government isn't allowed to import chlorine to purify the water. And don't doubt for a second that there won't be teams of terrorist recruiters there to photograph all the carnage, or that Saddam won't take steps to make things even worse than they already are. This is not going to make us look good to the rest of the Islamic world.

I used to think John McCain was a straight-talker with a true grasp of military realities. Looks like I was wrong.

(Sorry for all the cursing. It's getting to the point where I honestly feel explitives are needed for me to adequately express my outrage.)

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