September 30, 2003

"In the U.S., you have to be deviant or die of boredom."
-- William Burroughs
Cronyism and Bush Policy


It's official: the administration that once scorned nation-building now says that it's engaged in a modern version of the Marshall Plan. But Iraq isn't postwar Europe, and George W. Bush definitely isn't Harry Truman. Indeed, while Truman led this country in what Churchill called the "most unsordid act in history," the stories about Iraqi reconstruction keep getting more sordid. And the sordidness isn't, as some would have you believe, a minor blemish on an otherwise noble enterprise.

Cronyism is an important factor in our Iraqi debacle. It's not just that reconstruction is much more expensive than it should be. The really important thing is that cronyism is warping policy: by treating contracts as prizes to be handed to their friends, administration officials are delaying Iraq's recovery, with potentially catastrophic consequences.

It's rarely mentioned nowadays, but at the time of the Marshall Plan, Americans were very concerned about profiteering in the name of patriotism. To get Congressional approval, Truman had to provide assurances that the plan would not become a boondoggle. Funds were administered by an agency independent of the White House, and Marshall promised that priorities would be determined by Europeans, not Americans.
Iraq's reconstruction, by contrast, remains firmly under White House control. And this is an administration of, by and for crony capitalists; to match this White House's blithe lack of concern about conflicts of interest, you have to go back to the Harding administration. That giant, no-bid contract given to Halliburton, the company that made Dick Cheney rich, was just what you'd expect.
For example, in July two enterprising Middle Eastern firms started offering cellphone service in Baghdad, setting up jury-rigged systems compatible with those of neighboring countries. Since the collapse of Baghdad's phone system has been a major source of postwar problems, coalition authorities should have been pleased.

But no: the authorities promptly shut down the services. Cell service, they said, could be offered only by the winners in a bidding process — one whose rules, revealed on July 31, seemed carefully designed to shut out any non-American companies.... thanks to the baffling decision to give that contract to MCI, even those phones don't work very well. (Aside from the fact that its management perpetrated history's biggest accounting fraud, MCI has no experience in building cell networks.)

Then there's electricity. One reason Iraq still faces blackouts is that local experts and institutions were excluded from the repair business. Instead, the exclusive contract was given to Bechtel, whose Republican ties are almost as strong as Halliburton's. And if a recent story in The Washington Post is accurate, Bechtel continues to ignore pleas by Iraqi engineers for essential spare parts.

Meanwhile, several companies with close personal ties to top administration officials have begun brazenly offering their services as facilitators for companies seeking Iraqi business. The former law firm of Douglas Feith, the Pentagon under secretary who oversees Iraq reconstruction, has hung out its shingle. So has another company headed by Joe Allbaugh, who ran the Bush-Cheney campaign in 2000 and ran FEMA until a few months ago. And a third entrant is run by Ahmad Chalabi's nephew.

There's a moral here: optimists who expect the administration to get its Iraq policy on track are kidding themselves. Think about it: the cost of the occupation is exploding, and military experts warn that our army is dangerously overcommitted. Yet officials are still allowing Iraqi reconstruction to languish, and the disaffection of the Iraqi public to grow, while they steer choice contracts to their friends. What makes you think they will ever change their ways?

Its Alright to Lie?

* Claims of the Bush Administration: A Before and After.



Powell showed video of an Iraqi F-1 Mirage jet spraying "simulated anthrax." He said four such spray tanks were unaccounted for, and Iraq was building small unmanned aircraft "well suited for dispensing chemical and biological weapons."
According to U.N. inspectors' reports, the video predated the 1991 Gulf War, when the Mirage was said to have been destroyed, and three of the four spray tanks were destroyed in the 1990s.

No small drones or other planes with chemical-biological capability have been reported found in Iraq since the invasion. Iraq also gave inspectors details on its drone program, but the U.S. bombing intervened before U.N. teams could follow up.


Powell said Iraq produced four tons of the nerve agent VX. "A single drop of VX on the skin will kill in minutes. Four tons," he said.
Powell didn't note that most of that four tons was destroyed in the 1990s under U.N. supervision. Before the invasion, the Iraqis made a "considerable effort" to prove they had destroyed the rest, doing chemical analysis of the ground where inspectors confirmed VX had been dumped, the U.N. inspection agency reported May 30.

Experts at Britain's International Institute of Strategic Studies said any pre-1991 VX most likely would have degraded anyway. No VX has been reported found since the invasion.
tennyson kept me grounded when life was hard

* Adventures in 8 minute dating. [via tequila mockingbird]

* Rittenhouse Review on the rush limbaugh / donovan mcnabb situation.

* Public Service Announcement: Looking for something to do tonight in DC? Head on up to Chief Ikes, 1725 Columbia Road. DJs Wellbeloved, Skitch and Cat Attack Take It Downstairs Spinning Indie-Punk-Garage and Other Tasteful Explorations.
the inquisitor
- by charles bukowski

in the bathtub rereading celine's
journey to the end of the night
the phone rings
and i get out
grab a towel.
some guy from SMART SET,
he wants to know what's in my mailbox
how my life has been
i tell him there isn't anything in the
mailbox or the
he thinks that i'm holding
back. i hope that
i am.

September 29, 2003

the Academy Award of protest

Paul Krassner on his use of LSD on the stand at the Chicago 7 trial.

an excerpt:

"I had brought a stash of LSD with me, but things were too tense for an acid party. Instead, I decided to take a tab of acid before I took the witness stand --- call me a sentimental fool --- but it wasn't merely to enhance the experience. I had a more functional reason. My purpose was twofold. I knew that if I ingested 300 micrograms of LSD after eating a big meal, I was very likely to throw up in court. That would be my theatrical statement on the injustice of the trial. Also, I wouldn't need to memorize so much information that way. I had to psych myself up, to imagine it actually happening. The prosecutor would ask, 'Now where did this meeting take place?' And I would go 'Waughhhhhppp!' They couldn't charge me with contempt of court because they wouldn't know I had done it on purpose. The judge would say, 'Bailiff, get him out of here!' But just as he was dragging me away, I would get one more projectile off, onto the judge's podium --- 'Waughhhhhppp!' And, although there would be no photographic record of this incident because cameras weren't allowed, courtroom artists would capture my vomit with green and gold charcoal crayons for the eleven o'clock news.

"Next day at lunch, while the others were passing around a chunk of hash, I took out a tab of LSD. Abbie said, 'What's that, acid? I don't think that's a good idea.' Jerry said, 'I think he should do it.' I swallowed it despite what both of them said. The acid really began to hit while I was waiting in the witness room. A few volunteers were watching film footage of Dave Dellinger pleading with a crowd at the convention: 'Stay calm! Stay calm!' I said, 'Boy, when the jury sees this, it'll really be clear that Dave was doing anything but trying to start a riot.' The volunteers laughed. 'Are you kidding?' said one. 'They're never gonna allow that to be admitted as evidence.' Then suddenly I was thrust into the middle of a Looney Toons cartoon. It happened at the precise moment that I was escorted into the court by Tom Hayden and Jerry Rubin --- or, as I perceived them, Tom and Jerry. The furniture started dancing merrily.

"Judge Julius Hoffman looked exactly like Elmer Fudd. I expected him to proclaim, 'Let's get them pesky wadicals!' The court clerk looked exactly like Goofy. It didn't matter that a Disney character was making a guest appearance in a Looney Toons cartoon --- one learns to accept such discrepancies in a dreamlike state. Now I was being instructed by Goofy to raise my right hand and place my left hand on a Bible that was positively vibrating. 'Do you hereby swear,' asked Goofy, 'that the testimony you are about to give in the cause now on trial before this court and jury shall be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God?' The truth for me was that LSD --- or any other catalyst for getting in closer touch with your subconscious; whether it be meditation, Zen, yoga --- served as a reminder that choices are being made every moment. So naturally I assumed that Goofy was offering me a choice. 'No,' I replied.

"Although I hadn't planned to say that, I realized it was a first in American jurisprudence. Ordinarily, the more heinous a crime the more eagerly will a defendant take the oath. However, my refusal to swear on the Bible was a leap of faith. Everything was swirling around in pastel colors, but there was still a core of reality I was able to grasp, and somehow I managed to flash back to a civics class in junior high school when we had studied the Bill of Rights in general and the First Amendment in particular. Now I found myself passing that lesson on to Goofy. 'I believe in the constitutional provision for the separation of church and state, so I will choose to affirm to tell the truth.'

"'Let him affirm,' said Elmer Fudd --- begrudgingly, it seemed to me, as if to say, Let 'im reasort to the goddamn Constitution! I had seen only artists' charcoal renditions of the missing defendant, Bobby Scale, on TV newscasts, and now I was hallucinating a generic courtroom sketch of Seale, tied to his chair with a gag over his mouth.

"The defense attorney, William Kunstler, looked exactly like the Wise Old Owl. The prosecutor looked exactly like the Big Bad Wolf. I felt exactly like Alice in Wonderland. The Wise Old Owl was questioning me about the original Yippie meeting."
I need a crowd of people, but I can't face them day to day

* Girl, 5, makes bong in class

* One women's story of being Addicted to Coke.

* How to ruin a great army? See Donald Rumsfeld

September 26, 2003

And Its All Laughtracks When Your Folks Come From LA

* You Wanna Fully Understand the Blues? [via dong resin]

* most frequently challenged books in 2002

* Best Pizza in DC
Flunking the Propaganda Course

four bits from Bob Dylan's tarantula:

down with you sam. down with your
answers too. Hitler did not change
history. Hitler WAS history/ sure
you can teach people to be beautiful,
but don't you know that there's a
greater force that teaches them to be gullible-yeah it's called
the problem force/ they assign every-
body problems/ Your problem is that you
wanna better word for world . .
you cannot kill what lives an expect no-
body to take notice. history is alive/
it breathes/ now cut out that jive/
go count your fish. gotta go. Someone's
coming to tame my shrew.. hope they re-
moved your lung successfully say hi
to your sister
Wimp your
Friendly Pirate

look! like i told you before, it doesn't
matter where it's at! there's no such
thing. it's where it's not at that you
gotta know. so what if tony married his
mother! what's it got to do with your life?
i really have no idea why you're so unhappy.
perhaps you ought to change your line of
work. you know. like how long can someone
of your caliber continue to paint pencil
sharpeners..... see you next summer, good to
know you're off the wagon.
prematurely yours,

hi. watcha doing? how's the new religion?
feel any different? gave it up myself. just
couldn't make all the auctions and frankly,
i's running out of bread. you know how it
is, like about that little old lady in the
back building all the time pointing telling
me that God is watching. you know, like for a
while there, i's scared to take a shit. anxious
to get together with you. i know you dont wear
bow ties anymore but i'm interested in other
aspects of your new faith too. by the way, are
you still in the keyhole business? cant wait
to talk to you
your buddy,

unfortunately my friend, you shall not get
the information you seek out of me, i, my
good man, am not a fink! none of my relatives
are or have been related to benedict arnold
& i myself despise john wilkes booth-i dont
smoke marijuana & my family hates italian
food-none of my friends like black & white
movies & again myself, i have never seen a
russian ballet-also, i have started an organization
to turn in all people that laugh at
newsreels-so: could you please stop those
letters to the district attorney saying that
i know who murdered my wife-my principles are
at stake here-i would NOT sacrifice them for
one moment of pleasure-i am an honest man
yours in growth,
ivan the bloodburst

September 25, 2003

He's a Motherfucker, Don't You Know

Bush Urges High Ethical Standards (an article from January 2001):

"Bush warned that he expected his White House staff to meet the highest ethical standards, avoiding not only violations of law, but even the appearance of impropriety.

"'We must remember the high standards that come with high office,'" he said. 'This begins careful adherence with the rules. I expect every member of this administration to stay well within the boundaries [that] define legal and ethical conduct.

"'No one in the White House should be afraid to confront the people they work for over ethical concerns, and no one should hesitate to confront me as well.'

"Bush told his staff that he sees civility as a central part of the required behavior of White House staff. 'There is no excuse for arrogance and never a reason for disrespect toward others,' he said. 'I expect each of you … to be an example of humility and decency and fairness.'"

Of course, what has happened in the past two years is that he has broken international law, has not at all avoided the appearance of impropriety (Halliburton), has been completely arrogant in most everything he has done, and through his actions has disrespected people in this country and abroad.

He is a very bad man. But you all know that already.

Its time for that "charm of 5:30" beer.

Like Backup Singers, Links Come in Threes

* send an email to the future you. [via more than donuts].

* Behave Boys, Behave [via whatever-whenever]

* A new issue of Arthur Magazine is out.
Drinks, Jicks and Politics

* The Nicotini is made with tobacco leaves soaked overnight in vodka and added liquors.

“It tastes just like tobacco-infused vodka with one of two flavors, regular or menthol,” Deutscher said. “We are making our sixth batch right now, and it keeps getting better and better.”

* The Jick's Mike Clark on opening for Radiohead. [via tim thompson]

* Read skimble.
Old Friends

September 24, 2003

I Know a Man
-- by Robert Creeley

As I sd to my
friend, because I am
always talking, -- John, I

sd, which was not his
name, the darkness sur-
rounds us, what

can we do against
it, or else, shall we &
why not, buy a goddamn big car,

drive, he sd, for
christ's sake, look
out where yr going.
he asked her please stop quotin' rod mckuen in your postcards

Here is a pretty comprehensive list of someone's favorite movies each year between 1931 to 2001.

The 1969 list:

01. The Wild Bunch (Sam Peckinpah)
02. My Night at Maud's (Eric Rohmer)
03. Where Eagles Dare (Brian G. Hutton)
04. Midnight Cowboy (John Schlesinger)
05. Take the Money and Run (Woody Allen)
06. Mississippi Mermaid (François Truffaut)
07. Z (Costa-Gavras)
08. Monterey Pop (D.A. Pennebaker)
09. Law and Order (Frederick Wiseman)
10. Medium Cool (Haskell Wexler)

for what its worth, Medium Cool is one of my favorites.

You're Killing Me, You're Killing Me Again

Quentin Tarantino on the use of CGI in movies:

"You know, my guys are all real. There's no computer fucking around. I'm sick to death of all that shit. This is old school with fucking cameras. If i'd wanted all that computer game bullshit, I'd have gone home and stuck my dick in my Nintendo."

"This CGI bullshit is the death knell of cinema. Movies are far too fucking expensive at the moment and it's killing the fucking art form. The way it's going, in ten year's time it will officially be killed." [via reenhead]

September 23, 2003

sometimes we freak and laugh all day

i'm sitting on the edge of the stage at Pukkelpop. Big Black is 10 feet from me and the crowd is, in part, in a manic belgian circle dance right now. the sound is good. we're on next. it's the last show of the tour. my body feels vague and fragile. i'm not high in any way; my heart is a fragile vessal right now. we'll get up to play in a short while and rock out. the crowd wants us lost, they want to see us flail and writhe, act out thier own aggressions. as i said i'm straight now and glad, and that makes it a harder thing to get lost in the music and really forget, go wild. but i want to get lost today on stage, comeout and play and feel the blood flow through my veins, cease the pounding needle pains in my head which have been a plague of late. the electricity should heal me and burn out the sys-fog i've been experiencing. peace frog. big black a muscle of squeal-attack and fast gliding electric waves. we're up next.

the more i feel healthy, the more weak i feel. the more i feel sick, the more i feel better. we're up next and i'm straight ahead cold standin' on the turf. time to get lost.

lee ranaldo
21 July 1987

from jrnls80s
life moves slow but I drink beer real fast

go! listen to Pink Nasty's mp3 clips. her voice is fantastic and the songs are beautiful and fun. Her first album 'mule school' "is gonna drop before you know it" but until then savor the mp3 clips. trauma in the bahamas, sunday buddy sunday, lovefaker, and rather be hot were highlights last time around. (All are good, only disappointment is you only get around 1:20 of each song.)

September 22, 2003

American Love Story
--- by Mike Dockins


Hallelujah, she knows how to shoot pool.
She sinks her eight ball, drinks me under
the table. I whimper for a date, a smooch,
a slap. She hits the jukebox, that old song.
I change taverns but she's there: pigtails
that fill me with moon silt and planet jelly,
lips that just keep on being lips, little belly
I want to ski across. At home she's on top
of the fridge, dog-earing my favorite Azorean
epic. She drives the bus I take, cleans my
teeth, cuts my hair, cashes my paychecks,
taunting me: Going out tonight, Jerry? See
you there, Doll, I say, shaking with optimism.


If I can carry the pigskin ten more yards,
she'll take me to the movies, an action flick
with Swiss banks and tanks and jagged Alps.
I'll miss hockey, but her swinging ponytail
is better than a puck slung on ice. Her face
becomes warm, hot, thermonuclear. God,
I love her. She has perfect teeth, a straight
spine, and thighs that make frat boys bang
petulant fists during beer pong. Lord, if I sink
this basket, she'll marry me in Lake Tahoe: my
feet in Nevada, hers in California. If I'm clever,
I'll slip into a triple-cherry slot, and I'll love her
more with each rolling coin, each lucky pull.
Time is the Enemy/Time is the Guide

* How the Eye Moves Around a Painting (and Wall Text) at a museum [via modern art notes]

* All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace, by Richard Brautigan

* Cowboy Sally has a new home at numberonehitsong. update those bookmarks.

* Open Letter to Al Queda [via dong resin]

* Steven Almond on, as he puts it "what a goddamn pleasure it is to be reviewed.

Root Root Root for the Home Team

Grainy, camera phone shot of David Berman cheering the Titans to victory.
Only A Rude Idea

From a December 11, 1970 letter from Hunter S. Thompson to Rolling Stone editor John Lombardi:

..."But by 'music' I don't mean the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. If the Grateful Dead came to town, I'd beat my way in with a fucking tire iron, if necessary. I think Workingman's Dead is the heaviest thing since Highway 61 and 'Mr. Tambourine Man' (with the possible exception of the Stones' last two albums...and the definite exception of Herbie Mann's Memphis Underground, which may be the best album ever cut by anybody). And that might make a good feature: some kind of poll on the Best albums of the '60s... or 'Where it was at in the Rock Age.' Because the '60s are going to go down like a repeat, somehow, of the 1920s; the parallels are too gross for even historians to ignore.

"So, for whatever it's worth -- to either one of us, for that matter -- here's the list from Raoul Duke:

1. Herbie Mann's Memphis Underground
2. Bob Dylan's Bringing It All Back Home
3. Dylan's Highway 61 Revisited
4. Grateful Dead's Workingman's Dead
5. Rolling Stone's Let it Bleed
6. Buffalo Springfield's Buffalo Springfield
7. Jefferson Airplane's Surrealistic Pillow
8. Jazz innovator Roland Kirk's albums in general
9. Miles Davis's Sketches of Spain
10. Sandy Bull's Inventions

"Jesus, what a hassle to even think quickly about a list like that. Even now I can think of 10 more I might have added... but what the fuck, its only a rude idea. But a good one, I think, and particularly for RS. The implications of the final list would vibrate far beyond the actual music... it would be a very heavy fucking document. You may want to give it some thought."

September 19, 2003

and NASCAR blurred into....

September 18, 2003

my setlist from last night's edition of Potluck:

johnny cash - guess things happen that way
warren zevon - excitable boy

frank zappa - you can get a point across
bruce mcculloch - eraserhead
kevin ayers - soon soon soon
beach boys - he gives speeches
love - my flash on you
bill fox - way way down
mountain goats - see america right
the clean - beatnik
smog - a hit
fugs - we are the fugs
silver jews - im gonna love the hell out of you
neil young - walk on
sparklehorse - rainmaker
mclusky - to hell with good intentions
sonic youth - eric's trip
pavement - price yeah
neutral milk hotel - holland 1945
velvet underground - white light white heat
luna - thank you for sending me an angel
olivia tremor control - a sleepy company
summer hymns - pete rose affinity
the tyde - crystal canyon
miracle legion - mr. spaceman
letigre - whats yr take on cassavetes
david axelrod - for what its worth
sebadoh - sister
rolling stones - before they make me run
yo la tengo - sugercube
castaway stones - the revolution creaks on a bed
wedding present - kennedy
consonent - john coltranes my favorite things
free kitten - greener pastures
patti smith - my generation
I often wonder these days--when looking in the window of a record store, or when passing a jumbly newsstand--if I would respond if someone were to call out my name: if I would involuntarily whip toward the sound of self, or even feel the old esophageal shimmy of potential recognition; I doubt it: I feel as if that mode of particularity is lapsing away (and, accordingly, I can hardly care); but it doesn't stop there: I can barely align myself with generics any longer: it's difficult to feel like a runaway when no one has noticed that you're gone; being other-directed becomes problematic in the realm of no faces. . .

from the lost scrapbook, by evan dara.
The writer is the person who stands outside society, independent of affiliation and independent of influence. The writer is the man or woman who automatically takes a stance against his or her government. There are so many temptations for American writers to become part of the system and part of the structure that now, more than ever, we have to resist. American writers ought to stand and live in the margins, and be more dangerous. Writers in repressive societies are considered dangerous. That's why so many of them are in jail.

--Don DeLillo, from the 1988 interview with Ann Arensberg

September 17, 2003

The Drug Czar is at it again.

Most, if not all, independent studies have shown that driving under the influence of pot is nowhere near as harmful as driving under the influence of alcohol. In fact, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration study titled "Marijuana and Actual Driving Performance" (published November, 1993): "THC's adverse effects on driving performance appear relatively small." and "Evidence from the present and previous studies strongly suggests that alcohol encourages risky driving whereas THC encourages greater caution."


According to a 1994 Dutch study on "Marijuana Use And Driving" in real world conditions: "THC's adverse effects on driving performance appeared relatively small in the tests employed in this program."


A May 1998 Australian review of 2,500 injured drivers reported that cannabis had "no significant effect" on driving culpability."
Carpe Diem
-- by Lynne McMahon

Is it memory that makes us whole?
The question was posed by the ten o'clock news
investigating Alzheimer's and stroke,
the key network of synaptic fuses
blinking out, the brain's small cities polled,
found empty across the vacant mews.
Where are the poplar trees, where's the bench
you made, the wallpaper irises you glued
in strips? Home vanishes inch by inch.

Is love, too, cobbled out of past?
What will become of us, landmarks gone?
Dante's worst pang, the knowledge of happiness
lost, would be mine, but wrong
to think you'd feel it less—
you might sense an absence dawning,
it dawns on me, in another's face,
a bewildered sorrow you'd try to calm,
too instinctive in you to be erased.

But I'm willfully naive, I'm told.
Instinct, too, can be extinguished,
the present tense grotesquely folding
in and over on itself, contextless
and dangerous in an endless scroll
of carpe diem. Where's the face I know,
the hands I've memorized and kept?
Is it memory that makes us whole?
Is love over when memory is spent?
In every era the attempt must be made anew to wrest tradition away from a conformism that is about to overpower it
--- Walter Benjamin, Illuminations

September 16, 2003

An Austin Welcome

"Bush thought it was funny to punctuate a joke by breaking wind in groups of people. I first heard a story that during the campaign he called a new desk aide of Karl Rove's into his office to give him an 'Austin Welcome'" -- Lloyd Grove, on what the Post wouldn't let him print (Washington Life).
Lester Bangs, on the Fugs:

One day I walked in & bought the second Fugs album, took it home & was astounded, came back & asked the clerk what the first Fugs album sounded like. "Oh, just a little more primitive," she smiled, a bit sarcastically I thought. I couldn't imagine at the time how anything could possibly be more primitive than the second Fugs album (when I heard The Fugs First Album, of course, I found out). When I played "Virgin Forest" on that second album for my nephew, he had a word for the Fugs: "These people are sick," he said.

No, they weren't. They were poets, with a bedrock-primitive folkie guitarswatter or two thrown in to round out the hairmoon pie. Ed Sanders & Tuli Kupferberg had enjoyed quite respectable careers as beatniks on the Lower East Side for several years before forming the band with Ken Weaver, Peter Stampfel, Steve Weber & several others who shifted from album to album. So don't ever make the Seventies mistake of thinking they did this stuff just to get famous. They did it to EXPRESS THEMSELVES (let us recall that the cover of the later Fugs Four, Rounders Score was painted by a chimp)!

Lyrics to:

If You Want to Be President
by The Fugs

If you want to be President
A very long while
Be sure you invade
A very small isle
For if it is tiny
And it's soldiers are few
They'll never make
A fool out of you
You may kill with impunity
Kill for a lark
If the color of your victims
Is rather dark
And all of the Americans
Will love you too
If the total dead Americans
Is rather few
But when the numbers mount up
As they did in Vietnam
Then you could be
In a big political jam
So invade a tiny island
Where the soldiers are naive
And leave Nicaragua
To the mercenaries
And always kill people
For their own good
Ban meetings, censor papers
For Libertyhood
Postpone the elections
That you said you sought
For what if the results
Are not what they ought?
Protect all Americans
Kill a lesser breed
It's the black man's burden
It's your blood lust that you feed
Old soldiers never die
They only kill
And movie stars with general's bars
They fill the corporate till
Someone else's suffering
It's int'resting to see
You can watch it every night
Though we can only have
One nuclear war
Well 1,2,3 Vietnams
We can have even more
So if you want to stay President
A very long while
Be sure you invade
A tiny tiny isle
For if it's small enough
And it's soldiers very few
It can never make
A fool out of you...
(I think)

She was a Christian rock ingénu

* A scientific explanation of feedback

* Three paintings by Washington, D.C. artist
dana ellyn:

"put on a happy face"

"bring em on"

"book burning of 2003"

September 15, 2003

Sometimes, I feel I gotta get away

* Wired reviews David Foster Wallace's new book, Everything and More: A Compact History of ?‡, which chronicles the mathematical concept of infinity, from the ancient Greeks to Georg Cantor, the 19th-century German mathematician who blew the subject wide open by showing not only that infinity exists but that there are an infinite number of infinites.

* Steve Almond is guesting this week at Bookslut.

* The High Numbers, a new poem by David Berman

* Federal Appeals Court postponed California's Oct. 7 gubernatorial recall election, ruling Monday that the historic vote cannot proceed because some votes would be cast using outmoded punch-card ballot machines
Become Exactly Your Limits and Possibilities

Riding home from the weekend wedding trip (congrats to chuck and amalie, and thanks for such a great time), we were listening to the Tyde's version of Pavement's "perfect depth" and commenting on how nicely the Tyde added to the end of the song, making it more of their own whilst paying homage to the pavement sound, when for some reason a car decided to pull out of the discount cigarette shop on to the highway as we drove by.

some skilled driving by GB saved us from serious damage (some minor driver's side denting - though I thought for sure we would be pushed into the guard rail, causing lots of damage and possible injury), and thankfully nobody was hurt. the other car, whose driver (a 21 year old driving his girlfriends car) was wearing a t-shirt like this,

had its front bumper ripped off and sent twenty feet from the car. certainly he was very glad to hear the police didn't need to come to the scene as nobody was hurt and the cars both were driveable.

10 Overlooked Johnny Cash Gems

Saturday Night in Hickman County
Mobile Bay, Magnolia Blossoms
My Old Kentucky Home (Turpentine and Dandelion Wine)
Cocaine Carolina
Crystal Chandeliers and Burgundy
The Junkie and the Juicehead (Minus Me)
Starkville City Jail

[thanks to brett ralph, scoll down for his article]

September 10, 2003

Its That Time of the Month Again

The Second Child
--Deborah Garrison

You see I, too,
was second in order. Two.

Before you arrived
for a time I cried

nightly at the fattening, spelling the end
of our tight, well-tended

trio. The carefully scheduled bliss
of bath and bed--luxurious

brace of both to read a single book,
darting between us, her drinking-all-in, wee weighty look,

her finger gesture toward some new developmental toy
or crystal bit of babble our post-crib nightcap, rehashed joy...

Now no rehash, littler miss,
of your darting, airy imitation of her searing kiss:

down babyhood's brief corridor you disappear behind
her, teh master dancer, your tutor in body and mind,

you not just child but sister. And while
she--so fierce, perversely proud--will not be child

but childhood's star, and pound the trail
and suffer in her art and, hell or high, refuse to fail

(you see it hurts, I love her so),
you will carelessly, sly, my sidelong darling, go

after, fisrt toddling understudy, then patiently aslant
toward something other, invited by a glint I can't

discount. When your delighted eyes
dance at her back, assess the scene, I surmise

the end, and your means
to i. Like me--

for now I see, you showed me--
you'll be happy.

have a great weekend. back monday.

Who Said It: Wiggum or President Bush. Test your knowledge. [via save the snow]
Well you're a wild horse On a collision course With the sun

Steve Almond on blurbs:

"One of my least favorite experiences as a writer, therefore, is listening to other writers whine about being asked to give a blurb. (As with most of my indictments, I am guilty of this crime myself.) What annoys me about these complaints is not just the unacknowledged narcissism — Poor me! How to bear such popularity? — but the basic ingratitude.

"Listen: when someone asks you to blurb a book they are paying you a huge compliment. At the very least they are saying to you: 'I believe your name will help me sell books.' But more than likely they are asking you because they know and admire your work. These are not people to be shit upon.

"What's more, the general derision heaped on blurbs and blurbing has the effect of making writers — particularly less–established writers — feel like jerks for even asking. I recently received an email from a woman who wanted me to take a look at her first novel. To read this note, you would have thought she was asking me to examine her stool sample. Such was her sense of shame.

"But this is absurd! Why should she feel ashamed?"

you need time off for good behavior

A new feature story has been posted at Land Grant College Review. The story is part of a memoir about growing up white on the lower east side. With humor and some really incisive writing, Dalton Conley gets at the fear, isolation, confusion and spirit that goes with childhood in America as part of the working poor.

As does Henry Roth in his fantastic novel Call It Sleep which details the life of an immigrant growing up on the lower east side in the early 1900s.

September 9, 2003

The People United Will Never Be Defeated

DC Rock News

The mighty metropolitan plays (with Disband and the City the Sea) at the Warehouse Nextdoor (1015 7th street) Friday September 12. Be there.
"We love grass/We love ass... We eat pussy/We're not fussy... We hate war/We love sex/In twos or threes/Fours or fives"
-- From the Fugs' "we are the Fugs," released in 1965

the fugs: a total assult on culture.

"The Fugs were led by Ed Sanders, of midwestern origins and Tuli Kupferberg, of New York birth. Both were poets in the beatnik vein, and each self-published his own lit journal; Kupferberg with 'Birth' and Sanders with 'Fuck You: A Magazine Of the Arts.' They ended up living in close proximity, centered around the Peace Eye Bookstore which Sanders owned and operated out of an abandoned Kosher butcher store on 10th Street, between Avenue B and Avenue C.

"Motivations for forming the band exhibited all the de rigeur tenets of the time: getting laid, getting fucked-up, getting paid to make a racket, and talk a lot about peace and (free) love. They picked up various members -- who floated in and out -- including some members of the Holy Modal Rounders, a psych-country band that featured Peter Stampfel and future playwrite Sam Shepard sputtering, pin-eyed, through some excruciating workouts. Within a year of their first rehearsal, they had a contract with Folkways, the result of animator Harry Smith's curatorial work for the label.

"It's important to remember that Sanders and Kupferberg were hot on the poetry case and both knew their shit pretty thoroughly; their stated, 10-point program basically boiled down to a bacchic frenzy, transliterated in their time to mean drugs and fucking. Being upstanding lefties, they also had strong anti-war sentiments and each had been arrested for their protest efforts. Their lyrics took one of several forms: cock-waving, testes-driven humor; verses lifted from William Blake or AC Swinburn; or beatniked couplets, sung and shouted.

"Musically, they drew heavily from the rock trough; scuttled-through country tunes, percussion chants, canticles, Hebraic-tinged sing-songs, and a few moments with hymn-like qualities. It isn't that simple to sum up though, since that mix was a cluttered, spitting mess. But it was a complex and complete mess -- an inept totality. These tunes were posited at a highly interesting time: the beat impulse had been thoroughly digested by the free-thinking youth of the era, and hippiedom had just finished its gestation period and cut its umbilical cord. In the downtown New York arena, Alan Kaprow and his Happenings, Andy Warhol, the Velvet Underground, John Cage, and the Fluxus Artists were all making public spec-tacles. The emphasis was on crushing and discarding old formulas; these were experiments where randomness and chance were allowed prominence -- anything went and method was equal, if not superior, to content."
Excitable boy, they all said

From a 2001 Hunter S. Thompson piece on Warren Zevon:

"Warren Zevon is a poet. He has written more classics than any other musician of our time, with the possible exception of Bob Dylan. ... He is also a crack shot with a .44 magnum and an expert on lacrosse -- which we also watched while we worked. He went wild when Princeton beat Syracuse for the NCAA Championship on Sunday.

"He disappeared in the middle of the night, still without sleep -- saying he was headed to Indianapolis to write a song with Colts owner James Irsay, who just returned from buying Kerouac's original manuscript of 'On The Road' for $2.43 million at Christie's Auction House in New York. Irsay is another one of Warren's heroes.

"Warren is a profoundly mysterious man, and I have learned not to argue with him, about hockey or anything else. He is a dangerous drinker, and a whole different person when he's afraid. "

Sitting on a subway train and Watching all the people lose their senses

* A point by point rebuttal of Bush's speech

* The administration WAS told before the war in Iraq that there would be significant armed opposition to a U.S.-led occupation

* George Bush's long-term plans for 2003 probably did not call for his August vacation to be followed by a national television address trying to justify a floundering policy in Iraq.

September 8, 2003

In case you missed him last night, here is short form George Bush:

"Iraq is now the central front in the global war against absolute evil, but it's not so important that we have to roll back any of my tax cuts, send more U.S. troops to Iraq or do anything else that might make swing voters slightly less likely to vote for me next year. Thank you and God Bless America."

[via billmon]
Three Poems By Robert Creeley

The Flower

I think I grow tensions
like flowers
in a wood where
nobody goes.

Each wound is perfect,
encloses itself in a tiny
imperceptible blossom,
making pain.

Pain is a flower, like that one
like this one,
like that one,
like this one.

Sad Advice

If it isn't fun, don't do it.
You'll have to do enough that isn't.

Such is life, like they say,
no one gets away without paying

and since you don't get to keep it
anyhow, who needs it.


I wondered what had
happened to the chords.
There was no music,

they were following
a pattern. It was
an intention perhaps.

No field
but they walk
in it. No place

without them, any
discretion is useless.
They want a time, they

have a time, each
one in his own place, an
endless arrival.
Johnny Strike Up the Band

RIP, Warren Zevon.

September 5, 2003

I always get mushy about Nixon when football season rolls around. He was the Real Thing, a genuinely educated football fan. I miss Nixon. Compared to these jerks we have in the White House now, Richard Nixon was a flaming Liberal.
-- Hunter S. Thompson, August 2003
The Madness of King George

Who Knew? The Unanswered Questions of 9/11


..."In May 2002, a string of explosive leaks ignited a public debate over the government’s handling of the 9/11 attacks and made the performance of the intelligence agencies a political issue. CBS reporter David Martin revealed that weeks before the attacks, the CIA had warned Bush personally of Osama Bin Laden’s intent to use hijacked planes as missiles. That followed the damaging exposure by The Associated Press’s John Solomon of a pre-9/11 FBI memo from an officer in Phoenix warning of suspicious Middle Eastern men training at flight schools—a warning that went unheeded.

"The disclosures rocked the administration. 'BUSH KNEW,' blared the May 16, 2002 cover of the Murdoch-owned New York Post. A front-page headline in the Washington Post warned, 'An Image of Invincibility Is Shaken by Disclosures.' Even worse for Bush, the news set off an interagency war of press leaks over who was to blame for the mishaps, with each embarrassing leak from the CIA provoking a defensive counter-leak from the FBI. The result of the battle, which wore on through the summer, was political misery for the White House."
"All along, al-Mihdhar and al-Hazmi were living openly in the San Diego area, using their real names on their California driver’s licenses and rental agreements. Even more shocking, they had befriended and moved in with a prominent local Muslim leader, Abdussattar Shaikh, who, unbeknownst to them, was a long-time undercover FBI counterterrorism informant in regular contact with a terrorism case officer in the bureau’s San Diego office. According to Newsweek, it was such a close encounter that 'on one occasion the [FBI] case agent called up the informant and was told he couldn’t talk because ‘Khalid’—a reference to al-Mihdhar—was in the room.'

"The congressional investigators who prepared the report asked to talk to Shaikh, but, they explained, 'the [Bush] Administration and the FBI have objected to the Joint Inquiry’s request to interview the informant and have refused to serve a Committee subpoena and notice of deposition.'"
On orders of the Bush administration, a 28-page section dealing with suspected Saudi ties to the 9/11 plot was blacked out of the declassified version of the congressional report. Bush claimed that declassifying the information 'would reveal sources and methods' and 'help the enemy.' But Sen. Bob Graham, ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, decried the redactions. 'In my judgment there is compelling evidence that a foreign government provided direct support through officials and agents of that government to some of the September 11 hijackers,' Graham said. Sen. Chuck Schumer went further: 'There seems to be a systematic strategy of coddling and cover-up when it comes to the Saudis.'

"Of course, it may well turn out that all such suspicions about the government’s motives are misplaced. Many of the facts about the mishandling of the 9/11 case are perfectly consistent with old-fashioned bungling and incompetence—albeit incredible bungling and staggering incompetence. Somehow it ought to be possible to steer a middle course between wild speculation and cynical whitewash. At both extremes, credulity is a danger. If one thing is certain history keeps surprising us with how venal our national security state can be.

"What’s needed now is more evidence. That blue-ribbon panel has its work cut out for it."

Fight for felicity for me

A Brief History of Fathers
-- by David Citino

Do we miss a thing we love
less if, in going away from us,
it grows beautiful? It rained

all weekend, and the leaves
this morning are going
from brown and tan to crimson.

The splendor flaming from
these trees compensates us,
nearly, for what autumn takes

leaf by leaf, the lined white face
of a father growing noble
the angrier, more confused

he goes, rain like angry bees,
his empty eyes, a cold wind
coming on like dementia.

there's forty different shades of black

I am among the top 0.803% richest people in the world. There are 5,951,786,435 people poorer than I am.

How rich are you. [via savethesnow]

September 4, 2003

Paul Morley's top books to read while listening to Lou Reed's Metal Machine Music

•The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch by Philip K Dick

•White Noise by Don DeLillo

•Live From New York – An Uncensored History of Saturday Night Live by Tom Shales, Andrew Miller

•The Dead Father by Donald Barthelme

•How To Write by Gertrude Stein

•Going Native by Stephen Wright

•Psychoanalytic Diagnosis: Understanding Personality Structure In The Clinical Process by Nancy McWilliams

•The Flowers of Evil by Charles Baudelaire

•The novelisation of Scooby Doo The Movie by Suzanne Weyn

• Classical Music For Dummies

• And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

(other book related 'top' lists at the site as well)
Bush Administration Allows Corporate Advertising on the National Mall

The Washington Post reports this morning that for the very first time, advertising, or as it will be called tonight to skirt the age-old rules "sponsor recognition," will be allowed on the Mall.

"Officials at the Park Service concede that the televised concert and game, with commercials, is unprecedented for an agency whose regulations ban commercial uses of the Mall. But they say relaxing the rules is justified by the unique nature of the NFL program.

"'This is the first time the Park Service has had a proposal of this magnitude," said Bill Line, a spokesman for the agency's national capital region. 'This is different from advertising; these are sponsor recognition. . . . The NFL is turning to other sponsors to generate the money necessary to put on this event.'"

"The decision also allows the National Football League to show tonight's season opener between the Redskins and the New York Jets, including commercials, on Jumbotron screens that will be set up between Third and 14th streets NW. National Park Service officials had determined last week that only public service announcements could be aired on the Mall.
"Allowing the Mall and its monuments to be used for commercial purposes has long been a sensitive issue. The decision to embrace the NFL celebration has angered several groups, including some whose weekly protests have been displaced and who are familiar with the many restrictions imposed by the Park Service.

"'I think they're violating their guidelines,' said Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, a lawyer with Partnership for Civil Justice who has represented protesters planning large demonstrations on the Mall. 'To be turning the Mall into a billboard is, I think, what all the people would recognize as a violation of the stewardship of the Park Service.'"

"Verheyden-Hilliard said that in some past demonstrations, police officers have threatened to arrest protesters who were distributing T-shirts or other material. "We didn't know they simply needed to get themselves corporate sponsorship by Coors," she said.

"Charles Atherton, secretary of the Commission of Fine Arts, the federal panel that oversees aesthetics in ceremonial Washington, said the NFL event has crossed the line of excessive commercialism. 'It's grown now beyond a reasonable amount of equipment and advertising,' he said. 'I would say there's not a trace of any dignity to that space. It's just a midway.'"

What big business wants, big business gets from this administration.

September 3, 2003

A Tragic Honesty

"There's just no whore in that man at all."
-- Andre Dubus on Yates' refusal to compromise his deterministic vision

Finished the Richard Yates biography last night. Its an amazing read -- his life was even more sad and lonely than you may even imagined if you have already read his fiction. A four-pack-a-day smoker who suffered from TB, and various forms of mental illness, Yates died alone, in a small dirty apartment (much like the roach infested apartments he lived most of his single life) in Alabama in 1992. For most of his life, he drank constantly (certainly more than many of his characters, who also seemed to always be drinking), and ended his life attached to an oxygen machine as his smoking caused him to get emphysema.

He divorced twice, and had three children -- to whom by all accounts he was a wonderful father despite all his other shortfalls. Even with all the money problems that plagued him throughout the years, Yates never missed a child support payment, and always enjoyed the time he had with the children. He was often loud and abusive to friends, and suffered no fools.

In addition to the wonderful, realistic fiction he created, his life intersected with some major political and entertainment events of the times.

In his 20s, as a PR writer, Yates wrote the ad copy for UNIVAC, the worlds first computer. In the 60s, he wrote some of Robert F. Kennedy's most moving speeches on civil rights (His final novel, "Uncertain Times," unfinished at his death, and published as a short story after his death in Open City, was on his time with Kennedy), and he was also the subject of an early episode of "Seinfeld."

[In the mid-80s, Yates' daughter dated Larry David (a huge Yates fan) briefly, and David based the 1990 episode ("The Jacket") on an awkward dinner with the writer. Yates played Elaine's father. In fact, Yates' daughter was the model for Elaine.]

In the Boston Globe, Dan Wakefield wrote:

"His fiction and his life were so intertwined that this biography of Yates reads almost like one of his own novels. The goodness and integrity of the man shine through his darkness, in his love of his daughters, his generosity of time and even what little money he made for his family, his dogged refusal to let rejection deter him from his path, and his total dedication to his art, which was the essence of his life, his reason to be.

"Yates himself could not have written a more bittersweet end to a story than the culmination of his lifelong obsession to be published in The New Yorker. After 30 years of ''shamelessly teasing me with encouragement,'' fiction editor Roger Angell wrote Yates's agent that ''his kind of fiction is not what we're looking for.' That is, until Yates died, when they published an early story of his they had rejected in 1952. On hearing this news, Yates's daughter Sharon went to the basement, where her father's ashes still rested in a box, pending a family decision on where to disperse them. She gave the box of ashes a shake and said, ''Way to go, Dad.''

Dust Congress doesn't ask you for much, dear readers, but we will here ask that you pick up some of Yates' books soon, if you haven't already (Dust Congress recommends "the easter parade," "revolutionary road," and the fantastic, recently published "the collected stories of Richard Yates.").

And after reading some of his fiction, find some time to read through the biography. It is, like his fiction, a sad read. A quote by Yates' hero Adlai Stevenson indicates a likely reason why Yates' books did not sell during his lifetime (Yates kept this quote on his desk): "Americans have always assumed, subconsciously, that every story will have a happy ending."

Looking back on his life, one is amazed that Yates was able to produce anything at all, much less nine books, and at least three modern American classics.

"I'll Just Bleed So the Stars Will Have Something Dark to Shine In"
-- Frank Stanford

"I was riding with the man called Dark
he smelled like alcohol that had been asleep and his smoky clothes
that he hadn't changed for months were like ship wood
when he spoke which was seldom
his voice carried over the fields and the bogs and yet it was not loud
it was deep like a wound or a cool well
when he sang like a blue hole with no bottom the words made no sense
at first but if you looked
out of the corners of your eyes without looking you saw what he was singing
about there might be a night snake choking to death
with a chorus frog
there might be a women with big breasts walking at the turn now
there might be water for the hands spilling
out of a barrel on the back of a blue school bus
it will be many years before I can tell about Dark before I can remember
that low down song
as the sleepy mule swayed back and forth down the road
the dust curling under his wet belly
I was rocked to and fro like a careening boat
the violinist and the juggler thinking about stretches of sea
through their windows where they were born
I saw them in time I saw them going to sleep at their work
I saw them as children before the wars with extra spending money
along a coast in Europe
climbing cliffs and talking about he days to come
the handkerchieves tied around their necks and the sea below
I felt like the wounded man being painted by the drunken artist
in the picture show Odd Man Out
I felt like he did when he remembered the words from the bible
and he stood up amidst that stares of the living paintings
and said his piece
I felt the two words Power and Dominion had been betrayed by lawyers
of property I dreamed that these days the union carpenters
in the suburbs have joined the same houses for the sake of joining them
in the subdivisions
and I dreamed the cathedrals built by the unknown"

lines 7300 through 7327, of The Battlefield Where The Moon Says I Love You the book length poem written by Frank Stanford. The poem, which contains no punctuation throughout the 20,000 lines, was likely written between 1968 and 1971, but was not published until 1978, following Stanford's suicide at age 29.

Sparlkehorse's Mark Linkous has said that the album "It's a Wonderful Life" was inspired by Frank Stanford.

September 2, 2003

Cool and unfazed, you're always amazed when someone gets hurt

"george walker bush" is an anagram for "beer keg lush go war"
Purple Words on a Grey Background

Excerpt from a review of Tim Sandlin's recent novel "Honey Don't:"

"As Hillary Clinton's memoir, 'Living History', rides the crest of a publicity wave near the top of the bestseller lists, along comes Tim Sandlin's 'Honey Don't', a sleek torpedo of a novel which unabashedly satirizes the hazards of Presidential oral sex. There are no cigars, stained dresses, or debates about the word 'is,' but there is a deadly sex scene which includes a cast-iron flamingo, a jealous boyfriend, and thong underwear wrapped around the President's ankles as he's running from said boyfriend and the aforementioned flamingo smacks his head 'with a sound like a shovel coming down on a day-old wedding cake.' Oops.

"Not that 'Honey Don't' will torpedo any holes in Hillary's hyper-speed hull, but for an unvarnished look at sex and politics, it is undoubtedly the more interesting read. Depending on how you look at it, it's also the funnier of the two books. Also depending on your view (wide-eyed naiveté or squinty skepticism), the novel could be truer and more sincere.

"'Honey Don't' pulls no punches, takes no prisoners, and busts every gut with well-earned laughter. If you like your books loud and fast—like a pinball hitting all the buzzers—then this is the one for you.

"'Honey Don't' opens with a brief episode of phrenology—funny phrenology, at that—and how many novels can stake that claim? As a flight attendant/amateur phrenologist feels the bumps on journalist RC Nash's 'philoprogenic' skull, she informs him, 'You are a man of great destiny.' Nash is burned out, and the only destiny he can see on the horizon is a lifetime of writing more celebrity puff pieces on Tom Cruise's latest divorce or J-Lo's clandestine breast surgery."

"For all its raunchy sex, blazing bullets and political vulgarities, 'Honey Don't' is, at heart, about love in its most romantic form. Though Sandlin comes at it with a cockeyed cynicism, there's ultimately something very tender at the core of the book. When someone asks Honey why she's with Jimmy, she gets misty-eyed and says, 'When I met Jimmy he could pour a beer down his throat without swallowing. I thought that was sexy.' Sweet, huh?

"Sandlin writes with a breezy efficiency which makes 'Honey Don't' one of the fastest entertainments of this literary season. Fans of the author's previous Wyoming-based comedies will applaud the new direction he's taken, while first-time Sandlin readers will be won over in less time than it takes to say 'phrenology.'"