January 26, 2005

there's room at the top for private detection

Off to Amsterdam...

Three Poems:

Nothing Happening between Two People in Amsterdam
--by Claire Fanger

after awhile I stopped looking for still lives
the tulips were too many for me anyway
& desire too strenuous
so we each went strolling our separate ways
seeking something that was not there
among the flowers and the flesh
the butcher shops and fish markets

conscious of how living in Amsterdam
must be like living in a diorama
of the 17th century I paused
before the woman pouring milk
into a bowl
                       That one
is my favorite
                       he said coming up
somehow unexpectedly behind me although
I must have been waiting for it
since he had said it before:
the milkmaid was his favorite

so predictable I'd no idea
how it would feel to be gathered up
into that moment of foreknown
accord that mutual yes that pure
fulfillment in the milky stream
forever stopped that instant
slotted into the stereopticon of time
down whose aperture we gazed
through Vermeer each wondering
what would meet the other's eye
love? shadows? conspicuous dust?
but nothing was said & soon afterward
we got our jackets & walked unchanged
out of the Rijksmuseum into what
had once been & probably still was
the afternoon sun

-- by John Sinclair

late one night
in the early ’60s
between sets
at the village vanguard 

charles mingus
was holding forth
on the current struggle
for black liberation 

& making a lot of noise
when monk walked up,
stood there & listened,
then shook his head 

& said to charlie,
‘goddamn, mingus,
I never knew
you was black!’

After Apollinaire
-- by Franz Wright

It's four o'clock in the afternoon
and its finished;
I sit back and light my cigarette
on a ray of dusk.
I don't want to write anymore.
All I want to do is smoke.

January 25, 2005

I'm hiding in Honduras I'm a desperate man

* "In an ever-changing, incomprehensible world the masses had reached the point where they would, at the same time, believe everything and nothing, think that everything was possible and that nothing was true....Mass propaganda discovered that its audience was ready at all times to believe the worst, no matter how absurd, and did not particularly object to being deceived because it held every statement to be a lie anyhow. The totalitarian mass leaders based their propaganda on the correct psychological assumption that, under such conditions, one could make people believe the most fantastic statements one day, and trust that if the next day they were given irrefutable proof of their falsehood, they would take refuge in cynicism; instead of deserting the leaders who had lied to them, they would protest that they had known all along that the statement was a lie and would admire the leaders for their superior tactical cleverness." - Hannah Arendt, The Origins Of Totalitarianism

* The Washington Times' Tony Blankley believes Seymour Hersh should be tried as a spy. excerpt:

"Tony Blankley, editorial page editor of the Washington Times, is a walking museum. His syndicated column regularly retails Soviet-style hymns to the majesty of the state and its Dear Leader, thoughtfully published in pedestrian English prose so as to avoid the necessity of translation.

"In his most recent offering, Commissar Blankley opines that investigative reporter Seymour Hersh committed 'espionage' by publishing a detailed expose of the Bush administration’s plans and preparations for war with Iran. According to Hersh, the administration has been conducting pre-war covert operations inside Iran. Those operations allegedly are being carried out through the Pentagon, rather than by the CIA, in order to avoid congressional oversight. Citing anonymous defense and intelligence sources, Hersh predicts that as many as ten nations might be on the list of possible U.S. military targets."
"Before assuming his august post at the Washington Times, Blankley was an attorney and a top aide to disgraced former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. Thus it’s a touch disingenuous for him to affect mystification over the language of the U.S. Code. But even granting that he finds the statute in question ambiguous, there four key words that should clarify the matter: 'In time of war.'"
"Simply put, our nation is not legally at war. Congress did not declare war on Iraq, and hasn’t taken action of any kind regarding military action against Iran. The Bush administration, like Blankley, affects to find some ambiguity in the constitutional assignment of war powers, but the meaning of the language is utterly plain to honest people of even modest intelligence."
"Were the Bush administration to act on Blankley’s recommendation that Hersh be tried as a spy, that decision would involve presumptive Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez, who has been at the forefront of defending the administration’s expansive claims of unaccountable executive power. And the Hersh investigation – were it to happen – would probably divert important resources from the much more pressing inquiry into the Valerie Plame leak, in which an administration official leaked the name of a CIA field operative to the press, thereby blowing her cover and possibly jeopardizing her life.

"Odd, isn’t it, that Blankley’s zeal to prosecute spies doesn’t extend to the Plame case?

"Blankley’s suggestion fits perfectly into his long-established Soviet-style worldview, in which the people are accountable to the state, rather than the reverse. If what Hersh wrote is accurate – and Blankley appears to believe that it is – then trying him for espionage would tacitly recognize that the Bush administration regards the U.S. people as the enemy from whom such information must be hidden."

* David Blaine makes an empty beer full. [via screenhead]

January 24, 2005

There's a black tinted sunset with the prettiest of skies

* A Fantasy of Freedom. excerpt:

"You would think that if the Americans are truly interested in expanding freedom and ending tyranny in Cuba, let alone the rest of the world, Guantánamo Bay would be as good a place to start as any. But the captives in Guantánamo should not ask for the keys to their leg irons any time soon. Ms Rice was not referring to the outpost of tyranny that her boss created in Cuba, but the rest of the Caribbean island, which lives in a stable mixture of the imperfect and the impressive.

"In short, while the US could liberate a place where there are flagrant human rights abuses and over which they have total control, it would rather topple a sovereign state, which poses no threat, through diplomatic and economic - and possibly military - warfare that is already causing chaos and hardship.

"Welcome to Bush's foreign policy strategy for the second term. His aim is not to realign the values at Guantánamo so that they are more in line with those championed by the rest of the world. It is to try and realign the rest of the world so that it is more in keeping with the values that govern Guantánamo, where human rights and legal norms are subordinated to America's perceived interests.

"Under this philosophy, the Bush administration understands the words 'tyranny' and 'freedom' in much the same way as it understands international law. They mean whatever the White House wants them to mean. Bush is happy to support democracy when democracy supports America, just as he is happy to dispense with it when it does not. Likewise, when tyranny is inconvenient, he will excoriate it; when it is expedient, he will excuse it."
"The agenda for a second Bush term represents not a change in direction but an acceleration of the colossal and murderous folly that he, and most of his predecessors, have pursued."
"What is less clear is whether most Americans understand that this isolation leaves them more vulnerable to attack. Ms Rice last week promised 'a conversation, not a monologue' with the rest of the world. But as the situation in Iraq shows, conversations that start with "D'you want a piece of this?" rarely end well for anybody."

* Momus asks Bush not to invade Iran. excerpt:

"You will not invade Iran. Is that clear? You will not turn the square above into a 'green zone' for stooge politicians of your choosing and a restricted, embedded international press corps. You will not impose by force your conception of 'freedom'. You will not occupy Teheran and Ispahan, after a brief but terrible aerial bombing campaign, with your fucking jeeps, your mercenary 'contractors', your torture squads. You will not kill hundreds of thousands of Iranians now alive. You have no right even to be thinking about such a thing, let alone threatening it. Who the fuck do you think you are to go round the world invading countries one by one?"
"For the sake not just of Iran, but of the far east, we can only hope that the Iraq debacle keeps you tied up for years to come. Of course that's the second-best solution. The best solution is that you simply mind your own business for the next four years. Why not bring 'freedom and democracy' to your own nation first? Why not fight tyranny there? You could start by resigning."

* Psychologist calls January 24 the most depressing day of the year. [via freakgirl] excerpt:

"Dr. Cliff Arnall's calculations show that misery peaks Monday.

"Arnall, who specializes in seasonal disorders at the University of Cardiff, Wales, created a formula that takes into account numerous feelings to devise peoples' lowest point."
"Arnall found that, while days technically get longer after Dec. 21, cyclonic weather systems take hold in January, bringing low, dark clouds to Britain. Meanwhile, the majority of people break their healthy resolutions six to seven days into the new year, and even the hangers-on have fallen off the wagon, torn off the nicotine patches and eaten the fridge empty by the third week. Any residual dregs of holiday cheer and family fun have kicked the bucket by Jan. 24."

January 21, 2005

the girl with the most cake

Courtney looking rough.

drink up with me now and forget all about the pressure of days

Dick Cheney's limo is hit with a lone snowball as he heads up Pennsylvania Avenue.

* Very good Maureen Dowd. excerpt:

"Just look at Condoleezza Rice.

"She's clearly a well-educated, intelligent woman, versed in Brahms and the Bolsheviks, who has just been rewarded for her loyalty with the most plum assignment in the second Bush cabinet.

"Yet her math skills are woefully inadequate.

"She can't do simple equations. She doesn't even know that X times zero equals zero. If you multiply 1,370 dead soldiers times zero weapons of mass destruction, that equals zero achievement for Ms. Rice, who helped the president and vice president bamboozle the country into war.

"Was Condi out doing figure eights at the ice skating rink when she should have been home learning her figures? She couldn't have spent much time studying classic word problems: If two trains leave Chicago at noon, one going south at 20 miles an hour and one going north at 30 miles an hour, how far will each have gotten by midnight?

"Otherwise, she might have realized that if two cars leave the Baghdad airport at noon on the main highway into the capital of Iraq, neither one is going to get there with any living passengers. Our 22 months at war have not added up to that one major highway's being secured.

"It's lucky for Ms. Rice that she's serving with men who are just as lame at numbers as she is. Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz couldn't be bothered to tally correctly the number of dead soldiers when he testified before Congress. And his boss, Donald Rumsfeld, didn't realize that using an autopen signature on more than 1,000 letters to the relatives of fallen troops added up to zero solace.
"Condi may not know Einstein's theory of relativity, but she has a fine grasp of Cheney's theory of moral relativity. Because they're the good guys, they can do anything: dissembling to get into war; flattening Iraqi cities to save them; replacing the Geneva Conventions with unconventional ways of making prisoners talk. The only equation the Bushies know is this one: Might = Right.

"It is puzzling that if you add X (no exit strategy) to Y (Why are we there?) you get W²: George Bush's second inauguration.

"At Condi's hearing, she justified the Bush administration's misadventures by saying history would prove it right. 'I know enough about history to stand back and to recognize that you judge decisions not at the moment, but in how it all adds up,' she told a skeptical Senator Biden.

"Problem is, she's calculating, but she can't add. For now, Sam Cooke is right about the Bushies. They don't know much about history.

* Fun column: Don't Let Those Reefers Misguide You, by Nathaniel Page. [via drug war rant] excerpt:

"Weed, doobie, hay: we’ve all heard the names kicked around by wasted marijuana addicts in the back alleys and dumps of America. Recently, this evil drug struck again, taking a life even from the Law and Society Program of our prestigious university. Our deluded peer, in his THC-induced stupor, has gone as far as to produce a hallucinatory column about marijuana’s benefits (“Dude, Herb is Totally Chill,” Daily Nexus, Jan. 13). Quite clearly written while high from its rambling, incoherent character, the column desperately attempts to express the feeling of euphoria the writer was experiencing while 'riding the bus' after a bong hit, a feeling that is followed shortly by a crash and a powerful craving for another, bigger hit. But don’t be deceived by his demented ideology or the rationalizations of NORML, an association of strung-out drug-addicted fanatics who can barely care for themselves. The truth is that marijuana has been proven to kill children.

"Mr. Hamme even has the balls to suggest within his disjointed tirade that students pay for the production of marijuana cigarettes on campus, which is an atrocity. Before long, UCSB will be a pit of sex, drugs and alcohol, and our fine reputation as a center of higher learning will be sullied by the smell of wacky tobacco smoke wafting out of the chancellor’s office. Mr. Hamme, go back to your painted school bus. People like you are wiping out kids faster than convicted sex offender Victor Sciortino and threaten to disrupt the traditional social balance of Isla Vista."
"Have you ever seen the specter of a marijuana addict? It is one of a sickly skin-and-bones fiend, with oily yellow skin and a raspy voice from the constant smoking, herpes in every orifice, teeth or limbs missing, and always in a desperate search for a bowl. The only way we can save ourselves from marijuana and the resulting crack and methamphetamine epidemics is to find these wicked addicts, lock them up, and throw away the keys, even if it takes the whole army and navy. Penalties for possession should be as harsh as in Arabaghistan, where I’ve heard you can lose a hand or a wife. Similarly, all the dealers, with their millions of filthy dollars, should be castrated and sent back to the savage jungles of Colombia, where they would no doubt kill themselves by binging on cocaine. No state penitentiary could be harsh enough for a child-killing, marijuana-peddling vampire. Don’t believe the wild myths, dreamed up by raging pot ideologues, that marijuana can cure the sick. A weakened patient lacking the built-up tolerance of an addict would certainly die instantly if forced by the doctor to take ganja. Clearly the whole movement is a ruse created by addicts stricken with cancer and other disorders after too many years of drug abuse who just want to take advantage of the system at our expense. They should be held accountable, kicked out of the hospital and moved to a high security prison for posing a threat to society."

January 19, 2005

the windows crack and the cold is crushing

* From a speech given by Martin Luther King Jr. regarding the Casualties of the War in Vietnam, 25 February 1967, in Los Angeles, California:

"Curtailment of free speech is rationalized on grounds that a more compelling American tradition forbids critism of the government when the nation is at war. More than a century ago when we were in a declared state of war with Mexico, a first term congressman by the name of Abraham Lincoln stood in the halls of Congress and fearlessly denounced that war. Congressman Abraham Lincoln of Illinois had not heard of this tradition or he was not inclined to respect it. Nor had Thoreau and Emerson and many other philosophers who shaped our democratic principles. Nothing can be more destructive of our fundamental democratic traditions than the vicious effort to silence dissenters."

* New York Press on the lack of WMD. excerpt:

"Among the rest of the population, this laughably tiny news item—I'm writing this column on Jan. 13, but by the time this hits the newsstands on the 18th, it will surely, and amazingly, have been a dead story for days—was mainly fodder for two minutes of office water-cooler gloating among the anti-Bush crowd.

"It is unrealistic to expect anything different. In the run-up to the war, every major daily and television network in the country parroted the White House's asinine WMD claims for months on end, all but throwing their panties on stage the instant Colin Powell showed what appeared to be a grainy aerial picture of a pick-up truck to the U.N. Security Council.

"Justice would seem to demand that a roughly equivalent amount of coverage be given to the truth, now that we know it (and we can officially call it the truth now, because even Bush admits it; previously the truth was just a gigantic, unendorsed pile of plainly obvious evidence). But that isn't the way things work in America. We only cover things around the clock every day for four or five straight months when it's fun.

"O.J. was fun. Monica Lewinsky was fun. 'America's New War' was fun—there was a war at the end of that rainbow. But 'We All Totally Fucked Up' is not fun. You can't make a whole new set of tv graphics for 'We All Totally Fucked Up.' There is no obvious location where Wolf Blitzer can do a somber, grimacing 'We All Totally Fucked Up' live shot (above an 'Operation We All Totally Fucked Up' bug in the corner of the screen). Hundreds of reporters cannot rush to stores to buy special khakis or rain slickers or Kevlar vests in preparation for 'We All Totally Fucked Up.' They would have to wear their own clothes and stand, not in front of burning tanks or smashed Indonesian hovels, but in front of their own apartments."

* In case you are wondering, here's a checklist on how to break into the porn industry. [via the morning news]
we're special in other ways, ways our mothers appreciate

by Kim Keever, 2000 [via travelers diagram]

* War is the truest expression of the state, and its most powerful reinforcement. Just as capitalism must create artificial needs for its increasingly superfluous commodities, the state must continually create artificial conflicts of interest requiring its violent intervention. The fact that the state incidentally provides a few 'social services' merely camouflages its fundamental nature as a protection racket. When two states go to war the net result is as if each state had made war on its own people — who are then taxed to pay for it. The Gulf war was a particularly gross example: Several states eagerly sold billions of dollars’ worth of arms to another state, then massacred hundreds of thousands of conscripts and civilians in the name of neutralizing its dangerously large arsenal. The multinational corporations that own those states now stand to make still more billions of dollars restocking armaments and rebuilding the countries they have ravaged.

- The War and the Spectacle, Ken Knabb, Bureau Of Public Secrets, 3 April 1991 [via wood s lot]

* The Pentagon lashes out at Seymour Hersh for his "claims that President George W. Bush plans to drastically expand the war on terrorism, and has already signed executive orders authorising secret commando operations against terrorist targets in as many as ten middle eastern and south Asian nations, including Iran." excerpt:

Lawrence DiRita, the Pentagon's chief spokesman, said in a statement on Monday that many of the facts upon which the story is based are inaccurate. Neither he nor Dan Bartlett, the White House spokesman, commented directly on the commando operations claim, however.

"Mr Hirsch's sources feed him with rumour, innuendo, and assertions about meetings that never happened, programmes that do not exist, and statements by officials that were never made," the Mr DiRita said.

"It is rare for the Pentagon to issue such a long and detailed response to a single news account; DiRita's two-page statement includes four specific refutations of claims made in the piece, including an alleged post-election meeting between Donald Rumsfeld and the joint chiefs of staff in which the defence secretary claimed the 2004 US election was a referendum on aggressive action in the Middle East.

"It is also rare that defence officials single out a specific journalist for such vitriol. In one part of his statement, Mr DiRita appears to accuse Hersh of anti-Semitism. Mr Hersh reported that Douglas Feith, the number three civilian at the Pentagon, has worked with Israeli military planners to find targets in Iran, a claim the Pentagon said built on 'the soft bigotry of some conspiracy theorists.' Mr Feith is Jewish. The Pentagon said not such contacts exist."

Of course, Hersh's reporting is generally spot on.

January 18, 2005

Thick heart of stone my sins my own

* Some sage advice from M's The Sensuous Man (originally published in 1971). excerpt:

On the orgy:

"If you decide the orgy is for you, be prepared for a long, exhausting evening. Don't go just to watch -- that's very rude at an orgy. Spread yourself around as far as you will go. That way, nobody will be offended. Don't expect privacy. And don't count on pairing off, because orgiasts love sweaty, heaving, ejaculating heaps of naked bodies. Wear casual clothes, the kind you can pull off and toss into a corner. And remember, at all times, that you are perpetuating a hallowed tradition in Western civilization."

On anal sex:

"Insert your finger in the anus and rotate it from side to side. Gently rotating your finger will contribute to her sense of relaxation and soon will generate warm positive feelings. Use more lubrication and insert your finger again, penetrating deeper into her anus each time. Withdraw and insert. Repeat.

Be extremely sensitive to her reaction to avoid causing her stress or pain. Lubricate your penis from top to bottom, using an extra generous amount of cream on and around the head.

Now place the head of the penis up against the anal opening. Permit her to push back against you so she can control the initiall slow entrance. When the head of the penis penetrates the rectum, hold still for a moment to allow her sphincter muscle to adjust to the newcomer."

On how to administer "the feathery flick:"

"Raise her right through the roof with this one. Locate that fascinating clitoris - the most sensitive little sex organ on her body - with your tongue. Flick the tip fo your tongue back and forth along the top of the shaft, in much the same way you would stroke a banjo but, of course, with a much lighter touch. Now flick up into the mons area, back down again along the clitorial shaft, and finally, when she is very excited, move your tongue with a feathery flick until she comes."

* Entries
-- by James Tate

When I think no thing is like any other thing
I become speechless, cold, my body turns silver
and water runs off me. There I am
ten feet from myself, possessor of nothing,
uncomprehending of even teh simplest particle of dust.
But when I say, You are like
a swamp animal during an eclipse,
I am happy, full of wisdom, loved by children
and old men alike. I am sorry if this confuses you.
During an eclipse the swamp animal
acts as though day were night,
drinking when he should be sleeping, etc.
This is why men stay up all night
writing to you.

* I'll be heading over to Amsterdam next week. If anyone can recommend cool things to do while there, please advise in comments. thanks.

January 14, 2005

once we had dreams now we have schemes

POTLUCK setlist:

Bob Dylan -- A Hard Rain's Gonna Fall (fr. Live '75)
The Feelies -- Real Cool Time
Pere Ubu -- Non-Alignment Pact
VU -- Temptation Inside Your Heart
The Fall -- How I Wrote Elastic Man
Rocket From the Tombs -- Muckraker
The Mice -- Not Proud of the USA
Velvet Crush -- She Cracked
The Who -- Run Run Run
GBV -- Echos Myron
Olivia Tremor Control -- The Opera House
Holly Golightly -- Time Will Tell
Luna -- Smile
Marc Bolan -- Saturday Night
Love -- Can't Explain
Black Tambourine -- Throw Aggi From the Bridge
Archers of Loaf -- Freezing Point
The Wrens -- Hopeless
Sonic Youth -- Silver Rocket
Neil Young -- Homegrown
(smog) -- Morality
Preston School of Industry -- Walk of a Gurl
Lou Rawls -- For What its Worth
Sparklehorse -- Gold Day
Bobby Bare Jr. -- Let's Rock and Roll
Silver Jews -- Long Long Gone
John Phillips -- Campy California
Momus -- Finnegan the Folk Hero
Frank Zappa -- You Can Get Your Point Across
Bruce McCullough -- Eraserhead
Patty Smith -- My Generation
The Fugs -- Doing All Right
Dump -- Rasberry Beret
Pavement -- Coolin By Sound
A.C. Newman -- Drink to Me Babe, Then
Teenage Fanclub & Jad Fair -- My Life is Starting Over Again
Califone -- No Expectations
Bill Fox -- Let's Be Buried Together
Jim Carrol -- People Who Died

January 13, 2005

I see you gracefully swimming with the country club women

It Can't Be True
-- by Michael Brownstein, author of the must-read World on Fire

That we belong to one of the last generations
To See an uncontaminated sky
And walk through enough forest
Stretching for hundreds of square miles
Uncharted and completely surrounded by itself
Holding us because being there
Is a real surprise, vast and everyday
And not just the unspoiled tip
Of an island fenced off by the gov't.
For one brief clumsy weekend
Fucking away from the glare of the city's
Shiny hallucination

On Opening a Book of Photographs
-- by Kim Addonizio

I look at them until I feel immune,
a pile of bodies photographed by Lee
Miller, nineteen forty-five, their strewn
limbs, at first random, like spokes, ray out
across the page. That checkered rag -- a dress,
maybe, or only a piece of cloth -- I doubt
it covers a women. The others' sex
is easy: they're men; their faces, and
two exposed penises, nested in the shadowed
groins, look tender, peaceful, like that hand
curled on a chest, as if it knows
where it rests. But it doesn't. However I
tell this, they're not redeemed. There they lie.

Real Life
-- by Kim Addonizio

Here we walk without wallets,
no keys to anything. The gates
swing open, we move among the
cows, hot hills, at night through wet
foxtails; the kitchen light hums
winged things circle it. Yesterday
you slit a snakeskin and found
the diamond pattern interrupted,
in the center, by a heart:
covered it in salt, tacked
it to a board for drying out.
This evening it's soft, the scale
you peel for me a tiny
translucency in my hand.

January 12, 2005

I never use stairs just trees

* Got a heroin problem? Afraid of withdrawl? Dr. Clifford Bernstein is pioneering what some may call a miracle treatment -- anesthetizing addicts and using an intravenous drug cocktail to induce an almost instantaneous withdrawal from the heroin. excerpt:

"Bernstein says he has a better way to kick opiate addiction - one that painlessly strips the drug from the brain's nerve receptors in 20 minutes. The procedure, which relies on a combination of medicines, is carried out while the patient is anesthetized - a conscious patient would be in so much agony there would be risk of a heart attack. According to Bernstein, the roughly 2,500 patients the institute has treated wake up after an hour and are no longer addicted. Even if an addict were to shoot up after the procedure, there would be no effect. The opiate would be blocked from binding with the receptors already occupied by naltrexone, a drug which must be taken orally for a year. Bernstein says 65 percent of Waismann patients are still clean after a year.

"Critics dismiss those numbers and denounce the Waismann method as a scam that takes advantage of desperate addicts. But the American Society of Addiction Medicine has come out in support of the treatment, and the society's former president claims that it's one of the most innovative developments in the field since the advent of the 12-step program in the 1930s.

"With a recent surge in the abuse of opiate-based painkillers such as OxyContin, the institute's business is booming. He has put up billboards across the country and has explained the procedure on MTV, CBS, and NBC. So far, he's drowning out his critics. And, like Lasik eye surgery in the 1990s, rapid detox is making the transition from experimental technique to standard procedure offered nationwide. Competitors have emerged: A rival rapid detox center opened last year in Los Angeles, and there are centers in Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Michigan, New Jersey, and New York. Hundreds of addicts are going through rapid detox each year, and proponents like Bernstein are positioning the approach as a modern, humane alternative to Narcotics Anonymous."

* Take a look at some bad book covers. [via bookslut]

* Female attorneys in Cyprus have won the right to wear trousers in court. excerpt:

"Until now the dress code for women was dark skirts and jackets with white blouses but new regulations for dark 'classic cut' trousers were approved by the Supreme Court and introduced at the beginning of the year.

"'It was a popular demand among female lawyers. Trousers are more practical,' lawyer Melina Pyrgou, secretary of the Bar Association, told Reuters.

"'In Nicosia the courthouse is in five different buildings and you have to dash between them. Some can find it bit awkward to do that in skirts.'

"But lest some females take their newly-found dress freedom too far, the Supreme Court cautions that the material and style of the trousers should remain within the realm of good taste."

* And, what's going on at the Globe?

January 11, 2005

we killed the endless summer

* Short profile of Steven Heller (pictured above from 1968), editor of the AIGA Journal of Graphic Design and the chair of the MFA design department at the School of Visual Arts. He is the author or editor of more than seventy books on graphic design, and he is a contributor or contributing editor to nearly 25 magazines, including Print, U&lc, Eye Magazine, Communications Arts, ID magazine, Graphis, Design Issues, and Mother Jones. Since 1986 he has been senior art director of the New York Times, which he first joined as an art director in 1974. From 1967-1973, he served as art director for numerous publications, including Interview magazine, The New York Free Press, Rock Magazine, Screw magazine, Mobster Times, Evergreen Review, and the Irish Arts Center. [via Momus] excerpt:

"In this process of impossible Herculean output Heller has managed to completely chronicle the past hundred years of graphic design to such an extent and depth that his influence cannot help but be felt by every design student and practitioner everywhere in the world. He is the Samuel Boswell of our graphic design age.

"Heller came to his Boswellian role by a strange and circuitous route. A product of both a military school and a progressive prep school on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, Heller never received a formal art education. In 1968, his leftist leanings led him to the New York Free Press. He was seventeen years old and became art director. He had no qualifications whatsoever for that job. He used his press pass to attend some New York University lectures on a variety of subjects during the student sit-in strikes. That seems to have been the extent of college education for this author of over sixty books.

"At the Free Press he met a brilliant young illustrator named Brad Holland, who persuaded Heller that page layouts and type choices actually mattered. Heller had been more or less oblivious to design. He had read a copy of Simplicissimus for its political content and thought the design 'looked nice.' But Heller's personal tastes ran more toward political cartooning and conceptual illustration. In 1974, after brief stints at Interview, Rock, Screw, Rat, and the Evergreen Review, he wound up as art director for the New York Times Op-Ed page, home of political illustration, surrealism, and social comment. His respect and passion for illustration led him to produce a variety of collections on the subject. The first, Artists' Christmas Cards, was followed by Man Bites Man: Two Decades of Satiric Art, Jules Feiffer's America and a number of others."

* The Guardian reports Falluja is "a city of ghosts where dogs feed on uncollected corpses." excerpt:

"'Falluja used to be a modern city; now there is nothing. We spend that first day going through the rubble that had been the centre of the city; I don't see a single building that is functioning,'says journalist Ali Fadhil.

"Most of Falluja's 300,000 residents fled before the assault and now some have begun to return to find their homes destroyed, the water and electricity still cut and untreated sewage flowing openly. There is little chance elections can be held there with polling day three weeks away.

"Some Iraqis openly criticise the fighters, despite the risks. 'The mujahideen are responsible and the clerics for the destruction that happened to our city; no one will forgive them for that,' a former major in the much feared Republican Guard tells Fadhil.

"In one badly damaged home near a cemetery, he finds the body of a fighter still lying on the floor. "The leg is missing, the hand is missing and the furniture in the house has been destroyed," he writes. 'I can't breathe with the smell.'"

* Washington Post editorial. excerpt:

"The full scope and extravagance of President Bush's second inauguration will be decided by inaugural planners and federal officials. The District of Columbia is hardly a bystander in this quadrennial event, however, because it is always called upon to provide security and other local services. Until this year, that arrangement has not been a problem for either party. Historically, the federal government has reimbursed the District's inaugural costs through a special appropriation -- a point D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams was forced to make in a Dec. 27 letter to Joshua B. Bolten, director of the Office of Management and Budget, and Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge.

"The letter was necessary because this year the Bush administration has decided to break from that practice. If the administration has its way, the District will be forced to meet the security needs of the inauguration by draining its own tax dollars or tapping into federal funds already earmarked and approved for homeland security needs. Neither alternative is acceptable. Inaugural events are a federal responsibility. The federal government should spend federal resources or reimburse jurisdictions -- such as the District -- on which presidential inaugural requirements have been imposed."

January 10, 2005

the stars are gonna spell out the words to tommorow's crosswords

* Long, interesting Wired interview on Bit Torrent and its creator Bram Cohen. excerpt:

"Cohen knows the havoc he has wrought. In November, he spoke at a Los Angeles awards show and conference organized by Billboard, the weekly paper of the music business. After hobnobbing with 'content people' from the record and movie industries, he realized that 'the content people have no clue. I mean, no clue. The cost of bandwidth is going down to nothing. And the size of hard drives is getting so big, and they're so cheap, that pretty soon you'll have every song you own on one hard drive. The content distribution industry is going to evaporate.' Cohen said as much at the conference's panel discussion on file-sharing. The audience sat in a stunned silence, their mouths agape at Cohen's audacity.

"Cohen seems curiously unmoved by the storm raging around him. 'With BitTorrent, the cat's out of the bag,' he shrugs. He doesn't want to talk about piracy and the future of media, and at first I think he's avoiding the subject because it's so legally sensitive. But after a while, I realize it simply doesn't interest him much.

"He'd rather just work on his code. He'd rather buckle down and figure out new ways to make BitTorrent more efficient. He'd rather focus on something that demands crazy, hair-pulling logic. In his office, he roots through his bin of twisting puzzles and pulls out CrossTeaser, an interlocking series of colored x's that you have to orient until their colors line up. 'This is one of the hardest I've ever tried,' he says. 'It took me, like, a couple of days to solve it.'"

* Sasha Frere Jones on rock and aging. excerpt:

"Rock bands, like people, are living longer. U2 entered its twenty-sixth year by releasing a new album, 'How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb,' in November. Adding to the band’s aura of durability, a special black-and-red U2 edition of the iPod, the trendiest of accessories, was released in conjunction with the album. At the age of fifty-seven, David Bowie completed a hundred-and-twelve-date tour during 2004, survived being struck in the eye by a fan’s wayward lollipop, and underwent heart surgery. And at sixty-three Bob Dylan is sometimes on the road for as many as twenty weeks a year, more than some musicians a third his age.

"The audience and the press have aged, too. Responding with a sympathetic eye to the spectacle of so much rude life, critics sometimes forsake professional dispassion for cohort cheerleading. Dylan topped many best-of lists in 2001 with his gnomic blues-rock album 'Love and Theft.' U2 is enjoying positive reviews for 'How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb,' which sounds like one vigorous, catchy single—'Vertigo'—surrounded by a lot of well-meaning, ambient warmth. The recorded pop canon has a cruel tendency to move forward on the music of fearless newcomers, but live performance gives veterans a chance to even out the score. In 2004, many of the best shows came from older groups who—perhaps owing to experience, new sobriety, humility, or all three—improved their repertory through performance, in ways that their juniors can’t."

* The Wren's are finally coming to DC and will be playing Friday February 11 at the Black Cat.

January 7, 2005

I dreamt of a factory where they manufactured what I needed

Four poems by Delmore Schwartz:

The Heavy Bear Who Goes With Me

"the withness of the body" --Whitehead

The heavy bear who goes with me,
A manifold honey to smear his face,
Clumsy and lumbering here and there,
The central ton of every place,
The hungry beating brutish one
In love with candy, anger, and sleep,
Crazy factotum, dishevelling all,
Climbs the building, kicks the football,
Boxes his brother in the hate-ridden city.

Breathing at my side, that heavy animal,
That heavy bear who sleeps with me,
Howls in his sleep for a world of sugar,
A sweetness intimate as the water's clasp,
Howls in his sleep because the tight-rope
Trembles and shows the darkness beneath.
--The strutting show-off is terrified,
Dressed in his dress-suit, bulging his pants,
Trembles to think that his quivering meat
Must finally wince to nothing at all.

That inescapable animal walks with me,
Has followed me since the black womb held,
Moves where I move, distorting my gesture,
A caricature, a swollen shadow,
A stupid clown of the spirit's motive,
Perplexes and affronts with his own darkness,
The secret life of belly and bone,
Opaque, too near, my private, yet unknown,
Stretches to embrace the very dear
With whom I would walk without him near,
Touches her grossly, although a word
Would bare my heart and make me clear,
Stumbles, flounders, and strives to be fed
Dragging me with him in his mouthing care,
Amid the hundred million of his kind,
the scrimmage of appetite everywhere.

I Am a Book I Neither Wrote nor Read

I am a book I neither wrote nor read,
A comic, tragic play in which new masquerades
Astonishing as guns crackle like raids
Newly each time, whatever one is prepared
To come upon, suddenly dismayed and afraid,
As in the dreams which make the fear of sleep
The terror of love, the depth one cannot leap.
How the false truths of the years of youth have passed!
Have passed at full speed like trains which never stopped
There where I stood and waited, hardly aware,
How little I knew, or which of them was the one
To mount and ride to hope or where true hope arrives.
I no more wrote than read that book which is
The self I am, half hidden as it is
From one and all who see within a kiss
The lounging formless blackness of an abyss.
How could I think the brief years were enough
To prove the reality of endless love?

The Greatest Thing In North America

This is the greatest thing in North America:
Europe is the greatest thing in North America!
High in the sky, dark in the heart, and always there
Among the natural powers of sunlight and of air,
Changing, second by second, shifting and changing the light,
Bring fresh rain to the stone of the library steps.

Under the famous names upon the pediment:
Thales, Aristotle,
Cicero, Augustine, Scotus, Galileo,
Joseph, Odysseus, Hamlet, Columbus and Spinoza,
Anna Karenina, Alyosha Karamazov, Sherlock Holmes.

And the last three also live upon the silver screen
Three blocks away, in moonlight's artificial day,
A double bill in the darkened palace whirled,
And the veritable glittering light of the turning world's
Burning mind and blazing imagination, showing, day by day
And week after week the desires of the heart and mind
Of all the living souls yearning everywhere
From Canada to Panama, from Brooklyn to Paraguay,
From Cuba to Vancouver, every afternoon and every night.

The Beautiful American Word, Sure

The beautiful American word, Sure,
As I have come into a room, and touch
The lamp's button, and the light blooms with such
Certainty where the darkness loomed before,

As I care for what I do not know, and care
Knowing for little she might not have been,
And for how little she would be unseen,
The intercourse of lives miraculous and dear.

Where the light is, and each thing clear,
separate from all others, standing in its place,
I drink the time and touch whatever's near,

And hope for day when the whole world has that face:
For what assures her present every year?
In dark accidents the mind's sufficient grace.

January 6, 2005

all must not be art. some art we must disintegrate

* "Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. This is not a way of life at all in any true sense. Under the clouds of war, it is humanity hanging on a cross of iron." -- Dwight Eisenhower, 1953.

* Counter-Inaugural, for all your 2005 presidential inauguation protest needs.

* Ben Pleasants on Charles Bukowski. excerpt:

"Bukowski said that poets were sad creatures but they could be funny. He mentioned a dozen we both knew, all with no children. He ended with Steve Richmond. He told me he was so tired of the small presses. He laughed about all the stuff John Martin had asked him to do so he could sell out his 'Collector's Copies' for Black Sparrow. He said Martin would ask him to sign copies of Black Sparrow books in his own snot if he thought it would make him a buck, but he did it.

"Larry Flynt, on the other hand, asked him for the typed manuscripts, pure and simple. 'There's a guy who understands women,' he told me. He told me it was time to 'fuck off poetry, let those cunt suckers choke on the cum of the poet. Write prose. Write stories. Just give up on poetry unless you can curse the gods like Jeffers. Or me.'

"'But how?' I asked. 'How do you break through?'

"Bukowski thought back to when he was a kid of twenty, sitting on a park bench, running away from World War Two. He told me he'd been reading Kenyon Review and Sewanee, which he pronounced as it was spelled, not as it's sung in the song 'Way Down Upon...' And he was surprised it was the same word. So we talked about critics. The New Critics. He said that the poetry he read on that park bench in Texas was stilted and dead, without any feeling, so different from Jeffers who always thrilled him; but the critical articles were bristling with anger, frustration, and hatred.

"'These guys were so neatly bitchy in such a high intellectual, vicious way. The way they used the language in those critical articles was on a far higher level than all their creative work.' He told me to forget about Eshleman, to laugh off the viciousness of a minor leaguer. 'It doesn't count for anything.'

"Bukowski told me that poets have only that little bit of turf to quarrel about. 'Nobody reads them. They read each other. They hate me because my poetry sells; because I connect with the real world and guys like Eshleman and Ashbery connect with no one.' He told me they were born dead and could only exist through viciousness. 'Just cool off and get the fuck off the poetry train. Write straight fiction. Write a play. Anything but poetry.' I had another beer and considered his words. I felt better already."
I'm getting in tune with the straight and narrow

* "In order to create it is necessary to destroy; and the agent of destruction in society is the poet. I believe that the poet is necessarily an anarchist, and that he must oppose all organized conceptions of the State, not only those which we inherit from the past, but equally those which are imposed on people in the name of the future."

Herbert Read, from Poetry and Anarchism, 1938

* Tranquility Airplaneless Airport reports that the Silver Jews are recording in Nashville with the following lineup:

Stephen Malkmus, guit
Mike Fellows bass
"The drummer is local Titans booster, Brian Kotzur"
Cassie B on a couple vocals &
maybe Will Oldham and Steve West and maybe even Bobby Nastanovich.

Sounds good to me.

[via tim thompson]

* CIA cheif Porter Goss ends daily 5pm meetings that have been used since the Sept. 11 attacks to coordinate counterterrorism operations around the world. Goss believes the CIA devotes too much time and resources to fighting terrorism.

January 5, 2005

Cut out the struggle and strife, it only complicates your life

* Washington Post profiles Keith Stroup, the founder of NORML, who retired recently. excerpt:

"'I have no doubt I'll be smoking marijuana the day I die,' Stroup says.

"He loves the weed. He smokes it nearly every night. He comes home from work, pours a glass of chardonnay, lights up a joint and turns on the TV news.
"His new wife doesn't share his passion for pot. Neither does his 35-year-old daughter, who recently had a baby boy, making Stroup a grandfather. He doesn't care that they don't smoke pot and he doesn't think anybody should care that he does smoke it. Forty years of serious inhaling, he claims, hasn't harmed his body or his mind."

"'There's absolutely nothing wrong with it,' he says, 'and it should be of no interest or concern to the government.'

"Despite his candor on the topic, Stroup hasn't been busted since his Canadian misadventures. But he knows the government and its drug war are always out there, and that can make a guy paranoid. About a year ago, the feds nearly discovered Stroup's stash in a suitcase he'd checked on a plane.

"'I had a few joints in an airtight thing inside a sock so you couldn't see it,' he says. 'I got back home and opened it up and there was this slip saying, 'We opened your bag, blah, blah blah.' And my weed is a few inches away! I said, 'Man, that was too close!' So I no longer carry anything when I'm flying. If I'm going to be someplace for a few days, I ship myself a 'care package.'"

* Another wonderful personal story from Tequila Mockingbird. Read it.

* Wolcott on Andrew Sullivan. excerpt:

"His sympathies keeps tugging him in so many different directions that he intellectually resembles Steve Martin in All of Me, herkily-jerkily battling with himself as if being yanked by an invisible leash. Sullivan seemed to take forever to recognize what was apparent to the statues on Easter Island statues, that the Republican Party is hostile to gay marriage and gay identity, eager to support homophobia for political gain, and that the only gays it's comfortable with are white men and women who look like wedding-cake couples and stay discreetly in the closet. He kept holding out hope that because Bush, based on anecdotal evidence, was personally comfortable with gay people, he wouldn't push for a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. Then came the inevitable disappointment. One by one the inevitable disappointments succeed one another, like a line of tumbling dominos, and each day Sullivan returns to his little fort, ready to give the Bushies the benefit of the doubt yet again."

January 4, 2005

every letter started broken hearted

Lou Reed and Laurie Anderson, Coney Island 1995, by Annie Leibovitz

* BBC lists 100 things we didn't know this time last year. excerpt:

5. 52% of households have five or more remote controls.

12. Ronald Reagan started planning his own funeral the year he entered the White House almost quarter of a century ago. He died in June.

26. The full names of Scooby Doo's Mystery Inc members are: Fred Jones, Daphne Blake, Velma Dinkley, Scooby "Scoobert" Doo. Shaggy is actually Norville Rogers.

33. Bob Dylan originally planned to use his first two given names, Robert Allen, as his stage name, because it sounded like the name of a Scottish king. After he saw some Dylan Thomas poems, he chose Dylan as his new surname instead.

63. Just one in a hundred workers goes to the pub for their lunch, according to a study. The same proportion spend lunch having sex.

87. One gigabyte of information - about a quarter of the memory of an iPod mini - is the equivalent of a pick-up truck load of paper.

94. A cruise ship can put more than 130,000 litres of sewage into the sea each day.

* From the January 2005 edition of Harper's:

-- Number of House members in 1979 who voted against making Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday a national holiday: 133

-- Number who are still in the House: 9

-- Number who are vice-president: 1

-- Percentage of Pentagon contracts since 1998 that have been awarded on a no-bid basis: 44

-- Rank of Wal-Mart among Mexico's largest private employers: 1

January 3, 2005

Crash, I'm the last splash

* Top 10 war profiteers of 2004:



3) Bechtel

4) BKSH & Associates

5) CACI and Titan

6) Custer Battles

7) Halliburton

8) Lockheed Martin

9) Loral Satellite

10) Qualcomm

* See how Bad News Hughes celebrated Christmas.

* Worst "sports city" in the US: Washington, DC.