September 30, 2008

I'm gonna shine out in the wild kindness
and hold the world to its word

William DeBilizan, Harvesting Strength

* Clusterfuck Nation. excerpt:

"To paraphrase the late and great old war-horse of the senate, Everett Dirkson of Illinois (1896 - 1969), a trillion here, a trillion there, sooner or later you're talking about real money. Except in the case of the Great Bail-out of 2008, maybe it's more like... sooner or later your money is no longer real.

"What we're seeing in this fiasco, among other things, is a lesson in the diminishing returns of technology. This is a train wreck of investment vehicles so complex that they could only be created with the aid of computers. The result is that hardly anyone -- perhaps even nobody in or out of Wall Street -- really understands what they represent. In fact, this alphabet soup of engineered securities -- CDOs, CDSs, MBSs, SIVs, etc -- was cooked up from a recipe of Ponzi algorithms. They were designed to be mathematically indecipherable, except by computers, in an alternative universe of model-making that bore only a superficial relation to the real world. That was their dirty secret. And the dirty secret of the Great Bail-out is that, in the real world, we will never be able to discover the actual trading value of these things at any number above zero. This is why they are called 'toxic.'

"The big effort of Mr. Paulson and his working group has been to ram through legislation that at all costs avoids any attempt to place a reality-based value on this bad debt. He managed it by holding a gun to Congress's collective head, telling them in plain English that a genuine 'work-out' of these 'toxic' investments would set in motion a fatal cascade of credit default swaps which would leave the entire banking landscape a smoldering wasteland -- with the result that virtually every retirement account and pension fund would go up in a vapor, the Federal Reserve and the FDIC would melt away to twin piles of goo, scores of millions of lives would be ruined, and the USA would be left a basket case among nations, making us envy even the fate of Haiti and Zimbabwe. Talk like that might prompt a congress-person to do any fool thing."
"What the mainstream is truly missing here en masse is that another tsunami is building right behind the finance fiasco, and that it will render moot the whole reeking cargo of schemes and wishes that comprises the Great Bail-out. I am speaking of the global oil problem. In fact, the problems in banking and money currently roaring in the center ring of the world circus, can be described categorically as a product of the oil problem -- since oil is the primary resource of industrial economies and therefore the motive force behind our ability to generate "wealth." Without reliable and ever-growing supplies of oil, there is no industrial growth, and without industrial growth things like capital investment instruments lose their legitimacy. That is why the Frankenstein family of Ponzi securities was invented in the first place -- to compensate for the demise of industrial growth by creating wealth out of... nothing!"
"The fantasies about alternative energy currently wafting across the American media-scape will not "solve" this problem, much as we wish they might. We'll try everything in a quixotic effort to sustain the unsustainable (that is, the happy motoring consumer society), but we will be disappointed by the results. I try to remind readers that the very concept of 'solutions' does not apply in this situation, since it implies that we can keep running things in America just the way we are running them now, only by means other than oil. The truth, in my view, is that we have to run things very differently now, at different scales than the ones we're used to -- but we are too invested in our behavior of the past to move forward. This is certainly unfortunate, because we have everything to gain by letting go of our old habits and obsolete wishes."

* Interesting list: Steve Albini's recording projects.

* "We must never forget that art is not a form of propaganda; it is a form of truth." -- John F. Kennedy

September 29, 2008

You can't hide your lyin' eyes
And your smile is a thin disguise

Aaron Parazette, Insane, 2004

* Top ten conservative idiots. excerpt:

Lindsay Graham

It's a good job McCain came back to Washington when he did - after all, the bailout is serious business, and it required a man of McCain's brains and cool temperament to navigate the minefield of negotiations. So as soon as the debate was over, McCain rushed back to Washington to "help out," and according to his BFF Sen. Lindsay Graham on Fox News Sunday:
GRAHAM: John didn't phone this one in. ... You can't phone something like this in. Thank God John came back.
Yes, praise Jesus.

Mr. McCain, who arrived home at 4 a.m. Saturday from the presidential debate in Oxford, Miss, could be seen in his car talking on his cell phone. But there was no word from his campaign on who he was talking to, or the extent of his involvement in ongoing negotiations.

By mid-afternoon, Mr. McCain's closest adviser, Mark Salter, told reporters that Mr. McCain would not go to Capitol Hill on Saturday but would make phone calls to try to push the deal along.
Um, isn't that the definition of phoning it in?

-- related: If BS was currency, Palin could bail out Wall Street herself.

* People who tattooed celbrities onto their bodies.

* 10 year anniversary version of Pavement's Brighten the Corners, out Novevember 18.

* "My movie is born first in my head, dies on paper; is resuscitated by the living persons and real objects I use, which are killed on film but, placed in a certain order and projected on to a screen, come to life again like flowers in water." -- Robert Bresson

September 26, 2008

there is absence, there is lack

Molly Rucks, Armatage Park

-- by Jessica Piazza

Of shock. Of dread.
Of this shock, redressed.
A man in the flesh,
engaged, incensed.
Stock-still. Undressed.

What a fucking mess.

Our fucking gone-too-farness.
The foregone conclusion
is boredom, I guess.

Like sailors pressed into duty on a ship,
we measure the length of our endless
trip in knots. Raise wet canvases of nots
and wait for wind to strip the deck.
I tell knock-knock jokes. You either
laugh, or you don't.

My easy consonance.
Your queasy countenance.
A stray tucked back in place.

Our come-uppance.

I didn't see the glass.
I didn't notice your eyes.
I've not gone crazy yet
(though, it's implied).

But the floor’s declared a war.
and I propose a truce.
Truth is:
There isn't any more to lose.

State of Exile
-- by Cristina Peri Rossi

translated from the Spanish by Marilyn Buck

Exile is having one franc in your pocket
and dropping it into a pay phone
that swallows and doesn't return it
--no money, no call--
at the exact moment you realize
the phone is out of order.

I Call Myself A Reasonable Man
-- by Nicanor Parra

translated by Miller Williams

I call myself a reasonable man,
Not and enlightened professor
Not a bard who knows everything

Sometimes of course I surprise myself
Playing the role of an incandescent lover
(Because I am not a wooden saint)
But that isn't the way I think of myself.

I am a modest family man
A beast of prey who pays his taxes

Not Nero, not Caligula
An alter boy, a man of the crowd,
An apprentice to a wooden saint.

September 25, 2008

Time exists and you create
Left and right they don’t debate

Stephen Shore, Causeway Inn,Tampa, Florida, November 18, 1977

* McCain blows off Letterman. WATCH IT.

-- related: Poll numbers on McCain's campaign suspension stunt.

-- related: Obama rejects McCain's call to delay debates.

* Unfortunate name combinations found in wedding announcements.

* Yikes, best of luck on the lawsuit.

* "If you want to know what God thinks of money, just look at the people he gave it to." -- Dorothy Parker

September 24, 2008

I break horses
I don't tend to them

Alyssa Dennis, This Way, 2006

- by Klipschutz


That’s how it is in English
Mistress rhymes with distress
(Ain’t that the truth)
But the stress is turned around
(You’re telling me)
Black dress falls right off
The tongue
Wife rhymes with knife
(That was low)
Turned around stress
Can bite you in the ass
And throw off your rhythm
For life

Common Values

Asparagus pisses me off, and I think you know what I mean

A Rising Tide

The bipartisan ship in D.C.
Is changing its name
From the BGS Housing Bubble
To the USS Bailout
Bon voyage!
A luxury liner too big to fail!
We know how this flick ends
With a glacier of debt
Waiting patiently
Pathetic fallacy or no
DiCaprio and Winslet
Are both on board
Love will find a way

Mangled Moment of Modern Art
-- by Noah Falck

The sidewalk hurts.
The moon is just beginning
and I think of her as an unheard song.

Her upturned lips
run skid marks across my cheek
as we lie down like two welcome mats.

There are storms inside every kiss
that would make any weatherman nervous.
And through paper walls

brothers and sisters listen with furrowed brows
to the kind of lovemaking that inspires foreign films,
more giving and taking than Halloween.

-- by Robert L. Penick

You're 65 years old and you sit in your back yard,
drinking light beer and listening to Brahms on the radio.
The wind make the Japonica bush and your
remaining hair dance like seaweed in a riptide.

They took everything from you at the factory:
Hair, teeth, testosterone.
They took nearly everything.

The sky isn't as impossibly blue
as it was 50 years ago, but it will do.
Geese honk overhead, heading back north.

The sun makes you feel like
a successful clay pot.

September 22, 2008

every thousand years
this metal sphere
ten times the size of Jupiter
floats just a few yards past the earth

Tim Rollins, Rollercoaster Reflection #2, 2008

* New York Times. excerpt:

"The nation’s financial mess was caused to a great degree by a culture of lax regulation and even less oversight, in which ordinary Americans were told to trust the government and Wall Street to do the right thing.

"President Bush’s proposed solution, which he wants Congress to authorize immediately, tells taxpayers to write a check for $700 billion and trust the government and Wall Street to do the right thing — with inadequate regulation and virtually no oversight.

"We agree with Senator Barack Obama that the administration’s plan lacks regulatory muscle, and we agree with Senator John McCain when he said: 'When we’re talking about a trillion dollars of taxpayer money, ‘trust me’ just isn’t good enough.'
"To protect the American taxpayer, Congress must ensure that the bailout comes with clear ground rules and vigilant oversight. In an appalling, though familiar fashion, the ground rules proposed by the Bush administration are wholly unacceptable — as are its tactics.

"At 1 o’clock in the morning on Saturday, the Treasury Department released its 'Legislative Proposal for Treasury Authority to Purchase Mortgage-Related Assets.' The witching hour timing seemed designed to underscore the urgency of the effort.

"The proposal, which is now being negotiated with Congressional leaders, would give the Treasury secretary the authority to buy any assets from any financial institution at any price that he deemed necessary to provide stability to the financial markets. And it asserts that neither the courts nor any administrative agency would be allowed to question or review those decisions.

"We’ve seen this kind of over-reaching from the Bush administration before. It has usurped far too many powers under a banner of urgency — think wiretapping — and abused those powers. Now, Congress and the American people are being told that unless they quickly approve sweeping executive powers for the bailout, capitalism may collapse. Even if this administration weren’t so untrustworthy, rushing ahead would be a bad idea.

"No one is saying the financial crisis is not serious and urgent. We know that it will be hard for lawmakers to resist White House pressure — especially if the Dow continues to drop. But it is essential that Congress takes the time to get the bailout right, even if it cuts into lawmakers’ campaigning."
"The only way to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest is for Mr. Paulson to welcome full and transparent legislative and judicial review.

A counterproposal now being developed by the Democrats would require firms that sell their troubled assets to the Treasury to give the government stock — an idea that has populist appeal but also needs to be vetted carefully. It also would try to help homeowners, who are left out of the administration’s plan entirely, allowing them to have their mortgages modified under bankruptcy court protection. That step that should have been taken long ago to avert the foreclosures and house price declines that are at the root of the crisis.

"Senator Christopher Dodd, chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, is also calling for an oversight board of federal officials and other experts. We believe that is still not enough. But all of the competing proposals provide interesting starts for a serious debate."

* Two excellent snippet videos of the Silver Jews in Atlanta. Check them out.

* "Time plays a role in almost every decision. And some decisions define your attitude about time." -- John Cale
Legless love and spider love
Webless love and fragrant mud
Caked in birds, cased in words
I buried your hair in a bed of swords

Jeff McMillan, Cautionary Tale, 2005

Jeff McMillan is not a typical painter. In many ways, he is not a painter at all. For his first solo exhibition in Austria, the US-born, London-based artist presents a series of small-scale figurative paintings found in thrift stores and antiques markets around the world that he has dipped, literally, into a pool of oil paint. What persuades about this simple act is the precision with which the artist has decided to stop immersing the canvases in his large basins filled with bright pigment. In each painting, a wall of intense color rises or drops (depending on the orientation) to a quarter, a half, or more of the height of the picture. Strategically, it stops at an invisible line within the image, covering up details and transfiguring parts of a genre scene, landscape, or portrait, thus overturning its mysterious origin and inscribing a new meaning in it. (via artforum)

* Top ten conservative idiots. excerpt:

8. Douglas Holtz-Eakin

Another McCain economic adviser, Douglas Holtz-Eakin, was riding shotgun aboard the gaffewagon.
Asked what work John McCain did as chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee that helped him understand the financial markets, the candidate's top economic adviser wielded visual evidence: his BlackBerry.

"He did this," Douglas Holtz-Eakin told reporters this morning, holding up his BlackBerry. "Telecommunications of the United States is a premier innovation in the past 15 years, comes right through the Commerce committee so you're looking at the miracle John McCain helped create and that's what he did."
Apparently Mr. Holtz-Eakin was in a coma during the 2000 presidential election.

* In DC? Tonight at the Black Cat, The Caribbean, with The Jet Age. Doors at 8, show at 8:30. $8.

* Sarah Palin's flash cards.

* "Agressive music can only shock you once. Afterwards its impact declines. It's inevitable." -- Brian Eno

September 19, 2008

How many times must a man look up
Before he can see the sky?

Doug Aitken, Migration, 2008

Epitaph on a Tyrant
-- by W. H. Auden

Perfection, of a kind, was what he was after,
And the poetry he invented was easy to understand;
He knew human folly like the back of his hand,
And was greatly interested in armies and fleets;
When he laughed, respectable senators burst with laughter,
And when he cried the little children died in the streets.

-- by Bob Dylan

into the chandelier
i ran out t the phone booth
made a call t my wife. she wasnt home.
i panicked. i called up my best friend
but the line was busy
then i went t a party but couldnt find a chair
somebody wiped their feet on me
so i decided t leave
i felt awful. my mouth was puckered.
arms were stickin thru my neck
my stomach was stuffed an bloated
dogs licked my face
people stared at me an said
"what’s wrong with you?"
passin two successful friends of mine
i stopped t talk.
they knew i was feelin bad
an gave me some pills
i went home an began writin
a suicide note
it was then that i saw
that crowd comin down
the street
i really have nothing
marlon brando

Wild Nights – Wild Nights!
-- by Emily Dickinson

Wild Nights – Wild Nights!
Were I with thee
Wild Nights should be
Our luxury!

Futile – the winds –
To a heart in port –
Done with the compass –
Done with the chart!

Rowing in Eden –
Ah, the sea!
Might I moor – Tonight –
In thee!

September 18, 2008

everything changed nothing
the children dressed in dreams
culture craves corruption
sunlight likes to scream

Cara Ober, Certain Flowers Persist, 2008

* From Harper's October 2008:

-- Estimated number of U.S. lives saved per month by $4 gasoline, through reduced driving nationwide: 1,000

-- Number of U.S. gas stations where the group Pray at the Pump has gathered to ask God to lower the price: 12

-- Total donations that John McCain received from the Oil and Gas industry in June: $1,100,000

-- Portion of this that came after he endorsed new offshore drilling on June 16: 3/4

-- Number of Senate votes McCain has cast since May: 0

-- Number cast by Ted Kennedy since he was diagnosed with brain cancer that month: 1

-- Annual salary of the Bush Administration's director of fact checking: $60,000

-- Amount of loose change recovered at U.S. airport-security checkpoints since 2005: $1,050,371.18

* Open letter to Senator Obama from William Galston, who, Joe Klien says "was one of the smartest domestic policy advisers in the Clinton White House, but has never been a self-promoter, seems very smart to me."

* In DC? The Foreign Press performs at the Velvet Lounge (915 15th street, nw, wdc) Saturday September 20. Doors at 9, show at 10. With Dame Satan (from ess eff) and the childe ballads (ex-Jonathan Fire*Eater)

* "The United States is a nation of laws: badly written and randomly enforced." -- Frank Zappa

September 17, 2008

You must have heard the cautionary tales
The dangers hidden on the cul-de-sac trails
From wiser men who've been through it all
And the ghosts of failures spray-canned up on the wall

Pete Townshend smoking, photographer unknown

The Art of Dying
-- by Tom Disch

Mallarmé drowning
Chatterton coughing up his lungs
Auden frozen in a cottage
Byron expiring at Missolonghi
and Hart Crane visiting Missolonghi and dying there too

The little boot of Sylvia Plath wedged in its fatal stirrup
Tasso poisoned
Crabbe poisoned
T.S. Eliot raving for months in a Genoa hospital before he died
Pope disappearing like a barge in a twilight of drugs

The execution of Marianne Moore
Pablo Neruda spattered against the Mississippi
Hofmannsthal's electrocution
The quiet painless death of Robert Lowell
Alvarez bashing his bicycle into an oak

The Brownings lost at sea
The premature burial of Thomas Gray
The baffling murder of Stephen Vincent Benét
Stevenson dying of dysentery
and Catullus of a broken heart

Wasilla Confidential
-- by Klipschutz

The mayor did not care for the sight
of Daddy’s Roommate on the library shelf.

The President is Pregnant – that’s the stuff!
Who doesn’t love a baby in the house?

Love Poem for Wednesday
-- by Sandra Beasley

You’re the day after Tuesday, before eternity.
You’re the day we ran out of tomatoes
and used tiny packets of ketchup instead.

You are salt, no salt, too much salt, a hangover.
You hold the breath of an abandoned cave.
Sometimes you surprise me with your

aurora borealis and I’ll pull over to watch you;
I’ll wait in the dark shivering fields of you.
But mostly, not. My students don’t care for you

or your lessons from the life of a minor god.
Can you hit the high C in our anthem?
Can you bench press a national disaster?

I fear for you, Wednesday. Your papers
are never in order. Your boots track in mud.
You’re the day I realized I didn’t even like him,

and the day I still said yes, yes, yes.
Sometimes I think you and I should elope,
and leave this house of cards to shuffle itself.

You are love, no love, too much love, a cuckold.
You are the loneliest of the three bears, hoping
to come home and find someone in your bed.

September 16, 2008

in the middle of the bottle
is a little of the way you talk

Radcliffe Bailey, Storm at Sea, 2007

* Josh Marshall nails it: Richard Cohen has jumped way off the tire swing. excerpt:

"McCain has turned ugly. His dishonesty would be unacceptable in any politician, but McCain has always set his own bar higher than most. He has contempt for most of his colleagues for that very reason: They lie. He tells the truth. He internalizes the code of the McCains -- his grandfather, his father: both admirals of the shining sea. He serves his country differently, that's all -- but just as honorably. No more, though.

"I am one of the journalists accused over the years of being in the tank for McCain. Guilty. Those doing the accusing usually attributed my feelings to McCain being accessible. This is the journalist-as-puppy school of thought: Give us a treat, and we will leap into a politician's lap.

"Not so. What impressed me most about McCain was the effect he had on his audiences, particularly young people. When he talked about service to a cause greater than oneself, he struck a chord. He expressed his message in words, but he packaged it in the McCain story -- that man, beaten to a pulp, who chose honor over freedom. This had nothing to do with access. It had to do with integrity.

"McCain has soiled all that. His opportunistic and irresponsible choice of Sarah Palin as his political heir -- the person in whose hands he would leave the country -- is a form of personal treason, a betrayal of all he once stood for. Palin, no matter what her other attributes, is shockingly unprepared to become president. McCain knows that. He means to win, which is all right; he means to win at all costs, which is not.
"McCain was going to fix all that. He was going to look the American people in the eyes and say, not me. I will not lie to you. I am John McCain, son and grandson of admirals. I tell the truth.

"But Joy Behar knew better. And so McCain lied about his lying and maybe thinks that if he wins the election, he can -- as he did in South Carolina -- renounce who he was and what he did and resume his old persona. It won't work. Karl Marx got one thing right -- what he said about history repeating itself. Once is tragedy, a second time is farce. John McCain is both."

* RIP David Foster Wallace.

-- Marc Caro on David Foster Wallace

-- related: article on Roger Federer.

* Hollywood actors in the 1970s.

* "In my many years I have come to a conclusion that one useless man is a shame, two is a law firm, and three or more is a congress." -- John Adams

September 10, 2008

Fake I.D.'s and honeybees
the jagged skyline of car keys

Bill Fisher, Untitled 7, 2007

Ask a Pundit
-- by Klipschutz

Time to start taking bets on how many election cycles until the venues hosting our political conventions are foreign holdings. Then we can look back wistfully on mere corporate "affiliation":

* Pepsi Center (aka "The Can");
* Invesco Field (sometimes referred to as "The Diaphragm");
* Xcel Energy Center (floated as "The X" by a hopeful publicist).

Collectively, the Colorado Avalanche, Denver Nuggets, Colorado Mammoth, Colorado Crush, Denver Broncos, Minnesota Wild and Minnesota Swarm call these stadia home. "Frequent concerts by top attractions" fill in empty slots to keep the income stream Flomaxing.™

Supplemental unfun facts:

* Invesco, incorporated in Bermuda, with assets of $461.3 billion, used to be called Amvescap. Even Americans might take to the streets with that name on their ballfield.

* Xcel owns two nuclear power plants, one of which has ongoing radioactive waste storage problems. (Don’t we all.)

Since there are no accidents – even yarrow sticks land in meaningful patterns – what does it say about the Dems when they shake things up inside The Can? About the Repubs, wildly cheering on their "hockey mom," stomping as they chant "DRILL, BABY, DRILL!" in the Energy Center?

Ask a pundit. I haven’t seen one stumped yet.

Going There
-- by Jack Gilbert

Of course it was a disaster.
The unbearable, dearest secret
has always been a disaster.
The danger when we try to leave.
Going over and over afterward
what we should have done
instead of what we did.
But for those short times
we seemed to be alive. Misled,
misused, lied to and cheated,
certainly. Still, for that
little while, we visited
our possible life.

Unlikely Relationships
-- by Grace Cavalieri

Sleeping with the old man made
Anna feel better. It was like
being a little girl when your mother
would make you hug your smelly
Aunt for the sake of her happiness.
Anna felt secure here.
Why in the world a blind man insisted
on a blue eyed blonde she
never questioned.
Once she held her maid's baby
against her chest
but it felt like a new rug on a dirty floor.
Where did she put that baby?
The old man said she was in
love with her own face and could
not love anything else.
A lie. A dirty lie. There was much
much more about her body she
loved. She loved how it felt
with the baby.

-- off to see joos shows; back tuesday

September 9, 2008

There is absence, there is lack

Karel Appel, Untitled, 1975

* An email from Wasilla. excerpt:

"I am a resident of Wasilla, Alaska. I have known Gov. Sarah Palin since 1992. Everyone here knows Sarah, so it is nothing special to say we are on a first-name basis. Our children have attended the same schools. Her father was my child's favorite substitute teacher. I also am on a first-name basis with her parents and mother-in-law. I attended more City Council meetings during her administration than about 99 percent of the residents of the city.

"She is enormously popular; in every way she's like the most popular girl in middle school. Even men who think she is a poor choice for vice president and won't vote for her can't quit smiling when talking about her because she is a "babe."

"It is astonishing and almost scary how well she can keep a secret. She kept her most recent pregnancy a secret from her children and parents for seven months.

"She is 'pro-life.' She recently gave birth to a Down's syndrome baby. There is no cover-up involved here; Trig is her baby.

"She is energetic and hardworking. She regularly worked out at the gym.

"She is savvy. She doesn't take positions; she just 'puts things out there' and if they prove to be popular, then she takes credit."
"Sarah campaigned in Wasilla as a 'fiscal conservative.' During her six years as mayor, she increased general government expenditures by more than 33 percent. During those same six years, the amount of taxes collected by the city increased by 38 percent. This was during a period of low inflation (1996-2002). She reduced progressive property taxes and increased a regressive sales tax, which taxed even food. The tax cuts that she promoted benefitted large corporate property owners way more than they benefited residents.

"The huge increases in tax revenue during her mayoral administration weren't enough to fund everything on her wish list, though — borrowed money was needed, too. She inherited a city with zero debt but left it with indebtedness of more than $22 million. What did Mayor Palin encourage the voters to borrow money for? Was it the infrastructure that she said she supported? The sewage treatment plant that the city lacked? Or a new library? No. $1 million for a park. $15 million-plus for construction of a multi-use sports complex, which she rushed through, on a piece of property that the city didn't even have clear title to. That was still in litigation seven years later — to the delight of the lawyers involved! The sports complex itself is a nice addition to the community but a huge money pit, not the profit-generator she claimed it would be. She also supported bonds for $5.5 million for road projects that could have been done in five to seven years without any borrowing.

"While Mayor, City Hall was extensively remodeled and her office redecorated more than once.

"These are small numbers, but Wasilla is a very small city."
"She's not very tolerant of divergent opinions or open to outside ideas or compromise. As mayor, she fought ideas that weren't generated by her or her staff. Ideas weren't evaluated on their merits but on the basis of who proposed them.

"While Sarah was mayor of Wasilla, she tried to fire our highly respected city librarian because the librarian refused to consider removing from the library some books that Sarah wanted removed. City residents rallied to the defense of the city librarian and against Palin's attempt at out-and-out censorship, so Palin backed down and withdrew her termination letter. People who fought her attempt to oust the librarian are on her enemies list to this day."
"She is solidly Republican: no political maverick. The state party leaders hate her because she has bit them in the back and humiliated them. Other members of the party object to her self-description as a fiscal conservative.

"Around Wasilla, there are people who went to high school with Sarah. They call her "Sarah Barracuda" because of her unbridled ambition and predatory ruthlessness. Before she became so powerful, very ugly stories circulated around town about shenanigans she pulled to be made point guard on the high school basketball team. When Sarah's mother-in-law, a highly respected member of the community and experienced manager, ran for mayor, Sarah refused to endorse her."
"McCain is the oldest person to ever run for president; Sarah will be a heartbeat away from being president.

"There has to be literally millions of Americans who are more knowledgeable and experienced than she."

-- related: Pallin billed Alaska for nights spent at home. except:

"Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin has billed taxpayers for 312 nights spent in her own home during her first 19 months in office, charging a 'per diem' allowance intended to cover meals and incidental expenses while traveling on state business."
"The governor also has charged the state for travel expenses to take her children on official out-of-town missions. And her husband, Todd, has billed the state for expenses and a daily allowance for trips he makes on official business for his wife.

"Palin, who earns $125,000 a year, claimed and received $16,951 as her allowance, which officials say was permitted because her official 'duty station' is Juneau, according to an analysis of her travel documents by The Washington Post.

"The governor's daughters and husband charged the state $43,490 to travel, and many of the trips were between their house in Wasilla and Juneau, the capital city 600 miles away, the documents."

* "The creation of art is not the fulfillment of a need but the creation of a need. The world never needed Beethoven's Fifth Symphony until he created it. Now we could not live without it." -- Louis I. Kahn

September 8, 2008

And the harmonica around my neck, I blew it for you, free,
No one else could play that tune,
You know it was up to me

Barry Feinstein, Dylan at Aust Ferry, Aust, England, 1966

* Frank Rich on Palin. excerpt:

"We still don’t know a lot about Palin except that she’s better at delivering a speech than McCain and that she defends her own pregnant daughter’s right to privacy even as she would have the government intrude to police the reproductive choices of all other women. Most of the rest of the biography supplied by her and the McCain camp is fiction.

"She didn’t say 'no thanks' to the 'Bridge to Nowhere' until after Congress had already abandoned it but given Alaska a blank check for $223 million in taxpayers’ money anyway. Far from rejecting federal pork, she hired lobbyists to secure her town a disproportionate share of earmarks ($1,000 per resident in 2002, 20 times the per capita average in other states). Though McCain claimed 'she has had national security as one of her primary responsibilities,' she has never issued a single command as head of the Alaska National Guard. As for her 'executive experience' as mayor, she told her hometown paper in Wasilla, Alaska, in 1996, the year of her election: 'It’s not rocket science. It’s $6 million and 53 employees.' Her much-advertised crusade against officials abusing their office is now compromised by a bipartisan ethics investigation into charges that she did the same."
"'This election is not about issues' so much as the candidates’ images, said the McCain campaign manager, Davis, in one of the season’s most notable pronouncements. Going into the Republican convention, we thought we knew what he meant: the McCain strategy is about tearing down Obama. But last week made clear that the McCain campaign will be equally ruthless about deflecting attention from its own candidate’s deterioration.

"What was most striking about McCain’s acceptance speech is that it had almost nothing in common with the strident right-wing convention that preceded it. We were pointedly given a rerun of McCain 2000 — cobbled together from scraps of the old Straight Talk repertory. The ensuing tedium was in all likelihood intentional. It’s in the campaign’s interest that we nod off and assume McCain is unchanged in 2008.

"That’s why the Palin choice was brilliant politics — not because it rallied the G.O.P.’s shrinking religious-right base. America loves nothing more than a new celebrity face, and the talking heads marched in lock step last week to proclaim her a star. Palin is a high-energy distraction from the top of the ticket, even if the provenance of her stardom is in itself a reflection of exactly what’s frightening about the top of the ticket.

"By hurling charges of sexism and elitism at any easily cowed journalist who raises a question about Palin, McCain operatives are hoping to ensure that whatever happened in Alaska with Sarah Palin stays in Alaska. Given how little vetting McCain himself has received this year — and that only 58 days remain until Nov. 4 — they just might pull it off."

* Top ten conservative idiots.

* Fun, fanmade video for Silver Jews' Open Field.

* "What we become depends on what we read after all of the professors have finished with us. The greatest university of all is a collection of books." -- Thomas Carlyle

September 5, 2008

Freeze, don't move
Youve been chosen as an extra in the movie adaptation
Of the sequel to your life

Collier Schoor, Radio, 2005

Too Many Lifetimes Like This One, Right?
-- by Richard Brautigan

Too many lifetimes like this one, right?
Hungover, surrounded by general goofiness,
lonely, can't get it up, I feel like a pile of bleached cat shit.

I Am a Girl
-- by Jennifer L. Knox

with a very big dick. Actually
I am a little bird-girl with a very,
very big dick. It’s bigger than my
wing span though I’m flightless.
My dick’s so big it must be checked
at the airport. No, that’s a joke
and no jokes this time. I really need
to tell you right now about my dick:
how it is (good…big) but especially

what’s behind it: curtain draws back:
a cave, like the innards of a geode,
the walls wink and beep tiny lights.
You can’t fuck it unless you’re made
of numbers. No adhesive sticks. It flew
millions of miles and years through
fires to get here and hide. Why—I
don’t know. I’m telling you this because

I must be ready for the crow with God
knows what behind the big pussy
strapped to its face.

Uncle Charlie
-- by Damien Echols

My best friend’s uncle
used to tell us stories
about life in Vietnam.
He smoked hand-rolled cigarettes
that turned his fingers yellow
and sipped whiskey straight from the bottle
as he explained how they’d used chocolate bars
to lure the children to landmines.
He chuckled while describing
the way the 'gooks' exploded,
but told us we were too young
to hear about the whorehouses
he’d visit on his days off.

-- by Denis Johnson

the towels rot and disgust me on this damp
peninsula where they invented mist
and drug abuse and taught the light to fade,
where my top-quality and rock bottom heart
cries because I'll never get to kiss
your famous knees again in a room made
vague by throwing a scarf over a lamp.
Things get pretty radical in the dark:
the sailboats on the inlet sail away;
the provinces of actuality
crawl on the sea; the dusk now tenderly
ministers to the fallen parking lots --
the sunset instantaneous on the fenders,
memory and peace...the grip of chaos...

September 4, 2008

trouble is a lonesome town

Yitzhak Livneh, Astonishment No. IX, 2004

* The Kid's are Allright? excerpt:

"It’s never all right to use 'alright,' right?

"Let’s discuss, already.

"The Columbia Guide to Standard American English says it best: “All right is the only spelling Standard English recognizes.”

"'Standard English,' of course, is that which is acceptable in polite company, meaning if you want to be taken altogether seriously. Yet 'alright' shows up an awful lot in the mainstream media (meaning polite company) for something that is 'nonstandard English.'

"Some will say that the 'misuse' of 'alright' began with the 1965 Pete Townshend song The Kids Are Alright, but the first modern citation in the Oxford English Dictionary is from 1893. Since then, 'alright' has appeared frequently in song lyrics and titles, casual writing and popular culture references, causing much teeth grinding for generations of English teachers and grammarians. Many people don’t even realize that it’s disputed usage, and it’s not historically wrong: 'Alright' started life in Middle English as one word and split soon after, though 'all right' fell from use for quite some time.

"Nowadays, in polite company 'alright' appears most frequently in quotations. That’s a curious distinction, because no one spells what is being spoken, and 'all right' and 'alright' are pronounced the same, not like 'going to' and 'gonna,' another dialogue inhabitant. In fact, if one were going to render 'alright' phonetically, it would probably be closer to 'awright.' It’s as if writers as a group have decided that 'alright' is dialect, and thus exempt from the rules of standard English. (James Joyce used 'alright' multiple times in Ulysses and Gertrude Stein used it in The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas, both of which might be described as paragons of nonstandard English.) Many transcripts use it, as do articles written with a personal 'voice.'

"Even so, the Associated Press stylebook bars its usage, as do most major dictionaries. Webster’s Third New International Dictionary, Unabridged is more lenient, calling it 'in reputable use' but frowned upon.

"If you want a frown to be your umbrella, it’s alright by me. But only if you quote me."

* Surprise: GOP stretches the truth.

* Iconic LA film locations.

* "In politics, absurdity is not a handicap." -- Napoleon Bonaparte

September 3, 2008

you're a lot like a German painter
with your drama

Francois Morelli, Belthead, 1998

-- by Dennis Mahagin

In my sweetest dream,
you are tattooing my trussed white ass
as flour-dusted pizza dough on a heart-shaped cutting board,
while your twin sister stands under the birthday pinata pony
lactating Milk Duds, Red Hots and Candy Corn--
the pony, lactating, that is, not your
sister, and then you softly whisper:

"Aren't you forgetting something mister?"--
pushing the bolus button at the base of my testicles
like a toaster lever, ‘till that prodigious penis it

pops right up,
and Sis is able to toss her lime green hula hoop
as a horseshoe bulls eye smack dab on the pulsating
purple head, while clapping out the funky rhythm
for first verse of Mickey the cheerleader song.

I've told you already
about the eye patch and permanent
palm prints on my pasty forehead, that came from playing
Patty Cake and Rock-Paper-Scissors with a paranoid
schizophrenic Three Stooges fan in Washington Park;

I let you know about our previous life together
as Appalachian flower children riding astral planes
made from my magic carpet tongue sparks
flogging your flint rock nipples.

I've given you the password to my heart
in all its anagrammatic permutations; but you seem
to insist this is nothing but a start; so herewith, at
last comes the story of my first puppy--
an Airedale named Chipper

who could jump
five feet into the air
to kiss my cheek, and then spin
and spin, like Brian Boitano,
all the way back down
to the ground.

The Sex Was Consensual
-- by Molly Arden

In high school they shacked up with his maiden aunt
In kindergarten drinking chocolate milk meant
she was in favor of integration and high rent
a grateful nation of hypocrites picked on the runt.

The students opened their lockers and out tumbled
the faces of girls and the smell of jockstraps
and they drank coffee with their milk used no maps
the first time they closed the door and stumbled.

Sharon in the ninth grade went with Johnny
she got what she wanted from him with honey
when Hitchcock is ominous he shows you not a gun
but a glass of milk carried up the stairs by Cary Grant.
Would you repeat what you just said, hon?
I can, you can't, and "fuck you" is not a rant.

The Uses of Poetry
-- by William Carlos Williams

I've fond anticipation of a day
O'erfilled with pure diversion presently,
For I must read a lady poesy
The while we glide by many a leafy bay,

Hid deep in rushes, where at random play
The glossy black winged May-flies, or whence flee
Hush-throated nestlings in alarm,
Whom we have idly frighted with our boat's long sway.

For, lest o'ersaddened by such woes as spring
To rural peace from our meek onward trend,
What else more fit? We'll draw the latch-string

And close the door of sense; then satiate wend,
On poesy's transforming giant wing,
To worlds afar whose fruits all anguish mend.

September 2, 2008

Our bodies break
And the blood just spills and spills

Bridget Riley, Red with Red 1, 2007

* How well was Palin vetted. excerpt:

"In Alaska, several state leaders and local officials said they knew of no efforts by the McCain campaign to find out more information about Ms. Palin before the announcement of her selection, Although campaigns are typically discreet when they make inquiries into potential running mates, officials in Alaska said Monday they thought it was peculiar that no one in the state had the slightest hint that Ms. Palin might be under consideration.

"'They didn’t speak to anyone in the Legislature, they didn’t speak to anyone in the business community,' said Lyda Green, the State Senate president, who lives in Wasilla, where Ms. Palin served as mayor.

"Representative Gail Phillips, a Republican and former speaker of the State House, said the widespread surprise in Alaska when Ms. Palin was named to the ticket made her wonder how intensively the McCain campaign had vetted her.

"'I started calling around and asking, and I have not been able to find one person that was called,' Ms. Phillips said. 'I called 30 to 40 people, political leaders, business leaders, community leaders. Not one of them had heard. Alaska is a very small community, we know people all over, but I haven’t found anybody who was asked anything.'

"The current mayor of Wasilla, Dianne M. Keller, said she had not heard of any efforts to look into Ms. Palin’s background. And Randy Ruedrich, the state Republican Party chairman, said he knew nothing of any vetting that had been conducted.

"State Senator Hollis French, a Democrat who is directing the ethics investigation, said that no one asked him about the allegations. 'I heard not a word, not a single contact,' he said.

"Mr. French, a former prosecutor, said that he was knowledgeable about background checks and that, he, too, was surprised that the campaign had not reached out to state legislative leaders."

* McCain keeps his eyes on his VP.

* Silver Jews setlist from Columbus, Ohio.

* "Whether I'm painting or not, I have this overweening interest in humanity. Even if I'm not working, I'm still analyzing people." -- Alice Neel