Tuesday, September 30, 2008

anatomy of a painting [3]

It is a kind of immersion in substances, a wonder and a delight in their unexpected shapes and feels. When nothing much is known about the world, everything is possible, and painters watch their paints very closely to see exactly what they will do. Even though there is no contemporary language for t hat kind of experience.... James Elkins
Well, I promised an update in a couple of weeks but that was 2 months ago ! You see how this works, timeless meandering apparently. Above is the stage of this from a week ago and I have already made some new changes but mostly with color. The overall composition is the same as you see here. What's being introduced is primarily a push/pull composition for the atmospherics above and introducing the perspectival grid below. Since the last installment, I agreed upon the orientation of the ground and introduced a new color scheme which is more naturalistic in range and also beefed up the light element. This trend towards announcing the light will continue but I will likely reintroduce more dramatic color elements as the painting moves closer to conclusion. As to the grid imposed on the weathered ground, I'm uncertain. I want to readjust it somewhat as there are some errors in the diagonals, as well needed improvement on the spacing to further induce a recession of space. The other lingering question is whether this grid is a dimensional structure, a second tier of the ground or a reflection of light. I'm about to figure that out.

In closing, here's a detail:

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Friday, September 26, 2008

political speech

Dedicated to the McPalin campaign. Bring on the debates!

recording: Peter Sellers 1958

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

MBV - Kevin Shields on high

I waited 20 years to finally see My Bloody Valentine. There were a couple of chances in the early '90s but the struggle to procure a ride or the ticket price always seemed to impede us from getting to a show. Luckily for me, the "do-over" came last night(9/23) at Roseland here in NY. The band did not disappoint. It was without doubt one the greatest musical experiences I have ever had. I felt out of body at times - many times. It was beautiful and immense. I was flooded by memories of people and places in my past. I was reminded of how much of an impact Loveless had on all of us. How our whole dorm floor obsessed over this record, how it became a soundtrack to late nights and long drives on I-95. That sound protected us in some way and opened up passages within our psyches. As 19 year old students we were just discovering this new consciousness. Nothing had actually sounded like it before. It was singularly new, complete.

I even had some rare flashes that only artists understand. Points you remember while creating a work, trouble spots or successes that only you know. Experiments and accidents that may or may not be part of the final version, but stay with you in some physical memory bank of your body. I was remembering not just current works but stuff from 15 years ago as well. That was a catharsis I did not expect

The whole show was a sublime spectacle of the senses, from the incredible volume to an endless onslaught of light as you can see from the above video. The highlight for everyone in attendance was easily the finale of You Made Me Realise, one of the true classics from Creation Records.
What ensued was a blistering wall of sound for 20 - 30 minutes? It sounded like a herd of cyclones trampling a microphone. It was art.

Here are 2 of the better videos from last nights finale. The sound is compromised because nothing could really capture this. It's the best I could find to share. enjoy.


Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Crack up: the establishment blues

Management’s disposition to maintain and inflate profits while holding down wages and raw material prices meant that workers and farmers were denied the benefits of increase in their own productivity. The consequence was a relative decline of mass purchasing power. As goods flowed out of the expanding capital plant in ever greater quantities, there was proportionately less and less cash in hands of buyers to carry goods off the market. The pattern of income distribution in short, was incapable of long maintaining prosperity.

The Crisis of the Old Order – Arthur Schlesinger

Chris Dodd today called Henry Paulson’s bailout a Constitutional crisis as much as a financial one. The Goldman Sachs plan seeks to effectively give $700 billion to one man with no oversight, whether it Congressional or Judicial. The crisis looks increasingly like another executive power grab on par with the Patriot Act except this time using the Treasury Department as a surrogate of “change”. To add insult to the situation it looking like Paulson has been crafting this plan for months as cited by a Bush surrogate today. A string along perhaps as the summer’s $300 billion bailout for mortgages hasn’t stopped the hemorrhaging. So what does any of it mean?

I’m no economist and trying to get answers in laymen terms is not so easy. However I think these are helpful perspectives that speak to deregulation and economic policies that are the backbone of this mess. This is a good back history on Washington and Wall Street through the years.

Steve Fraser for TomDispatch.

And that's the point. At moments of crisis since the mid-1980s, the relationship between Washington and Wall Street has changed fundamentally, at least when compared to anything that would have been recognizable in the previous century. As a result, the road ahead is dark and unknown.

During the nineteenth century, Washington was generally happy to do favors for Wall Street financiers. Railroad tycoons, who often used those railroads as vehicles of extravagant speculation, enjoyed subsidies, tax exemptions, loans, and a whole smorgasbord of financial fringe benefits supplied by pliable Congressmen and Senators (not to mention armadas of state and local officials).

Since the political establishment was committed to laissez-faire, legerdemain by greedy bankers was immune from public scrutiny, which was also useful (for them). But when panic struck, the mighty, as well as the meek, went down with the ship. Washington felt no obligation to rush to the rescue of the reckless. The bracing, if merciless, discipline of the free market did its work and there was blood on the floor.

By early in the twentieth century, however, the savage anarchy of the financial marketplace had been at least partially domesticated under the reign of the greatest financier of them all, J.P. Morgan. Ever since the panic of 1907, the legend of Morgan's heroics in single-handedly stopping a meltdown that threatened to become worldwide, the iron discipline he imposed on more timorous bankers, has been told and re-told each time an analogous implosion looms.

As it turned out, though, the days of Washington agnosticism about Wall Street were numbered. The economy had become too complex and delicate a mechanism and, in 1907, had come far too close to meltdown -- even Morgan's efforts couldn't prevent several years of recession -- to leave financial matters entirely in the hands of the private sector.

First came the Federal Reserve. It was established in 1913 under President Woodrow Wilson as a quasi-public authority meant to regulate the country's credit markets -- albeit one heavily influenced by the viewpoints and interests of the country's principal bankers. That worked well enough until the Great Crash of 1929 and the Great Depression that followed and lasted until World War II. The depth of the country's trauma in those long years vastly expanded the scope of Washington's involvement in the financial marketplace.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal did, as a start, engage in some bail-out operations. The Reconstruction Finance Corporation, actually created by President Herbert Hoover, continued to rescue major railroads and other key businesses, while some of the New Deal's efforts to help homeowners also rewarded real estate interests. The main emphasis, however, now switched to regulation. The Glass-Steagall Banking Act, the two laws of 1933 and 1934 regulating the stock exchange, the creation of the Securities and Exchange Commission, and other similar measures subjected the financial sector to fairly rigorous public supervision.

This lasted for at least two political generations. Wall Street, after all, had been convicted in the court of public opinion of reckless, incompetent, self-interested, even felonious behavior with consequences so devastating for the rest of the country that government was licensed to make sure it didn't happen again.

The undoing of that New Deal regulatory regime, and its replacement, largely under Republican administrations (although Glass-Steagall was repealed on Clinton's watch), with what some have called the "socialization of risk" has contributed in a major way to the mess we're in today. Beginning most emphatically with the massive bail-out of the savings and loan industry in the late 1980s, Washington committed itself, at least under conditions of acute crisis, to off-loading the risks taken by major financial institutions, no matter how irrationally speculative and wasteful, onto the backs of the American taxpaying public.

Despite free market/anti-big-government rhetoric, real-life Washington has tacitly acknowledged the degree to which our national economy has become dependent on the financial sector (Finance, Insurance, and Real Estate -- or FIRE). It will do whatever it takes to keep it afloat.

Regarding those deregulation culprits and the apparent misguided repeal of Glass Steagall, former Senator Phil Gramm stands tall and his shadow is dark.

Daily Kos:

Even so, by 1999 Sen. Phil Gramm (TX, McCain surrogate) -- who had entered the Senate two years after McCain and quickly become the economic guru of the Keating Five maverick -- put forward the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act. This Act passed out of the Senate on a party line vote with 100% Republican support, including that of John McCain. (To be fair, the bill eventually passed again with a wide margin following revisions in the House.)

This act repealed part of the Glass-Steagall Act. This may sound like a bunch of Congressperson soup, but the gist of it is that Glass-Steagall was put in place in 1933 to control the rampant speculation that had helped cause the collapse of banking at the outset of the depression, and to prevent such consolidation of the banks that the nation had all its eggs in one fiscal basket.

Gramm-Leach-Bliley reversed those rules, allowing not only more bank mergers, but for banks to become directly involved in the stock market, bonds, and insurance. Remember the bit about how S&Ls failed because they didn't have the regulations that protected banks? After Gramm-Leach-Bliley, banks didn't have that protection either.

Gramm wasn't done. The next year he was back with the Commodity Futures Modernization Act, which was slipped into a "must pass" spending bill on the last day of the 106th Congress. This Act greatly expanded the scope of futures trading, created new vehicles for speculation, and sheltered several investments from regulation.

As with both Gramm-Leach-Bliley and Garn-St. Germain, large parts of this bill were written by industry lobbyists. This famously included the "Enron Loophole" that exempted energy trading from regulation and was written by (big suprise) Enron Lobbyists working with Gramm. Not coincidentally, Senator Gramm, the second largest recipient of campaign contributions from Enron, was also key to legislating the deregulation of California's energy commodity trading.

If you want to go deep into the economic policies of the last eight years I highly recommend this pdf: Bushonomics from the Center for American Progress

image: Tony Bevan

Urgent help needed

Your Urgent Help Needed

Dear American:

I need to ask you to support an urgent secret business relationship with a
transfer of funds of great magnitude.I am Ministry of the Treasury of the Republic of America. My country has had crisis that has caused the need for large transfer of funds of 800 billion dollars US. If you would assist me in this transfer, it would be most
profitable to you.I am working with Mr. Phil Gram, lobbyist for UBS, who will be my
replacement as Ministry of the Treasury in January. As a Senator, you may
know him as the leader of the American banking deregulation movement in the
1990s. This transaction is 100% safe.

This is a matter of great urgency. We need a blank check. We need the funds
as quickly as possible. We cannot directly transfer these funds in the names
of our close friends because we are constantly under surveillance. My family
lawyer advised me that I should look for a reliable and trustworthy person
who will act as a next of kin so the funds can be transferred.Please reply with all of your bank account, IRA and college fund account numbers and those of your children and grandchildren to wallstreetbailout@treasury.gov so that we may transfer your commission for this transaction. After I receive that information, I will respond with
detailed information about safeguards that will be used to protect the

Yours Faithfully Minister of Treasury Paulson


via: Angry Bear

Monday, September 22, 2008

Dear Mr. Bailout

To the Editor:

Dear Mr. Bernanke and Mr. Paulson:

My student loans are too big and it is hurting the economy. Can I have a bailout, please? I need $92,000.


Nathan Kottke
St. Paul, Sept.
17, 2008

via: Letters to the Editor/NY Times/Matt Yglesias

Saturday, September 20, 2008

will they raise your taxes ?

Economic collapse withstanding, we've heard nothing but the mantra of raising taxes over the last weeks from a certain camp and their talking heads. So the question is will they? and by how much?
This widget lets you input your financial situation and calculates the change in your tax bill.
Plain and simple.

via: Ezra Klein

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Luc Sante interview

Guernica magazine has a great interview with author Luc Sante currently on their site. Those close to me know how much Low Life was a book that impacted my life and imagination in way that is often hard to describe. I still feel it resonate inside of me when I walk down certain streets. If you are into histories of place, there is no better read. If you live NY, you better get a copy asap. It should be required with your driver's license.

Some interesting discussion about rhythm in the interview.

Excerpt from Sante::
Actually, songs don’t provoke visual images for me. I hadn’t exactly been aware of this before. What I get from songs is language, but not necessarily the actual lyrics. Hmm. This line of thought seems to be getting neurological… Anyway, I sometimes get words from instrumentals, but mostly from music I get rhythm. And timbre and inflection, stuff like that, which makes it sound much drier than it actually is, but in any event the image-generating portion of my brain involves some entirely other lode.

It’s funny—if music produces words, words do produce images. Despite this, music and images seem to live in different sides of the brain. I guess I think in analogies, which tend to be visual. And images produce images—the more images I see the more I can imagine, which, in part, accounts for my addiction to images and my stamina for consuming vast numbers of them at a time.

Whenever I’ve searched for the origins of rhythm in my life the only thing I’ve ever been able to find is the rhythm of the litanies in the Latin mass—the ora pro nobis iteration in funeral services and the antiphonal ceremony of rogations in the fields. Otherwise music was pretty much absent from my early life—my family didn’t get a record player until I was nine, and the radio only seemed to issue news and soccer, later baseball. Music crept up on me in childhood from a variety of ambient sources. In any case, soul music came to seem like something I’d always known, and—beginning when I was nineteen—reggae even more so, as if I’d somehow heard it in infancy.

Rhythm in writing is somehow analogous, but it’s a completely intuitive matter. I don’t really understand the process. It’s related to the substance of Flaubert’s famous letter to George Sand: “When I come upon a bad assonance or a repetition in my sentences, I’m sure I’m floundering in the false. By searching I find the proper expression, which was always the only one, and which is also harmonious. The word is never lacking when one possesses the idea. Is there not, in this precise fitting of parts, something eternal, like a principal? If not, why should there be a relation between the right word and the musical word? Or why should the greatest compression of thought always result in a line of poetry?” This is crucial stuff for me. I write intuitively, not knowing where I’m going, not knowing what the next sentence will be until this one has guided me there, and knowing how the sentence goes begins with my hearing its rhythm in my head, and then filling in the specific words. If the sentence is cloddish and clunky, it’s simply wrong—and not just wrong-sounding but wrong in its meaning. I realize at this point that I seem to be conflating two separate senses of the word “rhythm”—beat and flow—but they are inextricably linked in my mind and the matter lies largely outside my ability to articulate it. Rhythm also guides my reading, that part of which has nothing to do with acquiring information. There are certain writers whose rhythm is immediately congenial to me. Among the living, I think of Geoff Dyer, whose books I’d devour even if they were about metallurgy or stamp collecting. His rhythm carries me through, exactly the way the rhythm of a dancehall number takes over my body.

image via Guernica

dipsticks and lipstick

Remember that little war between Russia and Georgia a few weeks ago? I didn't think so. We should be thinking on it though in light of the ABC interview with Sarah Palin and her eagerness to please her neo-con tutors on the national stage. When asked about the conflict she said she's ready to go to war with Russia on behalf of Georgia, We better take that seriously before any levers get pulled in November. World War III is not my New Year's resolution for 2009.

What are the political games being played inside the McCain camp that would not only turn Georgia into Chechnya, but put so many lives at risk? What is the real story of Mikheil Saakashvili, and why is it that the US Taxpayer has to now rebuild his military for the bargain price
of $5 billion?

The Nation's Mark Ames looks at the troubling questions and more.

On August 14, just as the Georgians and Russians signed their ceasefire, the pro-McCain neocon rag The Weekly Standard published an article "The Pain Game: A military response to Russia's aggression?" calling for the Pentagon to refit Georgian forces to fight a protracted, Chechnya-style guerrilla war against Russia. The author, an old cold war goon named Stuart Koehl, admitted that pushing Georgia into a Chechnya-style guerrilla struggle against Russia would result in a "long and difficult war" and would be "messy," because the Russians "will probably respond to this as they did to the bloodletting in both Afghanistan and Chechnya"--in other words, by killing tens or hundreds of thousands of Georgians. But that's no skin off this neocon's back, because if Georgia managed to hang in as long as it takes for such a war, victory over Russia could be achieved "in a way that would not directly involve US or NATO forces." In other words, Koehl and the rest of the neocons are ready to fight Russia to the last Georgian. And that might literally mean the last Georgian, if you look at what the Russians did to Chechnya.

The idea seems to be gaining traction, as an anonymous defense analyst told a military reporter a couple of weeks ago that America should convert the Georgian armed forces into a "Hezbollah" guerrilla force for the same purpose--bleed the Russians into defeat, while we sit back and chant "Hoo-ah!"

Lost in all of these apocalyptic plans for "helping" Georgia is what the Georgian people themselves might think. How do they feel about the McCainites' plans for turning their ancient, charming country into one of the world's bloodiest hellholes--Chechnya meets South Lebanon by way of Afghanistan, according to the neocons' own words. As the popular war blogger Gary Brecher explained: "Starting a guerrilla war means sentencing most of the people in your address book to a very nasty death." Do Georgians really want that?

Regarding Saakashvili he offers this:

In our conversation, Kochladze raised the most important issue that no one in America will talk about: Georgia's president, Mikheil Saakashvili's anti-democratic credentials. The false spin on Saakashvili as the Jefferson of the Caucasus has driven the hysterical talk of going to war with Russia. Maintaining this false image of Saakashvili has also been key to McCain's candidacy, given McCain's tight relationship with the controversial Georgian strongman.

Jefferson he is not. A former senior US diplomat who served in the former Soviet Union and the Balkans told me, "What Saakashvili has done since coming to power--controlling the television media, rigging elections, attacking opposition protesters and driving his opponents out of the country and now launching a war against an ethnic minority--I've seen this before. Saakashvili is just another Milosevic. He's the kind of guy who will do anything to stay in power for life." It's not like Saakashvili's authoritarian credentials are the world's biggest secret. Freedom House this year downgraded Georgia's freedom rating to the lower end of the "partly free" category, placing it on par with such beacons of democracy as Venezuela--yes, that's right, Hugo Chávez's Venezuela--and Guinea Bissau.

Georgia's freedom index dropped below even such basketcases as Sierra Leone and Papau New Guinea, where nearly a third of the registered voters for last year's heavily-criticized elections were found to have been long deceased. What's more, Georgia's slide towards authoritarianism has only gotten worse, as Freedom House reports:

Georgia's political rights rating declined from 3 to 4 due to the restrictions placed on political opposition following the November 2007 emergency declaration, and the civil liberties rating declined from 3 to 4 due to the circumscription of media and expression in the aftermath of the November protests.

Georgians took to the streets to oppose President Mikheil Saakashvili in October and November 2007, turning out in the largest numbers since the 2003 "Rose Revolution," which swept Saakashvili to power. The authorities violently dispersed the demonstrators, causing hundreds of injuries, and imposed a state of emergency on November 7. The next day, Saakashvili called a snap presidential election for January 5, 2008. The state of emergency, which remained in place until November 16, banned all news broadcasts except state-controlled television and restricted public assembly. Also in 2007, former defense minister Irakli Okruashvili, a onetime Saakashvili ally who subsequently emerged as a principal political rival, was charged with corruption, jailed, and then quickly released.
Chilling, but read the whole article which will have the active links. Also, if you are interested in the developments in Georgia and now Ukraine, I have found Paul Goble's blog a universe of information, history and grounded perspective. WindowonEurasia is a daily read. Paul Goble is director of research and publications at the Azerbaijan Diplomatic Academy.

image: Slim Pickens in Dr. Strangelove

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

our gilded age

Seems like as good a time as any to pickup the Twain classic...... now what will Uncle Fester do about this hullabaloo on Wall St.????

Image:Credit: Keppler, Joseph Ferdinand, artist.'"Mark Twain," America's best humorist.' Keppler & Schwarzmann, 1885. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress.

Biden - the secret weapon

via: Sullivan

Obama - the 2 minute ad

Palin's Alaskan armegeddon

Alarming footage (June 2005) of Alaska's "God's Commission". Palin's speech accompanied the Wasilla Assembly of God's Masters' Commission, which the church's pastor said will allow Alaska to become a refuge for American evangelicals during the coming "end of days" -- or Armageddon

Here's more on Palin's friend (in the video), Pastor Muthee- at the Christian Science Monitor.
The back story is something like this.

In 1988, Pastor Muthee and his wife traveled to Kenya after being "called by God." Setting up shop in the basement of a grocery store, they claim to have brought 200 people "to God" and away from the town's "spiritual oppression."

The source of the oppression? Witchcraft, Muthee says. When researching the community, they found that a woman named "Mama Jane" ran a divination clinic that drew a large following in the town.

“We prayed, we fasted, the Lord showed us a spirit of witchcraft resting over the place,” Pastor Muthee said.

Muthee made his experiences into a video called Transformations, which documents his "spiritual warfare" against demons and occult practices. Spiritual warfare is more common in Latin America and Africa, where the concept of day-to-day demons has a stronger hold.

"According to accounts of the witchhunt circulated on evangelical websites such as Prayer Links Ministries, after Pastor Muthee declared Mama Jane a witch, the townspeople became suspicious and began to turn on her, demanding that she be stoned," the London Times noted Tuesday. "Public outrage eventually led the police to raid her home, where they fired gunshots, killing a pet python which they believed to be a demon."

via: rawstory

Monday, September 15, 2008

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse vs. drilling trolls

great question and the appropriate response - dead silence

WHITEHOUSE: Gentlemen, we’re in the middle of a near total mortgage system meltdown in this country. We have a health care system that burns 16 percent of our GDP, in which the Medicare liability alone has been estimated at $34 trillion. We’re burning $10 billion a month in Iraq.

This administration has run up $7.7 trillion in national debt, by our calculation. And there is worsening evidence every day of global warming, with worsening environmental and national security ramifications. In light of those conditions, do any of you seriously contend that drilling for more oil is the number one issue facing the American people today?

(Long silent pause during which nobody answers.)

WHITEHOUSE: No, it doesn’t seem so.

via: kos

Friday, September 12, 2008

the Pizza Hut President (ode to Sarah)

Just a small town girl, livin in a lonely world
She took the midnight train goin anywhere
Just a city boy, born and raised in south detroit
He took the midnight train goin anywhere

A singer in a smokey room
A smell of wine and cheap perfume
For a smile they can share the night
It goes on and on and on and on

Strangers waiting, up and down the boulevard
Their shadows searching in the night
Streetlight people, living just to find emotion
Hiding, somewhere in the night

Working hard to get my fill,
Everybody wants a thrill
Payin anything to roll the dice,
Just one more time
Some will win, some will lose
Some were born to sing the blues
Oh, the movie never ends
It goes on and on and on and on


Dont stop believin
Hold on to the feelin
Streetlight people
- lyrics by Journey

image: Sarah Palin VP hopeful

McCain's real views on Mayors, etc.

via Sam Stein

Thursday, September 11, 2008

twin lights

tonight from my neighborhood.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Office of Blame now in NYC

Having worked the streets of the DNC and the RNC, the Office of Blame comes into its final stop in NYC tomorrow. Seeing that this will be the 7th anniversary (amazing) of the vicious attack on our citizens here in the Big Apple, there should be plenty of blame on people's minds. I'm sure it will be quite emotional for us all here.

Yours truly will be subbing in for [Geoffrey Cunningham] this stint and assisting Carla Repice on the phones. So if you are in Manhattan from 4-7pm we will be at Union Square. Stop by and bitch about something.

from the website:

Here at the OBA, our accountants specialize in taking your blame. Through our easy filing method, we will:

• record and provide witness to your blame

• notarize and file your blame securely and anonymously

• provide you with a receipt for your personal record

• all for FREE!

How? Now placing blame is easier than ever! You can find us at our select office hours and locations (updated below) -OR- We are now pleased to announce our ONLINE iBlame filing system! It’s still easy and anonymous and you will receive a receipt via email.

Just click here for the form.

We at the OBA thank you for choosing us to shoulder your blame. Feel free to use us as often as you like, and don’t forget to share our services with anyone.

ABC looks into Palin book banning

Matt Damon on Palin apocalypse

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

you wonder why.....

Put another way, Palin enjoyed more coverage as a VP candidate during the GOP convention than Obama did a week earlier when he became the first person of color to accept the nomination for president of a major party. With the other ticket making most of the news, Obama was a focus in 22% of the stories last week, by far his lowest week of coverage in the general election season. His running mate Joe Biden registered at 2%.

The extent to which Palin commanded the spotlight last week is clear from the campaign storylines. Together, media narratives about McCain and the convention—including the proceedings themselves, Hurricane Gustav’s impact, McCain’s speech, and George Bush’s role—accounted for 43% of the campaign newshole. Palin themes, including reaction to her selection, her public record, her personal and family life, and the question of sexism—accounted for 45%.

read on

23 LIES to Nowhere ...and counting

and this from Chris Matthews

Monday, September 08, 2008

the other Palin

via Balloon Juice

collective wisdom vs. t he local bully

Like many of us, I have experienced a real trauma over the past week regarding the Palin pick and the subsequent fright fest of the RNC. Perhaps the most morbid piece of political theater I have ever witnessed in my short 36 years. To say that Palin brings up all kinds of ghosts and shadows from my past is an understatement. The Bush years have taught me one thing, that I continue to have scars from my experience with an evangelical upbringing. If you grew up in a rural place - particularly in the South (and now the SWest) - then you know what I mean first hand, or at least second hand which is bad enough in itself. You are familiar with the local politics of the Sarah Palin's of the world. You've known them in your schools and most likely your church. They are the bullies that seek to overthrow the board of ed. and by extension your city council. They annex the bleachers at middle school and high school sporting events and make sure a kind of unspoken religious bigotry gets conflated into sports competition and adolescent class warfare in school hallways. They have a way of belittling kids that seem "unsaved" or "unchurched" in the proper way. They are your local bully and hypocrite where the only rule is double standards and a vehement hatred of accountability and the common good.

The great thing about this week has been finding some kindred spirits on this subject. The Mississippifarian who does a great service in not only cataloging all the Palin links you need to read but discusses some of the feelings I have expressed above.


The Sarah Palins I dealt with in my youth weren’t beauty queens. No, back in my day Catholics were still Catholics, and not converts to the pentecostal movement like Sarah Palin. Where I grew up Catholics tended to stay Catholic because of the profoundly anti-Catholic clique that ruled my world: my Lutheran church’s “100 widows.” With the exception of those elderly busybodies, my hometown was still pretty egalitarian.

But my church was the largest in town, so big we had to split into two softball teams (just like the Catholics). So large we made our own rules, which is why our ALC church sounded more like the Missouri Synod on most Sundays. Like any large group, there were differences of opinion among the parishioners. Some realized that in the ’60s the church needed to reach out to its young people, and our Sunday school classes (which didn’t end until you graduated from high school) started to become more “relevant.” (Younger readers should be advised that relevance was “the” buzzword of the late ’60s.)

Art and Char, two of our more liberal congregants, took responsibility for teaching World Religion to my just confirmed peers (we were mostly sophomores). It was one of the best classes I’ve ever taken in my life. Art and Char didn’t teach us what was wrong with these religions, they taught us what these other people believed, and in so doing helped us to better understand how differently people think in other parts of the world. But the 100 Widows were not amused, and shut us down. Art and Char, as I recall, didn’t even get to finish out the school year. The next year we had to take a class from the leader of the 100 Widows, a well-intentioned older woman who, when challenged, would always say something to the effect of “the devil is here among us, prompting you to ask that question.” And that would be that. She single-handedly pushed most of us away from the church.

Myrtle (that was her name), taught me about power, and how a small group of like-minded individuals could take over a much larger organization like our 1,400-member church (that may not sound large now, but there were only 10,000 people living in the entire county). For me, it was all Mark Twain and atheism after a year of Myrtle. If she was right, then I wanted to go to hell.

Women (and men) like Myrtle were a necessary precursor to the Sarah Palin generation. I have no clue where the power lies in today’s churches, but then it was with the older women. Men didn’t live as long back then because contrary to whatever the liars tell you, hard work will kill you. That and men didn’t used to be quite so churched. I had to read history books to learn how godless the Old West was, but my Dad’s generation still knew families that were defiantly unchurched. By the time I came along it was safe to say that anyone who didn’t go to church didn’t advertise that fact. Not being churched was the next worst thing to being a Communist in my part of Iowa, and I think just about everywhere else in the Cold War U.S.A.

And so countless millions of young people like myself left rural America. Most of us had to because there were no jobs, but in fact it was mostly the “hippies” who left, and the conservatives who didn’t, or who came back after college. Small towns like the ones I grew up next to became more and more conservative, and the evangelicals started showing up in greater and greater numbers.

I think the change came about with Reagan in the early ’80s. Rural communities in the north finally began to see what the South had been living with for so long. Which church you belonged to again became a big deal. For a while, in the ’70s, the old divisions had started to fade away. The evangelicals put a stop to that.

It started with the school boards. The thumpers grabbed a couple of seats and suddenly all the usual crap started: Creationism, anti-evolution crackpottery, book banning, wog bashing, etc. And it wasn’t just old women anymore, these movements were led by male pastors and by working women who subordinated themselves to male leadership. They scared the shit out of my hometown and the majority eventually made it a point to vote in the school board elections so they could be rid of the yahoos.

But they came back. They allied themselves with the jock culture that sprang up with an Eastern German fanaticism in the wake of Reagan’s goalpost-worshipping America. Football was a better wedge issue than Jesus. I had a “braniac” nephew with a fast mouth who put up with a lot of bullying despite being on the football team. (My experiences were much the same but I’m glad to say the bullies didn’t scar my nephew anymore than they did me thanks to good parenting and the fact that our bullies weren’t total braindead steroidal psychopaths li

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Artists lecture series at Bidonvillle Cafe (sept.7)

So some friends of mine decided that they were tired of all the careerism and complaining about being an artist in NY so they decided some grassroots connections were needed. The result is a new forum for artists to present their work to other artists via the "lecture circuit" at Bidonville Cafe.

The first talk of the Fall will be this Sunday, Sept. 7 @ 7:00 PM with photographer Lucas Thorpe and painter Michael Lee.

Bidonville Cafe
47 Willoughby Ave. (b/w Clermont & Adelphi)
Bklyn, NY 11205
G or C train to Clinton/ Washington and march north

Lucas Thorpe:

“Airsoft is a military simulation game in which players equip themselves with the same uniforms and gear – shooting plastic BBs – that are currently used by military personnel and security contractors worldwide. To photograph The Green Mountain Rangers Lucas Thorpe joined them for practice sessions on Long Island; at an urban combat training center at Fort Knox, Kentucky; and during a four-day event on an island off the coast of Sweden with over 2,000 participants from around the world.”

Lucas Thorpe was born in 1970 and raised in New York City. He was a professional sailor and attended Maine Maritime Academy before shifting his interest to art and completing a BFA in Studio Art from the University of New Mexico. He began developing his photography in 2003 and has shown his work at the Jen Bekman Gallery in New York and in a number of Tiny Vices projects curated by Tim Barber. His photographs have been published in The Journal, Dear Dave magazine, Wired, and Guernica magazine. Lucas completed an MFA in Photography, Video and Related Media at the School of Visual Arts in 2008 and he currently resides in New York City.

Michael Lee:

“ I have been working for several years with the idea of “de-stabilized” landscape painting. Landscape that permits little access or is otherwise blocked, completely filled up, or rendered in impassable perspective ends up being less about specific geography than with all of the things artists do to comment upon their relationship with the world.

Repetitive imagery itself composed from repetitive line and other types of pattern conveys a desire for some kind of order but ultimately serves to undermine an attempt at rational understanding in favor of the romantic, comedic, and chaotic nature of sorting through one’s life in real time.”

Come by and sign up to present this fall!

Friday, September 05, 2008

RNC: the words of choice (minus Choice of course)

This is good:

ThinkProgress has put together an analysis based on the prepared remarks (a total of 38,055 words) of the convention speakers, looking at how many times Republicans said various words. A glimpse at conservatives’ priorities:

Bush Administration
Bush: 1
Cheney: 0
Gonzales: 0
Rumsfeld: 0

National Security
War/Wars: 38
Surge: 14
Nuclear Weapons: 4
Diplomat(ic)/Diplomacy: 3
Torture (McCain’s): 3
Guantanamo: 1
Osama Bin Laden: 1
Afghanistan: 0
Torture (not McCain’s): 0

Jobs: 36
Economy: 27
Middle Class: 2
Housing: 1
Social Security: 1
Unemployment: 1

POW: 14
Maverick: 11
Hockey Mom: 5
Tyrannosaurus: 1
Elvis: 1

Health Care
Health Care: 26
Medicare: 1
Medicaid: 1

Drill/Drilling: 18
Nuclear (Power): 10
Clean Coal: 7
Environment: 7
Gustav: 6
Climate Change: 1
Global Warming: 1
Green Economy: 1
Katrina: 0

Technology: 13
Internet: 1
Science: 1
Stem Cell: 0

Civil Rights
Immigration: 5
Gay/Gays: 0

McCain accepts lifetime achievement award

Last night were you were wondering like me -what is that weird image behind McCain? It was none other than Walter Reed Middle School in North Hollywood, California???????????????

image: TPM

Thursday, September 04, 2008

the Palindrome

Ok - so here is a great piece of political humor.- Welcome to the Palindrome

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

the real deal

Take the time and watch this Obama speech given Monday in Milwaukee for Labor Day. No teleprompter or special Rovian tutors to get up to speed. This may be the best of his speeches, prepared by the natural himself. Seriously, does anyone in Washington measure up to this man?

Office of Blame now at the RNC

Last week I posted on the exploits of artists Carla Repice and Geoff Cunningham at the DNC. They have moved office to the RNC in St. Paul. So far no tear gas or aerial gunshot wounds from separatist candidate Sarah Palin. Here are some pics from their Flickr page where even Joe Scarborough plays along...