Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Explanation about Texas decoupage Vase

You know how it is: one day you find yourself living in the only hip city in northern Florida; you're bored, life isn't very exciting. You're on your computer one day when you start fucking around with Mapquest, seeing where you can escape to for a little while that's within driving distance. After narrowing your choices down you notice that New Orleans, pre-Katrina, is only about nine hours away. That's about a day's drive. So you think to yourself: I could drive there one Friday, spend all of Saturday in New Orleans, and then drive home Sunday. But what about where to stay? I've heard of hostels, maybe there's a hostel in New Orleans, you say to yourself. So you go onto something like HostelWorld.com and, instead of just calling the place up and booking a room, order yourself some sort of strange two day deal that includes continental breakfast---a muffin, some orange juice, and a styrofoam cup of coffee, as it turns out. But you get the hostel booked, you get the route down and you start thinking to yourself: "You know, this could just work." You buy a guidebook to New Orleans and then devour it, thinking of the places you want to check out.

Finally you make the trip. It's like nothing you've ever seen. You have a blast. You spend about five seconds on Bourbon Street and then spend the rest of the time checking out those off-the-beaten-path places you've found in the guidebook. The hostel is very good.

So you come back, everything's ok, great in fact, and now that you've started traveling you start thinking to yourself: "OK, now where else could I go..." Assume that you can set it up so that you have a whole week free. That would allow you to spend two days on the road, three days where ever you want to go, then two days coming back home. Now, two days isn't that much, in the scheme of things. Sure, you wouldn't be able to do this every other week, but at least you can do it a few times a year.

New Orleans is do-able, you know that...and you think to yourself "Where could I go from New Orleans in a day?". You look west, and what's out there but Texas. Isn't Austin in Texas? The South by Southwest Festival, Richard Linklater's "Slackers", a sort of mecca of counter-culture...you notice that it looks on the map to be close to as far from New Orleans as New Orleans is from your house. Besides, a friend who lived down the hall from you in one of the colleges you attended but never graduated from was from Austin, and she raved about it.

So you get thinking....yeah, I could do it, why the fuck not? See Louisiana, see the West, the desert. Is there a hostel there? Yes, it turns out there is...

Next thing you know you're on the road to Austin. You go to New Orleans and stay at the same hostel, then make the longer trip to Austin, which is about eleven, ten and a half, hours---and that's with taking a short cut north from I-10 instead of going to San Antonio and then taking the highway up to Austin.

Now you're in Austin; it's fabulous, you're having a good time. You get a disposable camera at a Walgreens to document all of it. What're you going to do with your three days? Well, spend one full day in Austin, checking the place out, getting to know the places you've read about in your guidebook like the South of Congress district, which really is fabulous with its vintage stores, as well as the college strip along Guadalupe avenue (street?). Then, the next day , you've already decided you're going to go to Mexico. Why not? The day after that you're going to go to San Antonio and hit up the Alamo.

You wonder why you're still describing all this is the second person....

I decided to go to Piedras Negras in Mexico for an afternoon, which would basically kill the day, because according to Mapquest it was the closest place in Mexico from Austin. It's on the other side of Eagle's Pass, which you will come to find is less than the most progressive town in Texas.

Why did you choose Piedras Negras instead of Del Rio, which is a more touristy destination a little farther away? Good question. That's exactly what the U.S. Border Patrol wants to know as you re-enter the U.S. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

You chose Piedras Negras not just because it was the closest to Austin but because it appeared to be a more representative Mexican city than most border towns.

Anyways, you go to Piedras Negras, have a (subdued) ball, bargain for a small clay vase, have a meal, speak only, when you do speak, in a sort of very careful fractured Spanish, come back, and face the border patrol.

While Mexico allowed you in without a problem (the sign, after listing "No guns, no drugs...etc.." said in big letters "OBEY THE LAW"), the Americans have a problem.

So they tear your car apart searching for the drugs that they're sure you have in your car. They look at all your CDs. Maybe it doesn't help that you have a copy of "Panama Red" by the New Riders of the Purple Sage that has songs on it like "Important Exportin' man".

But eventually they finish and tell you to get out of there. You're obviously an unsavory character, even if you didn't have anything on you.

But along the way you took a wonderful picture of the highway splitting off from I-10 that connects Piedras Negras with the rest of the world. It's a highway stretching out through brush as far as the eye can see.

The next day in San Antonio you take a picture of the Alamo, after offering your proper respects. It isn't a good time to reflect on the revisionist history of the story of the Alamo in any sort of obvious way. Later you see the table in another building where they forced General Santa Anna to sign the peace treaty with them giving them Texas.

But it's a good time. The Texans in the place are actually surprised that you're respectful, which is good.

Other highlights, back in Austin now, were the Bob Wills (Texas Swing pioneer) exhibit at the Bob Bullock Texas Heritage Museum, where you get a really good steak, as well as dinner at the original Threadgills out on the edge of town.

Anyways, what to do when you get back. The trip was great. The pictures are developed. Shouldn't you do something to commemorate it? A memory sparks in your brain of a feature in the local college weekly about De Coupaging stuff.

So, you go to your local crafts store, find the Mod Podge, then find a cheap blue vase, then look at the flowers and say "What the hell, why not buy some Texas-y flowers, like some flowers that look like the desert wildflowers and a yellow rose, for the yellow rose of Texas, which you heard about in a song by the same name, you think. It'll be symbolic.

You put it all together and what do you know but you now have a blue vase with Texas pictures pasted to it and fake wildflowers and a yellow rose coming out of it.

And that's how you got your Texas De Coupage Vase.

Flowers in vase with Texas pictures


Flowers in vase with Texas pictures
Originally uploaded by Summerisle.

Vase showing Texas pictures #1


Vase showing Texas pictures
Originally uploaded by Summerisle.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

"Class politics of Global Dominance"--by Jeff Faux

Very strange; I wrote something on this topic earlier today. Maybe there's a common wave going through the ether.

Anyways, it's a very good article about transnational corporations and globalization.

Here are some highlights:

"Citizens are told that the global economy has obliterated borders. At the same time, economic competition is mostly described as a Westphalian rivalry of nation-state against nation-state. Thus, it’s “China” versus the “US.” But the economic challenge to Americans is not from China, per se, but from a business partnership between Chinese commissars who provide the cheap labor and American and other transnationals who provide the technology and financing – and whose lobbyists in Washington provided access to the US market."

"American workers’ living standards, although eroding, have thus far been cushioned by our unique capacity to borrow in order to finance consumption in excess of production and saving. This clearly cannot go on. When the debt binge ends --whether in a hard landing or a soft one -- the adjustments will drive living standards for the majority of Americans to the levels of the dog-eat-dog global labor market.

So one would think that re-balancing trade would be close to the top of the economic agenda in Washington. But the influence of de-Americanizing corporations and their financiers – who want to keep shifting productive assets overseas for as long as they can – dominates. Official Washington’s occasional complaints about China’s mercantilist trade policies are primarily theater. In the end, Bush’s treasury secretary Henry Paulson (who came from Goldman Sachs, which is heavily invested in China) tells us we have to be patient. Clinton’s treasury secretary Robert Rubin (also from Goldman Sachs, and now at Citigroup, also invested in China) agrees.

Don’t think of your job, they tell anxious workers, think of the benefits of cheap prices. How great? Researchers at the Carnegie Endowment for Peace calculate the benefits of the Doha Round of trade negotiations at $15 annually per American. Tufts University economists estimate the impact on the world’s poor at less than a penny a day.

In any event, whatever numbers you want to believe, neither economic theory nor statistical calculation can determine whether the benefits of cheaper sneakers are worth the costs of lost jobs, disrupted lives and increased economic security. It is essentially a values question. In the context of the domestic economy, Progressives rightly reject the argument, even where true, that lower prices and greater employment generated by cheaper labor would justify the elimination of social protections and safety nets. Yet intimidated by the prospect of being labeled a “protectionist,” many support international trade regimes that are based on the same argument."

Talks about transnationals, NAFTA, the WTO.

Much of the article will be old hat to people very familiar with the globalization debate, but it's worth reading and, importantly, it's of some significance that it was published on Talking Points Memo Cafe, a relatively mainstream progressive blog.

MaxSpeak!: "Be less cynical" about Kucinich and outsider politics

Meant to post a link to this story w/commentary yesterday. From everything I know, Markos Moulitsas seems to be a nice, amiable guy, unlike Atrios who, in his writing at least, comes off as a nasty little fuck. But Kos' amiability doesn't mean all is well with the politics of the Gate Crasher.

Funny to post a comment against cynicism. Maybe I'm just being cynical.

"Markos throws mud at Dennis Kucinich but loses ground. Why? Because DK is a romantic and MM is a cynic. Progressive politics requires openness to the possibility of positive, radical change. Markos Moulitsas does not belong in progressive politics.

The case he makes is revealing. We will now reveal it, point by point. Trust me, it has world-historical significance.

1. Dennis Kucinich can't win a national election. Of course it's true. You could lay this down to ideas or personality. Since we are serious, we will stick to ideas.

On the ideas front, yes, progressive ideas do not have majority support. But no self-respecting progressive would reject them on this account, only someone obsessed with polls and campaign tactics and where his next consulting gig was coming from. On the preeminent issue facing the nation -- the invasion of Iraq -- Kucinich had the right idea and the celebrated "serious" candidates and respectable commentators were shit wrong."


......


"Hear me now and believe me later: mockery of Dennis Kucinich is founded on fear of progressive politics, either from enemies on the right, or those who feel it threatens electoral viability and professional interests on the left.

And it's true. Progressive ideas do threaten electoral viability for Democrats. This is a feature, not a bug. We want to threaten the viability of business as usual, whether in Iraq or in the homeland, because business as usual sucks. There are better and worse ways to do this. DK is acting the good Democrat, participating in the primaries. Wherever you are heading, he has already been there.

Oh and somebody remind me, who's the sectarian?"


Yes, if you believe that the electoral process can have some viability in effecting social change then it's going to take someone like Kucinich or Nader to make that strategy succeed.

Globalization and inequality

To my mind, the question of globalization revolves around the two poles of development and inequality. In every country there's both the question of the internal structure of equality or inequality and the level of development. What the proponents of globalization, as much as they're sincere about it, want is for countries in the former third world to become industrial powers in order to raise their standard of living. On the global scale the raising of levels of development is a zero sum game: there aren't enough resources available for both the United States, on the one hand, and China and India, on the other, to have identical standards of living. If we admit that raising standards of living through development is good for China and India we also have to admit that in order for them to get there, and stay there, in any sort of sustainable way there has to be a reduction in the standard of living in the United States.

When someone says reduction in the standard of living in the United States you have to ask yourself what that really means: reduction in standard of living with the present distribution of wealth or reduction of standard of living accompanied by some other distribution of wealth? If the answer is with the present distribution of wealth then a reduction in the standard of living in the U.S. would be a horrible thing; labor is virtually defeated, the social welfare system has been eliminated, businesses are making record profits without passing any of it onto the workers, business power in society has become such that it virtually owns the government, CEO pay is out of this world, pension plans are going down the tubes, the minimum wage is extremely low. The list could be made longer. Point is, in this environment a reduction in the standard of living for the U.S. in general would disproportionally hurt those who are either already being hurt by increasing inequality or who are being made much more vulnerable to serious economic straits.

On the other hand, you have to question what exactly does development in the former Third World mean: does development mean a similar, usually much higher, inequality of wealth where people work in sweatshops, live in dormitories on the property, work long, long hours a day for little pay in unsafe conditions, while the owners of the shops make very good profits and enjoy very good lifestyles, or does development mean something where the industrialization of the economy is conducted in a relatively equal way, without severe exploitation of workers and without extreme profits going to the people who own those enterprises?

The same could be said for the U.S.: we could, by establishing a more equal society, facillitate the reduction in consumption, the reduction in general standard of living, required for other countries to improve their position, make the transition in a way which would hurt the least amount of people while making the society itself stronger through eliminating the excesses of business domination over life.

Globalization, free market globalization, suggests that the way to make room for other countries is to throw people who have manufacturing jobs out of work, leaving them with no social welfare system to rely on, while the parent company subcontracts with a supplier in the third world who pays his employees pennies a day and pockets a huge amount of money while passing on a high amount to the parent company.

A fairer type of globalization would a) first get rid of multinational or transnational corporations centered on the first world using the third world for income transfers, replacing them with either national or multi-national companies controlled by the third world itself, b) fight for economic equality within the development of the third world, c) facillitate a change to a global economy in the first world by creating a society with real social equality that can weather global competition without one portion of it being destroyed by it.

I could also add a d) fighting for democracy, public control of government, both in the Third World and in the First.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Random but important---a source of anti-semitism in 20th century Germany.

Everyone knows that the Nazis believed in the false "Protocols of the Elders of Zion", but what's less known is that one of the forces that shaped the Nazis and others view of the world was a sociologist named Werner Sombart. Sombart had been a Marxian sociologist and had toyed around with Marx's idea of different 'modes of production'. Many people throughout the twentieth century would do this, and few had Sombart's sympathies. Basically, Marx's idea was that there were given ways that societies could organize how they produced, distributed, and consumed economic goods, as well as how they basically thought about the economic process. Capitalism was only one of the possible ways of organizing the economic structure of a society; feudalism, which in Marx's view was based on the extension of the family and clan principle to a whole society, preceded capitalism and was actually a less efficient way of organizing things than a Roman or Greek style slave state, where there were free and unfree but where there were finely honed laws deliniating people's status and redress of grievances---something largely absent in feudalism. Then there was the ill defined 'asiatic mode of production', which was what most of the 20th century theorists tried to flesh out---including solving the problem of how Greek style organization proceeded from general Near Eastern civilization. The asiatic mode of production as Marx envisioned it was one where an emperor or similar figure, along with his immediate bureaucracy, dominated a large country directly, where there were few intermediate steps between regular people, who owed taxes to the imperial state, and the machinery of the imperial state itself. People have questioned the notion of an asiatic mode of production like this, or at least have contended that this was not the whole story, but that's somewhat beyond this topic.

In the 20th century, after Sombart, people in the then 'third world' tried to find ways to articulate a vision of social equality that didn't involve adopting Western modes of operation just out of the box, because they sensed that to do so would be to recapitulate recent colonial and neo-colonial history. Instead, there was a search for how to articulate a just society based on indigenous concepts. An African road to socialism, a Ghanaian mode to socialism articulated by Nkrumah, a Tanzanian road to socialism promoted by Julius Nyerere. The 'Chinese road to socialism', ironically, fell outside of this as China combined a heavy emphasis on Stalinist materialism with a contempt of previous Chinese culture as being 'Feudalistic'. The Chinese road to socialism mostly referred to a socialism worked for through land reform in a country that didn't have much fully developed capitalism, not to mention industrial capitalism.

What Sombart did, however, in his playing around with notions about various possible 'modes of production', was to say that Capitalism was a particular mode of production made by particular forces, that it wasn't universal or god given. While many people would agree with that I think that few would hold Sombart's conclusion---Capitalism is the product of Jewish culture.

In Sombart's mind Capitalism was Jewish, a Jewish mode of production---and why was this? Because like the anti-semitic characitures Jews were thought to be a quintessentially commercial people, a trading people, proto-capitalists, and it was thought that they introduced this spirit into a Europe that was largely not commercial.

So for the Nazis, who were against capitalism in so much as they felt it corroded their unrealistic notion of what 'pure' German culture was, Sombart's explanations could be used to justify anti-semitic persecution. According to this line of thought Germans and Europeans in general were frolicking in their tribal meadows with narry a thought of trade or of capitalistic profit when the cursed Jews showed up in Europe and starting turning it all to hell.

That things like the Hanseatic League, a trading league that stretched along the southern shore of the Baltic sea--right now including northern Germany, Poland, and Lithuania Latvia Finland, Sweden, Russia, Denmark, Netherlands...existed in the early modern period didn't really seem to matter. Neither did the fact that the city state of Venice had a large trading monopoly with the Mediterranian community.

If capitalism, in this estimation, was a Jewish creation then in the minds of people who thought this way anti-semitism was justified.

***

Although there's absolutely no comparison between then and now I wonder how this general type of argument has been adapted by authoritarian parties and regimes to suit their purposes. Communists have been the big enemy many times. It's been thought that the Communists are the ones that are destroying 'traditional' culture, with their materialism and atheism and dangerous liberality. Maybe in this country a similar thing, again to a much lesser extent than elsewhere, is going on in relation to Liberals and the ideology of the ruling regime. Liberals are destroying everything; if you want to know why America, in this view, has gone down the toilet, just look at the increasing influence of liberal values on everything.
Obviously, this has to be stopped if traditional american culture and values are to be preserved.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

And to add to that....

Having a politician who's a product of the Democratic Party machine suddenly claim to want to be totally outside the beltway and offer an alternative campaign is...umm...a big fucking contradiction.

I'd believe it coming from Nader, I wouldn't believe it coming from Edwards.

See below on the potential co-optation of the liberal/progressive grass roots by the Democratic Party for more.

Why, maybe, the Democratic Party is embracing progressives

I'm tending to get cynical about this whole thing. The way I see it is that the Democratic Party, faced with the offensive of the Bush administration post 9/11, found their options for being a meaningfull force in politics running out. For, as it stands now, almost 15 years their strategy has been to try to co-opt conservative voters with their idea of a "Third Way", of a centrism that combines tolerance of civil liberties with Republican free market, anti-regulation, anti-social welfare, policies. But there's a problem now in that these policies are basically devoid of any real ideas motivating them besides convenience and oppportunism. The Bush administration, on the other hand, has become "the party of ideas", ironically so. Their ideas, like extreme patriotism, leader worship, the integration of Christianity into regular political life in the United States, pre-emptive invasion of other countries for economic and political gain, as well as increased corporatism, aren't good ideas but they're ideas nonetheless. Third way Democratic Party politics with its attractive-as-nerf policies, can't compete with that.

They may face, in light of the Bush administration's actions, the ultimate catastrophe for a political party: losing power and influence.

The solution, or one of the solutions?

Let in Progressives.

Tap into the base of grass roots dissent and try to convince them that things have changed in the Democratic Party, that now Progressive Proposals will actually be listened to.

Maybe they will, maybe they won't.

The contest between Clinton the Second, a.k.a. Hillary, and Barrack Obama is emblamatic of this.
Is Obama really progressive? I don't know. Can't tell you. But he has the devotional support of many, many, bloggers and grass roots activists on the left.

My feeling is that to a certain extent the Democratic Party is taking these people for a ride, that their support of them is false and self serving, and a way to guarantee that they still have relevancy in Washington.

Will they actually put progressive policies in place? Maybe so. And that could even lead the way to greater progressive victories, but the essential thing to understand is that even though these Democratic Party operatives have taken the support of the grass roots the Democratic Party machine remains intact.

And as long as that condition remains, the hopes and dreams of bloggers and activists that their ideas might force the Democratic Party to reform itself into a real progressive force will remain largely fantasies.

Recommended Reading: Facing Reality, by C.L.R. James

(Title link leads to AK Press page about it)

C.L.R. James is one of the few people unambiguously acknowledged to be an anti-statist, left Marxist. He formed a bridge between the old left and the new left, was decentralist, against trade union bureaucracies, and believed that warokers could organize production somewhat spontaneously and effectively if given a chance. "Facing Reality" is one of the best summaries of his work out there. It starts out with an examination of the Hungarian Revolution of '56, when people organized into workers' councils, and goes on from there to present a cogent and very interesting analysis of the world of capitalism in regards to the world system of the Soviet Union and capitalist America as well as in relation to changing methods of work, increasing technology, and other new strategies of Capital.

Is one of the books that Henry Cleaver cites as being a source of "Autonomous Marxism" in an essay written about how he got to the analysis contained in "Reading Capital Politically".

Very much recommended. I read a copy of it that was lodged in a library. The fact that it's back in print is a really good thing.

Joe Conason continual book review part I

Of chapter 1. Excellent summary of Leo Strauss, intellectual progenitor of the Neo-cons, and Michael Ledeen, who wrote, in my personal opinion, a fawning book about the Young Fascist movement in Italy and who has since become a foreign policy advisor to Karl Rove. Also deals with the alliance between Neocons and Evangelicals and general radical millenarian Christians.

Very good so far.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

First reaction to the Conason book:

After only admittedly reading the first 12 pages, which is roughly 8 more pages than are available on Salon: this book is going to be big. It's going to by dynamite. Conason writes extremely clearly and professionally, nailing the topics right on the head, over and over. Many of the subjects he's talking about have been covered extensively by the blogosphere, and he acknowledges blogger after blogger in his preface, but he does it with original researcha and a quality of writing above what is usually found in the blogosphere.

More detailed review as I get further into it.

To my recent Chinese readers:

The post below, where I discussed getting Joe Conason's book by giving the names of smugglers in the Northern Chinese town of Yinjin to Russian sailors out of Vladivostok was satire . I actually don't know anything about northern China and certainly don't have connections in Yinjin who could steal equipment from the People's Liberation Army and ship it across the Chinese-Russian border concealed in coal shipments.

Sarah Silverman

My my, we're straying far from politics today. I promise I'll give a review of Joe Conason's "It Can Happen Here: Authoritarian Peril in the Age of Bush" soon.

Anyways, first I saw Silverman in "The Aristocrats", which was very funny, then I saw a large part of the stage recording "Jesus is Magic". I have to say that although she's funny, albeit in a politically incorrect way, that I get the feeling watching her that the same bit could be done by any stoner up and down the East Coast....

* on edit: I have to say that anyone who would fuck Jimmy Kimmel has to be a little off, to say the least.

Happiness is...

Getting a cut rate Robert Mapplethorpe book in the mail. Specifically, "Robert Mapplethorpe and the Classical Tradition". If you don't know the man's work beyond the sensationalism surrounding the Cincinnati exhibit and the NEA controversy do yourself a favor and check it out. It's erotic, and if you're shy about things like BDSM you'll be happy to know that most, the majority, of his pictures don't deal with that. Instead, he tries to apply sculptural techniques to film, using poses, contrast, and chiselled bodies to represent what people previously represented in marble.

Hence "Robert Mapplethorpe and the Classical Tradition"

The unfortunate thing is that the Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation keeps such a close reign on his pictures that you're unlikely to see any them in any anthologies. They just aren't there. Unfortunately most of his books are out of print. I was surprised that this was the case, that his works wouldn't be found in anthologies of male nudes, like Adonis: Masterpieces of Male Erotic Photography, which is a great book that I'll buy when I have some more money... (incidentally, POWELL'S, Get Your Server Upgraded. The only reason I'm linking to "Adonis" via Amazon.com is that you're site won't load.)

Incidentally, regarding personal sexuality...well, within certain limits I'll go for basically anything you put in front of me. I'll leave it at that.

Friday, February 23, 2007

What you can learn from stats.

I promise I'll get back to political blogging in one or two posts. Sara of Orcinus has a doozy (is that how you spell it?) over at Orcinus: it's a link suggesting that a major economic downturn could trigger a descent into fascistic authoritarianism in much the same way that another large scale attack could. The latter is basically Dave Neiwert's position. For those who think it's far fetched, you should know that Neiwert has reported extensively on the resurgent 'patriot' movement in the Northwest--from Neo-Nazis to Militias and has written several books on the subject. He's not using the word 'fascism' just to get attention. Go over to Orcinus and read the linked file to the post "The Rise of Pseudo-Fascism".

Anyways, something I've learned through analyzing the newly collected stats of people who visit this site is that there's a disproportionate amount of people from the New York City area and California. No surprise there, in fact I like both NYC and California an awful lot, and hope to move down to California within a year. What surprises me though is the relative lack of Seattleites and Portlanders.

I don't know.....

There's a huge amount of interest it seems in a post I wrote concerning the American Family Association's bullshit criticism of two cartoons that ran in the University of Oregon student paper showing Jesus in a homosexual embrace, but very little of it is actually from Oregon itself. Maybe they're sick of it.

Hmm.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

I got Joe Conason's new book:"It Can Happen Here"!

At 7:05 PM Pacific time I went to the docks. There, in port, was a ship from Vladivostok that was here transporting aluminum to Washington state. I lit my zippo, took out my small hand mirror, and flashed the second window on the top of the ship twice. Within minutes I heard a splash in the water and saw a small inflatable dingy coming through the water. I scrambled down the rocks at the bank so as to be out of the light of the port complex. This was to be the meeting. Ivanushka, a sailor who I'd made the acquaintance of some time ago, climbed out of the small boat. After exchanging brief pleasantries we got down to business.
I handed him the note. This wasn't an ordinary note, no, on it were the names of several contacts in Yanji, across the Russian border from Vladivostok, who knew how to get a hold of 'surplus' goods from the People's Liberation Army, as the normal Chinese Army is referred to, and who could help my associate navigate his way back to Russia with the goods carefully concealed within shipments of coal on trucks. This was how Ivanushka was going to make it for himself in the New Russia.
In return he handed me a package, small, wrapped in paper. I tore a piece of the paper off to make sure that the right things were inside, then we shook hands. I scurried up the rocks, putting the package inside my coat and tried to look like a regular citizen out for a late night walk while Ivanushka rowed for his life back out to his cargo ship where, on the far side, his comrades waited for him with ropes ready to pull Ivanushka and the dingy back up and into safety.

It had been a nightmare of sorts, full of tension and fear. I walked over to an associate's car, got in the back, and we took off. Only after we were on our way did I open up the package fully: it was, just like I had intended it to be, Joe Conason's new book.

I'll read it this weekend and give a report on it sometime later.

I think I should have a criticism/self criticism session with myself over the audio blogs...

Because I need to make them more exciting....

Audio Commentary-Starting with Katha Pollit a

Here's an original audio blog. The first part is basically a rendition of the commentary on Katha Pollit below but then it veers off into its own territory by talking about the dominance of the mainstream culture industry in manufacturing alienation in society.




MP3 File

"Katha Pollit on Marcotte and McEwan"--I disagree with her

(link in the title post)
My criticism is similar, but not identical to Mark Schmitt's post today at Talking Points Memo Cafe or TPMcafe.

I agree, politics have become enourmously stage managed--so has everything else in this culture, or at least in the mainstream of this culture--and I see the role of blogs as potentially breaking up this stagnation. I remember in the 2000 debates where Jim Lehrer asked Bush and Gore if their was anything that they disagreed on, because they had agreed on pretty much everything

That's what this sort of contraction of the acceptable realm of thought has lead to. It doesn't reflect reality in almost any way, it's like a play game, a kind of shadow show where everyone acts out what they *think* American politics or American society should be about, give pious speeches, and then when it's over everyone goes back to how things were in the first place. But for that little point in time when the window is open people are shocked, shocked!, that others would come along and say things that a lot of people actually, in their everyday lives, agree with.

Having bloggers on a campaign trail punctures that sort of hypocrisy. Bloggers in general I see as having the function of lancing the boil of our culture, pricking it and then riding the wave of all the crap that comes out, all the foetid mess of gore, until they reach the real flesh below.

That's what I can see happening with blogs for a political campaign, if the people who control things are willing to allow it: people calling things as they see them, as people really see them, not as the artificial reality of campaign land wants them to be seen.

Maybe Bloggers, and the alternative media in general, can act like a collective psycho-therapy, working through the shit until they get to the base which includes sanity.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Politics are so fucked....so chuck the two party system

You know, after being tempted and, well, just tempted, not wooed, I've decided that what I originally was going to do in relation to politics on the national level is probably the best course. That is, only support the Democrats because George W. Bush without a check on his power is a threat to U.S. society in a way that would not be the case if there was an effective opposition. I think that pushing the elected representatives in Congress is a good thing, but I have no intention of getting in on the latest round of pre-Presidential insanity. None of the Democratic candidates look good to me. And the failure of the election of one will not mean a collapse of democracy in the U.S., at least if the people who are running on the Republican ticket stay the same. So....there are better things to worry about. Unlike a lot of people, mostly liberals, who said that they'd protest the day after the election I actually did protest the day after the election....

Unless there's really some danger or someone has a chance of winning who's a radical socialist, I don't think I'm going to dignify the farce that is Presidential politics. I don't believe that one person can effectively represent 300 million people and I would like a decentralized form of government where the federal government was replaced by a series of regional governments that associated in confederation for common goals. With the executive branch basically being totally subordinated to the branch containing representatives elected by the people themselves from individual districts. Or...if proportional representation...well, you get the picture.

Point is, and this is anything but original, in my grand and glorious opinion the best thing to do now is to try and build a movement, a long term movement that contribute to lasting social change.

Indirect confirmation of Republican hegemony in the U.S. through Google.

Some of you might have noticed that there's now a stat counter on the page. Used to be nothing there, for ideological reasons, but I just can't afford that right now. I need to know how many people are visiting and where they're coming from in order to better publicize the site. Notice that publicizing doesn't necessarily mean commercializing in any way. I just want to connect people who might like my site up with my site, not turn it into Time magazine.

Ok, that said, I can now analyze the stats and see if people found the site through Google. Not only that, but if they found the site through Google I can tell which words they entered into the search engine to find my site. This is where the confirmation of Republican hegemony comes in.

Hegemony being dominance in the cultural and ideological sphere.

It turns out that a lot of the people who look at my site through Google are actually searching for conservative topics and are just finding my site because I've either criticized them or mocked them in some way. Case in point: I wrote a post entitled "Mussolini would be proud" about a Christian minister who interpreted the bible to mean that men should be virile, manly, spiritual warriors. Mussolini would be proud because the ideal of masculinity that this guy was promoting, combined with faith, would fit right in with the fascist ideals that Benito promulgated. Anyways, someone found that post by entering in the words "Mussolini + Good". So someone was trying to find a pro-Mussolini site and found mine. Someone also was trying to find a pro-BNP, British National Party i.e. the main fascist party in Britain, site and found a post where I compared some of the really hard core anti-immigration people to the BNP, which is strongly against non-European immigration into the UK.

But there are more conventional conservative examples, too. The point is that the searches from Google that were from right wing people way outweighed the searches from Google that were on left wing subjects, although there were a few of those as well and I have to say they were admirable in their interest....., and it made me realize how people can just churn out crap with a conservative edge and still have huge book sales.

The fact that there were a lot of hits from people at the opposite end of the political spectrum who I was criticizing suggests that there's this huge pool of people out there who you just have to say the right words to, string the right sorts of sentences together for, who will then snap it up.

It helps to explain Michael Savage, Ann Coulter, and basically the entire current catalogue of Regnery Press.

That's what having the cultural field of production, i.e. the media, as well as the ideological field of production as realized through the political system on your side can do for you.

I'm sure it was the same way in the Soviet Union, in fact it's the same way for any doctrinaire political or ideological position.
If you have dogma you can crank out, say, movie reviews, in a couple of minutes, because it takes very little creativity to actually assess what's going on. This is true throughout the cultural sphere.

Anyways, enough said, now back to your searching for pictures of Dino Grandi in BDSM gear, Grandi being one of the high officials in Fascist Italy.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Another experiment: Audio blogging the below.

Nothing new, but if you want to listen, listen. It's exactly what's posted below, read by me.




MP3 File

Ok, so far I've found an online English edition of a critical French paper: L'Humanitie in English

L'Humanitie in English....it's the PCF, the French Communist Party's paper. But the PCF is a mass force in France that actually wins elections, so it's actually an established paper in the mainstream. While I agree with the conservatism of many of the PCF's policies (I think that many on the left in Europe would agree with me), I think that the paper is interesting, so far from what I've read of it.

The links section in the L'Humanitie in English section has a strange ring of familiarity. Here it is:

AlterNet
Columbia Journalism Review
Common Dreams | News & Views
Common Dreams - Breaking News and Views for the Progressive Community Corporate Watch
CounterPunch
America’s Best Political Newsletter.
Democracy Now!: radio and TV news
Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting
Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR), the national media watch group, has been offering well-documented criticism of media bias and censorship since 1986. We work to (...)
Guardian Unlimited
IGC Internet — The Progressive Community
In These Times
Independent Online Edition
International Labor Communications Association
Le Monde diplomatique - English edition
Le Web de l’Humanité
Monthly Review
Morning Star
MotherJones
mother jones web site, your home for news, politics, commentary and hellraising
OneWorld.net
Parti communiste français
Spectrezine Homepage
The Nation
Unconventional Wisdom Since 1865
The Progressive Magazine
Utne.com
Welcome To ZNet
[Espaces Marx]
[Espaces Marx]
http://www.indymedia.org
n o l o g o . o r g
t r u t h o u t | News Politics

Audio blogging will be limited, plus "Where is the rest of the world?"

Because writing is really my medium. I like to be able to meander around and take whatever options that inspiration kicks up, and I find that I can't really do that with giving a speech unless all the meandering has been written down before hand and I'm just reciting it. Extemporaneous stuff, no, at least not that much. Plus, it's a new skill and do I really want to develop a new skill when I could work on a skill that I've been developing for a long time, i.e. writing?

Anyways, the world... It's strange: either the U.S. media has been keeping European critiques of the U.S.' self declared 'war on terrorism' completely out or the Europeans have been strangely, unthinkably, silent on the subject. I raise this point because one of the major problems in the U.S. right now is not having another viewpoint, a counter viewpoint, coming from the outside in, that would call bullshit on America and would show people inside the U.S. just how wrong people outside the U.S. think we are. The occasional pieces from the U.K. are of limited help here because, although critical of the administration and of the basic project of the 'war on terrorism', they come from an ally that, although they haven't followed us all the way down the rabbit hole, has adopted many of the same ideological points of reference that the U.S. has.

Where are France, Germany and the Netherlands? Or Italy? Surely it wouldn't be that hard for columnists over there to write English language columns, and bring them over here via the net. Translation work is expensive if you're a newspaper, but I'm thinking that the problem of translation, and of writing in a different language from your readership, could be overcome by finding English language dailies from France, Germany, Netherlands, and Italy, and submitting them to Commondreams or Cursor or some other news aggregation site.

It could potentially do a lot of good, unless the papers themselves were geared towards rich emigres in which case they'd probably be more conservative.

There's a deafening silence in the U.S. and it comes at least partially from the absence of criticism from the outside world.
Bloggers inside the U.S. can only do so much. It would sure help if we had international support as well.

Maybe someone should find those English language resources...

South Park Me


South Park Me
Originally uploaded by Summerisle.

This is a creation of me as a South Park character.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Happy Chinese New Year!

This is the Year of the Boar.

Audio Blog!

Full of umms.... and long pauses, but bear with me!

Here's the Neiwert/Orcinus Link

Audio commentary on Bill Donohue

An audio blog describing what I think is the deal with Donohue--and it has to do with white privilege




MP3 File

Henry Lee

Song by Nick Cave as sung by Me called Henry Lee with introduction




MP3 File

Yeah, the Dershowitz item was good...but

Actually this has some relevance with a post below. After I published that I posted another post that went a little bit too far in putting down Dershowitz. He actually left some comments in response. The sense that I got, and I have no idea how he found the site, was that he was being charitable with me because some of the things I said about him could be considered libelous. The original point by point article is good, but since then I've shied away from posting things about Dershowitz, at least things that go over the top, beyond analysis and into put downs. There's no way in hell that I'm going to take on a Harvard law professor over a potential defamation suit.

Plus, there is the issue of privilege in that I'm not Jewish and so have privilege as someone who was raised a nominal Christian in a Christian culture. There's a fine line between criticizing Israel and Jewish American responses to criticism of Israeli actions and actual anti-semitism. I don't believe that it's anti-semitic to criticize the torture and murder of Palestinians, or the actions of Israel towards Lebanon, but there are lines one shouldn't cross, that have nothing to do with being P.C. but with coming at things from a privileged perspective in talking about a population in the U.S. that's relatively non-privileged, although not as much as blacks or hispanics, for instance.

Joe Conason: It Can Happen Here

An excellant excerpt from Joe Conason's new book "It Can Happen Here: Authoritarian Peril in the Age of Bush". That's what the title link leads to (for some reason the title links in the new blogger don't show up as being different from plain old titles). From the excerpt it looks like Conason has got it more accurately than Christopher Hedges has in his book "American Fascism". The Hedges' book's glaring weakness if that it focuses on Dominionist and Christian Reconstructionist sects while overlooking almost all of the changes to the government that have taken place since 9/11. Conason also manages to break out of the ghetto that people with this critique, including myself, are often placed in by replacing the 'F' word with 'Authoritarianism'.

Technically, this is right: we're drifting towards an authoritarian police state but not yet towards a full on fascist state. But what separates a full on police state from a fascist state? Once an authoritarian state is fully in place, democracy is overthrown, and a dictatorship is established, the main things lacking for a fascist state are pretty much just a coherent, official, ultra-conservative ideology that goes beyond being 'reactive', in the sense of claiming that it's just against 'Communism' or 'Terrorism' to proposing something along the lines of a 'national revolution', i.e. a revolution which would restore nationalist values.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Flesh-Film by Paul Morrisey

About a male hustler in New York City. Morrisey was Warhol's protege so this film is shot in a realistic sort of way. I'm about 3/4 of the way through it's noticeable for its honesty. I mean the film is honest, just real, not fake, even though it's scripted. I like the scene where he's at a park talking to two aspiring male hustlers about the job. Oh, 'he' is Joey Dellasandro. But back to that in a second. He's talking to these two guys who're just in from other states about how much you can make and all this stuff...and it's just open and honest, no bullshit, just matter of fact. He goes with guys for money, they want to go with guys for money, it's the mechanics of the business I guess, although I don't have any experience with this sort of thing.

I remember seeing Joey Dellasandro's face on another 'presented by Andy Warhol', Paul Morrisey film called 'Trash', at my local hip video store. I didn't know anything about the Morrisey connection with Warhol or even that this was an art film, but I remembered Dellasandro's face.

More on this later.

Deleted some posts

This blog is on the edge of things; sometimes it goes over the edge. While being upset with groups protesting Romney's announcement of his campaign at the Henry Ford Museum (since as a Detroiter I know that there's zero anti-semitic material there and that it's very popular with most of the residents of the Detroit area) I included an extraneous attack on a medical marijuana distributer in Southern California who made the ill advised and outrageous comment, after implying that he was Jewish, that a recent raid of pot dispensaries was 'like a Pogrom'. There really isn't any connection between groups going to far in relation to objecting to Romney's choice of announcement location and this individual's unfortunate abuse of his heritage in his comments.

Indie Rock, words to describe why I don't like most of it.

I've been trying to find ways of expressing my distaste for indie rock which don't rely on stereotypical insults used against populations like gays or women.

I guess my basic distaste of indie rock comes from the fact that most of it doesn't rock , although it's independent.
It's just too bland, almost childish, like the music that a four year old would make if he grew up to be 24 with the same mindset intact.

This is especially true with acoustic indie rock, which strikes me as being possibly the most boring form of music ever conceived and executed.

Early Flaming Lips, early Stereolab, that's (part) of where it's at, according to the infallable pronouncements of myself.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

You know, she...

Still has some vestiges of hipness, but that little cartoon where she's carrying a copy of Whittaker Chambers' "Witness", that...there's something about that that goes over the line and makes most of what sympathy I might have due to that hipness go out the window.

Witness=book against Alger Hiss, accused of spying for the Soviets.

(title link leads to the blog)

Everything is fucked anyways...

Which doesn't mean you shouldn't be fighting it. However, with luck, I'll be relocating one of these days to a certain very liberal enclave on the other side of the Los Gatos mountains, and another mountain range which will remain anonymous, in California. Hell, I'll be out with it, I'm planning on finding a way to move to Santa Cruz... I know, I know, as if Olympia WA isn't liberal enough. But, Northern California is better.

I guess this is my excuse for not commenting on the many cultural inanities, as opposed to more political ones, that have come up, like TBogg's great rundown of a person who is peddling a book advocating virginity.....who used to be a music reporter for Mojo et al. but found God.

Here's the article. It's good when read in conjunction with "Echinde of the Snakes'" take on a book about the phenomenon of women 'hooking up'(Here). Best line is a take down of the fine-for-me but not-for-thee attitude towards women doing this sort of thing: "Unless I have gotten this quite wrong the hooking-up has been one of the great ideals of the young-guy-talk for centuries, the idea of attachment-free sex, the idea of scoring, the idea of sex as a form of physical release alone."

But the Dawn Eden thing...seems she was one of the first 'Zine writers in the '80s. Well, things like becoming anti-abortion, pro-virginity, and having a revelation about finding God can happen in the best families I suppose...

*on edit* she's not a fundamentalist Christian, her story about how she got to where she is is interesting, but the anti-abortion, anti-sexual freedom, pro-virginity/chastity part is very much true.

Portrait in Flesh


Portrait in Flesh
Originally uploaded by Summerisle.

Photo of my back, with tattoos and acne.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Tonight

In the immortal words of Meatwad "I'm gonna get me tore up." Expect some erratic blog postings later this night.

The Stalingrad movie won out

It was good, "Enemy at the Gates", but it only focussed on the (fictionalized) battle between two snipers. I would have wished that it had covered the entire battle, which according to Wiki was the biggest battle in human history, but, maybe I'll find a movie that does that some other time.

Sometime this weekend will be "Quiet Days in Clinchy", the Henry Miller movie. I think it'll be pretty good, especially since it was made when Miller was actually alive and is therefore probably more accurate a picture of him than "Henry & Jude". Henry & Jude portrays a Miller very unlike what comes across in his novels. He may have come from a somewhat working class background but he was neither a macho rube nor a sex obsessed moron. Henry & Jude seems to equate these things with his lower classness in order to make Miller kind of a noble savage, which is the anti-thesis of the person who wrote not just Tropic of Cancer but Colossus of Maroussi and "Big Sur and the Oranges of Hieronymus Bosch".

Choices, Choices. What do you think?

Should I watch a movie based on the battle of Stalingrad or should I watch "Quiet Days in Clinchy", a 'erotic' yet serious movie based on Henry Miller's novel of the same name, which was originally shot in '70 but was prevented from being shown in the U.S....

Re: Iran. I'd die for my country if need be...

That country being the Northwest Territories of Canada. Don't fuck with the frozen Canadian north, Iran, or I'm gonna come after you.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Alterna-Indie rock vs. Indie Rock

According to All Music there's alternative music, there's Alternative/Indie Rock, and then there's Indie Rock. Alternative is a general term for both the artists who crossed over to mainstream success in the early '90s and those who remained more obscure. Alterna-Indie rock is composed of bands who were basically the same sorts of styles but were less commercially viable. Indie rock refers, in the words of the person who wrote the All Music entry, of bands who remained independent but who reacted against the testosterone that they saw Alternative music going to when it crossed over to mainstream success.

Now, I don't like the list of artists that All Music identifies as general "Alternative", I don't really like the Indie Rock list, but I do like many of the bands on the "Alternative/Indie Rock" list. But I have a different memory of the split between mainstream alternative rock and indie rock. It had nothing to do with testosterone. Alternative rock in the middle to late '90s became watered down and shifted from being about outsiders to singing the praises of America's heartland in so many words. If anything, the testosterone and negativity which typified Alternative/Indie Rock was thought to be unacceptable and so was dropped. Bands didn't get more aggro if they went mainstream, they became less.

Indie Rock saying that they were a reaction against macho-ness is a cop out in an extraordinary way. You don't find the true aggro people being popular today, bands like Ministry or Nick Cave, although Cave has some popularity.

My considered opinion, as a bisexual man who has had homosexual relationships, is part of the gay community, likes gay erotica, has written about non-traditional sexuality, has written good things about gay S&M novels, is, first, that Indie rock is a suburban cop-out by suburban barely-out-of-the-mainstream people who want to think that they're counter cultural, and who have the financial means to collect records and CDs like they were candy.

The second thing is that, for me, Indie Rock is essentially, let me think of a word, basically rock for eunuchs.

Really good Ted Rall column: "How America Marginalizes Millions"

"In the United States, the government doesn't "disappear" individuals it doesn't like (unless they're of Middle Eastern descent). That job falls to the media. The other difference is that the targets aren't individuals, but entire categories of people: African-Americans, Muslims, Asians, and those with political views to the left and right of the two major parties. The lords of print and broadcast media marginalize these groups to the extent that they have no place in the national conversation. They're born, they have children and they die--but they may as well not exist.

They are America's unpersons--and there are tens of millions of them."

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

According to Lou Reed--via Wiki

"The film has also sparked up news as Lou Reed, a member of the Velvet Underground and friend of Edie's, has publicly told the New York Daily News, "I read that script. It's one of the most disgusting, foul things I've seen - by any illiterate retard - in a long time. There's no limit to how low some people will go to write something to make money", as well as "They're all a bunch of whores.""

"How 'Factory Girl' Insults Andy Warhol"--By Jim Lewis, Slate Magazine.

Good article. Highlights:

"There's a moment about midway through Factory Girl, the latest rehashing of Edie Sedgwick's life and Andy Warhol's career, when the movie suddenly goes from being merely very bad to being truly revolting. [...]
Then she meets … well, it's a little hard to say who, exactly, she meets. The character is obviously meant to be Bob Dylan, with whom Sedgwick apparently did have some kind of brief affair, but Dylan threatened to sue the filmmakers, and the character is given a ludicrous pseudonym: "the Musician."

In the movie, the Musician is everything that Warhol is not: a good, red-blooded American boy, heterosexual, motorcycle-riding, and what's more, a poet—no, a prophet—and a paragon of anti-materialism and truth-telling. In short, he's an insufferable prig, a smug and arrogant philistine, and it's no wonder Dylan disavowed him vehemently.
[...]
The movie cuts back to Sedgwick and the Musician romping, and I realized at once that I wasn't watching a film about Andy and Edie at all; I was watching an allegory of the Evil Fag, who battles with the Good Man for the soul of the Lost Girl. "

I didn't think about sexuality myself, beyond the point in the movie, pointed out by Lewis, where the Dylan character actually says the word 'fag' to Andy, in relation to speed, as in "Do you smoke [marijuana] or do you just do that faggy speed shit?", while acting like Mr. Macho, but it works.

I'm not going to reproduce it because I don't want to be posting all of Lewis' article, but, yes, indeed, some of the premise of the film is that Andy Warhol secretly had a straight attraction to Edie Sedgwick and that he behaved like an asshole when she decided not to give him all of her (platonic) affection. In Lewis' words, Warhol is portrayed as a failed heterosexual preying upon women.

Malicious Valentine's Day humor

I Heart you too

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Scenes more worthy of mention in the anti-Nazi resistance than the movie described below

Honestly, having a movie about the colonial subjects of France fighting to liberate France.....while shouting "Vive l'France!" and waving the tricolor. Jesus, if you have to fight, at least don't kid yourself that your colonial masters regard you as equals.

Thinking about it, if I could, I would tell those Algerian guys who were featured in the preview not to get too excited because in a few years, when the war is over, those same French generals are going to have your people tortured in the same way that the Nazis tortured them.

Anyways, here are some more worthy subjects: The French Resistance in general. The problem? Too many Communists involved, so we can't portray that, and also, even though it was a fight against the Nazis, they are French, after all, and Americans don't like the French, even though, unlike the French, we never had to fight to liberate our country from the Nazis.

Second topic: Raoul Wallenberg. Honestly, I don't know why this hasn't been made into a movie. It would make a good one.

No recent films about the French Resistance but....Swing Kids? I know it was a long time ago, like ten years ago or more, but....

Oh, and a wonderful preview for another major motion picture before "Factory Girl"

Where the conscripts from the colonial possessions of France are honored for their help fighting the Nazis. Sure, it may have been important, but do you really want to make a film that glosses over the fact that their countries, Algeria and the Cote D'ivoire, were brutally conquered by the French and reduced to mining plantations and in the case of Algeria experienced a campaign to obliterate the indigenous culture and replace it with French culture?



Yay! Let's honor the unfree conquered peoples of Africa that were press ganged into serving in the French Army!

But they helped defeat the Nazis, so I guess all that colonialism doesn't matter.

Whoops.

Saw "Factory Girl"---what a load of crap

I have to put "Factory Girl", about Warhol associate Edie Sedgwick, in about the same category as "Die Hard" in terms of artistic quality. It's told as if from the perspective of a thirteen year old boy who just found out about Warhol. Virtually everything about it was either cartoonish, unrealistic, at odds with published accounts about what these people were like, oversimplified, over glamourized for no good reason, a movie that would do better as a promotional video for a cruise line, what else?

I can picture a kid masturbating to the idea of Andy Warhol and Edie Sedgwick as he writes a script for his English class, and coming up with this.

Probably made by a fucker from NYU film school. But that's another story.

The drug use was unrealistic, the film makers didn't seem to understand what Pop Art was about, they shifted around the time line of events to suit their story, they made Sedgwick the victim of everyone yet have her at the end take responsability for everything.

Bob Dylan comes off in a totally unrealistic way. Dylan is The Voice Of Truth and "genuineness" against Warhol's supposed phoniness. Never mind that at the point when Dylan knew Sedgwick he had abandoned the folk scene, abandoned traditional folk music almost entirely for a rock and roll electric sound, and was in fact mixing with just the people in the uptown crowd that he's seen deriding in the film. Talk about phony.

Oh, and the working class Dylan. Yeah. Dylan got a pink convertable from his father when he was sixteen, which he crashed, whence he got a motorcycle from said father. If you believe that Bob Dylan came from a general background where he was one of 'the folk' you'll believe that he rode box cars all over the country and lived in South Dakota and Texas growing up.

Avoid the movie---Read "Popism", by Andy Warhol, where they lifted a lot of the dialogue verbatim from.

Post 9/11, what,If anything, has changed (not as much has changed as people think)

So I was thinking about this and it occurred to me that the only thing that has really changed, on the world scene at least, after 9/11 is the policy of the United States, and that beyond that the only other changes have been within the U.S. itself.Sure, England has enacted some comparable legislation, but that's just because of their special relationship with us.

Anyways, the way I see it is that the rest of the world has dealt with religious fanatics using terrorism for quite some time. It's not an easy thing to deal with the fall out of a bomb going off but it's not exactly the end of the world. The rest of the world is still concerned with globalization and the impact of neo-liberalism in the third world, and would be exclusively concerned with that except for the actions that the U.S. has been taking in the middle east and central asia.

So the problem of 9/11 is only a problem for the U.S. internally and for the rest of the world as the actions of the United States impact it. Otherwise, nothing has changed.

What changed inside the U.S. on that day? The collective daydream, the collective avoidance of reality that the citizens of the U.S. pursued was broken, and it was found that underneath the collective fantasy that many of us believed in and which we projected for the world there was little or nothing there.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Democrats oppose surge--finally, they're doing something

Maybe the Democrats won't confirm the pessimists worst fears by actually making good on some of their promises.

And guess what? Ford is popular with auto workers!

Because most autoworkers in Detroit owe their living to him in some way or another. They'd likely tell groups that object to Romney announcing his bid for the Presidency to go to hell and shove their objections up their asses if they were confronted with them.

Czech President denials Globabl Warming, or, "What else is new?"

Prague- Czech president Vaclav Klaus has criticized the UN panel on global warming, claiming that it was a political authority without any scientific basis, Czech media reported Friday. Klaus told the Hospodarske noviny daily that the panel did not include "neutral scientists, a balanced group of scientists."


You see, this is what happened to Eastern Europe after the fall of Communism. Nice neutral people didn't take over, selflessly comitted to correcting the excesses of Communism and forging a new way; instead, rabid right wingers took over, in many places as right wing and neo-liberal as their predecessors had been left and against the market. The much vaunted champions of Eastern European, technically Central European if you want to get right down to it, independence, Vaclav Havel and Lech Walesa, turned into people whose economic agenda was borrowed from the Republicans once in office. So much for writing anti-government poetry and plays, or leading an independent union movement in Poland.

The truth is that no matter how much people try to spin the fall of Communism in Eastern Europe it wasn't a pure blow for freedom and human ideals so much as the replacement of one extremist ideology for another.

Things that make you cynical and jaded: "Romney blasted by Jewish Groups"

And why? Because he's going to announce his bid for the Presidency at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan. Jesus Christ on a pogo stick, I'm from the Detroit area and can tell you that the Henry Ford Museum is hardly a temple of anti-Semitism, despite Ford being anti-Semitic, which is what the Jewish groups are upset about. It's a very popular tourist attraction that both Detroiters and visitors like because it has a history of the automotive industry, from the first cars all the way through futuristic concept cars as well as things like a replica of Thomas Edison's laboratory and general exhibits praising American inventors.

Henry Ford's anti-semitism is completely left out, not even whitewashed. It doesn't exist in the museum. Neither does the militant anti-Unionism of his right hand security man Cousens, who ordered Pinkerton police to fire on pro-union workers demonstrating outside one of Ford's plants.

The objection by Jewish groups is a farce and a half. Romney wants to appeal to people who were formerly known as Reagan Democrats and who form the trade union base of the Democratic Party.

By complaining about Romney's choice these groups demonstrate how far removed from reality they are. Anti-semitism can, in their eyes, be anything from announcing your bid for President at the wrong museum to objecting that Israelis torture and murder Palestinians on a regular basis.

*edit* significant portions of this post have been removed for going over the line.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Not hipster, just hip; KMFDM

I'm not one to heap praise on myself , but I was eating lunch in a place that turned out to be a hipster hang out when I noticed the difference between hipster and hip. There they were, eating lunch, with self consciously ironic clothing and hip haircuts, and there I was, with my KMFDM shirt and pony tail reading a biography of Celine. Now, people have different tastes and such, but it could be argued that both me and the hipsters were hip in different ways. Or you could just think that KMFDM is pathetic, in which case the above would not be true. Be that as it may it hit me that, at the very least, what I had was an authentic style that was produced by myself without dictates from anyone and what they had were styles that had been defined elsewhere by who knows who and which had been copied and recopied ad infinitum. Shit, and here I'm dating myself, I was in NYU for a brief period of time in '98-'99 and people were being self consciously ironic. I was in, ahem, another school in the mid to late '90s before that and irony in clothing was coming on the scene. Here we are in 2007 and irony in clothing is way, way, old. But I have a feeling that wearing a KMFDM shirt that features a woman stabbing a capitalist to death in front of a Wall Street building isn't that old yet, or else, it was popular in the early '90s and then died out, in which case...Oh, fuck it, I'm not going further with this.

Here's KMFDM's video "A Drug Against War"

Friday, February 09, 2007

Not staying in Washington forever.

Although this is still a long range, as in maybe more than a year, plan, I'm going to move out of Washington. And not just down the line to Oregon, either. No, if things work out right I'll be permanently moving down to Northern California.

It's one of those things involving hoping, hoping, crossing your fingers, working really, really, hard, and then seeing how things go. But, as an annoying roommate I once had said, all that's required is the will to do it. Or, as someone else said, half of success is just showing up. Well, I wouldn't say I agree with that wholeheartedly, but half of anything is getting the mental barriers out of your head that say, before you even try, that you can't do something and just fucking going and trying it.

The Pacific Northwest is nice, but, amazingly, it isn't liberal enough for me. Maybe just not crazy enough. One person who I talked to about this suggested that the reason is the many years spent in Florida, that they make California a more sensible choice.

Whatever the case, I hope to be hitting the road.

From World-O-Crap:Mercillous pillorying of the book "Why I turned Right"

Which is a collection of essays by supposed people on the left who turned to the right, although as World-O-Crap points out the book contains essays by a lot of people who never were either liberals or lefties.

Take the excerpt about PJ O'Rourke:

"O’Rourke came from good Republican stock and returned to something like his roots after getting (in his telling) as much sex as he could from the “fetching” girls of the left who wore “peasant blouses, denim skirts, and sandals” and “strummed guitars, smoked unfiltered cigarettes, and drank beer straight from the bottle.”

"So, basically this book is about people who were always conservatives, but did sleep around in college, so they can now see how much much better they are than all those deluded liberals who they used to exploit."

Yes, that O'Rourke, drinking beer straight from the bottle. Damn, what a risk taker.

Everything has a place

Politics and thought disconnected from the local has its appropriate home in a place like this, things dealing with local politics have their natural place on sites devoted to the same, and things having to do with Washington State politics in Olympia have their appropriate place either in a trash can or in a forum where they can be mercilessly pilloried for their obnoxious boringness.

That's one reason why I live in a state capitol yet don't write about state politics.

Great video found on YouTube: Catalan, a Psychic TV/Derek Jarman production

Completely, well, you'll see. I would say that it generally has something to do with Franco's Spain, but only in the sense that an avant-garde art film that renounces objective reality and any sort of realistic representation of the world has to do with political subjects like that. I cross posted this on OlyBlog a while ago, but since that's a local blog and doesn't have a wide readership outside of the Olympia area, for obvious reasons, I decided to post it here too. OlyBlog is a nice subsidiary blog if you want to know what's happening in Olympia, Washington. I don't blog about where I live here.

My message to most bloggers:




From "The Perry Bible Fellowship", which has nothing to do with Perry, Bibles, or Fellowship, and is actually quite anti-religious at times. Link Here

Avant-Garde fatigue

It's been a thing I've observed that I'll go looking for books on a subject that seems impossibly esoteric only to find that, digging below the surface a little bit, looking at used book stores and at college libraries, not only is there ample material but there's more material than I can readily ingest at one time.

This happened with Utopian Socialism and now it's happened with Avant-Garde literature.

From having almost nothing available I now have on my list poems by Max Jacob, Mayakovsky, a story by Louis Aragon, "The adventures of Telemachus", Alfred Jarry's "Exploits and Opinions of Dr. Faustroll, 'Pataphysician", "The Compass Stone": a novel by Arrabal, "The Tenant": a novel by Roland Topor, a novel by Bataille: "The impossible", the Artaud anthology. And poems by Mallarme.

It'll take me a while to go through them; I'm still working on "Guignol's Band" by Celine, as well as making forays into his "Fable for another time", and, occasionally, his repetitive moaning and bitching known as "Castle to Castle".

Artuad I've read before, but this is good, especially since he influenced Arrabal and Topor. Arrabal's compass stone reminds me in his composition of Artaud's account of his trip to the land of the Tarahumara indians in Mexico.

But, be careful what you wish for, that's the moral of this, you might get it, and it might cause you a headache.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Little skeletons in my closet

Looking at the New York Times article on Amanda of Pandagon, and the admirable commentary on Huffington Post which pointed out that the bloggers were being bloggers, basically, and that it's no big deal, I wonder what would be in my closet.

Let's see: calling Bush a fascist multiple times and actually constructing an in depth analysis on the premise that we are potentially entering a situation where fascism is a possibility for the United States; the occasional endorsement of some of Robespierre's social theories; friendliness to Communism and a willingness to reevaluate the Soviet Union, open discussion about bisexuality and homosexuality, the occasional drug reference; drug legalization talk; the belief stated over and over that the Constitution is not a good document and should be replaced by something that allows for more decentralization; the stating that the founders created the Constitutional system to continue the colonial type exploitation of America; advocating that ethnic whites renounce their white skin privilege and make common cause with minorities. Hmm. That's just off the top of my head. I know there's a lot more. Oh, friendliness to anarchism, which is a big no no, and officially bad looking position to have.

The negative universe


The negative universe
Originally uploaded by Summerisle.

Here's a latest offering of color. It's one of the few photos that used this sort of processing that looked half way natural.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Friday, February 02, 2007

More about Warhol

I tracked down a copy of Warhol's book "Popism", which is his account of 
the '60s, and low and behold, yes, like anyone who has eyes could tell you,
he explained that yes, pop art was all about the context of objects in 
popular culture, not signifier-less blank images, like the structuralists
who made the wikipedia comment seem to think.

If you look at a Warhol painting and say that it's blank and it doesn't have
any meaning you're suffering from a lack of creativity.

 

Homoeroticism

've begun to get really interested in the photography of Robert

Mapplethorpe. So much so that I'm beginning to think that

homoerotic photography is the only form of erotic photography around.

I'm not sure if this is because decent erotic photographs by straight

people just aren't being made or if it's some sort of impossibility for

straight people to represent sexuality in a respectful way, without turning

it into a beaver show. Mapplethorpe photographed both men and women

naked and his portrayals of both are insanely good artistically and very,

very, sexy otherwise. Another photographer in the Mapplethorpe vein,

Stephen Meisel, who photographed Madonna's "Sex" book, (which is

available online for free if you search for it), is also another example of this.



Vive l'Homosexualite!

 

Hey can I join the Edwards' Blog too?

Amanda from Pandagon is deserving, but it floors me that an immature
New Yorker who likes to use the  "bitchez" is  getting paid for
blogging for Edwards. 

So can I join? I promise to limit the posts I make advocating
homosexuality.

I took a look at the post by John Ridley entitled:The Left: It's the New Racist Right!

On the Huffington Post, then I went back to reading an article about 
Cubo-Futurism, which shows you what value I put on it. 

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Ok, I'm out of the closet about my secret location...

It is, da da da, Olympia Washington. 

Yep, I live in Olympia.  And I contribute occasionally to OlyBlog,
which has linked to me as well, under the name Summerisle.
If you see strange avant-garde films via YouTube on OlyBlog,
like "Lucifer Rising" part 3 by Kenneth Anger, it's a pretty safe
bet that I put them there. 

And I've even seen Calvin Johnson, founder of K Records, in the flesh.
Seriously. On the night of the 2004 election he opened up the K Records
building and people prepared for the next day, when there'd be protests
no matter what the result was, by making signs and prints. He DJ'ed the
dance party that also happened. And provided the TV with which we saw
the disappointing election results.


Books


Books
Originally uploaded by Summerisle.

Some of my books.

Pet Peeves

Reading the wikipedia article on Warhol I noticed that in the analysis 
section whoever wrote the thing said that Warhol's paintings didn't have
'signifiers'. The implication was that Warhol's paintings and prints were
totally abstract. Well, how should I put this. If you draw a Campbell's 
soup can you have a BIG FUCKING SIGNIFIER RIGHT IN FRONT OF
YOU. It's the subject of the painting and the painting's sole object. 
To say that a piece of Pop Art, as in Art drawn from Popular culture, 
and the mass media, doesn't have any signifiers that make it less than
totally abstract is absurd. To say something like that demonstrates
that you have no idea what the fuck you're talking about, particularly
since Warhol did practically all of his work as comments on culture. 

So...no signifiers? Like Elvis, Marilyn Monroe, Mao, soup cans, Brillo,
Coke, one dollar bills, AREN'T signifiers? Give me a fucking break people.
If you believe that you should read some books on art and save your 
'structuralist analysis' for a day when you actually have some comprehension.

You'd think that they were talking about Malevich, who started out painting
pure forms like squares and circles and who even wrote a book called
'Non Objective Art', instead of Warhol.

It's like an intellectual vacuum, this structuralism and post-structuralism. 
It sucks the real analysis out of people and replaces it with this newspeak.

Interesting Berkeley Graffiti


Interesting Berkeley Graffiti
Originally uploaded by Summerisle.

Also from the California adventure. Taken on a side street west of Telegraph Avenue.

Surfer at Venice Beach


Surfer at Venice Beach
Originally uploaded by Summerisle.

Here's an oldie but goodie: a picture of a surfer in action at Venice Beach that I took during my vacation to L.A. last summer. Taken from the jettie.

Decoupage Texas homage, complete with yellow rose and desert wild flowers


Decoupage Texas homage, complete with yellow rose and desert wild flowers
Originally uploaded by Summerisle.

Name says it all. The Alamo, from a side trip to San Antonio during a visit to Austin.

Beer bottle and books


Beer bottle and books
Originally uploaded by Summerisle.

Uh huh. My workstation at home. With a suprisingly good and cheap Latvian beer in the middle of it.

Some photos! intro

Trying out my digital camera. For some reason I got in there and started

to act like Andy Warhol, very fey and distant, like "Well, you know, that

would be nice. Yeah, uh huh. That sounds good". Well anyways, digital

camera is procured and here are some intimate shots from around the

old homestead, or whatever the hell the place where I'm living is.





 

Flickr

This is a test post from flickr, a fancy photo sharing thing.