Friday, October 31, 2008

Project P.O.P. (Political Operative Poohbutt)

She came like a thief in the night—well, actually, like a toddler being wheeled around in a polka dot stroller wearing a pink hoodie in the middle of the day—it was slightly overcast, though. Through the blood, the sweat, and the tears (diaper changes can be harrowing), she appeared—grim and determined. She had to save the day.

Liberty was in peril. Good, patriotic Americans were being exploited. Children, endangered. Cattle, raped. Someone had to stop the madness. So, the good people of East Bumble, VA, called on their last, best hope: Poohbutt.

A small, college hamlet nestled comfortably within the Shenandoah Valley, East Bumble’s going through some hard times. Greedy, fat-cat land speculators are gorging themselves on the public trough. They hold these good townsfolk hostage with their shady land deals and Repugnantcan tax breaks! tax breaks! TAX BREAKS!!!

Schools go without books. The police are reduced to pea shooters. And the fire department just held a bake sale to buy a new garden hose. All the while, the robber barons and their Repugnantcan cronies get fatter and fatter on the money that should be funding the local orphanage.

Only Poohbutt’s grandfather, Grandpoo, and his valiant partner, Slingin’ Sammy, can save the day. But they need help. They suffer ruthless, vile, and vicious attacks daily. Hoodlums haunt their doorsteps, and their email boxes are flooded with spam. In utter desperation, they initiated Project P.O.P.

Poohbutt immediately swept in, no questions asked, dragging along her trusty sidekick, Pop (who frankly doesn’t feel the same genetic obligations as P.O.P. and, though poor now, can always win the lottery; and therefore feels that the government should get off our backs and cut all the taxes for the rich—cause he may one day be one of those … rich and like hell you’ll get his hard-earned money—even if it means running up huge deficits, selling government airplanes on Ebay, being literally owned by China, and mortgaging away his, Poohbutt’s, and Poohbutt’s grandchildren’s futures away—can I get an “Amen,” people?!). This courageous duo has scoured East Bumble, knocking on every door, being immensely adorable (well, P.O.P. has), bringing freedom and democracy, and slowly wresting liberty from the gnarled, despotic clutches of those dastardly Repugnantcans.

But there is still a lot of work to do until Tuesday night, people. More doors to knock on, more pamphlets to hand out, more freedom to let ring. East Bumble … all of America … will soon be free. P.O.P. and Pop are doing their part. How about you?


The Plot Against America

This past Wednesday, the Diane Rehm Show featured Philip Roth's The Plot Against America for its October's Readers' Review. Since the Rehm Team sees fit to ignore each and every of my constant emails and I'm afraid of restraining orders, I've decided to relegate my complaints about the book to Tome.

For those of you who aren't familiar with Plot, it's Roth's attempt at alternative history. Charles Lindbergh, famous aviator, national hero, and reputed anti-Semite, beats FDR in his re-election bid of 1940. So, instead of the U.S. entering the war with Hitler, Lindbergh (a fan of the Fuhrer) signs a peace treaty. As a result, we never enter the war and anti-Semitism crashes upon our shores. Roth fictionalizes his family and talks about what it would've been like being a Jew in this harrowing time for the Jews.

My problems with Plot were twofold. While I'll admit that anti-Semitism has been a problem in America, it has paled in comparison to the racial strife that America has suffered throughout its history. The war years were indeed turbulent on the home front, but it wasn't anti-Semitism that rocked the country to its foundations. It was racial strife.

In 1943, Los Angeles erupted in bloodshed with the Zoot Suit Riots, where thousands of sailors and Marines targeted Latinos (but also blacks and Filipinos). The police escorted the servicemen during the melee and arrested over 500 Latinos for "rioting." Some 500 people were injured during the riots, and the local press heralded our boys in uniform for the riot's "cleansing effect." They even went so far as accusing Eleanor Roosevelt of stirring racial discord when she spoke out against the riots and claime she had Communist leanings.

There, of course, was the internment of mainland Japanese Americans during the war. There was the Jim Crow South, and race riots in Mobile when the wartime industries were desegregated as well as other race riots in Chicago, Harlem, and Detroit (so much for Americans banding together to beat the bad guy).

My point being, if one were to write an alternative history about prosecuted minorities during the war, it seems that race was the overarching conflict--not religion. Even as allegory, I thought that Plot dodged the real story to make it more Eurocentric than it really was. Hollywood does much the same thing with Civil Rights movies like Mississippi Burning or Long Walk Home and this latest batch of Civil Rights/Sports films (Hurrican, The Express), conflating the roles of white mentors to diminish black heroics.

My other problem with Plot was simply the cartoonish ending. Charles Lindbergh is defeated in his own re-election bid, everybody sees the light, and America instantly goes back to becoming the great nation it was destined to be. The gripe I have with this ending is the same I have, as a science-fiction writer and fan, with dystopian Hollywood SF films.

Dystopias don't happen overnight. The Holocaust didn't either. It's not as though the Germans just woke up one day and decided to kill all the Jews. The Holocaust was the culmination of centuries of anti-Semitism, Jewish persecution, and progroms. The Nazis built upon a framework that existed way before they mass-produced murder.

Hollywood routinely ignores this--all in attempt to blame dystopias on one, reeeeaaallly evil bastard. As I said, these things don't happen overnight. Philosophies are developed, attitudes are changed and cemented, institutions are built. Dystopias are systems. One person's never responsible for this. They may capitalize on these existing strains, but they don't create them out of the ether. Therefore, getting rid of the person does not get rid of the system. Strange Days, Minority Report, and a slew of other films always relies on the trope of the Bad Guy (actually, Strange Days blamed an entire police state on two "rogue" cops).

The Plot Against America does the same thing. It's an understandable trope for movies. If one concedes that dystopias are systems, we can't really have a happy ending. You can't just kill one person and have an entire society wipe away its entire history (ya hear that, W.?) and become paradise on Earth. That's far too unwieldy for a movie to tackle.

However, I would expect that type of scrutiny from a novel--especially from a novel from Philip Roth. If America had gotten to the point of flirting with its own holocaust of the Jews, simply defeating Charles Lindbergh at the polls would not have stopped it. America would've been a fundamentally different place. Would Jews really have been granted full citizenship afterwards? And what about the blacks, Latinos, and Asians who were roundly ignored in the book?

These are exactly the questions alternative histories are written to address or at least ruminate over. Roth completely ignored his responsibilities in writing such a speculative work. And since he did ignore them, I ultimately couldn't figure out his point in writing the book and found it all too wanting.


Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Poohbutt's Funkdafied First Birthday Party

Bob Dorough - The Magic Number
Sly and the Family Stone - Que Sera Sera
Huey Piano Smith - Little Liza Jane
Toots and the Maytals - Monkey Man
Desmond Dekker - Pickney Gal
Blackbyrds - Rock Creek Park

Manzel - Space Funk
Ladybug Mecca - Children Say
Santana - Soul Sacrifice
Bobbi Humphrey - Harlem River Drive
The Coasters - Down in Mexico

UB40 - Sardonicus
Joe Bataan - Call My Name
Jimmy McGriff - Spear for the Moondog
Santogold - L.E.S. Artistes
Elefant - Make Up

Marcelo D2 - Negaativa
DJ Shadow - What Does Your Soul Look Like

Little Feat - On Your Way Down
Willie Bobo - Fried Neckbones and Some Homefries
Letta Mbulu - Mahlalela

Booker T. and the MGs - Green Onions
Jackson 5 - Hum Along and Dance
Serge Gainsbourg - Requiem pour un c...

Rob Swift - Salsa Scratch
Roy Ayers - We Live in Brooklyn

Madlib - Indian Deli
Visioneers - Runnin' Away
The Ladybug Transistor - Six Times
The Meters - Handclapping Song
Jill Scott - A Long Walk

Oscar Brown, Jr. - Brother, Where Are You? (Matthew Herbert Remix)
Baby Elephant - Scratchinatanitchouttareach
Plasticines - (Zazie Fait De La) Bicyclette
Asha Boshle w/R.D. Burman - Dum Maro Dum
Ocho - Coco May May
Young Marble Giants - Eating Noddemix

Ray Barretto - Right On
The Budos Band - Chicago Falcon
Lonnie Liston Smith - Expansions
Althea and Donna - Uptown Top Ranking

Henry Mancini - Borderline Montuna
Tim Maia - Racional Culture
Mahavishnu Orchestra - Eternity's Breath Part 2
Goapele - Closer
Sufjan Stevens - All Good Naysayers Speak Up...

Burning Spear - Ethiopian Live It Out
Ken Boothe - Everything I Own
Mulatu Astatke - Yègellé Tezeta
M.I.A. - Mango Pickle Down River
Robert Palmer - Through It All It's You
MFSB - A Family Affair

Wassup 2008


Monday, October 27, 2008

All of Us Proud, All of Us Patriots


Friday, October 24, 2008


Here I spend all morning, wrestling with Poohbutt and writing this blog, trying to be all thoughtful, insightful, and super-sagacious, only to find out that Ashley Todd has already confessed to its being a hoax. Oh well, please read anyway. I think I made some pretty good points. You be the judge.

Black Muggers for Obama ™

Yeah, nigga! We big, we black, and we deep, nigga!” boasts Nucka D., president and founder of Black Muggers for Obama™. “We was pissed, yo, pissed wif all dese racist, cracker muthafuckas poppin’ they shit, votin’ fo’ Palin ‘n’ shit. So, we got our asses ohga—ohgan—we got our shit togever, nigga! An’ we goin’ to all them swing states, swingin’! We on the attack! So, to all yall racists votin’ fo’ McCain, if you see a gang a niggas bumpin’ to ‘Ride of the Valkyrie’—“

“Wagner’s one deep nigga,” interjects T. Coon Pickens, the group’s treasurer.

“Yall better change yo’ votes to Obama. Or else, you gonna git got!”

“Yeah, and make sho’ you carryin’
at least a 20,” advises Pickens. “Or it ain’t just gonna be a ‘B’ in yo’ cheek, but the whole, damned name. Barack Hussein Obama. And we gonna misspell it, too—to make yo’ ass look stupid.”

This nightmare vision of racial, political violence is the latest boogeyman terrorizing the blogosphere Right after reports of such violence came out of my hometown, Pittsburgh, yesterday. For those who haven’t heard, a 20-year-old McCain volunteer, Ashley Todd, was robbed at knife-point at an ATM Wednesday night. The mugger (reportedly a 6’4”, 200-pound black man), after getting the cash, suddenly noticed the McCain bumper sticker on her car, became enraged, socked her in the eye, and, in order to “teach her a lesson,” carved a backwards “B” on her cheek. (Todd pictured below.)

The story went nationwide. The Obama/Biden campaign released a statement: "Our thoughts and prayers are with the young woman for her to make a speedy recovery, and we hope that the person who perpetrated this crime is swiftly apprehended and brought to justice." The McCain/Palin campaign released a statement, and both candidates have talked to the woman. Almost immediately, folks smelled a rat. And not just the liberal blogosphere and their vast, liberal, MSM conspiracy. No, even the rabidMichelle Malkin has gained a little sanity on this point, comparing Todd to Sarah Marshak, the George Washington University student who caused a national furor when she drew swastikas on her own door to call attention to anti-Semitism on campus.

Now, I don’t really want to get into a “blame the victim” post here. But one does have to question the veracity of Todd’s tale. Many question the superficiality of the cut and why is the B backwards. Todd, herself, now seems to be changing her story, now claiming she was also sexually assaulted.

Personally, I can’t help but think this is a hoax. I’m not saying my brothers and sisters in Pittsburgh aren’t above mugging someone. But, come on, this story is just too weird. A big, black mugger suddenly becomes enraged because this young, white woman isn’t backing the black candidate and wants to … teach her a lesson? And then he also wants to sexually assault her? In this racially-charged election season, what better story to drum up even more porch-monkey paranoia than an Obama racist raping white McCain women? Clutch her children, and vote for the GOP!

No, I am not, not, not, not, NOT putting this one on the McCain/Palin campaign. There is no way in hell they’re responsible for this nonsense. What enrages me is that I’m sick of the attacker always being black. Almost 19 years to the day (October 23, 1989), Charles Stuart shot and killed his pregnant wife in Boston and shot himself in the abdomen and then went on to claim that a black guy “with a raspy voice” shot them both. According to the Boston Globe, “Police swarmed the area and a black man, Willie Bennett, was arrested on unrelated charges and became a prime suspect in the case.”

Almost 14 years to the day, Susan Smith rolled her car into a South Carolina lake, killing her three-year-old and 14-month-old sons. She immediately told the authorities that she had been carjacked by a, yes, black man. For nine days, the entire world were looking for a black man, two white boys, and a Mazda Protégé before the woman confessed to the crime.

And it’s not just these whack jobs who blame black folks for all their ills. Black folks have damned near always been the bete noir of American politics. We were blamed for our own slavery, being too stupid, child-like, and cursed by God. Despite the evidence, blacks were considered too cowardly to fight and weren’t integrated into the armed services for centuries. Crack cocaine, welfare abuse, all of it has been placed at our feet. It’s hard to believe that Jerry Falwell didn’t blame us (along with the feminists and gays) for 9/11.

Currently, the GOP is blaming the housing crisis on Fanny and Freddie lending to too many “high-risk” blacks and Latino, and the McCain camp are claiming that ACORN is trying to steal the upcoming election, illegally registering all these black and poor to vote. It feels that they are reaching into the white, reactionary past and stealing signs from the Hoke Smith playbook.

For those who don’t know, Hoke was an Atlanta politician and publisher of The Atlanta Journal during the turn of the century. While running for the governership in 1906, Smith realized that the black vote might ruin his chances. Needing to suppress the black vote so that blacks would “know their place,” Hoke started running stories of black men attacking whites and sexually assaulting white women. The other Atlanta dailies got into the act, ultimately inflaming a race riot, leaving dozens of blacks and two whites dead.

Maybe I’m being too sensitive here, but that is why I find the Todd story so disturbing. While I think she’s just a kook and a flake (like the equally egregious Tawanna Brawley and Duke rape cases), it seems that there are dangerous strains running through this campaign that some people are all too willing to believe. “Real American,” “America First,” “patriotic America,” “Joe Six-Pack,” “hockey mom,” blaming brown folks for the financial crisis, the “ACORN swindle,” it feels as though the GOP is mustering up animosity and rabid hatred among their constituents. Though they have toned down a little after the “kill him” controversy, the McCain/Palin campaign is edging perilously close to an American past most of us truly want to leave behind.

Todd will, I feel, be soon revealed as a hoax, but it won’t matter. Twenty years later, people still believe that Tawanna told the truth. No amount of evidence will convince them that the girl smeared herself with dog feces and etched “KKK” into her own skin. People who want to believe will not believe that Todd carved that B into her own cheek. They are not going to believe that racist blacks committed voter fraud to get their boy elected. As I said, I don't blame the GOP nor the McCain campaign for this woman's story. But I do blame them for fostering a climate that makes this tale seem the least bit credible. The Republicans seem to be more than willing to throw more wood under the racial cauldron this election season. I just hope it doesn’t boil over--like it did in 1906.


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Barack Obama: Messiah or ... Anti-Christ?! (Cue Ominous Music)

On the Messiah Side:

No, heathens, you are not mistaken: the background song is indeed a riff on Sanctuary. They've just changed the lyrics a bit. After all, "Lord, prepare me to be a sanctuary, pure and holy, tried and true" would be a bit much--even for Obama worshippers.

And now, On the Anti-Christ Side:

I found this on Apparently, it's circulating around "Christian" in-boxes around the country.

Block African witchcraft curses against McCain and Palin NOW!
Jim Bramlett
Sep 28 2008 04:12PM

Dear friends:


Minutes ago I spoke with friend Dr. Norman G. Marvin, M.D. and he is so concerned at what he has learned about Barack Obama's family in Kenya that he is calling a special prayer meeting in his home to pray against the witchcraft curses attempted by them against John McCain and Sarah Palin.

Dr. Marvin sent me the below e-mail from Flo Ellers. Flo is credentialed with the International Fellowship of Ministries which is based in Washington State. She is also a member of EndTime Handmaidens and Servants of Jasper, Arkansas.



From Flo Ellers. Excerpt. (Emphasis supplied in bold and underlines.)

Two days ago, I listened to a 9-6-08 message by Bree Keyton, a young woman evangelist who had just traveled to Kenya and visited Obama's home village and what she found out about his relations with his tribal people was chilling. And his "cousin" Odinga was dreadful. She said the witches, warlocks and those involved in satanism and the occult get up daily at 3 a.m. to release curses against McCain and Palin so B. Hussein Obama is elected.

Bree Keyton told the tribal "Christians" you are NOT Christian if you practice "tribalism" where they do voodoo to conjure up a goddess spirit or a "genie" and then come to church on Sunday to worship Jesus! What she discovered there is apparent in most churches around the world; namely, mixture in the church. Some renounced their devilish practices of blood covenant by killing sheep, goats, humans to be inducted into the tribe or to get a wife or to get revenge.

She said the current president of Kenya is a Christian. However, Obama's cousin Odinga ran aganist him and said he rigged the election and stirred up the masses to rape woman and boys, kill and burn and torture Christians, etc. until Obama contacted Condeleeza Rice and she granted Obama the right to contact Odinga and other ruling elders and he "convinced" them to stop terrorizing the Christians. Bree Keyton said the current Christian President was forced by our government (!) to "create" an office for Odinga (to make "peace") so he was made the Prime Minister (!) to make peace between the Christians and Odinga's Muslim religion!

Bree Keyton went and visited Obama's tribal people and she found out Obama is 75% Arab and his family are Muslims. Odinga is strill trying to become the President of Kenya. If he does, he will make a law forbidding all public preaching and institute Sharia Law. Bree K. said Odinga has made a pact with satan.

Bree K. also said when Obama visited his tribe in '06 and as late as Jan. '08 he went to every elder's home which has a "shrine" inside to worship the genie and asked for their blessing. She was told Obama and Odinga were both "destined" before they were born to be president/leader of their nation. They say "he is the chosen one". She said Obama's grandmother sacrificed a black and a white chicken to the "goddess of the river" so both whites and blacks will vote for Obama. All Islam loves and worships Obama. The world is mesmerized by him. Oprah's 200 million followers are out to elect Obama. Also, Dick Morris of Fox News was sent to Kenya to help Odinga run his campaign! I find that unbelievable.

The occultists are "weaving lazy 8's around McCain's mind to make him look confused and like an idiot". Bree K. said we need to break these curses off of him that are being sent from Kenya.

I read a portion of "Obama Nation" book and looked at several websites and found most of this information to be true, all except the curses part, of course....

What I don't understand is why they're so concerned. Sarah Palin's already been protected against witches.


Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Pacman Fever

I gotta admit, I don’t spend much time or energy keeping up with our professional playas’ misconducts, high crimes, and misdemeanors. Even though I think they do shirk their responsibility in being the role models they truly are, the outrage and wrath they incur when these Bitchez Behave Badly far outweigh their importance in society. I mean, presidents lie about weapons of mass destruction, levies break, Halliburtons profiteer off of no-bid contracts, you won’t be able to retire until you’re 422, and people froth at the mouth because T.O. is an asshole? Not a drug dealer (like Jamal Lewis), not a murderer (yeah, I know Ray Lewis was acquitted—but come on), not a drug addict (like Ricky Williams), nor a drunk-driving murderer (like Leonard Little), nor a sex offender (like Ruben Patterson)—just an asshole. Don’t get me wrong: Terrell Owens is a Grade-A asshole. He’s poisoned more relationships Lucrezia Borgia, but come on, yall, Dick Cheney does exist. Learn to focus your rage on more productive targets.

Having said that, I gotta say, “Fuck Pac Man Jones!” I mean, what the hell, negro?

This brother’s been a menace since birth. In fact, I read somewhere that during the twenty-fifth hour of Mama Jones’s labor, Baby Pac Man snatched the scalpel away from the doctor, ripped himself outta his mama’s womb, and held up the hospital staff at gunpoint (apparently he was packin’ in utero). While at West Virginia University, he received a one-year prison sentence for a bar fight in Morgantown. A West Virginia thug? Damn, bruh, how pathetic is that? If you really wanna prove your manhood, why not tussle with the Hatfields and McCoys? Or were you afraid that those hillbillies would’ve had you squealing like a lipsticked pig while the banjos kept a-duelin’.

It only goes downhill from there? Apparently, dyslexic in his thuggery, Pac Man bites bouncers and punches out strippers. He has already been implicated in one Nashville drug ring—even had his car (with “Pac Man” stitched on the leather seats—smooth criminal) confiscated by the police. He was involved in a shooting outside of a gas station. God, I wish I were making this shit up!

And, of course, there was that Las Vegas strip club incident back in ’07, where Daddy Warbucks here decided to make it “rain money” in the club—apparently sprinkling around $81K on some fine ass. And when that fine ass started picking up the loot, you started to beat that ass. Even Billy Graham knows not to pick up the money! But you weren’t satisfied. Your ass gets kicked out, and the bullets start flying? Three people shot, one paralyzed, because you wanted ... what? to be HNIC?!

The list goes on and on. And because athletes have such an exalted position in our society, you’ve gotten away with it. Your West Virginia prison sentence turns into two years probation (and he doesn’t even report to his P.O.). The cops find you in a hotel room with tons of marijuana, and your boy takes the rap. After countless altercations and shootings, instead of wearing prison stripes you get to wear the Cowboys’ stars. All because you can run with speedy receivers and knock down footballs. Not throw a ball 90mph or make it curve at 72mph. Not even because you can hit that same ball. Not because you can hit a 30-ft. jumper. Not even chuck a football 60 yards. But you can knock it down! And for this God-given talent, you get paid millions of dollars. All you have to do is shut … the fuck … up! But you can’t even do that.

Yeah, I know the story. I know I’m supposed to feel sorry for you.

“He lost his father at 4,” the Titans’ media guide says, “and he was raised by his mother, Deborah, along with his grandmother, Christine Jones, for most of his life. He credits them with being the primary reason he was not overcome by his tragic and violent childhood surroundings.”

But bruh, billions of people around the globe grow up in the same or even worse circumstances than you and never get into half the shit you’ve gotten into. Hell, Barack Obama didn’t really know his father, and he’s running for President. And the ones who do, usually end up where you should be: jail. But no, because you can swat at footballs, you get to get rich and live the high life—if only you can shut … the fuck … up.

Instead, you have to get into it with your bodyguard and attack him. You’re such a head case, the Cowboys gave this grown man a babysitter. And it’s still not enough. Pacman can’t look at all the pain and misery he’s caused. He can’t look at how amazingly lucky he’s been and just … well, you know. No, he has to refuse to eat his vegetables and sling peas at his babysitter.

Now, he’s suspended for four games. Four games?! All the shit he’s pulled, and that’s all he gets?! What happened to “zero tolerance,” Godell? Oh right, Bill Belichek is still coaching, ain’t he?

Man, I pray to God, the Cowboys don’t take him back. I pray nobody takes him back. I mean, I realize a shutdown corner’s a hard thing to find, but damn, yall, how many passes can you give this man? This is more than T.O. demanding the ball all the time, though 33 percent of the offense goes through him. Pacman is truly a menace to society, he needs to be in jail. Without the protection of the NCAA and now the NFL, he’d be there right now. It’s time for him to be shunted off to a place where he can no longer do any harm, where this wannabe thug can play Kick, Punt, Pass the Punk all day long.


Saturday, October 18, 2008

Crack out the Cristal!!!

Poohbutt turns one today!!!

Happy Birthday, Baby!!!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Big Tent Republicans

Gee, I don't know. How do you burn a cross in a tent?

That was from a Republican women's group in Inland Empire, CA.

And this gem was on the official website of the Sacramento County, CA, GOP.

In light of all this (and I'm sure there's stuff that we're not seeing), please listen to the words of Donna Brazile.


Joe the Plumber Goes Postal

Joe never wanted to be a plumber. He wanted to dance. It all started in the summer of 1984. Joe was but a misunderstood lad. He didn’t understand why he didn’t want to play football and baseball like the other lads. He couldn’t quite figure out why he was so obsessed with Fame and why Leroy was such a hero to him. At first, he thought he might be gay. But that fateful summer it all started to make sense. That was the summer he saw Footloose.

Like Kevin Bacon, Joe was stuck in a town that had outlawed dancing. Like Kevin, Joe was misunderstood. Like Kevin, Joe wanted to “dance in the sheets.” Everything started making sense. He was holding out for a hero, and it wasn’t Brian Sipe or Ozzie Newsome or any of those other crappy Browns. It was Ren McCormack! And like Chris Penn, he worked hard to copy every one of Ren’s rebel moves.

No one understood Joe’s newfound love. They ridiculed him. Once, in the boy’s shower, Joe flashed “Jazz Hands” and was beaten ruthlessly within an inch of his life. All was lost. He almost gave up.

And then he saw the Mikhail Baryshnikov/Gregory Hines vehicle, White Nights. He came away from that Soviet-era movie knowing three things: he loved Isabella Rossellini (see, he wasn’t gay after all), he hated the Soviets, and loved dance. He wanted to study ballet like Mikhail and tap like Gregory.

But his parents were adamant. His father roared, “I didn’t raise no faggot!” Actually, his Dad did understand. He had a secret love of macramé that he could only exercise during “hunting trips.” Unfortunately, Youngstown Steel had just closed; he no longer had a good-paying union job, and was stuck as a line cook in the local diner; he just could not afford to indulge his son’s dreams.

Joe’s life became a covert campaign of dance. He videotaped every episode of Fame, bought White Nights, watched PBS, the Breakin’s, all the musicals—especially Bob Fosse flicks. He watched All That Jazz at least once a day. Once, he even sneaked all the way to Cleveland just to see the Dance Theater of Harlem. And he practiced, practiced, practiced.

In 1987, he got his chance. An audition to Juilliard. He worked overtime, closing the local McDonalds every night for three months to pay for his bus trip to New York. He came into the studio with his cut-off shorts, Van Halen T-shirt, and a boombox. They openly scoffed. But when he turned on Nu Shooz’ “I Can’t Wait” and busted his Hollywood hip-hop moves, he really moved the judges. “Well,” one of them started, “we usually only accept students who are more … well, um, classically-trained, but you had me once you danced on the table and flicked my tie. Welcome to Juilliard, son.”

The elation died as soon as he returned to Ohio. “No, son,” his father said, “it’s too risky. You’re gonna be a plumber. There ain’t no union no more, but there will always be shit.”

Joe’s life became shit. But he did what his father wanted (not realizing that it broke his father’s heart—he would never weave a pot holder again). He tried to find the poetry in polybutylene but just couldn’t. With a broken heart, he got married, had kids, worked his way up the ladder.

“I always got a feeling Joe hated plumbing,” a co-worker recently said, “but, boy, you should see him move across the construction site.”

“Joe always hated being called a plumber,” a former girlfriend confided. “He used to fly into such a rage. I remember he broke a bottle over one guy’s head when he called him that. And then, one night, he put two guys in the hospital when they joked, ‘You must lay plenty a pipe there, Joe.’”

It all apparently came to a head last night during the presidential debate. The constant references to his unchosen profession just unhinged him.

“I don’t know,” his wife said. “We were watching that boring debate, and I kept telling him I wish I could vote Sarah Palin in for president. And he just kept getting angrier and angrier. ‘Joe the Plumber, Joe the Plumber,’ all night long. I could see the rage boiling over. I’d never seen Joe like that before. And then, Senator McCain said, ‘You’re rich, Joe!’ I don’t know where he got that. We live in a double-wide. But then Joe told me to get his shotgun.”

Mrs. Joe did just that. Joe took it, left their trailer, climbed into his ’74 El Camino, and has not been seen since. The authorities are now looking for him.


Monday, October 13, 2008

Cheerleading for the GOP

GOP: You scream, "Racism!" I say, "What?!"
DEM: Racism!!!
GOP: What?!
DEM: Racism!!!
GOP: What?!


Sunday, October 12, 2008

For GOP, Chivalry Ain't Dead But It Sho' Is Tired

Ah yes, I remember it as though it were 5,327 years ago—August 29, 2008, the day America was in love with Sarah Palin. The Alaskan governor was a “breath of fresh air,” a “true Washington outsider,” a lipstick-wearing barracuda hockey mom who was going to take on her own party, reach out to Hillary voters, break the glass ceiling, and Maverick our cares away.

But by Sept. 1, the love affair was pretty much over when questions over her last child’s birth led to the revelation that Palin’s teenage daughter was pregnant. Blindsided, the Republican ranks donned their armor and went on the attack to defend her.

McCain already had to ditch his “experience” argument against Obama with the pick, he was soon forced to spin his earmarks stance (since his running mate had been for the Bridge to Nowhere before she was against it but after she took the money), and now they had to defend teenage pregnancy, of all things. The Religious Self-Righteous took up the standard, providing a deft flanking maneuver. “Unfortunately,” Family Resource Council president Tony Perkins said, “teenage pregnancy has become all too common in today’s society” (ignoring the fact that this year was the first in 15 that teen pregnancy rates have actually risen and that only 2.2% of teenaged girls get pregnant).

Meanwhile, the main host went on the attack, calling the MSM (mainstream media) “sexist” for raising questions about Palin’s family. Ironically, the “politics of victimization” (as they like to call it) got to feeling so good, the MSM attacks so effective, they kept it up, claiming almost any questioning of Palin was sexist and if they wanted an interview with the princess, they had to show proper “deference”

The press was flummoxed and perplexed. A public official just had to answer to the public (just like Dick Cheney, right?). Interviews were a vital part of campaigning. Why would the GOP want to cloister their damsel? “RaPalinzah, RaPalinzah, let down your raven hair!”

The answer became all too obvious with the guv’s three TV interviews: with misty-eyed Sean Hannity, Palin mechanically recited talking points; she stammered with Charlie Gibson; and totally crashed and burned with Katie Couric (Craven, King, and Spielberg couldn’t combine to make a more perfect horror); the woman is simply not qualified for the position she’s seeking.

Once again, the Republican Crusade was on the march. Bill O’Reilly accused Couric of “gotcha” journalism (obviously, “What newspapers do you read?” is an SAT question). Obviously, she and the entire MSM are in Obama’s pocket. And with his Mohammedan hordes steadily advancing and the Promised Land slipping away, the GOP keeps hacking desperately away. There was Obama’s “lipstick” controversy. In anticipation of a disastrous VP debate, they attacked Gwen Ifill for obvious bias because of her planned book on black politicians “in the age of Obama.” Last week, they even accused Newsweek of sexism because their cover of Our Fair Lady exposes too many wrinkles and unsightly facial hair.

This constant cry of “Moose!!!” seems to be working against the press. Ifill was definitely spooked, never once asserting herself or the rules like she did with Cheney and Roberts four years ago—even when Palin declared she wasn’t going to answer questions and stuck strictly to her talking points. While there are tons of Palin stories in the ether, nothing has stuck like the three-week Jeremiah Wright Fest earlier this year. And even though poll after poll said she lost the debate, conservative and liberal pundits claim she’d actually won.

The marauding GOP machine’s got the press cowering. But with all their bluster, rage, and pyrotechnics, they can’t bludgeon the rest of us into believing that Sarah Palin’s qualified to be VP. In fact, only 39 percent of America now thinks she is.

Some of this might indeed be sexism (it was quite interesting watching old timey feminists questioning Palin’s abilities as a mother). But you can’t combat sexism using the equally sexist chivalric notion of “protecting” Palin. Either she’s capable, knowledge, and experienced enough to be veep, or she’s not. Constantly attacking everyone who even mentions her name, sheltering her from the media, only leads us to assume that she’s not. This tactic is only insulting to her, to feminists and women in general, and to the American people. In fact, we can only assume that this is just a smokescreen, and the louder you scream the more it seems that she must not be qualified and you know it.

So, if she’s worth the position, then “Free Sarah!” This past week, with her “palling around with terrorists” and whooping up the squires and yeomen of your party into a lynching party frenzy, we know the woman’s up for the attack. Let us she if she’s actually capable of defending herself.

Besides, your throats must be getting raw by now with all your screaming. McCain, for one, looked utterly exhausted in last week’s debate. He looked totally demoralized having to defend Obama against his running mate’s attacks. He needs a break. And now the Palin clan has been found guilty of ethics violations in Troopergate? Damn. Now, I know Johnny can’t throw the princess under the bus, but perhaps he should maybe toss her into the moat. You know, just to see how a barracuda fairs against the piranhas of the press.


Friday, October 10, 2008

A City upon a Hill

When Gov. Joan Wayne of Alaska isn't using her "Obama bin Laden" screeds during this campaign season, she often refers to Ronald Reagan's "shining city on a hill." Of course, Ronnie was quoting John Winthrop's 1630 speech upon the Arbella before he and his fellow Pilgrims landed on this "virgin" continent."

For we must consider that we shall be as a city upon a hill. The eyes of all people are upon us. So that if we shall deal falsely with our God in this work we have undertaken… we shall be made a story and a by-word throughout the world. We shall open the mouths of enemies to speak evil of the ways of God… We shall shame the faces of many of God's worthy servants, and cause their prayers to be turned into curses upon us til we be consumed out of the good land whither we are a-going.

It's pretty heady stuff--the belief that nations have a covenant with God and are committed to His work here on Earth. But what exactly did that covenant entail for Winthrop and his Puritan posse?

--There, of course, was the Salem witch trials.

--The enslavement of Africans and Natives.

--The persecution, banishment, and murder of religious dissidents (think Anne Hutchinson, Roger Williams, and Quakers.

--Oh yeah, and conducting wars of extermination against the Pequots and other Natives, believing it was "God's will" (as one Capt. John Mason declared: "God laughed his Enemies and the Enemies of his People to Scorn, making them as a fiery Oven ... Thus did the Lord judge among the Heathen, filling the Place with dead Bodies.")

Maybe this continent has spent most of the last 400 years trying to be that "shining city on a hill." I'm thinking we should now try to be something a little more inclusive and perhaps a bit less ambitious--like the "gleaming subdivision in the valley." Just a thought.


Thursday, October 9, 2008

White Working Class II: The McCain-Palin Mob

Ah, remember Death Certificate when Ice Cube said, "Blacks are too fucking broke to be Republican?" Hmm ... I don't know, after watching this video, I'm thinking even with your money, Cube, it would still take a special type of Negro to wanna vote alongside these fools. But you be the judge:


Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The White Working Class

I'm not done reading this, but I have a lunch date. Anyway, the New Yorker has a very fascinating article on the white working class in Ohio. It really makes you wonder who the Democratic party actually understands--actually the actions of the Dems over the last 15 years has had me wondering that, but you get the idea.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Obama Campaign Targets Deadly Disease

For centuries, medical and social scientists have been plagued by questions concerning the debilitating African-American disease, CP Time (or “Colored People’s Time”). Apparently striking in adolescence, CP Time renders your typical person of African descent literally incapable of ever being punctual. Victims are chronically at least 15 minutes late every day for work and may not show up to social engagements for hours.

Founder of American psychiatry Benjamin Rush first discovered this malady in 1781, claiming it to be “a fundamental weakness of the negro physick.” Many slave owners at the time just chocked it up to malingering and attempted to cure this deadly genetic disease with healthy doses of horse hide. Thomas Jefferson, along with many other slave owners, thought they themselves caught the disease from their slaves. Jefferson claimed to have contracted it from his slave Sally Hemings, reporting that on several occasions he couldn’t get himself out of bed for days on end after being visited by the woman. It was their own chronic tardiness that had detractors believing presidents Abraham Lincoln and Warren G. Harding were indeed part-Negro.

The mystery of CP Time has led to many far-flung scientific “theories.” Phrenologists believed that the African’s skull was too small to include the concept of time. Louis Pasteur was absolutely certain it was caused by a Negro-specific virus. Albert Einstein even thought there was perhaps an exclusively Negro dimension of time. However, it wasn’t until 1995, when scientists realized that those of mixed race were only on average five minutes late to work, that the causes of CP Time were known to be genetic.

Though the Genome Project has yet to identify a CP Time gene, the evidence is quite striking and the consequences can be deadly. Recent research has shown that those of African descent spend on average 5.7 years of their lives waiting for other blacks; Latinos, 3.2 years; Europeans, 1.2 minutes; and while South Asians lose 6.2 years, East Asians actually gain 5.3 years, chronically being early to work and social occasions.

Former Surgeon General Louis B. Sullivan stated, “This is a serious health crisis. Something needs to be done.”

Al Sharpton cried, “This is racist! Tawanna told the truth!”

While there still seems to be no cure in site, this past week encouraging news has emerged out of Georgia. The southern state is currently conducting early voting for this year’s election. While African-Americans only constitute 29 percent of registered voters, they have made up nearly 39 percent of votes already cast (74,961 out of 194,138). With Senator Obama garnering roughly 93 percent of the African-American vote, it can only be assumed that the Democratic nominee’s campaign is responsible for this medical breakthrough.

It is too early for scientists and the medical community to garner any meaningful data on the recent phenomenon. However, they are hopeful and are gathering information while trying to figure out what exactly about the Obama campaign that has African-Americans not only be on time but actually early for this election. We reached the senator for comment.

“I don’t know frankly,” Sen. Obama said, frankly. “I myself have been plagued by CP Time my entire life. I never understood it. I barely knew my Kenyan father, was raised by my white mother and white grandparents, went to Harvard, became a successful attorney, community organizer, and politician, and never smoked menthols, and yet I could never be on time for anything. My campaign will do everything within our power to find a cure.”

Geogia Republican Senator and owner of one of the largest real estate brokerage companies in America, Johnny Isakson, represents much white ambivalence about the news of a possible cure. “In all honesty,” Isakson said, “we in the GOP depended on blacks to show up on November 10 [for the November 4 election]. While as an employer, I’m excited to see my workers finally show up on time; but if this means that McCain could possibly lose Georgia, I’m afraid the price may be too high.”

Isakson’s feelings are not shared by most, however. With the global proliferation of rap music and the worldwide prominence of Oprah Winfrey, Denzel Washington, and Will Smith, outbreaks of CP Time have been reported in such far-flung places as London, Beijing, and Tel Aviv. In Tblisi, Georgia, government officials have abandoned designated times for meetings altogether. “Something needs to be done. Our government barely functions,” stated Iraqi President Jalal Talabani. “We are still waiting on a time table from the Bush administration.” CP Time may indeed be a worldwide pandemic. With Gov. Palin’s recent “shout out” in last Thursday’s Vice-Presidential debate, scientists have rushed to Alaska in search of a new outbreak in the “Last Frontier.”


Saturday, October 4, 2008

Just a Band

Here's a video I found by a house act from Kenya called Just a Band. I hope you enjoy.


Friday, October 3, 2008

A New Kind of Man

Unlike most people, I don’t believe that gender roles have ever been written in stone. I don’t believe there has ever truly been a time when “girls were girls and men were men.” I definitely believe there has always been misogyny. I just don’t think that all our forefathers were John Wayne and every woman, June Cleaver. Within every relationship there is negotiation, and I’m sure within every marriage there has probably never been a strict delineation of who did what every and all the time.

Despite what conservatives say, identity politics is nothing new. There has always been cultural battles over what a “real” man and “real” woman were. I once read about one cultural critic excoriating WWII vets for being too effeminate, letting their women work in the ‘50s. And of course, there are the Platonic love codes that told us “real” men could never love an “inferior” woman—best to go with little boys.

Personally, I’ve never bought any of it. Who are you to tell me what a real man is? Besides, I’m an artist and a proud nerd. While no Alan Alda, I’ve never been a “man’s man” (still trying to figure out what that means). Sure, I played sports as a kid, but flat feet and asthma led me to the books. I chased the P like any other fine, young gentleman. While in the Czech Republic, I drank and fought so much that they deported me and prohibited me from reentering the country for seven years. And when I worked on a loading dock, I did have to tone down my aggression levels, but I’ve never been hard, a “gangsta,” or a “thug.” Nor have I ever wanted to be. But I’ve really never really been a softie, either.

All that changed a year ago with the birth of my daughter. As soon as a lock of her hair popped into the world, I was flooded with so much emotion, I damn near cried on the spot. And the sappiness hasn’t really stopped. Now, I know a lot of this is natural: our levels of testosterone drop as we age; and my wife read that a baby’s caregiver’s estrogen levels increase (I guess so we don’t leave them in the woods or ingest their heads, or something). Since I spend at least 11 hours a day taking care of Poohbutt, I guess mine remain pretty high.

But damn, it can be annoying sometimes. I used to be fairly cool and detached. My Dad used to chastise me for being too “cavalier.” But now, it’s all switched up on me. Things that I used to scoff at as corny now tug at my heartstrings. Watching an old episode of Freaks and Geeks, I choked up when Bill had a heart-to-heart with the gym teacher who was dating his mom. When friends now close an email with “Love,” I don’t go like Riley with an, “Ooh, you gay.” Instead, I think (earnestly, no less), “Yeah. I love you, too, man.” If there’s a loving scene with a father and daughter, my chest gets all warm and fuzzy. I can’t stand hearing about dead children. I used to hate the local news because all their “special reports” are designed to scare parents. Now, I can’t watch the local news because all those “special reports” scare me. It’s so bad, I’m sure if Bambi came on, I’d run from the room screaming and crying.

Last night, during the debate, was no different. Joe Biden got me when he started talking about losing his wife and daughter in a car accident. My eyes genuinely started steaming. Then, when he said that “Don’t tell me I don’t know what it’s like to raise a family because I’m not a woman” and he had to stop because he was about to cry, I damn near lost it myself.

My wife and I often talk about gender (gender analysis is part of her job). Right after that moment, she was champing at the bit, wanting to discuss it. “How interesting,” she said. “That’s something Palin couldn’t do.”

Intellectually, I was ready to respond. After all, this past year has been choked with race and gender politics, hasn’t it? If I’d been capable, I would’ve said, “Well, Hillary choked up in New Hampshire, and that worked for her. But Ferraro, Thatcher, a Golda Meir or Indira Ghandi, I think they would’ve been crucified as soft or mentally unstable.” Then I probably would’ve gone on: “This evolution of men and crying is interesting, though. I mean, Edwin Muskie’s political ambitions were dashed when he choked up. Bill Clinton had that biting-the-lower-lip-“I-feel-your-pain” schtick. But this…”

But that Biden moment had me. I don’t tknow if it was manufactured or not, but the Senator, at that moment, seemed so real. So vulnerable. And I (the punk I no doubtedly am) was just caught up in the speculative horror of losing my wife and daughter. And he had two injured sons he had to care for at the same time. Damn. I couldn’t imagine it. Yet, I was trapped doing just that—all misty-eyed, and shit. Annoyed, I didn’t know whether to go to a bar, down a couple of shots, and slug the next guy I saw or just grab my daughter and let her fall asleep on my chest. Damned estrogen. Of course, I chose the latter.


Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Singin' for Obama

Look, I love kids. I like Obama. Voted for him once already. Plan to do it two more times. But ... I mean, he's not really the Messiah ... is he?

Is he?