Thursday, February 17, 2005

"They carry a costume and are other edge"

Translated version of

Another exciting nerd game is using Google translator to read Libé articles about gay penguins.

The press is not the only one to have seized "the business of the penguins". The arrival of four Suédoises caused the gay lightnings of associations and lesbians, shocked by the will of the zoo "to modify the sexual orientation" of the animals. An Austrian gay site went until launching a petition, addressed to the local political representatives, to denounce a measurement considered to be "clearly discriminatory". And to take for model the zoo of New York where "of the male penguins couples monogamists form for a long time". The zoo collapses under the phone calls and the malls of protest.

That's right. The zoo collapses under the phone calls and the malls of protest. More cowbell.

We're here/queer!

I'm caught in an infinite linking loop! I will soon be linking to myself linking to myself! Life | We're here, we're queer, we're penguins

Well, I'm linking to Leo, who is linking to me. This holiday season, gay penguins are bringing everyone together.

The title of this Salon piece reminds me of the best protest chant ever. I think credit is due to Amy Star and Isabell M., though I can't remember for sure. In the midst of a two-week stint in a Philly prison after the 2000 RNC, a group of folks sick of the crappy prison sandwiches, which were basically baloney wedges between two endpieces from discarded bread loaves, started chanting, "We're here! We're queer! Our sandwich bread is from the rear!"


Blah blah blah

To my sallow, long-fingernailed reader(s), my apologies for not posting, but this last week has found me busier than ever. I've been writing reports and I've been calling the heartland, learning all about Romans 1:26-27! Man alive!

But there are so many interesting things to blog about! Christo! Wetsuits! Social Security! Pseudoneo-neocon son of Neo-neocon! Valentine's day! PBS!

Alas, alack, there is no time for any of them. But if you haven't heard about this yet, do yourself a favor and learn all about JimJeff GuckertGannon, the White House's latest propaganda scandal. John Aravosis has spearheaded the blogosphere's effort to bring down this gay-baiting gay prostitute.


Also, this slipped under my radar in 2002, but I still got a lot of procrasturbatory mileage out of this story about Bill Frist.

Bill Frist, Cat Murderer

Isn't cruelty to animals one of the more obvious manifestations of sociopathology?

Your majority leader, folks.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Google Search: pictures of rectal frat initiations

So I just recently installed Site Meter, a program that tells me how many people come to my websites, who they (or their domains) are, and where they are coming from. Imagine my delight when I found one referral from a poor soul who was Googling "pictures of rectal frat initiations" and found my blog instead! Imagine my delight when I learned "pictures of rectal frat initiations" will eventually direct someone to me! Mine is the fifteenth website listed:

Google Search: pictures of rectal frat initiations

Sad to say, there are no pictures of rectal frat initiations. There are "pictures," and I did refer to Tom DeLay as a "rectal and vaginal lavage sack," and I did deride people who compare Abu Ghraib to "frat initiations." Put them together and what do you get? Bibbity bobbity pictures of rectal frat initations!

The company I (apparently) keep:
"5 crack free sick gyno rectal speculum ns ... galeria gratis high school girl pictures losing their ... aina desnuda spokane massage nude frat initiation"
"picture was get t this movie photos that sluts ... flower fonts food four frank frat"
"Dirty Mary Dirty Mind Dirty Pictures Dirty Prancing "
"Free twinks porn"

I love the Internets.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Bill Moyers Apologizes to James Watt for Apocryphal Quote

That quote from a few posts below ("After the last tree is felled, Jesus Jesus Jesus Jesus") was apparently fake. That's embarassing for Bill Moyers, a fine journalist who made a mistake. I hope this won't distract his readers from the very un-fake message about environmental degradation that his article put forth.

Bill Moyers Apologizes to James Watt for Apocryphal Quote

This reminds me of how Richard Goldstein "apologized" to Andrew Sullivan for misquoting him in a Nation article. Or of how possible Senate-candidate Al Franken is calling for Brit Hume's resignation for misquoting FDR to suggest that he supported privatization.

MSNBC - Flintstones Are "Way Too Gay"

MSNBC - Flintstones Are "Way Too Gay"

Do I believe they are gay icons?" Mr. Devane said. "I abba-dabba-do."

He added that Focus on the Flintstones' efforts will not stop at banning the cartoon series from U.S. television stations, telling reporters that the group is also "taking a close look" at Flintstone-related consumer products such as Flintstone vitamins and cereal.

"We are very uncomfortable with Fruity Pebbles," he said.

Zoo tempts gay penguins to go straight

Ananova - Zoo tempts gay penguins to go straight

This somehow reminds me of my dad's attempts to set me up with the overweight son of one of his co-workers, someone named Desmond or Gordon or Gil.

Daily Kos :: Alan Keyes Casting Out his Daughter

Daily Kos :: Alan Keyes Casting Out his Daughter


Once again, truth out-fictions fiction. Keyes joins Dick Cheney, Phyllis Schlafly, Newt Gingrich, Phil Knight among the esteemed ranks of ideologically disfigured people who spend massive portions of their life campaigning to reduce the rights of the people they ostensibly love.

Here's Maya Marcel-Keyes' blog entry about getting kicked out of her home.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005


Google filters about 60% of the information/communication in my life: Google search, gmail, Blogger, Google Maps, Froogle, etc. Their horizontal integration is getting a little out of hand. I'm afraid they are training us all to be dependent on their marvelously free products, and then one day they're just going to lower the boom. And I will be in no position to argue; I'll have to buy, buy, buy, or be cut off.

I can sense the boom...

“So I'm flirting with the right. Sue me.”

About a week ago, I posted a comment on my friend Alex's blog. Alex was blogging about how his political beliefs have shifted "right"-ward (I use the quotations because I'm not sure from what he describes that there is any movement in his beliefs or values) and how he didn't like some of what he saw at the World Social Forum in Porto Allegre, Brazil.

Alex is an excellent human being, a talented and considerate man with weird pheromones who is in the midst of a psychosocial moratorium taking place in what seems to be a lovely, sun-flooded spot in the southern hemisphere. I don't doubt that he comes to political decisions after lengthy and weighty thought, but I smelled something fishy in his last few blogposts. So, I decided to respond.

His initial post and my initial response

And then he responded:

His response to my response

And now, after a week delay, here is my response to his response to my response to his post:

Blogzil, I would sue you if your comments made any juridical sense. But I read and read and read this, and I don’t see a reasoned critique of politics. I see a critique of style and image, and I see your unwillingness to engage your political environment constructively.

So I’m not picking on you for being a raving right-wing nutjob. You haven’t said anything to indicate that you are a raving right-wing nutjob, because you have not yet professed political beliefs. (“Pro-globalization” and “pro-capitalism” and “pro-Israel” are closer to baseball teams than to beliefs, though I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that you can articulate more fully what “pro-Israel” means if you’re called upon to do so.) In your WSF posts, you have only derided an arbitrary cluster of people whom you have taken as representative of what you call the “far left,” but you haven’t articulated any beliefs that this “far left” may have.

To be fair, the one political belief of the “far left” that you did mention was the poster celebrating the Iraqi resistance. I agree that that’s so offensively stupid. That’s an example of ideology turning into zealotry and blindness. I’m no stranger to this phenomenon, and I too think it’s dangerously naïve. As in, those folks who stand outside Harvard Square and distribute MIMNotes that carry articles lauding Castro as a hero and lambasting “Amerikkka,” and set up their weirdly off-message kiosks near carefully planned and more thoughtful political actions, cannibalizing the latter’s audience, who the hell are those people talking to?

I’m thinking in particular of all the Socialist Workers of the World folks who spontaneously materialized at Harvard Living Wage rallies in 2001 and screamed off-key messages about capitalist pig fascism. At first I was really embarrassed, and since I was handling some media stuff for the Living Wage sit-in, I was concerned about the image that raving lefty loonies would project onto the campaign as a whole. I confronted the Workers of the World and illiberally asked them to move their “CAPITALISM IS $LAVERY” posters out of sight, and then I interrogated their politics and got into useless fights about how the Living Wage campaign would only suffer from their participation. I was very assiduous in my image watch, too.

But after a while, I had a revelation: so what? So what if there are a handful of weird believers in a crowd of thousands of thoughtful and well-informed supporters? The only people who conflated the beliefs professed by the Workers of the World folks and the beliefs professed by the sit-in folks were people who were too cautious and haughty to climb down from their lofty positions of judgmental observation to ask a Living Wage supporter why he or she thought Harvard service workers deserved enough money to live. Someone who was genuinely concerned about the political values of the sitters-in (and their supporters) would have just spoken to them and seen that their motivations and political understandings were nuanced, generous, and desirable.

The point of the proceeding three paragraphs is that appearances seldom reflect reality. And this brings me to my first criticism of your criticism of WSF politics: you are criticizing image, but you aren’t criticizing substance. What did the guy in the keffiyah have to say about Israel? Or did you not speak to him, because you were so turned off by his fashion? One phrase from your response was particularly illustrative:

In short, the conscensus [sic] on display at the forum (which I'm sure was not a real conscensus actually believed by everyone) was, to my eyes, ludicrous and wrong.

So here you admit that what you perceived was “conscensus” was actually nobody’s consensus. You projected what you thought was consensus onto a very, very large and heterogeneous confluence of people based on what you saw in the fashion of a few. Yes, you’re on a “vision quest,” but that doesn’t mean you can get away with using only your eyes.

Which brings me to my second criticism of your criticism of the WSF. You “challenged the conscensus in small ways...[and] found a lot of receptive ears,” so not only did you have room to challenge the political conservation, but also in the act of challenging, you were becoming the political conversation. Isn’t consensus great in this way? When you don’t like the politics that you are being associated with, you get the chance to reshape those politics. Airing your political gripes is a lot more meaningful than silently filling up on Hate-o-rade at the forum and then coming home to blog your misgivings about something that can’t return your fire. So if the recycling and trash bags at the conference are overflowing, then make a sign. Talk to the organizers. Take twenty seconds to put up a $.01 piece of folded plastic to remedy the immediate situation. Don’t just blog about it.

If you think that your small acts of speaking out didn’t give you enough of a voice at the conference, organize a caucus of like-minded people to air your concerns at the next WSF. That might still make you feel like you are a tiny island of reasonable dissent in a sea of illogic, but I urge you away from your first response this time around, which was to flee toward any alternative (in this case, your “flirtation” with the “right”). Get over your fear of being categorized with people whose political beliefs aren’t exact mirrors of your own, and then reshape this category so that voices of reason like yours can be heard. All right? Don’t pretend “left” is something that it is not.

That’s all I gotta say.

Three secret pleasures

Hello. In an effort to cultivate my public persona, I am going to reveal three things that I do, that very, very few people know I do, that all give me immense pleasure.

  1. I am training for a triathlon right now. I spend a lot of time with my head under chlorinated water, with nothing to do but paddle left, paddle right, paddle left, kick kick kick kick kick. So, to entertain myself, and to keep track of the number of laps I swim, I play a little alphabet game. I start from the letter A, and I try to think of twenty-six words that begin with the letter A whose second letter is the next successive letter in the alphabet, starting from AA, i.e., "Aardvark, abacus, accept, adjutant, aeroplane, after, aghast..." and then continue on through ZZ. When I finish a lap, I move onto the next letter. The challenge is not only to think of 26x26 words (something naturally prohibited by letter combinations like "vx" or "dd") but also to list all twenty-six words in the span of one lap. If I swim more than 26 laps, and I usually do, I play the game again and try not to repeat any of the words from the first game.

  2. When I go to the bathroom at work, I sit on the toilet and usually pull out my cell phone to entertain myself. But I can't check messages, because my cell phone gets no reception in the bathroom. But my cell phone is set up so that the keypad plays piano tones instead of phone tones. So every time I pee, I play the melody of Sonny Rollins' "Saint Thomas," which always makes me think of white sand beaches and blue cocktails. For those interested in trying it, press 5-8-7-6-5-6-3-4-5-8-7-8. (Another personal favorite is "Joy to the World," which I learned in AP Music Theory has a perfect "bowl" melody (starts high, scoops low, then reascends): 8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1-5-6-6-7-7-8.) You have to have your phone set up to piano tones for this to work. My Samsung phone has this feature. If your phone has only regular tones, you can play the first few lines of "Do, A Deer": 1-2-3-1-3-1-3-2-3-6-6-3-2-6-3-6-9-3-9-3-9-6-9-#-#-9-6-#-9-1-2-3-6-9-#." That only takes you from "Do, a deer" to "So, a needle pulling thread."

  3. I like reading the Nerve Blogalog. I feel like Girl Gone Mad could be a pal.

Lolo speaks!

My girlf is really, really cool. And she is a really, really sexy stick. From an email:

i feel so strange, like i have two personas and am caught inbetween them for the moment. the first is a spandex-clad biker who spins her way downtown with a rapid but cautious cadence, avoids ineffecient bouncing in the saddle, and lugs 15-lb boxes of xeroxes to battery park city with a bag of work clothes slung awkwardly off of one handlebar... successfully avoiding any accidents!

the second is a square androgyne in a blue work shirt and levis who drinks a little coffee, reads the nytimes, and navigates the glitch-ridden landscape of protools with relative success. this one inspires girly-girls to gasp and turn on their heels in the women's bathroom. what i wanted to say: 'what-- never saw a girl with short hair before?' what i said: 'it's ok, you're in the right place.' i do feel a certain need to comfort these annoying made-up dolls with their narrow conceptions of femininity. i know i am a sexy stick. i know i might be even sexier with a boxer brief waistband peeking out from the top of my blue jeans, leaning over the sink. but that would be so over the top, don't you think, for these girls with tight ponytails and polished fingernails, who squirm in front of occupied stalls, whining, 'i have to pee!'?

anyway, i think it's funny, the idea that i would pee in a bathroom and then proceed to nonchalantly wash my hands, surrounded by women, were i just a man moonlighting in the ladies room. but the shock of a dark brown haircap was too much for that blushing, double-taking beauty.

Here is a picture of aforementioned sexy stick during today's bicycle adventure.

I too was frequently mistaken for a man when I had shorter hair.

"After the last tree is felled, Christ will come back."

I spend considerable amounts of time railing against the religious life for imposing their fearful literal interpretation of the Bible upon the moral values of a pluralistic democracy, and this usually means I rail against efforts to entrench legal inequality based on the belief that same-sex love is an abomination. But let the religious right's willful destruction of the environment not go unnoticed, too. Bill Moyers outlines why war, famine, and environmental degradation make some literalists just go batty with delight.

Its outline is rather simple, if bizarre (the British writer George Monbiot recently did a brilliant dissection of it and I am indebted to him for adding to my own understanding): Once Israel has occupied the rest of its "biblical lands," legions of the antichrist will attack it, triggering a final showdown in the valley of Armageddon.

As the Jews who have not been converted are burned, the messiah will return for the rapture. True believers will be lifted out of their clothes and transported to Heaven, where, seated next to the right hand of God, they will watch their political and religious opponents suffer plagues of boils, sores, locusts and frogs during the several years of tribulation that follow.

I'm not making this up. Like Monbiot, I've read the literature. I've reported on these people, following some of them from Texas to the West Bank. They are sincere, serious and polite as they tell you they feel called to help bring the rapture on as fulfillment of biblical prophecy. That's why they have declared solidarity with Israel and the Jewish settlements and backed up their support with money and volunteers. It's why the invasion of Iraq for them was a warm-up act, predicted in the Book of Revelations where four angels "which are bound in the great river Euphrates will be released to slay the third part of man." A war with Islam in the Middle East is not something to be feared but welcomed -- an essential conflagration on the road to redemption. The last time I Googled it, the rapture index stood at 144 -- just one point below the critical threshold when the whole thing will blow, the son of God will return, the righteous will enter Heaven and sinners will be condemned to eternal hellfire.

So what does this mean for public policy and the environment? Go to Grist to read a remarkable work of reporting by the journalist Glenn Scherer -- "The Road to Environmental Apocalypse." Read it and you will see how millions of Christian fundamentalists may believe that environmental destruction is not only to be disregarded but actually welcomed -- even hastened -- as a sign of the coming apocalypse.

As Grist makes clear, we're not talking about a handful of fringe lawmakers who hold or are beholden to these beliefs. Nearly half the U.S. Congress before the recent election -- 231 legislators in total and more since the election -- are backed by the religious right.

Forty-five senators and 186 members of the 108th Congress earned 80 to 100 percent approval ratings from the three most influential Christian right advocacy groups. They include Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, Assistant Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Conference Chair Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, Policy Chair Jon Kyl of Arizona, House Speaker Dennis Hastert and Majority Whip Roy Blunt. The only Democrat to score 100 percent with the Christian coalition was Sen. Zell Miller of Georgia, who recently quoted from the biblical book of Amos on the Senate floor: "The days will come, sayeth the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land." He seemed to be relishing the thought.

Bill Moyers: There is no tomorrow

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Gong hay fat choy!

Happy New Year! In keeping with the character of the outspoken rooster, the zodiacal animal of the new year, here's my (and my co-author Alain Dang's) two cents on the state of Asian and the state of Gay.

A Community Portrait

In related news, talking to Sing Tao, Ming Pao, and World Journal today was a kick! If any of these Chinese media shows my picture or prints my Chinese name, I'm out to my entire extended family.

That's right, Gugu. I muffdive!

Monday, February 07, 2005

Les Ragots

All right! Another blogging buddy!

Tall tales from the homeland

Day in Court, Part 2

I'm too lazy to write another acrostic explaining my return to court, so I'll have to tell the whole saga in prose.

7:30 The alarm! The fucking alarm! Is set to the least offensive sound on my cell phone. Which is a bird song. Canaries in the a.m.!
7:45 The dog! The fucking dog! Take a shit already! I'm getting cold!
8:00 The train! The fucking train! Smells like shit!
9:02 There's a line of two dozen freezing in front of 100 Centre Street. The weather today will reach a high of 55 degrees, but it's still in the thirties in the morning. Optimists, sans winter coats, shiver and shake. Several people do pull the fake agitation/confusion method of cutting in line, making me livid. You're going to COURT, people. To CRIMINAL COURT. No need to cut in line.
9:15 Still waiting in line. I write down the taunting phrases inscribed in the marble at the entrance: "Why should there not be a patient confidence in the ultimate justice of the people" and "Every place is safe to him who lives in justice; be just and fear not."
9:30 Law-talking guy finds me in Part C, Room 206. I'm reading the third story in the new McSweeney's, which is written in the same muscular, terse tone as the first, second, and fourth through twentieth stories. Makes me feel like I'm staring at somebody's erect penis. Not that I've ever spent significant time around an erect penis. Anyway, boring shit. Law-talking guy gives me the run-down.
9:45 The third case called today is mine. I don't even have time to study the attire of my fellow criminals. The judge agrees with the lawyer's reasoning, dismisses the case in thirty seconds.
9:46 Free Willy! I did nothing but walk up to the defendent's stand and listen to my heart drum in my throat.

Feels good to be exonerated. I never told my parents. Btw, Mom and Dad! I was arrested on October 29! Oop!

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Vitamin K!

Also, sunlight! In Manhattan! Around noon Morningside Park was eerily empty, though it was in the fifties, sun-flooded, and still. Larva and I sunburned on a bench for two hours while Boo stood alert, ready to unleash his wrath on any dogs that might chance his way. There was a guy with green Astroturf flip-flops of indeterminate age and ethnicity, a man with mirrored glasses and elephantine headphones, a pit bull with a heavy chain and padlock around its neck. My face is now like borscht and my borscht is now like a summer day.


I also attempted to stick a lubricated Q-tip into a cat yesterday. Thank God—THANK GOD—my attempt was unsuccessful.

A little background: Amy (Lo’s sister) has a tiny little black female cat, four years old and unfixed, named Unguento, because she heals you, like an ointment. Unguento is in heat. Having lived a life sheltered from unfixed animals, I’d only heard the phrase “like a ___ in heat,” but had never seen whenceforth this phrase came. Only when I saw Unguento coated in dust from having rubbed her body on every available surface in the apartment—couches, chairs, people, floorboards, and the bathtub, but sadly, not the male cat Zanahoria, who is so stupid and impotent that a thousand musky vixens couldn’t coax his vacant stare their way—did I realize how true to life that phrase is.

Anyway, Amy read in an ancient veterinary manual that a cat owner could induce false ovulation in a feline in heat by masturbating it with a “glass vial,” or a “moistened cotton swab.” You ask: why not just let the heat dissipate with time? The answer: because cat heat does not dissipate with time. Apparently only stimulated sex will calm the kitten down.

Amy was too squeamish to do it herself and I volunteered my services. I was moved by equal parts curiosity and butchy masculinity. Why not masturbate a cat? So I ran a Q-tip under the tap and dipped it in petroleum jelly, and enlisted Laura to pin Unguento to the floor. I wore half of a set of cotton gardening gloves on my right hand, while Laura wore the other half on her left hand. We were ready for a night’s work.

But she who was all slink and butts-up seconds before turned scrabbly and frightened under the Q-tip. I attempted to breach the—I am trying think of acceptable ways to describe what exactly I attempted to do to Unguento, but I’m having a hard time with this delicate subject. It’s not easy to write this. It’s like that idiotic question, “Do you still beat your wife?” in that one can never give a proper response. Suffice it to say, I tried to do what I set out to do, but only succeed in getting some Vaseline around Unguento’s shit-inflected asshole. I tried again, but she was struggling so hard to get away that I felt like a pervert and a molester for trying to do what I set out to do. We let her go and disposed of our materials, having never crossed the threshold.

Hours later, though, I discovered that my Q-tip had apparently done the trick for that little strumpet. At least she wasn’t rubbing the couch anymore.

Superbowl Sunday

While the rest of America ate buffalo wings, got drunk, and got into car accidents, I sat through a carnivore’s Chinese New Year’s feast in a Flushing restaurant with seven people to whom I may or may not be related. There were eight of us around a round table, all over sixty years except for me and some guy (a cousin?) who was probably 16, judging by his unshaved first mustache and his voracious appetite for fried pork. Everyone spoke a Shanghai dialect except for my aunt and uncle, who spoke Toisanese or Fukkian, so I understood almost nothing and substituted gratitude and stereotypically demure downcast eyes

for true communication. The one snippet I understood was directed toward me:

-- Do you speak Toisanese?
-- No, I don’t.
-- You’re impressive. (Whispers to sixteen year old, “She graduated from Ha-fo!”)

I passed out my business cards, which are printed with my high school and collegiate GPAs, my SAT and LSAT scores, and my lifetime earning potential.

(Just kidding!)

The first breach of my lax vegetarianism was nine shrimp (plural?) sautéed with their exoskeletons, legs, and eyes still attached. Eating them required pulling their heads off and squeezing their meat out of their skins. I pressed on their eyes and expected them to give, like peeled grapes, but instead they were hard, like shooter marbles. Then I ate several pieces of roasted chicken, the acephalous variety of the sort that hang in Chinese shop windows, rust-colored and dripping with drippings. I would order this for my last meal, if I had the choice. Part of me shakes with revulsion when I think of eating meat (the part of me that presses on shrimp eyes, for example), but another part of me enjoys anything fatty and salty, like my plump Polish bride.

(Just kidding! Lolo is a stick!)

Then there was a fried pork chop, which was okay. By the time this was in my mouth, however, my superego was revving like a racer and reminding me with each bite how I was separating and tearing the muscle fibers of a massive, unhygienic, possibly sentient, ecologically burdensome beast. (Did I say “unhygienic”? I meant “fed its own shit, fed others of its kind, rolled in its own shit, slaughtered its own and others’ shit.”)

There was a kaleidoscopic sausage and a white fish, too. Details on those were lost in the home stretch. I made it through the dinner having said nothing to anyone else but, “No more, please,” “Please, I’m full,” “I can’t possibly eat that,” “Good God, please no more.” The old folks raced out the door at 7:38pm to validate the parking before their ticket expired. I came home and massaged my stick-like Polish bride and watched the Eggles lose the Superbowl.

Saturday, February 05, 2005


The newest and brightest star in the blogspherical firmament.


Wednesday, February 02, 2005

The gf's aunt

...says, "I can't condone your lifestyle, since I am a right-wing conservative Christian and, you know, I'm in love with Jesus."


...and here's another photo to facilitate the healing.

Building, not burning, bridges.

Everything's so fraught! Let's lighten up.

Here is a photo that makes me feel good when I look at it.



I thought I would get to sleep at a stupid but not insane time, but just as I was about to lid the laptop, I got myself all caught up on Alex's blog. And then I got myself all caught up in feeling attacked, though he wasn't attacking me. He was attacking my peops. (Spelled "peeps"? "People"?) People I agree with in theory on some issues and people who I just think are useful in the way that nineteenth-century utopians were useful, because that they encourage(d) us to look for solutions that are ultimately unrealistic but idealistic enough to sometimes create positive paradigm shifts.

(Oh God! Corporatography! Sorry sorry sorry sorry! Let's blue sky with this one, folks!)

Anyway, I felt compelled to stay up another hour thinking about ways to strongly disagree about politics with a good friend, someone I would call a chivalrous gentleman if I didn't think it was so gender normative, without writing something so offensive that I would cast the first stone in a blogospherical tiff that would turn into fisticuffs, then poxes and curses, then an all-out Kanun blood feud.

I thought and wrote and deleted, but I still think I was probably too harsh. It was my first attempt at a testy-but-polite blog post rejoinder. Aw, shit.

Good news, though. Since no one likes for homos to have children, it doesn't seem like I'll be having any kids for Alex to curse. Silver lining!

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

On the frizz

I was delinquent from work today, sort of recovery from another night of insomnia. But I took the day off to have an extended date with Lolo, which took us by bus to the Met, then the Morningside Heights NYPL, then home. I spent the majority of the afternoon with my legs over my head and a book in my hands, trying to maximize information intake while inflicting minimal pain onto my cramped legs. (My legs were cramped because in another nerd date yesterday, Loquat and I attempted a triathlon with the Borough of Manhattan Community College pool, spin cycles, and treadmills.)

I came across some pretty interesting things today. So why not compile them? They are below.

William Kentridge

Saw an animation in charcoal by William Kentridge. No words, just ominous then exotic music. A man in a business suit sits in a recliner on the beach (the recurring character Soho Eckstein) reads tide charts in the newspaper while the natives of the beach resort carry out funeral rites. They are monitored by three generals with binoculars who move in synch and can only be known through the reflections of the tide in their binocular lenses.

L'Uomo delinquente

L'Uomo delinquente. I got a book from the library on "the criminal mind," and read it cover to cover this afternoon. It was published by Reader's Digest, which is always an auspicious sign. It said nothing about flatheadedness, which was the primary reason I suffered through the phrenology chapter. But it did say a lot about the Vampire of Dusseldorf. True crime books ought not to be read by people who are 62% paranoid.

American Idolatry

American Idol. Loquasia and I debate this: is it exploitation because it is a perfectly produced vehicle that guarantees maximum profits for television and music execs while grinding star hopefuls' hopes to powder? Laura says maybe. I say probably no, but maybe it's exploitative like lotteries are exploitative, in that they give otherwise hopeless people a shred of hope. We both agree that the "You only get one chance to make it in your lifetime" narrative is full of shit. And watching American Idol is like watching all the fuzzy-lensed biographical vignettes that NBC made for all the athletes in the last four Olympic Games condensed into an hourlong broadcast, so that heartstrings are tugged in all directions and cockles are warmed to the point of burning. Prime TV manipulation; all this empathy you didn't know you had leaks out of your eyes when you listen to the seventeen year-old farmer boy talk about overcoming tracheotomies, bad homes, weight problems.

I guess the problem with being an overthinking cynic is that no pleasure will ever again be unadulterated, i.e., if I'm soaking in sunshine on a perfect day (77 degrees, lemonade, the smell of suntan lotion), there will always be either 1) a paranoid fantasy of accidental tragedy (airplane wheel falls out of sky and crushes me), 2) a sense that I am enjoying something I ought not to be enjoying because other people do not have the privilege to enjoy it (leisure time, disposable income), or 3) a sense that I am buying into some kind of artifice, somewhere (classical conditioning, advertising).

Hence, all pleasure is guilt. Television is manipulation or exploitation, candy is cavities, friendship is realpolitik, exercise is sweatshop sponsorship, clubbing a baby seal is rotator cuff pain. *Sigh.*

Fear Factor

Fear Factor's more dangerous stunts. Those contestants are all actuaries. How much are you willing to suffer for your money? A tank with three alligators, all of which may or may not clamp down on your femoral artery? Calculate the risk. A 1-in-6 chance at $50,000; potential loss of extremities, limbs, eyes, or life; extreme discomfort; likely infections/ailments; certain public humiliation. Life is cheap. I watch this show too much. Where's my parade?


Jonathan Caouette's Tarnation. Is it narcissism? Is it revolution? Is it catharsis for the filmmaker? Is it cathartic for the audience complicit in the filmmaker's catharsis? Is it partially staged? Or is it just a lovely, sad, and mesmerizing story about a boy who has thirty years of home video footage and an aesthetic sensibility uniquely muddied by two joints, PCP, and a formaldehyde dip?

Things I did not know but should have guessed: "tarnation" is a mispronounciation of "darnation," which is a euphemism for "damnation."