Archive for November, 2008|Monthly archive page

paint the walls

hoops are on.
my B team is the West Virginia. this is because of my brother but it wasn’t a hard sell. WVU’s head coach is Bob Huggins, a born-and-bred West By God hillbilly who has harnessed the ability to recruit athletic freaks. jackrabbits. 6″8′ freaks-of-nature with 45″ verticals. the man spent a year — a year — at Kansas State, which hadn’t been to the NCAA tourney in at least 15 years, and he signed Michael fucking Beasley.
Huggz can recruit. and he’s in the Big East. which means he can recruit in every city from DC to NYC. in five yars, West Virginia will be awesome. just watch.
and Big East basketball is great; Pittsburgh, Georgetown, Syracuse, Marquette, Notre Dame, Louisville, UConn, Villanova. Seton Hall and Providence are names. WVU is beating the shit out of Kentucky right now. seven minutes into the second half, and they’ve only got 24 points. god, I hate Kentucky. that school can rot in hell.

Thanksgiving was delicious. two days of nothing-but-eating. but I didn’t get any mashed potatoes. weak!

a year ago in August, my Aunt Nettie died.
this was the event that anchored one of the wildest weeks in the history of my family. I wasn’t there; I was at this awful, awful job that I can’t seem to shake, but from everything I’ve been told, this was a blessing. conflicting personalities, that death in the family, and the loss of electricity conspired to create our own personal Hell Week. seven people in one house, at the most humid end of summer, after a non-typical monsoon knocked out power for five days straight.
I’m not doing this justice. I know. this is hard to describe. because everyone thinks their family is over the top, more dysfunctional than the next. I’m not going to carry the illusion that mine is any more than yours may be, but it’s definitely unique. I guess every family has their own narrative. and I think this week, that I didn’t directly experience but can sense like it was tattooed on my forearm, this is the perfect example to get that narrative on paper.
I talked to Va. on the phone a year ago, and I remember this; she said: “You need to turn this into a story.” I needed, she said, to write this down.
I couldn’t get out of work for this, a year ago in August, which sucked. I kind of wanted to be there, for the wrong reasons. I knew it was gonna be a trainwreck, but it was gonna be my trainwreck. I was gonna be part of it, and we were all gonna be miserable together, which is a million times better than being lackadaisical alone. 
but maybe not being able to attend was kind of a blessing in disguise. maybe I can turn something out of this. and it’s been over a year, so now talking to my grandmother and mother about this with a tape-recorder, maybe it won’t be seem so horribly crass.

okay, since I wrote that ringing endorsement of the Huggs Mountaineers, Kentucky has outscored WVU 21 to nine, and now it’s 45-41 Wildcats with 4:15 left. fuck!

and in news: mutants stormed across Mumbai. and some poor asshole was trampled to death by hordes of shoppers on Black Friday.

leftovers

it’s cold out tonight. I felt it. just walked in, and it’s cold by Virginia standards.

I’m looking for something to write about; I’m sitting here with the blog up, feeling the desire to record something. I want to, like I could say something burning, or dark and deep tonight, but I’m shot in the foot before I get off the porch: I’ve got nothing to write about in particular. there’s no great story, or even great set-up, buzzing about my head right now. 

so what’s going on? I’m still burning through that lasagna. that’s nice. I did right by it. matter of fact, I’ve got it in the oven as we speak, reheating. me and the half tray of lasagna? we’re gonna have a moment in five. I can smell it now. hell yes.
and what else. I checked a handful of books out of the library the other day, and got a couple of albums, too. for those of you dirtbags who don’t frequent your local public library, most of them now have decent multimedia sections to them. so, among other things I rented, I picked up a book on the Napoleonic Wars, another on a guy who was supposedly the influence for Rudyard Kipling’s ‘The Man who would be King’, and an an recording of Modest Mussorgsky’s ‘Pictures at an Exhibition’.
I don’t pretend to understand classical piano music, but I’d like to start playing again, and this ‘Pictures at an Exhibition’ is pretty, and I think I could play it with a bit of practice.

and what else, still:
I’m 25.
that doesn’t look old until it’s written in front of you, and I don’t feel any pulls, dragging me out the door, but goddamn do I need to do something soon. and I’m not even meaning professionally, but anything. because I feel like I’m getting stagnant, and I’d rather burn up quickly than just get stale.
my my, hey hey.

I almost went to Ball State

I watched on TV while congress interviewed the executives from the Big Three. but what was the big news of the day, besides the fact that the Senate has pulled a scheduled vote on appropriating funds for the auto industry? the three executives all rode in private jets to Washington! when they could have taken coach! the fucking humanity!

Phil says millions of jobs are at stake. that’s what I’ve read, too. this is important shit. Michigan will be reduced to rubble. beefs will move from the courts, and into thunderdome. Detroit will be roamed by armed gangs of cannibals.
so with all of this about to crash down, I think it’s really self-serving for politicians to focus on bullshit like executive pay, on private jets, on bonuses. yes, it’s bullshit, yes, they don’t deserve it. but really, who fucking cares? they’re talking about billions of dollars, the collapse of the American auto industry, and lots of peoples’ livelihoods. golden parachutes shouldn’t be the first priority when we’re about to experience The Great Depression II.

also, I made lasagna. with turkey. and it came out well!

awesome

guest column

Phil,
what do you think about the auto industry bailout? not so much on whether or not it’ll pass in the next week or so, but whether it will or not, and what the reprecussions will be if it doesn’t. 
I’m asking you, because A) I know you probably have a pretty strong opinion on all of this,
B) there’s a lot of stink being made about the UAW contracts and their pay grades and health care costs, etc.
and C) if we lived in a fantasy world and I were president, you’d probably head up the labor department, while Josh would be Secretary of Gay, and I’d have Smith thrown in prison on some trumped-up sexual predator charge.
.
yours forever,
Matt
.
Matt,
First and foremost, Josh would be an outstanding Secretary of Gay and Smith thinks little boys are rad. 
I think that they will get something passed and I hope they do. I don’t see how these motherfuckers are now going to argue that the original $700B (TARP) money should not be used in differing ways. The 1st half that we’ve burnt through already, granted, may have kept the situation from getting even worse … but there were no provisions put in place that force the banks to loosen up their lending. So essentially, we have given all these cocksuckers money to cover their dumb-ass bets and now they all are just going to stay tight-fisted with that shit until they get their way. Now what’s is going on, essentially, is a capital strike by the banks with our money.
so, to say that it is fine to bail out the financials — that really haven’t ever generated real wealth for the nation in the form of produced goods — but it’s not acceptable to throw a fraction of those dollars to an industry that is literally responsible for MILLIONS of American jobs and a quarter of US consumption is absurd. Now, I understand that GM and the other big 2 could have been a little more timely about retooling in the first place and about getting off their asses on the whole “green” thing … however, this comes down to the fact that NO ONE is buying cars, and not just Big 3 cars … all cars. the sales volumes have been devastated in the last year, and more importantly,  ever since the bottom fell out of the financials. So all this shit is intertwined …. people lose half their savings … and oh, imagine that, they don’t go out and buy new fucking cars.
The reason the foreign producers that have plants here aren’t hurting as much (as much being the key, because they are taking a beating right now as well) is because they don’t have these old legacy costs and health care costs to deal with. I think this whole thing presents a good opportunity to push even more for nationalized health care. f you want to sit around and say that GM shouldn’t have to pay for health care costs … fine, but someone needs to. this, after all, is America.
and all the people bitching about the UAWs pay grades can simply go fuck themselves. If you go and get a job at GM right now, you will make the same $$ that your father would have made. the UAW just took all sorts of concessions in the last bargaining agreement. granted, the guys who have been there forever are still making pretty high wages, but it’s not like new hires are going in making $40/hour. 
.
My only issue is even if you do get a bailout put in place, I don’t know if it’s going to get us anywhere. This all comes down to consumer spending and no one is buying shit these days.
.
love in its purest form,
Phil

sex, sex, and drugs

more on the auto industry.

no, wait. basketball is on. I love collge basketball, I fuckin’ love it.
I went to a giant state school in the midwest, and we suck at football. and to be honest, we haven’t been that good at basketball recently, either, but it’s definitely more of a hoops-centric than it is anything else. I mean, it’s Indiana. it’s won five national championships; none in the last two decades, but that doesn’t matter. because we’ve got five trophies. and what’s your school done, Sally?
IU is gonna suck this year, because the recruiting scandals (coaches made three-way calls to recruits and generally hounded the shit out of them to get them to attend the program) ended in a complete turnover of staff, loss of almost all of the scholarship players and a bunch of NCAA sanctions. but that’s okay. I’ll get over it. they’ll be back. and irregardless of whether or not Indiana’s in them, the conference tournaments and March Madness are always fun to watch.
my brother has season tickets to Georgetown’s Big East schedule — mostly so he can scalp them to yokels who come to DC to see games — but the Big East is arguably the best hoops conference in the country, and I’m getting to a couple of those games, Mike, so help me. I’m your brother. brothers got to stick together. 
let’s us see who Georgetown’s got:
among others they’ve got Pitt, Syracuse, Louisville, West Virginia and Marquette at home. god damn. that’s pretty good.

I wanna buy the newspaper when I get up in the morning, so I can read about how the economy is fucked and we’re all going to die. and the funnies! so I’m scrounging around my apartment for change. I’ve got a little bit in my wallet, and I found a quarter in the laundry basket. so far I’ve got 55 cents. that’s 20 cents short. son of a bitch.
the Canadian at work, he wants to nationalize the auto industry, and I think that’s stupid and that maybe the companies should go under. maybe they deserve to, but more rationally, maybe they need to. and he said, “fine, Matt! fine, let’s just let the auto industry go under. I bet it’ll be great to live in the 10th strongest economy in the world.”
I don’t think that’s going to happen. I don’t think that they’re gonna stonewall the Big Three. no fucking way they just let the auto industry go bankrupt. some companies are too big to fail. too many ripple effects, too much unemployment. no one has the stomach for those kinds of free-market principles with that kind spectre looming. not only would it be irresponsible, it’d be kind of heartless.
I read an opinion in the Washington Post today that I found compelling …

“Why run these risks (of allowing the auto industry to default) when the 6.5 percent unemployment rate seems headed toward 8 percent? Just to satisfy a purist “free market” ideal? It doesn’t make sense. But neither does it make sense simply to heave taxpayers’ money at automakers. The goal is not to rescue the companies or workers; it’s to shore up the economy and improve the U.S. industry’s competitiveness. A bailout won’t succeed unless other things also happen.”

read if you like.

but oh! oh, fuck yes. I found two dimes. they’re at a bottom of a Snapple bottle full of pennies I’m working on. but I’ll empty it out to get at them, by god I will. because tomorrow morning, I’m drinking coffee and reading the newspaper.

stay on the path

man, CCR was the bomb. they did a pretty slick cover of “midnight special”.
and you know who does a pretty good cover of “going out west” by Tom Waits? Queens of the Stone Age. I read that the album version of “little sister” on their fourth album was recorded in one take. I’m impressed — though I don’t particularly like that song. eh.

the auto industry is about to die. and they’re calling for massive government investment to stave off this inevitability.
I do not profess to have any real idea about the repercussions of such an action, letting them die. I would imagine they’d be huge. shockwaves across the nation kind of huge. you gotta think that something as large as the quake the Big Three automakers make if they tripped would manifest itself in ways that we can’t even fathom.
so fine. maybe they can’t just die, maybe their continued existence is necessary. that can’t be that hard to argue — this is the same kind of logic that pundits are now using to act like they’ve figured out the horribly mismanged bailout of the financial industry (like David Brooks in the New York Times and angry/old Charles Krauthammer). though I think, that if they were to be saved, then they would be required to suffer for it to the benefit of the rest of us for well into the foreseeable future.
and, you’d have to retool the union contracts: because aren’t all these agreements predicated on the idea that their employers were the untouchable titans of business? well, GM has been getting its ass handed to it by Toyota for some time now — so that rule no longer applies. I’m all for labor, and government’s support of it —  but not directly. meaning, look, asshole, I respect you for working at a plant in Dearborn for your entire adult life. I just don’t think it’s the rest of the country’s responsibility to float your pension and health insurance; it’s not doing that for anyone else.
so tough shit. take it up with those awful companies that employed you.
anyway, the Democrats will try and get it through before Obama assumes office, which I’d imagine is their way of shielding his administration from the political fallout that’s coming with this. good luck with that shit. it appears that the Bush administration is gonna pretend to be fiscally conservative and stonewall any attempt to pass more bailout legislation. and I’ll read all about the fingerpointing in the newspaper while Michigan burns to the ground.

there’s a lot more to this, yes. but oh, fuck it. I’m going to sleep. or, I’ll try to: sounds like my neighbor is having a dance party next door. and I wasn’t invited! what the fuck!

edit: it’s tomorrow morning. if we’re gonna bail out Detroit, I want either a flying car, or one that gets 60 miles to the gallon within five years.

return to space mountain

here’s a picture of the tarantula nebula. yes.

its-a-big-universe-man

.
I’m listening to a song called “postcards from Italy” by Beirut. I used to own this album. I gave it to Alisha two years ago. she was pumped, I recall.
it’s a good album, especially, considering, that the whole thing is structured around trumpets and ukeleles, the two instruments the band leader plays. but he plays them well.
so I gave the album away. I remember, actually where I was when I decided to do that: downtown Columbus, Ohio. I was driving back to Indiana from DC, got stuck in traffic on the interstate and got off and tried to find my way around the snarl. didn’t work. got stuck in more traffic in the city. it was summer, and it was hot, and there was a festival that I drove into. streets blocked off.
it’s a really pretty song, and I’d put a link to it on here but no one’s gonna click on it anyway — but shit, if you listen to it too much, it’ll make me you want to jump off a goddamn bridge. not because it’ll drive you crazy. it’s just melodramatic. it’s too weepy. I’m not this angst-ridden all the time, but it sure made me feel that way. but it’s just a pretty song …
eh, it’s not the song that’s melodramatic, it’s me.

anyway, on with news, a subject wherein I don’t trip all over myself. I’m not gonna bother with the transitions tonight, or the weak subheads. just look at this shit:
Secret Order Lets U.S. Raid Al Qaeda
“The United States military since 2004 has used broad, secret authority to carry out nearly a dozen previously undisclosed attacks against Al Qaeda and other militants in Syria, Pakistan and elsewhere, according to senior American officials.”
that’s some pretty big news. you better click on it, you fucking dirtbag. no, don’t look around for your friend; I’m talking to you.
anyway, we didn’t get it into tomorrow’s paper, but then again, we don’t get in much. and if you’re reading your tiny local newspaper for your world news updates, you’re either elderly, or slow. or both.
annnd, a judge today told the Bush administration that it’s internal emails aren’t protected from eventual public record by executive priviledge. so they can’t delete them, the bastards.
it isn’t wise to assume that because someone guards their privacy closely that they are therefore guilty of a crime. but this isn’t an indivual we’re talking about, it’s the executive branch, and I don’t understand why they’re so concerned with keeping their records sealed. is it that the legal policy makers within Bush’s White House are really that concerned about cementing the idea of a strong executive? and if so, why is transparency so adverse to that? or have they been pulling off all sorts of bullshit in the last eight years?
all of this could be nothing. I kind of hope so. the adult in me doesn’t want to be reading about morally  questionable scandals perpetrated by this administration for the next decade. but the salivating, bored lunatic in me can’t wait for these stories’ inevitable release. I got a lot of growing up to do.

breakfast

that guy from Newsweek wrote a column in the Post today which I thought was pretty interesting:

“As conservatives survey the damage they have done to the Republican Party, they have fixed upon one comforting notion. John McCain lost the election, according to many of them, because he supported the surge in Iraq. …
“The fact is that had the surge failed, McCain would have lost. It succeeded, and he lost. The logical conclusion is that the surge was irrelevant to McCain’s fate — that there were broader reasons for the resounding Republican loss. The electorate has voted no on the current Republican ideology on foreign policy.”

freelance work?

about a week ago I mentioned the race in the Va’s 5th District — the fightin’ 5th — between Tom Perriello and entrenched- good ol’ boy- incumbent, Virgil Goode. my newspaper endorsed this guy. the endorsement, just like the rest of them, was pretty disappointing. look, I don’t necessarily mind the endorsement of the candidate not of my choosing. just please, make it intellectually vigorous. make it believable, not just vague platitudes about fighting “Washington insiders.” that’s a bunch of bullshit, the motherfucker’s been involved in politics for the last 25 years.
I don’t like Goode, mostly because he doesn’t seem to do anything; he’s not proactive as a congressman, he just says xenophobic shit about immigrants and religious minorities (Goode was the guy who made a stink about some congressional Democrat from Minnesota who happens to be Muslim taking his oath of office with a Quran), and he does it to keep the local dumb asshole vote firmly in check.
I predicted Goode was gonna win, just because, you know, by looking at it, that was the safe bet. that dumb asshole vote is mighty in this district. and as recently as August, Goode was working Perriello to the tune of a 30 point lead. 
but then the economy tanked and the race tightened, and guess who probably won by a couple of hundred votes out of 300,000 cast?
McNeill says that Goode could call for a recount (which I’ll wager he will). but considering past recounts of statewide elections haven’t turned up anywhere near the vote difference he’d need to overcome Perriello’s lead, he’s pretty much fucked. 

well. there you have it.

space mountain or bust

Obama won. in case you haven’t heard.
Larry King is interviewing Magic Johnson, presumably because Magic’s a black guy. yes, Obama’s win is that big.

I voted Tuesday morning. only had to wait about ten minutes, then got an electronic voting machine. read the instructions. studied the ballot. made my choices.
bought the paper, and gave a bum a dollar, who said, “thanks, buddy. these are hard streets, especially when you’re sleeping outside.”
got some breakfast. read it through, entirely, drank a couple cups of coffee. then drove up to DC. my niece, it turns out, has bronchitis. she’s not doing so hot, and toddlers you can’t reason with. she has one truth: she feels like shit. and that’s all that matters. she’ll be alright, though. I know what I’m going to get her for Christmas. “Cinderella” on video. DVD, I mean. on DVD.

I watched the returns at Spencer’s apartment in Dupont Circle. McCain lead early, what with West Virginia and Kentucky getting called first, as opposed to Obama’s Vermont. Obama took Vermont, McCain took Kentucky, we said. shockers.
as the night wore on, more folks showed up. and the results rolled in. NJ for Obama. Maine. New Hampshire. Mass. all of New England. Pennsylvania. McCain put a lot of effort into that state, from what I understand, and Obama won it by ten points. and even Virginia. which, like Indiana, hadn’t backed a Democrat since 1964.
I don’t know if it’s obvious who I voted for, because for all of my writing and writing and writing, I’ve never actually declared it. I didn’t do the Nader thing, though I entertained the idea, and I feel vindicated. he suggested Obama might become an Uncle Tom to corporate interests tonight, again, and it seems like he’s deadset on moving into the “old coot” stage of his career. the system broke Ralph Nader long ago, so I cast my ballot for Obama, because, well, fuck it. it seemed like a good idea, and I’ve already mapped it out (that was the last post). but unlike Spencer and his roommate, I didn’t volunteer. and I wasn’t on board, not emotionally. not yet.
when they called Ohio, it was pretty clear where this was going. the mood brightened.


I started this blog four years ago, just before Bush’s reelection. on election night, I remember it started off well, and it went south quick. it was in desperation that I voted for John Kerry then. the man was a stick in the mud, the very image of rigid establishment. but I was 21, and couldn’t fathom that we’d put Bush back in for another term. and we did. and I wrote:

so the left got bitchslapped out of the government. okay. fine, fuck it. that means for the next four years, all of the problems Bush caused and Kerry wanted to inherit, they’re remaining Bush’s. so when the republicans piledrive the economy through the dance floor, and we’re still liberatin’ us some freedom over in Iraq (and god knows where else), it’ll be no one’s fault but their own. Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh, and other conservative talking heads will grow tumors trying to blame a crushing national debt and an ever-rising military death toll on liberalism.

that’s a little raw, a little all over the place, and I grimace whenever I reread anything a month old, but still, that’s prescience.
this time, though, I didn’t have to soul search. the guy I voted for, he actually fuckin’ won. this didn’t surprise me, but my growing reaction to the news did. I started cold. matter of fact. quiet, slightly pleased. but I don’t know, it’s kind of hard to be a dreary, cynical pessimist when you’re in a small room surrounded by genuine enthusiasm.
ABC called it for Obama about 15 minutes after California’s polls closed. I don’t know how soon it happened after that, but I realized the guy I was standing next to was bawling. really. he was crying.
later, I told this to my friend Rachana from work. I said, via tex message (how very modern): “I hugged a guy while he cried. really.” 
she asked, “Matt, are you crying?”
and I wasn’t, so I said, “no, I’m good. but I get it.”

the crying put me over the top. you can call me soft.
I patted the guy on the back, and, “come on, dude. turn that frown upside down. tonight’s a good night to be alive.” this is not to say I was politically reborn, but I started to get it.
what is It? It could be nothing. he could be an awful president, and if he is I’ll carry that grudge for years against him. but I can recognize the geniune feeling this campaign has raised in people. that, shit, even if it’s only temporary, there’s legitimate strength in optimism.
the party watched both McCain’s concession and Obama’s acceptance. McCain seemed relieved. he’s much more comfortable when he’s reassuring and calm than when he’s at a campaign rally, tripping over his lines, and painfully declaring “the Mac is back.” it seemed so beneath him, and I think it was. I say this now, though god knows what I’ve said in the past: it’s a fucking shame that McCain ran. there’s nothing more demeaning than being a presidential candidate, because you inevitably look and sound like an asshole, and half the country ends up despising you for your title alone. at the party last night, for instance, some guy called him a “fascist.” which isn’t true — that hipster probably couldn’t define fascism for a million dollars — but that’s beside the point.
a lot of people grew to hate him because of what he represented, and I don’t think the man deserves to be hated. I say this, knowing full well that if we were in bizarro world and McCain had actually won, I’d want blood.

Obama’s speech was soaring, as you would expect. and by this point, you could hear the streets outside. hear the car horns. the news was out. so I ended up with Spencer and his roommate, Krista, and Michael recently of Rhode Island in front of the White House at 12:30 with a couple of thousand other people, who milled and chanted and dance and sang. and at 2:00 am, I saw a spontaneous parade down 16th from U Street. at least a couple of hundred of people banging on pots and pans.
I honestly didn’t know this country had this in it, this delirious celebration. and it says something about the candidate that he could inspire such a reaction.

I’m not doing this justice, I know. I had huge plans for this. I was writing this in my head all fucking day at work, but I’ve got nothing now. this prose is painfully disjointed. it’s because I’m tired. but that’s okay. I’ll maybe be more eloquent later. now, just to finish …

after an epic battle to hail a cab, I got back to my brother’s place and crashed out. I woke up in the morning, and checked the results, just to see it again and make sure. Obama took Indiana late, and trailed the entire time, until they counted Lake County. which he won by 70,000 votes. 
here, I went flush and teared up. I don’t know why this got me going. pride, I guess. but it certainly makes you feel less impotent as a citizen when your state actually responds to your opinion for once. it only took the economy tanking to get me on the same wide page as everyone else, but it happened. and now I’m here.
President Obama. huh, no shit. he stomped McCain, just like I said. I said so. you read it here last week.