Archive for February, 2009|Monthly archive page

my back hurts

like a son of a bitch, it does. I don’t know what it is, but it’s in my lower back. I’m gonna stretch hard in about ten minutes, and crash out. but it was getting me up in and out of my chair today at work, and I’d take ten minutes here or there to go lie on the floor. though I’m not doing that now. I’m positive that will only make it hurt more.

Obama announced a date for troops to leave Iraq.
that strikes me as big news, right? right? are you still looking out the window at the staggering economy?

and a big metro daily paper in Denver took a shit and died. like that.
people at work are creeped out about this kind of news. newspapers, afterall, are an industry, and when a big player falls. it underscores how financially weak daily newspapers have become. 
at work, the general desription of current events goes as “god damned bloggers are hassling us half to death. how do you compete with free content on the internet?!” to which I don’t bother answering, because it’s not like the media corporations that call the shots would listen to reason anyway.
but I digress. pour a sip on the concrete for the Rocky Mountain News. and imagine you work there, and though there’s so much left to happen your paper won’t be there to cover it.
so much left to happen. I think we’re going back in 2020.  it’s an exciting time to be alive.

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navigating by fast food

edward hopper

I can’t wait for the summer. who else can’t wait for summer? raise your hand.

tonight at work was awful, the computer system dumped out, kept us there until midnight. my boss about blew a blood vessel in his head. when he gets upset, it doesn’t take much for him to get physical with his mouse, or a lamp, or the keyboard. I don’t have much use for that. fairly, it’s deadline work, and you’ve got people breathing down your neck if you fuck up. a little high stress. but still.
like, for instance, I once threw a style manual in frustration. something failed on me, or I lost a lot of work, and I grabbed the nearest book and tossed it over my shoulder. “fuck.” but as soon as the book left my hand, I felt like an asshole.
I can’t tell if he feels that way or not.

I bought a couple of albums at a used record store yesterday in Arlington. it’s the only place I know in Arlington, it’s on the main drag there. near a Whole Foods, where the world goes to feel good about buying expensive groceries. not far from the river. 
at the store I found a hits compilation by Toots and the Maytals and the soundtrack to ‘The Harder They Come’. this disc was easy the smartest $10 dollars I’ve spent in a while, the occasional breakfast burrito purchase withstanding.
the movie comes across as pretty ridiculous, but, shit, it was shot in Jamaica in the early 70s. so you know they totally crushed ass on the soundtrack.
so, yes. check it out.

grapes

what follows is what I typed as I listened to President Obama’s address last night. I actually missed the first run, so I caught it again on its rebroadcast. go ahead and skip this if you’d like, I’m only half as witty as I purport to be.

“thank you. thank you. thank you.
“thank you. thank you. thank you, everybody.”
annnd here we go.
apparently, this isn’t Obama’s first State of the Union, but rather, his first address to a joint session of Congress. you don’t do it in an election year. which is why, I guess, he doesn’t say “the State of our Union is strong.”
he’s getting a lot of love tonight. I guess you’ll have that when your party runs the legislature.
so. on to the economy. he starts with the economy: “we will rebuild. we will recover. and the United States of America will emerge stronger than before.” everybody gets up and claps for that. that’s the first applause line of the speech.

responsiblity seems to be a big theme here. Obama says we’ve been, you know, irresponsible. “the surplus became an opportunity to help the wealthy at expense of investing of our future.” there’s a nice, hearty fuck you to the Republicans.
‘we need to create jobs,’ he says. good plan, stan. and, yeah. he knows about the deficit, and he’s not about big government, but ‘it had to be done. and so we did it! and now whatever version of TARP legislation we’re now on is now law!’ only half the room gets up for that.
and now he cites examples of how his economic recovery plan has worked. so remember to thank Mr. Obama for your police officers, Minneapolis.
but now, he know a lot of skeptics out there think the government is gonna fuck this up and spend all of this money on some bullshit boondoggle, but Obama says it’s cool. Joe Biden’s gonna head the oversight panel. “and nobody messes with Joe.” and also? he set up a website so you can see where the money’s going. wow. that website sounds so goddamned condescending  transparent I think my head is going to explode.

ha. now he’s talking about the financial bailout. and how it’s necessary to give Citigroup and AIG  tax-dollar enemas. and, on queue, Fox News shows Richard Shelby from Alabama, who looks like he’s about to have a heart attack, he’s so pissed. I actually kind of like that angry old fuck.
“while the cost of actions could be great, the cost of inaction would be even greater.” I think that’s what he said. is it? either way, that’s his point. and that’s the central question behind TARP, and whether you support it or not. le Canadien does. my boss does not. the left, and the right.
to defend the bank flush, Obama describes the wonders of credit lending. “cause then your buddy can get that car loan.” or somesuch nonsense. ehh. I hate how these face-the-nation speeches have become finance lessons for retards. 
oh. and we gotta update financial regulation laws. this gets cheers, and eventually a standing ovation from the entire congress. the assholes. where the fuck was congress when this was going on? why are you cheering? stop it. you’re not the mob, you can’t rally against your own ineptitude. this body voted for banking degregulation, for christ’s sake. it’s partially their fault that all of this happened. god damn it.

Obama leaves me behind to fester on this, and suddenly he’s talking about how the GI bill was awesome, compares it with current intervention, “… one in which we’re gonna focus on energy, health care, and education.” I have to say, as obnoxious as political speeches are, this beats the hell out of watching George Bush threaten other governments and shrug off civil liberties violations.

“…. speaking of our auto industry …”
oh god, yes.
we’re gonna give Detroit a good scoldin’, says Obama but we’re not letting them fail. somewhere, Richard Wagoner is crying, and has involuntarily voided his bladder.
“we’ve done more to advance health care in the last 30 days than in the last decade.” Republicans don’t move, they are frozen with White Hot Rage. that’s some shameful shit, you sons of bitches.
“health care reform cannot, it must not wait, and it will not wait another year.” okay, how’s this: if, during this term, Obama passes substantial health care reform and the economy still tanks — an outcome that would be pretty hard to pull off — I’d say he gets a C+.

he has moved on to education. I’m not paying enough attention to the speech. I bet you can tell. see, I’m tearing into this bag of grapes I got sitting here. I fuckin’ love me some grapes, man. but I return focus for a second, and Obama says:
“responsbility for you child must begin at home. that’s not a Democratic issue, or a Republican issue, that’s an American issue.” truly, we are a nation of shoddy parenting.

he’s talking about the deficit. oh yes. the Republicans ran the deficit straight through the floor, he points out, and don’t you fucking forget it.
he wants to halve it by 2012. I, you know. wait. if he does that, Obama’s either a magician, or jesus christ. or the one who will Bring Balance to the Force.
“we’ll end tax breaks for corporations that ship our jobs overseas.”
“in order to save our children from a future of debt, we will also end the tax breaks for the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans.” the Republicans pout.

now muscular foreign policy. he’s talking tough on Pakistan, Afghanistan right now. according to his talking points, that’s where the next war’s gonna focus. says something about supporting the troops, and everyone turns and claps at the the marine and army lieutenants in the gallery. these things are always awkward, you know, when the props get used?
but then Obama says we’re gonna up soldier compensation. I agree.
and he talks about how he’s ordered the closing of Guantanamo Bay. I agree again.
and then he makes the commitment that “the United States does not torture.” I can’t believe it’s even come to this as debate.

and now to close, personal stories about the economy, and people who are great like Leonard Abess, Jr, the bank president who sold his business and gave all $60 million to his employees. and are we gonna clap at him, are we gonna clap everybody, oh whatthehellwhynot. everybody claps at him. clap Abess down!
or a girl who goes to a public school in South Carolina that should be condemned. who had to write her fucking congressman to get something done about it. she gets a firm clapping.
clap, clap, yes, Congress like.

and then he finishes.

… but I also know that every American who is sitting here tonight loves this country and wants it to succeed.
I know that.
that must be the starting point for every debate we have in the coming months and where we return after those debates are done. that is the foundation on which the American people expect us to build common ground.
and if we do, if we come together and lift this nation from the depths of this crisis, if we put our people back to work and restart the engine of our prosperity, if we confront without fear the challenges of our time and summon that enduring spirit of an America that does not quit, then some day, years from now, our children can tell their children that this was the time when we performed, in the words that are carved into this very chamber, “something worthy to be remembered.”

that motherfucker can finish hard. it’s like he’s a distance runner, and he sprints the last 100 meters. he’s a fantastic speaker.

now, Fox News is having a roundtable before Bobby Jindal shows up for the Republican rebuttal. Brit Hume thinks Obama’s gonnna spend five trillion dollars. I think Hume is going to drive himself mad. and Charles Krauthammer looks like he’s kept in a tank.
and here’s Jindal. he speaks like a telemarketer, and looks like a marionette.
I have to think this isn’t going to be well-received.

humming

mutherrussia

I haven’t any idea if this says what I think it does, but the translations on this website are pretty funny. you ever come across these captioned cat pictures? usually pretty topical to the image? these are filtered through the Soviet experience. hardy har har. I took a lot of Russian history classes in college. it’s where I decided not to be a communist.

gallows humor at work tonight. gallows conversation well past deadline. that’s the alright thing about working late, people will say anything after everyone’s left. after 45 minutes of bitching, it looks like the sports desk is going to reorganize half its coverage scheme. which is fair, and cool, because they can; the sports editor is basically a nameplate as it is, the two dudes on the desk call their own shots, there’s no oversight. as a sympathetic coworker said, “you’re probably not going to have the kind of freedom you have here anywhere else.” the news side, though. don’t hold your breath.

my neighbors have made nice. when I came home the other night, his truck was out front, and there was an barking dog locked in its cab. of course there was. they hashed it out over a couple of hours, I believe, and all was right in the world when I heard them singing a country tune together. those kids, they’re gonna make it afterall.

don’t miss the point

unpaid furloughs at work now. ten days. that’s two weeks. when getting the good news, I thought we were gonna turn on the Mouth of Sauron, the HR lady. but it turns out, she’s getting the cut too.
yes, it has happened: the economy is touching me. in my swimsuit area, but I didn’t ask it to. it’s in my personal bubble, and I don’t like it.

oh, yeah: the Fed thinks the economy’s gonna contract. more.

I had a job interview last week in DC. National Academy of Sciences. it’d be on Constitution Ave., in Foggy Bottom, across the street from the State Department. I’ve been back-and-forth on it, whether or not I’d want the job, but it’s growing more appealing. I must say. I must say.
but I’m getting ahead of myself. I’ve been looking at apartments on Craigslist and the like. jesus god, is that shit expensive. unless you wanna live in Trinidad or all the way the fuck out in Anacostia. so what’s gonna happen, probably, is I’ll end up in the basement bedroom at my brother’s apartment. which is fine by me. the rent’s definitely cheaper. and he’s got cable.
in reality, I’m gearing up for not getting the job. I’m supposed to hear back as of next week, and, yeah, the interview went well, but I find it wise to keep my expectations grounded around the “I’m always fucked” level. it made it easier to get over Hawaii … god damn it, Hawaii. I could be living in that tropical paradise. learning to cook ital.

I work again, some more, tomorrow. le Canadien needed the day off, and, well, fuck it. Wisconsin’s gonna destroy IU tomorrow night anyhow. I can stand watching only so many moral victories.

to end: some GOP governors are considering declining federal stimulus funds. good idea. see how that works out.

I’m on the other side of the world

Week two of yoga for stiff people.
I can feel things shifting  in my body that don’t normally shift. no, really. I’m snapping. I’m popping. I’m snapping and popping. I’m in the best goddamned shape of my life.

I was exhausted today, all the same. feel like I got feet stuck in molasses. I don’t know what it is, why I’m tired all of the time. tonight, at work, the computer took a shit and died, kept us there late. the Canadian looked like his head was gonna explode. motherfucker’s been working too long.

you know what I think it is, my malaise? I need a tattoo.
that’s it. I think that’s what’s been holding me back. it’s gonna be crossbones, on my shoulder, or maybe my forearm. it’ll look amazing. I’ll have to fight the bitches off with a stick.

I’m yawning. do you see this? I’m yawning. full of veggie lasagna and Rolling Rock. I want to learn how to cook ital, get a job in the Carribean on a touring yacht as a chef, and be so tan that I can’t get sunburnt. and never touch a computer again. I also need to read ‘Rule of the Bone’ again. you ever read that book?

buckshot

it’s quiet here in my apartment, and I’m bored.
though this beats last night. my neighbors have been going at it, recently, and by ‘going at it’ I don’t mean banging. sounds like they’re having a pretty nasty breakup, which, according to my co-worker/neighbor downstairs, has been in the makings since early this week. she gleaning all of this through walls and eavesdropping, as am I. I don’t recall if I’ve mentioned this before, but either they don’t know half the block can hear them when they fight/fuck/entertain into the wee hours, or they’re too loaded to care.  
last night, the both of them were drunk, and they started screaming at each other right as I dozed off. lots of door-slamming, storming up and down the stairs, back and forth across the floor, and the generous use of ‘fuckin” as an adverb. I’ve never met the guy, but from what I can tell and what I’ve been told, he’s a giant, stupid redneck. so I laid in bed, pondered whether or not to call the cops, and decided against it (because, really, who wants to get the authorities involved?), but listened for something to tip me off that he may have laid hands on her.
no, really. how chivalrous of me. cracking wise about domestic violence may be a reason I’m usually alone on Valentine’s Day.
so. in my head, I went through my inventory of things I would need should this situation arise. cell phone, to call the authorities I didn’t wanna call; something with which to stomp ass … I don’t have a baseball bat, which is probably for the best; and fortitude.
but King Redneck eventually left, which caused everything to quiet down. I was out about five minutes later. hopefully, she boots his ass to the curb, and it’ll be a few more weeks before she’s found another hillbilly to enter into an abusive relationship with. and the apartment will be quiet again. that way, I won’t do something stupid and interject myself into someone else’s problems. 
my co-worker/neighbor downstairs, though, she left a strongly-worded note on their door, asking them to pipe down. next time, she says, she’s calling the police. and I can’t tell you how emasculating it feels to be something of an unofficial signatory to that. which isn’t necessarily the right thing to say, but the truth.

I haven’t followed the news in the last 48 hrs, even though I work at a newspaper. so let’s see. I heard that Jugg Gregg (oh how I wish America had a senator named Jugg) backed out of his cabinet position. and Oblammer is gonna get his package stimulussed by no-later-than Monday morning, which was the original arbitrary deadline.
whatever. fuck it. if it works, great; if it doesn’t, it’s not gonna be the end of the world again. it’s been nearly a decade since the neoconservatives and the international opium trade conspired to blow up the World Trade Center (see here), and despite massive amounts of upheaval in other parts of the world, life has soldiered on. American society is very insulated. unlike most of my apartment. but that’s okay. because it isn’t very cold out tonight.

I can hear a train passing through town.
there’s tracks not far from the house I live in. all of about three hundred yards or so, close enough that it gently rattles my windows when freight goes through. I don’t recall hearing the train whistle, though, which is odd.
train whistles take me to Valparaiso, in the summer — in August, or even September  — on the porch, in the evening. in Valparaiso, the porch becomes the most lived-in room in the house when its warm enough to be used. full of assorted lawn furniture. back issues of National Geographic. stacks of diet pop, dusty because no one drinks it save for the holidays when it’s put in a cooler full of ice for relatives. the TV, the one with the channels of note written on its casing in pen so no one has to hunt for the TV listings in the paper, is moved out from the kitchen. rusty windchimes hang from the awnings. a hole is in the screen where the dog makes its way through.
this porch, it looks out upon the yard (as most do), a yard that is lovely and dark-green and full of mulch, nobby roots, and at night of raccoons and all-the-time of dogshit, courtesy of the afore-mentioned dog. 
in August, in the late evening, this back yard has an electric feel to it, when every bug in the world is singing and it’s still warm enough outside that everything’s hazy. the cut-grass smell lingers perpetually in the air, because it’s summer and there’s yardwork everywhere. but by this point, you haven’t heard a lawnmower in half an hour; even the diehards have given up as the light fades. it’s quiet. it’s here that you hear it, its warning, so natural that you probably don’t note it. 
this is what train whistles (or the conspicuous lack thereof) brings to mind. it isn’t that they’re overwhelming in this vision, it’s just that they’re always there. like bookends. or stanzas.

big day coming up

“One of the problems we have, gentlemen, is that . . . in an effort to get the credit system functioning, things will be done that will be to the benefit of the institutions over which you preside because there is no alternative.
“You need to understand, as I think many of you do, how angry that makes people.
-Barney Frank, today

I just watched about ten minutes of ‘Anderson Cooper 360’ on CNN.
it was proselytizing about eight or nine bank executives in front of a House subcommittee, answering questions on the mismanaged bank bailout. granted, this gallery is a collection of different cakes and cookies made from the scum of the earth, but come on.
CNN professes to be even-handed. fine. so be even-handed. I can come to my own conclusions about who’s acting like a dickhead in the public arena right now. it isn’t hard.
the one thing I will say, though, is that this tv program spread it around, made everyone involved look stupid. for instance: some congressman from just outside Boston, who probably voted for the original bailout legislation (yes, it was on Oct. 3rd), did some solid grandstanding for political gain during this six hour marathon of suck. and CNN aired his entire rant, during which he compared eight men worth hundreds of millions of dollars to a teenage bike gang and threw his best lines: ‘America doesn’t trust you anymore’. they gave him plenty of time to jam his foot in his mouth. I appreciate that, even if allowing  Sir Galahad … I mean, Rep. Michael Capuano, to reveal himself to be a jackass wasn’t their editorial intent.

either way you come down on it, though, it’s a lot of money that’s coming down the pike. the new bill for these national jumper cables is, what, it’s $780. billion? and that’s just the stimulus bill. this has nothing to do with the money the financial sector is gonna be getting.
I’m not an economic liberal. I’ll explain why: I define my standing on economic policy by what I’m not. there are people who really believe that the free market is The Cornerstone of our Democracy. I think that’s bullshit, and adulatory of the dollar. but I don’t really have faith that those behind this huge plan to pump juice into the economy will do it right. so what I am instead, I think, is an economic cynic.
I sure hope I’m wrong. after all, it’s the party I voted for that’s pushing this.

but. if they manage to get this card check shit through, then, well, I’ll be happy. at least a little.

physics

I went to a yoga class yesterday. I didn’t mention that.
it was me, a couple of 50-year-old men, and the instructor. I was the least flexible of the bunch running away.
right. so anyway, I’m still pretty sore. my hips are killing me, and I can feel it in my shoulder blades. and that’s good, I need this. I’m going back next week.

and the sink got fixed.
I woke up at the crack of 10 am for that shit. stumbled around the apartment for 15 minutes, then walked for the paper and left the door open. when I came back, there was a plumber in my kitchen. hooray!
he was an alright guy. he said the faucet was hosed, and checked his van for a spare. didn’t find one, so he left to pick one up. okay.
he came back, and as he was working tearing the old faucet out, we got to talking politics.
it’s hard to feel people out sometimes. it isn’t wise to come right out and say, “hey, howabout that dickhead George Bush, eh?” not with unknown quantities, it’s not. it isn’t polite. but through a little conversation on the trillion dollar economic revamp that’s getting batted around, he came around as a liberal. or a progressive. to the left, you got me.
and then he asked me, “what do you know about physics?”
Continue reading

an excuse to type

let’s us have some Q an’ A with President Obama, why don’t we. he addressed the nation earlier, and I’m watching the rerun, as he had his first primetime press conference on how the economy’s fucked and we need to back this stimulus plan. so sit back, and enjoy some gross generalizations while I hunt for the most sensational quotes.

AP’s Jennifer Loven (it’s nice to put a face to the name) says: Obama, talk about what you know that would lead you to say that our recession may be permanent. do you think you risk losing credibility by using such dire language?
Obamer: no. cites Japan in the nineties. they weren’t bold and swift enough, he says. “what I’m trying to underscore is what the people in Elkhart already understand.”
“some of the criticisms (of this bill) are with the basic idea that gov. should intervene in this crisis.” and wtf is up with that? also? he’s got some plans to loosen up the credit markets. get ready, Wall Street.
“what I won’t do is returned to the failed theories of the last eight years that got us here in the first palce. they’ve been tested, and they’ve failed.” word.

someone else axes: “what are your strategies for engaging Iran?” does Iran want to talk to us?
Oblammo: it’s got a hell of a history, the Persian empire, I’ll tell you what. but financing terrorist organizations, “bellicose language toward Israel,” nuclear weapon development, “are not only contrary to our interests, but contrary to the interest of international peace.” we should use diplomacy, because, what the hell, why not. the last dickhead didn’t bother to try that, for eight years, and he didn’t get anything done.
oh, he’ll whup ass if he has to, don’t worry. but “there’s the possibility, at least of a relationship of mutual respect and progress.”

Chip Reed: you’re all about bipartisanship, but you aren’t getting any votes from the Republicans. what went wrong?
Prez: “when I made a series of overtures to Republicans … all those were not designed simply to get some short-term votes, they were designed to build up trust over time. … hopefully that’ll be reciprocated.” but “I can’t afford to see Congress play the usual political games.” “my bottom line is, send me a bill that creates 3 million jobs.”
“when I hear that from folks who presided over a doubling of the national debt, I just want them to not engage in some revisionist history. I inherited the debt that we have right now.”
ha. so fuck you, Eric Cantor. fiscal conservatism, my ass.

Chuck Todd: you wanna increase consumer spending. but isn’t that how we got into this mess? don’t you want people holding on to those dolla dolla bills, y’all?
Obama: consumer spending didn’t get us into this mess. massive investment banks trading on ridiculous leverage without any fucking oversight got us into mess. you fucking moron. your goatee makes you look like an asshole. why don’t you sit the fuck down before I come over there and put my wingtip up your ass? next question.
I don’t know what it is about Chuck Todd that raises this kind of response in me.
wait, no, Obama also says, “this notion that I came in here ginned up to spend $800 billion dollars, that wasn’t how I envisioned my presidency beginning.”

question: won’t the government need more than $350 billion in TARP funds to fix the credit crisis?
Obama: because there was no oversight, “we didn’t get as much bang for the buck as we should have.” he spends all of about 90 seconds on this question.

ABC: How can we gauge if these recovery programs are working?
Obamama: if we create some jobs, then that’ll be pretty tits. then if the credit markets are working, that’d be pretty cool, too.

Ed Henry: let’s talk about Afghanistan. are we gonna stop sneaking soldiers’ dead bodies into Dover Air Force base under the cover of night? because that’s pretty faggy.
Obama: well, uh, we are in the process of reviewing those policies, in conversations with the Department of Defense. a nice, boring answer.
drops a laundry list of what’s fucked up about Afghanistan, the ol’ graveyard of empires. oh, and the border regions of Pakistan, we gotta fix that. shit that everyone knows, and everyone knows he knows. this is the kind of question you ask in hopes that he’ll fuck it up and you can get a good quote out of him.

Helene Cooper: are you gonna make banks use their credit to loosen up lending practices?
Obama: I’ll let my boy Geithner answer that question at his press conference, cause he’s the treasury secretary. edit: OH BOY DID GEITHNER HAVE A PRESS CONFERENCE TODAY OR WHAT

question: VP Biden said that even you make all the right calls, there’s a 30% chance you’ll get it wrong. what the hell was he talking about?
Obama: I, uh, don’t exactly recall what Joe was talking about (press corps laughs). repeats talking points.

Washington Post, oh, here it is, here it is: What is your reaction to news that Alex Rodriguez used performance-enhancing steroids?
Obama: I didn’t bother to listen to what he said. when I was on deadline tonight, trying to get the wire story on this press conference on A1, I almost lost my shit, because AP saw it fit to move 10 inches on the president’s take on the A-Rod bombshell before they moved anything else. because, oh jesus christ, who gives a flying fuck about steroids in baseball. 

Helen Thomas: do you believe that Pakistan is harboring these ‘so-called’ terrorists? do you know of anybody else in the Middle East that got nuclear weapons? ‘so-called’, she says.
Obama: yes. Pakistan needs to clamp down on that shit. but Thomas, in typically ancient curmudgeonly style, keeps trying to interrupt him.

Sam Stein of the Huffington Post: Patrick Leahy (D-Hippie) wants to open a ‘truth and reconciliation commission’ into the ‘misdeeds of the Bush administration’. will you rule out prosecution of Bush administration officials?
Obama: we don’t torture, no one’s above the law, and …
wait, I gotta cut in here. who gave the fucking Huffington Post White  House press credentials? I’m saying it here and now: anyone who gets their news from that internet rag is a fucking moron. someone should set this asshole on the curb.

question: if you can’t get any GOP votes on the stimulus bill, how the hell are you gonna handle shit in the future? health care reform, for instance.
Obama: “when it comes to how we approach the issue of fiscal responsibility …  it’s a little hard for me to take criticism from folks about this recovery package after they’ve presided over a doubling of the national debt.”
ZING.

transcript