Archive for August, 2010|Monthly archive page

afternoon on the mall

I went to the big ol’ Glenn Beck rally on the National Mall a couple of days ago.
I’ve been trying to put my experience into words, my few hours in the midst of a massive, conservative-populist gathering. but I don’t even know what to call this thing. “Restoring Honor?” rally? tent revival? circle jerk? political event? show of force? all of these apply, I think.
I got there late. the night before, I went out and drank a bunch of beer with my cousins Suse and Cait, and then slept for nine hours. in the morning I dragged ass getting out of the house, because — among other reasons — my brother is the king of the amusing online video and showed me this.
“late” means it started at 10 am, and was scheduled to end at 1 pm, and I got there around 12:15. I kinda figured el Duce or the other big-name draw, Sarah Palin, would go on late to keep the rabble hanging around. they didn’t, but everybody stuck around anyway, and the absence of Fox News anchors from my field of vision had no effect on my experience. seeing the stage would have been gravy. but it wasn’t the main course, oh no.
one thing I heard repeated in the news advances leading up to it was Beck saying it was a nonpolitical event. it clearly wasn’t. he has since estimated that at the crowd was somewhere between 300,000 and 500,000, and having seen it myself, they had a distinctly political tinge to their t-shirts.
you couldn’t see shit. it’s not like anyone, beyond the lucky few thousand directly in front of the Lincoln Memorial, had any hope of seeing who was up on stage. out where I was, 100 yards into the trees toward the Vietnam Memorial, I could barely make out the white marble. the real view was the sea of people around you, listening to loudspeakers with a heavy echo effect.

main course

how would I describe the crowd? I don’t know. I think a lot of people have assumptions of what a tea party activist looks like: fat, white, sunburned, bad haircut, sour look on their face. middle America. I jotted notes as I walked about; who the fuck knows where those are now, but it’s not like I need them. I knew this crowd. the formative years of my life were spent among people who looked like this. among people who don’t deal often in irony and sarcasm, rarely see a coast, and enjoy their food flash-fried. it was as if greater Peoria had gotten together for a crosstown football game, and then gathered in a field afterward to hear a carnival barker sell them an idealized verison of America.
Glenn Beck has accused a moderately liberal government of dragging the country toward some sort of far-left dictatorship. he knows that’s not true, because Beck isn’t stupid. but he is what he is: a television personality. he knows how to work a crowd and play identity politics, which is what he seems to do on his show and is what brought out the throngs to his ‘restoring honor’ rally on Saturday. as a television personality, he has worked up his viewers already under duress during a shaky economy, and told them that the first black executive of the federal government harbors hatred for white people and is lying about his religious beliefs.

he’s fucking with these people

a lot of us remember a romantic vision of America, where there was black and white, John Wayne being tough as hell on the big screen, and not a lot in between. I’m only in my late twenties, and I don’t find it easy to get nostalgic about coming up in the nineties. I guess you could. but there’s nostalgia, and there’s reality, and I think it’s those who choose to sit on that other side of the divide and push toward some imaginary idealization, it’s those who make up political fringe groups. and I think it applies to tea partiers quite nicely.
I really got to go to sleep.
waxing romantic about an America that never was might win a midterm election, but I wouldn’t hold out for much more than that.


a smith must dream

guest post

So I get to work early today.  Yeah, that’s right, you are worthless and I am an upright citizen.  I park my car in the garage, of course, as one must avoid the monstrous 80 degree sunrays – bringing sunshine into my life and uncomfortable hotness to my car.  No thank you.  I’ll take the shade, within the natural cement tomb, like god intended.  I didn’t spend my childhood avoiding sunlight in basements while playing video games for nothing.  I’ve trained like an Olympic athlete for this lifestyle, and I’m not going to give it up without a fight.

But I digress.  I get to work early!  I am a responsible worker, worthy of recognition.  I look at the side entrance to the State House.  My dear friend.  “Oh, Senate Avenue entrance, my dear West side door, you’ve been sweet to me.  I’m never judged when I walk through your golden archways.  The only ones who enter you are the basement dwellers, the lame, and the common folk who must be scanned and patted down like the potential criminals we all know they are – my folk.  All those memories of lazy late mornings; strolling in 10, 15, hell it’s Friday let’s pull the 45 minute trick out of the bag – I will not forget them.  But, today is different.  Don’t worry, I’ll be back, you and I both know it, but today I’m early and I will walk with my head held high through Main Door.  The steps leading up to it demand respect, the ID lock and sign saying “Employees Only” proves what you had suspected for a long time, you’re special.  Maybe today, you’ll bump into somebody important, and they’ll say, “Hey look at this guy, he’s at work and early.  Frank, make this man my new Vice President!”

A man must dream.  But there’s no Frank.  No VP offer.  Instead, you only see a tool advisor to the Governor who looks at you with attitude.  Bad attitude.  I can’t tell if he’s pissed at my not-short hair, my beard, or my jeans.  Probably all of it; I’m basically walking around with the blue letter D hanging at my neck; some liberal/political version of the Scarlett Letter I suppose, and the end result is: I do not pass as a Republican.  I think, “What’s his problem?  If I had the #5 parking space and just hopped out of a BMW, I’d have a skip in my step.”  But there’s no skip, only that conservative stiff walk and unfriendly glare.  “It’s as if we we’re all born with a stick up our asses, but the majority of people have it removed when they were young so you don’t remember.  Like your foreskin.”

These thoughts barely have enough time to register before I open the door and allow him to walk through first, like the woman I have now deemed him to be.  Is that kindness in my eyes, or mockery? No ‘thank you’?  Buddy, you just made the list.

Maybe next time I’m early it will be different.

Mr T had his own cereal

in keeping with last post’s Rube Goldberg fascination: the breakfast machine.

dog park

this here is a song that used to be on the alternative rock station that Gold’s Gym in Charlottesville always had on. the station roundly sucked, but this tune, which would play every other time I went in there, broke that mold, and made for a good beat and hook to run to, should you ever need one. it is called “lazy eye” and it’s by the Silversun Pickups, and it is four years old. forgive me, for I am late to the game.

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the movies

“gotta love American problems.” my brother, as Julia Roberts’ latest bullshit flashed across the screen

I have a bug. oh yes. I missed work yesterday, and went today, sneezing and sniffling. right now, I’ve got a pretty sick headache, and I should be asleep. it’s 11:13. yet still, I blog.
I saw “Predators” last week. I was fucking jazzed, man, I was red-dee. I went to the last showing before they pulled its dumb ass from the theater down at Gallery Place. paid $11 for a ticket, and about that much for a soda pop and Reese’s Pieces, which are my jams. sat down halfway through the trailer for “Machete,” the movie borne of the tongue-in-cheek trailer between the Grindhouse double-feature that Tarrantino and Robert Rodriguez shat out a couple of years ago. Danny Trejo is the lead in that. he’s the luckiest son of a bitch in Hollywood, given parts because of the part that he looks; the tough Mexican. they didn’t even give his character a different name in “Heat” in 1995; he was billed as, and referred to, as Trejo.
anyway. “Machete,” which is gonna be Danny Trejo killing extras with lots of gristle and flair, looks fucking retarded, and will be directed by Rodriguez. it was included before “Predators” because Rodriguez is producing this reboot. and, no small wonder, Danny Trejo is in “Predators.” only the choicest parts go to him, I’m telling you.
so “Predators.” a little background … I tell this story with pride, though it’s probably only half-true at this point, like many stories that are often retold: long, long ago, before we uprooted from Virginia and settled in Valparaiso, we would trek out and visit grandma and grandpa at the ancestral homestead in the Glen Park section of Gary, Indiana. Glen Park in the early nineties was not a very nice place; as such, my eight-year-old ass wasn’t allowed to go outside much and screw around. we’d be confined to the yard, which wasn’t much, so we spent a lot of time inside, wondering why it smelled so weird, going through my grandparents’ shit, digging around in the garage out back or the basement down below.
or we’d watch television. the basic channels. grandma and grandpa didn’t have cable, but they did have a VCR, and the sometimes-living-at-home Uncle Bill had a couple of tapes laying out. one of them was “Predator.”
“Predator” came out in 1987, and it was balls-out awesome. it was directed by John McTiernan (who made “Die Hard”) and it shines out as one of the best in the eighties-action genre. Schwarzenegger was fucking ripped. so was Action Jackson. they arm-wrestle. Bill Duke is crazy. Jesse Ventura wears an MTV shirt. it’s setting is claustrophobic, which, when paired with how little of the monster is actually known, makes for a very tense movie. and it’s full of sometimes-unintentional one-liners.
“Predators,” on the other hand, came out last month. it is intended to be a reboot, after 1990’s “Predator 2” with Danny Glover, a lot of sweat and a whole mess of anger isues; and then “Alien vs. Predator” and “Alien vs. Predator: Requiem.” see, some asshole decided to include an “alien” skull during a throwaway scene aboard the predator’s bomb-diggity spaceship that he parked on Skid Row in Los Angeles. that inspired a bevy of fan fiction, thousands of nerd orgasms, and the two crossover movies. I saw the first one. it didn’t inspire me to see the second.
SO. “Predators.” in this one, Adrian Brody, Trejo, the guy from “That 70s Show” and a handful of other stereotypes wake up mid-parachute-drop above a jungle. I’ll give “Predators” that, its opening was pretty good; comes at you fast and exciting-like. then, after they all come to their senses and a little bit of exposition, it is revealed that none of them know how the hell they got there … and then they notice a couple of huge planets in the very-near sky, and then invisible monsters start shooting lasers at them and … uh oh, turns out they’re in a game preserve. and they’re the prey! holy shit.
after introducing the, you know, predators, they stumble around here and die in incredibly gruesome ways until they meet Lawrence Fishburne who, as a hunted captive who hasn’t bought it yet, (tiny spoiler) spends his twenty minutes of screen time acting sufficiently unhinged.
the movie wasn’t bad, because everything is relative: after “Predator,” the next three films sucked. so in comparison, the last one didn’t blow, it was just … eh. it was an interesting concept, with uninteresting actors, running around a scenario and following a story arch that should have been pretty straightforward, but they didn’t. in ends with the required orgy of violence, but it falls apart way before that.
and afterward, I found myself thinking just that it didn’t suck. but even moreso, I thought: man. they should have never made another after “Predator.” should have just let it be.

what a bunch of dicks

Robert Gates is cutting defense department programs and spending from its massive, swollen and engorged budget. good, good. now keep cutting.

important business

me: phil

(Phil signs off)

oh, you’re gonna do me like that

(Phil signs on)

Phil: you son of a bitch
me: i got important information
that you need to KNOW
Phil: drop it on me
me: they’re filming parts of transformers 3 in gary
i know these movies make you want to, what do the kids say …
“cream your jeans”
anyway, they’re filming there because it looks like “ukraine”,
and “war-torn”

Sent at 10:17 AM on Thursday

Phil: nothing like using your town as a war-torn setting to build pride in community
me: we should go find bruckheimer
and beat him with a tube sock full of quarters
Phil: that would be awesome.
Sent at 10:20 AM on Thursday

Phil: So freecreditreport/com is trying to find a new queer band to be in their commercials so they are showing them al on TV and it makes me want to pull fingers off with pliers
Sent at 10:22 AM on Thursday

me: what happened to the old one
i bet the lead singer OD’ed and the drummer spontaneously combusted
Phil: I think it was something like taht
Sent at 10:24 AM on Thursday

me: free credit report . com bands make me want to start fires and kick dogs
or, i dont know
wait for the mailman to arrive, and then do a running kick right into the side of his knee
Phil: I want them to drink my pee…..not in a weird sexual way
I just want them to drink pee

Cordoba House

There’s a-spittin’ and a-fightin’ going on!

A new building is going up in lower Manhattan. It could be called a mosque, or an Islamic community center, depending on your predilections. It’s gonna be modeled after a YMCA, and city zoners and the mayor’s office have given their approval.
Howeva. There has been plenty of opposition to the project. The center (there’s my predilection right there) — called Cordoba House after the 10th-century Spanish caliphate recognized for its religious tolerance and cultural activity — would go up two blocks from World Trade Center site. Critics contend that this is too close, that the wounds are too raw, that a house of worship devoted to the religion that the 9/11 terrorists claimed is an affront to the victims of the worst terror attack in American history. It has drawn the ire of many conservative pundits, and national figures like Newt Gingrich and Sarah Palin. In a surprising move, the Anti-Defamation League said the center would “be counterproductive to the healing process.”
yes …
I can’t sit this one out. I can’t. When I read about it, I get a tight feeling in my chest. I start seeing colors more brightly, like they’re suddenly deeper. I can feel the weather is turning. It’s only dropped down into the eighties, but I swear I can see the fall is coming. And I just, I can’t. I spent the above paragraph doing my best to use nice language — workplace appropriate language — without all the cussin’ and the swearin’ and the hot-blooded temper tantrums that would define the Map of old.
But this is exactly the kind of thing that made my blood boil as a college freshman. I used to read Ann Coulter columns while listening to Crass on the reg, just to get grist for the mill. It was always bullshit like this, a conservative pundit saying something ridiculous and offensive, finding a stupid argument and poking it until it’s raw as a means of shifting the debate from what really matters: The economy. And the war in Afghanistan that no one really fucking cares about (or, as this guy points out, not enough to raise the taxes to pay for it).

A mosque too close to Ground Zero? Oh my. This begs a whole bevy of questions. So if you disagree with me, please answer, you dickhead, if you dare:

  • How close is too close?
  • How many Muslims live in New York City? A guesstimate will work; that’s cool. Don’t go crazy or anything.
  • What’s the nearest mosque to the site already?
  • Is that too close as well?
  • If it is, should it be moved?
  • Would you mind laying out a time frame for when something like this won’t be too close?
  • Do you have any figures on how many Muslims also died in the September 11 attacks?
  • Do you think it’s fair to let 19 assholes with a completely warped view of a major religion to represent 1.5 billion Muslims?
  • If you agree with the ADL in that survivors are entitled to “irrational” emotion, do you think that policy should be based on that?
  • Do you think it’s possible that cynical Republican politicians — some that don’t actually live in New York City — are beating the drums about this as a way to drum up votes?
  • And, finally, did your parents raise you to be this fucking stupid?
  • Or did you learn it at school?