Friday, December 29, 2006

No Sympathy For The Devil

Now that he's dead, we will be hearing tons of tributes to Gerald Ford. There will be all of the mentioning how he led us out of the "national nightmare" of the Watergate era and the talk of how he "healed" the nation. Especially now that it has been found out he gave an interview criticizing Bush's decision to go to war they will be comparing him to W when talking about his presidency. Of course if that's where you set the bar, just about anybody else's presidency will look great. I mean, saying you were a good president because you were better than Bush is like saying you're a great father because you treat children better than John Wayne Gacy.

There will also be a lot of people talking about what a kind person he was, and how he was so nice. This is image is upheld by the fact that he was a "folksy" Midwesterner and was so old that he reminded people of their grandfather.

In this day and age of media spin and infotainment, Mark Antony's line from Julius Caesar, "The evil that men do lives after them/ The good is oft interred with their bones," could not be more untrue. The opposite seems to be the rule in this day and age. The evil is brushed aside and replaced with quaint clichés and empty tributes.

But I believe the evil that men do should be remembered. So as you're watching the elaborate, probably grotesque, state funeral for a man who led this country because he was appointed by his criminal friend, rather than elected by the people in a democratic process, here are just a few little things to remember about his short presidency.

When they speak about what a nice, caring, generous, honest, genuine, and "down to earth" person he was, notice that none of the people saying it will be from East Timor. I would guess that they don't hold him in such high regard after his administration's support for the evil regime that oppressed the East Timorese for over two decades. Ford and Kissinger not only sold Indonesia the weapons to carry out their invasion and occupation of East Timor, but explicitly approved of the plan. Ford's hands are stained with the blood of hundreds of thousands of East Timorese civilians. (Great resources here, here and here)

He also pardoned Nixon. That should be under the category of "nuff said" but it seems to have been spun so much over the decades that it is now considered one of the good things he did. Well I call bullshit on that. His defenders can claim he did it for "national healing" or that it was necessary to move beyond Watergate and get on with governing, but I don't buy it. He did it to protect his friend, who just happened to be the one that appointed him Vice-President.

You know what would have been a lot better at healing this country? Throwing Tricky Dick's sorry, lying, corrupt ass in jail. The chilling effect of that pardon was letting all future presidents know that they can do whatever illegal thing they want and will never have to answer for it.

And finally, when seeing the death toll rise in Iraq and wondering how our country came to be in such a horrible state, think about this: Gerald Ford is directly responsible for the careers of Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld. Both were given their first big jobs in his administration, both served as Chief of Staff at different times and Rummy got his first tour as Secretary of Defense. Ford also did a lot to advance the career of George H. W. Bush, his CIA director and fellow co-conspirator in the crimes committed against the people of East Timor. Needless to say, the chain of events started by Ford have eventually led us to the national tragedy called the George W. Bush administration.

So forgive me if I don't shed any tears for Ford on Tuesday, the announced day of national mourning and the time of his state funeral.

My thoughts will be with the people of East Timor, now the independent nation of Timor-Leste, who just a few short years ago were able to finally free themselves of the terrorism brought to them by one Gerald Rudolph Ford.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Music Geekdom On Acid

When I was living in Seattle in the 90s I was pretty resistant to technology. I know, it was a weird place to be living and not want to delve into the world of the internet and resist getting an email address. I finally gave in, reluctantly, mostly because so much communication by 1996 in the Seattle theatre scene was already being done by email. I was starting to miss out on rehearsal schedule changes, meetings and job announcements. I got an email address at a local internet cafe, not having a computer myself of course, but probably still didn't actually "surf the net" for over another year.

I was reluctant mostly because I saw technology like the internet and cell phones (which I went a lot longer without before finally caving in) as making people less social creatures, not more so, as the promoters of these things claim. I still think that's true, but I've come to see the benefit of it, I guess.

I originally only went on the net to read and look, not to participate in any community of any sort. I avoided internet message boards because they seemed like a drug to so many people. What finally drew me into them (as I wrote about in my Geekspotting trilogy here, here and here) was the lure of live music trading.

I joined the Wilco fan site to find people who would supply me with CDs of live shows. And it worked great, I started a nice little collection of Wilco and Jeff Tweedy solo concerts. I just love collecting shows. When you like a lot of the musicians I do, the shows are different from night to night, compared to , say, a Britney Spears lip-synched dance show. So it's great to be able to hear shows that I would have loved to been at if I were wealthy enough to actually follow my favorite bands on tour. And it's great to be able to get copies of shows I was at to be able to hear again whenever I want.

But when trading shows, you have to actually deal with other uberfans out there in the real world, even though you meet them in the virtual world. And then people start to think that they are friends. Anyway, I won't rehash all that, it's all in the previous stories. Needless to say, I got in too deep and had to get out. But while I was there I discovered something that the super-music geeks had already been hip to for a while, Torrent files.

Torrent files are the bestest, greatest, most wonderful thing that has ever happened in music. Someone tapes a show, puts it on their hard drive, "seeds it" on the internet, list it on a "tracker" site and then members of that site can grab it for their very own. And after I have the show myself I become a seeder and more people can get parts of the show from me and others who have the show. And it's free! It's like the old Dead-Head tape trading thing, except I don't have to go hang out with some unwashed, patchouli-oiled hippy and his "old lady" and take communal hits out of his skeleton bong just so I can get a copy of the Golden Gate Park '75 show.

It is so beautiful. It's like reading a menu and deciding what you want. Robyn Hitchock at Maxwell's on 11/19/06? Sure I'll take that, I was at that one. Billy Bragg in Dallas on 2/22/92? Don't mind if I do. Jeff Tweedy at the Vic in Chicago in 2003, The White Stripes at the Aragon Ballroom, The Dresden Dolls in Munich? Load it on the plate, please. Genesis in 1975 on the Lamb Lies Down tour?!?!?! Please sir, may I have some more?

Dessert? Oh no, I just couldn't. What, you have Robyn Hitchcock doing a Syd Barrett tribute at a Pub in London from just a few days ago that includes performing The Piper at the Gates Of Dawn in its entirety? Or Robyn performing the Beatles' White Album at the same pub from a couple of years ago? Oh goodness, how will I ever decide? Well I better just have both.

Best of all, I get to have all of this without dealing with a bang-my-head-against-the-wall mundane conversation with the Jack Black character in High Fidelity over whether Billy Bragg's better band was The Red Stars or The Blokes, or whether Peter Buck's guitar playing was better during the Green tour or the Life's Rich Pageant tour.

Thank you internet!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Homophobia And Sexism Run Amuck

I got this email from my sister yesterday with a Chicago Tribune article about a guy arrested for child porn in the Chicago suburb where we used to live. Well, child porn and explicitly chatting with someone he thought was a fifteen year old girl. You can see where that's going. It was a cop not a fifteen year old girl. But the reason this is supposed to be of interest to my sister and me is that the guy is a coach/teacher at our old high school, and was when we were there. My wife actually remembers him well and she had him for driver's ed (and was often with him in a car, just her and another 15 or 16 year old girl, ewww). She couldn't really stand the guy, found him somewhat creepy, and didn't seem surprised that he got busted for something like that. I have only a vague memory of him, since I only went there my senior year.

I was talking on the phone to my brother last night about it. He didn't go the school at all, since we moved there after he graduated. When I told him about what the guy did, including that he was trying to get busy with who he thought was a fifteen year old girl, my brother said, "Well at least it was a girl instead of a guy, so it's a little less creepy."

In one short sentence my brother managed to say something both sexist and homophobic at the same time.

The sad part is, this isn't just some stupid comment by my idiotic Republican brother, I really think this is how a lot of men in America think. "Well, he's a child molester, but at least he's not a gay child molester." As if a 59 year old man who seeks out teenage girls is less perverted than one who seeks out teenage boys.

Somehow, in the mind of straight, white male America, a straight rapist is more normal than a gay rapist.

Makes me sick.

And my brother has kids. Three girls and a boy. What, he's going to be less upset if something like that were to happen to one of his daughters compared to it happening to his son?

Unfortunately, I think I know the answer to that question.

Anti-gay hatred and misogyny continue to thrive in America, even affecting our attitudes toward sexual predators.

Whew! We Dodged A National Fucking Tragedy On That One

Well, Miss USA gets to keep her crown. Boy, imagine the turmoil our country would get thrown into if we had an impeachment of the Great Busty One. Stock market crashes, hospitals close, schools shut down, floods, locusts, forced abortions, a president takes office without being legitimately elected (oh wait...), George Lucas makes another Star Wars trilogy and who knows what other horrible things may have come to pass if (gasp) the runner-up had to take over for her. But luckily the Great Benevolent One, Donald Trump, saved us all from the national nightmare.

That sound you hear is me gagging.

Who cares about this? I honestly didn't even know that Miss USA still existed. Isn't this the contest that can't even get a network TV deal anymore? Or is that Miss America? Heck, does Miss America exist anymore? Can anyone name her? Can anyone name any Miss USAs/Americas from the past? I can name one, and I'll bet you can think of only one too, and it will be the same one as mine. More on that later.

I was home watching CNN, because I like to torture myself, when they broke in for the live news conference concerning the fate of what's-her-face. Live. CNN, and other news channels, actually decided it was the most important thing happening in the world at that time and needed to be covered live. And because Donald Trump is involved all of the media outlets had some sort of variation of "Will Miss USA be 'fired?'" as the way to lead the story. Get it? HA ha, see it's funny...'cause Donald has that show...and when the loser gets booted...ha ha. Boy those media types are just geniuses. It took a sharp mind to think of that. Well, the mind of a fourth grader anyway. Not to be out done in the wit department, Miss Thang herself used the phrase when she got up to speak to the press after finding out she would keep her sash.

And then she started to cry. And while about a hundred times more photographers than covered the Chief Justice Roberts confirmation hearings snapped pictures, she declared that she would use her second chance to "be the best Miss USA ever." Boy, that ought to be really difficult. She'll have to work her ass off to know...the girl from...uh...that that year...

I really wanted the press to do a follow-up and ask her what she will specifically do to become the "best" one ever. Here are some answers I imagined she might give.

"I'm going to put on the glossy red lipstick thicker than it has ever been put on before."
"Super Strength Vasoline for my teeth."
"I'm going to cut ceremonial ribbons to open county fairs like have never been cut before."
"Nobody, and I mean nobody, will be able to compete with my new head turn/hair flip move I'll be unveiling at the People's Choice Awards."
"I'm going to stand with one leg straight and the other slightly bent while wearing a bikini like it's never been done before."
"I'm going to be sporting the pushiest push-up bra the world has ever seen."
"I'm going to encourage more teenage girls to hate their bodies and have low self-esteem, and create more cases of anorexia and bulimia than all of my predecessors combined."

You go girl! Be all that you can be. Wouldn't want to use that pea-sized brain of yours instead of your tits and ass to get along in the world. My god, if you had been tossed who knows what you may have had to resort to. You may have had to find a real job, or enrolled in an actual college to learn something and better yourself. Thank your lucky stars that Sugardaddy Trump saved you from such horror.

So Trumpy created another publicity stunt, and that's all this was. He was never considering getting rid of her, this was just all created to get people to notice the Miss USA thing again and to actually know her name. I still don't know her name, because I didn't bother to notice it. But a lot of people do now that didn't before. And all the overuse of the phrase "you're fired" over the past week right before the new season of his dumb TV show starts, you think that's a coincidence? I doubt it.

Come on, this has all the makings of a contrived publicity stunt. Her so-called "bad" behavior sounds like a paint-by-numbers male porn fantasy. She snorted some coke, drank some cocktails and made out with Miss Teen USA. Damn, if they had included that it happened at a football game, every dunderhead male in America would be glued to the TV for the pageant. And that's exactly what Trump is counting on.

And it might work. So who's the one Miss America/USA you can name? Right, Vanessa Williams. And it's not because she was the "best" Miss America ever, but because she had a bunch of pictures taken of her licking another girl in lots of fun places that ended up in Penthouse. And it turned out to be the best thing that happened to her (hell, my mother bought that issue) because it made her a household name overnight. She lost her crown and ended up with a singing and acting career. Not a bad trade.

Oh, and as a follow up to this whole thing, the beauty pageant pimp showed his true nature after getting called out by Rosie O'Donnell. Basically she made fun of him for acting like a moral compass for young people when he cheats on his wives and leaves them when they start to approach their sell-by date, which for him seems to be about the age of 35. It was a really great rant on his imagined moral authority.

And how did he respond? He called her a fat slob.

Just in case his owning a shallow "beauty" pageant that objectifies women wasn't proof enough that he's a sexist ass, his best response to being criticized by a strong-willed woman is to bag on her appearance.

Classy to the end. What a misogynist prick.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Ho Ho Hum

Well "The Season" is upon us again. And, as usual, I can't wait for it to get the hell over with.

I hate Christmas. Hate it like I hate the sound of Rita Cosby's voice.

Now wait, hear me out. I'm not some sort of Scroogy curmudgeon ogre, contrary to what a lot of people (and you know who you are) believe.

Don't get me wrong. I have no desire to take Xmas away from anyone or ruin anybody else's enjoyment of it. I just want the chance to opt out. I have declared no war on Christmas. I'm Switzerland, I don't care if people celebrate it or not, but can't you leave me out of it? If Bush wants people to be able to opt out of Social Security, why can't I do the same with the Pagan holiday co-opted by the Christians?

I have my reasons. I'm not just an angry guy with an attitude problem. Really.

First off, despite its previously mentioned Pagan origins, it is an explicitly Christian holiday. As I've mentioned thousands upon thousands of times before, I'm not religious. I don't celebrate Hanukkah, Ramadan, Kwanza or any other religious holidays. Why am I expected to celebrate Jesus Day? It's like it is the default holiday in this country. If you don't pick another one you just get stuck with Christmas. Well I don't use Windows Media Player just because it came with my computer.

And what is it with Christians and lying to their children? The Jesus myth wasn't kooky enough so you had to invent Santa Claus too?

I could like Xmas if it lived up to its hype. But it doesn't, and that's another one of my main beefs. Peace on Earth, good will towards man? Have you been inside a store in the winter? People get in to fist fights over PlayStations, Nintendos, Cabbage Patch Dolls, Elmos or whatever other dumb thing is the "must have" gift in any particular year. It's not about peace, love, giving or family. It's about buying a bunch of crap nobody needs. Well, that and getting the whole family together to fight in the same place. Good times, good times.

And I'm OK with buying crap I don't need, but do we need a yearly ritual for it. How about everyone buy the pointless shit they don't need for themselves and we can get rid of the whole concept of "gift receipts."

Fighting through crowds at stores I would rather not be at to begin with, getting shopping done in time to mail gifts a week ahead of time, standing in hour long lines at the post office. Because, I suppose, everyday life wasn't stressful enough so we needed to spice it up. Anybody wonder why the heart attack rate goes up in December?

And stress, oh man. I've only been married less than three years and I can't see myself coming up with another fifty years of good ideas for Christmas gifts. I think I peaked with the digital camera last year and I'll never be able to top it. I was hoping to go maybe a good five years before I had to start just buying what she tells me she wants. But here we are.

On a random day of the year when I do something simple like buy flowers for my honey for no good reason, she is surprised and happy and loves me. Something so small goes a long way. This time of the year makes me feel like the future of my marriage is dependent on some brilliant, original idea to wow her with. I know it's not, but still.

The most god-awful genre of music, besides TV commercial jingles, is carols. They make me want to jam an ice-pick in my ears.

Anything that Bill O'Reilly is so in love with that he wants to marry it has to be bad.

And what about Jesus freak cards and form letters about the family's events of the last year? My brother and his wife jumped on that bandwagon this year, complete with opening paragraphs about this being the season to "praise His name" and a bunch of other crap that made me cough vomit up in to my throat. It's my damn brother. He knows I don't believe that nonsense, yet he sends me that card? The single biggest problem with the holiday is the free license people think they have to preach their stupid gospel to those that they know full well to be non-believers. And thanks to Dickens, if you protest at all about it they have a name at the ready to call you. Next year I'm going to send them card praising the name and celebrating the glory of L. Ron Hubbard or the Prophet Mohammed.

It's not all bad. There is a really cool light show at Grand Central Terminal's main hall this year that is just cool as shit. And the outdoor markets that pop up at various places in Manhattan usually have some cool stuff. But we don't need a holiday for that. They are good ideas by themselves.

It wasn't supposed to be like this. I had every intention of getting out. When I was in my late twenties I was going to tell the family that I was done with Christmas and I would no longer participate in exchanging gifts. But before that happened I got together with my wife, who seems to like it. I don't know why she still likes it since she added my nieces and nephews and multiple sets of parents (ah, the modern dysfunctional family) to her shopping list. And she out does herself every year. So I wasn't able to bow out of the celebration like I always planned. My wife, being a lot nicer than me, just wouldn't let me get away with that.

So I guess like my dream of living outside of America, my hopes for a Jesus-free winter will have to go unrealized. Oh well, my wife is the only person in the world that is worth going through all this for. But don't think I'm not trying to wear her down and bring her to my side. I'm thinking a gathering of my whole family at Christmas time would do the trick very nicely.

Happy Winter Solstice everyone.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Holy Shit

Well, It's finally official. Conservative Christians are just completely bat-shit crazy. I know, I know, this isn't a real big surprise. But there is the deep end, and then there's the DEEP END.

Of all the figures in the conservative agenda movement it has been easy for a while now to point to Bill O'Reilly, Jerry Falwell or Pat Robertson as the linchpin of the insane right. But there is someone who is trying to fight for that crown for himself. And Dennis Prager has a great shot at it the way he's going.

Prager has been foaming at the mouth all week over what he sees as the most horrible thing to happen to America ever. A politician is going to have his picture taken with a Koran. That's it. Really, I'm serious. Prager is in an absolute tizzy about a Representative-elect planning on using his Koran in his ceremonial picture after his Congressional swearing in ceremony. Oh, the guy is the first Muslim elected to Congress, by the way.

Now the great thing about the right (and by "great" I mean "stupid") is their tendency to act like they are really smart, but then go and prove how absolutely stupid they are.

In his original column about this pointless topic, Prager went on a rant about how this would be causing an "Islamization of America," that "he should not be allowed to do so" and that the "act undermines American civilization." He addressed the Representative-elect directly, saying "But, Mr Ellison, America, not you, decides on what book its public servants take their oath."

Funny thing is, America, as in the Constitution or any other U.S. legal document, doesn't say a damn thing about swearing on a book at all. The bible, or any book for that matter, doesn't have anything to do with the swearing in of public officials. Sure the presidents always use it, out of choice and/or tradition, but it serves no official purpose whatsoever. And Prager is a fool for not knowing this.

Of course, this was pointed out to him eventually, so he had to alter his argument somewhat. He states in his follow-up column that he knows it isn't an official part of the ceremony, but it is obvious in the first column that he thought it was. He also claims that he doesn't advocate it being a law that someone has to use the bible. So what then did he mean that Ellison "shouldn't be allowed to" take his oath with the Koran?

He makes tons and tons of other dumb accusations and statements. On TV the other day, Tucker Carlson's show, he said Ellison is the first politician to break the "tradition" started by Washington of using a bible at the swearing in. This, of course, is not true at all. Media Matters dug up this AP story from last year that had some inauguration facts in it, and it seems that the bible tradition was broken as early as John Quincy Adams, who put his hand on a book of American laws at his swearing in. Another reason to add to the list of why old J.Q. Adams was probably our best president. And proof that the son of a president becoming president himself doesn't have to be a bad thing.

Prager has been arguing the revisionist history claim made by most of the righties about how our country was founded as a Judeo-Christian one. His claims are that our values and morals come from the bible and not our Constitution. I get so sick of this claim.

Right-wing Judeo-Christians like to think they invented moral values. The ideas in the bible were not original concepts by any stretch of the imagination. And I don't need that silly book to know the difference between right and wrong. The idea that killing someone is wrong pre-dates the damn bible. And I can pretty much figure out on my own that fucking my neighbor's wife would be a bad thing.

The funny thing is, this kind of forced religion on people is exactly what our founders were trying to protect us from. The freedom of religion in our great document means I get to have freedom from religion. But that's what they are trying to do, force it on us. And they pretend to have some moral high-road over us (gasp) secular people. And while people like Prager are attacking someone for not having the same religious beliefs as him, they turn right around and play victims. "War on Christmas" anyone?

So it boils down to a Muslim having his picture taken with his religious text that has Prager's panties in a bunch. And he accuses the left of practicing "hate" by calling him on it. That's what he has decided is the most important thing to deal with at the moment.

Typical of the religious right, they care nothing about the actual bad things going on in the world, just care about pushing their screwed up personal religious agenda on everyone else. Over 400,000 are dead in Darfur, and millions more displaced, but Prager focuses on calling his audience to action against a guy's choice of reading material. Really, Prager has a fairly sizable audience and some moderate influence, and this is what he wants to get people mad about. He could be calling his audience to action in helping to do something about genocide or helping to end poverty. No, he'd rather get his mouth all frothy with bigoted attacks on someone with different religious views than him, and based on lies and misinformation to boot.

I did a quick check on Mr. High and Mighty Morals' website to see if he has even spoke out against the genocide in Darfur. I did a search on his site of the terms "Darfur" and "Sudan" to see what I could find. There were a total of six hits, which were to episodes of his radio show. They are for sale, for twelve dollars each. Pretty much the whole site is for schilling his idiotic rants and writings for money, and to tell you what you should watch and read.

But there are summaries of what was said on the shows (I wasn't going to actually buy one). Most of the times he has mentioned Sudan it has been in the context of "proving" the "liberal media bias." On half of them he brings up Sudan as something the media should be paying attention to instead of the abuses at Abu-Ghraib. Basically he uses it as a way to lessen what happened at the American run prison in Iraq. Or he uses it to bitch about some other thing that he's pissed about (liberal media, the UN, too much attention being paid to tsunami victims), not to actually talk about the horrors going on there. He used it as a helpful tool to condemn his imagined enemies and then discarded talking about it when it was no longer useful. He hasn't mentioned Sudan since 2004, though the genocide continues.

I suppose we'll hear him talk about it again the next time some of our soldiers or cops get caught on tape abusing someone, so he can say, "That's nothing compared to the genocide in Sudan."

Look, everyone who reads me or knows me (I suppose that's mostly the same group) knows that I completely despise all religion and think it is the number one worst thing that has ever happened on this planet. That includes everything from Judaism to Catholicism to Scientology to Astrology to Mormanism to Jehova's Witnesses to crazy comet people.

But if people keep it to their damn selves and don't try to make me bend to their beliefs, I'm talking to you Dennis Prager, I could give a shit what you believe or what book you get your publicity shots taken with.

I would say that Prager should be ashamed of himself, but he has no shame. I don't know a right-wing Christian that does.

Of course, he makes the "but I'm a Jew" argument while saying that every U.S. office holder should swear on the bible that includes the New Testament.

You know what they say, if it looks like a Jesus freak and talks like a Jesus freak...

Read more on the idiocy here and here.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Odd Jobs

I've had a lot of random jobs over the years. I've sold pizzas outside the Kingdome in Seattle on commission. I had a gig for a while at the end of the 90s where I basically helped a guy install home appliances like refrigerators and dishwashers for cash under the table. I've spun pizza dough. I worked a coffee cart in front of a Safeway. I purchased office supplies for a law firm. This doesn't even get into the number of children's theatre productions I've directed, selling my artistic soul for a paycheck.

For the last several years I've been a freelance "simulated patient" for several medical schools, to help train med students in their clinical skills. To answer your questions: Yes, kind of like Kramer on Seinfeld. No, it doesn't require that I get anything put up my butt. There, that's the answer to the first two questions 90% of you thought.

I also do a lot of temp work these days. Usually I'm sitting at a reception desk answering phones and surfing the web, my favorite kind of temp job. On Monday I had something completely different.

Some guy hired about 5 of us temps to go to a Jimmy Carter book signing. What for, you ask? Well, he calls himself a "collector" but I think a "dealer" would be a better description. He's one of those people who sells stuff on eBay.

We went to his car where he had a trunk-load of Jimmy Carter books and he gave each of us a huge stack. I had a garbage bag full of the Nobel Peace Prize lecture. Now, when I took the assignment I thought it was going to be something more officially connected to the event, like helping carry around big boxes of books at the store or something like that. And I took it because I thought it would be cool to meet Jimmy Carter.

But this was a little more shady than I thought. As we were walking with the guy to his car he laid out some ground rules. First, he said that we were in the Barnes & Noble we should act like we don't know him. He didn't want the Secret Service to know he brought a group to collect signatures. He claimed that the Secret Service sometimes gets "weird" about it. And then he tells us that if they ask us how we heard about the event we should give them some line about Googling it or some such bullshit. Of course my first thought was "Dude, if the Secret Service ask me a question my ass is going to point to you and say 'that guy hired me to get these books signed.'"

What the fuck was this guy thinking? I'm going to lie to a federal agent to protect some geek for ten bucks an hour? I don't think so.

And he also began a sentence with "If I get removed by the Secret Service..."

What the fu...? I'm doing a gig for a guy who has in the realm of possibilities that he could get grabbed by the feds? What the hell am I doing here?

He then left with his bag of books and told us to all to follow about a minute apart to keep spread out. I called the temp agency to see what the heck this is all about and they assured me that they did this for the guy last year and it is all above board. OK, but I'm still not going to lie to a fed for this guy. They told me I didn't have to do that.

It did turn out to be an OK thing I guess. There were several guys with a huge amount of books to be signed. This guy was right I guess, Carter will sign a ton of books for people and the bookstore will allow it as long as you have at least one copy of the new one.

Still, the former President is going to sign for 90 minutes and then stop. So I would be pissed if I went there to get a book signed and saw all these people in front of me with 50 or so books. So I'm even more annoyed that I am one of these guys. I was so embarrassed. And I know there were some people that had their heart set on getting a book signed by Jimmy that didn't get it because there were ass-holes in line with dozens of books. Ass-holes like me.

But Jimmy was really nice. He talked to me a little bit while he signed my books. My 51 books. I got to tell him I grew up in Georgia like he did. But I did forget to ask him if he could still get his hands on any Billy Beer.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

I Often Dream Of Trains

Music is my savior
I was maimed by rock and roll
I was maimed by rock and roll
I was tamed by rock and roll
I got my name from rock and roll

----Sunken Treasure, by Jeff Tweedy

I walked into Maxwell's in lovely downtown Hoboken on Sunday night with much anticipation. Robyn Hitchcock's show the night before had been great, with a backing band called The Venus 3 that consists of REM guitarist Peter Buck, Minus 5 leader and REM sideman Scott McCaughy, and ex-Ministry and current REM drummer Bill Reiflen. They absolutley rocked, and played some great old song from Robyns days in the Soft Boys and fronting The Egyptians, as well as stuff from the new album they recorded together. Ex-Soft Boy Morris Windsor even joined them onstage to shake some moraccas and tamborines and provide harmonies.

But Sunday night was shaping up to be special. Listed on his website as an all request solo show and on the ticket as "Robyn Hitchcock and friends," nobody was sure what exactly would be going on until Robyn kind of outlined it a little bit at the end of Saturday's show. He basically explained that he would start off alone, then Morris would join him for a little "Morris and Garfunkel" set, and after a break the rest of the band would come on. Oh, and the whole thing is being filmed for a Sundance Channel documentary. Let the high expectations begin.

I was sitting at the bar when the band showed up. I'm always struck by how uninterested Peter Buck looks all the time. When I lived in Seattle I saw him all the time at clubs, mostly the Crocodile since he owns it, when he was playing some side show with Robyn, Kevin Kinney of Drivin' N Cryin' or Scott McCaughy. He always looked like some non-descript guy just kind of standing around waiting for the band to start. If you didn't know he was a multi-millionaire rock star you wouldn't even notice him.

I saw him deal with both extremes of noticability Sunday night. When he first showed up he went to the end of the bar to order a drink. He must have stood there for a good ten minutes waiting for the bartender to notice him. Eventualy the bartender did and got him his drink. But damn, that's Peter Buck. You'd think you could get quiker service. Maybe he should've said he was friends with Michael Stipe. Just a few minutes later a couple walked up to him and talked to him and then eventualy pulled out their camera so they could each get their picture taken next to him. Each separately, so he had to do that forced smile for the camera while getting a picture taken with someone you don't know. I thought to myself that he probably prefers getting ignored by bartenders than bothered by overzealous REM fans. I know I would.

Soon it was showtime. My excitement level was pretty electric by this point. I had emailed in my request about a week earlier and was hoping like crazy that he would play it. I had requested a song called Ghost Ship. It is a haunting ballad, performed by Robyn with just an accoustic guitar and with a slight reverb on the microphone. It clocks in at over 6 minutes long. It's also a b-side track, so I didn't know how big the chance was that he would play it. I had included in the email that it was the song that turned me into a Robyn-head and that it would make my year to hear it played live. I'm a geek when it comes to my music.

Well I didn't have to wait long to find out. After two songs on electric guitar he switched to the accoustic and I allowed myself to hope. He said "this song is a sea shanty" and then started the opening chords to Ghost Ship. I thought my heart was going to jump out of my chest.

I stood there, mesmerized, in the middle of the crowd and just let it envelope me and carry me off. About halfway through the song my eyes actually started to well up. It was a moment I had hoped for for almost 18 years and countless Robyn shows. It was just as great a moment as I hoped it would be. And it made me weep like a baby.

I often try to explain to a lot of my friends why certain music means so much to me, and how I could do things like go see the same singer-songwriter or band on consecutive nights or several dozen times over the years. And I could go into long explanations of how Robyn's music is like someting that was written by a combination of C. S. Lewis and Jack Kerouac and performed by a hybrid of Bob Dylan, Syd Barrett and Roger McGuinn. This doesn't really make people understand.

Really, how do you explain to someone how something makes you feel? Especially when you can't really describe the feeling?

For me I guess it goes back to high school. Going to shows then and in college were my escape. Going to a show put on by Robyn, Billy Bragg, The Replacements, Jesus and Mary Chain, Echo & The Bunnymen, The Pogues or several other of the musicians I was into took me away from it all. I knew when I went to them that I wouldn't have to run into any of the dickheads from school, because those people were too stupid to know who those bands were, much less get them. Concerts were also places where I would never see my mother. They were my sancuary

Obviously my life these days doesn't require the same kind of escape for my survival. I've got no real complaints about where I'm at and the people I'm around. That's the great thing about being out of school, you're not forced to constantly be around people you hate. Or give you wedgies.

But the feeling is still the same. The songs fill my soul and my heart even more easily with less angst to have to push out.

This is why I'm glad I don't listen to the same inane crap that the moron masses do.

Do you think Britney Spears would ever play a random 18 year old b-side at one of her shows? Hell, do you think she even knows what a b-side is?

The ghost ship haunts the sea
Still come back and marry me

The rust is where her heart should be tonight
Her face is where her fingers were tonight

A glassy chequered engine room
The speechless silence of the tomb
The manuscripts inside the womb unfurl
A girl
Translucent as a jellyfish
That palpitates upon a dish
She stings you with her gently falling curl

And sinking in the waters green tonight
I wonder where my lover's been tonight

The ghost ship changes course
And on the deck there stands a horse
Who's munching on sardines and gorse and hay
The Captain trawls the net across the bay
The bubbles rising from the deep
Where deadmen sing themselves to sleep
From oak and coral they do seep to say
You read my future like a chart
See through my skin; into my heart
That flutters in my ribcage like a bird"

And the ghost ship sails on into someone's life

The air from bottles forms into
The skeletons of all the crew
In white they dance against the blue and wail
Their curling bodies flail around the sail
The figurehead before the mast
Stares back into the golden past
Across the wrinkled sea so vast, forlorn
She mourns

She flutters 'round me like a moth
That beats against mosquito cloth
And tries to eat her way into my dreams

And sinking in the waters green tonight
I wonder where my love has been tonight

The melons on the riverbank
Are bulging through decaying planks

Their beauty is so warm and dank and light
The captain wears a headless grin tonight

And silhouetted on the blue
The cook, the mate, the boss'n, too
They know not where or why or what they do at all
They fall
Like masonry in the abyss
That opens every time we kiss
I hear their laughter echo 'round the bay
And the ghost ship sails on into someone's life

Thursday, November 16, 2006


I know that it's bad luck to be superstitious, but nothing else is working, and my head is really hurting and I'm sick of all this worrying about things I can't control


I've been thinking a lot about superstition and mythology lately. I'm not a superstitious person. I don't have a lucky number, lucky hat, lucky shirt, lucky rabbit's foot, or lucky charm of any sort. I'm sure my wife wonders why the hell I don't wear anything but Wilco or Camp Laurel t-shirts and Chuck Taylors if it's not for luck. My attachment to a few comfortable items of clothing are not steeped in any sort of thinking that they bring me luck or some sort of good fortune. Superstition and silly beliefs in mythology drive me crazy. And I don't understand it in any way.

All of it is so brainless. The baseball players who wear the same pair of socks for every game or won't clean the pine tar off their helmet all season. Pitchers avoiding stepping on the chalk line on their way on and off the field. All because they think this helps them win, regardless of any actual evidence.

"Find a penny, pick it up, all day long you'll have good luck." How could people actually buy into this one? Seriously. How is finding the lowest amount of money possible good luck? If luck exist, wouldn't a hundred dollar bill be a hell of a lot luckier than finding a penny?

Of course the worst of all the superstitions and myths is religion. That there are people out there who believe that some guy was born to a virgin mother, turned water into wine and bread into fish, walked on water, died on a cross to only come back to life three days later is just crazy. That may not even be the stupidest one. The guy who fit two of every species on the planet on one boat probably takes that title. I mean if that were true, ha actually took the time to grab a couple of cockroaches and mosquitoes? And how did he know that he grabbed a male and a female of each of them? And what about maggots and leaches?

See, these are the kind of things I think about when I hear these ridiculous myths. Everyone else just thinks about all the cute giraffes and elephants and monkeys. I'm the kid in the back of the class that asks why Noah bothered to save the stink bug and how he checked it for its gender.

Sunday school teachers hated me.

I sometimes think I'm the only person in the world that doesn't have some sort of mythical, unprovable thing that I believe in. Even so many other non-religious people I run into will have some crazy shit they believe that is just as dumb as the Christ/Noah/Moses stories. Just a few weeks ago I was working somewhere that I got to talking with another person about this stuff and making fun of the Christians and Scientologists. But then this person started talking about, you guessed it, astrology. Fucking please.

If anything is as dumb as the bible, it's that. This whole idea that your personality traits are decided by when in the calendar year you are born is laughable. My wife and I are the same "signs" and have many opposite (albeit, we think complimentary) personality traits. And whenever you challenge people on this nonsense, they pull the usual "It's just like you (insert sign here) to be skeptical."

What's even weirder about the astrology thing, is that it is based on something people believed about stars and planets back when they were these mysterious things in the sky. But come on, we've sent rockets and men to these places now. We know that when "Jupiter is in Saturn" or "Mars is crossing Venus" or whatever the fuck those sayings are, it has to do with the coincidence of those planets' orbits and nothing else.

Don't even get me started on fucking Tarot cards.

And people are so dug in to their beliefs even if you can show them that what they believe is bullshit. And they get so damn defensive about it too.

Nothing is a better example of that today than what people believe about medicine.

You've seen the commercials that are on TV. There are so many of these so-called "medicines" that claim to do things that are just impossible. Most of them involve magical weight-loss without having to diet or exercise. My favorite is the "ionized" bracelets that claim to cure back pain and help a bunch of other stuff like your liver and blood pressure and probably sexual prowess, though I don't remember for sure if they claimed that last one. And people believe, even in the face of a complete lack of evidence.

And people go nuts at you when you suggest to them that there is no proof of some remedy they believe in actually works, and in some cases has even been proven not to work at all. Like those bracelets.

I guess I'm thinking about this because I had a cold last week. And whenever you have a cold, people always offer suggestions on fighting it. And most of the suggestions are usually something that has no back-up from any credible scientific studies.

On one of the two days that I was really getting hit hard by the cold I had a job that I had to go to. Most of the people I was working with that day I had never met before. I did the right thing by not shaking hands when I met people and explained that I had a cold. At one point before starting one of the other guys pulled out a case full of pills, set them on the table and said "you should load up on vitamin C."

I said no thanks, and explained that there is no reason to take extra vitamin C when you have a cold because it doesn't help. You would have thought I kicked his dog. This guy was annoyed with me the rest of the day, just because I challenged his belief with something called the truth. He told me that when he's sick he listens to his body, and his body tells him that it works and that his colds are shorter because he takes vitamin C. I told him that I believe what science tells me. I didn't even try to get into the conversation of how he knows how long his colds would have lasted if he didn't take the vitamin C, because that might have led to some psychic conversation that I definitely wasn't interested in.

I just told him how the only thing that has been proven to shorten the length of colds is zinc lozenges and that the whole loading up on vitamin c thing was just as pointless as taking Eccinatia.

Well, guess what? He is a believer in that too. He actually told me at one point that he knew the stuff worked and he didn't care if any studies proved it or not.

This is what I'm talking about. That moron will believe what he already believes even it research were to show that it makes your dick fall off. Just like the creationism believers, he's sticking to his guns no matter what the evidence shows. He actually ended the night by telling me that I should drink fluids with vitamin C because it is a diuretic and will clean the toxins out of my body. I had to double check with my wife (an MD) when I got home, but I figured the diuretic claim was bullshit, and I was right. The completely false things people will believe knows no bounds.

I just can't buy into things without actual evidence. And I think the world would be a lot better place if everyone else were the same way.

Noah's ark is a fable. No bracelet will cure you bad back. Pennies are not good luck. Being born in August did not decide my personality traits. Loading up on vitamin C does not strengthen your immune system (and it's not a diuretic) Eccinatia does not get rid of colds.

And the Tigers lost the World Series because they kept dropping the ball, not because they stepped on the chalk line.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Hooray! (Cough Cough)

Sorry I haven't posted anything the last few days, I've been sick as a dog since about Tuesday. I'm still down for the count today, so this is just a quick "hip-hip hooray" note for the results from election night.

Man, before the election I really wasn't allowing myself to believe that it could go that well. Now of course I don't call myself a Democrat, but that is still the best we can hope for in the ridiculous two-party control over our government. I used an analogy on election night that it was like having tuberculosis for the last six years and then waking up Wednesday morning and now you only have the flu. Sure, having the flu sucks, but at least you're not in that iron lung anymore.

At least maybe now we won't have a Congress that gives Bushie carte blanche for his evil agenda.

Some other good news from Tuesday:

South Dakota, by a bigger margin than people thought, turned back an assault on women's reproductive rights by defeating the horrific wide-sweeping ban on abortion.

Arizona, of all places, said no to the bigotry of a proposed amendment to their state constitution to outlaw gay marriage. Granted, six other states voted for similar laws, but the margins were closer than similar bills in the last few elections, including only passing with 52% in South Dakota. So be patient, homosexual brothers and sisters, the wave is turning. These are sure signs that we are within a generation of full rights for our gay citizens. That may be of little comfort to the senior age couple that have been together for 40 years without having their relationship recognized, but it is something. Susan B. Anthony never got to vote, but her fight was eventually successful for future generations.

One pet peeve (among many, of course) about the media's coverage of the election:

These are supposed to be intelligent people, yet so often there are examples of reporters calling something by the wrong name. Using the word "troops" instead of "soldiers" is a big one. Someone needs to remind them that a troop is a group of soldiers, so one should never say that "ten troops were killed today" if they are talking about ten individual soldiers.

And the thing that a lot of them (though not all) kept doing on election night was using the wrong term for the House of Representatives. So many times I heard that night that the Democrats had taken control of "Congress" but that the "Senate" was too close to call. Attention reporters, the word "Congress" is the term for the branch of government that includes both the House of Representatives and the Senate. Please stop referring to the House alone as "Congress." It makes you sound stupid.

Though now that we know the rest of the results you can correctly say that Democrats have, in fact, taken control of Congress. Hee-hee.

Now back to our regularly scheduled program of me coughing, sneezing, sniffing, and shaking with my fever and chills.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Comments, I Get Comments

So as I was saying yesterday, I love that people are able to post comments on blogs, one of the great things about the medium. Generally I haven't really responded to them, I just usually let them stand on their own. But I've collected a few choice ones over the last several months and figured I'd do a "mailbag" segment, as if this were a real column or something. So lets pull the first letter out of the bag.

This one comes from "Anonymous," in response to my Open Letter To Pastor Rick Warren from last December 7th, though this comment left some 4-1/2 months later:

So are you telling any person that has not had a history of helping with the AIDS epidemic to stay away. If thats the case, dont just tell Rick Warren to stay away from the issue- (it seems as though you may be discriminating against followers of Christ).- tell all of the politicians- conservative and liberal- and while your at it, tell the millions affected by AIDS that you are telling people to stay away from the issue. Is Rick Warren responsible for the statements of Falwell or Robertson? If so than perhaps you are responsible for the statements of Robert Singer, who is involved in the AIDS issue, and/but also a strong supporter of infanticide- OF course you are not responsible. I myself am a follower of Christ and i can say that, it is not for me to decide what is right or wrong for someone else, there is only one Holy Spirit in this world, and i am not it. LOVE-

Well, to answer your opening question, basically, yes. Evangelicals who teach that homosexuality is a sin should not only not be involved in AIDS prevention issues, they should also go fuck off. And you should go back and actually read my letter in full. I didn't tell him he was responsible for Falwell's and Robertson's statements, I pulled out mean nasty statements from those two idiots to refute Warren's wife's claim that evangelicals were somehow "absent" from the discussion in the early days of AIDS. They were very much vocal in those early days, demonizing gay people with all their might. And Warren may dress things up a little nicer and brighter with his Hawaiian shirts and all, but he still teaches a form of intolerance and hate when calling homosexuality a sin. And someone who teaches young people that it is wrong to use a condom is encouraging the spread of AIDS not helping to stop it. All Warren is doing is using AIDS for the self-serving purpose of increasing his number of followers and selling more copies of his stupid book.

And I'm not really sure who Robert Singer is, but I'm betting that what you mean by "strong supporter infanticide" is that he supports a woman's right to make her own decisions about her reproductive system. Calling abortion infanticide kind of refutes your whole "not for me to decide what is right or wrong for someone else" statement, you brain-dead zealot.

On a side note, I never did get a response from Pastor Ricky to my letter.

Here's another Anonymous comment, left on my post about the Foo Fighters' support for an organization run by Christine Maggiore, who claims that HIV doesn't cause AIDS, and AIDS doesn't kill people. I wrote it on June 7th, and this comment was left on September 1st, by someone who was googling for information about Maggiore:

Writing shitty blogs is worse than anything, way to try really hard to be "edgy". When will this blog trend end? Cause it's hack.

Hey, I'm "edgy." Who'd a thunk it?

You would think Dave Grohl would have better things to do than search blogs for things written about him, but I guess not. And Dave, aren't you getting a little old for phrases like "cause it's hack?" And "shitty blogs?" Come on now Dave, I just accused you of making some of the worst music on the planet and being so lacking in morals as to push the ideas of a deadly organization on your web site and tours. You don't have to go and make it personal.

Going back to the religion topic, this little note was left after I wrote the piece about the poor, innocent Canadian who was picked up and sent to Syria to be tortured, per George Bush's orders. It's from someone who calls himself Seven Star Hand (don't feel that you need to read all of this, you can get the gist in about the first two sentences):

Hello Deni,

All three Faiths of Abraham spawn violence and hypocrisy

Christians and Jews are able to smugly lecture and chastise Muslims about violence, because followers of Islam are poorer and more oppressed and are forced to defend themselves in cruder fashion. On the other hand, the rich and powerful nations of the west can train and equip militaries and intelligence services to do their bidding. Likewise, well-funded and smooth-talking politicians expertly equivocate about acceptable collateral damage to the homes, and lives of poor people in other lands. With so many dollars spent, why don't Muslims and others simply shut up and accept being exploited, oppressed, and massacred for such nobly expressed western ideals?

Those in representative democracies tout their governments as extensions of the citizenry. Accordingly, so are the militaries, intelligence services, corporations and other proxies used to expand and maintain the Judeo-Christian Empire. By extension, the citizens of western nations are much more responsible for the actions of criminals, killers, and torturers paid for and authorized by democratic institutions than people who live in less democratic nations who have much less control over the actions of their leaders.

It is undeniable that the Bush administration, its cohorts, and supporters are mostly Christian. Without the blind support of so many Judeo-Christians, the Bush administration would not now be embroiled in the current struggle to retroactively legalize torture, illegal domestic spying, and other crimes. By US law, hiring a proxy to murder or assault someone is still prosecuted as murder and assault. It is undeniable that the militaries and intelligence services of the west that kill and torture at the behest of democratic representatives are hired proxies of Judeo-Christian citizens.

Regardless of attempts to shift blame, history clearly records the widespread crimes of Christianity. Whether we're talking about the abominations of the Inquisition, Crusades, the greed and genocide of colonizers, slavery in the Americas, or the Bush administration's recent deeds and results, Christianity has always spawned great evil.

So, the next time any Christian, Jew, or Muslim, whether president, prime minister, religious leader or follower decides to chastise others for their failings, stop to consider that the logs in your own eyes have blinded you to the full truth about all three faiths of Abraham. Religion has utterly failed to solve humanity's problems because it is a strong delusion that spawns error and evil instead. The sheep's clothing of duplicitous ideals is an obvious deception used to hide the truth. Nonetheless, the veil is readily pierced by discerning the fruits of their deeds.

Here is Wisdom...

That's great dude. Now would you please hit that bong and pass it on? Everyone else is waiting.

This little random tidbit was left a couple of months after I wrote my Love Letter To Lynn From Lowell:

Southie dumbasses!!!, obviously you have not a clue about the history nor the people of this great neighbourhood. These people took me in when I was most in need of it. As an Irishman I hold that in the highest regard..

Well, I know they can't say the words "park" or "idea" right.

One piece of history I know about the people of that "great neighborhood" is how they pelted little black kids with eggs, rocks and rotten vegetables for trying to go to school there. And that was in the 80s.

But hey, they were nice to you, a fellow white Irishman. What fucking humanitarians.

And finally, here are a couple of responses to my bashing on Derek Jeter for his apparent lack of interest in international traveling. First, from mikrokunk:

You know I had the exact same thought when I read that about Jeter. Why hasn't he been traveling the world with all that money? But then I remembered something. Last December I met my husband in San Juan Puerto Rico where he was working an event for ESPN Deportes. Jeter was staying at the same hotel and got booted out of his suite because ESPN had reserved it. Now keep this in mind, the hotel wasn't that nice at all but was by the beach and had a casino. He was there with a bunch of guy friends for the week. I remember asking myself, "why isn't he staying at a nicer place?" But then again maybe he has to pay for all of his buddies to go with him. Can't be cheap. I read that his European trip was with Michael Jordan. I'm guessing he didn't have to pay for MJ's room on that trip... Food for thought!

Unless he was paying for about 500 friends, I don't think Jeter's wallet suffered too much.

And here's a stirring defense of Jeter from someone who calls himself Feynman and Coulter's Love Child (and without irony, if you can believe it). I'll answer this one line by line:

Seeing how for a huge chunk of the year Jeter has a job that keeps him in North America, and that his sport's popularity is in Latin America and north Asia, its not too hard to believe he's never been to Europe.

Yea, that 4 months off from after the World Series (which he hasn't been in since 2003, hee hee) until reporting to spring training is such a short amount of vacation time. And what the hell does where his sport is popular have to do with where he goes on vacation?

Believe it or not, it is possible to be a human being of some sort of value having never toured a castle or museum in some rundown Spanish villa.

No, it's not.

(As for "unlimited resources", the only "European" city on my list is London -- and if Jeter had gone to London the Brits would have told him that he had not been to Europe and kindly stop slurring them.) It's a big planet, and if your biggest slam on Jeter is that he hasn't overpaid for a tiny plate of food in Paris than ol' Derek is doing pretty well.

I'm not even sure what the first part of this sentence even means. But then, there it is. A right-wing nutjob's stereotype of what traveling in Europe is like. Yes, the entire reason to go on a European vacation is so you can buy small, expensive plates of food in France. Boy, you got me. Those damn sneaky French, putting on those interesting things all over Europe just so people will buy some expensive snails.

And how many Europeans have made it to Kalamazoo, MI anyways?

Ooh, great argument. How long did it take you to come up with the lamest place you could think of in America to compare to traveling to Europe. Lots of 16th century castles in Kalamazoo, are there?

See, the thing is, you small-minded little conservative, a lot of those little towns and villas in Europe are actually interesting. If you had actually tried to go anywhere in Europe besides London you would know that. But nice job guessing what it's like.

And that's all the time we've got on this premiere edition of mail time.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Free Speech Ain't Free....Oh Wait....Yes It Is

One of the nice things about blogging is that people can respond to what you write and can post it themselves without hoping for some editor/publisher to print their "letter to the editor." I think it's great that people can respond to something I've written without me, as the owner of this site, deciding whether or not it is a worthy comment. And I don't delete comments, for the most part. The few times I have deleted comments was during the time period when blogs were getting spammed in the comment section like crazy, before blogger instituted the word verification that has saved me from long, idiotic, automated messages showing up. My five readers have better things to do than read ads for hair-loss treatment or work from home opportunities. Besides, if someone wants to put an ad in my blog, I'm damn well going to get paid for it.

Other than spam, I think the only time I deleted a message was when someone posted a comment after a blog I wrote that mentioned David Duke in some context that now escapes me. One of his apparent followers put in a comment that was a collection of links to Duke web sites, as well as a bunch of Holocaust-denial, neo-Nazi, KKK, and other racist and Jew-hating sites. It was surprising just how many the guy linked to, it was something like over twenty.

I wondered where I would draw the line, and I guess that was it. Honestly, if the guy had just written some stupid racist bullshit, I probably would have let it stay and then just made fun of him (much like I did with that dumbass). But I wasn't comfortable with my site being used to link to some horrible racist propaganda like that.

Feel free to let me know if you think that was a reasonable thing to do. Or do you think that it went against the whole philosophy of free speech?

Give me your thoughts. But please, no linking to


Coming tomorrow - I'll go through the old mailbag and write some responses to comments left on my blog over the last few months. Can't you just feel the anticipation?

Tuesday, October 31, 2006


I don't usually post stuff about the "hot" topics going on the media. Usually it is because they are usually things that are of very little importance that are only there to serve the purpose of distracting the populace from the actual important issues going on in the world. Rush Limbaugh acting like a jerk is one of those moments of "so what else is new" and should generally be ignored. But the media usually falls right into his trap of changing the issue to something pointless, so he can do the GOP's bidding of getting everyone to stop talking about Iraq and the crappy economy.

And he has done it again with a sad display of ripping on Michael J. Fox and dismissing his disease. What's even worse than what Rush did, is some of the media's way of framing the issue, with the exception, once again, of Keith Olbermann, who hit it on the head. A number of media outlets have headlined the story with "Michael J. Fox causes a controversy," when the lead-in should have been "Rush Limbaugh acts like a jerk...again." And the mind-numbing Matt Lauer actually said "Didn't Rush Limbaugh just say what a lot of people were privately thinking?" Umm, no Matt, nobody sane was thinking that. And you are a tool. There is no debate or conversation to be had about this. Rush Limbaugh should be denounced by all decent people for bashing disabled people.

Generally, the big fat idiot is best ignored, and I usually do just that. But I have a reason for jumping on this one: my grandfather.

My grandfather, Vernon Dietz, was the kind of guy that Limbaugh pretends to speak for. A man who came of age during the depression, but struggled and got a job to take care of his family and never asked for help from Uncle Sam, except for my grandmother's odd fondness for the government cheese. He worked in the same meat packing plant from 1934, at the age of 18, until he retired in 1977. His wife never worked at any job other than homemaker and primary caregiver to their four children. He worked hard everyday, went to church every Sunday, paid his taxes without complaint (which, I suppose is not a position Rush would support), kept his lawn in impeccable condition, flew his U.S. flag every day (and he didn't just leave it up, he raised it during the day and took it down in the evening and didn't fly it in bad weather) and loved to fish and watch baseball on TV.

He also had Parkinson's disease.

One of the things that's been missing from the whole "debate" over the "faking it or not taking his meds" comment is a perspective from people who know. Michael J. Fox has done a great job explaining it, but it would be easy for the media to go find some random everyday people living with the disease to confirm that Fox is completely telling the truth and Rush is an idiot. I suppose settling the argument doesn't make for good "infotainment" though.

My grandfather was diagnosed in 1970, the same year I was born. So to compare where Michael J. Fox is in the progression of his illness to my "grampa's" timeline, all I have to do is think about what age I was at the time. This means that the summer I was 15 Grampa was at the same place that Fox is right now. And seeing him on TV reminds me so much of my grandfather around that time period. The shaking and the head and body movements are eerily just like looking at Grampa.

And Rush is right. Like Fox, Grampa wasn't always shaking. I remember being a teenager watching him clean his electric shaver using a little screwdriver, a little brush and a toothpick with no problems. But a few hours later at dinner he spilled his water and dropped food because his arms wouldn't stay steady. And it wasn't because he skipped his meds or took too many. Even if he entertained that thought, no way would my grandmother have put up with that. And he wasn't one for "acting" either. It was what it was, and he had no control over it.

I have great memories of my grandfather. He taught me several things. How to properly fold the flag, how to fish, shuck corn and mow grass. Granted, I don't actually have a use for any of these things. I find patriotism silly. Fishing is cruel, gross and boring all at the same time. My number one rule for a place to live is that there is no lawn care involved. But I do occasionally shuck corn when we see some nice looking ears during the summer.

Still, I'm glad he took the time to try to make me appreciate these things. Showing his grandkids how to do stuff made him happy. He was a simple man. Got married, raised a family, never got a traffic ticket, took naps during baseball games.

He died about two weeks shy of his 60th wedding anniversary, after living with Parkinson's for over 24 years.

Those last few years were hard on him. Not being able to start a sentence when he wanted to say something. Taking sometimes up to 5 minutes to take his first step when he tried to walk somewhere, and muttering "goddammit" to himself in his frustration. His mind being completely sound made it all the more frustrating that he couldn't get his body to do what he wanted. Seeing him go through that made getting Parkinson's my biggest health fear. It's a horrible thing to see.

That is what Michael J. Fox has to look forward to in a few years. And he knows it and takes it in such great stride. His interview on CBS was an example of grace, dignity and class. A great interview (see the full unedited version here), despite Katie Couric being the one conducting it. (Example of Couric's stupidity: She asked him if he would ever do a commercial for a Republican who supported stem-cell research, when he already did -- two years ago. Hey Katie, how about walking down the hall and introducing yourself to the CBS research department?)

Limbaugh defended himself with the same bullshit line used by Ann Coulter when she attacked the widows of the World Trade Center, that the left uses "infallible" people for their arguments so they can't be questioned. He claims he was just questioning and "analyzing" Fox's arguments. But that's not what he did, and he knows it. Instead of engaging in a conversation of ideas on the merits of his position, Limbaugh can only make fun of a person for showing the symptoms of their disease. And, with no reason whatsoever, call him a liar and a faker.

So on behalf of my grandfather, FUCK YOU, you OxyContin addicted, fat-ass, bald, Viagra-popping, brainless, bloviating jerk.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

I Just Don't Understand Rich People Sometimes

I was reading the paper yesterday and came across an article on Yankee shortstop Derek Jeter. One of the delicious things about New York failing to get to the World Series is that for months afterward, as a Yankee-hater, you get to revel in the prolonged misery of Yankees fans. They wander around in a daze like little children whose father just split town with his secretary, wondering what happened, asking why, why, why? The arrogance of Yankee fans acting like the World Series is their birthright becomes a wonderful depression that makes all other fans giggle with glee.

So that's what this AP article on Jeter was basically about, getting his comments on everything from A-Rod choking in the playoffs (again, tee-hee) to tension in the clubhouse to manager Joe Torre. And we learn during the article that Jeter apparently calls Mr. T for some odd reason. I doubt Torre says "pity the fool" a lot, so we'll probably never know. Just one of those dumb jock, everybody-must-have-a-nickname things, I guess. Rappers and jocks, I'll never understand the need to force nicknames on to everyone and everything.

But I digress. The thing that caught my eye when I was reading it, and I saw this in more than one person's article, was this line:

"Back from his first European vacation, the Yankees' captain..."

His first European vacation?!?!?! What the Fuck?!?!

For those of you who don't know, Jeter has been on the Yankees for 11 seasons. That means he's been a millionaire for a good decade. And he's never gone on a European vacation?

What the hell kind of person is that young and rich but doesn't take the opportunity to see the world? I mean, except for that dumbass who lives at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue?

If my wife and I had those kind of seemingly endless resources we would be out of the country for just about every vacation and long holiday weekend. Hell, we'd probably buy a place in Rome because we would be there so often.

Just about all of the people I know have traveled somewhere in their lives, mostly Europe, and scrimped and saved to make the trip happen. The only thing that has held them back from more international trips, or any at all, is the lack of funds. My list of countries I've been to would be a lot longer if money was no object. I just can't get people like Derek Jeter.

Damn Derek (or should I call you Dr. J? Get it?), is your jock brain so tiny that the only part of the world you are interested in is the one between white chalk lines and in the VIP rooms at Manhattan's swanky nightclubs? Have you no desire to see the Pyramids of Giza, the Coliseum, the Cliffs of Mohr, the canals of Venice, or even the Louvre?

He probably only ended up taking the trip because one of his bimbo/model girlfriends made him.

This utter lack of curiosity about the world from some people just boggles my mind. When I dream of being rich, the thing I dream about is seeing the world. By train, of course.

I suppose I should be easier on him. And more understanding. I come from an extended family of Podunks whose idea of seeing the world is driving to Canada to go fishing. But I don't get them either.

The theme song for today is (with apologies to Willie and Waylon), "Mammas Don't Let your Babies Grow Up to Be Dumb Jocks."

Or my cousins.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Caesar Marches On Rome

Caesar is sacking Rome and the populace yawns. Or worse, applauds.

That is what is happening in America today. I would call it sad, except that it is more horrifying and desperate than that word suggest. Sad is how conservatives stop gays from marrying. Sad is the tax cuts for the rich. Sad is the blaming of immigrants for our problems.

No, the signing of the military tribunal bill Tuesday is not sad. It is the complete selling out of everything our so-called democracy stands for. It is the most frightening thing to happen in our country in my lifetime. And how are people reacting? Some have cheered, most have shrugged, but only a few have screamed out.

And besides Keith Olbermann, most of the mainstream media is eerily silent on the issue. What they are failing to get through to people is what has actually happened here. While the press did a bang up job of covering the so-called "revolt" by three GOP senators led by John McCain, who pretended to take on the president when what they really did was give him what he wanted.

There will be torture of suspects by our government. There will be no recognition of the Geneva Convention. And worst of all, the president can suspend the writ of Habeas Corpus, the very thing that protects innocent people from being imprisoned either by accident or for political purposes, for anyone he deems an "enemy combatant." With on stroke of the pen, the very foundation of our judicial system has been wiped away while the crowd applauded.

To my readers who voted for Bush (which is probably just my step-dad and that loony fascist): DO YOU FUCKING GET IT YET? Have you begun to understand with your tiny little jingoistic minds what is happening here? Do you see why we hate him? It is not because he's a stupid hick or a privileged rich kid who has had everything handed to him, though those were good enough reasons to vote against him. No it is because he is evil. While he was bribing you with you tax rebates and cutting taxes for the rich, and telling you it would be good for you, not just the rich, and distracting you with fake issues like gay marriage and immigration, he has been undermining the very democracy that he had been claiming to protect.

And for this, you like him?

Apparently the way he is going to bring democracy to Iraq, as he has stated he will do, is to give them ours. We don't seem to be using it anyway.

What we have is an unprecedented consolidation of powers to the office of the president, unchecked by Congress, creating, in effect, a dictator.

Just as Caesar took power by giving shallow gifts to the masses and distracting them with unnecessary wars to rally support, all while slowly dismantling the republic, our leader does the same. And like Rome, thousands cheer, bow at his feet and kiss his robe.

He claims to love us, when all he really loves is power and his self-perceived greatness.

A tragedy and a farce rolled into one.

I only hope Brutus shows up soon.

Friday, October 13, 2006

'Bee Season

A couple of Monday's ago I went to Central Park to throw the Frisbee with my buddy Joe. Oh by the way, Happy Birthday Joe.

Anyway, he had the day off work because it was Yom Kippur (he's not Jewish himself, he just teaches in the New York public school system) and it was an absolutely gorgeous day, so we went to do what is basically our favorite thing to do together. Well, besides drinking, criticizing bad movies and whining about getting old (HAPPY BIRTHDAY JOE!).

So we were in the Sheep Meadow section of the park getting some great air in perfect Frisbee-throwing weather having a great time and a tall skinny guy who looked like a younger version of Tony Kushner walked up and asked if he could join in. So we spread out and had a good three person throw going for a while. The guy who joined in at first threw pretty horribly and I was worried we made a mistake letting him in (Joe and I can be real Frisbee snobs), but once he warmed up he was fine.

A short time later a guy in a shirt and tie walking through the Sheep Meadow went up and spoke to Joe. Joe nodded and the guy took off his tie, rolled up his sleeves and joined in. And this guy could throw. Nothing like a great foursome in Frisbee to mix things up.

If that weren't enough, we had another guy jump in.

A hippy looking couple had been throwing three Frisbees to each other, real short distances trying to do some trick-type stuff, right by where I was standing. She eventually got bored or tired and went to sit down, and he turned towards us and asked in to our group. And he put another Frisbee in play. So we had five guys and two discs going. It was Frisbee Utopia.

Hippy Guy and I even started tipping the 'bees to each other, working in tandem as if we actually knew each other for more than three minutes

So here we were, Hippy Guy, Skinny Jewish Guy, Business Guy, Joe and me. For us I can't come up with anything but "Nondescript Late Thirties White Guys," which I guess is its own stereotype. Not a very interesting one, but there it is.

But what a great time. And of course the one thing I couldn't help but think to myself was just how happy I am that we don't live in fucking Boston anymore.

This kind of thing wouldn't have happened in Boston at all. Not only are people not social enough to walk up and talk to someone, but if one were to ask some people if they could join in their Frisbee, hacky-sack or other group activity, they would more than likely be told to fuck off.

So yeah, nice to be out of there.

But also thought, "Hey, for a couple of guys in their mid-thirties, Joe and I can still fucking do this. And well, dammit."

Probably helps that we both quit smoking years ago.

Welcome To The Neighborhood

When we were getting ready to move to New York, I had a conversation with my brother about it. He's your basic whacked-out Republican who, like the rest of them, became even more insane after the World Trade Center attack. He actually said at one point that we should move all the Jews from Israel to the U.S. and then nuke the entire Middle East. Yea, he voted for Dubya. Twice.

So when I spoke with him on the phone a while back after we found out we were moving here, he expressed concern about our safety living in New York.

I told him how ridiculous that was, especially for a guy who takes a much bigger chance with his life by climbing into a car every day, which is the most dangerous thing you can do in this country. I explained to him that we will be living in an Upper East Side high-rise, far away from downtown and the chances of anything that major happening up there was pretty remote.

So what happens less than three months after we move in? A guy crashes a plane into a high-rise apartment building a few blocks from ours.

And this only a few months after some nut-ball doctor blew up his Upper East Side townhouse right before we moved (about five crosstown blocks away).

Then last night there was a three-alarm fire, with explosions to boot, that destroyed another townhouse in the 'hood.

The locusts should be arriving any day now.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Just A Game

I don't really write about sports that much. Mostly it's because I disdain sports in general. And also because I hate jocks of all shapes and sizes. Probably has something to do with high school, which, at the age of 36, I should probably get over already.

But no matter how much I try to hate all sports, I can't help that I love baseball. I just love it. I've tried to not love it so much, what with my opinion that sports is for stupid people. One look at the average knuckle dragger known as the American football fan is all the evidence you need. I have struggled for years to reconcile my hatred for all things competitive-athletic with my love for baseball. I finally just reasoned that if Studs Terkel loves it, then it must be OK.

I just try not to think about the fact that a huge number of the guys that play it are right-wing, Bush supporting, gun-toting, Bambi hunting, Skoal dipping, bible loving, homophobic ass holes.

It is playoff time after all.

And what great playoffs so far. The underdog Tigers wipe the floor with the dreaded Yankees asses (hee-hee). And Alex Rodriquez, the most overpaid of the hundreds of overpaid players, had one hit in 14 at bats (double hee-hee). On the down side, baseball on TV requires that you put up with annoying announcers, especially on FOX.

The announcing business is weird. The stupid jock might be a broad stereotype, but the broadcast booth is where the ex-jocks go to prove it. And there are none stupider than Steve Lyons.

Along with his booth partner, the annoying-voiced Thom Brennaman, who, as Richard Sandomir wrote in the New York Times, sounds "like a parody of what a sportscaster is supposed to sound like," Lyons takes you right back to the days of the 10th grade gym class locker room.

The highlight of their juvenile behavior was a Dodgers-Mets game last week. The cameraman found a guy in the stands wearing a large, odd-looking contraption with a lens over his eyes. Brennaman and Lyons did the only thing sophomoric jocks (redundant phrase I know) can do when faced with the unknown.

They mocked it.

For almost a full minute these two dunderheads made fun of the guy with remarks like, "psycho-meter," saying the guy was in virtual reality and "should stay there" according to Lyons, and proclaiming that he got a digital camera stuck to his face, among other unfunny and juvenile remarks. It was a wonder that Lyons didn't just jump down in to the stands and start whipping the guy with a wet towel. They gave themselves, but I doubt anyone else, quite a chuckle. (Side note: this was during an at-bat, they basically ignored the game so they could make fun of somebody).

I remember thinking to myself during this little figurative swirly they were giving the guy that it would probably turn out to be a contraption that helps blind people see.

Guess what? It was a contraption to help blind people see. Which led to a required apology during the next game. Dumb asses.

Bob Costas would never be so stupid.

Of course the on-field reporters have their own brand of idiocy. Like over-dramatics.

In case you don't know what "hitting for the cycle" is, here is a short run-down. A player get a single, double, triple and home run all in the same game. It is the most over-hyped and meaningless stat in the game. Really, it is just a statistical anomaly. Lots of things are better. Like hitting three home runs, or three triples and a double, or three doubles and, well you get the point.

A guy on the Tigers last night hit a single, a double, and a home run. A great game to be sure, he was the star of the game, in fact. But at the the end of the interview, when sending it "back to the booth," the reporter said, "Brandon Inge, who came just a triple away from being the first player in playoff history to hit for the cycle."

Oh really? He came just the hardest hit to get in baseball away from hitting for the cycle? In other words, he didn't hit for the cycle and no history was made at all. What a stupid thing to say. Seriously, what a dumb stat. It's not even a stat, it's a non-stat. And being a triple away? That's like saying a runner came just ten miles from finishing a marathon. Or that Tiger Woods came just fifteen strokes away from par.

Hell, get away from sports even. You could say, "Hey I missed winning the lottery by just three numbers!" With that reporters way of looking at things, I'm not broke, I'm just $999,970 away from being a millionaire.

I'll have to watch an episode of Ken Burns' Baseball to see the likes of Studs Terkel, Bob Costas, Shelby Foote and the wonderful Buck O'Neill wax poetically and intelligently about the game, so as to cleanse myself of the stink of stupidity from watching the games on FOX this week.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Hey Katie Couric, This Is What A Real Journalist Looks Like

I was watching Keith Olbermann earlier tonight and, something that has become a regular feature lately, he had a special comment at the end of the show.

And what a comment it was. I'm sure a lot of you have seen his recent commentaries about Bush and 9/11, Rumsfeld's comparing people who don't agree with him to Nazi appeasers, or Bush telling us we are allowed to think. While the one from September 11th was the one that got the most notice, and was probably the most poetically written, the one from tonight might be his best one yet.

Olbermann is by and far the best journalist on TV (I know that's not necessarily saying a lot), and watching him take Bush to task tonight for his lies was more evidence to that claim. While the rest of the press sits there and lets Bush build his bullshit straw men and none of them will call him on it, there is finally someone who will call a turd a turd.

It's a shame that he stands out from the crowd in his field for doing something that they all should be doing. When Bush gets up and makes his claims about what his critics say, from his claims that we say that Arabs don't deserve democracy to saying that Democrats voted against listening to "terrorists' phone calls," no one in the White House press corps stands up and says, "who said that? Name just one person Mr. President." And back in the studio with Katie, Soledad, Miles or some other brain dead bimbo with nice hair, no one will point out that Bush is making shit up, even though they all know it and it is easy to check the facts. They usually play right in to Bush's hand and title the story something like, "Bush speaks out against his critics," when, in fact, what he is doing is speaking out against the straw men in his head.

But thank god for Keith. Someone in the media who's not afraid to call Dubya a liar, and call him out for his all out assault on the Constitution and abuse of power.

Thank you Keith.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Tie A Yellow Fuckin' Ribbon

My friend Barb sent me this link the other day to a video on You Tube by the Asylum Street Spankers. It's a song called Stick Magnetic Ribbons On Your SUV, and it is my new favorite thing.

It is a great satire of the idiocy and hypocrisy of the yellow ribbon "pro-troop" (i.e. pro-Bush) crowd. Funny as hell and a great tune to boot. But don't take my word for it, go watch/listen to it for yourself.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Evan Kremin - A Legend Of Guestian Proportions

A few Saturdays ago I went to a club here in New York called Snitch. My buddy Joe had a friend playing in a battle of the bands there as part of something called the Emergenza Festival, and we decided to go and offer some support. Now, battle of the bands type gigs are high up on the list of things I hate a lot, but I am really happy I went that night.

First of all, Joe's friends were great. Which was a relief. It would have been so uncomfortable talking to them afterwards if I had hated them. But it turned out that they played the kind of music I love (singer-songwriter/alt-country-ish stuff), and did it well.

But the highlight of the night was the side-splitting laughter caused by the group before them, The Evan Kremin Band.

You really had to see them to believe them. Or I should say him, it was all about Evan himself. Before the show I noticed that there were a line of "Evan Kremin" CDs lined up along the top of a corner booth, wrapped in a cellophane bag with a little box included. And there were lots of CDs, possibly hundreds since there was a huge bag with even more of them. But more on that later.

When they started, we noticed that there was an old couple standing in front of us close to the stage. They were obviously Evan's parents. That's another thing to hate about battle of the bands contests, too many biased family members show up.

From the opening riff it was obvious that this guy listened to waaaaaaay too many power ballads in the 80s. The dead give away was the god-awful lyrics that were nothing more than a series of strung together clichés, and the hilarious rock star posturing by a guy pushing (maybe even past) 40. Throw in the guitarist, who looked about 50, trying to do his best Jimmy Page impression, and you had just a hilarious sight. And the range of songs would go from sounding like Journey to Great White to Poison to, believe it or not, Michael Bolton.

And such deep lyrics like, "I'll sing the songs I've never sung, I'll do the things I've never done, I'll sow the seeds I've never sown."

And, "If you reach into a fire you're gonna get burned"

There was also a song, the name escapes me, where he kept singing about rats in a maze that was bringing on laughter and gag reflexes from me simultaneously. It was a song that could have competed for the title of Most Cliché-Ridden Song Ever if it weren't for the existence of Poison's Every Rose Has Its Thorn.

I had the hardest time holding in the loud laughter, what with his parents standing right in front of me.

He ended his night, thanking everyone for coming, telling everyone to give it up for the Emergenza Festival, thanking his wife for doing the CDs (aha, she's the big-haired middle aged woman shilling those out) and generally acting like the headliner, even though this is a battle of the bands. He introduced the last song, called Monsters Under My Bed, wasting no time and getting to the clichés right in the song title.

It was the performance of this song that really solidified the feeling that I had found myself in the middle of a real life Christopher Guest movie.

Evan, an aging, pudgy, almost mullet-headed, struggling front man of what could probably be a really decent wedding band (for those suburbanites who like those bland top 40 cover bands to play at their weddings) if they would stop doing his songs, fancies himself to be a major rock star. To call it delusions of grandeur would be an understatement.

He jumped off the stage during the performance of Monsters and walked into the crowd to sing straight at a girl for a little bit, and then point and scream/sing at a guy in the audience. Now I'm losing it (along with the girl he was singing at) and am just openly laughing because I can't help it. And I'm so happy at this point I got to see this, because just when you think that the characters in Christopher Guest's movies are too far over the top, you get to see living proof that they're not. It was beautiful.

Somebody really needed to tell this guy that you can't get away with rock star moves unless you actually are a rock star. Bono going out to sing to a girl is cool, a chunky middle-aged nobody from Jersey doing it is creepy.

And to top it off the song had a dramatic pause toward the end. The music stopped like the song ended, but the band kept a dramatic pose. A smattering of people were clapping like it was over, and Joe leaned over and said, "wait for it." And there it was, they started back up to finish the last chorus, and then ended the song with Mr. Kremin singing London Bridge Is Falling Down in a high voice to a fade-out. Oooooh, how dramatic.

Of course they won that night.

It was decided by audience vote, and from the looks of all the hugging Evan did after he got off stage it appeared that, along with his family, all of his old high school friends were there. He had definitely done a great job of stocking the audience. This poor guy really thinks that the path to a record contract and rock stardom is getting your friends to vote for you at a local battle of the bands contest. It would be sad if it weren't' so damn funny.

You might think I'm being a little too hard on the poor guy. After all, he is just trying to follow his dream, as unlikely as it is to ever come true. And I would agree, except for the fact that the only things more over the top than his over-wrought, clichéd lyrics, are his gigantic ego and shameless self-promotion.

The ticket I had for the night seems to have come through his allotment of tickets to sell. It had a sticker slapped on it that said, "THE EVAN KREMIN BAND LIVE AT SNITCH!!...Don't be late...your vote could be the one that made the difference." You've got to be kidding me.

And then there was his wife and the CDs. She was going around the bar after the set shoving them at anybody and everybody, "Did you get a CD? Here, I've got one for you." Oh goody, just for me?! I did take one, jut so I could get a laugh and to find out what was in the box that was wrapped with it.

I opened it, the outside of the package said, "Thanks for your support!" Inside the box was a miniature Magic 8 Ball. On the side opposite the answer window is was he Evan Kremin logo like on the CD cover, along with his myspace address (you really should check that out, it's got samples of his overwrought, cliche-riddled songs). And above the logo was the line, I kid you not, "The Answer Is In The Music..." I was laughing the whole subway ride home after seeing that.

People told me I shouldn't rip on the guy in my blog. Or at least don't use his name because it might hurt his feelings. And I thought about that, but hell, if his friends won't tell him his music sucks and he's never going to be a rock star, at least someone should write it. Now he may or may not see this, I'm just a dude with a blog, not a paid rock critic or a published writer. But something tells me he googles his name a lot.

I really decided is was OK to rip on the guy after checking out his myspace site and reading his description of himself. He truly is a legend in his own mind. Here are a few highlights:

Birthed as one of Bleecker Street's truly protected children, Evan Kremin has been mastering his craft on this legendary New York music strip since 1983. As a compellingly gifted singer, songwriter and musician, Evan was quickly adopted by club owners and industry professionals as Bleecker's own "favorite son".

As an independent, original artist Evan Kremin has matured into an "authentic rock reward".

His performances are invigorating - as he is not shy on warmth or sex appeal. It is Rock and Roll with all the quality and authenticity you would expect from a great performer. Hollywood can't make artists like Evan Kremin...they can only aspire to find them.

Remember, he wrote this about himself. And what the hell does "authentic rock reward" mean anyway?

Can you think of anybody who deserves to be made fun of more than this? I mean, besides George Bush.