Saturday, March 21, 2009

The Big Takeover
As complex as all the finances are, the politics aren't hard to follow. By creating an urgent crisis that can only be solved by those fluent in a language too complex for ordinary people to understand, the Wall Street crowd has turned the vast majority of Americans into non-participants in their own political future. There is a reason it used to be a crime in the Confederate states to teach a slave to read: Literacy is power. In the age of the CDS and CDO, most of us are financial illiterates. By making an already too-complex economy even more complex, Wall Street has used the crisis to effect a historic, revolutionary change in our political system — transforming a democracy into a two-tiered state, one with plugged-in financial bureaucrats above and clueless customers below.

The most galling thing about this financial crisis is that so many Wall Street types think they actually deserve not only their huge bonuses and lavish lifestyles but the awesome political power their own mistakes have left them in possession of. When challenged, they talk about how hard they work, the 90-hour weeks, the stress, the failed marriages, the hemorrhoids and gallstones they all get before they hit 40.

"But wait a minute," you say to them. "No one ever asked you to stay up all night eight days a week trying to get filthy rich shorting what's left of the American auto industry or selling $600 billion in toxic, irredeemable mortgages to ex-strippers on work release and Taco Bell clerks. Actually, come to think of it, why are we even giving taxpayer money to you people? Why are we not
throwing your ass in jail instead?"

But before you even finish saying that, they're rolling their eyes, because You Don't Get It...

Friday, March 20, 2009

Monte Hellman's 1971 TWO LANE BLACKTOP , as precise & thorough an excavation of the American character as Melville's "Confidence Man", is on TCM tonight, 1130 PST...
G.T.O explains the 455 V8
Filming Two-Lane Blacktop

tales of Blossom Dearie
If there's such a thing as "white writing" (and Roland Barthes insists there is) then Blossom Dearie is "white singing." No, not simply because she's white by racial classification, or because of the whiteness or her hair. The very sound she emits is whiteness, of the sort Poe described at the climax of "The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym," and Mallarme alludes to constantly. Naturally it's associated with Death. If anyone is planning to musicalize Jean Cocteau's "Orphee" then Blossom would be ideal as Maria Casares. To say she is "difficult" is like saying Catherine Deneuve is French. Look up "Difficult" in the dictionary and you'll discover Blossom's picture. It's a kind of a trade-off -- the sweet softness of her voice for the hard shell of her actual person...

IDF in Gaza
"The platoon commander let the family go and told them to go to the right. One mother and her two children didn't understand and went to the left, but they forgot to tell the sharpshooter on the roof they had let them go and it was okay, and he should hold his fire and he ... he did what he was supposed to, like he was following his orders."

According to the squad leader: "The sharpshooter saw a woman and children approaching him, closer than the lines he was told no one should pass. He shot them straight away. In any case, what happened is that in the end he killed them.

"I don't think he felt too bad about it, because after all, as far as he was concerned, he did his job according to the orders he was given. And the atmosphere in general, from what I understood from most of my men who I talked to ... I don't know how to describe it .... The lives of Palestinians, let's say, is something very, very less important than the lives of our soldiers. So as far as they are concerned they can justify it that way," he said...

Thursday, March 19, 2009

more from Beckett
To drill one hole after another into [language] until that which lurks behind, be it something or nothing, starts seeping through - I cannot imagine a higher goal for today's writer.

Or is literature alone to be left behind on that old, foul road long ago abandoned by music and painting? Is there something paralysingly sacred contained within the unnature of the word that does not belong to the elements of the other arts? Is there any reason why that terrifyingly arbitrary materiality of the word surface should not be dissolved, as for example the sound surface of Beethoven's Seventh Symphony is devoured by huge black pauses, so that for pages on end we cannot perceive it as other than a dizzying path of sounds connecting unfathomable chasms of silence?

How Google Earth Ate Nanaimo - TIME

"I think it's pretty cool we're the Google Earth capital of the world," said Jakob Brzovic, 25, who works in a local electronics retail
store. "I just wish somebody would have told me."

"For people who live out of town, it would be a great resource and tool," he added. "But, to be fair, if you've been living here your whole life like I have, you don't need to use Google Maps. You just use your brain."

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

U2 free St Patricks Day Podcast

...two hours of Irish punk rock, new wave, underground and just plain rock-n-roll THUNDER...

Local trees &c.

The popover is a culinary marvel, a loose batter that, with the aid of a hot oven, expands like a golden cumulus cloud, producing a crisp, hollow pastry with a soft, eggy interior. While the mixture is very similar to crepe batter, when you confine it to deep, narrow, muffinlike molds, the surface of the batter sets and the air is trapped, so that the pastry has nowhere to go but up and out, creating a gravity-defying bubble...

The outrageous offenses against Richard Cheney
Journalists love to depict themselves as hard-nosed, rambunctious, ornery adversaries of establishment orthodoxies and political power. The reality is the opposite: there simply is no class of people more reverent of the political establishment and more devoted to protecting and defending its prerogatives. Of all people, journalists ought to be embarrassed to publicly play the role of decorum enforcers when it comes to how the politically powerful are treated. They should be the last ones -- not the first ones -- demanding that controversial political figures be treated with the type of profound reverence typically reserved for religious leaders and monarchs. Identically, in the most minimally healthy political culture, high political leaders would be the least entitled, not the most entitled, to be shielded from cutting political criticism...

Rory Gallagher's Stratocaster
Gallagher was always associated with his well-worn sunburst 1961 Stratocaster, which his brother Donal has officially retired. It was reputedly the first in Ireland, ordered by a showband member who changed his mind about the colour. Gallagher bought it for just shy of £100 at Crowley's Music Store on Cork's McCurtain Street. The guitar was extensively modified by Gallagher. The tuning pegs, for a start, are odd (5 Sperzels and one Gotoh) and all of these have been found to be replacements. Secondly, it is thought that the nut has been replaced and interchanged a number of times. Thirdly, the scratchplate was changed during Gallagher's time with Taste. Another change was the pickups of which none are original. The final modification was that of the wiring. Gallagher disconnected the bottom tone pot and rewired so he had just a master tone control along with the master volume control. He also installed a 5-way selector switch in place of the vintage 3-way one. The most notable effect that years of touring have had is the almost complete removal of the guitar's sunburst finish, partly through being left out in the rain in a ditch for days after being stolen. Other quirks include a 'hump' in the scratch plate which moves the neck pickup closer to the neck on the bass side and a replacement of all of the pickups, though this replacement was due to damage rather than a perception of a tonal inadequacy...

Monday, March 16, 2009

Letters from Beckett
I have read the first volume of “Du Côté de chez Swann”, and find it strangely uneven. There are incomparable things – Bloch, Françoise, Tante Léonie, Legrandin, and then passages that are offensively fastidious, artificial and almost dishonest . . . . His loquacity is certainly more interesting and cleverly done than Moore’s, but no less profuse, a maudlin false-teeth gobble-gobble discharge from a colic-afflicted belly. He drank too much tilleul. And to think that I have to contemplate him at stool for 16 volumes!

James Schuyler reading his poems (including "Hymn to Life") at the Chelsea Hotel, November 9, 1986

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Local trees

The New Book Banning

While lead poisoning from other sources, such as paint in old houses, remains a serious public health problem in some communities, no one seems to have been able to produce a single instance in which an American child has been made ill by the lead in old book illustrations—not surprisingly, since unlike poorly maintained wall paint, book pigments do not tend to flake off in large lead-laden chips for toddlers to put into their mouths...