woensdag, november 27, 2002
In light of the recent allegations that money from the Saudi royal family indirectly helped two Sept. 11 hijackers, the Washington Post reports that the NSC task force is recommending a plan to force Saudi Arabia to act against terrorist financiers or face unilateral U.S. action against the suspects. The report quoted U.S. officials as saying the United States would present the Saudis with evidence against individuals and businesses suspected of aiding al Qaeda and other terrorist groups, along with a demand that they be put out of business. More specifically, as The Sydney Morning Herald reports, US intelligence agencies and financial investigators have put together a classified working list of nine wealthy individuals believed to be the core group of backers for al-Qaeda and other Islamic terrorist groups. Of those, seven are Saudis, one is a Pakistani merchant and one is an Egyptian businessman. In a separate move, the CIA was reported to be providing banks worldwide with a secret list of 12 Saudi businessmen accused of continuing to funnel millions of dollars to Osama bin Laden. The list was said to include Yassin al-Kadi, a multi-millionaire involved in banking, chemicals and real estate. He and other listed businessmen all had business and personal connections to the Saudi royal family.
In what must have been an audition for a new Comedy Central program, Secretary of State Colin Powell Tuesday did a little damage control on behalf of the Saudi kingdom following meetings in Mexico City, calling Riyadh a "strategic partner" in the war on terrorism and a "friend" of the United States.
Some friend. The United States helped Saudi Arabia transform itself into a rich, modern state with many trappings of an American- style consumer culture. Washington dispatched 500,000 troops to protect the kingdom and expel Iraqi invaders from neighbouring Kuwait in 1991. In return, the Saudis gave us 15 of the 19 September 11th hijackers, led by Saudi expat Osama bin Laden. In return, we've had the pleasure of watching video footage of bin Laden dining and laughing with a guest Saudi sheikh. Bin Laden's questions on the tape and the Saudi sheikh's answers, concerning the "joy" of other Saudi clerics at the news of the damage and casualties in the Sept. 11 attacks, was a new reminder of the kingdom's pivotal — and shaky — role in the U.S. -led anti-terror coalition. And now, of course, news reports and criticism from congressional leaders about the kingdom's possible involvement in financing terrorism.
One might think that this "friend" of ours would be tripping all over their thobes and twisting their tagiyahs in their hands for a chance to kiss up and make it better. Instead, the Saudi English language daily, Arab News, prefers to question "who we think we are" by administering "such a slap in the face or make such imperious demands."
Another editorial in the same paper complains that the allegations of terrorist funding by the Royal Family are "shocking — not in themselves but in the way they have been scooped up, twisted, sensationalized and wholly misrepresented by certain American congressmen intent on using them to embarrass the US government and gain glory for themselves and by editors desperate for a story, no matter how untrue," and further grouses about a "clear malice in the way the story has been built up and presented in certain sections of the US media." Hmmm. One wonders how the eminently free and vigorous prophets of say, the Saudi press, would pan themselves as purveyors of verisimilitude and chastity.
But hey, the Saudis are our friends. Their embassy in Washington says so. And, according to the spurious Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the Kingdom’s Ambassador to the United States: “Government officials who are privy to current law enforcement efforts know and appreciate the close cooperation the United States and Saudi Arabia have in the war on terrorism. The Task Force is clearly out of touch with current activities.”
Lip service aside, if you're looking for a few Saudi flags to burn in street demonstrations in front of your local embassy or consulate, it looks a little like this and is, I hear, just as flammable as the American flag. No word yet on where to purchase your King Fahd Bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saud effigies but as Thomas Henry Huxley once wisely counseled, "Patience and tenacity of purpose are worth more than twice their weight of cleverness."
dinsdag, november 26, 2002
Newsday announced that the Mets have added Don Baylor as bench coach and have finally decided on a pitching coach: Vern Ruhle. Not exactly the histrionic sort of hiring one might hope for to assuage the nerves of fans hoping for a new generation of pitching. Ruhle had been the pitching coach for the Philadelphia Phillies the last two years before he was set loose, fired, laid-off, canned, axed, booted, sacked, terminated, etc. following this season when under his guidance and leadership, the Phillie staff managed a collective 4.17 ERA, or 9th out of 16 National League teams. To put it in persepective, as miserable as Met pitching was at times last season, they had a collective ERA of only 3.89. When he was given the ole heave ho, Phillie manager Larry Bowa said "I think Vern did a good job, I just think sometimes the young kids weren't getting his message the right way. I think he's very knowledgeable as a pitching coach, but I think some of the stuff he said was too deep for the young kids." Too deep? What was he teaching them? The Geometry of Binomial Coefficients??
In all fairness, Ruhle, 51, spent two seasons as the Phillies' pitching coach and was given a lot of credit for the team's significant turnaround in 2001, when the staff lowered its earned run average from 4.77 to 4.15, which was sixth best in the league. I suppose back then, he was still resorting to stick figures and Australopithecusian grunting.
As for Baylor, he was fired this past season as manager of the Chicago Cubs. After a stint as a hitting coach with the Milwaukee Brewers and St. Louis Cardinals, Baylor became manager of the expansion Colorado Rockies in 1993. He was named manager of the year in 1995 after the Rockies went 77-67 and won the wild card. But he was fired for the first time after a 77-85 season in 1998 and joined the Braves as hitting coach the following season. He joined the Cubs before the 2000 season and has a 627-685 record in 8½ seasons.
Meanwhile, in the Tom Glavine Creepstakes, the Mets have finally eliminated a fundamental roadblock for signing the Biovar of Billerica to a Mets contract, the fact that they had no pitching coach to introduce Glavine to. Mr. Glavine, meet Mr. Ruhle. Meanwhile, agent Gregg Clifton, who represents Glavine AND Toothless Fatso Wells among other players at Octagon, is preparing a counterproposal for the Mets and Phillies to be presented today, formally asking for a fourth year. Either the Mets stand pat and wait for another team to make the first volley, or the Mets come up with an improved three-year offer with a fourth-year option. If the Mets choose to structure an option year for the free agent left-hander, it is likely to be based on innings pitched and appearances - similar to the Braves' proposal. Hey, why don't they take on another guaranteed 15 years and offer him the mayorship of New York while they're at it? I mean, Glavine will only be 37 when spring training starts next season. What's to say he couldn't pitch another 15 years of solid baseball? How do we know Glavine won't find the map to The Fountain of Youth and live to pitch the Mets to championships well into the year 2,200? I say the sky's the limit. If the Mets can hire a pair of roustabouts like Baylor and Ruhle, then there isn't anything they can't do. If the Mets offer Glavine a 15 year guaranteed contract, do you think he's going to turn it down? No way! And then the Mets have Glavine and then the championship champagne can commence to popping and all the world will be good and well for the fugacious Fred Wilpon who will reign o'er the streets parades of Gotham like a wizard with his gut instincts still intact and finally grind the memories of George Steinbrenner beneath the toe of his shoe like cigarette butt.
Coaching staff announcement indeed. What's next? The Pope gets named Mike Piazza's personal trainer?
A few days ago The Guardian posted the full text of Osama bin Laden's 'letter to America' which first appeared on the internet in Arabic and was since translated and circulated into English by British islamists, and according to the author, outlines "the truth" as an explanation and warning. Now, in reading this aggrandized encumbrance of historic flimflam, it is important to remember as Nietzsche wrote in On Truth and Lie in an Extra Moral Sense, "The liar uses the valid designations, the words, to make the unreal appear as real; he says, for example, "I am rich," when the word "poor" would be the correct designation of his situation. He abuses the fixed conventions by arbitrary changes or even by reversals of the names. When he does this in a self-serving way damaging to others, then society will no longer trust him but exclude him. Thereby men do not flee from being deceived as much as from being damaged by deception: what they hate at this stage is basically not the deception but the bad, hostile consequences of certain kinds of deceptions."
In his opening volley, Osama has already allowed his intended taghut readership to understand that he wishes to sell illusions and hopes for truth. He then takes us on an anfractuous caricature of the history of Palestine which, surprise,surprise, concludes that the blood "pouring" out of Palestine must be equally revenged all the while wallowing in a bromidic bouquet of "he said/she said" soft soap and debate which reaffirms and underscores his basic and unimaginative kill, baby, kill tenet.
He later explains that "It is saddening to tell you that you are the worst civilization witnessed by the history of man." Oddly enough, as though quoting from the same dictionary of Modern Morals, our own Fearless Leader Bush is quoted as stating, about Bin Laden, that he is "guilty of incredible murder, he has no conscience and no soul. He represents the worst of civilization."
So who is right? According to Bin Laden, we are the worst civilization and yet according to Bush, Osama represents the worst of civilization...If we are the worst civilization and Osama is the worst of civilization, wouldn't it calculate that either Osama must be American, or someone isn't telling the truth.
Keep track of your scorecards sportsfans. This one promises to get only more confusing.
maandag, november 25, 2002
"Criminal and unacceptable acts", or so says Ohio State University President Karen Holbrook in an OSU Press Release following riots in Columbus after a college football game. Police arrested 54 people early Sunday, and Holbrook said arrested students will be suspended and face expulsion if found guilty of serious crimes.
Some of the "criminal and unacceptable acts" that caused damages according to the Plain Dealer, not necessarily in chronological order, were as follows:
1. Charred mattresses, tire rims, pieces of furniture, hats, shoes and even a refrigerator cluttered the roads.
2. 20 overturned cars, nine of which were burned.
3. A crowd broke through glass doors at Long's Book Store at East 15th Avenue and North High Street, but they were beaten back by police, Sherry Mercurio, Columbus police spokeswoman said.
4. Lauren Mollette, 20, an OSU sophomore recounts that "There were people running around everywhere, with tear gas all over their faces," she said. "People had shovels and rakes and were bashing in [car] windows and climbing into cars to get souvenirs. They even took our screen door and threw it into the fire."
5. Colleen Turi, of Delta, just outside Toledo, made the trip to Columbus to see the game and visit her two children, who live on East 13th. She said people in the crowd shouted, "Flip that car!" and ignited cars using cardboard as kindling.
6. Bill Hall, vice president of Student Affairs, advised authoritatively: "It was a bunch of thugs and too much alcohol."
7. Chanting "OH-IO," the fans ran through the fire and women flashed the crowd. Onlookers from houses and buildings were setting off fireworks and watching as beer cans flew through the air.
8. As cars were flipped, fans stuffed toilet paper into the tailpipes and set it on fire. Others shoved cardboard and flammable material into cars to keep the fires going.
Hmmm. I wonder what effect this will have on The Department of Homeland Security. Was this a terrorist act, or just the worst riots Columbus and the university have dealt with since the 1970s? Hard to decide. Were the riots spontaneous, drunken events of youth gone bad in a terribly hostile world or, was there a more evil and sinister agent of terrorism lurking beyond the hyperbole? Perhaps such questions are better addressed to The Program for International and Homeland Security, an Ohio State University multi-disciplinary research program designed to assist Federal and State officials in better understanding the causes of international terrorism and finding appropriate solutions.
But not everyone is convinced this insanity is the result of a terrorist plot or even a bunch of thugs and too much alchohol. According to The Lantern, the "student voice" of Ohio State University, "some students said they believe President Karen A. Holbrook may have provoked much of the off-campus uprising. "She wanted to get rid of alcohol around the stadium, and I know that ticked a lot of fans off," said Gregg Samtomieri, a senior in psychology. "She just causes too much hate and hostility by trying to control our behavior."
Hate or hostility, terrorism or drunken sybaritism, students at Ohio State should take heart in the words of the great Louis Ferdinand Celine: "Living, just by itself -- what a dirge that is! Life is a classroom and Boredom's the usher, there all the time to spy on you; whatever happens, you've got to look as if you were awfully busy all the time doing something that's terribly exciting --or he'll come along and nibble your brain."
vrijdag, november 22, 2002
The Nigerian newspaper The Guardian reports that a 24-hour curfew was yesterday imposed on Kaduna State following violence by Muslims who are protesting the hosting of the Miss World beauty contest in Nigeria and the alleged blasphemy of Prophet Mohammed by a national newspaper.
What kind of violence? At least, 15 people were reportedly killed in the pandemonium which led to the setting ablaze of four churches and destruction of property worth billions of naira.
Why was the hosting of a seemingly innocent Miss World beauty contest being protested against so violently? After all, according to the Miss World Organisation, they have raised over £150 million for Children's charities throughout the world. Among the recipients are the Nelson Mandela Trust and Variety Clubs International all this through the theme of 'Beauty With a Purpose' started by Julia Morley over 25 years ago. Sounds pretty innocent, ok, maybe a little exploitative, but after all, these are hot chicks and they're helping to raise money...But Noooooo! Not in Mr. Maddened and Infuriated Muslim's world! Apparently, a "great editorial error" in a column in the opinion page of the Nigerian This Day newspaper sparked a riotous outburst because it dared to suggest that the Prophet Mohammed would have probably chosen to marry one of the Miss World contestants if he had witnessed the beauty pageant. Oh that's right, all the hot virgins are up there panting for you in the afterlife, not here. How else do you keep all the armchair jihadists from becoming oversexed and complacent? And lest you forget, Nigeria is also the same wonderland where a woman has been sentenced to death by stoning for a shady conviction of adultery. Get your tickets now ladies and gentlemen, the Fun Land Express to Nigeria is almost sold out!
Anyway, This Day, those psychopaths who had the nerve to speculate as to Mohammed's desires for beauty pageant lovelies, had to print a groveling apology today to try and calm all these crazy bastards down.
What I want to know is what genius came up with the plan to hold the Miss World Beauty Pageant in a country so filled with hate and intolerance? Was the convention center in Riyadh booked up? Maybe next year, they can make Hijaabs a mandatory competition among the contestants, everyone can prance around in gloves and eye veils and we'll leave the final vote up to Mohammed.
Tune your TIVOs to Cinemax this coming Tuesday for the premiere of Uncle Saddam, a sometimes tongue-in-cheek examination of the world's reigning despot by the daring documentarian Joel Soler. The documentary is reviewed in Rufus Jones' typically gut-busting way. Among the goodies: "...But from here, things take a bizarre turn. Saddam is a fanatic about cleanliness, which he regards as no laughing matter, even if we do, since, we are told, "Saddam likes to be greeted with a kiss near the armpit"(indeed, we see footage of a steady stream of black-bereted minions with copycat mustaches puckering up to plant one between Saddam's armpit and areola). The Butcher of Baghdad, it turns out, has all sorts of ideas about personal hygiene. Sitting behind a desk in a wide-brimmed hat and flashy suit that make him look like a Newark pimp, he holds forth: "It's not appropriate for someone to attend a gathering or to be with his children with his body odor trailing behind emitting a sweet or stinky smell mixed with perspiration. It's preferable to bathe twice a day, but at least once a day. And when the male bathes once a day, the female should bathe twice a day, [the] female is more delicate, and the smell of a woman is more noticeable than the male."
donderdag, november 21, 2002
Mets Exalt The State of Metness
Glavine Not Impressed
With Mike Vaccaro's post in today's NY Post, finally there is a dissenting voice to join me on the issue of Glavinsanity in New York.
He's in town today, being serenaded, fawned over and bootlicked by Mets officials. To begin with, money aside, Glavine said over a week ago that he wanted to know whom the Mets pitching coach will be and speak to that person, and manager Art Howe, before he would make a decision about signing with the team. In fact, Clifton, Glavine's agent, told us all a week ago when this courtship first began in earnest, that "Tom told him (Wilpon) it was an important issue and Fred told him that it would be resolved relatively quickly." Now, a week later, the question still begs an answer: Who is the Mets pitching coach? No one knows because there isn't one yet! So why are the Mets courting Tom Glavine when Tom Glavine said it was (naturally) important he'd know who the hell his pitching coach would be before he signed up somewhere and since that time, the Mets still don't have a pitching coach? What if he signed on and then the Mets hire some jester like Bob Cluck who San Francisco Chronicle sportswriter Glenn Dickey called "perhaps the worst pitching coach I've ever known".
You know, Glavine's off tonight to Philly to take the grand tour and be romanced by the Phillies braintrust. Tonight he's going to watch the Flyers' game against San Jose tonight at the First Union Center. The Flyers are in first place, the Rangers are in third, with a losing record. Guess that's why the Mets didn't take Glavine to no stinkin Rangers game. Maybe they could have taken him to a Knicks game. Let him soak in the frivolity that is New York sports these days. And how did the Mets start their campaign with Glavine? Come to us, the second best baseball team in New York? Or maybe they could unveil the magnificent Shea Stadium to Mr. Glavine. Take him to that chivalric orange and blue fortification, show him the giant apple, tell him about the alchohol-free seating and the baby diaper changing stations. Maybe give him one of his very own audio VU meter to measure the decibal level of planes flying over the pitcher's mound from La Guardia.
To hell with the Phillies. Have any of their players been to kneel before the pope in the Vatican audience hall, kiss the pope's ring and present him with a Mets baseball cap like Mike Piazza did? No. I didn't think so. Are the Phillies going to beautiful, sunny San Juan, Puerto Rico to play the Expos in April? No, didn't think so.
It isn't that I even want Tom Glavine to pitch for the Mets. I just hate to see how little the Mets have to offer in comparison to a team like the Philadelphia Phillies for crissakes. We don't have a new stadium to brag about. We don't have Allen Iverson and his loud, gun-toting possee to brag about. We just have Latrell Sprewell punching the side of his yacht and breaking his hand.
Well, Tom Glavine is welcome to go to Philadelphia or, better still, stay in Atlanta with that staggering school system and pitch either of them into oblivion. Even though the Mets don't even have a pitching coach yet and half the team is staggering at the nadir of their careers, that's precisely what will make it all the more Amazin' when they stagger back into the post season next year.
The War On Ignorance
"Why of course the people don't want war. Why should some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece? Naturally the common people don't want war neither in Russia, nor in England, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country."
This salacious, bitter truism about the public's easy acquiescence to war and killing under the right sort of guidance is brought to us courtesy of Herman Goering, Nazi Reichsmarshall and Luftwaffe-Chief. Unlike Herta Däubler-Gmelin's tactical comparison of the methodologies of the George Bush War Machine and that of the Nazis in clearing a path to war, the question here is not the mode of the machinery but the tractable subordination of the the hoi polloi to the issue of war itself, and how it comes to be that so many people in America have made the decision to become such hearty, pococurante war groupies for a war effort that has demonstrated little more than a cabalistic Big Brother Bush knows best slogan campaign that slithers around the rocks of truth and licks its tongue around the bewildered herd instead of proving the reasons of why a war against Iraq would be a just war.
The sluggishness of an American audience so consumed with banal jingoisms should bear the heaviest burden of blame itself. In the absence of evidence and information, instead of digging deeper into the legitimacy of the rationales for a war effort against Iraq, the patria instead enlists the arguments of those whose self-serving interest is in the propagation of the war effort, to do their homework for them. They are told they are (going to be) attacked eventually, if not sooner. In fact, they were already attacked on 9/11. The problems is, Iraq didn't attack us, Al Qaeda did. And the leader of Al Qaeda, despite the Bush's blustering cowboy "dead or alive" hyperboles and efforts, is very much alive, is very much a threat, much more a threat than Saddam Hussein, but perhaps not as much a threat as an eviscerated, leaderless and hostile Iraq, the kind of Iraq we might envision once this rush to topple Saddam is finally over. Logically, if we were to wonder who was a bigger threat to our security, we would point to that which we already know is a threat, what we already know wants us all dead and which we already know has the ability to strike us, shockingly, on our own turf. That isn't Hussein, that is Al Qaeda.
So how come the American people are too stupid to distinguish between those who are attacking them and those who are merely "a threat" to attack them? Why can't they make the distinction between a war against one who hasn't already attacked them over one who has? Because the Bush Machine wraps itself in a hypocritical patriotism and hides behind chilling elucidations like "terrorism", utterly absent any digestible exogesis.
This is Goebel's point and this is the cynical thinking of a warring government that must give lip service to justifying its actions. Does it not make more sense, if one is "under attack" to protect against the immediate threat and not against a "possible threat"? Of course it makes more sense. Certainly the Bush Administration cannot be considered too stupid, no matter how accurate or inaccurate the portrayal of the President as a coke-snorting alchoholic reformed for Christ simpleton puppet yanked by his strings by a cynical and power-mad camarilla, and certainly they know as well as we do it makes more sense to eliminate the first threat before jumping on to the next one. If it can be agreed that he is not as stupid as he is made to appear and that the logical course of action would be to destroy Al Qaeda before beginning a massive resource-diverting invasion of Iraq, then what is the real deal behind the motivations of an invasion of Iraq?
That we do not know because that only obfuscates the mad rush to war against Iraq. As Mark Twain wrote in The Mysterious Stranger, “Next the statesmen will invent cheap lies, putting the blame upon the nation that is attacked, and every man will be glad of those conscience-soothing falsities, and will diligently study them, and refuse to examine any refutations of them; and thus he will by and by convince himself that the war is just, and will thank God for the better sleep he enjoys after this process of grotesque self-deception.”
The one way around a steady diet of lies, beguilements and marketable ignorance, is knowledge. Is it too much effort to avail ourselves to knowing more than just the steady recitation of fake rationales the Bush Administration invokes through the main stream to thrill and amaze us and provoke to support this war? James Madison, our fourth president, once wrote that knowledge "will forever govern ignorance, and a people who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power knowledge gives.”
So it is up to the citizens to arm themselves in America, not with guns or terror or fear, but with the power of knowledge. The same kind of search for knowledge our own government claims, while skillfully exenterating our future constitutional rights to privacy, is critical in fighting the war on terrorism.
dinsdag, november 19, 2002
Around The World Errata
The Shanghai Star reports that on November 5, Li Hongfang, a 45-year-old woman and laid-off worker, became the first to strike gold in the new sweepstakes for investing in public washrooms. She won the bid and became the manager of a star-graded public washroom on Huaihai Zhonglu. This marks the launch of the pilot reform programme to privatize public washrooms and breaks the monopoly of the public sanitation bureau. Cheng Jianzhong, an official from the city appearance management bureau in Luwan District, said the transfer fee was 200,000 yuan (US$24,158) with a term of 10 years. The recipient can keep all income without turning in any to the public sanitation bureau.
So, if you're looking for investments, it appears saving up a few bucks and dropping them into China's toilets might be a good plan. In addition, the most seductive aspect of the policy is that each year the government will allocate 32,000 yuan (US$3,865) as a subsidy for public causes and an extra amount for renovation every four years. Now I'm just wondering how much it costs to run a toilet and why one would need a subsidy to do so. Ok, maybe not merely a toilet but a "public washroom", but still, in essence, it is the maintenance of a hole in the ground. China, so I've heard, has some of the worst toilets in the world so upkeep can't be too expensive.
According to that same paper, "it was reported that one old man in his seventies lacking the money to enter the public restrooms and barred from nearby factories had no alternative but to soil himself. This was a shameful event for the city." Having no alternative but to soil onesself is a shameful event indeed. There's one vote for toilet subsidies that won't be lost.
Nazis On Speed
The German news magazine Focus reports that Nazi researchers used concentration camp inmates to test a cocaine-based "wonder drug" they hoped would enhance the performance of German troops. The pills contained a mix of cocaine, the amphetamine pervitin and a morphine-related painkiller and Nazi scientists began experimenting with the drug in 1944. Prisoners at Sachsenhausen who were given the drug, code-named D-IX, were forced to march in circles carrying 20kg packs. They were able to march 55 miles without resting. There was also an eye-witness report by a prisoner who wrote: "At first the members of the punishment battalion whistled and sang songs. [But] most of them had collapsed after the first 24 hours."
Maybe they should have tried the hash brownies.
Marin County, the same looney bin that gave us Taliban Johnny (John Walker Lindh) now gives us Nekkid Peace. 50 West Marin women stripped down to the basics on Love Field near the Green Bridge and spelled out the word "Peace" with their bodies to "show solidarity" with the Iraqi peoples. (Presumably excluding Iraq's current most famous person)...
While there is no word yet on how this may hamper the War Machine, one wonders what Leo Tolstoy would have to say about it.
maandag, november 18, 2002
So, Half-Wit Hampton has moved his children to yet another school system, this time, in Atlanta, Georgia, that bastion of southern perspicacity, in search of the ultimate learning location. Hampton, if you recall, practically dropped off the face of the earth after 2000, when he dumped the city of New York and specifically, Mets fans, for about 18 katrillion dollars and the chance to wallow incognito in the bowels of Coors Field, although at the time he whined that it was because of the great school system in Colorado or some similar twaddle. Hampton, much like Ken Griffey Junior, achieved a growing level of effeteness after turning down the Mets. While Griffey's HR numbers went from 40 to 22 to a whopping 8 last season after he negated a possible trade to the Mets in 1999 and he is currently a mere shadow of his Hall of Fame promise now left on the trading block by the once enamored Cincinnati Reds, Hampton went 14-13 in 2000 and then bottomed out to 7-15 with a 6.15 ERA in Colorado after blowing off the Mets. Let that be a lesson to future ball players who turn their nose up at the Mets!
Of course now that he is in Atlanta, the hillbillies at the perpetually half-filled Tomahawk Chop Stadium are peeing themselves with excitement. They don't need that reprobate Glavine! He's too old! He's done too much for the franchise! Let's have a proven loser like Mike Hampton to seal our demise once and for all! Hampton, they try to convince themselves, only did poorly because he had to pitch in mean old Coors Field for a living. WELL, before Hampton is annointed the next Cy Young winner, it should be pointed that his ERA on the road was an abysmal 6.44 so Coors Field is a strawman for Hampton's REAL problem which is, of course, that he can't pitch his way out of a paper bag and about the only good thing Braves fans can say for him is that he might work out playing 1B and hitting behind Sheffield in the batting order.
Now, all this love Mike Hampton has of course sent Tom Glavine on a whirlwind tour of all two of his admirers, the Mets and the Phillies. The Mets, desperate for pitching help, have offered more than the Phillies so far and then there is of course, the quick courtship and romance that Mets owner Fred "My Head's on Ass Backwards" Wilbon to consider. So, the chances are good that the Mets might add the 36 year old lefty to their rotation, which, combined with the 37 year old lefty Al Leiter, gives them a good shot at winning the Superannuated League choke-offs. The Mets are also rumored to be in the market for drum-roll please Denny Neaglewho is also left-handed and nearing retirement. I sense a very ominous pattern here.
But, you can't really say that pitching is the Mets' achilles heel. To be equitable, the hitting sucked too. So, if they're going to load up on aging lefties to pitch, the least they could do is beef up the offense a little. Start by getting rid of Rey "I can swing but I can't hit" Ordoñez as swiftly as possible and pretend he was never even here. Re-sign Edgardo Alfonzo, and move him back to shortstop, where he started his career, and then get busy signing a new third basemen by the name of Nohiro Nakamura whose stats against the admittedly inferior pitching of the Japanese League last season were 46 homers with 132 RBIs and a .320 batting average. But Nakamura was no slouch against ML pitching in the recent All-Star series. He won't cost as much as Ordoñez, he certainly won't hit any worse than Ordoñez and you can bet his weekly paycheck he won't be calling the Mets fans stupid.
Whatever happens we can take comfort in what didn't happen. Reportedly, the Mets were one of 4 or 5 teams Hampton advised the Marlins he'd be willing to be traded to before the Braves finally bit the bullet.
BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU READ WHILE EATING
Earlier this afternoon, happily settled in with a book by Stratis Myrivilis entitled "Life In The Tomb", in from the Tolstoy cold of Union Square, poised over a hot pastrami sandwich and just beginning to warm up, I took my first bite, thoughtfully chewing the pastrami, when this passage catches my eye, bite by bite, word by word:
"...This was the moment when Sergeant Kostoulas happened to leap into the trench. We found him burned to death, his face completely devoured by flames, the entire front portion of his head a black and red mutilation recognizable only by three white marks engraved upon it -- a row of teeth between tightly-clenched jaws entirely stripped of flesh, and two globular eyeballs puffed out like a pair ivory billiard balls..."
Hmm. Tomorrow, I think I'll have the Suimono.
donderdag, november 14, 2002
The New York Times reprinted the entirety of Iraq's reply to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan regarding weapons inspections. Note that the Iraqi foreign minister Naji Sabri, just like that lalling rhapsodist Osama Yo Mama, also chooses to use the term "Pharaoh" to refer to Our Fearless Leader. I see a trend here. Note to Tony Blair: According to Sabri and his pack of literary jackals,you have been demoted to being merely "his lackey". "His" being Our Fearless Leader, I suppose. It has a nice ring to it. Ladies and Gentlemen, may I present, His Lackiness, Mr. Tony Blair. There are some real flowers of rhetoric in Sabri's reply which shouldn't be missed.
WHAT WOULD JESUS DRIVE?
How's this for ecumenical frippery? The Guardian Unlimited reports that "What Would Jesus Drive?" is the slogan dominating a television advertising campaign about to blanket cities in Iowa, Indiana and Missouri, along with the southern state of North Carolina.
"We have confessed Christ to be our saviour and Lord, and for us, that includes our transportation choices," said the Rev Jim Ball of the Washington-based Evangelical Environmental Network irreverently. "Most folks don't think of transportation as a moral issue, but we're called to care for kids and for the poor, and filling their lungs with pollution is the opposite of caring for them. "We take seriously the question What Would Jesus Do?", Mr Ball said, apparently in all seriousness. "What Would Jesus Drive? is just a more specific version. What would he want me to do as a Christian? Would he want me to use public transportation?"
Personally, I see this as a great new resource for marketing gurus and an inexorable pabulum for ad-execs across the Christian world. After all, why stop at cars? What airline would he fly with? What if he chose to walk everywhere again? Would he endorse a specific sneaker? Can you imagine Nike doing an Air Jesus ad campaign? If he even played basketball would he be like one of those white-boy gym-rats with tossled longish hair, dribbling like a wizard and ripping the cords from way down town like Pistol Pete Maravich, or would he go more for the exotic, behind the head, between the legs, 4 second hang time, mind-boggling dunks like Dr. J (or Dr. J as in Dr. Jesus for that matter)?
Does Jesus even have a driver's license? What's his budget? Is he looking for new or used? With or without air conditioning? Tinted windows to avoid the paparazzi?
Which investment broker would Jesus choose? Would he drink regular beer or light beer? How would his cable network talk show fare head to head against Dr. Phil? Would Amy Grant really be his favorite musician?
The possibilities are endless of course. "This may be a sign of the times," Rabbi James Rudin, spokesman for the American Jewish Committee, said recently. "But it's not a good sign."
WAR GOES HOLLYWOOD?
The Army Times reports that forty actors were drafted to portray protesters to shout "Go home USA" in a mock confrontation with 350 soldiers descending on a fictitious Arab town, a scenario troops may face in a war with Iraq. The Army Times goes on to report that about 40 civilian actors gathered by a local casting company were paid to play town citizens whose mood about the Americans ranged from eager-to-please to downright hostile.
Now I see where war gets all its football analogies...this reminds me of football coaches piping in pre-recorded crowd noise during practices the week before a game. My curiosity about this event is endless. Did you have to be a serious anti-war activist to get hired or was just being a good actor good enough? What do they say to you when you amble up to the recruitment desk? Ok, how hard can you throw a rotten tomato? Can you foam at the mouth on command? Can you wave protest placards while wearing a biochemical suit? How good are you at burning people in effigy?
And how do you decide which is more challenging as an actor, playing eager-to-please or playing downright hostile? I think I'd like to try the earnestly bitter Baghdad fruit vendor. Or maybe the indignant Palestinian live-in maid. I can see a whole sitcom developing out of this, honestly. The Angry Iraqis.You could have the disenchanted and humiliated peacenik. Maybe an old guy, like the grandfather of the peacenik, puffing away on his apple tobacco-filled hooka while dispensing local wisdoms to the protestors recovering at the first-aid station. Then you could have the radicalist brother in-law who burns the American flag every episode and spends his free time building elaborate effigies of George Bush and Tony Blair. Maybe a hot chick, the daughter of the family, mixed up with the romantic ideologies of her radicalist husband and studying to get her doctorate in fetal malnutrition. Every episode would involve a different group of American soldiers to heckle and jeer. Maybe viewers at home could vote on their favorite soldiers and those soldiers would return the following week and at the end of the season they get to be on the cover of Tiger Beat and The Rolling Stone and get their own talk shows on the Soldier Channel. And all of the characters in the family would all wear identical, plastic Saddam faces and moustache. At the end of every episode, the family members all gather on the roof of their apartment building and in unison, fire their rifles into the pungent night air.
As good ole Gene Brown once said: "foolproof systems do not take into account the ingenuity of fools."
woensdag, november 13, 2002
Poem Of The Day
X Minus X
Even when your friend, the radio, is still; even when her dream,
the magazine, is finished; even when his life, the ticker, is
silent; even when their destiny, the boulevard, is bare;
And after that paradise, the dance-hall, is closed; after that the-
ater, the clinic, is dark,
Still there will be your desire, and hers, and his hopes and theirs,
Your laughter, their laughter,
Your curse and his curse, her reward and their reward, their
dismay and his dismay and her dismay and yours--
Even when your enemy, the collector, is dead; even when your
counsellor, the salesman is sleeping; even when your
sweetheart, the movie queen, has spoken; even when your
friend, the magnate, is gone.
fr. *New and Selected Poems*
[Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1956]
Middle English Pharao, from Late Latin Phara, from Greek, from Hebrew par‘, from Egyptian
pr-‘' : pr, house + ‘', great.]...meaning a King of Egypt or, a tyrant
Just when you thought it was safe to ride the subways, take a ferry, travel on an oil tanker and hang out at tourist traps frequented by camera-toting Americans, Osama Bin Laden re-emerged Tuesday in a tape played by Al Jazeera whose highlights included a threat that it was time to "get even", sandwiched between old time classics like "you will be killed just as you kill" and "expect more that will further distress you".
He further claimed, perhaps in a bold attempt to steal the limelight from Time Magazine's Person of The Year award, that our one and only President Bush was the "Pharaoh of the Age", as in "I'll take Pharaohs for 200 Alex". Our Secretary of Defense, The Donald Rumsfeld, Osama chose to name "the butcher of Vietnam".
No doubt, the failed Democratic party could have stood to learn a thing or two from Osama's Dictionary of Defamatory Phrases and applied them to some of the leading Republican candidates during the recent elections. Just imagine Fritz Mondale calling Norm Coleman the "Pharaoh of the 10,000 Lakes" or Trent Lott getting dubbed "The Mother of All Mississippians"...it has a nice ring no doubt and this sort of hyperbolistic gum chewing is one of the few benefits we can always expect when things start heating up in the Middle East. Doesn't anyone remember the humorous bilge coming out of Baghdad over the years, the ridiculously defiant fish stories and stultiloquies?
Just to test the accuracy of Osama's analogies, I looked up who was the butcher of Vietnam, and found out that it wasn't ole Rummy at all. Apparently, Osama has confused him with Kissinger who was not only the butcher of Vietnam, but also of Cambodia, Chile and East Timor. It might have lessened the strength of Osama's vituperative to refer to a man so long out of touch with killing, but for the sake of accuracy, he should have found a new nickname for Rumsfeld. Maybe he can borrow a little Carl Sandburg and call Rummy the "Hog Butcher for the World". That ought to satisfy his fellow Islamacists and their Great Fear of the dreaded pork product.
dinsdag, november 12, 2002
JESUS PARTY v. HARRY POTTER
Just when you thought it was safe to read again, along comes the Jesus Party of lovely Lewiston, Maine to host the anti-Harry Potter Conference this coming Thursday at 7 pm. The conference will conclude with the cutting up of the “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets” book. Last November, trying desperately to prove that scissors cut paper, this same group of Jesus Freaks held a similar "book-cutting party" apparently because the geniuses at the Fire Department decided that book burning was a fire hazard and refused to allow them a (book burning?) permit.
Frighteningly, Lewiston, Maine claims on its web site that it is "Setting the Pace Now and For the Future". The web site goes on further to croon about Lewiston's "dynamic visionary leaders". Hmmm. Looks like I didn't take the results of the 2002 elections seriously enough...
Star Date: Japan
"I don't know what I'm going to do if I can't win with this team,"
The Americans took another one on the chin yesterday by getting dumped for the third straight time by the Japanese All-Stars, 8-6. What this means to those of you new to the US vs. Them All Star Series is that if they lose this Thursday for a 4th consecutive time, this seven game series is OVAH. Perhaps this doesn’t rank up there with the latest news of the World Dart Championships or the World Equestrian Games, but hey, this is supposed to be America’s Sport, and we’re getting our asses waxed!
Never mind whatever ominous portent this is for Mets fans everywhere, that their new manager joked that he could be fired by spring training if his MLB team continues its dismal showing there. One continues to be mystified as to how a team that boasts a 3-4-5 line up of Bernie Williams, Barry Bonds and Jason Giambi could have mustered only 12 runs in 3 games against what in most cases, could only generously be considered Minor League pitching. And sure, Randy Johnson, Curt Schilling, Pedro and Zito, et al. have not pitched an inning, but how does a MLB pitching staff give up 24 runs to the Japanese All Stars in three games? This is CRAZY. The only Japanese guy playing who can’t hitting his weight is Ichiro Suzuki (1 for 12 in the Series so far) and he’s playing for the Americans!
I keep wondering about Art Howe. How is Howe handling loss after demoralizing loss? Is this something he is trying to get used to as manager of the Mets? Just think of the field days the tabloids are going to have with this guy next season at this rate: Howe Many More Losses Must We Withstand? Howe Did This Clown Become A Met? Howe Bad Can It Get?, Howe Much Longer For A Win?, etc. If this is what the guy does managing a team of All Stars I shudder to think what it’s going to be like when he gets stuck managing the likes of rim-jobs like Roger "My Ego Hurts" Cedeno, “Feed Me” Mo Vaughn, Jeremy Burnitz and Rachel Ordoñez.
The US pitchers have been complaining about the softness and slope of the mounds in each of the Japanese domed stadiums and the entire team has been bleary-eyed because of the travel schedule. They also complained that their underwear is too tight, the sea water gets in their eyes, the sushi is too raw and well, the Shinjuku just ain’t what it used to be.
Most likely, the only thing the Japanese players have been complaining about so far is the distinct lack of decent competition.
Zero Tolerance: The policy or practice of not tolerating undesirable behavior, such as violence or illegal drug use, especially in the automatic imposition of severe penalties for first offenses.
COUNTDOWN TO OBSTRUCTION, SERIOUS CONSEQUENCES AND ZERO TOLERANCE
Saddam Hussein convened a special session of the Iraqi parliament on November 11th to put a public front on a decision to allow the return of UN weapons inspectors. Iraq has until Friday November 15th to accept the terms of the resolution, which was passed unanimously by the UN Security Council last Friday. By December 8th, Iraq must provide a full list of its biological, chemical and nuclear weapons programmes or suffer "serious consequences". Mr Hussein faces "zero tolerance", says Condoleezza Rice, America's national security adviser. Read more at The Economist
Iraqi lawmakers in turn denounced the tough, new UN resolution on weapons inspections Monday as dishonest, provocative and worthy of rejection--- despite the risk of war. But parliament said it ultimately will trust whatever President Saddam Hussein decides. (Now there is a shock and revelation for those of you inquiring into the mechanisms of Iraqi democracy)...
Parliament speaker Saadoun Hamadi said the resolution was stacked with "ill intentions", "falsehood", "lies" and "dishonesty." Salim al-Koubaisi, head of parliament's foreign relations committee, recommended rejecting the resolution but also advised deferring to the "wise Iraqi leadership" to act as it sees fit to defend Iraq's people and dignity. "The committee advises ... the rejection of Security Council Resolution 1441, and to not agree to it in response to the opinions of our people, who put their trust in us," Mr. al-Koubaisi told fellow lawmakers.
Sounds like SOMEBODY is not being taken too seriously.
According to the Arab NewsArab League chief Amr Moussa said he would ask UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan yesterday to include Arab nationals on the arms inspection teams to boost the credibility of their mission. "Having Arab inspectors or observers would enhance the credibility of the inspections," Moussa said. "I understood that out of the 250 members" of the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission, "there are only four Arabs, all translators; there are no Arabs among the inspectors," he added.
For shame. Why don't we just let the Iraqis create their OWN arms inspections and we'll just believe whatever it is they tell us.
The Washington Post and the New York Times, quoting senior US officials, reported that the plan for military action against Iraq envisioned an offensive by land, sea and air, seizing much of the country and isolating Saddam's most loyal forces, in the hopes the government would quickly collapse.
maandag, november 11, 2002
"Anthem for a Doomed Youth"
What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?
--Only the monstrous anger of the guns.
Only the stuttering rifles' rapid rattle
Can patter out their hasty orisons.
No mockeries for them from prayers or bells,
Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs,-
The shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells;
And bugles calling for them from sad shires.
What candles may be held to speed them all?
Not in the hands of boys, but in their eyes
Shall shine the holy glimmers of goodbyes.
The pallor of girls' brows shall be their pall;
Their flowers the tenderness of silent minds,
And each slow dusk a drawing-down of blinds.
Baseball hasn't been buried out in the backyard for the winter just yet. Although you wouldn't much notice it for the paucity of coverage it seems to merit in most American newspapers, the Major League Stars were outslugged by Japanese All Stars today 8-2, the second straight loss for the Major League Stars. I didn't care so much for the final scores as I did for the interesting match-ups, an American hitting lineup that had Giambi batting behind Bonds and several Japanese players some Major League teams have their eyes on. In the opening game of the series, Koji Uehara gained a fair share of distinction by striking out Bonds three straight times (a career first for Bonds) and sent Giambi down with K's on two other occasions. Overall, he struck out eight and allowed only five hits and a lone run in six innings of work for the opening victory the night before. The 27 year old Koji Uehara, not exactly a household name in America, had himself quite a season recently in the Japanese Leagues, leading his division in wins with 17 and leading his team, the Yomiuri Giants to a four-game sweep of the Seibu Lions in the Japan Series by winning the opening game of the series.
Uehar's performance harkened memories of the legendary Eiji Sawamura. In 1934, Sawamura struck out Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig and set in motion Japan's long quest to catch up to the major leagues.
Unfortunately for his potential Major League suitors, Uehar will not be a free agent for another five years, or when he is the ripe old age of 32. One Japanese star who is ready and raring to pounce into performing in the Major Leagues is Godzilla Hideki Matsui. Matsui recently won his third Gold Glove but it is his power that has several teams set to shanghai the slugger. Naturally, the spoiled but blundering Yankees are the team considered most likely to nab him although the Daily News, among other sources, make grudging mention that the Mets too have expressed an interest. Not really sure what we are seeing about the Mets future when their new skipper has led the Major League Allstars to two straight losses in the series. Is he another George Karl meltdown waiting to happen?
Bonds, who just won his fifth MVP award, hit a first inning two run homer in the second game of the series to no avail, salvaging some of his dignity after striking out three straight times in Game One, but the effort was moot in that the Japanese stars won the game 8-2.
A quick scroll through the archives of Japanese newspapers online and it became apparent to me that there's a lot more going on in Japan that we ever hear about. According to Mainichi Daily News, a teacher was suspended for six months after threatening a rebellious student with an axe, the Nagano Prefectural Board of Education announced Monday. The unnamed 45-year-old teacher was in his class at a Nagano high school when a student of another class burst into the room and started making a racket in June this year. He ordered the final-year student to leave the room but the boy ignored him. Furious at the boy's antics, the teacher picked up an axe which he was using to cut firewood as part of his lesson, and threatened him. The teacher was having difficulties communicating with his students, members of the board said. In a separate incident, an elementary school teacher in his 40s was also suspended for six months for molesting a pupil, the board announced. (Compiled from Mainichi and wire reports, Nov. 11, 2002). Another interesting news item from the same source which I doubt will be on the nightly news here in the States, was that a man who torched his elderly mother to death in an attempt to collect benefits on insurance policies taken out on her was found guilty Monday. Presiding Judge Kazuhiro Ito handed the killer, Kiyoshi Tanikaze, an indefinite sentence, which on average means mere 17 years behind bars, for slaying his 81-year-old mother, Misao, on Aug. 20 last year. "He murdered his own mother in a cold-blooded and savage manner. Moreover, he has not shown any remorse," Ito said at the Kanazawa District Court. The 61-year-old plastic flower manufacturer took his mother for a drive and deliberately crashed into a utility pole on the night of Aug. 20, 2001. He then doused fuel on the concussed Misao and set her on fire, the ruling read. According to eyewitnesses, he made no attempt to rescue his burning mother, who was trapped in the front passenger seat of the car, and did not call an ambulance for about 15 minutes. Misao was burnt to death. Tanikaze was in debt to the tune of 25 million yen after making a huge loss in futures trading. He took out insurance policies on Misao in an attempt to clear his debts. (Mainichi Shimbun, Nov. 11, 2002). I see the export of baseball isn't the only aspect of American culture that is moving along nicely.
zaterdag, november 09, 2002
The Daily News reports Mets "mull" trading the beleaguered shortstop Rey Ordoñez. Mulling? I don't get it. What is there to mull? Would you merely "mull" over the option of chopping off a sphacelus limb or grab the nearest machete? Would you only "mull" over the option of wiping your arse after a particularly empyreumal bowel movement? No. This pencil of a Cuban hits his weight, what, ONCE in his career? Hits homeruns as often as a summer solstice?
Examine his hitting stats from last season: .254, ONE homer and a whopping 42 ribbies. C'mon, they wring their hands over finding some weak-hitting gaby to fill his spot in the lineup? Look, he's scheduled to earn $6.25 million next season. That's like $500,000 per hit. There Must be a better bargain somewhere out in the bush. Ok, he has been a decent-fielding shortstop in the past. He won the gold glove three times in the past. IN THE PAST. Last season he made 19 errors in 144 games. Blunders, hallucinations, and an unrelenting failure chasing him like a rabid dog. That was Rey Ordoñez's season in a nutshell. To compound matters, in the midst of this nightmarish epic, he gets quoted calling Mets fans "stupid". The definition of stupid, in the case of Ordoñez, are the idiots (calling all Phillips, calling all Wilpons) who thought paying this epileptic clown what amounts to over $43,000.00 PER GAME to hit like a girl and field like a colander.
Just get ridda da bum.
There are is also, according to the same rag, a Met interest in free agent Tom Glavine. Mike "Stupida" Lupica says he'd take Glavine over Maddux. He says he'd take Glavine over Pettitte. I wish the Braves and the Yankees were both naïve enough to let those two go. They can have Glavine. Naturally, in this breathless little hosanna, Lupica doesn't even allude to Glavine's abysmal failure in the post season. Sure, he goes great guns in the regular season but he had a 15.26 ERA this year in the post season. 15.26 is nothing to sneeze at unless you're a reliever who pisses away his first outing of the season by giving up 8 earned runs in a third of an inning of work. But Glavine is bad news. He comes from the Braves, number one. Ok, the Braves take first place every year for a decade or so and what do they have to show for it? One title. Is it a surprise that there's like 10,000 people showing up at Tomahawk Chop Stadium, including the homeless people who just happen to wander in? Glavine is, in many ways, the paradigm of futility. Much in the same way Maddux is. Damaged goods. You need two starters who can pitch like men in the post season to go deep. The vaunted Braves pitching staff, in the end, fails more than often Charlie Brown on Thanksgiving. The Mets have enough bad histories. I think it's better they work on getting Paul Byrd. Leiter than a Byrd with Astacios.
vrijdag, november 08, 2002
..."All travelling becomes dull in exact proportion to its rapidity." -Ruskin, "Modern Painters"
Utrecht, June 2000
Albert begins a slow whine about his creaking knees, fresh out of the train from Antwerpen, stopping in the middle of the station's tides of passersby to mewl and set down his bag for a moment. It's almost too much to bear. An entire town to be eviscerated by our greedy, insatiable needs waits and a middle aged ache cripples him as if he were kicked in the balls. I make a rotten cabbage face, set down my bag and roll a cigarette, clenching it between my digits with unquenchable agitation before firing up the butane and touching it to the cigarette tip. I exhale a mind suddenly dull for its lack of curiosity. Will this be requiring immediate surgery? I ask, my eyes begin to race around the minor circus of food peddlers, discount record stores, blaring video screens and this tiring chatter of humanity around me. Should I be concerned? Should I consult the phrase book for the appropriate foreign phrases dealing with emergencies; "Will this require a thrombectomy?", "this food disagrees with my digestive system and is planning an uprising."?? I spatter these questions out to Albert who already has the Winston in the yap, wincing from his knee pains and searching out a cafe or a pub to dull the aches.
Fuck you. He says this matter-of-factly, as though he'd just wished gesundheit to an old lady following a sneeze. He sees me like a sort of flying, buzzing insect around his face and ears, but instead of swatting, he picks up the bag again, nodding over to the station cafe where a gang of stragglers putter around their little round tables, pushing cigarettes into ashtrays, glasses to lips, weakly attempting to prop up the jowls with a feigned interest at every item of human flotsam floating past in a vaguely intoxicated dream. "I'm going to have a beer." And he sets off to cross the floor and find a table to unload himself, peel off the sport jacket and pork pie hat, loosen the knot of the tie and swallow some of the local brew. When he travels, he is like an old Southern Baptist dressing for Sunday sermons. Dignity distinguishes, he often complains.
If I don't follow him, it leads to a lot of confusion. We don't have a place to stay and if I wander off in search of one while he sits, beer after beer, getting groggy and oafish, he will be in no condition to be anything less than carried through the discrete lobby of some pension, drawing unwanted stares and stern consternation faces from the onlookers and proprietor. I must follow him, realizing as I do, that we will not stay here this evening. We will sit all afternoon in this very same station cafe, staring out the window at the rain, matching beer for beer, cigarette butt mounds growing like little anthills of civilization, nothing accomplished but enough sobriety to find the ticket counter and find some overnight train to ditch us off somewhere by morning's sobriety.
"The punishment which the wise suffer who refuse to take part in the government,
is to live under the government of worse men."
So the American midterm voting concluded with a kidney punch to the Democrats for emphasis. Everyone's jumping off the ship, getting onto bandwagons, checking immigration regulations for other countries, shrugging their shoulders, wringing their hands, oops! How the HELL did that happen? A Republican Guard of our own overnight. As if none of these poor bastards had a clue what was coming, just voted their consciences and whammo! Here comes another dollop of compassionate conservatism. With all the whining going on I'd have thought the Republicans were body snatchers who'd invaded the bodies of Democrats when they entered the voting booths and pulled the wrong levers. Somebody voted for the Republicans. And unless the country has formed a collective mambo line into the future of godfulness, guns, corporate gluttony and all its attachments, I'm not sure how it gets explained that in the end, the Republicans made the moves to glory and the Democrats paid a lot of money to watch. Where are all these Democrats?
When the presidential elections became a burlesque two years ago, people could still say, yeah, but we wuz robbed! After yesterday's elections, the shift is palatable. People are changing sides, shifting chairs, writing in their own grades while the substitute teacher is trying to stay in charge. Somebody voted Republican. A lot of somebodies. More than a majority.
More than a majority. I'm still digesting these products of combustion, these cauterizing morsels of calculations. So, there are more chucklehead bedlamites out there than I imagined. Then again, most Republicans I know are like quickly erupting skin rashes so I don't find myself hanging out with many. They must be out there though. In big numbers. Otherwise, I have to revisit the body snatchers theory. Embryo cloning of Bush family members for every state. I mean WHERE is the controversy? Democrats can't hide behind fixed elections any more. There's a majority out there waiting to cash in their tickets: The New Republican Express. Somewhere, someone screwed up their calculus.
Now we live with it. Now it hides under our beds, follows our shadows, rains on our parades, leaps out at us from around the corner and comes over to give us a little kick every once in awhile.
Maybe it's the old rope-a-dope theory of the Democratic Party: take punches for the next two years waiting for the Republicans to punch themselves out. They probably will. They will probably overreach their mandate, create an entertaining blend of chaos and doom and give the world a tremendous hemorrhoid they'll be scratching for the next two years if not longer. But this game, these bandwagons, these voters hanging on like Darwin chimps clinging to the back and forth swinging of gravity, have already begun their swing back.
These Democrats might not be such fools. Best to let the Republicans run the show right into cancellation. A Screw It Up Yourself manifesto for sycophants and dogmatists to follow into oblivion. Or how was it the head Bushspeak writer put it? Into the ashcan of history? See you at the pig roast.
This Is News
This is News from a wide angle camera lens.
This is News from a teletype whose ink words smear
on the fingerprints of copy interns.
This is News from the left, grainy and out of focus.
This is News from the right, raining and out of locusts.
This is News from an anchor man.
This is News from a junkie.
This is News from miles away
that insists you are responsible.
This is News from inside fishnets,
board rooms in secret, erect
sensitivities and protests.
This is News from every angle,
above, beneath, in the cupboards,
in the dangling of News on fish hooks,
come and get it,
This is News with secret compartments.
This is News the world will consume
in easily digested pieces.
This is the News.
This is the News.
Come and Listen.