Mortaljive: The Rest is Silence

There is no still point in all the Universe, and that is the rock upon which I stand

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

THE BAD MAGICIAN MAKES THINGS WITH TOM DELAY'S SKIN

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As the moon rises over the Yellow Rose of Texas, a cerebral cortex liquifies against a darkened sky. Across the spinal fluid lagoon, the Bad Magician does the back stroke and finds the deep end covered with the skin of Tom DéLay. The Bad Magician fashions a kayak out of the skin, climbs inside, and floats upstream into a spurting artery of America. His epidermis lost, Tom DéLay crawls onto the shore, clutching his throat as millipedes devour his hands. The last light of the dying moon spills white poison into a spoon: the Bad Magician feeds DéLay 10,000 lies in liquid form. The Bad Magician learns how to make a wall out of Tom DéLay, but it falls and crumbles like leaves born too soon.

Tom Délay awakens from the dream and blames the Children for the tic in his eye. The Children turn and run.

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Image of skin from here.

This short bit of epidermis stretching was first deposited in a comments box at Corrente, around the time of the Terry Schiavo story. Terry: Tom says hi, and he's sorry he used you as political currency. No, wait, he's not.

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Tuesday, September 27, 2005

THE INTELLIGENT DESIGN BUMP AND GRIND

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(Above) Intelligent Designer and 'Lil Murph pose for an Eternity

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The Great Designer
Whomsoever that may be
Had a thing for titties
And asses shaking free
And thanks to the designer
I have a hole right up my butt
It’s such a smart ass
I have to wipe it shut

Ooohh, the penis fills with blood
Becomes rigid like a tree
Thousands of nerve endings
Looking for love or just to pee

(chorus)
Intelligent Design
Bump and grind
From the front and from behind
Everybody’s doing it
Intelligent Design

And ladies have a clitoris
The Designer scored again
Sensitive and hooded
Why is pleasure such a sin
Intelligent Design
Put the pleasure in
Why is pleasure such a sin?

(chorus)
Intelligent Design
Bump and grind
From the front and from behind
Everybody’s doing it
Intelligent Design

C’mon, Intelligent Design
The whole planet gets to fucking
When you put Intelligence with Design

When you send junior off to high school
And he gets in science class
Make sure they teach Intelligent Design
He’ll learn secrets from the past
Oh, that Designer
Why’d he make me come so fast?

Praise be to the Designer
Though I never caught the name
Whoever it is, well, at least
We’ve got someone to blame
We have got someone to blame

Intelligent Design
Bump and grind
From the front and from behind
Everybody’s doing it
Intelligent Design
C’mon, Intelligent Design
The whole planet gets to fucking
When you put Intelligence with Design
Bump and grind
From the front and from behind
Get in line…

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Extremely rare image of Intelligent Designer from here. All praise be to Him, the Intelligent Designer. We should probably move on to another subject now, like debt or war, you know, stuff.

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Monday, September 26, 2005

IT IS A TRICK OF THE BAD MAGICIAN

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O' foul and scabrous demon
Flung to northern patches, unleashed
and burning hearts for heat
Away to empty cages, ribs split like wood
in shocking sleep He rides to you
The master of the elder tribes
To hind parts clenching tearing torn
The limpid flesh of failing men

Embrace the conquerors' lavish feast:
a table of the animals
a place of broken things
and friends made meat
Oh, John, sit this night in sacrifice
the nails of certitude drive through your head
The angels of iron and death

Come forth, lord whimsy
let us all laugh and sing of despair
and hopeless sightless loveless eyes
it is a trick of The Bad Magician
that dreams once conjured
do not abate
and sorrow's ease will not arrive

In darkness the howls of vanquished men
echo upon echo in gaping jaws
In John shall be the night thunders
in shadows too thick for walls:
Made like casket toys for children, singing
Singing to John: my gift is
the lyrics, made your curse
unwrapped in the bleak time
the alone time
men of stature to dust unmourned
aught but shards
the splinters of a mind deceased


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This cursed episode of The Bad Magician inspired by General JC Christian's post on a sulphuric slag heap of what has been rumored to have once been a human being.

Sleep tight, Johnny. Sleep tight.

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Friday, September 23, 2005

LOVELY RITA

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Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks! rage! blow!
You cataracts and hurricanoes, spout
Till you have drench'd our steeples, drown'd the cocks!
You sulphurous and thought-executing fires,
Vaunt-couriers to oak-cleaving thunderbolts,
Singe my white head! And thou, all-shaking thunder,
Smite flat the thick rotundity o' the world!
Crack nature's moulds, and germens spill at once,
That make ingrateful man!

[ FOOL: O nuncle, court holy-water in a dry house is better than this
rain-water out o' door. Good nuncle, in, and ask thy daughters' blessing: here's
a night pities neither wise man nor fool. ]

Rumble thy bellyful! Spit, fire! Spout, rain!
Nor rain, wind, thunder, fire, are my daughters:
I tax not you, you elements, with unkindness;
I never gave you kingdom, call'd you children,
You owe me no subscription: then let fall
Your horrible pleasure: here I stand, your slave,
A poor, infirm, weak, and despised old man:
But yet I call you servile ministers,
That have with two pernicious daughters join'd
Your high engender'd battles 'gainst a head
So old and white as this. O! O! 'tis foul!


King Lear
William Shakespeare

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Image from CNN.

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Thursday, September 22, 2005

HURRICANE'S A COMIN'

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My words are weak and small
You can't hardly hear them at all
They are just so many ways to leave a mark

I raise my lantern by the sea
It throws some light, but I can't see
The shadows tremble wild in the dark

(chorus)
There out in the waters
Spinning like a drunken top
The hurricane is coming, but
I will run away from death and never stop
Hurricane's a coming
It's on its way
Hurricane's a coming
It's on its way
Hurricane
Hurricane
Hurricane

Like a fighter in the ring
Death, where is thy sting?
Galeveston is waiting on the shore

Like a dreamer on the sand
Who reaches up with just one hand
But cannot open up the only door

(repeat chorus)

In the Gulf there are warm waters
That sustain the whirling daughters
They seek to come ashore and fly away

The terror and the power
Of a storm consumes the hours
God has bought the garden but it's hell you have to pay

(repeat chorus)

My words are weak and small
You can't hardly hear them at all
They are just so many ways to leave a mark

I raise my lantern by the sea
It throws some light, but I can't see
The shadows tremble wild in the dark

(repeat chorus)

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Image of Galveston dead being removed for burial from here.

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Wednesday, September 21, 2005

DEATH BUSINESS ROUNDUP

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12 Americans Slain in Attacks as British, Iraqis Argue Over Clash

"Eight service members and a State Department employee are among those killed. U.S. death toll is lower this month."

Los Angeles Times, Page A4, Wednesday, September 21, 2005


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The Federal Reserve Death Watch raised its benchmark short-term rate a quarter percentage point Tuesday, causing some analysts to shake their heads knowingly. Share prices ended broadly lower for a second day, as adjusted death values signaled a sell-off of some long cherished relationships. Mary Sutherland, mother of a recently killed soldier, felt the market was just too shaky to produce meaningful results for the large, gaping hole that exists where her heart used to be. "I'm not exactly sure what they had in mind by adjusting gross values, but I went into my dead son's room again today: my ex-husband just sits in there, and holds his head, and won't leave. No talk of market shares can move him."

There have been some consumer "agitations" in the Death Fund Yields markets as traders spread deposit rates evenly among our nation's cemeteries. The Ten-Year Death Note Yield Report has produced some grumblings in the ancillary market sectors, as many analysts predicted, leading to fewer greeting card sales on the heels of the brief up-tic in the "Sorry For Your Loss" division. After tax losses, coupled with a general sense of endless despair, have created a "bulge" in Mercy Capital "floats" which have been off-set by the "One Less Seat at the Holiday Table" ennui, putting a "harsh" on family gatherings in general. Employing aspects of the "Let's Pretend" campaign, designed for families who pay way too much attention to their tragic lives, have not paid off in short-term yields nor stirred overall investor confidence.

The emotional cost of treating human beings like chess pieces being played by people who have never actually played chess could produce a negative ripple effect were it not for the predominance of "poor" or "really poor" families involved. "It's so invigorating to see these young people, with few or no options, being trained to destroy property and life on command," said Iraqi Store Operations Manager Klyde Wilmont, still wearing his Wal-Mart uniform while interviewed in front of a really cool Hummer. "It's like having a bunch of video game characters at your disposal, and then they really go off and do all that stuff you thought was just some cynical programmer's psychotic fantasy. It's awesome!" Mr. Wilmont, when asked why he was wearing a Wal-Mart uniform while leading a bunch of recruits in an assault on indigenous Arabs, ended the interview and began to snap his fingers in an unsettling rhythm.

Answering calls for new leadership in the War On People We Can Have Wars On, executives for 99 Cent Stores have unveiled their offer to buy out the United States, move their minimum wage staff overseas, and "...make the Terrorists stand in line like everybody else." No response thus far from the State Department regarding the 99 Cent Stores offer, as most of them were off checking out the new Outlet Stores recently opened just west of our nation's capital. One executive, who asked to be paid 99 cents for this interview, reached his arms skyward and yelled "God is cheap!" Religious leaders responded by issuing low-yield Heaven Promissory Notes, which, when adjusted for sheer lunacy, offered perfect bliss at a fraction of reality.

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Image from here.

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Tuesday, September 20, 2005

O-BLOODY, O BLOOD-AH!

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Georgie had a future in the United States
Rummy was leftover from his dad
Georgie says to Rummy: let’s invade that place
And Rummy said this as he took him by the hand
O-bloody, o-blood-ah, death goes on, ja!
Ga-ga, how this death goes on
O-bloody, o-blood-ah, death goes on, ja!
Ga-ga, how this death goes on

Georgie took a tour of The Big Easy
Poses for a photo-op, touching
Stops to look at Karl waiting at the door
And waits to feel the pull of all those puppet strings

O-bloody, o-blood-ah, death goes on, ja!
Ga-ga, how this death goes on
O-bloody, o-blood-ah, death goes on, ja!
Ga-ga, how this death goes on

In under two terms they have broken
Everything
Just a couple more years with them in charge
There’ll be nothing left but bones

Happy never after in the dying light
Rummy stares at blood that stains the sand
Georgie stays at home and starts to clear his brush
And in the evening waits for shit to hit the fan

Yes,
O-bloody, o-blood-ah, death goes on, ja!
Ga-ga, how this death goes on
O-bloody, o-blood-ah, death goes on, ja!
Ga-ga, how this death goes on

In under two terms they have broken
Everything
Just a couple more years with them in charge
There’ll be nothing left but bones

Happy never after in the dying light
Rummy stares at blood that stains the sand
Georgie stays at home and starts to clear his brush
And in the evening waits for shit to hit the fan

Yes,
O-bloody, o-blood-ah, death goes on, ja!
Ga-ga, how this death goes on
O-bloody, o-blood-ah, death goes on, ja!
Ga-ga, how this death goes on
O-bloody, o-blood-ah

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Special thanks to The Beatles for my abuse of Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da in this un-authorized parody of that most delightful song.

Image from here.

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Crossposted at Corrente and soon to be headlining at Correntewire. Don't forget to tip your waitress/bartender/valet guy!

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IT'S ALL GOOD, PRINCE DEMBO!

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On 9/19/05 11:46 PM, "FROM.PRINCE.T.DEMBO" wrote:

> Dear..
> I am prince Dembo,Son of late General Antonio Dembo the former Vice
> president
> of UNITA rebels in Angola.My father was the Chairman of Angolan
> Petroleum
> Monitoring Committee (APMC) 1992 to 2002. Sadly, he died after an injury
> sustained during the ambush on The UNITA rebel on 27th February 2002 where
> the President of UNITA,Dr. Jonas Savimbi was killed.
> As you might have known,
> Petroleum is the major revenue source in Angola (Southern Africa).
> My fathermade a lot of money through the job but could not invest the money
> immediatelyto avoid problem by the military government. He was able to save
> the sum
> of$12,000,000twelve Million United States Dollars). He deposited this sum with > a
> securityfirm in Dubai United Arab Emirte.
> The documents used in these depositions,together
> with the key of the safe,are with my mother.In my father's will, he instructed
> that this money must be invested overseas with the help of a foreigner who
> is reliable and trustworthy. So as to avoid problem by the federal government
> of Angola, since he was a general in the warm torn Angola, and could not
> have amassed such wealth legally. My mother and I have agreed to give 25%
> of the total sum to you while 70% will be for us then, the remaining 3%
> will be used to offset the bills incurred in the Course of the transfer
> while 2% will be for charity.
> The most important thing is to assist us to relocate
> to your country to live.However you are advised to reply me immediately
> and when I receive all your favorable reply you will be given all necessary
> details and documents and also send me your phone and fax number for
> easy communications.
> Regards,
>Prince T.Dembo


My response:

Good luck with all that money! I myself have just learned the trick of shitting quarters out of my asshole, and so appreciate a happy ending.

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Image of quarters from here.

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Monday, September 19, 2005

IN THE ARMS OF SLEEPING SORROW

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Sometimes it’s all so very hard
This weight will bring you down
Sometimes what’s right doesn’t stand a chance
Like this romance, like love
The world was made to die
In the arms of sleeping sorrow
In the ending of the dream

I hold you like a charm
And wait for falling water
To wash away the night
I hold you like a dream
In the arms of sleeping sorrow
In the arms of a good bye
Goodbye

I construct the broken staircase
I build the ruined wall
We use patch along the fault lines
And kick rocks on down the hall
And honesty is mercy
And hope is just a curse
You think you got it bad
Then bad just goes to worse
And you let out all the wonder
And you freeze the lightning sky
And then you sit and wonder
Why did God make us to die?
In the arms of sleeping sorrow
In the arms of a good bye
Goodbye

In the arms of sleeping sorrow
In the ending of the dream

Sometimes it’s all so very hard
This weight will bring you down
Sometimes what’s right doesn’t stand a chance
Like this deconstructed romance
Like love so weakly spent
The world was made to die
In the arms of sleeping sorrow
In the ending of the dream

I hold you like a charm
And wait for falling water
To wash away the night
I hold you like a dream
In the arms of sleeping sorrow
In the arms of a good bye
Goodbye

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Image of William Blake's "Pieta" from here.

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Politics, and writings about politics, can talk about having compassion for those who suffer, but can this thing we call "politics" participate in the direct experience of loss and despair? No, because it is not a human being. Politics is a corporate form, occupied by those who hustle for their beliefs or for the brass ring. Imagine the Senate, with 100 Senators, raising their voices in unison, singing of sorrow, a chamber of lamentation. Strange idea.

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Saturday, September 17, 2005

A SHORT HISTORY OF GRACE

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In the Beginning there was the animal, and the animal was killed, and we did eat of him. We thanked the animal for giving us its body for our meal.

The stick and seed were thereafter the planting way, but then came the ox and the plow, and vast tracts of land were farmed. The sky was heaven.

We no longer thanked the animal for having given its life, but instead thanked the Gods.

Then one God in the Middle East emerged, and so was now the recepient of our oblations, our prayers, our thanks for having given us the animal--an animal whose spirit was no more. We thanked the one God for our shelter, for our good fortune and for our very lives. Thank you God.

Then somebody noticed that Nature was Over There and God was Somewhere Else, and did say "If God is separate from Nature, and God is separate from Man, so too Man is separate from Nature." And we cut off our body.

Then God became a human, a particular one-time-only event, and volunteered to have the absolute shit kicked out of Him so as to rectify a wrong between the Father and the First Born. Whatever.

To this day, any conversation about the mystery of our lives conjures up aspects of this monotheistic story, so as to choke off and guard against other ideas and feelings about a life lived in concert with a spiritual principle, and to actually and actively serve to block the music that pours forth through many different instruments. The hands that wield the firmaments crush potentialities, even to the point of serving to disrespect other views, other myths as false: lastly, some will deny the possibility of the beauty and poetry of secular views of the wonder and marvel of being alive, of the sheer limitless grace of participating in the manifested Universe without a specific, binding contract from a tribal deity. Some have suggested that God made mankind because He did not believe in Himself, and needed external verification: God as the first atheist.

Some say this, some say that. Beware of those who say there is only one path to understanding, to "safety-land" for they stop at the very first river they see. There are many rivers, many ways to cross, and many ways to actualize the yearnings of the heart and self into the fabric of life itself.

Start by thanking the animal.

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Image of Lascaux cave painting from here.

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Friday, September 16, 2005

RED BEANS & RICE MONDAYS

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I received the following e-mail from a friend who lived in New Orleans, who has maintained the tradition of Red Beans & Rice Mondays for a good, long time.

Hi
I will be cooking Red Beans and Rice at the Edendale Grill on Monday, the 19th, and perhaps every Monday for a while. The purpose is to raise money to send to the Musicians Relief fund, which takes care of New Orleans musicians, and their family's, needs.

http://www.denverpost.com/music/ci_3013501
http://www.wwoz.org/clinic/
http://www.jazzfoundation.org/new_orleans.php
http://jazz.about.com/od/grantsfoundations/a/nolahelp.htm

Come on down. It's a good cause. The money goes directly, without 'staff' expenses between your donation and the recipients. I had thought about doing this here at my house, but realized I could raise way more money there.

The Edendale opens at 5, but dinner will be served starting at 6, until around 10.
See you on Monday
Janet


The Edendale Grill is located in Silverlake, CA, just south of Hyperion and north of Glendale Blvd. It is in what had been a fire house for many decades. As this event will continue on consecutive Mondays, I think I have a new short-term tradition that will satisify my soul on many levels.

The vitals:

Edendale Grill
2838 Rowena Avenue
Los Angeles, California 90039

(323) 666-2000 tel.
(323) 666-2442 fax.

I hope to arrive around 6:30 or 7:00. Hope to see many, many faces there, and I hope to hear some good jazz too!

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Image from here.

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DO THE WORK

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"President Bush acts to suspend Davis-Bacon Act of 1931, thereby slashing wages to poverty levels."

Look here and here and just Google this till you can't sit still and you write letters and you make noise. For those who didn't drown in the water Bush is fashioning a length of economic chains, the better to keep the lines straight. Damn him past the provinces of God.

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Hey there mister, got a job for you
Get yourself a hammer and some workin' shoes
Come down to the office, take a look around
You're gonna help to build us a brand new town

Hey there mister, there is work to be done
You'll sleep like a baby, you will rise with the sun
Carry that lumber, dig some holes
Don't get no mud on the boss's Rolls

(chorus)
Turn the clock back, we're on the run
It's 1930 and there's work to be done
Do the work
Do the work
Let's build America
Let's do the work
Do the work
If your heart is breaking, shake it off
We're the living, let's do the work

Hey, I know that guy, back from Iraq
Lost his friend in a sniper attack
Ready to help in his community
He has fought to keep us free

In his eyes I see the desert sky
Bombs going off just like the 4th of July
Got himself a job here for the minimum wage
He ain't yet 26 but he's showin' his age

(chorus)
Turn the clock back, we're on the run
It's 1930 and there's work to be done
Do the work
Do the work
Let's build America
Let's do the work
Do the work
If your heart is breaking, shake it off
We're the living, let's do the work

One day all the business' will open their doors
Filled with trinkets that sparkle in the happy stores
Ladies from Lafayette will wander by
Steppin' around that homeless guy

Make a movie of the moment, zoom on in
Take a look at the eyes of a veteran
There are many who washed up on the shore
Every day there are more and more

(chorus)
Turn the clock back, we're on the run
It's 1930 and there's work to be done
Do the work
Do the work
Let's build America
Let's do the work
Do the work
If your heart is breaking, shake it off
We're the living, let's do the work

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(Author's confession: I could not stop Randy Newman from influencing this song, no matter how hard I tried his "Good Old Boys" album, along with "Sail Away" would not let me be.)

Image of homeless migrant worker from here.

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Thursday, September 15, 2005

THE GOVERNMENT CAME RIDING



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The storm it was a coming up the whole damn coast
It caught us with our pants down, and turned us into toast
It broke down a few levees, a thing quite unforeseen
And the waters flooded into town, they flooded New Orleans

The government was set to go, was chomping at the bit
It made itself a pot of joe and lit a cigarette
It went outside in darkness and loaded up the truck
Then stood awhile and stretched a bit, before it passed the buck

The government came riding, true heros with a plan
They made the calls that mattered, they took a manly stand
They organized the rescue teams, and put them next to cops
They proved they were so talented at staging photo ops

The President he showed up, weary from his rest
All those days in Crawford had not left him at his best
He strode into the daylight, the hero of the town
He could not hear the clapping of the floaters all face down

The President admired the work of FEMA's number one
He joked about Trent Lott's house, his moment in the sun
It's just another party for the leader of the land
New Orleans lay in ruins while George Bush struck up the band

When history is written, when all is said and done
Remember all the good things, and all the good clean fun
The city will be built again, and jazz will fill the air
And Mardi Gras will walk on by with ghosts from everywhere

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(the voice I heard singing these lyrics belonged to Johnny Cash, a man eternal)

Image from here.

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THE PLEDGE OF ALL LITIGANTS

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I pledge forbearance
To the clothtacular stars & stripes
Of the Omnivorous States of Plutocracy Heights
And to the lock-step Republicans
With cash in hands
Insatiable
Der obere Vater gewährt Wünsche*
With Liberty and Justice for people who can afford such perks
Ahem

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Now, class, let's turn to page 61 and find out why Adam liked the Velociraptors best...

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Image of Über Pater from here.

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*"The Upper Father Grants Wishes"

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Wednesday, September 14, 2005

OPEN YOUR MINDS, OPEN THE DOOR!

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And yet I live...

When rules come up against reality, reality often finds humans to go up against the rules. We are reality. Make it happen. Save a life. Give. Open one more door than you might have. Give one more dollar. Turn your head away one less time. No, we don't get a break much these days. Breaks are over for awhile.

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Via Atrios.

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GIMME THAT OLD TIME SUPERNATURAL MURDER

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I saw God and Jesus
Walking into town
Both of them were packing
Both of them did frown

They were on a mission
To kill the sodomites
They stood outside The Puckered Hole
And then began to shout:

"What you boys are doing
With your penises just ain't right
A suckin' and a fuckin'
Morning, noon and night

It's time we put a stop to this
And for that we have a scheme:
Let's kill the elderly and poor
In evil New Orleans"

(chorus)
Drown them! Break them!
Shake them up and bake them!
Leave them in the water
So the meat falls off the bone
Glory unto Jesus
He sure casts a nasty stone
Hallelujah
He sure casts a nasty stone

It's really just a test of faith
When a Christian baby dies
Or when daddy gets his head blown off
Fighting those Arabian bad guys

But when a liberal or queer
Or mad abortionist
Is taken from this life of ours
You know that God is pissed

Nature is a bastard
And God's a bachelor plus
And if you're poor, too bad for you
Wave to Mary on the bus

(chorus)
Drown them! Break them!
Shake them up and bake them!
Leave them in the water
So the meat falls off the bone
Glory unto Jesus
He sure casts a nasty stone
Hallelujah
He sure casts a nasty stone

I saw God and Jesus
Walking into town
Both of them were packing
Both of them did frown

They were on a mission
To kill the sodomites
They stood outside The Puckered Hole
And then began to shout:

"What you boys are doing
With your penises just ain't right
A suckin' and a fuckin'
Morning, noon and night

It's time we put a stop to this
And for that we have a scheme:
Let's kill the elderly and poor
In evil New Orleans"

(chorus)
Drown them! Break them!
Shake them up and bake them!
Leave them in the water
So the meat falls off the bone
Glory unto Jesus
He sure casts a nasty stone
Hallelujah
He sure casts a nasty stone

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Image of enlightened Pat Robertson from here.

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Monday, September 12, 2005

THE BAD MAGICIAN TAKES TEA WITH BABS

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Tea comes from books, which grow out of the heads of corpses. The fine weathered print is dried and placed in the folds of silences, then rolled onto vast, Korean slabs. Many children gather to watch the merchants trade their fingers for the cognizant herbs: they are drinking you as you drink them. A bell rings: Babs has farted in her tub, as per her routine. It is time for The Bad Magician to convert a few hours into steam, hot iron and mordant honey. The bell rings again, and off he goes.

Deep inside the compound, a rhino woman stamps her hooves against the tile floor, shattering her veins. The Bad Magician manifests in the dead air: he plays shadow puppets in the blind spot as the flood waters of The Big Easy break the Bush Family levee, spilling onto the floor, bleeding uphill and up the stairs. The smell offends god. Babs, finished with her bath, tweaks her beard and scrunches her face into that of a giant rat, tapping her hollow yellow fangs lightly against the mirror. Her gut descended, she rump-waddles towards the kitchen. The Bad Magician smells a very large rat.

"Tea?" says The Bad Magician to the gray-skinned rodent as she sprays her head with plastic cheese. "Tea, indeed," says Babs. The waters of New Orleans splash upwards in funnels, scale model twisters of the toxic juice propel the refreshment into their cups. Babs smiles and drops a turd onto one of her shoes. The pace quickens: sugar is eaten, biscuits are crumbled and forgotten, the tea is consumed until Babs catches a whiff of her own rotting insides, looks at The Bad Magician and tsk, tsk, tsks the Dark Inn Keeper. Trouble arrives stoned when the tongues split into differing factions. More trouble when Babs cuts open her rat stomach and out jumps the young George W. Bush, cradling a dead frog beneath his chin. "Tea?" asks The Bad Magician? "No," answers the beady-eyed boy, but the tea careened in a wild flight of air and arc, raining down and soaking the memory of George--the lights flicker, demons confess, and more rhinos trash the kitchen. Jesus called, sends his regrets, maybe some other time, does enjoy a nice tea now and again.

The waters recede, light pours in like razors, Babs devolves into a puddle of foam and tree stumps. The young George cuts his heart out and gives it to his mother. She spits it out. Sirens wail and gunshots are heard. The Bad Magician enjoys a good tea now and again, but takes advantage of an insect deity and clicks his way to Fargo, where the nights are already cold. Babs rolls over and vomits up hush puppys and beer, and is still. George wants mommy to be better. Be better, mommy. He will go out that day and cut a doctor. Bush opens his eyes and finds his teeth have become long and yellow, and his speech is hard to read. Karl Rove congeals on a plate as George asks where Babs has gone off to. He suspects his father has had her murdered.

Rove snaps his fingers. George blinks, stumbles, hits his head on the sink. Blood pools in the sink, turns black, hisses at George. A new day dawns.

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Image of rat's paw from here.

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Sunday, September 11, 2005

DRIVE, WE SAID

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PROOF OF ALIEN BUGS, THE THING TRUCK STOP, NEW MEXICO

We left Monday with our cargo van full of stuff for humans and pets: food and towels and linens and water and toilettries. Also dog and cat crates, leashes, collars, ID tags, doggie milk bones, chew toys, bleach, kibble and so forth.

We made it to Baton Rouge and back up to St. Francesville where our gracious hosts made us dinner and forced us to drink wine and beer we ourselves had brought.

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The next day we drove to a food bank that declined our attempted donations: their wherehouse was chock-full of corporate donations. We left there and went to the Salvation Army. Missed our exit, and that combined with lots of traffic added over an hour to our journey. Finally we made it, and the folks who were working there were helpful and kindly representatives of their peaceful army.

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From there we headed over to LSU and their agricultural department.

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Inside the Ag Dome was where all of the dogs and cats were housed (though many of the larger dogs were in "the barn"), and after donating and off-loading the crates, food, bleach and leashes, collars etc., I signed up to volunteer, was given a brief tutorial with other volunteers, and then it was time to clean cages and change out dirty water bowls for clean water bowls.

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The woman in yellow was a co-ordinator--quite patient and kind.

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Looking west inside the dome, filled with crates, animals, volunteers and dust...not to mention golden rays of light.

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The Humane Society made its presence known:

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Duct tape and bailing wire, and where a back window might say "Homecoming" it instead cried foul:

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With no place to stay anywhere close to LSU we made a decision to leave: we had made our donations, did some volunteer work, and had started to become part of the homeless problem ourselves. We got on the westbound 10 and drove through Lafayette, Port Charles--we stopped at some gas station/cajun food joint:

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The next day we drove across Texas...the sunset pic was taken near Ozona.

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New Mexico brought us to Bowlin'...and an Indian depicted with great sensitivity. The folks working inside the gift shop were white, but kindly. We all gotta be something.

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Stopped in Tucson for Chicago Style sandwiches...

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Today, Sunday, my wife and I drove over to the Dream Center and volunteered our home for a person or persons who could use a place to stay. The screening process is supposed to take two weeks.

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They had a lovely trailer...

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All for now--tired, worried, blown away, off to the doctor tomorrow for a problem that began before our journey. Who can say where any of this leads?

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NOT A JOURNALIST

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I am not a journalist. I don't like exhaustive research, though I do respect such research. I have been skimming politics like a water bug my whole life: though I spent three years on the high school newspaper, I don't think I wrote a single straight news story. My whole itty bitty life has been about impressions and tones and intuition and snark and flights-of-fancy and bald-faced fantasy: don't get me wrong, I listen and read others and weigh the evidence that is laid out and then go on my way, writing lyrics or snark or nothing about these same topics. Hurricane Katrina has threatened my relationship with the written word, has clawed at it and mugged it and pulled me to the harder work of writing and making some kind of sense out of large disasters, but now I am slipping backwards inside myself, for I know there isn't anything more I can add in terms of "the facts of the case." What's weird is that I am a sort of mirror of the administration, fashioning reality as I go, adding textures and colors as I feel like, moving pieces around in often arbitrary patterns. The difference is I do it for fun while the Bush administration does it for profit.

We hear how government is inept, so Rove and Norquist and Andy et al make government as inept as possible and use that as evidence as to why it must be weakened further. Even though the MSM has been a profound disappointment for over two decades, it seems to be taking its role seriously in the aftermath of Katrina: it showed up for a tragedy and found itself the only one, besides the victims, who could locate the address. The L.A. Times, in an article about the "Response" to Katrina's effects had a sidebar titled "Anatomy of a disaster" in which they had one column for Agency one for Responsibilities and one titled Responses.

Under "responsibilities" for the White House they wrote: "Delegates responsibility for disaster response to government agencies." and "Declares federal emergency to allow for federal aid in hurricane relief efforts." Under responses the Times writes:

President and many top White House staff remain on vacation during initial stages of crisis.

White House blames state and local officials for inadequate response.

President relies heavily on FEMA's optimistic and can-do assessments.

White House considers and rejects federal takeover of National Guard after Louisians governor objects.

President doesn't expect the levee breaches, despite explicit warnings.


The list goes on to include Department of Homeland Security, FEMA, National Guard and the U.S. Military, and they don't fare any better. In a dispassionate voice, the Times lays out reality and it sits there quietly staring back at me, and I wonder why Bush still has his job, much less Brown or Chertoff or any of a thousand political appointees who smile for the camera and cannot wipe their own asses without blaming poor black people for their own shit. But at least the truth sits there.

There is this odd thing called hope: some real journalists are doing their jobs. On August 31st, I wrote the following to the L.A. Times:

DEAR EDITORIAL STAFF,

A war won and lost over two years ago yet it continues, a President playing guitar for a photo-op while The Big Easy drowns, National Guard on consecutive tours overseas when they are needed here...the sky isn’t falling, we’re pulling it down. Who will cry “Enough” if not our best and brightest in print media? Television stations cannot betray their ever-shrinking share of ad revenue, but print media cannot betray its readership, not now, not anymore.

Look out your windows in downtown! What do you see? Nothing? Why? Is it because your building is pointed away from America?

Much to be commended re the work of the Times, but so much more left unattended; the story of America as it skids into 2006, a story beyond “positioning” and “market research” and if left alone the country is going to have cultural/political levees break and social floods rise that will make New Orleans look like the baby’s wash basin. What is the Times place in all of this going to be? Looking out of windows at nothing while a great and beautiful country is cut off at the knees?

I write this as a plea: go to the highest (metaphorical or not) mountain you can find and take a good, long look around. Then come back and tell your readers in Southern California and around the world just what it is you see. Please.

Who could presume to tell you what to write?--yet I ask that whatever you do write, do it as if it mattered. As John Wooden has been known to say “Dare to be different, dare to be a Daniel!” Interested?


You could be the greatest journalist in the world, but if your paper holds back your reigns your talent and drive will be for naught. I will never be a journalist, but I will root for them to do their jobs, to be objective, and to champion for justice and truth as best they may.

Did your local newspaper write something that had a particular whiff of truth? Did the editorial board opine from their hearts and heads and make sense at the same time? Send them thank you's and congratulations: avoid damning them with faint praise. Tell them you hope to read more quality work, more professional journalism from them, and tell them we need more like them. I am writing the Times today, to thank them for doing their jobs. Do I have to do this? Should we thank people for merely doing their jobs? In my world, yes.

I am not a journalist, nor do I play one on television, but I need journalists, good ones, and I need editorial boards, good ones, who can do their jobs so my country doesn't go down the drain. Many bloggers have done terrific jobs during these events (though I have been on the road bringing goods to Louisiana and have not read much--I hope to read some tonight) and they are now a vital part of the dissemination of news, and the fact-checking of that news. Let's keep going, let's see if this awkward partnership between MSM journalists and bloggers makes for a better press, and a better country for all of us.

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Image of H.L. Mencken from here.

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Saturday, September 10, 2005

BACK IN THE WEST TEXAS TOWN OF EL PASO

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Headed west from Louisiana two nights ago--no lodging within a hundred miles west and east of New Orleans (not sure about north--maybe in Alexandria?) and no one seemed too keen on taking in two grown men from La La Land for rescue projects. Anyway, we were now part of the problem, and felt it best to move on. I will post on this (not that it matters) in more detail Sunday. Some notes:

Dropped food donations off in Baton Rouge, missed the exit and lost our hosts, made amends as best we could on the phone later but did regret the lack of a formal "good-bye"--lots of traffic as the city's size has doubled since Hurricane Katrina.

Went to LSU and donated the dog and cat crates, leashes, collars, ID tags (no, not Intelligent Design Tags, but that does give me an idea...), chew toys, milk bones, dog & cat kibble, and paper towels and bleach and I don't know what all else. I volunteered to help inside the Ag Dome with all of the dogs and cats being housed therein, and spent four hours or so cleaning dog cages, changing their dusty water bowls, etc. Will post some pics and more details later.

Drove to Beaumont, TX two nights ago, and drove to El Paso yesterday (arriving before midnight local time), speeding like the elitist latte drinkers that we are. The 10 across Texas is more scenic than the 20, but the two largest cities along the way west (Houston and San Antonio) are experiencing major road work projects: lanes often narrowed down to Twiggy-style width and when we passed trucks on our right with concrete blocks on our left I sucked in my gut.

Texas is way too big, but I suppose it's too late to do anything about that. My idea to fold it in half, then fold it in half again may prove impossible.

New Orleans is now like the man whose body was left to rot as troops walked by: waiting for Jesus and Pine Sol and someone who can rebuild a city, and its sea walls and levees, so that folks can live there again. Why not? How many billions on Iraq, and folks talk of bulldozing The Big Easy? We're fighting them over there so we can abandon them over here? The new World Order is Plantation Redux, and the whip you hear crackin' was made just for you.

Not having been to the south (except six months in Southern Florida long ago) I was struck by the polychromatic color scale of humanity, with white to mulatto to dark, and everything in between, and it was all beautiful. The sweetest vibes came from poor blacks: I can't really quantify such a thing. I guess it's a remnant of Intelligent Design.

Peace--I just want to go home and shave my body and run for Congress and channel Ghandi mixed with Huey Long and summon up the furies, and paint the sky black inside of Dick Cheney's brain--oh, sorry, it's already black. Too little, too late.

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Wednesday, September 07, 2005

THE ROAD ODE BLOATED TOAD JAMOBOREE

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We drove all day and much of the night, from El Paso to Tyler, Texas, arriving 2:00 a.m. at Don's friends home--bleary-eyed he greeted us, and bleery-eyed we responded. Got five hours sleep next to a private (modest, I suppose) lake, pet a feral cat, had coffee and showers, went and had breakfast at Fuller's on Highway 69, then headed east on the 20 and on to Louisiana. Did the Shreveport bypass and dropped south on 49 to Alexandria, then the 1 to Baton Rouge, via who fucking knows, then back north to St. Francisville and a wonderful dinner, company and chatter-chatter-chatter. Anntichrist S. Coulter appeared to us via satellite death-star hookup, and regaled us with tales of god-awful tourist pissing and puking their lives all over New Orleans, the old New Orleans, the one that had not been betrayed into the brackish pools of negligence and lassaiz-faire annihilation.

I had brought along Bob Dylan's Highway 61 Revisited, played it, then drove the eponymous highway. Everyone should get a chance to drive an eponymous highway.

Tomorrow we deliver all of our donated foods, linens, towels and toiletries, etc. From there we hope to get directed to the appropriate animal/human rescue organizations, so that our return trip can ferry the lost, disposessed and otherwise Barbara Bush ass-cramp society members who seek but to survive in a difficult and mismanaged nation.

During this journey, I have had many political thoughts, and some casual musings and sleep-deprived ocular visitations, but mostly just the gas pedal and road atlas-peering . I have decided that Texas should be granted asylum and allowed all of the attention it craves: celebrate its preeminence, its chunky fat ass all over the popular id, its weird self-satisfied conversation with itself. I saw an enormous billboard sign off of the 20 (somewhere near Fort Worth) that advertised an a.m talk radio station: in font bigger than our national debt it proclaimed "LIBERALS HATE US!" It all came home to me: "they" need an enemy, otherwise no one would listen to them. The poor souls who buy into that crap are lead around like livestock, all the while believing they are original thinkers and great patriots.

Let me tell you something: there are not huge billboards in Los Angeles proclaiming REACTIONARY CRACKERS HATE US, no such billboards will ever exist, because we don't need enemies, we need friends. We are not in a war with our differences, we are in a war with our similarities. I am looking, as my bleary eyes cry for sleep, for a populist southerner to channel Little Richard and Reverend Ike and Ralph Nader (on a good day) and get these poor, isolated children of the mystery of being to sense and understand that the life of the heart, of the human being does not fit into some corporate format, that there is value to being a human being that lumbers beyond slogans, that "liberals" love the promise of America more than they may every accept. Karl Rove kills Jesus every day of his life and millions just don't get it.

New Orleans was the baby tossed away with the proberbial bathwater: some of us noticed.

Peace!

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p.s. tomorrow we deliver our donated goods to the food bank!

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"god is an intelligible sphere whose circumference is nowhere and whose center is everywhere"

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Tuesday, September 06, 2005

THEY DRIVE BY NIGHT

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Arrived in El Paso this morning. A friend has opened her home to us--hope to get a couple hours sleep, a shower and then back on the road. Everyone who knows we are driving to Louisiana feels it's crucial to tell us that the drive across Texas is awful. I believe being trapped in your attic for a week with the waters rising around you is the place where "awful" reigns. I brought Dylan's Highway 61, Steve Earle's "Jersusalem" and a bunch of other stuff (including the sound track to John Sayle's Lone Star)--and Dr. John and other Dixieland sounds to urge us onward--music makes a lot of bad road tolerable.

Hope to be in Louisiana by day's end/night's end/tomorrow a.m. We have been given a ton of food, sheets, blankets, toiletries to take to a shelter and/or directly to needy families. Will figure out that part when the time comes.

I drove to the Arizona border, then Don took the wheel and drove all the way to Las Cruces--I drove that last forty minutes or so to El Paso because Don was exhausted. We saw the sun rise over Las Cruces, New Mexico: dark, pointed mountains east of the town, a sky of bread-pan rolled dark clouds giving way to purple, pink and red displays. One mountain had a curling white cloud caressing its peak, as if it had become arms and was holding the hilltop, not ready to let go.

Time for sleep.

Without my dear and wonderful wife this trip would not be happening, from getting the cargo van comped to the food donations, etc., she is elemental force that carries us east. It is our job to help homeless dogs and cats, and some newly homeless humans, find a place to stay for a time, and so that is what we'll do.

More later or tomorrow.

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Monday, September 05, 2005

HEADING EAST

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Got a cargo van donated to the cause--am loading it up and heading east late this Labor Day morning, by early afternoon at the latest. We are bringing a bunch of dog and cat crates to an as-yet un-named location--animal rescue organizations are in full career right now so while the details are fuzzy the need is not. Will be in El Paso tonight, then on to the New Orleans area.

We hope to do whatever is needed in the area, including transporting homeless animals and humans where they need to go. We have room in L.A. to put up a couple of people (and pets)--the rest of the animals will be fostered out as fast as fast can be. My wife is staying in Los Angeles due to work constraints, but will be aiding in coordinating communications.

More later.

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Image "New Orleans Street Scene" from here.

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Sunday, September 04, 2005

a mother in jefferson parish

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there is a mother in jefferson parish
she's living in a retirement home
the waters are rising when she calls you
let her know help is coming soon

there is a mother in jefferson parish
she's living in a retirement home
tell your momma that help is coming
not yet time for her soul to roam

there is a mother in jefferson parish
she's living in a retirement home
she called for help but help ain't coming
she's drowning on the telephone

(chorus)
our system is working, have faith, you'll see
our system is 'a working fine
praise the lord and grateful be
praise the lord divine
we will save the pearl of the quarter
praise the lord divine

there you are in a hotel suite
you can hear the AC drone
feel the breeze that is ocean sweet
a thousand miles from home

there you are at maggie mae's
she has that place up north
she'll take you in and wash your feet
she's the woman that jesus knows

(chorus)
our system is working, have faith, you'll see
our system is 'a working fine
praise the lord and grateful be
praise the lord divine
we will save the pearl of the quarter
praise the lord divine

there's a child in the freezer room
just a boy of seven or so
a man came in and broke him down
that boy don't move no more

there you are in the center of god
reach your hands so far
fire is the world when it's transformed
flood covers up the scars

(chorus)
our system is working, have faith, you'll see
our system is 'a working fine
praise the lord and grateful be
praise the lord divine
we will save the pearl of the quarter
praise the lord divine

there is a mother in jefferson parish
she's living in a retirement home
the waters are rising when she calls you
let her know help is coming soon

there is a mother in jefferson parish
she's living in a retirement home
tell your momma that help is coming
not yet time for her soul to roam

there is a mother in jefferson parish
living in a retirement home
she called for help but help ain't coming
she's drowning on the telephone

(roaring)
there you are in the center of god
reach your hands so far
fire is the world when it's transformed
flood covers up the scars, baby
flood covers up the scars

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Above: Jefferson Parish President Aaron Broussard as interviewed on MTP--image from Crooks & Liars.

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Saturday, September 03, 2005

LA LA LA LA LA LA LA LA LA LA LA LA LA LA

FROM CNN QUICK VOTE

Do failures in the response to Hurricane Katrina raise questions about how officials might handle a major terrorist attack?

Yes 89%
56738 votes

No 11%
7208 votes

Total: 63946 votes


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Eleven percent (results not final nor chewable) do not think that "questions are raisable" vis a vis how officials' behavior in New Orleans might play out during a major terrorist attack. Those languid questions should just stay put, thank you very much. Questions are not raising, they are resting comfortably. Questions should be taking a well-deserved nap. As a matter of fact, after resting up, those questions should lounge in the pool for a time, or like Monty Python get on their stomach's and climb the lateral face of an urban sidewalk.

Other things questions might do, other than be raised: they could be taken to an amusement park, treated to an afternoon at the zoo or be a featured speaker at an Anabaptist Kazoo festival. Questions might enjoy playing marbles, gin rummy or pachinko. No poker, for how to raise the pot when the potter shall not be raised?

We could all get in the van and go to the hills, find a flat spot and do some star-gazing, questions brought along but no questions asked. What is rather startling is that those who do not think questions should be raised answered a question that had been raised. O, irony! O, silly persons!

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Friday, September 02, 2005

PRESIDENT BUSH RESIGNS

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In a surprise and apparently impromptu announcement, which took place at a Chicken Hut on the outskirts of Atlantic Beach in South Carolina, President George W. Bush told fellow Chicken Hut customers Larraine and Wilson Hentners, and their two adopted children Stanley and Marinda, that he would be resigning "probably next Tuesday, Wednesday at the latest," as Bush and the Hentners were dining on an outside patio, cooled by a breeze from the ocean. The Hentners, enjoying a Saturday Family Meal Deal with all the trimmings, were caught off-guard by the president's words. "I mean, we were just sitting there, and his security guys were doing that head-back thing, looking at us in their dark sunglasses, and out of nowhere he drops that bomb on us," said Larraine, age 41. "I about spit out my diet cola, I can tell you."

Wilson Hentners, 42, a swimming instructor at a nearby resort and part-time video store clerk and part-time dairy employee was also taken aback at the President's pronouncement. "He was just non-chalant about it, I almost forgot who he was. Heck, I almost said 'Who asked?' That would've been awkward for sure." Larraine, who teaches at a local elementary school and has a part-time job waitressing at a crosstown eatery and has another part-time job writing fake letters to newspapers, added, "If he was looking to us to talk him out of it he picked the wrong day. We just think he's in a kind of downward spiral, and we don't want him dragging us down and killing all of us and we're gone forever and everybody goes to hell because we got that whole Christian thing kind of assbackwards, you know what I'm saying?"

President Bush went on to say, "I have destroyed lives, I have destroyed this country, I have spent all of my political capital like a drunken sailor and have no right to lead this nation. My decisions have resulted in the deaths of thousands and thousands of Americans and Arabs and dark people, who are Americans too but when I say 'Americans' I don't always remember that." The president paused and took a sip of his sweetened iced tea, then continued, "I will have Cheney dragged into court for acts against the interests of the United States, up to and including military-funding graft and fraud. Bill Frist and Dennis Hastert will be given the opportunity to resign or face a minimum of thirty years in a toxic barrel. Karl Rove, whom I love like a brother, will be killed and eaten by Eskimos in a ceremony to help heal the damage of our drilling in their hunting grounds. Just thinking about the list of things to do is exhausting, and I haven't even gotten to Condi and Don, Grover and Libby and Wolf and Perlie and Barbara and a whole lot of other ridiculous and pathological fascists. I might just put them on a barge on the Potomoc and have our Navy blow it up. I think I can order that--sure, I'll need a back story, but it's worth a try. Can I have one of your chicken wings?"

The Hentners children were playing with their food kind of distantly, and looked as though they didn't want to be at the Chicken Hut anymore. Marinda, an eighth grader at a local middle school, finally offered, almost to herself, with eyes downcast, "It's too late. People are suffering, people are dying or dead, and we as a nation have failed our brothers and sisters horribly." Asked where she learned to talk like a liberal, her 15 year-old sophmore brother, Stanley, stood up for her. "That's what has happened to our country: if you look at issues with a degree of reflection and compassion, with more than a superficial morality or some party-approved talking point, you are immediately accused of being a liberal, as if that were a bad thing. Never in the history of the United States, a flawed but great country, has such a tactic been used by so many in power to squelch reasonable and responsible political dialogue."

After his lunch the President excused himself, apologized again for his miserable and awful life, and walked like a broken and haunted man to his waiting limousine. He looked back at the Hentner Family and said, yelled actually, "Thanks for not making any 'Chickenhawk' jokes. You could have and you didn't, what with this being a Chicken Hut and all. Thank you."

Bush climbed in, and a Secret Service agent closed the door behind him, his steely features betraying no emotion. As the limo driver steered his way out of the roadside parking lot, Larraine looked up and said, "Well, I can't say as how I didn't see that coming," contradicting her earlier claim to be surprised. "Goddamn Chickenhawk."

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Image from here.

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THE LEVEE IS BREAKING IN AMERICA

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HOME MOVIES

why ain't momma moving anymore?
why is the baby so still in his crib?
where are the angels who bring the water?
where are the leaders who run the show?
this man, he president
he the worst joke ever

LAMENT

and the streets are littered with the dead
and the streets are littered with the dead
and the streets are littered with the dead
and the waters are foul in New Orleans
and the waters are foul in New Orleans
and the waters are foul in New Orleans
and the people on life support are dead
and the people on life support are dead
and the people on life support are dead
and the bodies are the bodies of our bodies

and the legacy of racism is here
and the legacy of racism is here
and the legacy of racism is here

OBSERVATION

the hurricane came and went
and the people are dying
and the president he cut the money
and the president he cut the money
and soldiers are dying in Iraq
and soldiers are dying in Iraq
defending our freedom
our freedom to kill New Orleans


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Image from here.

Author's Note: I googled "New Orleans Images" and was struck by how few of the images had black people in them--the few that came up were musicians (Satchmo, etc.). It's almost as if there weren't any black people down there.

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GIVE WHAT YOU CAN OF YOUR TIME AND MONEY TO HELP THE PEOPLE OF NEW ORLEANS.

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Thursday, September 01, 2005

LEADER OF THE PACK

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I have in front of me a book about dogs that I want to share a few words from--share them with whoever you are: the book is titled LEADER OF THE PACK (published by Quill, A Harper Resource Book) and it was written by Nancy Baer and Steve Duno. My wife rescues dogs and was told about this book: she read it, loved it, made me read it and then bought a bunch of copies to give to people with whom we place dogs, or just people with dogs independent of us who, to my wife's eye, look like they could use some guidance. If dogs could read she would give copies to dogs, but let's not go there.

Most of the chapters in the book begin with a description of the goings on in a certain pack of wolves, with extra stress on what the Leader of the Pack does to efficiently run said pack. Chapter titles include "Leaders Eat First" and "Leaders Protect Their Packs" and one which I will reprint some of the text from: "Leaders Are Calm, Fair, and Confident." I must now confess one small bit of trivia which betrays my sentiments: I was born in the Year of the Dog, and have had my share of joys and sorrows with these wonderful creatures.

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From Chapter Seven: LEADERS ARE CALM, FAIR AND CONFIDENT

The pack rested after eating. The young elk had been taken down by three young males after they discovered it limping across the muddy flood plain of a small alpine lake. By the time the rest of the pack arrived, the three were busy eating.

The Alpha male sauntered over to the kill, sniffing and licking at it while the three young hunters watched, momentarily halting their feeding, not sure if they should surrender their hard-earned privilege. Then, the Alpha male walked off a few paces and lay down, content to watch the three fledgling hunters enjoy their first kill together.

The rest of the pack tentatively joined the three young males, who by now had each eaten close to their fill. The Alpha male came over to join in on the meal. He was impressed at the size of the juveniles' first kill and at their initiative. To show his respect, he had allowed these three first-feeding privileges. Confident in his leadership, he knew that they would not interpret his acquiescence as weakness, but rather as tribute to their success. It was the fair thing to do.*


*The authors switch gears here and give their take on what has occured:

The leader of a wolf pack is not a tyrant, but rather a benevolent dictator and an efficient administrator. He should not steal from a subordinate, discipline irrationally, lose his temper, or show any signs of fear toward pack members or outsiders. Proper leadership instills confidence into the pack, rewards initiative, and operates in a consistent, predictable manner. If the Alpha male were skittish, temperamental, and unfair, pack unity would quickly deteriorate, resulting in a diminished level of teamwork. Ultimately, a high mortality rate among the young would follow, threatening the very survival of the species (italics mine). Responsible leadership involves not only authority, therefore, but also knowing how to raise the confidence level of subordinates by acting in a fair and reasonable manner.

(edit)

As leader of your pack, you must set a good example for Bobo (Editor: your dog). Avoiding temper tantrums and irrational emotion, exuding confidence, and treating those around you fairly will help solidify you as a true leader and not just a big bully. Intimidation is not leadership, but simply physical domination that lowers confidence and fosters a climate of fear. A dog that is lorded over by a hard, unfair, emotional person will obey out of fear, but it will be scared of strangers, other dogs, and new situations. It will also have no genuine respect for its owner and very little loyalty. Dogs that are mistreated in this way by bullying owners often run away or develop profound fear-aggressive tendencies, much in the same way that abused children so often end up as violent offenders.

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AND NOW FOR MY TWO PAWS WORTH

I have arrived where I must, to look closer at the problem my pack faces in this dangerous and pitiless world:

George W. Bush was also born in the Year of the Dog, one cycle before my turn on the cosmic wheel. Dubya, a puppy never properly trained, thrust into power without really earning his place in the Pack, he has taken a middle-aged version of an Icarus flight, but instead of soaring too close to the sun he steers America too close to the abyss, looks down and growls petulantly. Unable to feel the confidence that comes to a true leader, one who arrived at such a position of power not by privilege and silver spoons, but by merit, talent and maturity, he stumbles in the daylight world, annoyed that anyone would question his role as the Alpha Male, a role that ill-fits his crankiness, his distance, his apparent lack of reflection, and perhaps most importantly, his barely veiled disinterest in the potential for a love of life as lived by all, not just a comfortable few. He has the dry, incurious smirk of an almost casual sociopath, a defiant detatchment, a publicly revealed yearning to go back to his cave and be left alone, a cave he covets as his refuge from an importunate world, a pack he does not really know how to relate to except as a poser, a fake, a grim and hopeless man. He doesn't deserve to be America's Alpha Male, and he knows it, but what can he do--snarl his teeth, send the young off to die, sprinkle platitudes like dust and crave a darkened hole in Crawford where he can disappear into the forgetfulness of dreams. Sleep well, George, sleep well. The pack stirs in the moonless night, and the breeze is fraught with the augeries of fall.

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Image of Wolf from here.

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Update: Dan Froomkin chimes in here. Seems this sub-basement alpha is snarling and prickly even when surrounded with his yes-men.

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