Tuesday, December 27, 2005

A freeform fashion rant

I'm sitting in a hipster cafe in Williamsburg which is not as bad as I'd like it to be. It is quite cozy, the music selection is eclectic (although the minute I thought the blues they were playing were great, they immediately switched to Run DMC's Greatest Hits just to show me how obnoxious they can be when they put their mind to it). Their wi-fi works beautifully. They have a fantastic almond croissant and decent chamomile tea. Still, what is it that bugs me about this place? I guess it's what bugs me about Williamsburg in general, which is the peeps. Now, to be fair, I'm an equal opportunity misanthrope, and I feel no warmer for Park Slopers, Upper or West Siders, anybody from Queens, or anybody else from anywhere, really, except Downtown, which is where I hail from. But Billyburg hipsters annoy me particularly, even though they must be all nice and concerned about the environment.
Williamsburg gamines: I fail to see the point of wearing skirts on top of pants, and pants badly stuffed inside cowboy boots. I fail to see the point of cowboy boots. I fail to see the point of those horrid raven-colored Betty Page haircuts. Can we stop the vintage look? It's as if the armoire of your dead spinster aunt from Duluth fell on top of you.
I also hate things that you'd never see a Billyburger wear, such as Ugg boots, lowrider jeans with the thong sticking out, extremely pointy shoes, extremely round toed shoes, Marc Jacobs bags, and Marc Jacobs clothes in general, which look to me like what somebody would wear fresh out of a lobotomy in the fifties.
I absolutely loathe anything with a logo. People who dress themselves like the contents of a fake bag store on Mott Street should be arrested. I do not appreciate the fact that thanks to the trashy likes of Britney Spears and Tara Reid and Paris Hilton (aren't they all one and the same?), it is now customary for women to look like hookers from the Florida Panhandle. There is no allure, no romance, no mystery, no elegance anymore.
Methinks, dear readers, the world has become a hideously vulgar place.

Humor for atheists

Check out this lovely Doonesbury cartoon (click on the title). It made my day today.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Holy Guacamole Part II

A wall at the US/Mexico border is one of the stupidest, most offensive, backward, horrid ideas the American government has come up with lately, and boy are they prolific with bad ideas.
What is the problem with allowing Mexican and other Latin American immigrants from coming to the US? As I see it, they make everybody happy, except racists.
1. They make business owners happy because they are hardworking and dependable and they tolerate abuse real well. Business owners can pay them salaries way below minimum wage and don't have to spend a dime in benefits. They make the economy grow.
2. The corrupt, ineffectual, hypocritical, inexcusable Mexican government is happy because the immigrants send billions of dollars back to Mexico and take care of things the government should be responsible for. This does not impede Mexican bureaucrats from extorting money from these people. So they are happy too.
3. The immigrants themselves, although they live difficult, marginalized lives and miss their country, are happy because they can finally save some money to send back to their families in Mexico, and they can improve their lot in life.
So what's not to like?

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Holy Guacamole!

Apparently, the Bush "administration" thinks this is an idea which time has come: they intend to put up a wall at the border with Mexico to prevent the influx of all of your gardeners, nannies, fruitpickers, people who work in horrid slaughterhouses, busboys, delivery boys, cooks, valet parking attendants, hotel staff, and every kind of underpaid, backbreaking occupations other citizens of this country can't be bothered with.
Mexicans in Mexico are outraged. A wall! The chutzpah! The discrimination! I agree, at the very least, it shows extreme ungratitude.
However, before they plotz, Mexicans should ask themselves a simple question: Why are our compatriots willing to risk life and limb, willing to die of heatstroke in the desert (or asphyxia inside a sealed truck), to pay thousands of dollars to unscrupulous coyotes, to leave their families behind and risk never being able to see them again, in order to be treated like mierda in the US?
The answer is equally simple: because they are treated less like shit here than in their own country. Here people may ignore them or resent them or both, but even working illegally, with no benefits or protection from abuse, they still make more money than they would ever make in their homeland. And that money makes all the difference: it means a slow ascent into something resembling dignity, which Mexico refuses to give them in the form of better salaries, a better education or the possibility of upward mobility. Mexican immigrants provide Mexico with the second source of income after oil. They send back billions of dollars a year to their towns and families and many of them take it upon themselves to improve hospitals and schools, pave their own roads, and do what their government won't. Mexico is a tremendously wealthy country which thrives on the backs of millions of exploited people. So before everybody starts screaming bloody murder at the evil gringos, maybe they should think about improving the standard of living in Mexico and giving Mexicans better opportunities. Then perhaps the immigration will finally taper off.

I love Ray Kelly but this is too much

The police infiltrates peaceful bike marches like Critical Mass. They videotape some of the participants. What the heck for? They claim that it is to keep the peace, but it seems to me that that's what the uniformed cops are for. They are probably doing a great job of keeping this city safe, but it's a waste of time and effort to send disguised officers to bike parades. It has the whiff of Orwellian je ne sais quoi about it.
The powers that be, be they the Bush administration or the NYPD, have tried to abuse the circumstance of 9/11 ever since it happened. While it is true that certain measures have to be taken to ensure we are safe from violent threats, the decidedly undemocratic, unconstitutional bent of some of these measures is very serious and very scary. And now we have an extension of the Patriot act, ladies and gents.
As Dr. Johnson said, or so I heard him quoted in Stanley Kubrick's Paths of Glory, (run to the Film Forum):
Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

What about us Atheists, New York Magazine?

Really, as an Atheist I feel completely discriminated against. We Atheists also have an unshakable faith: we believe that God is a human construct and not the other way around. It is as strong a creed as any other. Or stronger. We constantly have to defend ourselves from the relentless barrage of God-oriented everything, from stupid holidays, to stupider holiday music, to dollar bills, to assholes like Bill O'Reilly. We suffer in silence. We are disregarded, disrespected and ignored, despite being the smartest and less conflictive of the bunch. I'm sure there must be a great number of the Godless in this great metropolis, and I bet many of them are to blame for its high quotient of tolerance and cool.
If you can include Bahaiis, Zoroastrians, and Hare Krishnas, the Temple of the Evening Star (huh?), the Church of Humanism (!) and Scientology (since when is that a religion? Last I heard it's a dangerous sect that makes people jump on couches and purchase personal ultrasound machines). Why not the Church of Elvis, or Reverend Billy from the Church of Stop Shopping?
I belong to the Church of Netflix, which has many faithful members. Why not us? Why not the Moonies? How about Jews for Jesus, who may be for Jesus but they are most certainly not Jews. What about the enlightened few who prefer Arturo's Pizza to Joe's or Lombardi's? How could you fail to include a single Atheist, or even one poor, confused Agnostic on your list? We live here and believe here too, you know.

Boo hoo: Saddam cries foul

It is obvious from his behavior in court, if not from his years of systematic murder and ghastly torture of innocent citizens, that Saddam Hussein is a deeply disturbed psychopath. He is so used to impunity and total power, that he thinks he can still rule by fear from his captivity. He claimed, for instance, that he knew the name of whoever ratted him out, which means that if he were free today, that person and their entire family, friends and neighbors, hell, probably their entire province, should be in deathly fear of savage retribution. The guy is also media savvy and hellishly manipulative, so now he is crying that Americans have tortured and beaten him in his cell. We wish! Not that we approve of torture, like Cheney, Bush and their pal Alberto Gonzalez, who happen to be so enthusiastic about the idea that they even farm it out to other countries. Yet if there is someone who deserves a good thrashing is Saddam. Luckily for us, despite this administration's best efforts, America is still a democracy guided by civilized principles and the rule of law, not by revenge fantasies. ("We'll smoke 'em out of their holes", and "Wanted: Dead or Alive" notwithstanding).

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

An intelligently designed judge

If God existed, he'd bless Judge Jones, who struck an important blow today against the forces of ignorance and prejudice that want this country to revert to the dark ages.
I used to be an agnostic, but upgraded recently to atheist because I'm sick of people like Bill O'Reilly and POTUS and their fundamentalist friends using their relationship with God to deceive people into thinking they have a moral conscience.
Marx was being polite when he said religion is the opium of the masses. To me, apart from some welcome holiday downtime, all religion has done through the ages is get many innocents killed and many more kept in the dark.
So hurray for this ruling against "intelligent design" which wants to teach children that the world was made in 7 days and women come from Tony Roma's, A Place for Ribs.

A young entrepeneur nipped in the bud

The New York Times on the net ran an article so trashily tawdry, it has been on its most emailed list for two days.
A 13-year old, Justin Berry, exhibiting a most precocious spirit of American entrepeneurship, became the Louis B. Mayer of teenage internet porn in which he made thousands of dollars exhibiting himself on his webcam for the pleasure of mostly red state perverts. When his dad found out, he was so excited by the business opportunity that he procured prostitutes to his then 16-year old son, so he could film himself performing sex with them for his adoring audience, with a slice of the profits for Dad, naturally. In the meantime, all this porn action was going on in front of Mom's nose in her own house and all she could think was that it was very good for her neglected, solitary kid to spend such an inordinate amount of time holed up in his room in front of the computer.
The pervs claim that the kids who do this are savvy and greedy and nobody forces them. Everybody else screams bloody murder against the pervs and their criminal, predatory ways. Well I blame the FREAKING PARENTS, who are either too stupid or too monstrous to take care of their own children.
Justin's father should be arrested and incarcerated (I was going to say hung by the balls and shot, but we don't live in Iran) and the mother should be made to sit in front of a computer screen showing the fruits of her son's and other neglected children's porn labor until she learns to knock on the door and demand to know what the hell is going on.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Good News! POTUS still has no mistakes to report

I just watched my first POTUS press conference ever. I try to avoid them, since just looking at the guy gives me heartburn. But this time I was a captive audience at the gym and plugged myself in to see if POTUS had any words of reassurance on how this country is fast becoming a police state. He did indeed confirm we're on the right track to a police state and also why I can't bear to watch him speak: he is so utterly incompetent, he scares the living daylights out of me.
The New York Times report linked in this post (click on the title) makes Bush sound as eloquent and articulate as John Gielgud, when in fact, he speaks like a moron. Here's my report from the treadmill:
Bush called this press conference to defend himself over charges of illegal government surveillance on Americans, but, sounding like a sales rep for Verizon, made it clear there is nothing to worry about if you are placing domestic calls within the United States; just if you happen to call Karachi or Islamabad or Tehran or some such Middle Eastern hellhole where they are waging a war against us. No need to worry (yet) about your weekly phone sex conversations, unless they happen to take place with someone who wears a burka.
Bush speaks to journalists in the same patronizing tone that he might have used with the kindergartners he visited on that fateful day in 2001, had he been able to stick around and chat for more than seven minutes. One of the journalists, (sheepish looking guys who scribble furiously like obedient little students), prefaced his question by solemnly congratulating POTUS on being so candid with the American people lately, a strategy devised to warn him, "here comes a toughie, potus, prick up your ears, now". The question, which needed no such introduction, was: so have you rethought your position about whether you may have made any mistakes in Iraq, the war on terror, etc? The answer, in a nutshell, was NOPE. NO MISTAKES FROM POTUS WHATSOEVER. EVER. Then POTUS got really angry at the reporter from the Washington Post for suggesting that the surveillance program was "symptomatic of unchecked power in the presidency". You could see he was about to stick his tongue out in protest. The Washington Post guy looked as if he had been sent to his room with no TV for a week.
In his rambling, simplistic, almost incoherent answers, among other things Bush confused Osama with Saddam (what the heck, they're all the same), and talked extensively about how people love freedom so much that when they see a democracy imposed by a lengthy and bloody occupation, they'll want to have one just like that.
He repeatedly defended the trampling of Americans' constitutional rights by insisting that this is what Americans expect him to do (defend us from terror) and by invoking the need to act quickly, because the bad guys adapt constantly to new situations. And speaking of acting quickly, any news on the whereabouts of Osama yet?

Sunday, December 18, 2005

NYTimes.com: New York, Once a Lure, Is Slowly Losing the Creative Set

Run for your lives! Bohemians and creatives are leaving this town in droves.
This is truly terrifying. Do something about it, Mayor.
The expensiveness of this city has now reached obscene, disgusting levels. Soon it will be inhabited exclusively by obscene, disgusting people.
Go into almost any bar or restaurant, have a now average $12 dollar cocktail and file for bankruptcy.
Just take one good look at Soho. It's a mall.
Just take one look at Broadway, if you can stand it:
A new musical with songs by John Denver? Abba? Lennon? Billy Joel? Rent, which sucks like there is no tomorrow?
Bubba Gump's Shrimp Shack? Red Lobster? WTF!!!!
And on the NYT magazine today, an article about Mannheim Steamroller, the criminals responsible for New Age Xmas music. Are we in NY? Or are we in Kansas?
And why is everything being replaced by Duane Reade's? Are New Yorkers so frail all of a sudden they need a pharmacy every half a block?
Take the demise of Kim's Video on Bleecker St. The place was a dump. The smartass snotfaced idiot NYU film students who worked there deserve to be sent to the ninth circle of hell with a running loop of the japanese gore films they inflicted on innocent patrons endlessly playing over their heads. BUT: Kim's Video had an amazing selection of films, arsty and fartsy. True, rumor has it they were dealing bootleg videos in the back. Not nice. But now it's going to be, guess what: a Duane Reade, despite the fact that there are 2 other pharmacies right next door.
This city is going to the dogs.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Chappy Channukah, Yidn!

Memo to Irving "White Christmas" Berlin: How could you?

And here: an autobiographical excerpt from my upcoming memoir:

At Christmastime, I would marvel at the rows of decorations at Woolworth’s: perfect shiny spheres, plastic pine wreaths and snowmen made of Styrofoam and foam canisters for fake snow. I loved coddling the fragile colored spheres, knowing I would never own one. My friend Sonia had a languid French mother who wasn’t Jewish. Her father was a Swiss Jew. They had an ivory baby grand piano and a swimming pool in their house. They also had white carpeting, something that would not have survived half an hour chez nous. Sonia’s mother was beautiful, with bottled blonde hair, dark eyebrows and doe eyes like Catherine Deneuve. She always seemed to be sleeping in her room, because no matter what time of day it was, we had to whisper in that house. Sometimes she would join us for lunch, say a few words, pick on her food, and stare into her cigarette smoke. I had a dad who was half deaf, and a mom who was everywhere at once, so this whispering business was very exotic to me.
These people, who ate filet mignon and baby roast potatoes and drank white wine for lunch, come December, would put up a Christmas tree and a Menorah. So every time the Christmas decorations would appear on the shelves at Woolworth’s, I would start about the tree.
--Why can’t we have a tree, Mom? It’s pretty. It’s fun to decorate.
--Because we’re Jews and Jews don’t put up trees. We have a Menorah.
--At Sonia’s they put up a Christmas tree and a Menorah.
--That’s because the Mom is a goyah. And the kids don’t go to a Jewish school.
I was amazed that you could be both things, Jewish and goyish at the same time. Although my mom frowned on it, to me it seemed like a very good arrangement. You could go to a school with trendy goyim and spend your Saturdays with the Jews. You could have a lush tree and shiny, magnificently wrapped gifts for Christmas like everybody else, and eat the stupid latkes and light the measly candles and play with the puny dreidl too. What was not to like?

Alert: Major Name Change!

Dear peeps:

As I got lost in the intrincate bowels of bloggerdom, trying to make some quick fame and fortune for myself, I came across an unimaginative soul who has already taken my very creative nom de plume. After a quick but deeply felt identity crisis, I've decided to effect a major name change. After not consulting with brand experts and not conducting focus groups, I have found a new moniker. I hope the change will not cause undue turbulence in your daily lives.
Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to The Grande Enchilada. Please etch this name into your consciousness. Or you are welcome to submit better alternatives.
Much love:
La Enchilada Mayor.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Just in time for the subway strike...

...it's time to kvetch about the TLC: Those Lousy Cabs.
Our obscene dependence on slick, blood tainted, Middle Eastern oil (thanks, Syriana, for making it clear) made me reflect on our NYC yellow cabs, which guzzle gas like thirsty buffalo and are WAY too big for the narrow canyons of Manhattan.
I was just in Berlin, Germany, where the cabs are elegant, compact Mercedes (Mercedeses?), painted a soothing shade of beige (ok, no need to go that far), with posh black leather seats in purrfect condition, all immaculately clean both outside and in, as if they were expecting an inspection by the Fuhrer himself. There are no partitions, and except for one exception, they smelled of freshly washed car, and freshly scrubbed driver.
Or we could also sport cabs like those of my birthplace, Mexico City, little cute green VW beetles with the passenger front seat ripped out. They are energy and space efficient, and at least here we wouldn't have to worry about being kidnapped by the driver and a bunch of goons at knifepoint, like it happened to me some years ago. WHICH IS WHY I LIVE HERE TODAY. Really, they're super cute. Here they could all be yellow...
So, Memo to Mayor:
1. Get rid of these awful, huge, ugly ass Jurassic cars and use more compact models that are fuel efficient and take up less space on our already congested streets. Actually, while you're at it, ban all private passenger cars in Manhattan. And open up more bike lanes.
2. Can some cabs START their shift at 4 pm so we are not all stranded with our arms unfurled in the freezing cold or withering heat, while seemingly every cab in Manhattan has to go back to the garage?
3. Now, I am an average 5"4 and can barely squeeze my squat limbs inside a NYC cab. I shudder to think how people with longer legs manage. Since we're so proud of the fact that we've had an amazing crime drop, perhaps it is time to lose the partitions? Just a thought.
And last but not least:
5. Every time a cab driver honks, he gets an electric shock in the balls.
Thank you.