Monday, September 29, 2008


Ouch! Chin! Yikes!
And Happy New Year to you too, Congressmen. Thanks for the crunch.
Listen, I don't necessarily think that they had to give Mr. Paulson a blank check to bailout his cronies, but it hurts.
I've been thinking, just because Bush comes out and instills fear in the population (again) doesn't mean we have to go ahead and listen. We should not have listened to him in the first place. Nothing he has ever said has ever done this country any good, so why should the bailout be any different?
I'm losing my shirt, but my one consolation is that so are a lot of assholes.
Hey, we're all in this together, right?
Here I am, a person who doesn't have debt and who tries to save money and who does not buy what she can't afford, paying for the bunch of you addicted to credit. It pisses me off.
Here is how I feel, courtesy of The Motley Fool:

Although attention is being paid to "the taxpayer," I can't understand why more emphasis isn't put on the biggest victims of all, those poor suckers who:
  • Save money, even with no incentive to do so since interest rates are ridiculously low, and possibly don't even utilize credit card debt.
  • Rent and refused to buy overpriced homes with some cockamamie mortgage scheme, and have been waiting for a major price correction so they can achieve the American Dream the proper way.

I'm sorry, but they're really getting the shaft, even if their fiscal conservatism and cheapness just look so darn un-American to many people these days. You know, "the paradox of thrift" and all that. Add in runaway inflation from printing out money, and the potential for major tax increases to pay for our profligate ways, and these people are really getting the business.

The geniuses -- Wall Street and individuals -- who got us into this mess probably looked down their noses at these "infernal" savers and "cheapskates" for not tinkering with their own personal capital structures in a more sophisticated manner.
While we get out of this mess, and to forget our troubles, we baked ourselves a honey cake that still is not like the one my mom used to make, which was dark and rich. Mine is decent, but just not the same.
So I wish you readers, even if you are not Jewish, (you get to have two happy new years) a sweet, healthy and a good year. Eat your apples with honey and hope and wish for better days ahead (just don't hold your breath).

Friday, September 26, 2008

The Palin implosion continues

The Katie Couric interview was a disaster. Couric was fierce, Palin was terrible.
Katie for Vicepresident!
Judith Warner says she now feels sorry for Palin, because she is obviously unprepared and egregiously manipulated by the McCain campaign. But as someone said, she could have said "thanks, but no thanks." She could have said, "thank you for the honor but I could not possibly fill in those shoes. I may be ready four years from now, after a lot more cramming, but I can't wing it like this. It would be irresponsible and a disservice to my country". But she didn't. So I don't feel sorry for her either.
However, it is clear that she is being handled, like an unruly pet or a difficult and embarrassing relative. It is painful to watch.
Here is an interesting point of view on Palin from Ta-Nehisi Coates in The Atlantic. While you are on that page, you can enjoy Chris Rock on Larry King. The link is at the top of the page.
Tonight, we are missing the debate to go to opening night of the New York Film Festival. One knows things are loopy when one goes to the movies searching for a better sense of reality. But we are hoping that McCain will remind us of the infamous Nixon TV appearance when he lost to Kennedy.
As for Obama, he would really have to royally fuck it up, but he should not come to the debate feeling like his winning the debate is a fait accompli. I understand the honorable Jim Lehrer is the moderator (praise the Lord for that. We desperately need some dignity). Obama needs to connect to that elusive, infuriating, unfathomable construct also known as the American people.
Go Obama!

Can't wait for the Biden/Palin debate.

A better Sara

I had not heard of Sara Benincasa until today. And now I love her.
I suggest you see her vlogs in order. She is very funny.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Rebate on the Debate

Apparently, the John McCain campaign is convinced that the American people are totally stupid. They bust moves like the canceling of the debate with the pretext of that tiresome cliché, country first.
I would think that after this week's financial meltdown, Americans would be screaming for a debate in which finally both candidates could answer some hard questions about how they intend to deal with this debacle. But I guess I'm wrong. McCain said that Americans are tired of talk and of debates.
Of stupid, misleading, nonsensical blather like he and his pet pit bull barf out every time they open their mouth, we are tired indeed. Exhausted, addled, disgusted, depressed, and insulted by it.
But we were all looking forward to the first debate, which was very important because Obama was going to make mincemeat out of his opponent. We suspect that this is the real reason for the tarrying. And because we were hoping (quite irrationally) that at last we would hear concrete, human speech, thoughts, ideas, plans, as opposed to slogans, and jingles and hot air from both candidates.
But the torture and the humiliation of the American electorate are far from over.
Now, canceling this enterprise is no picnic. It's not like you cancel going to the movies with your buddy. Apparently, this event is costing Mississippi and Ole Miss $4 million. It has taken months to coordinate. The networks are not happy with having to reschedule. Security is a concern. And what about all those debate watching parties? (I was invited to 2).
To me, McCain's behavior is a classic example of bad leadership. He reminds me of those corporate bosses who act imperiously, by fiat, regardless of whether hundreds of underlings and others have toiled for weeks, regardless of cost, with no consideration for anything but their own image.
It makes him look like an unstable idiot, one could not possibly trust to lead this nation.

The Great Schlep

I have never really liked Sarah Silverman, until today:

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Poor Randy Newman...

He got a really bad review of his concert at Carnegie Hall by Ben Ratliff of the New York Times.
It was a bad review, badly written and really incoherent, mean spirited and ugly.
To wit:
The best way to hear Randy Newman is alone. Hearing him at home with someone else snickering along to his jokes isn’t much pleasure. Hearing him live, with other people around you, is peculiar torture. He’s an excellent torturer. Not that that he’s a bad performer, or that he makes bad art. It’s the opposite of bad art — done in fine strokes, with unreliable narrators, several kinds of irony and proud resistance to musical trends.
Huh? What is the opposite of bad art? Good art? Good bad art?
Mr. Ratliff apparently cringed all night long. The audience's laughter made him cringe, the songs made him cringe. I don't know what hair he had up his ass, because as much as I love Randy Newman I can tell a bad concert or a bad audience when I see it, and in this case neither was it. Newman was not his usual ornery self and the audience were not a bunch of adoring monkeys either. It was a classy affair. Newman's songs, it's true, resemble one another a lot. He does use a relatively limited repertoire of mostly old fashioned pop styles. But his lyrics are sharp and funny and many of the melodies are wonderful. More venom:
The other songs, like “Marie” or “Feels Like Home,” were professionally guileless songs of pathetic love, friendship or regret, perfect for movies: beautiful melodies engineered to elicit sloppy tears. A few communicated a standardized pathos about American poverty — snapshot properties with place names: “Baltimore,” “Louisiana, 1927.”
It just shows the bad blood of the review that Ratliff takes a song like "Louisiana, 1927", that has become the de facto Katrina anthem because of its accurate and haunting description of the situation, as if it was just another song in the Newman catalog of songs about cities ("Baltimore", "Birmingham", "I Love LA"). You have to have a heart of barbed wire not to be moved by some of the love songs. And I am the greatest despiser of sentimentality there is. Pathetic? Standardized pathos? Sloppy tears?
Was Ratliff under the effects of PMS? Drug deprivation? A toothache?

But the piece de resistance:

The audience did what all crowds do: it laughed and cheered. But even that felt icky. Any crowd’s approving reactions to songs like “Rednecks” (about the moral haughtiness of Northern liberals sung from the standpoint of a Southern racist) or “A Piece of the Pie” (a lazy, pessimistic observation of class inequality in America) are slightly embarrassing. It’s clubbish agreement, in-on-the-joke smugness. The only good reaction would be silence and an honest attempt to figure out how many layers of irony he might be applying.

Who does this pisher think he is?
Yeah, we were your run of the mill Celine Dion/Hannah Montana audience. The audience, in fact, was comprised mostly of people Newman's age. From the looks and sounds of it, I can tell you it was not the bunch of morons that Ratliff describes. The lazy writing, the smugness and the pissy, contemptuous superiority are far more evident in the reviewer than in the reviewed and they're way below the standards of the New York Times.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Ole Miss: Talk about a bad venue

Am I the only person who thinks that having the first presidential debate in Ole Miss (the University of Mississippi) is a really bad idea?
1. There better be major security there, in case some crazy cracker tries to harm Obama. I'm serious.
2. Why Ole Miss? Why belabor the point? Why not a neutral place?
Ole Miss just brings out the very sore and unspoken truth that according to some polls, many people are not ready to vote for a Black president. Ole Miss is too charged a place, and in my opinion distracts from the debate. It is one of those grand, sentimental gestures that just ring false and that serve no one, except perhaps the racists and the Republicans who want to make these elections exclusively about race.
Besides, it's not like Ole Miss is a bastion of equality:

By many measures, Ole Miss has indeed emerged from the racial dark ages. Since Mr. Khayat was appointed chancellor 13 years ago, black enrollment, long suppressed by fear, has increased to 14 percent, from 5.8 percent in 1995 (though Mississippi is nearly 40 percent black). The Confederate battle flag is no longer ubiquitous at football games. (Because the chancellor banned it and got death threats for it) In 2006, the many Civil War memorials on campus were joined by a monument to Mr. Meredith and integration. A Federal Express executive, Rose Flenorl, will become the first black president of the alumni association in November. Social integration, once rarely addressed, has become a hot topic among student leaders.

Those same students are quick to point out that the university still has far to go. At football games, many black students remain seated when the band plays Dixie and fans chant “The South will rise again.” A white fraternity still holds an annual Old South party where escorts in Rebel uniforms and women in hoop skirts mingle at a plantation.

Black students are viewed as having virtually no chance of being elected to honorary positions like homecoming queen or Miss Ole Miss. What many white students think of as hallowed tradition, blacks find an unwelcoming affront.

So this stupid choice makes the school and the South and the States look better than they are. But I cannot imagine Obama refusing to appear there. Imagine the uproar.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Media Circus

I have never been one to accuse the media of being in a conspiracy of anything except making sure people are kept dumb. But looking (barely, because I do not have the stomach for it) at the way this election is being covered, I am starting to unravel.
Of course every side accuses the media of being in favor of the other side. But I think that what happens is both simpler and more sinister. The news are reported as if they were intended for 5 year-old retards, with the sole purpose of instilling the most fear in the most people from either side of the divide. It is fear that stokes the media business. And they are having a field day.
When a poll by PBS shows that 51% of people think that Sarah Palin is fit to be VP, this means terror on a mass scale. Apparently, one can vote as many times in this poll as one wants, which is absurd. Today I got an email saying that Karl Rove (The Evil One himself) is asking people to jam the poll in favor of Palin, so now the democrats are doing the same. To which I say: PBS, you need to kill that freaking poll off already. It is misleading and meaningless.
I think polls should be banned. There was a poll in which they asked people who would they rather watch the Superbowl with. Obama won, and with reason. You want to watch sports with someone who can still do them. But it is insulting.
I also think campaign ads should be banned. They debase the debate and they are too expensive.
If people want to know what the candidates think, they should get this from their public appearances, interviews and from debates. Not from misleading, manipulative ads from both sides.
So in short, this is a circus maximus, the kind Nero used to enjoy. Disgusting, vile, and repulsive.

You must vote. Or else.

I have come across several people, liberals like moi, all males so far, that have informed me that they are not planning to vote come Nov. 4. They are going to be in London, there's no point voting in NY, they don't believe in the system, blah, blah, blah.
I'm imploring you, beseeching you, begging you, asking you, do whatever you have to do to make sure you vote in this election. It is mindboggling to me that anybody would plan to sit this one out, regardless of their political leanings*. But even worse, I consider it abject treachery if you are a liberal and you don't register to vote and vote for Obama. The fate of this country is in your hands and I will hold you personally responsible if disaster strikes. You should be banished to Alaska or to Florida, never to be allowed to set foot in a blue state again.
Basically, this may be the most important election in the history of this increasingly nutjob country and it is not only the right, but it should be the moral obligation of every citizen to record their choice for whoever is going to rule this debased land.
This election has got to have the most participation ever, regardless of who you vote for. Washington needs to see a mass mobilization by the American people to understand that we are not all lobotomized idiots who don't give a crap except for reality shows. We need to make ourselves heard and count.
Of course, if you vote for Obama/Biden and the Democratic party, your country will be forever grateful that you helped stop the precipitous decline of this once great nation.
If you vote for the senile crank and his lipstick with pit bull sidekick, you will get what you deserve and don't you start whining when the rug is pulled from under your sorry reg'lar ass.
Now get out there and register to vote.

*However, I cannot say I do not strongly encourage those people who find the old man and the bitch attractive to stay home that day and pay the election no mind. Be my guests.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Randy Newman at Carnegie Hall

In a nutshell: He fed my soul for more than two hours.
His lyrics are so smart and funny and sharp, so there was a lot of laughter. And his serious songs are deeply moving, impressionistic and extremely poignant.
It was him and his piano, unencumbered by a band, which really helps the act of listening to the words and appreciating his talent for melody.
The audience was composed mainly of people his age, some of them with children. Man, younger people should get into Randy Newman, it's unlikely they've heard anything with this class, wit and grace.
He started out the evening with "It's Money That I love" ("a good song to play tonight", he said). And he built up from there, playing his greatest hits like "Short People" and "Rednecks", 'Sail Away", and even the song from Toy Story, together with material from his new album and other recent great songs. He alternated between the ironic stuff and the gorgeous, haunting, serious stuff, all the while saying extremely funny things. I love this man.
This is a case in which the standing ovation is totally deserved.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Standing Ovation Overuse

So I hear Katie Holmes got a standing ovation at her Broadway debut last night. I hope it was because she deserved it and not because her husband was in the house brainwashing everyone with his dianetical powers. To be honest, when I've been to Broadway shows recently, audiences behave as if they are in The Prize is Right, hooting and hollering and giving standing ovations to the lamps.
The ascent of vulgarity and cheesiness in every stripe of life continues unimpeded.

Depressing Digest

I've been scouring the interwebs since early this morning, trying to find a topic to entertain you with, and nothing sticks. Perhaps I should remember what I always forget when I go out at night: that beer after white wine is evil in the morning.

• Mini-hangover notwithstanding, I am relieved that the stock market went up, but tomorrow may be a different story. I find it ironic that for all the Republicans' hysterical obsession against big government's interference in free markets and the unbridled rapacity of our particular form of capitalism, the Bush administration has now been compelled to nationalize mortgage lenders and insurance companies. Are we turning socialist? Is America trembling at the prospect of a little regulation to curb our greediest impulses? Is the American can screw spirit in peril? I certainly hope so.
As I'm fond of saying, I became a Marxist the minute I moved to this country. (I'm being hyperbolic, ok?)

• It looks like the Treasury and the Fed are being the deciders in this crisis, which is reassuring, since our president has been missing in action. What a pathetic loser. I'm almost starting to feel sorry for him. Almost.

• The BBC reports that Chuck Hagel, a big Republican macher, told the esteemed Omaha World-Herald that Sarah Palin is unfit for office. Great, except that I looked to see if the New York Times covered this momentous piece of news, and I couldn't find it. I hope this Hagel shoutout is covered by similar local newspapers across the red states.

• By the way, the Times has an electoral map of the US and a look at it is enough to make one suicidal and deeply fearful of the electoral college. It makes one pine for New York's secession.

• I'm going to say something horrible. (I'm starting to hit my stride, y'all):
Several friends sent me the pictures of the largest rally ever in Alaska, which happened to be an anti-Palin rally (yay). I was a bit disappointed by the size of the crowd. Apparently, the largest mass rally in Alaska means like 15 people and their closest friends. The signs were too clever by half and some of the people looked like classic clueless liberals, the kind the evil people on the other side like to make fun of. I know I sound like a traitor to the cause, but it would be great if these worthy demonstrators were dressed like those crazy polygamists from Texas (those with a penchant for wearing pastel draperies from Wal-Mart). Instead, they look like pinkos from Vermont. I have the nagging feeling that these pics don't help. Also, what is the point of preaching to the choir? I don't think I have a single Republican friend, so what is the point of me sending this to all the other Obamanians? I know we elitist blue people are despairing and anything that gives us hope is welcome, but I was not as cheered up by those pictures as I should have been.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Days of Woe

Oh, where to begin.
I could tell you about watching my meager savings steadily pulverize thanks to the unchecked greed of Wall Street and a Republican presidency that is criminally incompetent.
I could tell you about how seriously scary for us voting Democrat is the realization that we seem to be living in a parallel universe when it comes to hockey moms and Presidential candidates. We are trapped in a nightmare devised by people who have contempt for intelligence and we can't get out.
Let me remind you of the kinds of tyrants who seized power by having contempt for intelligence: the Nazis, Stalin, Mao, etc. Populism is fascism and that's the hell that awaits us if the American people don't think straight this time around. It seems that many Americans are so fucking dumb that they want to have presidents that are just as dumb as they are, just because they can connect.
I sure hope they all rot in the hell of foreclosure, insurance woes and poverty of mind and money and the final collapse of the American empire that will befall them for their stupid choices.
If after 8 years of the worst presidency in the history of this country, this country chooses to elect the same party, then they have what they deserve.
I insist, let's split up between the Elite country and the Reg'lar Folks country. I will stay with the elites. The rest can live happily ever after in their white trash talibanic dreamland for all I care. I can't bear this anymore.
The good news is I'm seeing Randy Newman tomorrow at Carnegie Hall. He will restore my faith in my lack of faith in humanity.

Livni v. Palin

I just think it is interesting to compare the background of Tzipi Livni, who may become Prime Minister of Israel very soon, with that of Pit Bull with Lipstick.
Here's her bio From the Foreign Affairs Ministry (the caps are mine):

Tzipi Livni was born in Israel in 1958. She served as an officer in the IDF, and later in the Mossad.

A lawyer by profession, Livni received her law degree from Bar-Ilan University, and practiced law in a private firm for ten years before entering public life. Her fields of specialization included commercial law, constitutional law and real estate law.

In 1999, Mrs. Livni was first elected to the Knesset, and served as a member of the Constitution, Law and Justice Committee, and the Committee on the Status of Women. She also served as the chairperson of the subcommittee responsible for legislation of the Prevention of Money Laundering Law.

In 2001, Mrs. Livni was appointed Minister in the 29th Government and held the Regional Cooperation and Agriculture Portfolios. In the 30th Government, established in 2003, she held the following portfolios: Immigrant Absorption, Housing and Construction, Justice and Foreign Affairs.

Prior to her election to the Knesset, Livni served as Director General of the Government Companies Authority from 1996. In this capacity, she was in charge of the privatization of government corporations and monopolies.

Livni was a member of the Likud Party until the end of 2005, when she, together with other prominent political figures in Israel, formed the Kadima Party. (A BIT LESS TO THE RIGHT)

In May 2006 Tzipi Livni was appointed Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs in the 31st Government of Israel. She also served as Minister of Justice from November 2006 until February 2007.

She is married and the mother of two children.

That is a stateswoman. A woman fit for high office. Not the cosmic bad joke we have on our hands right now.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Americans are mumbling

Lately I have noticed this trend, particularly among the young, where people mumble in an unintelligible monotone and they think it is cool. It's not. It's stupid and obnoxious and nobody can understand a word you are saying. You are not talking to your computer screen, so speak the fuck up.

Palin Implosion

No matter how hard the Republicans try to spin and shield the American public from the truth with ludicrous charges of sexism (I bet the people who hate her most are women), it looks that the more Palin is in the spotlight, the worse a candidate she seems.
Her performance at the convention was plucky and convincing. Yet by the time her interview with Charles Gibson came along, she looked like one of those Caribou she loves to kill, caught in the headlights. She seemed scared out of her wits and trying to hold on for dear life.
Unless the American people are truly a bunch of unredeemable retards (which given recent opinion polls is not inconceivable), my first gut instinct about Palin imploding in the public eye as election season plods on may hopefully be true. She was a brash, idiotic, cynical, and dangerously irresponsible choice and it shows.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Palin Comparison

The Republicans can bitch about liberal media bias all they want, but the proof is in the facts and yesterday's New York Times presented a pretty damning profile of the political modus operandi of the woman who could be the President of the US. Not a good picture. If anything, her methods are exactly like Dick Cheney's (aka Satan): secrecy, illegality, loyalty above all, cronyism, political impunity.
I never ever do this, but concerned citizen Katya sent me this and I'm posting it here because I too cannot believe the surreal amount of spin the farblondget citizens of the country seem to be willing to swallow from the Republican killing machine. So here goes (additions in caps are mine):

I'm a little confused. Let me see if I have this straight:

• If you grow up in Hawaii, raised by your grandparents, you're "exotic, different."
Grow up in Alaska eating mooseburgers, a quintessential American story.
• If your name is Barack (HUSSEIN OBAMA, WHY NOT?) you're a radical, unpatriotic Muslim.
Name your kids Willow, Trig and Track, you're a maverick. LET'S NOT FORGET BRISTOL.
• Graduate from Harvard Law School and you are unstable.
Attend 5 different small colleges before graduating, you're well grounded.
• If you spend 3 years as a brilliant community organizer, become the first black President of the Harvard Law Review, create a voter registration drive that registers 150,000 new voters, spend 12 years as a Constitutional Law professor, spend 8 years as a State Senator representing a district with
over 750,000 people, become chairman of the state Senate's Health and Human Services committee, spend almost 4 years in the United States Senate representing a state of 13 million people while sponsoring 131 bills and serving on the Foreign Affairs, Environment and Public Works and Veteran's Affairs committees, you don't have any real leadership experience.
If your total resume is: local weather girl, 4 years on the city council and 6 years as the mayor of a town with less than 7,000 people, 20 months as the governor of a state with only 650,000 people, then you're qualified to become the country's second highest ranking executive. AND GIVING TOP PAID STATE JOBS TO ALL YOUR HIGH SCHOOL PALS, WHILE FIRING YOUR ENEMIES WITH PERSONAL VENDETTAS STRAIGHT OUT OF A JERRY SPRINGER SHOW...
• If you have been married to the same woman for 19 years while raising 2 beautiful daughters, all within protestant churches, you're not a real Christian.
If you cheated on your first wife with a rich heiress, and left your disfigured VERY SICK wife and married the heiress the next month, you're a Christian.
• If you teach responsible, age appropriate sex education, including the proper use of birth control, you are eroding the fiber of society.
If, while governor, you staunchly advocate abstinence only, with no other option in sex education in your state's school system while your unwed teen daughter ends up pregnant, you're very responsible.
• If your wife is a Harvard graduate lawyer who gave up a position in a prestigious law firm to work for the betterment of her inner city community, then gave that up to raise a family, your family's values don't represent America's.
If your husband is nicknamed "First Dude", with at least one DWI conviction and no college education BUT SITS IN GOVERNMENT MEETINGS EVEN THOUGH HE HAS NO OFFICIAL ROLE, who didn't register to vote until age 25 AND YOU DID NOT GET A PASSPORT UNTIL LAST YEAR, and once was a member of a group that advocated the secession of Alaska from the USA, your family is extremely admirable.

OK, much clearer now.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Yuca Frita

I don't love yucca, but the yucca fries they serve at the Coyuco restaurant in Caracas ought to be considered the 8th Marvel of the World. They are crunchy on the outside and soft and mealy on the inside, salty but not too much. And you pour a green avocado and cilantro sauce unappetizingly called guasacaca over them and it's soooo good. Guasacaca tastes like green tomatillo sauce without the heat.
I could eat vats of yuca fries from El Coyuco. They may be the only reason I would consider spending more time in this city, which I loathe.
At a fancy Italian restaurant inside the ugliest mall anybody has ever seen I had the yucca gnocchi, and they were pretty good. The rest of the meal would not pass muster north of the Equator.
Venezuelans also have something called "golfeados", which is basically a cinnamon danish which has a slab of white salty cheese on top. It's pretty good, but I am flummoxed by the etymology. Why golfeados?
I learned today that Hugo Chavez expelled the American ambassador to Venezuela. He referred to us Americans as "gringos de mierda" in his speech several times. The Gringos then decided to freeze the assets (conveniently squirreled away at American banks) of two senior Venezuelan officials. Good move.
I also learned that people here like to steal orange traffic cones.
I'm just hoping a war between the two countries doesn't break out. But if I have to stay in Caracas, I'm having the yuca frita fries, every day.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Not so peachy

Because I almost never take anything but direct flights if I can help it, I had not yet been truly exposed to the frustrations and the humiliations of air travel in America. But yesterday in Atlanta, I experienced in the flesh this particular form of aggravation. The worst part is not the unfathomably rude and unhelpful Delta agent at the courtesy "help" line (being a novice I used the phone, as the gate agent unwisely, sadistically counseled. Don't ever do this. Talk to someone at the counter). The saddest, most depressing part is staying the night at a generic airport hotel on Desolation Highway, where looking for something as basic as dinner can be an ordeal if your only means of transportation happens to be your own two feet. Where else other than hell does a restaurant close at 8:30 pm? To add insult to injury, it was a Picadilly's, a buffet style cafeteria I know and love from my days in Killeen, TX (you better believe it, darlings).
So I walked towards the beckoning Waffle House, whose bright yellow sign was much more alluring than the place itself. The walk was close but rather forbidding, sidewalks in these parts being inconsiderate afterthoughts. The "streets" are dark and forlorn and it doesn't help to see young Black men loitering where there is clearly absolutely nothing worth loitering for. At first I thought they were dealing drugs, but then I saw the whores at the back of the gas station, or walking to and fro between the Motel 6 and my own hotel. It probably was a pimping and dealing combo.
In any case, the solitary waffle I ate was pretty good. I sat at the counter, the only white person around, and said I would have my dinner to stay. They gave it to me to go, I'm guessing not out of rudeness but out of custom. I ate it there anyway but I didn't feel very welcome.
The next day I decided that in order to avoid any suicidal thoughts from taking root, I would take the train to downtown Atlanta, to see the sights.
Now, people from Atlanta, please forgive me. Either I missed all the sights, or you don't really have any. Going to downtown Atlanta was even more depressing. And I'll tell you why. I know they have the Olympic green, which I didn't see (it was horribly hot and muggy and not the best weather to sightsee), and maybe the House of Coca-Cola, but a walk down famous Peachtree St yielded nothing but generic buildings, indigent black people and a heaviness of heart.
I was looking for a Sephora in order to shpritz myself with perfume, (since my toiletries were en route to Caracas) and give myself a free makeover. I was looking for an Old Navy to buy a cheap t-shirt and stop smelling like a hobo. I was looking for a basic Gap, a Nike store, any sign of retail civilization, not to shop, but to feel better. No such thing was to be found. Not at Peachtree Center (Brooks Brothers does not soothe me), not at a terrible place called Underground Atlanta which looks like a failed version of the generic malls they do when they try to rehabilitate murdered downtowns. I am no Jane Jacobs, but as I walked down the clean and ghostly streets I thought, why do you put stores inside a mall that nobody can see, when you could have them providing foot traffic and life on the street?
Then I hit a street, across the subway station, one of those half boarded up streets I've seen in places like downtown Memphis or Richmond, Virginia, that is the last crumbling badass bastion of what probably was a nice and healthy commercial strip back in the day. Now it looks like shit but at least it is authentic and alive and me, I was the only white person around.
Maybe it was just a bad astral conjunction of missed connections and overlooked sights, but I was looking forward to spending my remaining hours at the airport. It was that bad.

Friday, September 05, 2008

An Appalling Speech

Finally, finally I mustered the stomach and the resolve to watch Sarah Palin's speech.
As an unfunny, mean spirited, petty, insincere, z-list comedy routine, it could pass muster, if you were stuck in podunk somewhere and there was nothing else to do on a Sunday night but watch the open mike local talent at the only bar in town. 
As the speech delivered by the person who may be the vice president, or even the president of this country (or of any country for that matter), it was one of the most undignified, unseemly, revolting, embarrassing things I've ever heard. It was the speech of a bully. Nasty, lowest common denominator, without charm nor grace, nor real intelligence. 
And the audience, just as boorish, lapped it up. 
Judith Warner in the New York Times makes a powerful case of the speech being a disgrace for women but I think it is a disgrace for men and women of all genders (!), for its own party and for this stupid ass country where such things happen as Sarah Palin for VP.  
Palin's poor son, who looked like a deer caught in the headlights, was paraded around for enlisting and deploying on, surprise, 9/11. He looked like he wanted to go AWOL from the entire thing.  And then the pregnant teenage daughter and the boyfriend... 
And we are supposed to applaud this as "real", as if real is only whatever resembles a soap opera or a reality show or what you see on the Maury Povich show.  
One thing I will say for Palin, she was a good girl and she learned her lines well. She performed like a trouper. She was clearly enjoying her moment in the spotlight. She was there to raise some heat for her big daddy John McCain and that was almost all she did. I kept expecting her to mention her antediluvian views on abortion and abstinence, but she was not forthcoming. Even the Republicans know this shit scares people off. It scares the bejesus out of women.
This country is truly batshit nuts. Totally schizophrenic. Like Sybill, but with two personalities. 
If it was up to me, it would be divided into 2 republics, one of red states and one of blue. 
Hey, let's actually have a referendum on this. It totally makes sense. 
This way, the reds could have their creationism and their theocracy, their firearms in every home, and their misbegotten wars, and the blues could finally live in a decent country with truly decent values. 
Why do we have to deal with the medieval mishegoss of the religious right and the nastiness of the Republicans? Why do they have to deal with our pinko ideals? It looks like never the twain shall meet so why don't we just call it a day and to each his own? I'm serious. 
The most confounding thing is that the Republicans, who would not piss on a poor person if it was on fire, or as it happened in actuality, would not rescue those from drowning (I strongly recommend you watch the Katrina documentary Trouble the Water), are now supposed to be the party of the people, and the Democrats are supposed to be the elitists. This is insane. 
I just hope that come November 4, (please come soon, I beg you) Americans will turn to the little common sense they may have left and save their country from its own disgrace. 

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Vogue is worse than porn

I hate that magazine. It is bad for your health. It makes women think they are not thin enough, rich enough, beautiful enough, accomplished enough. It is revolting.
But Vogue India just took the cake of clueless offensiveness by doing a fashion shoot with actual impoverished Indian citizens modeling expensive brands like Fendi and Alexander McQueen. The brands get mentioned in the credits, the names of the "models" do not.
Of course, there was a brouhaha in India about this; to which the inexcusable cunt who runs the magazine there replied: "lighten up".
In countries where the disparities between the haves and the have-nots are abysmal, the haves typically behave towards the unfortunate majority with utter callousness and contempt. They simply refuse to acknowledge reality. For them, the poor don't even amount to individual people. They are servants or beggars or nuisances. They are somebody to try to differentiate yourself from with as much arrogance and ostentation as possible. In fact, the poorer your countrymen, the more obscene your display of wealth. Which is why it doesn't surprise me that someone at Vogue India could come up with such an insulting fashion spread. What is amazing is the sheer imbecility and the unrepentant gall of the response.

From the NYT: "A man modeled a Burberry umbrella in Vogue that costs about $200. Some 456 million Indians live on less than $1.25 a day".

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Religious absurdity

The extremes Orthodox Jews go through in order to keep the Sabbath have always seemed to me absolutely insane and ridiculous.
At the time when the Bible was written, turning on the light meant starting a fire, an activity which indeed was a lot of work. Every activity banned for the Sabbath was basically a pain in the ass.
3000 years later, not anymore.
But the Orthodox go through these insane lengths to keep the Sabbath. So now you have elevators that stop on every floor. You have people who tell you you can't steep a tea bag in boiling water, or your children cannot play Lego (it's building), or that toilet paper needs to be pre-cut, God forbid you exert yourself wiping your tuches on the Sabbath. In a Jerusalem hotel, an Orthodox woman can request that a non-Jew operate a blender so she could feed her baby lunch. Which is awful. Is mashing a banana considered taboo during the Sabbath? Haven't these people lost all sense of perspective?
They have taken the beautiful, meaningful, civilizing biblical concept of a day of rest and turned it into the most banal, impossible obsession. Instead of worrying about the toilet paper and the tea bag and the switch and the blender, why not really use the Sabbath to reflect on your moral behavior in the world? If God existed, I doubt It would be cheering the genius who decided that steeping a tea bag is a sin.
But since modern life is getting more modern by the minute, even the Orthodox have to come up with ways of cheating their own crazy rules. So now there are inventions like this:
...the Kosher Lamp, with a shade that can be twisted to block out the bulb’s light but that does not turn it off.
..Zomet created the metal detectors used to screen worshippers at the Western Wall, Judaism’s holiest site, in a manner that uses electricity in a way not prohibited on the Sabbath (WHICH IS?). It also developed pens that use ink that disappears after a few days, based on a rabbinic interpretation that only forbids permanent writing,(!) and Sabbath phones, which are dialed in an indirect manner with special buttons and a microprocessor. (YOU HAVE TO BE JAMES BOND) According to Mr. Marans, the Israeli army bought 1,000 of these phones in 2007, so that Orthodox soldiers can take part in military operations on the Sabbath and holidays (!!!). Hospitals and medical personnel also use these technologies. “Obviously they are needed to protect the country, but we want to limit the desecration of Shabbat as much as possible,” Mr. Marans said.
What desecrates the Sabbath in my view is the perversion of the original intention of the Bible.
What, may I ask, is the difference in effort between twisting a shade and flicking off a switch? None. Moreover, leaving the light on for an entire night seems a bit irresponsible in these Global Warming times, no?

Rabbi Herschel Schachter, the head of the rabbinical school at Yeshiva University in New York... said... "if you make the burden slightly lighter, it’s O.K. The Torah doesn’t want to make life impossible.”
You don't say... It is not written anywhere in the Torah that thou shalt not steep a tea bag or use a cell phone or ride in an elevator. The whole point of the Sabbath is to make life easier for mankind.
So what the hell happened?

Look who's whining now

It is nothing short of amazing to hear Republican complaints of biased media coverage of Sarah Palin.
The nerve these people have is beyond.
Jilted Clinton Women: if you as much as vote for these Republican androids just because this throwback to the dark ages happens to be a woman, it should weigh in your conscience forever. You do not deserve to be women. You do not deserve to live in the 21st century. You deserve to live in a cave.
I will personally blame you if this country starts resembling Iran.

It's APPalin'

There is absolutely nothing to be proud of if you are the parent of a pregnant 17 year old girl. NOTHING.
As a parent, you should be ashamed of yourself for not having taught your child how to take care of herself.
As my mom used to say to me at that age (and this is the best abstinence speech, or at least the most effective one, I ever heard):
"And don't you come crying to me if you get pregnant, you hear me? If you do, I swear I will break your teeth."
What can I tell you? It worked.
Oh, but the Republicans, those freakish monstrosities of nature, those spawns of Satan, they spin this moronic disgrace around and all of a sudden a preggers 17 year old is seen as embracing "life". Give me a fucking break.
It is nauseating.
Nobody is even talking about abortion. Goddammit, if you are old enough to fuck, you are old enough to use a condom. Because at 17, you are not old enough to have a child.
But what about those rumors about Sarah Palin faking a pregnancy? If they are true, then surely she can't be VP. She lied! And how! And lying and cheating just do not happen among the political class in this farkakte ass country. If the rumors are not true, I commend whoever Democrat came up with them. We are finally baring our Rovian fangs.