Thursday, November 30, 2006

Poem: Changes 22/Grace

It is favorable to undertake
The small matters
Where your acts

Give someone a leg up,
Unfurrows their brow,
And puts a smile on their face.

You lend grace to your toes,
Leave the carriage
And walk.

Your mirth
Lends grace
To the beard on your chin.

The white pony
Gallops over the hill
As if she had wings,

Like Shadowfax or Pegasus
Racing toward the fire
On the mountain.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

President Bush loses his cool with the Senator elect from Virginia, Jim Webb

The Hill Dot Com reported yesterday that President Bush has gotten off to a very rocky start with the Senator Elect from Virginia, Jim Webb. Webb, you probably remember, is the Senator who recently stomped George Allen and pushed the Democrats into the majority in the Senate.

Webb, campaigned, using the Iraq war as a cudgel, wearing his son’s old combat boots. Here he was, President Bush, face to face with the guy who had relentlessly bitch-slapped him the entire campaign, and in the end, brought the entire flimsy house of cards down around The President's shoulders.

At a White House party for newly elected lawmakers shortly after the election, POTUS asked Jim Webb how his son, a Marine stationed in Iraq was doing.

An unidentified friend was told by Webb that he had responded that "he really wanted to see his son brought back home."

“I didn’t ask you that, I asked how he’s doing,” Bush retorted, according to the source.

Webb was reportedly so angry that he considered smacking the President. If he had, of course, you would already know about this story. “Jim did have a conversation with Bush at that dinner,” according to Webb’s spokeswoman Kristian Denny Todd. “Basically, he asked about Jim’s son, Jim expressed the fact that he wanted to have him home.”

Todd would not disclose the rest of the story: "It was a private conversation.”

Tony Snow (a/k/a The White House Press Secretary) said after the November election that "Bush wants to go back to the Texas model. He's always reached out. He's been trying over the last couple of years with limited success." And now that he is desperate to make that bipartisan election, this is what we get.

"Let the revels begin."

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Has it comes to this? Fido demands doggie porn.

It had to happen sooner or later. Near my work, there is a bakery for dogs. Near my house in North Beach, is a "dog park." There are even a couple of restaurants for people who can't bear to dine without their pooches in Seattle. I realize there are numerous Dogs On Women porn sites. But now, however, a clever pornmeister has come up with "Adult Entertainment" for your dog.

Mario Cuomo's 1984 Democratic National Convention Keynote Address

click Mario to enlarge

Since I am still in an exuberant Yellow Dog Democrat state of mind, I started thinking about my Democratic heroes. And near the top of that list stands Governor Mario Cuomo.

I was living in San Francisco in 1984 when Mario delivered this barnburner speech to the Democratic Convention. I was thrilled by my proximity to this great and compassionate man. I had never been so thrilled by a speech in my life. In my New York City years, I had the enormous pleasure of listening to both Mario Cumo and Jean Shepherd's radio shows.

When I was younger, I was extremely moved by some of the speeches Bobby Kennedy made in the last few months of his life. But Mario Cuomo pulled it off in a different way--he did not have that fragility Bobby had, but he had something almost as good. Bobby loved poets and poetry. Mario could make poetry on the podium. Kevin Curran and I have had several exchanges here about "What if. . .?" Kev and I are among Mario's biggest fans. What it Mario had become King? Where would we be now? I don't know for sure, but I do know that that parts of this speech are among the greatest ever given. In fact, Great Speeches, the three CD collection of American speeches (well, it also includes a bit of DeGaulle and Churchill) includes a long excerpt from the speech. What if?!

The American Rhetoric web site has both the audio of this speech, and a video as well.

click Time to enlarge

Mario Cuomo's
1984 Democratic National Convention
Keynote Address

Thank you very much.

On behalf of the great Empire State and the whole family of New York, let me thank you for the great privilege of being able to address this convention. Please allow me to skip the stories and the poetry and the temptation to deal in nice but vague rhetoric. Let me instead use this valuable opportunity to deal immediately with the questions that should determine this election and that we all know are vital to the American people.

click Mario to enlarge

Ten days ago, President Reagan admitted that although some people in this country seemed to be doing well nowadays, others were unhappy, even worried, about themselves, their families, and their futures. The President said that he didn't understand that fear. He said, "Why, this country is a shining city on a hill." And the President is right. In many ways we are a shining city on a hill.

But the hard truth is that not everyone is sharing in this city's splendor and glory. A shining city is perhaps all the President sees from the portico of the White House and the veranda of his ranch, where everyone seems to be doing well. But there's another city; there's another part to the shining the city; the part where some people can't pay their mortgages, and most young people can't afford one; where students can't afford the education they need, and middle-class parents watch the dreams they hold for their children evaporate.

In this part of the city there are more poor than ever, more families in trouble, more and more people who need help but can't find it. Even worse: There are elderly people who tremble in the basements of the houses there. And there are people who sleep in the city streets, in the gutter, where the glitter doesn't show. There are ghettos where thousands of young people, without a job or an education, give their lives away to drug dealers every day. There is despair, Mr. President, in the faces that you don't see, in the places that you don't visit in your shining city.

In fact, Mr. President, this is a nation -- Mr. President you ought to know that this nation is more a "Tale of Two Cities" than it is just a "Shining City on a Hill."

Maybe, maybe, Mr. President, if you visited some more places; maybe if you went to Appalachia where some people still live in sheds; maybe if you went to Lackawanna where thousands of unemployed steel workers wonder why we subsidized foreign steel. Maybe -- Maybe, Mr. President, if you stopped in at a shelter in Chicago and spoke to the homeless there; maybe, Mr. President, if you asked a woman who had been denied the help she needed to feed her children because you said you needed the money for a tax break for a millionaire or for a missile we couldn't afford to use.

Maybe -- Maybe, Mr. President. But I'm afraid not. Because the truth is, ladies and gentlemen, that this is how we were warned it would be. President Reagan told us from the very beginning that he believed in a kind of social Darwinism. Survival of the fittest. "Government can't do everything," we were told, so it should settle for taking care of the strong and hope that economic ambition and charity will do the rest. Make the rich richer, and what falls from the table will be enough for the middle class and those who are trying desperately to work their way into the middle class.

You know, the Republicans called it "trickle-down" when Hoover tried it. Now they call it "supply side." But it's the same shining city for those relative few who are lucky enough to live in its good neighborhoods. But for the people who are excluded, for the people who are locked out, all they can do is stare from a distance at that city's glimmering towers.

It's an old story. It's as old as our history. The difference between Democrats and Republicans has always been measured in courage and confidence. The Republicans -- The Republicans believe that the wagon train will not make it to the frontier unless some of the old, some of the young, some of the weak are left behind by the side of the trail. "The strong" -- "The strong," they tell us, "will inherit the land."

We Democrats believe in something else. We democrats believe that we can make it all the way with the whole family intact, and we have more than once. Ever since Franklin Roosevelt lifted himself from his wheelchair to lift this nation from its knees -- wagon train after wagon train -- to new frontiers of education, housing, peace; the whole family aboard, constantly reaching out to extend and enlarge that family; lifting them up into the wagon on the way; blacks and Hispanics, and people of every ethnic group, and native Americans -- all those struggling to build their families and claim some small share of America. For nearly 50 years we carried them all to new levels of comfort, and security, and dignity, even affluence. And remember this, some of us in this room today are here only because this nation had that kind of confidence. And it would be wrong to forget that.

So, here we are at this convention to remind ourselves where we come from and to claim the future for ourselves and for our children. Today our great Democratic Party, which has saved this nation from depression, from fascism, from racism, from corruption, is called upon to do it again -- this time to save the nation from confusion and division, from the threat of eventual fiscal disaster, and most of all from the fear of a nuclear holocaust.

That's not going to be easy. Mo Udall is exactly right -- it won't be easy. And in order to succeed, we must answer our opponent's polished and appealing rhetoric with a more telling reasonableness and rationality.

We must win this case on the merits. We must get the American public to look past the glitter, beyond the showmanship to the reality, the hard substance of things. And we'll do it not so much with speeches that sound good as with speeches that are good and sound; not so much with speeches that will bring people to their feet as with speeches that will bring people to their senses. We must make -- We must make the American people hear our "Tale of Two Cities." We must convince them that we don't have to settle for two cities, that we can have one city, indivisible, shining for all of its people.

Now, we will have no chance to do that if what comes out of this convention is a babel of arguing voices. If that's what's heard throughout the campaign, dissident sounds from all sides, we will have no chance to tell our message. To succeed we will have to surrender some small parts of our individual interests, to build a platform that we can all stand on, at once, and comfortably -- proudly singing out. We need -- We need a platform we can all agree to so that we can sing out the truth for the nation to hear, in chorus, its logic so clear and commanding that no slick Madison Avenue commercial, no amount of geniality, no martial music will be able to muffle the sound of the truth.

And we Democrats must unite. We Democrats must unite so that the entire nation can unite, because surely the Republicans won't bring this country together. Their policies divide the nation into the lucky and the left-out, into the royalty and the rabble. The Republicans are willing to treat that division as victory. They would cut this nation in half, into those temporarily better off and those worse off than before, and they would call that division recovery.

Now, we should not -- we should not be embarrassed or dismayed or chagrined if the process of unifying is difficult, even wrenching at times. Remember that, unlike any other Party, we embrace men and women of every color, every creed, every orientation, every economic class. In our family are gathered everyone from the abject poor of Essex County in New York, to the enlightened affluent of the gold coasts at both ends of the nation. And in between is the heart of our constituency -- the middle class, the people not rich enough to be worry-free, but not poor enough to be on welfare; the middle class -- those people who work for a living because they have to, not because some psychiatrist told them it was a convenient way to fill the interval between birth and eternity. White collar and blue collar. Young professionals. Men and women in small business desperate for the capital and contracts that they need to prove their worth.

We speak for the minorities who have not yet entered the mainstream. We speak for ethnics who want to add their culture to the magnificent mosaic that is America. We speak -- We speak for women who are indignant that this nation refuses to etch into its governmental commandments the simple rule "thou shalt not sin against equality," a rule so simple --

I was going to say, and I perhaps dare not but I will. It's a commandment so simple it can be spelled in three letters: E.R.A.

We speak -- We speak for young people demanding an education and a future. We speak for senior citizens. We speak for senior citizens who are terrorized by the idea that their only security, their Social Security, is being threatened. We speak for millions of reasoning people fighting to preserve our environment from greed and from stupidity. And we speak for reasonable people who are fighting to preserve our very existence from a macho intransigence that refuses to make intelligent attempts to discuss the possibility of nuclear holocaust with our enemy. They refuse. They refuse, because they believe we can pile missiles so high that they will pierce the clouds and the sight of them will frighten our enemies into submission.

Now we're proud of this diversity as Democrats. We're grateful for it. We don't have to manufacture it the way the Republicans will next month in Dallas, by propping up mannequin delegates on the convention floor. But we, while we're proud of this diversity, we pay a price for it. The different people that we represent have different points of view. And sometimes they compete and even debate, and even argue. That's what our primaries were all about. But now the primaries are over and it is time, when we pick our candidates and our platform here, to lock arms and move into this campaign together.

If you need any more inspiration to put some small part of your own difference aside to create this consensus, then all you need to do is to reflect on what the Republican policy of divide and cajole has done to this land since 1980. Now the President has asked the American people to judge him on whether or not he's fulfilled the promises he made four years ago. I believe, as Democrats, we ought to accept that challenge. And just for a moment let us consider what he has said and what he's done.

Inflation -- Inflation is down since 1980, but not because of the supply-side miracle promised to us by the President. Inflation was reduced the old-fashioned way: with a recession, the worst since 1932. Now how did we -- We could have brought inflation down that way. How did he do it? 55,000 bankruptcies; two years of massive unemployment; 200,000 farmers and ranchers forced off the land; more homeless -- more homeless than at any time since the Great Depression in 1932; more hungry, in this world of enormous affluence, the United States of America, more hungry; more poor, most of them women. And -- And he paid one other thing, a nearly 200 billion dollar deficit threatening our future.

Now, we must make the American people understand this deficit because they don't. The President's deficit is a direct and dramatic repudiation of his promise in 1980 to balance the budget by 1983. How large is it? The deficit is the largest in the history of the universe. It -- President Carter's last budget had a deficit less than one-third of this deficit. It is a deficit that, according to the President's own fiscal adviser, may grow to as much 300 billion dollars a year for "as far as the eye can see." And, ladies and gentlemen, it is a debt so large -- that is almost one-half of the money we collect from the personal income tax each year goes just to pay the interest. It is a mortgage on our children's future that can be paid only in pain and that could bring this nation to its knees.

Now don't take my word for it -- I'm a Democrat. Ask the Republican investment bankers on Wall Street what they think the chances of this recovery being permanent are. You see, if they're not too embarrassed to tell you the truth, they'll say that they're appalled and frightened by the President's deficit. Ask them what they think of our economy, now that it's been driven by the distorted value of the dollar back to its colonial condition. Now we're exporting agricultural products and importing manufactured ones. Ask those Republican investment bankers what they expect the rate of interest to be a year from now. And ask them -- if they dare tell you the truth -- you'll learn from them, what they predict for the inflation rate a year from now, because of the deficit.

Now, how important is this question of the deficit. Think about it practically: What chance would the Republican candidate have had in 1980 if he had told the American people that he intended to pay for his so-called economic recovery with bankruptcies, unemployment, more homeless, more hungry, and the largest government debt known to humankind? If he had told the voters in 1980 that truth, would American voters have signed the loan certificate for him on Election Day? Of course not! That was an election won under false pretenses. It was won with smoke and mirrors and illusions. And that's the kind of recovery we have now as well.

But what about foreign policy? They said that they would make us and the whole world safer. They say they have. By creating the largest defense budget in history, one that even they now admit is excessive -- by escalating to a frenzy the nuclear arms race; by incendiary rhetoric; by refusing to discuss peace with our enemies; by the loss of 279 young Americans in Lebanon in pursuit of a plan and a policy that no one can find or describe.

We give money to Latin American governments that murder nuns, and then we lie about it. We have been less than zealous in support of our only real friend -- it seems to me, in the Middle East -- the one democracy there, our flesh and blood ally, the state of Israel. Our -- Our policy -- Our foreign policy drifts with no real direction, other than an hysterical commitment to an arms race that leads nowhere -- if we're lucky. And if we're not, it could lead us into bankruptcy or war.

Of course we must have a strong defense! Of course Democrats are for a strong defense. Of course Democrats believe that there are times that we must stand and fight. And we have. Thousands of us have paid for freedom with our lives. But always -- when this country has been at its best -- our purposes were clear. Now they're not. Now our allies are as confused as our enemies. Now we have no real commitment to our friends or to our ideals -- not to human rights, not to the refuseniks, not to Sakharov, not to Bishop Tutu and the others struggling for freedom in South Africa.

We -- We have in the last few years spent more than we can afford. We have pounded our chests and made bold speeches. But we lost 279 young Americans in Lebanon and we live behind sand bags in Washington. How can anyone say that we are safer, stronger, or better?

That -- That is the Republican record. That its disastrous quality is not more fully understood by the American people I can only attribute to the President's amiability and the failure by some to separate the salesman from the product.

And, now -- now -- now it's up to us. Now it's up to you and to me to make the case to America. And to remind Americans that if they are not happy with all that the President has done so far, they should consider how much worse it will be if he is left to his radical proclivities for another four years unrestrained. Unrestrained.

Now, if -- if July -- if July brings back Ann Gorsuch Burford -- what can we expect of December? Where would -- Where would another four years take us? Where would four years more take us? How much larger will the deficit be? How much deeper the cuts in programs for the struggling middle class and the poor to limit that deficit? How high will the interest rates be? How much more acid rain killing our forests and fouling our lakes?

And, ladies and gentlemen, please think of this -- the nation must think of this: What kind of Supreme Court will we have?

Please. [beckons audience to settle down]

We -- We must ask ourselves what kind of court and country will be fashioned by the man who believes in having government mandate people's religion and morality; the man who believes that trees pollute the environment; the man that believes that -- that the laws against discrimination against people go too far; a man who threatens Social Security and Medicaid and help for the disabled. How high will we pile the missiles? How much deeper will the gulf be between us and our enemies? And, ladies and gentlemen, will four years more make meaner the spirit of the American people? This election will measure the record of the past four years. But more than that, it will answer the question of what kind of people we want to be.

We Democrats still have a dream. We still believe in this nation's future. And this is our answer to the question. This is our credo:

We believe in only the government we need, but we insist on all the government we need.

We believe in a government that is characterized by fairness and reasonableness, a reasonableness that goes beyond labels, that doesn't distort or promise to do things that we know we can't do.

We believe in a government strong enough to use words like "love" and "compassion" and smart enough to convert our noblest aspirations into practical realities.

We believe in encouraging the talented, but we believe that while survival of the fittest may be a good working description of the process of evolution, a government of humans should elevate itself to a higher order.

We -- Our -- Our government -- Our government should be able to rise to the level where it can fill the gaps that are left by chance or by a wisdom we don't fully understand. We would rather have laws written by the patron of this great city, the man called the "world's most sincere Democrat," St. Francis of Assisi, than laws written by Darwin.

We believe -- We believe as Democrats, that a society as blessed as ours, the most affluent democracy in the world's history, one that can spend trillions on instruments of destruction, ought to be able to help the middle class in its struggle, ought to be able to find work for all who can do it, room at the table, shelter for the homeless, care for the elderly and infirm, and hope for the destitute. And we proclaim as loudly as we can the utter insanity of nuclear proliferation and the need for a nuclear freeze, if only to affirm the simple truth that peace is better than war because life is better than death.

We believe in firm -- We believe in firm but fair law and order.

We believe proudly in the union movement.

We believe in a -- We believe -- We believe in privacy for people, openness by government.

We believe in civil rights, and we believe in human rights.

We believe in a single -- We believe in a single fundamental idea that describes better than most textbooks and any speech that I could write what a proper government should be: the idea of family, mutuality, the sharing of benefits and burdens for the good of all, feeling one another's pain, sharing one another's blessings -- reasonably, honestly, fairly, without respect to race, or sex, or geography, or political affiliation.

We believe we must be the family of America, recognizing that at the heart of the matter we are bound one to another, that the problems of a retired school teacher in Duluth are our problems; that the future of the child -- that the future of the child in Buffalo is our future; that the struggle of a disabled man in Boston to survive and live decently is our struggle; that the hunger of a woman in Little Rock is our hunger; that the failure anywhere to provide what reasonably we might, to avoid pain, is our failure.

Now for 50 years -- for 50 years we Democrats created a better future for our children, using traditional Democratic principles as a fixed beacon, giving us direction and purpose, but constantly innovating, adapting to new realities: Roosevelt's alphabet programs; Truman's NATO and the GI Bill of Rights; Kennedy's intelligent tax incentives and the Alliance for Progress; Johnson's civil rights; Carter's human rights and the nearly miraculous Camp David Peace Accord.

Democrats did it -- Democrats did it and Democrats can do it again. We can build a future that deals with our deficit. Remember this, that 50 years of progress under our principles never cost us what the last four years of stagnation have. And we can deal with the deficit intelligently, by shared sacrifice, with all parts of the nation's family contributing, building partnerships with the private sector, providing a sound defense without depriving ourselves of what we need to feed our children and care for our people. We can have a future that provides for all the young of the present, by marrying common sense and compassion.

We know we can, because we did it for nearly 50 years before 1980. And we can do it again, if we do not forget -- if we do not forget that this entire nation has profited by these progressive principles; that they helped lift up generations to the middle class and higher; that they gave us a chance to work, to go to college, to raise a family, to own a house, to be secure in our old age and, before that, to reach heights that our own parents would not have dared dream of.

That struggle to live with dignity is the real story of the shining city. And it's a story, ladies and gentlemen, that I didn't read in a book, or learn in a classroom. I saw it and lived it, like many of you. I watched a small man with thick calluses on both his hands work 15 and 16 hours a day. I saw him once literally bleed from the bottoms of his feet, a man who came here uneducated, alone, unable to speak the language, who taught me all I needed to know about faith and hard work by the simple eloquence of his example. I learned about our kind of democracy from my father. And I learned about our obligation to each other from him and from my mother. They asked only for a chance to work and to make the world better for their children, and they -- they asked to be protected in those moments when they would not be able to protect themselves. This nation and this nation's government did that for them.

And that they were able to build a family and live in dignity and see one of their children go from behind their little grocery store in South Jamaica on the other side of the tracks where he was born, to occupy the highest seat, in the greatest State, in the greatest nation, in the only world we would know, is an ineffably beautiful tribute to the democratic process.

And -- And ladies and gentlemen, on January 20, 1985, it will happen again -- only on a much, much grander scale. We will have a new President of the United States, a Democrat born not to the blood of kings but to the blood of pioneers and immigrants. And we will have America's first woman Vice President, the child of immigrants, and she -- she -- she will open with one magnificent stroke, a whole new frontier for the United States.

Now, it will happen. It will happen if we make it happen; if you and I make it happen. And I ask you now, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, for the good of all of us, for the love of this great nation, for the family of America, for the love of God: Please, make this nation remember how futures are built.

Thank you and God bless you.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Poem: Changes 21/Biting Through

It is favorable
To let justice be administered
Terrible and swift.

Let it come down
Like thunder and blue lightning:
The old surprise visit,

An image of

Thus the old kings made iron laws
With exponential penalties.
If the punishment fits the crime,

Is it a punishment at all?
Ask Hammurabi, Gaius,
Simon Legree, and Draco.

His feet are fastened in the stocks,
So his toes disappear.
He dines on putrid meat.

His neck is fastened in a wooden cangue,
So his ears disappear.
This is as good as it gets.

The guilty swerve
From pleading for life
To pleading for death.

Friday, November 24, 2006

The Greatest Thanksgiving Song: Alice's Restaurant by Arlo Guthrie

In 1967, Arlo Guthrie wrote and recorded what has to be the greatest Thanksgiving song of all time. Or is it the only Thanksgiving song of all time?

Alice's Restaurant
By Arlo Guthrie

This song is called Alice's Restaurant, and it's about Alice, and the restaurant, but Alice's Restaurant is not the name of the restaurant, that's just the name of the song, and that's why I called the song Alice's Restaurant.

You can get anything you want at Alice's Restaurant
You can get anything you want at Alice's Restaurant
Walk right in it's around the back
Just a half a mile from the railroad track
You can get anything you want at Alice's Restaurant

Now it all started two Thanksgivings ago, was on - two years ago on Thanksgiving, when my friend and I went up to visit Alice at the restaurant, but Alice doesn't live in the restaurant, she lives in the church nearby the restaurant, in the bell-tower, with her husband Ray and Fasha the dog. And livin' in the bell tower like that, they got a lot of room downstairs where the pews used to be in. Havin' all that room, seein' as how they took out all the pews, they decided that they didn't have to take out their garbage for a long time.

We got up there, we found all the garbage in there, and we decided it'd be a friendly gesture for us to take the garbage down to the city dump. So we took the half a ton of garbage, put it in the back of a red VW microbus, took shovels and rakes and implements of destruction and headed
on toward the city dump.

Well we got there and there was a big sign and a chain across across the dump saying, "Closed on Thanksgiving." And we had never heard of a dump closed on Thanksgiving before, and with tears in our eyes we drove off into the sunset looking for another place to put the garbage.

We didn't find one. Until we came to a side road, and off the side of the side road there was another fifteen foot cliff and at the bottom of the cliff there was another pile of garbage. And we decided that one big pile is better than two little piles, and rather than bring that one up we decided to throw our's down.

That's what we did, and drove back to the church, had a thanksgiving dinner that couldn't be beat, went to sleep and didn't get up until the next morning, when we got a phone call from officer Obie. He said, "Kid, we found your name on an envelope at the bottom of a half a ton of garbage, and just wanted to know if you had any information about it." And I said, "Yes, sir, Officer Obie, I cannot tell a lie, I put that envelope under that garbage."

After speaking to Obie for about fourty-five minutes on the telephone we finally arrived at the truth of the matter and said that we had to go down and pick up the garbage, and also had to go down and speak to him at the police officer's station. So we got in the red VW microbus with the shovels and rakes and implements of destruction and headed on toward the police officer's station.

Now friends, there was only one or two things that Obie coulda done at the police station, and the first was he could have given us a medal for being so brave and honest on the telephone, which wasn't very likely, and we didn't expect it, and the other thing was he could have bawled us out and told us never to be see driving garbage around the vicinity again, which is what we expected, but when we got to the police officer's station there was a third possibility that we hadn't even counted upon, and we was both immediately arrested. Handcuffed. And I said "Obie, I don't think I can pick up the garbage with these handcuffs on." He said, "Shut up, kid. Get in the back of the patrol car."

And that's what we did, sat in the back of the patrol car and drove to the quote Scene of the Crime unquote. I want tell you about the town of Stockbridge, Massachusets, where this happened here, they got three stop signs, two police officers, and one police car, but when we got to the Scene of the Crime there was five police officers and three police cars, being the biggest crime of the last fifty years, and everybody wanted to get in the newspaper story about it. And they was using up all kinds of cop equipment that they had hanging around the police officer's station. They was taking plaster tire tracks, foot prints, dog smelling prints, and they took twenty seven eight-by-ten colour glossy photographs with circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one explaining what each one was to be used as evidence against us. Took pictures of the approach, the getaway, the northwest corner the southwest corner and that's not to mention the aerial photography.

After the ordeal, we went back to the jail. Obie said he was going to put us in the cell. Said, "Kid, I'm going to put you in the cell, I want your wallet and your belt." And I said, "Obie, I can understand you wanting my wallet so I don't have any money to spend in the cell, but what do you want my belt for?" And he said, "Kid, we don't want any hangings." I said, "Obie, did you think I was going to hang myself for littering?" Obie said he was making sure, and friends Obie was, cause he took out the toilet seat so I couldn't hit myself over the head and drown, and he took out the toilet paper so I couldn't bend the bars roll out the - roll the toilet paper out the window, slide down the roll and have an escape. Obie was making sure, and it was about four or five hours later that Alice (remember Alice? It's a song about Alice), Alice came by and with a few nasty words to Obie on the side, bailed us out of jail, and we went back to the church, had a another thanksgiving dinner that couldn't be beat, and didn't get up until the next morning, when we all had to go to court.

We walked in, sat down, Obie came in with the twenty seven eight-by-ten colour glossy pictures with circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one, sat down. Man came in said, "All rise." We all stood up, and Obie stood up with the twenty seven eight-by-ten colour glossy
pictures, and the judge walked in sat down with a seeing eye dog, and he sat down, we sat down. Obie looked at the seeing eye dog, and then at the twenty seven eight-by-ten colour glossy ictures with circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one, and looked at the seeing eye dog. And then at twenty seven eight-by-ten colour glossy pictures with circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one and began to cry, 'cause Obie came to the realization that it was a typical case of American blind justice, and there wasn't nothing he could do about it, and the judge wasn't going to look at the twenty seven eight-by-ten colour glossy pictures with the circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one explaining what each one was to be used as evidence against us. And we was fined $50 and had to pick up the garbage in the snow, but thats not what I came to tell you about.

I came to talk about the draft.

They got a building down New York City, it's called Whitehall Street, where you walk in, you get injected, inspected, detected, infected, neglected and selected. I went down to get my physical examination one day, and I walked in, I sat down, got good and drunk the night before, so I looked and felt my best when I went in that morning. `Cause I wanted to look like the all-American kid from New York City, man I wanted, I wanted to feel like the all-, I wanted to be the all American kid from New York, and I walked in, sat down, I was hung down, brung down, hung up, and all kinds o' mean nasty ugly things. And I waked in and sat down and they gave
me a piece of paper, said, "Kid, see the phsychiatrist, room 604."

And I went up there, I said, "Shrink, I want to kill. I mean, I wanna, I wanna kill. Kill. I wanna, I wanna see, I wanna see blood and gore and guts and veins in my teeth. Eat dead burnt bodies. I mean kill, Kill, KILL, KILL." And I started jumpin up and down yelling, "KILL, KILL," and he started jumpin up and down with me and we was both jumping up and down yelling, "KILL, KILL." And the sargent came over, pinned a medal on me, sent me down the hall, said, "You're our boy."

Didn't feel too good about it.

Proceeded on down the hall gettin more injections, inspections, detections, neglections and all kinds of stuff that they was doin' to me at the thing there, and I was there for two hours, three hours, four hours, I was there for a long time going through all kinds of mean nasty ugly things and I was just having a tough time there, and they was inspecting, injecting every single part of me, and they was leaving no part untouched. Proceeded through, and when I finally came to the see the last man, I walked in, walked in sat down after a whole big thing there, and I walked up and said, "What do you want?" He said, "Kid, we only got one question. Have you ever been arrested?"

And I proceeded to tell him the story of the Alice's Restaurant Massacre, with full orchestration and five part harmony and stuff like that and all the phenome... - and he stopped me right there and said, "Kid, did you ever go to court?"

And I proceeded to tell him the story of the twenty seven eight-by-ten colour glossy pictures with the circles and arrows and the paragraph on the back of each one, and he stopped me right there and said, "Kid, I want you to go and sit down on that bench that says Group W .... NOW kid!!"

And I, I walked over to the, to the bench there, and there is, Group W's where they put you if you may not be moral enough to join the army after committing your special crime, and there was all kinds of mean nasty ugly looking people on the bench there. Mother rapers. Father stabbers. Father rapers! Father rapers sitting right there on the bench next to me! And they was mean and nasty and ugly and horrible crime-type guys sitting on the bench next to me. And the meanest, ugliest, nastiest one, the meanest father raper of them all, was coming over to me and he was mean 'n' ugly 'n' nasty 'n' horrible and all kind of things and he sat down next to me and said, "Kid, whad'ya get?" I said, "I didn't get nothing, I had to pay $50 and pick up the garbage." He said, "What were you arrested for, kid?" And I said, "Littering." And they all moved away from me on the bench there, and the hairy eyeball and all kinds of mean nasty things, till I said, "And creating a nuisance." And they all came back, shook my hand, and we had a great time on the bench, talkin about crime, mother stabbing, father raping, all kinds of groovy things that we was talking about on the bench. And everything was fine, we was smoking cigarettes and all kinds of things, until the Sargeant came over, had some paper in his hand, held it up and said.

"Kids, this-piece-of-paper's-got-47-words-37-sentences-58-words-we-wanna- know-details-of-the-crime-time-of-the-crime-and-any-other-kind-of-thing- you-gotta-say-pertaining-to-and-about-the-crime-I-want-to-know-arresting- officer's-name-and-any-other-kind-of-thing-you-gotta-say", and talked for forty-five minutes and nobody understood a word that he said, but we had fun filling out the forms and playing with the pencils on the bench there, and I filled out the massacre with the four part harmony, and wrote it down there, just like it was, and everything was fine and I put down the pencil, and I turned over the piece of paper, and there, there on the other side, in the middle of the other side, away from everything else on the other side, in parentheses, capital letters, quotated, read the following words:


I went over to the sargent, said, "Sargeant, you got a lot a damn gall to ask me if I've rehabilitated myself, I mean, I mean, I mean that just, I'm sittin' here on the bench, I mean I'm sittin here on the Group W bench 'cause you want to know if I'm moral enough join the army, burn women, kids, houses and villages after bein' a litterbug." He looked at me and said, "Kid, we don't like your kind, and we're gonna send you fingerprints off to Washington."

And friends, somewhere in Washington enshrined in some little folder, is a study in black and white of my fingerprints. And the only reason I'm singing you this song now is cause you may know somebody in a similar situation, or you may be in a similar situation, and if your in a situation like that there's only one thing you can do and that's walk into the shrink wherever you are ,just walk in say "Shrink, You can get anything you want, at Alice's restaurant.". And walk out. You know, if one person, just one person does it they may think he's really sick and they won't take him. And if two people, two people do it, in harmony, they may think they're both faggots and they won't take either of them. And three people do it, three, can you imagine, three people walking in singin a bar of Alice's Restaurant and walking out. They may think it's an organization. And can you, can you imagine fifty people a day,I said fifty people a day walking in singin a bar of Alice's Restaurant and walking out. And friends they may thinks it's a movement.

And that's what it is , the Alice's Restaurant Anti-Massacre Movement, and all you got to do to join is sing it the next time it come's around on the guitar.

With feeling. So we'll wait for it to come around on the guitar, here and sing it when it does. Here it comes.

You can get anything you want, at Alice's Restaurant
You can get anything you want, at Alice's Restaurant
Walk right in it's around the back
Just a half a mile from the railroad track
You can get anything you want, at Alice's Restaurant

That was horrible. If you want to end war and stuff you got to sing loud. I've been singing this song now for twenty five minutes. I could sing it for another twenty five minutes. I'm not proud... or tired. So we'll wait till it comes around again, and this time with four part harmony and feeling. We're just waitin' for it to come around is what we're doing. All right now.

You can get anything you want, at Alice's Restaurant
Excepting Alice
You can get anything you want, at Alice's Restaurant
Walk right in it's around the back
Just a half a mile from the railroad track
You can get anything you want, at Alice's Restaurant

Da da da da da da da dum
At Alice's Restaurant

©1966,1967 (Renewed) by Appleseed Music Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

The Band Had Their Last Waltz Thirty Years Ago Today

On Thanksgiving thirty years ago, mainly at Robbie Robertson's insistence, The Band threw in the towel at a massive concert in the Winterland Ballroom in San Francisco, California. It featured a Thanksgiving dinner for all the guests, before a very long concert that lasted until 2 A.M. The Band had a horn section with arrangements by Alan Toussaint (as they also did in the Rock of Ages show years earlier), and a stellar list of guests, appearances by The Hawk (Ronnie Hawkins), Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, Muddy Waters, Dr. John, Bob Dylan, Van

Morrison, Ringo Starr, Eric Clapton, Ronnie Wood, Paul Butterfield, and Neil Diamond, and even readings by poets Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Michael McClure.

The concert was filmed by Martin Scorsese, and was combined with interviews with a somewhat stunned and cranky Band. (There would be a loud dispute between Levon Helm over the movie, and Scorsese putting the spotlight on Robertson. They recorded soundstage performances with country singer Emmylou Harris ("Evangeline") and legendary gospel-soul group The Staple Singers ("The Weight"). Released in 1978 as The Last Waltz, the film is considered one of the best rock movies of all time. It was directed by Martin Scorsese. CD sets were also issued (and continue to sell).

After one last studio record, The Band split for good. Danko, Helm, Manuel, and Hudson later reformed the group and recorded and toured, but they never got the momentum going. Richard Manuel hung himself while on tour. Danko died in 1999 in Woodstock. Both Garth Hudson and Levon Helm still perform and live in the Woodstock area.

The Band, more than any other group, put rock and roll back in touch with its roots. With their rootsy songs and love of varied musical idioms, the Band spanned the years, and made American cultural connections during the turbulent 60s and early 70s. Robbie Robertson songs were obviously Dylan influenced, and drew from history to create filmic tunes. The Band had three distinct and wonderful singers: Rick Danko, drummer Levon Helm and keyboardist Richard Manuel. They harmonized in various robust combinations (Danko and Helm singing twin leads, veering in and out of harmony on Don't Do It is a great example). Except for Robertson, they all played several instruments (Danko, Bass and violin; Manuel: Piano and drums; Hudson: Saxaphone, organ, piano, accordian; Helm, Drums, guitar, mandolin). Their music incorporated many musical idioms--from carnival music of the early 20th century up to the doo wop revues of the Fifties, as well as the blues, country, and bluegrass. The Band walked with the kings.


Wednesday, November 22, 2006

The Wrong Place At The Right Time: Secret Service Agents Reported Missing Following Barbara Bush Purse Theft

John Kincaid and Nicholas Cimino, Secret Service

Following an incident in which President Bush's daughter Barbara's purse was stolen in a Buenos Aires restaurant, two Secret Service agents have apparently disappeared.

The agents have not been in contact with their families for nearly a week. E-mails and calls to their cell phones have not been returned. Beltway speculators believe the agents are incarcerated in a U.S.-controlled prison facility in South America. The families of the two agents, however, have a darker story to tell, and believe the agents are the victims of foul play.

A White House staffer told a reporter from All This Is That that President Bush was apoplectic when informed of the incident. The President was quoted by one staffer saying: "I don't want to see these agents put out to pasture with a severance package. They're dead! If they got close enough to snatch her purse, they were close enough to kill her! What the f*** do we even have Secret Service for? I rely on them to keep my family safe and they can't even handle a trip to a restaurant! I'm glad they're in South America, because if they were here, I'd take bolt cutters to their balls! I'm supposed to be thankful no one's taken a shot at a President in 20 years? Well, I'm not. I'll have someone's head for this. Did this happen because I made them a part of Homeland Security? S**t! Those clowns could f*** up a two-car funeral."

First Daughter Barbara Bush had her purse and cell phone stolen as she had dinner at a Buenos Aires restaurant, even though she was under heavy guard by a Secret Service detail, according to ABC News. Another White House staffer, working the security advance detail, got into an fracas with unidentified Argentinians following "a night out." The aide was badly beaten, according to a local law enforcement official. The Secret Service said today the incident was an attempted mugging that went bad. There are rumors that the altercation was much darker that. Reporters have been unable to contact this agent, leading to speculation that he may also have "gone missing."

Two committees in the House of Representatives are reported considering opening investigations into both the breach of security and the apparent disappearance of the agents.

All This Is That's investigation of this incident continues and we will release breaking news throughout the Thanksgiving holiday week.

Terry Melanson on Michael Richards: Freemason, Shriner, Racist

Following up on my recent post on Michael Richards, Terry Melanson, who runs the fascinating Illuminati Conspiracy Archive, wrote to me.:

"Yes, I was on to the same theme as you. Right after I watched it. I had already known that he was a 33rd and a Shriner. Not only is his racism a symptom of his masonic affiliation - Richards is in the highest echelons where the current of white superiority has always lurked.Here's my new article: Michael Richards: Freemason, Shriner, Racist
By Terry, at 1:59 PM, November 22, 2006 "

My piece just lightly touched on this, in my normal haphazard fashion, but Terry has thoroughly researched, and written a long post on Richards' Freemason connections, along with a lot of data on Masonry's history in race relations. Click here t0 read Michael Richards: Freemason, Shriner, Racist.

Happy Thanksgiving!


Is there a Masonic connection to Michael Richards Racist Outburst?

During a disastrous November 17, 2006, comedy routine at The Laugh Factory in West Hollywood, California, Michael Richards a/k/a "Kramer" responded to an African-American heckler with racially charged comments, yelling, "Fifty years ago we'd have you upside-down with a f***ing fork up your ass"--an apparent reference to lynching. He said over and over "He's a n****r!". Richards walked off of the stage and a Laugh Factory employee came on stage and attempted to apologize.

Three days later, in a November 20th satellite appearance on the Late Show With David Letterman (with Jerry Seinfeld as the guest) Richards apologized, saying, "For me to be at a comedy club and flip out and say this crap, I'm deeply, deeply sorry... I'm not a racist. That's what's so insane about this." He described his outburst as one of "pure rage." He was clearly shattered and confused during the appearance, which goes no distance in ameliorating the damage done. Every time something like this happens, it feels like it turns back the clock just a little.

The apology was as pathetic as the original outburst. It made me wonder how I might react in the same instance. If you are a regular reader, you may remember, I too, grew up cracker. All those hateful words and the jokes, and the images are buried somewhere inside me too. I think I could be just as angry, but I don't think I could, or would, play the race card. The fact that he even came up with the pitchfork image makes you wonder what is really in his heart. The fact that he would immediately bring up lynching seems to negate everything he has attempted to say in apology.

Interestingly, the Wikipedia tells of Richards' Masonic connections. Despite his protests, and if what I've read is correct, membership in the Masons sounds tantamount to being a racist:

"Richards is a Master Mason, and also holds 33° in the Scottish Rite; he is very active in preservation of masonic research, and in his personal life is an avid reader. He is a member of the following lodges: Riviera Lodge No. 780, Culver City–Foshay No. 467 lodge, Southern California
Research Lodge. He is also a Life Member of the Los Angeles Scottish Rite Valley and a Life Member of the Scottish Rite Research Society."

According to Masonry is:

"An organization dedicated to brotherhood, Masonry ironically remains a bulwark of racial segregation in the United States. By 1987, decades after most American institutions had accepted racial integration, only four of the forty-nine Grand Lodges could count even one black member in their jurisdictions. As the author of a recent scholarly study of black Freemasonry observes, "The legitimation of social intermingling between black and white Masons has remained anathema in mainstream Freemasonry."' (from the Handbook of Secret Organizations by William J. Whalen)

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Robert Altman, R.I.P.

Robert Altman has died at the age of 81. He was one of my very favorite directors, and directed three of the greatest movies released in the 70's: M*A*S*H*, McCabe and Mrs. Miller, and Nashville. Most recently, he released another great ensemble film, A Prairie Home Companion. Robert Altman was enormously influential, quirky, and cranky, and he changed the way we make movies. Not a bad life's work.

Joni Mitchell's "Furry (Lewis) Sings The Blues"

Memphis is probably the birthplace of the Blues. On Beale Street, near the Mississippi River, the blues entered the mainstream. More or less. Furry put out his first recordings there, in the late 1920's. Later, the blues would drift north, to Chicago and south to New Orleans.

Walter Furry Lewis (1892-1979) played with W.C. Handy a/k/a the "Father of the Blues". Stanley Booth wrote about Furry in Playboy in 1970: "In Chicago, at the old Vocalion studios on Wabash Avenue, he made the first of many recordings he was to make, both for Vocalion and for RCA Victor's Bluebird label. But Beale Street's great era ended at the close of the 1920s; since then, Furry has had only one album of his own - a 1959 Folkways LP. "

"Nor, since the Depression, has he performed regularly, even in his home town. He makes his living as a street sweeper. When he does play, it is usually at the Bitter Lemon, a coffeehouse that caters mainly to the affluent East Memphis teenaged set, but whose manager, Charley Brown, is a blues enthusiast and occasionally hires Furry between rock-'n'-roll groups. " You can read Booth's entire article on the Joni Mitchell web site. Joni's web site treats the Fair Use clause of the copyright act with an even more generous interpretation than All This Is That.

By the time I became aware of the blues, Furry was in a (long delayed) resurgence. Most of what we knew of the blues was what we heard filtered through the Brits like the Rolling Stones, John Mayall, The Yardbirds, and Eric Clapton (and later, people like Stevie Ray Vaughn or Bonnie Raitt). I saw a show about him on PBS in about 1971, and people were speaking highly of his music. When he was finally back in the spotlight, he began recording again, and people like Joni were paying attention to him. He even opened a huge stadium show for the Rolling Stones. From 1930 onward, Stanley Booth estimated that Furry had likely made less than $100 a year from his music. That changed in the 1970's, but it had been a long time coming. Furry had worked as a street cleaner for many years.

Furry was known for both his singing, and his bottleneck slide guitar playing. Joni Mitchell interviewed him (I can't find for what) , and later wrote her song "Furry Sings the Blues".

Furry was reportedly mad about Mitchell's tune--he thought he should have received a chunk of the royalties. It's a great song. I don't know if Furry got screwed or not, but this song led me to buy some of his recordings. . .

Furry Sings The Blues
by Joni Mitchell

Old Beale Street is coming down
Sweeties' Snack Bar, boarded up now
And Egles The Tailor and the Shine Boy's gone
Faded out with ragtime blues
Handy's cast in bronze
And he's standing in a little park
With a trumpet in his hand
Like he's listening back to the good old bands
And the click of high heeled shoes
Old Furry sings the blues
Propped up in his bed
With his dentures and his leg removed
And Ginny's there
For her kindness and Furry's beer
She's the old man's angel overseer

Pawn shops glitter like gold tooth caps
In the grey decay
They chew the last few dollars off
Old Beale Street's carcass
Carrion and mercy
Blue and silver sparkling drums
Cheap guitars, eye shades and guns
Aimed at the hot blood of being no one
Down and out in Memphis Tennessee
Old Furry sings the blues
You bring him smoke and drink and he'll play for you
lt's mostly muttering now and sideshow spiel
But there was one song he played
I could really feel

There's a double bill murder at the New Daisy
The old girl's silent across the street
She's silent - waiting for the wrecker's beat
Silent - staring ar her stolen name
Diamond boys and satin dolls
Bourbon laughter- ghosts - history falls
To parking lots and shopping malls
As they tear down old Beale Street
Old Furry sings the blues
He points a bony finger at you and
"I don't like you"
Everybody laughs as if it's the old man's standard joke
But it's true
We're only welcome for our drink and smoke

W.C. Handy I'm rich and I'm fay
And I'm not familiar with what you played
But I get such strong impressions of your hey day
Looking up and down old Beale Street
Ghosts of the darktown society
Come right out of the bricks at me
Like it's a Saturday night
They're in their finery
Dancing it up and making deals
Furry sings the blues
Why should I expect that old guy to give it to me true
Fallen to hard luck
And time and other thieves
While our limo is shining on his shanty street
Old Furry sings the blues

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Rove Held For Threatening President Under Terrorism Law He Authored

Karl Rove was taken into custody late Saturday night by the Secret Service and is being held at an undisclosed location.

Karl Rove and President Bush met to discuss the increasingly virulent rumors of his departure ("Damnit George! These aren't rumors. They're leaks!"). He arranged the meeting after a heated discussion with White House Counsel Harriet Miers on Friday. Miers reportedly told Rove "Can't you take a f***ing hint? Do we have to have you physically removed, or can you see the writing on the wall? It's over Karl. You're out."

Rove was livid, but calmed down before the after-dinner meeting with The President. Sources, however, told All This Is That that the meeting quickly erupted into charges and counter-charges, in which Rove directly questioned the President's honesty and intelligence. Bush took umbrage and demanded that Rove apologize and only address him as Mister President in the future. Rove then became so abusive that The President literally hit the panic button. Four officers rushed in, restrained him and drove him away in a black S.U.V. Rove is being held incommunicado due to "national security reasons." The Secret Service is holding him under the same rules designed to detain Al Qaeda operatives and others indefinitely. Ironically, Karl Rove helped draft the rules that suspend habeas corpus for terror suspects.

Poem: Changes 20/Contemplation

The wind scours the desolate earth
Flaying turf and churning surf
The literal and figurative ablution

Is made
But not yet the offering
Or the prayer

Because the way is unclear
You look for an omen
Like the old kings

And contemplate
Advance and retreat
Fight or flight

Waiting for The Lamplighter
In his own sweet time
To show you the sign.

The First Photograph Of A Person?

Daguerrotype by Louis Daguerre 1839 -- Click To Enlarge

People believe that this is the first outdoor photograph taken of a human. Louis Daguerre, one of the early pioneers of photography and photographic technology, shot this "daguerrotype" in 1839. Daguerrotypes[1] were (sometimes) made of people in the studio--if they could remain stock still for minutes), but people never appeared in street scenes of landscapes. Due to the long exposure times required for an image, all moving objects became invisible.

Somehow this guy stood still, or he was posed by Louis Daguerre and held the pose for a few minutes.

[1] According to The Wikipedia "The daguerreotype was a positive-only process allowing no reproduction of the picture. Preparation of the plate prior to image exposure resulted in the formation of a layer of photo-sensitive silver halide, and exposure to a scene or image through a focussing lens formed a latent image. The latent image was made visible, or "developed", by placing the exposed plate over a slightly heated (about 75°C) cup of mercury. The mercury vapour condensed on those places where the exposure light was most intense, in proportion with the areas of highest density in the image. This produced a picture in an amalgam, the mercury vapour attaching itself to the altered silver iodide. Removal of the mercury image by heat validates this chemistry. The developing box was constructed to allow inspection of the image through a yellow glass window while it was being developed.

The next operation was to "fix" the photographic image permanently on the plate by dipping in a solution of
hyposulphite of soda – known as "fixer" or "hypo". The image produced by this method is so delicate it will not bear the slightest handling. Practically all daguerreotypes are protected from accidental damage by a glass-fronted case. It was discovered by experiment that treating the plate with heated gold chloride tones and strengthens the image, although it remains quite delicate and requires a well-sealed case to protect against touch as well as oxidation of the fine silver deposits forming the blacks in the image. The best-preserved daguerreotypes dating from the nineteenth century are sealed in robust glass cases evacuated of air and filled with a chemically inert gas, typically nitrogen."

Click to enlarge this daguerrotype of Edgar Allen Poe from 1848.
Does he look completely insane--or what?

Karl Rove Fired (The Woodshed Isn't Working)?

Click to enlarge -- Karl V. Rove and President George W. Bush Bantered
With Reporters During Happier Times

The White House Bulletin--a subscription newsletter--says that Bush's Brain, a/k/a Karl V. Rove, is on his way out the door. I don't subscribe, so I am taking Think Progress's word for this. You think the Yellow and Blue Dog Democrats are after his scalp? Just look at the Republicans!

-Trent Lott is now back in the GOP Senate leadership with a serious axe to grind. Rove was behind the scenes agitating against Lott as he fought to save his majority leader's post following his foolish remarks about Sen. Strom Thurmond.

- Harriet Miers, trusted Bush aide and failed Supreme Court nominee doesn't much cotton to Rove either. She believes Rove sat on his hands while her nomination languished. Rove's top aide Susan Ralston was recently fired over ethics questions. Many believe this was at Miers behest, and was a signal that Rove should leave as well.

- Republicans on Capitol Hill say that anger runs deep over President Bush's decision to announce the ouster of Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld one day after the election instead of weeks before, when it might have actually made a difference. Rove was among those who had argued that to announce Mr. Rumsfeld's resignation before Election Day was admitting failure in Iraq.

- Bush cannot possibly achieve bilateral cooperation between the Dems and GOP (and his hoped for redemption and "legacy) with a wild-eyed partisan like Rove in the wings. Just as this election pushes the Dems toward a Blue Dog position, it also drags the GOP (kicking and screaming) toward the middle. McCain may soon begin taking shots at Bush on just about everything. Even the war. After all McCain wants/wanted to go in with even more troops.

- According to today's New York Times, "many Republicans say they blame Mr. Rove for failing to heed warnings that the war was hurting their campaigns, as the president and the vice president continued making the case for it on the stump."

- "Karl's role has not been to serve as a bridge over troubled waters; he has tried to stir the waters as often as possible," Senator Richard J. Durbin, the Illinois Democrat, and new Majority Whip, told the New York Times.

One Rove insider quoted in the White House Bulletin, is of course, quite correct: Karl's been through plenty of tough times and survived. That S.O.B. has slipped the noose so many times now, it's difficult to actually envision him leaving. In some ways, I guess, it doesn't matter. He has already done about all the damage he can do to The Administration. . .and even the country.

I believe the rumor. All we're waiting for now is for a politically decent interval, or "period of mourning" to pass between the firing of Rummy and the firing of Rove. And if things get really interesting. . .the firing of Cheney.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Jerry Seinfeld Called Them The Close Talkers, Or, The Study Of Proxemics

click Lyndon Johnson close talking to Supreme Court
Justice Abe Fortas to enlarge

Jerry Seinfeld called them “close talkers;” people who just get too close when they speak with you. Or in line somewhere, the guy behind you is way closer than he really needs to be. I had a neighbor in Seattle once who was always seven inches from your face when she talked to you. When someone is this close, you inherently want to pull back, but you can't. In the normal course of things, when someone is this close to me, it's for a kiss.

Earlier this year I mentioned the bathroom rules of engagement for guys and the discomfort you feel when someone takes the urinal stall next to yours--when every other one is available. Is this guy just clueless, or is he a pecker checker, or just looking for some hot man on man bathroom action? It may not be personal space, but I encounter this same space violation while commuting too--the car that insists on driving right next to you when there is plenty of other space, or the tailgater who follows you too closely to either speed you up or to force you to pull over and let them pass. I constantly have find my aural space invaded by the dolts with bluetooth headsets, gabbing merrily away on their cell phones. Being forced to listen to some of these conversations is tantamount to assrape. At the gas station (I almost wrote the 50's equivalent "filling station") the other day, we were all treated to a guy breaking up with his longtime girlfriend via his bluetooth headset. Listening to his litany of complaints, it was tempting to ask him to put it on speaker phone so we could hear her side of the story too!

The New York Times had an article this week, "In Certain Circles, Two Is A Crowd," that focuses on the study of proxemics. "Communications scholars began studying personal space and people’s perception of it decades ago, in a field known as proxemics. But with the population in the United States climbing above 300 million, urban corridors becoming denser and people with wealth searching for new ways to separate themselves from the masses, interest in the issue of personal space — that invisible force field around your body — is intensifying. "

Some interesting facts:

1) Proxemics scientists studying the videogame Second Life found new evidence of their theories. The rules of proxemics are so ingrained that people even impose those rules on their cyber sprite selves while playing games.

Hiroko Masuike for The New York Times - click to enlarge

2) People tend to retreat to corners to distance themselves from strangers. You are not actually distancing yourself, but establishing your personal bubble. People tend to sit apart at an equidistance (see the photo above of three women in Union Square, NYC). They will separate themselves like birds on a telephone wire (see drawing). Think of a table in a public space. The first person will seat themselves at a corner. The next person will sit at the opposite corner (farthest from the first person). The next people seat themselves as far as possible from the first two. Each succeeding person deals with a diminshed space, but attempts to maximize their distance by distributing the remaining space.

3) Personal space is not confined to that invisible bubble around you. . . smells, sounds and stares from outside the bubble can also invade your space. The knucklehead yelling into his bluetooth headset on the train, your cubicle mate spraying Axe on himself, the guy across the way staring at you every time whenever you look up, or the guy dining on lutefisk. . .all of them are guilty!

4) In cities, which are much more crowded, people tend to adapt, and compromise, but they still attempt to follow the rules ox proxemics whenever possible. They may compromise, buy they always revert to The Old Ways when space permits.

5) While we all strive for space, it's almost unconscious. Proxemics scholars can even draw a map of that table I mentioned, and predict the order in which the seats will fill up, or which urinal stalls will be filled, and in what order...

6) “to overcome the intimacy, you have to make sure you don’t make eye contact.” said Dane Archer, a professor of sociology at the University of California, Santa Cruz. From my five years riding the subways in New York City, I know this is true. I often wore shades on the train. I would also have my head in a book. Keelin and other women I knew would wear "repellent" hats and bulky coats. People hold 'papers in front of them to read and also to shield themselves from the madding crowd by increasing their bubble.

“Animals tend to have an aversion to being touched by a strange critter,” said David B. Givens, the director of the Center for Nonverbal Studies in Spokane, Wash. (What a great name! Their mission could be to study everything that doesn't involve talking). I had a friend, Chipper Stone, who spent every Friday "being nonverbal." My wife and favorite sister in law do this once a year--three days of nonverbal living at Breitenbush! I would be expelled, being constitutionally incapable of achieving the state of being nonverbal, and even more, of not hearing the rhythm and music of voices for three whole days!

Some proxemics scholars believe that the iPod "craze" turns city streets and commuter trains into islands of individuality. " The article also talks about how it is easier to be close in low light (another form of the iPod's sensory deprivation). Givens gives the example of a bar in dim light. If the lights were suddenly switched on, people would race to move away from each other...

Friday, November 17, 2006

Poem:With Or Without The Words

If I don't write it down
It's gone like a pickpocket
Easing back into the crowd

If I don’t write it down
The world will carry on
Merrily on its own

Unaware of the loss
The world spins revolves and rotates
With or without the words

If I don’t write it down
The words race away
Like a hit and run driver

Leaving the scene
Of the crime
As if distance

Cures the unthinkable
If I can't see it
It never happened.

The words themselves are
Disassociated and fragmented
Until I gather them

And range and rearrange
The words or new words they suggest
Syllabify and counterbalance

Tinker with rhythms
Remove unnecessary verbiage
And lop off limbs

To save the patient
In a particular place
or an unknown span of time.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

All This Is That Turns Two Years Old Today. . .

. . .and to celebrate, here are some of our banners and posters from the last couple of years. . . /jb

click to enlarge

click to enlarge

click to enlarge

click to enlarge

click to enlarge

click to enlarge

click to enlarge

click to enlarge

click to enlarge

President Bush: The Election Was A Mandate To Win This War!

According to The Guardian, President George Bush recently told his most trusted aides and advisers that the US and its "coalition" must make one last "big push" to win the war in Iraq. The President's increasingly tenuous hold on reality appears to be at the breaking point.

Instead of commencing troop withdrawals, The President is, in fact, strongly considering adding 20,000 more soldiers to the forces on the ground n Iraq.

President Bush intends to buck the public and congressional backlash against the war. The citizens have voted for change in our policy, and Bush intends to do just that, by cranking up the war effort. It appears that the major drubbing of the Republican Party was the catalyst for the President's new direction. Rather than stand down, and begin withdrawing troops, the Administration believes it needs to get serious about winning this war.

Sources say that The President's intransigence is coloring the work of the Hamilton-Baker commission studying our current war policy.

The commission is still working, and its recommendations are expected to be built around a "victory strategy" architected by Pentagon officials. The panel appears to have been significantly influenced by The Administrations No. 1 hawk, Vice-President Cheney.

Neither The President, nor his top aides would return calls from All This Is That confirming this article. They only appear to be talking with "friendly press."

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Poem: Going Mad Might Be Like A Bad Eight Track Tape Deck

You're not sure hear it:
Faint overtones in the music
Like the static in a skipping signal

From a distant 50,000 watt radio station.
It's subtle at first,
Like music from another room.

Soon it becomes more than an echo.
You hear two songs at once
Like when the azimuth of an 8-track head

Becomes misadjusted
And the audio of adjacent tracks
Bleeds into the current song.

Hearing voices must be like that.
You brush it aside
At first, doubting your own ears.

When it emerges with authority
You no longer know
Which voice is real

And which voice is a doppleganger.
Soon the bleedthrough
Takes precedence

And you no longer differentiate
Between your Jiminy Cricket voice
And the one ordering you

To leave your house
And dice up the first luckless person
To cross your path.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Poem: Fall Haiku

Fall Haiku

Ask the blowing wind
Which leaf on the locust tree
Will be next to go.