Free Speech Redux

Aquarian Weekly 9/1/10 REALITY CHECK


There continues to be a difficulty among Americans as to the veracity of the First Amendment. It is an article of law which gives every citizen of this republic the right to speak one’s mind without the fear of government oppression. This does not include endangering others. It does include upsetting and defaming others with the notable exception of Lord Libel and Duke Slander. Everything else is, as they like to say at 4:00 am on McDougal Street, “Nothin’ but a pawty.”

– “Freedom of Speech Case 1,653: Dr. Laura vs. GLAAD”Reality Check — Issue: 6/14/00

Dr. LauraThe back of my throat is shredded from the constant bellowing at a vicious gaggle of geese, which has turned an extended stretch of my property into a toilet, and my groin is barking from a lengthy three-day spell of dancing wildly to ancient AC/DC songs with a manic two year-old, who for reasons known only to the gods of irony considers this a suitable pre-bedtime ritual. Let’s say I am in no mood for another thousand-word lecture on Freedom of Speech, a subject, whilst as near and dear to my soul as any, has never truly been grasped by an alarming majority of the citizens of these United States. It appears that only when it suits us, we embrace the Constitution, but when inconvenient or our feelings are bruised we opportunely bag it. It is equally vexing on how we believe that unless everyone is on board with our speechifying, our rights are denied.

And so, despite my physical and mental handicaps, I forge on.

The issue remains that the law, as stated and upheld by the liberties bestowed upon us by birthright as Americans and fortified by years of serious and continued bloodletting are blind to human frailty. Stupidity, opinion, prejudice, money, religion, politics, bad parenting and showbiz cannot and will not tremor the foundation of our First Amendment rights. No vote, no protest, no rally or shift in the mood, tenor or zeitgeist will alter it, lest the heaven’s fall and other fancifully devised nonsense.

This is why ultimately, because the First Amendment also protects freedom of religion, the bullshit over this proposed Islamic Center in Lower Manhattan will be settled neatly. If those who wish to build the thing have the cash to do so, receive their zoning permit, and have the will to battle the assholes who will surely come from everywhere to stop it, as they have done to block the cultural and religious freedoms of blacks, Jews, Irish, Italians, etc. for centuries, then they will have their Islamic Center, as they should. Emotions and sentiment should not enter into it, nor should political posturing, as it eventually failed to do when under a deluge of requests to show decorum the National Rifle Association refused to move their annual meeting from Denver shortly after two teenaged freaks went ballistic at Columbine.

This brings us to back to Free Speech and one Dr. Laura Schlessinger, whose recent struggle to “express myself freely” came under fire following her repeating the word “nigger” over and over on a her radio show.

While “nigger’ may well be the most vile and demeaning word in the English language, it is not to my knowledge a no-no FCC thing, as say “fuck” or “shit” or “cunt”, which of course makes the arbitrary choice of what words constitute a fine from an unelected board of judges ever the more imbecilic. Nevertheless, “nigger” doesn’t cut it, as “kike”, “wop”, “spic”, “fag”, “jap”, and other derogatory terms to ridicule someone’s race or heritage are not precluded from broadcast banter.

So Dr. Laura’s free speech was okay there, but when predictably derided for it, she wanted to be clear that she was using it in the context of double-standards; the kind of thing you get from say older white people who are very upset that they cannot use the word when it is clearly and boldly cranked out in nearly every rap record or in what Dr. Laura clumsily tried to illustrate, nearly every black comedian, and I’d like to add, the whole of the Quentin Tarantino film canon.

Dr. Laura has the right to be a bigot or appear as one or comment on them, etc. What becomes interesting is when defenders of Free Speech also want radio stations, sponsors, and the public at large to simply accept the behavior without reprisal.

Maybe Dr. Laura is a racist, maybe not. We don’t know. Maybe we’ll never know. This performance perhaps could have been received by most as insensitive since Dr. Laura was offering “advice” to an African American woman married to a white man, in which she was not only trying to allay the angst the woman may have felt about being abused by such a word, but that somehow, according to Ms. Schlessinger’s reasoning, all people who enter into a mixed-race marriage “must have a sense of humor.” But this falls under the category of You Get What You Pay For or Consider The Source, because much like the “incident” involving another old, white radio geek, Don Imus, the history of Dr. Laura’s insensitivity is long and in many cases profitable.

A little over ten years ago I wasted a column on Dr. Laura and her battle with the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation. In it, I stressed those dispensing three-minute snippets of “advice” on monumental subjects such as mental health or sexual deviancy and the odd moral dilemma may be as noble an endeavor as rodeo clown or hosing down animals in a traveling circus but is nevertheless protected under the First Amendment. However, since such goofiness is broadcast over the airwaves, there comes with it a certain level of resonance. Therefore comments such as homosexuals being “biological errors” or single mothers “immoral” and spending months trying to have a kids’ skateboard magazine expunged from the periodicals publishing list can be construed by listeners as radical and outside the mainstream, yet not surprising, specifically if these viewpoints are the very core of the program in question.

And, as stated before, shock and abhorrence are no reasons to strip the rights of a fellow citizen, nor in actual tried cases, thanks to great American heroes like Lenny Bruce and George Carlin, are the vagaries of obscenity.

Be that as it may, Dr. Laura has the right to be a bigot or appear as one or comment on them, etc. What becomes interesting is when defenders of Free Speech also want radio stations, sponsors, and the public at large to simply accept the behavior without reprisal.

In other words, Dr. Laura can say “nigger” while making a point or mocking a race, but the radio station, its sponsors and/or the listeners do not have to accept it. Radio is a business. It survives on sponsorship from other businesses, and those businesses have to sell their product to as many people as possible, be they blacks, Jews, homosexuals, gun loons, religious weirdoes, perverts, revolutionaries or single moms. Under the First Amendment they have as much right to reject Dr. Laura, force her from the station or refuse to further bankroll her show as she does to blurt “nigger”.

Dr. Laura, and recently her new defender, Sarah Palin, who less than a year ago had a fit when White House Chief Advisor Rahm Emmanuel used the word “retard” in a private meltdown, yet boldly defends Schlessinger’s N-Word jam, wants everyone to be at peace with it, effectively stripping her dissenters of their First Amendment rights.

Although not guilty of shatting on my lawn or instigating an early-evening mosh pit, I am as guilty as Saint Sarah of hypocrisy here. As my Dad may well remind me, since he set me straight back then, in the early nineties when Irish, bald, singer Sinead O’Connor ripped a photo of the Pope on national live television and took as much crap as if she had actually ripped the Pope in half, I became incensed. I felt O’Connor had merely exercised her right to free expression as an artist. The backlash seemed laughable to me, especially when considering she had become a polarizing figure already. This came to a head a week or so later when O’Connor appeared at Madison Square Garden as part as a tribute to Bob Dylan and was roundly booed off the stage. New York? A Dylan tribute? Booed for expressing an artistically revolutionary idea? How? Why? Then my dad simply said, and I had to agree; “Everyone has to like it?”

Nope. Everyone doesn’t.

That’s how it works.

I wrote this in this space over a decade ago, and it still stands: “The deal is struck – you don’t stop me from saying it and I won’t stop you from disagreeing.”



Reality Check | Pop Culture | Politics | Sports | Music


Read More

Victory For Gay Rights & America 2010

Aquarian Weekly 8/18/10 REALITY CHECK

MOSQUES, SLEVIN, NEWT & THE NAZI POPE How Drilling Into One’s Skull Can Cease Religious Extremism

I am more than distracted this week. Appears I’ll have to deal with another shift at the top of this magazine. Change has never been my strong suit. The details of Master Patrick Slevin’s exit are murky, and from my brief conversation with him this week I can tell this is no negotiation ploy or Brett Farve maneuver. He is serious about moving on. It is what happens when you have to run a magazine or a steam engine or circus for any length of time — many moving parts, irregular intangibles, messy, messy fragments. For Slevin, five years was his limit. This is a lifetime for the centered, but for the emotionally wrought, the true Newt Gingrichparanoids, it is something of a world-class achievement. Lord knows, it is nothing I wish to contemplate or even dare envision. It is a hearty sort who treads the masthead lightly. Slevin did it well, and we wish that whatever private sector gig he now slides into, it would be quieter and filled with less publicity hounds and voodoo dolls.

As for me, I have found a new passion; the expunging of all religious edifices in and around the island of Manhattan. My partner will be Newt Gingrich, with whom I have decided to enter a tontine, a sort of secret blood sport against all religions, cults, and Tom Cruise. Personally, I like Tom Cruise, but the Gingrich people assured me his actions lately have been “highly motivated by foreign sources” and that, they said, could not stand.

Recently my attorney friend sent me an e-mail detailing Gingrich’s plan to exact vengeance on the Saudis, whom he claims will not allow a Christian house of worship to be built in their atavistic theocracy, therefore the proposed mosque or Islamic Center to be opened two blocks from Ground Zero is a no-no. This kind of half-cocked radical thinking intrigues me of course, for it is rare that any politician, especially a disgraced one with a penchant to go off the rails in dimly vetted talking points, would have the gall to take on religious freedom, the cornerstone of how the bulk of this continent was overrun by Europeans in the first place.

Excited by Gingrich’s “theory”, I placed a call this week to his Washington office, but was unable to get him on the phone. Although I knew he was there. Gingrich, like all proud members of the trepanation set, tend to breathe loudly. This can clearly be heard over any phone line, specifically with the type of bandwidth we’re dealing with these days. A healthy length of gray coif may hide the holes in Gingrich’s skull, but it cannot fool me. I know all about trephining. Many of my closest colleagues have used it in desperate times to take the edge off. I hardly think it is revealing anything tender by stating emphatically that Patrick Slevin needed it to run this magazine for half a decade and Gingrich needed it to run the United States Congress, and no one alive can blame either of them for it.

It may be odd, even unsettling for some to accept the practice of drilling small holes in the skull to relieve pressure and expand consciousness, but not for Slevin or Gingrich or Tom Cruise for that matter. These are men of foresight, doers — not cheap little religious peons, who harbor a powerful need to spread their ancient superstitions all over the most enlightened stretch of land in this great nation.

It may be odd, even unsettling for some to accept the practice of drilling small holes in the skull to relieve pressure and expand consciousness, but not for Slevin or Gingrich or Tom Cruise for that matter. These are men of foresight, doers — not cheap little religious peons, who harbor a powerful need to spread their ancient superstitions all over the most enlightened stretch of land in this great nation.

But let’s try and forget voodoo dolls and trepanation for a minute and get down to brass tacks. There is a spate of religious fervor going on in this country, played out all over the world. It has led to the most vile, violent and bizarre behavior capable in the human condition. The graves of the faithful are outnumbered only by the greedy and stupid; all enviable human traits, which blessedly separate us from the other mammals. Earth creatures are normally moved by random instincts of hunger, sex or territoriality. The human mind, however, has developed a “fear center” with the knowledge that our days are numbered, a clock ticks somewhere and someone has to be tending it.

Therefore, it is hard to believe that most Muslim clerics are not extremists or that most Catholic priests are not pedophiles. There is a sense now that the yoga craze is a front to humanize the deadly aims of Hindus and that the Anti-Defamation League is harboring an undercover Kabal of IDF agents, whose mission is to assassinate Persian hot dog vendors. Their recent missive that “ultimately this is not a question of rights, but a question of what is right. In our judgment, building an Islamic center in the shadow of the World Trade Center will cause some victims more pain — unnecessarily — and that is not right” reeks of fascist leanings. “Not a question of rights”, but “what is right”? Who decides what is “right”? And “In our judgment” goes a long way, bub.

This brings to mind the ugly background of the current Pope, who was a Nazi. It is true. The Pope was a Nazi, which is more like he is a Nazi, since, like alcoholics, once a Nazi always a Nazi. This was something the Gingrich people told me they would look into, now that they are in charge of the evil spread of religious freedom. Since it is mandatory that all American presidents be depicted as Nazis, despite no actual affiliation with the Nazi Party, to which, by the way, Pope Benedict XVI absolutely was or is, it must fall under the category of dicey affiliations.

I understand this. And the Gingrich people now know it. I have no way of truly understanding my former managing editor’s take on Catholic Nazis or Islamic terrorists, so I will stop gratuitously dragging him into this column for cheap laughs or a proper send-off. I only hope before he leaves his post the bastard makes one last call to the jackasses who handle Radiohead. Never in all my time working with Slevin had we been so decidedly jerked around by cretins as we did when dealing with Radiohead, none of the members of which have sided with Hamas or the Nazis to my knowledge, but there were surely signs of strategic trepanation.

Holy shit, things around here have gone awry. Let’s tie this one up and send it in. It’s Slevin’s last issue, and this one had to be gangbusters. It is the least the Reality Check News & Information could do for a fellow solider in the war against worship. Hell, yeah.

So fuck Islam and Judaism and Christianity and L. Ron Hubbard or Feisal Abdul Rauf and his wacky Shari’a bullshit.

As Newt likes to say; “If it’s not mine, shut it down.”

It has a nice ring to it; like “Goodbye Master Slevin, you shall be missed.”

Now get me J.J. Koczan on the phone. There’s a Buddhist Temple going up in Wayne.

Reality Check | Pop Culture | Politics | Sports | Music


Read More

Victory For Gay Rights & America 2010

Aquarian Weekly 8/11/10 REALITY CHECK

VICTORY FOR LIBERTY & JUSTICE FOR ALL How the Fight for Gay Marriage Remains Alive & Well

Tradition alone cannot form a rational basis for a law.– Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker upon overturning California’s Proposition 8 to ban gay marriage unconstitutional

God bless America.

It is the greatest nation on the planet, for its governed by the rule of law and not that of majority moral conviction, religious fervor or the whims of the elite or the blather of ignorance and fear. It has stood fast against the forces of enslavement, civil injustice and a strangely reoccurring superstitious perpetuation of discrimination. The echoes of Thomas Jefferson’s most precious ideal; that “all men are created equal” may have been ignored at first, diluted by the times, manifest in period and geographic prejudices, and fueled undaunted by the disdain of the status quo, but was soon exalted, as it must in a country boasting from on high that its land be made free.

Rights For AllHere is a rather important portion of Article XIV of our beloved Constitution (which some crazy people are currently pitching to repeal, because they have horse dung for brain tissue): “No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property without due process of law, nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”


These core ideals, the very fabric of a cause of liberty and a noble Bill of Rights, solidified in the ever-evolving Constitution of these United States (the above “Equal Protection Clause” was added in 1868) gives rise this week to the most important court ruling since the Civil Rights era; the complete and utter rejection of California’s ridiculous Proposition 8. A child with the most basic understanding of middle-school civics could have come to the same conclusion as that of Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker, who has ruled that Prop 8 is “unconstitutional under both the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the U.S. Constitution.”

Of course it is.

Of course denying basic civil rights to tax paying members of this purported free society is not only a blight on our trumped-up sense of national pride, it makes a mockery of our veiled but continued attempt to lecture a good portion of the rest of the world on their human rights abuses. For the entire dozen-plus years I have been filling this space with my bent ideas and half-baked concepts, there has never been a more perplexing case; this denial of basic civil rights, which for some unseemly reason has been cast in votes (in 31 states over 10 years) and debated in churches and private sector forums. It’s a goddamn Right, not the placement of a traffic light or the disbursement of funds to irrigation valleys. Why are we voting on who has access to the Bill of Rights?

Guess what, jack?

In his 135-page ruling, (in this author’s judgment, a more wonderfully thought-provoking and masterfully worded screed of constitutional interpretation has yet to be compiled) Judge Walker, a G.H. Bush appointee, stated that same-sex couples have a fundamental right to marry the person of their choosing, regardless of their gender or sexual orientation, because “describing marriage as being simply between one man and one woman is an artifact of a foregone notion that men and women fulfill different roles in civic life.”


The very idea that we allowed votes on this fundamental issue of basic civil rights is one of the great embarrassments of this or any century around here. And to think, it was never even denied on the grounds of the most outlandish understanding of the law or the Constitution, its Bill of Rights, or a goddamned thing this republic was founded and continues to persist on; liberty and justice for all.

Therefore, again — of course — the argument for denying the rights of American citizens based on some atavistic, superstitious, (gulp!) religious notion has so little merit it becomes a form of grotesque tragic comedy performed by the most irrational among us.

“That the majority of California voters supported Proposition 9 is irrelevant.” writes Walker. “Fundamental rights may not be submitted to a vote; they depend on the outcome of no elections.”

In fact, Walker correctly ruled, “Moral disapproval alone is an improper basis on which to deny rights to gay men and lesbians. The evidence shows conclusively that Proposition 8 enacts, without reason, a private moral view that same-sex couples are inferior to opposite-sex couples.”

Reason trumps Moral Private View; got it.

Enter stage right, the Equal Protection Clause, which was the key to another landmark ruling last month in Massachusetts in which a federal judge also ruled that the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) violated the Constitution.

Moreover, as a key part of his ruling, Judge Walker goes on to discuss social matters of gender and race inequalities, both of which litter our recent history of civil rights abuses (until as recently as 1967, men and women of different races were forbidden to marry in 16 states) and which sadly the majority of Americans supported.

The very idea that we allowed votes on this fundamental issue of basic civil rights is one of the great embarrassments of this or any century around here. And to think, it was never even denied on the grounds of the most outlandish understanding of the law or the Constitution, its Bill of Rights, or a goddamned thing this republic was founded and continues to persist on; liberty and justice for all.

Evidence of this appears throughout the 138-page ruling, which recounts in stirring detail a parade of incredulous testimony by unsubstantiated “experts” that made no attempt beyond moral outrage and dire predictions of fires in the streets and Satan laughing. (I shit you not, read the damn thing). The Emperor was not only butt naked; he was certifiably insane and had the balls to wield a measure of unchecked power.

Not anymore, bub.

And now, it is on to the Supreme Court — the ultimate destination for this imperative civil rights decision, and for the two attorneys that chose to defend liberty, Ted Olson, who represented G.W. Bush in the famous 2000 general election Gore v. Bush battle, and his partner, the opponent in that very same case, David Boies. Not only does this politically bi-partisan legal team expect an appeal, they welcome it, as hinted in several places of Judge Walker’s ruling, wherein he evoked the name of Supreme Court Judge Anthony Kennedy, who over the years in several disparate cases has steadfastly decided on the side of gay rights. Not to mention the 80, that’s right, fans of the “crazy knee-jerk judge usurping the will of the people and moral superiority”, 80 detailed statements of fact.

And so August 4, 2010 becomes another in a long line of seminal dates in the spiral of American history; a victory for all Americans, who are perhaps a few years from saying we’re closer to providing all citizens with the rights granted by the blood, treasure, and maverick brilliance that beats in humanity’s finest experiment in liberty.

It’s about time.

Reality Check | Pop Culture | Politics | Sports | Music


Read More

“Animals, Whores & Dialogue” Review

Aquarian Weekly 7/28/10 REALITY CHECK

HAPPY BIRTHDAY DOCTOR THOMPSONIn Praise of “Animals, Whores & Dialogue”

In my situation, and I believe this is really the key to what I’ve done all my life; I’ve been extremely aware of not being taken into the system. – Hunter S. Thompson “Animals, Whores & Dialogue”

Animals, Whores & DialogueThe Outlaw Journalist sits restively at his writer’s throne; an unassuming swivel chair pushed slightly back from a cluttered kitchen counter. He is staring at a well-worn IBM typewriter, as if its silent challenge is beyond comprehension, despite all the tumultuously wonderful years of glorious soliloquies it has rendered for the man. A man now legend — looking very much his age; a ravaged mid-sixties — dressed in the midnight uniform of his craft; dark shirt and jeans offset by a white safari cap pushed down to the eyebrows where a pair of black reading glasses have slipped to the tip of his nose. It is mid-November of 2003, Owl Farm, a purported fortified compound deep in the Colorado mountains, and filmmaker Wayne Ewing is capturing this intimate image of Hunter S. Thompson at work for all eternity; the rare, grizzled genius felled by the vast white nothing.

“Blank paper,” the Father of Gonzo sighs, “the curse of the writing class.” The camera moves from the starkly mocking visage to the icon of latter 20th century satire, irony and mayhem as he chuckles to himself; “There is no writing class.”

These are the incredibly transparent moments in time, shot, compiled, reviewed and edited by Ewing after over 15 years of following, filming and working with the great Doctor Thompson, which make up his new documentary, “Animals, Whores & Dialogue”. These were also moments left on the cutting room floor, when his first brilliant documentary, “Breakfast with Hunter” hit the streets in 2003 — a few months before this opening scene and one year prior to the suicide of its mercurial subject.

When speaking to Ewing then on why “Breakfast with Hunter” — this space correctly described its portrayal as “done with due respect and enviable insight” — did not display more of the master at work, the filmmaker mused; “Watching Hunter write is quite like watching paint dry.”

So then it is only fitting that Ewing’s stirring follow-up takes its title from a humorous scribbling atop the aforementioned IBM typewriter, which Thompson describes later in the film as “a relief just to read.”

“It’s very unusual to have a film where the main character sits in the same place over a period of about ten years in different scenes,” Ewing told me this week, a few days removed from the film’s release, celebrating what would have been Thompson’s seventy-third birthday. “To have it work is truly a piece of alchemy that only Hunter could be responsible for.”

“Animals, Whores & Dialogue” is a remarkable glimpse into Hunter S. Thompson’s “process”; the act of getting the whirlwind of sledgehammer phrases banging playfully around his skull onto the page, whilst he sufficiently feeds his psyche with booze, dope, music, ranging his spastic ammo on every media distraction from piles of newspapers to his ever-running televisions, and, of course, gathering an audience for “the show”.

“Animals, Whores & Dialogue” is an investigation into a southern gentleman of letters, deconstructing what he describes at one point in the film as “a miracle”. This ability to take the core of individual experiences and craft them into engagingly poetic accounts, as only Hunter S. Thompson could.

“It was that way,” Ewing recalls. “Sometimes we did what many of his previous editors would do; tape record stuff, then transcribe it, let him go at it, spruce it up, and that would be it. It’s fairly typical. It’s how he did it.”

In addition to the haphazard style of pouring his thoughts on the blank of the page, “Animals, Whores & Dialogue” delivers the most intimate portrait of a true American original.

“Hunter really came through as a bright and shining spirit through the whole project,” remembers Ewing. “There wasn’t any particular genius on my part to think it was a good idea to hang out with Hunter Thompson and film everything I possibly could, but for whatever reasons Hunter trusted me and that’s why I was able to get the kind of footage that I did, and the whole project took on a life of its own, especially after his death.”

Over the years Ewing says his camera became an extension or evolution of the great experiment of Gonzo Journalism. Its probing gaze actually takes the place of Thompson six months after his death, as his friends and family pay tribute — an extremely moving scene at the close of “Animals, Whores & Dialogue” — or as the director described shooting it, “chilling”.

“It was as if Hunter was manipulating things from the grave,” Ewing explains. “I more or less resurrect him. Suddenly the camera, after ninety minutes of pretty much non-stop observing him at one point or another in the kitchen chair, suddenly takes on his point of view. And that wasn’t something I planned to do, but right before we were going to light the candles on the cake, Ed Bastion, longtime friend and former campaign manager from Hunter’s sheriff’s race in 1970, said, ‘Wait, you should get in the chair! You should be Hunter with the camera’. And as you can see from the footage, there’s not a dry eye in the house.”

This truly sentimental moment is the culmination of two hours of a tour through the inspiration, making, and celebrity of Hunter S. Thompson, through his words, work, and the poignant reflections of his childhood friends, colleagues, and those who knew and loved him most.

“Animals, Whores & Dialogue” is an investigation into a southern gentleman of letters, deconstructing what he describes at one point in the film as “a miracle”. This ability to take the core of individual experiences and craft them into engagingly poetic accounts, as only Hunter S. Thompson could. “Anything else I did in my life, I was punished for,” the Outlaw Journalist states in one of several contemplative moments in the film. “When I worked at writing, I was praised.”

Ewing says he always knew there would be a sequel to “Breakfast with Hunter”.

“There was so much material left behind, so many good scenes; the problem was I could never figure out how to put it together. Then I came upon that scene I shot in November of 2003 when Hunter was writing a Hey Rube column, which at the time I thought really went nowhere, because it’s the quest. He’s just writing and never gets it done. And I suddenly came up with the idea of using that as home base, that he would continually throughout the film be trying to write this column, and that would be the glue that held the whole thing together.”

The Weapon of ChoiceSince “Breakfast with Hunter” and the author’s death in 2005, Ewing has kept in touch with The Desk, and during that time, and for much of our discussion this week, I had to remind him of the importance of his work. “Animals, Whores & Dialogue” is living history, a treasure in the long line of American literature in that it captures the consciousness and motivation, the fears and triumphs of a seminal talent. It’s as if someone had access to Mark Twain or as Ewing cites, William Faulkner for weeks on end, culling the most telling signs of where the genius arrives and how it evades, which truth be told, it did for Thompson most of his life — these hits and misses, but never without the plentiful grind.

As Thompson philosophizes in the film, “I figured out what you have to do in this world — to be able to do one thing better than anybody else, no matter what it is. Find it.”

Once again, as with his first film, Ewing’s choice of scenes, whether it’s Thompson reading aloud from his work or talking about his love and need to write, accentuated by a muted smile, the face contorted with sudden joy, the tongue lashing out, the almost stunning awe at what has come from him; the indescribable wherewithal to get the thing on paper. That’s the Hunter I knew in brief but memorable encounters.

“I think this film, more so than ‘Breakfast with Hunter’, truly gives you a sense why we all felt so lucky to be able to hang out in the kitchen with Hunter, what was so important about it,” Ewing concludes. “Not just the art and the writing, but the magnificence of his personality. He was an incredibly endearing human being, and you felt fortunate to be his friend. You understand completely why his mother describes when he was four or five years old all the kids in the neighborhood waiting for an hour or two on the front porch for Hunter to come out to play. So we were really lucky to be able to play with Hunter.”

Thanks to Wayne Ewing and his “Animals, Whores & Dialogue”, so are we.


Reality Check | Pop Culture | Politics | Sports | Music


Read More

George M. Steinbrenner III – 1930 – 2010

Aquarian Weekly 7/21/10 REALITY CHECK


Winning first, breathing second. -George M. Steinbrenner III

Exaggerated rumors of NY Yankees principle owner George Steinbrenner’s demise abound. Something he has conspicuously failed to retract, due mostly to a predictably undeniable lust for power and an acute sense of timing to steal the big headline; whether it is from low-rent pikers like LeBron James or senseless mid-summer exhibitions made paramount by the demented gargoyle who runs Major League Baseball. No, The Boss is not dead. He has expanded his business to the afterlife; scouring the bars of hell for Billy Martin, so two of earth’s most demented souls could team up once again to wreak havoc for publicity and profit at the Pearly Gates Pavilion.

Jesus, Steinbrenner cannot die. It would be a dark day for the greatest owner of any business enterprise to exit, especially in these broke times and specifically if it is an enterprise located in my hometown, the elevated borough north of Manhattan, where the Mighty Bronx Nine stomp the terra with a voracious appetite for victory unmatched by competition anywhere.

King George & The CaptainThe Big Bad don’t die or fade away or shuffle off the mortal coil; they buy and trade and berate and haggle, and they do it loudly, like bootleg explosives. Pop! Pow! Bam! Steinbrenner, you know, was the original Big Bad; born on the Fourth of July, a real honest-to-goodness Yankee Doodle Do-Or-Die. He stood as a living symbol of American might; loved by the faithful for doing whatever it takes to win, win, win in the most hard-charging, flag-waving style — pure capitalist grit — and, of course, hated by everyone else. Deep down below the pomp and bluster there remains a soft underbelly of empathetic honor; propping up the needy, bankrolling the downtrodden, all the while enduring the slings and arrows of being On Top.

And that is where The Boss finds himself as he runs amok in the afterlife; his team ensconced in first place with the sport’s best record, defending another title.

This just in on the AP wire; Steinbrenner, with Billy Ball in tow, has managed to gain controlling interest in Purgatory and received Mickey Mantle in return for undisclosed monies, which he plans to parlay into a massive take-over of Nirvana.

And why not? This is how things got done in Yankeeland under King George’s watch for nearly half a century. Along the way Steinbrenner’s presence, his mad, impetuous foresight evolved, nay, transformed the profession of baseball from a gang of silver-spooned dullards herding half-witted jocks through a pastoral mind-numb into a veritable high wire circus act; The Boss as its willing and able ringmaster. His cast of characters ranged far and wide from the fringe of the free agency era, which he single-handedly fueled from a queer oddity mostly shunned by his fellow owners to the status quo in every major sport, not to mention the cash cow, team-run sports network — his brainchild, the Yankees Entertainment & Sports Network, now a must for every serious franchise, may be worth twice his world-class team.

King George invented modern sports free agency and its mass marketing. He inspired imitators and riled the competition. You think there would be blabbering meddlers like Jerry Jones or a Mark Cuban without The Boss? You think the NY Mets or the Boston Red Sox would have half the payrolls (the second and third highest in the sport) newly renovated or brand new ballparks and their own networks, if not for the NY Yankees? Oh, and don’t piss off a Bosox fan by reminding him that one of George’s disciples used his methods to buy a half-assed bungling club and finally fell the Curse of the Bambino. Let them think it was all a Beantown thing.

Speaking of Beantown, a mad series of tweets are now reporting that Steinbrenner has abandoned his raid on Nirvana and has decided to trade a frozen Ted Williams for St. Peter, while acquiring the rights to Salvation.

Money, Fame, Power: This is Horatio Alger on a John Galt jag worthy of Ulysses, jack.

Here’s what you need to know about George M. Steinbrenner III: In 1973, at age 42, he wrangled nine associates representing 49 percent of his 51 percent ownership bid — a poultry 150 grand of which came from his pocket — to purchase a busted, aging, and debt-ridden symbol of early twentieth-century Americana for $10 million. Today it is worth well over a billion dollars.

Upon his arrival from the shipbuilding business in Cleveland, Ohio, the NY Yankees, once the proudest team in sport, dominating for decades with the biggest names — Ruth, Gehrig, DiMaggio, Mantle, Berra — had not sniffed a stellar season in nearly ten years. Within five seasons it was champion of baseball, boasting the game’s most dazzling stars — Munson, Hunter, Jackson, Lyle.

Before the reign of King George, Yankee Stadium, once the cathedral of the nation’s pastime, was a dilapidated cavern of empty seats. By 1976, it was a renovated jewel of modern sports, and today, filled annually with league-leading attendance, it sits across famed 161st street as a state-of-the-art tribute to the excess of winning.

Steinbrenner, shrewd, hard, and aggressive, with a manic ambition set alight by an unyielding father whose will to win was only outdone by a paralyzing fear of losing, knew so little about the nuances and framework of baseball — a game of patience run in a long-distance style — he drove an entire city, its press, and the sport crazy. “One-hundred and sixty-two game sevens,” is how his most successful manager, Joe Torre once described a season under George Steinbrenner.

The legend of The Boss hiring and firing everyone and anyone in sight on a whim — the first 24 seasons of Steinbrenner rule bore 20 managerial changes — was born on two brilliantly bizarre moves that everyone who had the slightest inkling about baseball thought mad: Spending Thanksgiving waiting out the free agency of star, Reggie Jackson in an O’Hare hotel lobby for seven hours until the slugger agreed to take his millions and the next summer firing an insubordinately violent drunkard manager, his team trailing the division by double-digits, to hire a more subdued boozer. Both decisions brought his Yankees back-to-back titles in 1977 and’78.

Thus was born the Bronx Zoo, so completely ingrained in New York sports lore that over two decades later after the 1999 Yankees pulled off its own repeat, I asked Steinbrenner to compare it. “Oh, now, it’s hard to compare anything to those days,” he said, eyebrows pitched. “Those teams had…well, they had some big things to overcome. Namely me.”

Twenty years between champagne sips for the Yankees is a lifetime; in fact, the longest run of non-dominance in the team’s illustrious history, and most of the wilderness stemmed from Steinbrenner’s belief that his two “big moves”, wooing the high-priced superstar and sacking a manager in mid-stream, would always bring the brass ring. Instead it brought everything imaginable — outrage, embarrassment, tumult, and lunacy — but no titles.

During this time whenever anyone would ask me to write or comment negatively about The Boss’ almost daily asinine behavior, I would pass. Hell, I told them, when it really mattered for me, as a kid, when you really live and die with the game, the guy gave me a collection of crazed banshees who conquered all comers. Sports are a distraction at best when you’re 30, at 14, its pretty much Armageddon.

Apparently it never stops being Armageddon for some, and for King George, it was daily.

Still, it was a much mellower, almost humbled Steinbrenner that emerged from his second suspension from baseball, the first in the early seventies resulting from a fallout from illegal campaign contributions to the same Nixon CREEP fund that eventually sank the 37th president, the second, a series of weird events that drove the most famous owner in sport to employ a slimy New York bookie to sandbag his multi-million dollar all-star.

Soon the aging titan was being parodied on a sitcom and weeping during trophy ceremonies, a raging idiosyncratic caricature of indomitable impatience now the doting patriarch — his team on top, his franchise the richest, and its brand second to none.

So of course he would expand his interests to the unknown quantities of the afterlife, with its infinite eternities and boundless potential to mine for big gains and bigger headlines.


Reality Check | Pop Culture | Politics | Sports | Music


Read More

Labron James Play Basketball

Aquarian Weekly 7/14/10 REALITY CHECK


Tell me, Britney, why did the chicken cross the road? Because he wanted to be seen. The chicken is smart, he is cool. He is making a sound investment in himself — unless he is drunk, and then he has no future. But he wins either way. If the chicken is Flamboyant as he crosses the road, he will soon be rich and famous. If he is bitchy and neurotic, he will be eliminated. This is the Law of the Road.

– Hunter S. Thompson Stadium Living In A New Age

It is 3:25 pm on the eighth day of a brutally hot first week of July in NYC, and by all accounts among many of the sporting, national and celebrity press, LeBron James is the most famous man on planet earth. The pro basketball star’s brief but much ballyhooed free agency from the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers has pushed him into the Babe Ruth/Muhammad Ali realm of sport celebrity with hardly the resume or the personality to warrant such lofty comparisons. Although the league’s reigning MVP, displaying an almost blithe afterthought to his glimpses of magnificence (this space once described him less athlete than artist, his performances more akin to Jimi Hendrix than Pistol Pete Maravich), James’ greatest gift may lie in simply being famous.

The KingMore than mere fame, James is the ultimate capitalist in a socialist construct.

The National Basketball Association aka the Magic/Bird/MJ Enterprise is one of three major American pro sports which utilize a salary cap, putting a limit on otherwise free market organizations to what they can pay their employees, who also uniquely double as the product. Worse still, the NBA enforces a “hard cap” that is practically impossible to circumvent, as say the more laissez fare National Football League cap, which is mostly a joke considering the pathetic lack of a player’s union and no guarantee of payment should a player get brutally injured and can no longer produce to the agreed-upon salary’s level of performance.

James pisses on this.

The King will not only get his somehow, either through sweetened deals that involve part ownership or piggy-backed marketing deals and merchandizing sweeteners, but also, as has never before been seen in sport — the balls to broker deals with players from other teams, like-minded free agents, and hungry general managers, who have and will restructure their previous plans for one guy’s personal and professional happiness.

Atlas shrugs and we cannot get enough.

This is why it is fitting James waltzes around in a NY Yankees cap, the most successful and powerful franchise in the only pro sport not completely communistic in formation, despite its mostly unconstitutional and laughably irrational anti-trust exemption and the dipshits who own the Red Sox whining like bitches every year. This has allowed baseball to be run as a drunken land baron haven for decades — denying civil rights and promoting every form of cheating known to the art of gaming. The Yankees, who are forced to pay an exceedingly un-America luxury tax as a consequence of running the most outlandishly fantastic competitive business model ever conceived by the most brilliant titans of industry, continue to buck every system and traverse every era with unprecedented domination.

But again comparing LeBron James to the NY Yankees would be like putting your sixth grade science project up against the Atomic Bomb.

Having said that, not even the world’s greatest sports franchise with 27 titles, a billion dollar price tag, and a brand spanking new grandiose stadium can best the self-promotion machine whose very nickname, King James only hints at the spectacular level of narcissism he has achieved in a remarkably short time. Some seven years removed from his High School senior prom in a nowhere town in Ohio, James has parlayed his extraordinary skills into something akin to the Age of Vaudeville meets the Kennedys.

Money, Fame, Power: This is Horatio Alger on a John Galt jag worthy of Ulysses, jack.

For the past week, the nation’s, and in some cases, the world’s major newspapers, web sites, blogs and television programs from the Today Show to Nightline has either lead, plugged or speculated about his every move, mood, and machinations. And have there ever been machinations; from clandestine entourage meetings and strangely devised leaks to stock spikes (Cablevision shares — owners of the NY Knicks — exploded on a vague rumor he might choose Madison Square Garden to ply his trade).

Five or six franchises, the chosen few that could hope to afford him monetarily or accommodate him with the best plan for winning, wheeled their entire operations — owners, front office personnel, marketing firms, public relations departments, former players and in some cases jock-sniffing celebrities — to Ohio to woo his services.

Throughout the proceedings major stars of every major sport commented, tweeted, and weighed in on his “Decision”, which coincidently became the name of a one-hour “live network special” on ESPN later tonight. The James’ camp pitched the idea to the more than eager all-sports network to eat up 60 minutes of airtime smack in the middle of Major League Baseball season and days from the World Cup Finals on the whim of one man.

Money, Fame, Power: This is Horatio Alger on a John Galt jag worthy of Ulysses, jack.

No one denies James is a fine pro basketball player; perhaps casual fans would consider him the best in the game. Closer inspection by more astute followers of the sport would rank him considerably below former league MVP and five-time world champion, Kobe Bryant, after his pedestrian performance in key moments in an unceremonious ousting by the Boston Celtics in this year’s play-offs. At times it looked as if James had already begun his exit from the poor win-starved hamlet of Cleveland, as he walked around half stunned on the periphery as far less famous and powerful types chucked up an agonizing series of putrid shots to doom his season. At one point the cameras caught him on the bench during a time out with his eyes closed, as if in a Zen-like state of centering his chi on grander notions.

Those notions, it appears to all in the know, ended up in Miami to play in one of the worst sports towns in America for the Heat simply because his two favorite Olympic teammates, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh, the latter of which is currently a contracted member of another team, held the league and their teams hostage to form an unholy bond. By the time the words “take my talents to South Beach” left his mouth, James’ jerseys and parts of downtown Cleveland burned, the Westside of Manhattan began to formulate interesting ways to chant “pussy” and the south side of Chicago sighed with relief they wouldn’t have to be pissed at him for not being Michael Jordan.

It was all part of a monumental plan hatched by the most famous capitalist in the world.

This week.


Reality Check | Pop Culture | Politics | Sports | Music


Read More

Dan Bern at City Winery 2010


Aquarian Weekly 7/7/10

An Evening with Dan Bern, City Winery

SOHO, NYC 6/19/10

There is the Dan Bern you must listen to; the storming riffs and tender shifts of progression that bed captivating melodies, all the better to ferry along the oddly profound witticism – a seemingly endless musical array of parody, satire and tribute. Then there is the one upon the stage, swaying and strumming as the quintessential portrait of a wandering troubadour – the room sufficiently primed by a raucous NYC crowd acting as the perfect chorus for his mini tragic comedies.

Dan BernWhen the prolific Bern is on his game there is really no one better in any genre. The composer of hundreds of ditties over two decades and sixteen records, jumping from folk to country to rock to whatever swims in and out of his yawning transom. He was in fine voice at the City Winery on a sultry Saturday night in the big town, donning a black vest and blue jeans, a gray cabby’s hat atop his head. The less defiant, dare I say, more mature singer-songwriter emerged anew, playing hauntingly arranged versions of his most gripping songs like “I Need You” and “One Real Thing”.

Later the performance expanded into a beautifully accompanied harmonizing romp, as Bern was ably joined by his usual touring companion, Paul Kuhn and opening act, Common Rotation, a talented Long Island trio which seemed to have been gathered together especially for a distinct performance balance of sonic comportment.

Brand new selections, most memorably the riotously clever “Osama in Obama Land” and “Talkin’ Tea Party Blues”, and old favorites, “Black Tornado”, “Breath” and of course, “Jerusalem” raised an already high bar for Bern, who is fresh off two successful songwriting jags for rock comedies, Walk Hard and Get Him To The Greek and appears to have put a new sheen on his best work.

An excellent sample of the present show, which one can only hope unfurls into a longer tour, can be found on Bern’s latest release, Dan Bern Live in Los Angeles.

Having had the pleasure to see Dan Bern ply his trade over the past eight years in every possible venue from a goddamned boat to a half-painted hotel room to political rallies, college campuses and stuffy studios, the Bowery Ball Room to Carnegie Hall, and even his own artist getaway in the desert, he has never sounded better or his songs provided a more deserving exposition than in this most recent incarnation.

The living songbook is once again a must listen and see.

Reality Check | Pop Culture | Politics | Sports | Music

Read More

McChrystal Sacked, So?

Aquarian Weekly 6/30/10 REALITY CHECK

G.I. JOKE U.S. Military’s Revolving Generals & Endless Campaigns of Chaos

New commander-in-chief, same old crap; the United States Armed Forces is in chaos. Already recovering from decades of abysmal derailments and disasters in Korea and Viet Nam to ill-fated underground black-ops from Cuba to Nicaragua to Beirut, and the latest nonsense begun by the dumbly-fabricated braggadocio of Desert Storm and its baby brother in the half-assed colonizing of Iraq to the longest running campaign in American history in Afghanistan, the once proudly invincible U.S. military has now become our longest running pun.

Stanely McChrystalLess than two days after a freelance journalist coerced the commander of international forces in Afghanistan to commit professional suicide in the pages of whatever cheap imitation of pop culture schlock is now Rolling Stone magazine, President Barack Obama was forced to relieve General Stanley McChrystal of his duties. At least the disgraced and quite obviously half-mad general will no longer have to face the embarrassing possibility of retiring during what started out nine years ago as a vengeance jag for 9/11 and to bag its architect, the long-dead Osama bin Laden, but after the loss of 1,000 American lives and a projected cost of $1 trillion has become something of its own tragic comedy.

For the president, embroiled in a half dozen looming and already raging domestic disasters, it is bad timing to say the least. This is Obama’s war, and McChrystal is his man, or was his man, as the swift half-hour White House meeting of 6/23 would attest, the substance of which had the insubordinate general out and the hero of overdue mop-ups, General David Petraeus in. Later that afternoon, a visibly angered president took to the Rose Garden and tried his best to gloss over what has been an overlooked sinkhole of his administration — long debated and dissented by close advisers.

It was the very same advisers, along with the vice president and the president himself, who McChrystal and his aides casually mocked from the fringes of the battlefield, on the record and during operations, to a left-leaning rock periodical. A more damaging sabotage of morale and decorum is difficult to contrive beyond a blatantly defiant Douglas McCarthur-like implosion. It was as if the rot of what has become the ceaseless fighting in a desert wasteland pocked with hidden caves and unforgiving mountain ridges had frayed the edges of the U.S. Army’s top brass. The focus of the RS piece, “The Runaway General,” is not merely the bent rant of an over-worked and rancorously loose-lipped army lifer, but a manifestation of the abject lunacy which permeates an uncertain end game to a War on Terror mismanaged for so long by so many voices and fought by so many brave and run-ragged forces it emerges as a dizzying inertia of bedlam.

It stretches even the most elastic credibility to believe in this day of media by the second and by everyone coming from everywhere that even a man resembling a less provocative but no less puzzling Colonel Kurtz from Coppola’s Apocalypse Now could be so irresponsible or haphazardly calculating to publicly call the National Security Adviser “a clown” or paint his commander-in-chief as “uncomfortable with military leaders and initially unengaged on defense policy”. Then, after being presented the finished article prior to its publication, approved its content without so much as an obligatory retraction. The whole shebang reeks of a symptom of a disease beyond this president and his war or his commanders and their last vestiges of a “strategy”.

Things have not gone well for Obama and McChrystal in Afghanistan, as they had not for George W. Bush for the last seven years of his presidency, or the Soviets in the 1980s, the British Empire in the late 1800s, Genghis Kahn in the early part of the 13th Century, or Alexander the Great way back in 338 BC.

The latest being the very same McChrystal’s oft-delayed siege of Kandahar, which after months of planning was scheduled for “soon”, but by the timeline of how the “war” has gone for most of its duration, will likely launch sometime around Christmas 2012. Touted as the pivotal battle to what candidate and now President Obama has called the critical frontline of the aforementioned War on Terror, its snags simmer below the surface of the general’s queer and very public commentary.

Things have not gone well for Obama and McChrystal in Afghanistan, as they had not for George W. Bush for the last seven years of his presidency, or the Soviets in the 1980s, the British Empire in the late 1800s, Genghis Kahn in the early part of the 13th Century, or Alexander the Great way back in 338 BC. The enthusiasm of a new and improved “counterinsurgency” plan to take out Taliban 2.0, which stressed the always-popular road show of “overwhelming on-the-ground force coupled with an amped-up effort to win hearts and minds”, has soured into a tail-chasing bloodbath slowly losing traction with a majority of the voting public.

For many mind-bending reasons, over 60 percent of Americans polled in the winter of 2008 favored a ramped-up Afghan policy. Despite years of dismantling the original Taliban, backed up by the occasional failures to secure the country, and then what amounted to a dormant exit strategy in order to better run roughshod over Iraq; which if you haven’t checked lately is still rolling along, there were still some people willing to believe. Of course that willing constituency, after a year and a half of a doom-struck re-packaged plan, has sunk to around 40 percent or so. But plummeting support from the citizenry meant nothing for the better part of the last decade and looks to have crapped out now.

Into the breach strolled the high command to jam his standard-issued boot into his flapping maw, a grand mistake that has now likely set things back even further. Something that not only infuriated the president, since he had bought into the entire McChrystal war plan, but has rankled high-level Republicans in congress, who all stand firm with the president — no small feat considering that no matter the issue almost none of whom have so much as budged in Obama’s direction. It is especially odd when considering the current anti-incumbent landscape and the fast-approaching mid-term elections.

The only explanation for such a maneuver is that with no end in sight, and most of the legislature unable to wash nine years of blood from its hands, they’re all-in. But politics, lunatics and Jann Wenner’s flaccid rag aside, the most pressing issue is the sad state of the United States military; spread frighteningly thin and literally holding a shifting line in the sand. How mush shit are these poor people expected to eat before someone with half a brain ends the insanity?

The answer the president gave to this question would come as he concluded his post-McChrystal Rose Garden address by stating that the change in leadership is not a change in policy. And thus, the Pentagon, in a banner year boasting at least a $700 billion budget, more than 10 times that of the State Department, will continue to toil in the world’s deadest of ends; making the Obama pledge to begin the withdrawal of the 94,000 American troops in Afghanistan by July 2011 the biggest joke of all.


Reality Check | Pop Culture | Politics | Sports | Music


Read More

Obama Loses Left

Aquarian Weekly 6/23/10 REALITY CHECK

EXIT STAGE LEFT Obama at a Crossroads with Progressives

What the battle over national health care could only portend has now come into glaring reality in the wake of the BP Oil Gusher, which is well into month two and showing no signs of slowing. It is official; the president of the United States has lost the Left.

All the crazy talk from the extreme Right about birth certificates and irrational blabbering about a weird amalgam of fascism and communism with a dollop of radicalism mixed in has masked the growing unrest on the side that counts for Barack Obama. There is no presidency without the Left and certainly no prayer of a second term either.

Unlikely PairIt appears that by the third paragraph of his first Oval Office address things for Liberal Central have gone from sickly to flat-lined for Joe Cool. Perhaps it’s a penchant to wait an agonizingly long time to chime in on events that directly affect his presidency or his almost detached sense of intellectual miasma that has raised the ire of his most rabid supporters, but whatever lip service the Obama address paid to a need for alternative energy and environmental concerns, the broaching of which had the Right in a predicable froth, turned out to be nothing more than a fart in the wind for liberals.

No carbon tax. No Cap & Trade. No steadfast demand for a detailed Energy Bill or a harsher rebuke for Big Oil.

The Left had first whispered, then wailed about what is now pretty much universally accepted as the worst man-made environmental disaster in the history of this nation becoming another missed opportunity to jam home legislation to reshape the country. As it seems was the failure to include a Single Payer Option in the watered down Health Care Bill or a stronger demand for Immigration Reform as the ethnic, cultural, and social lines were being drawn in Arizona. Not to mention the still open-for-business Gitmo after huge revelations of illegal torture techniques sanctioned by the previous administration. Oh, and by the way, there are still two wars a-raging, one that has now become this president’s own dubious gamble in Afghanistan.

But the BP disaster is such a slam dunk for the Left and its many environmentalists vs. big business crowd, it appears almost comical that what they believed in the autumn of 2008 was their president would not exploit it more fervently, as say the glut of neo-cons who dove headlong into a complete Middle East reconstruction during the country’s lust for vengeance following 9/11.

For a short time these past weeks there was an outcry about the president’s lack of leadership during this crisis, which on the surface appears dumb, but when studied more closely, is patently asinine. Leadership? Did we need fireside chats or blustery speeches? Maybe we were looking for him to don a flak jacket and fishing togs and stroll along the surf shaking his head despondently, giving impromptu press conferences while hosing down cranes.

You guys are our sugar daddies and we’ll take our beatings and eat your dung and turn around and thank you so very much. We sleep with the great whore and we sleep well.

So of course the White House brain trust comes up with bright idea to sit Joe Cool at the Oval Office to say the same thing every president for the past half century has said about “weaning ourselves from a dependence on oil” and “developing alternative energies” and “holding Big Oil accountable” and “devising new regulations”, while calling for a series of special commissions to dig fancy trenches under the sea.

It was hardly Obama’s finest moment and registered uncharted rancor among liberals everywhere from the media to college campuses to the furthest reaches of intelligentsia. Many wept like children, others just bitched like, well, bitches.

And although the Left went ballistic on the last two Democratic presidents, it is still astounding how much this one, a different model on so many levels, resembles the last truly effective Republican chief executive.

After the first two years it was becoming glaringly evident to all in the Reagan administration that the Right had gone from intermittent gripers to an outright mutiny. Complaints of The Gipper being soft on the Russians, cow towing to the stalwarts in congress, and revealing a more reserved sense of compromise and level headedness that resembled nothing of the rousing candidate they had championed so fervently, Reagan’s once soaring approval ratings dipped severely as he faced a good old-fashioned mid-term horse-whipping.

Like Obama, a charismatic symbol of the newly charged era of progressivism, Reagan’s repackaged conservatism made him a different breed of Republican. But what Reagan learned and Obama has now come to realize is that when expectations to take down the status quo and wreck the system from the Right or the Left is met with the rigors and demands of actually running the immovable monstrosity that is the Free World, there remains for your hardcore base only disappointment.

Obama’s Health Care Crusade in the face of rising unemployment and at best a vacillating economic recovery, sent much of his Independent support running, but despite lukewarm to despondent reaction from the Left, whose majority believe its results a grotesque genuflect to insurance moguls, the BP spill has become the last straw.

Mere months after one of the most unlikely and politically savvy victories of any president, Barack Obama has reached the critical crossroads of his presidency. With far less experience than Reagan and with a much less empathetic rival party, which has treated his first two years as if he were more usurper than elected official, Obama has to use the Reagan model of small victories, appear unifying, and begin to rebuild a trust inevitably eroded by the toughest gig of them all.

One of the greatest lessons to be learned from the unerringly positive approach to politics displayed by the Gipper when times get tough is to tell your base if they don’t like it they can go back to the way things were with the other guys in charge.

Then blame everything else on the press.

Reality Check | Pop Culture | Politics | Sports | Music


Read More

Open Letter To British Petroleum

Aquarian Weekly 6/9/10 REALITY CHECK


To Whatever Incompetent Asshole It May Concern,

Jesus Bar-Hopping Christ, what the fuck is going on?

Plug the fucking hole already.

This is beyond irresponsible corporate shenanigans now. Sure its criminal, but I don’t give a shit about criminal. I expect most of you oil skags to rape land, price fix, bribe officials and other business-as-usual stuff. But I also expect when you drill into the ocean that you have a method to plug the goddamn hole when it leaks or explodes or some other fiasco within, say, a month’s time.

What is this now; fifty days and counting?

BP RollingThis goddamn catastrophe has gone on so long I have been unable to avoid writing about it. I figure spinning outrage on oil barons fucking up the environment is akin to whining about the Catholic Church covering up pedophilia. I mean, let’s apply some selective creativity in subject matter here. But this is beyond ridiculous now. This, I dare say, and I am hardly a purveyor of hyperbole here, may be the worst environmental corporate disaster in my lifetime.

I repeat, upon reviewing your abysmal record, which shows “760 willful safety violations” as charged by the Occupational Health & Safety Administration in the last three years alone, and horrific EPA toxic release data dating back to 1991, along with massive fines for 104 oil spills in a one-year period between 1997 and 1998, I really don’t give a hovering shit. I need oil. I like heat and my car and I don’t care how many Arabs and volunteer armed forces have to die for it.

Just plug the fucking hole already.

Shit, I expect a company that in 2005 had its largest refinery explode killing 15 poor Texans and injuring 180 more to be a callous conglomerate of money-hording scum. But these are Texans we’re talking about, after all. No one outside of that god forsaken desert patch of yahoos cares a lick about Texans, especially those who expire from its leading export, which, let’s face it, and has regurgitated from its diseased womb an alarming number of vapid rich and powerful mediocrities. Those saps would have likely shot themselves in the street anyway.

So I hope I am making this as clear as possible; I am not your run-of-the-mil environmentally compassionate, anti-big business, head-in-the-sand, sign-waving troglodyte. And I am not being facetious when I state emphatically that I worry not a lick about your sordid past or your spectacularly criminal business model or the millions you use to purchase chunks of my government. I accept that this kind of knuckle-grinding immorality comes with the territory.

At least I’m willing to admit it. There may be hardheaded, wise-ass sarcasm peppered with miserable cynicism here, but you won’t find an ounce of hypocrisy. Whether the rest of us shake our heads in disgust or moan on talk shows or whip off poetic disdain for the evils of Big Oil, we all need it, jack. We need to drill for it. Thus, we accept the consequences. We’re all adults here. Our patience and standards have a variety of weird levels that are hard to press when it comes to getting the stuff. We may get all pissy and boycott you guys and buy it from someone else, but it changes nothing, really.

You guys are our sugar daddies and we’ll take our beatings and eat your dung and turn around and thank you so very much. We sleep with the great whore and we sleep well.

Do you see anyone boycotting the colossal piles of crap made by child slaves in Chinese basement sweatshops? I have more shit from China in my house right now than not. We just had an Olympics there. It was our best joke: A celebration of the human spirit in the home office for human misery. Never mind that, they poisoned our children. Forget that, we borrow money from them so we can wage wars all over the Middle East for our oil. Honestly. We get it. You’re the worst. We’re the worst.

Just plug the fucking hole.

Do you think we’ve forgotten the horrors of 9/11? Nah. It came and went and we still pump the oil. A badly formulated and ill-conceived war to kick a half-assed dictator out of Iraq, and we still keep on truckin’ and SUVin’ and well, you get the picture. You guys are our sugar daddies and we’ll take our beatings and eat your dung and turn around and thank you so very much. We sleep with the great whore and we sleep well.

Hell, we slept right through your 2006 oil operations in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, when neglected corroded pipelines unleashed five-thousand barrels of oil all over our nation’s most pristine landscape. But you know what? Fuck Alaska. Its last goddamn governor is a pox on our collective IQ and quite the proponent of drilling-baby-drilling as I recall it. Let Alaska burn.

Just plug the fucking hole.

And if you can’t plug the thing, at least cop to it. Jamming mud and garbage down there and hiring dweebs to build robots to piddle around is embarrassing. I can take greedy, apathetic monsters for my Oil Men, just not ineffectual boobs. Those guys get into government. You guys are supposed to be coldly efficient with the occasional wink-wink environmental hazard or easily explainable and paid-off faux pas, not this incredible clusterfuck. People mock the media all the time, but right now online there is a submerged, 24/7 video surveillance of this disaster constantly pumping bilge into he Gulf of Mexico. It’s really quite inventive and ingenious and it kicks like gangbusters. The camera works great. Your shit doesn’t, and therein lies my problem with the situation.

And forget the government intervening. People down there are not too keen on the government helping with disasters. Chances are the people “helping” were probably hired because they were someone’s drinking buddies. We already know the fuck-ups we’re dealing with up there. Leave them out of it. Private sector will fix it. It’s the American way, or some other tired bullshit. We make it up as we go along, but it works in some strange way, unlike your company, which cannot plug a fucking hole in fifty fucking days.

Plug it. Damn it.


Thank you.


jc Oil Whore

Reality Check | Pop Culture | Politics | Sports | Music


Read More