Monday, December 14, 2009

Because We Won't be discussing Tiger, Top Chef, or Avatar, That's Why

All right, I'm lying, I will be perhaps mentioning Avatar after I see it. It's just the anticipatory lovers/haters debate has exhausted my patience. It feels like the frenzy before The Phantom Menace. Enough.

I watched last night what will likely be a cult movie verrrrry soon. It's called Outlander. A retelling of Beowulf. With Aliens. And Jim Caviezel as a sort of Shane/Maximus/Ellen Ripley space warrior hunting the Grendels after he crash-lands in 6th Century Norway. I know. I was laughing too, my amazement it actually works. And works well, by the end I was charmed and looking for my dog-eared copy of Beowulf.

What was so great about this other than the ensemble which includes John Hurt, and Ron Perlman as two formidable Viking chiefs, was that it did what the best historical fiction does is fit the new events seamlessly into the original story. The Epic Poem never tells the readers-or originally, listeners what Grendel and his Mother were, or why they took such pleasure in killing Humans. Outlander does. And the reason is a twist you don't see coming. In that scene, the Grendels, or the Moorwen, as they are called in the film, transform from being another copy of the Alien from the Alien films to real characters with emotions and motives.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Nothing Makes Me Angrier Than Hypocrisy

Just thought you all should know that about me. While we Humans all have our rationalizations, magical thinking, and days where we simply lie to ourselves, nothing makes me angrier than people who have double standards. The healthcare, and the abortion debates are prime examples of this.

Take a look at this. Cigna is the provider for the RNC. The people who believe in Death Panels are covered by a company that has end-of-life services, and abortion. Hypocrites. Grrr.

Friday, September 4, 2009

This Status Has Become Viral On Facebook.

No one should die because they cannot afford health care. No one should go broke because they get sick. No one should be denied medical care by their own insurer. No one should stay in a job because they are afraid to lose their insurance. No one should have to get married so that they can be covered under the spouse's insurance. If you agree, please post this as your status.

It has now been noticed by the White House. Funny how the 60's style grand street protest gets largely ignored these days, but a lot of outraged people on social networking sites provoke a response.

Monday, June 8, 2009

You're Drowning? Try Swimming!

I had to post this article in full. I was an only child,from an area that can be described as affluent...but I never experienced anything like this. I have been wondering myself when and why the phenomenon of twenty and early thirtysomethings who have NEVER held a real job began, I know someone like this but thought she was simply an aberration. Guess not.

Parental Lifelines, Frayed to Breaking

Published: June 7, 2009

For the past five years, Ernie DiGiacomo has been able to count on parents to guarantee the $1,500 to $2,500 rents he charges for the 15 apartments he owns in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. When he called renters who had missed payments, he often heard, “My parents will send you a check.”

But in the past six months, the parents are pulling back financial help, he said, and as a result, he has watched more renters move out.

“Most of them are moving back with parents,” Mr. DiGiacomo said.

Luis Illades, an owner of the Urban Rustic Market and Cafe on North 12th Street, said he had seen a steady number of applicants, in their late 20s, who had never held paid jobs: They were interns at a modeling agency, for example, or worked at a college radio station. In some cases, applicants have stormed out of the market after hearing the job requirements.

“They say, ‘You want me to work eight hours?’ ” Mr. Illades said. “There is a bubble bursting.”

Famed for its concentration of heavily subsidized 20-something residents — also nicknamed trust-funders or trustafarians — Williamsburg is showing signs of trouble. Parents whose money helped fuel one of the city’s most radical gentrifications in recent years have stopped buying their children new luxury condos, subsidizing rents and providing cash to spend at Bedford Avenue’s boutiques and coffee houses.

For 18 months after graduating from Colby College, Jack Drury, 24, lived the way many Williamsburg residents do: He followed his passions, working in satellite radio and playing guitar. He earned money as a bicycle messenger and, on occasion, turned to his parents for money.

But as the recession deepened last fall, his parents had to cut the staff at their event planning company to 30 workers from 50. Asked for his help, Mr. Drury cast aside his other pursuits and started work as a project manager for his parents. But he still plays the guitar in two bands, Haunted Castle and Rats in the Walls.

“My future is in the family business,” he said. “Music is just for fun.”

The real estate market, too, is shifting as wealth evaporates. Ross Weinstein, a managing partner of the Union Square Mortgage Group, has worked with hundreds of Williamsburg apartment buyers in the past two years.

“A lot of the money came from family,” he said. “That piece, it’s gone for a lot of people.”

In the boom years, Mr. Weinstein said, 40 percent of the mortgage applications he reviewed for buyers in Williamsburg included down-payment money, from $50,000 to $300,000, from parents. About 20 percent of the applications listed investments that gave the young buyers $3,000 to $10,000 of monthly income.

But in the past two months, Mr. Weinstein said, he has handled two to three deals a week in which the parents cut back their down-payment help.

The number of sales in Williamsburg dropped nearly a quarter in the first three months of this year compared with the same period a year ago, according to HMS Associates, a Brooklyn appraisal firm. And in three recent cases, Mr. Weinstein said, owners sold their apartments in short sales — selling for less than the bank is owed, to avoid foreclosure — because they were no longer receiving parental help.

Mr. Weinstein has been advising two brothers in their late 20s who wanted to buy a $700,000 apartment with $250,000 from their parents. But their parents’ investment portfolio has lost so much value that they now can give only $50,000. Since the brothers make about $45,000 a year each, they are now shopping for a $500,000 apartment.

The parents still wish they could help, Mr. Weinstein said, but “right now, they’re in a situation in their life where they need to ensure their own security.”

It is an adjustment that many have to deal with. Eric Gross, 26, a construction worker, was going to buy, with help from his father, a $600,000 one-bedroom condo with city views at Northside Piers, a luxury building, he said.

But his father, who works in the auto industry, said he had to reduce his contribution. “He’s pulling back the lifeline,” Mr. Gross said.

So Mr. Gross is scaling back, shopping for a $300,000 apartment, said his real estate agent, Binnie Robinson of

It can be hard to see the signs of financial troubles in Williamsburg because residents are so loath to show that they had money in the first place. Robert Lanham, author of “The Hipster Handbook,” said in an interview that many newer residents tried to blend in with the area’s gritty history and dressed “half the time like they’re homeless people.”

But parental help was obvious in the intersection of residents with low-paying jobs and $3,000-a-month apartments.

“You can put two and two together, that they have money coming in from somewhere else,” Mr. Lanham said.

The culture of the area often mocks residents who depend on their families. Misha Calvert, 26, a writer who relied on her parents during her first year in the city, now has three roommates, works in freelance jobs and organizes parties to help keep her afloat while she writes plays and acts in films. There is a “giant stigma,” she said, for Williamsburg residents who are not financially independent.

“It takes the wind out of you if you’re not the independent, self-reliant artist you claim to be,” she said, “if you’re just daddy’s little girl.”

The cutbacks for the more privileged residents are a welcome change for locals who have struggled to support themselves without parental help.

Katie Deedy, 27, an artist, works two bartending jobs to shore up her designer wallpaper business. Gazing out from the bar at the patrons playing darts and sipping bloody marys during a Sunday shift at the Brooklyn Ale House, she described how refreshing it felt not being the only local resident trying to live on less.

“If I’m going to be completely honest, it does make me feel a little bit better,” she said. “It’s bringing a lot of Williamsburg back to reality.”

Monday, June 1, 2009

Moment of Clarity

By now, we all know what happened in a church in Kansas. I am sick of the Abortion "debate". The supposedly Pro-Life side debates in this manner. I'm right-you're dead! Guess I win. The type of abortions provided by the late Dr. Tiller were late-term. When a woman has a late term-abortion it generally means her life is at risk or she is giving birth to a child with fluid where it's brain would be-severe defects, in other words a dead or dying baby that could kill you both. Bill O'Reilly was wrong. This man was no Mengele.

There is no debate here. Tiller did not bring it on himself. This was the act of a madman who required someone to hate in order to feel like he had a purpose in life.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

The Peasant Mentality

I had been searching for a name for what appears to me to be some sort of psychiatric disorder: the aggressively siding with, the championing the cause of, groups or individuals who are blatantly screwing you, your family, your people over. In the past, I subscribed to the theory that these middle and lower class dreamers saw themselves as potential lottery winners, or brilliant inventors who would one day, one day in the distant future, become rich as Croesus themselves.

I might have been wrong. I do believe that these people who see themselves rolling around in a bed of cash, and are simply preparing for that day by shielding the ultra-rich exist. I just now see them as a minority compared to these folks: the Peasants.

Matt Taibbi, discussing the ridiculous Teabag mini-movement, gave me this lightbulb moment.

" But actual rich people can’t ever be the target. It’s a classic peasant mentality: going into fits of groveling and bowing whenever the master’s carriage rides by, then fuming against the Turks in Crimea or the Jews in the Pale or whoever after spending fifteen hard hours in the fields. You know you’re a peasant when you worship the very people who are right now, this minute, conning you and taking your shit. Whatever the master does, you’re on board. When you get frisky, he sticks a big cross in the middle of your village, and you spend the rest of your life praying to it with big googly eyes. Or he puts out newspapers full of innuendo about this or that faraway group and you immediately salute and rush off to join the hate squad. A good peasant is loyal, simpleminded, and full of misdirected anger. And that’s what we’ve got now, a lot of misdirected anger searching around for a non-target to mis-punish… can’t be mad at AIG, can’t be mad at Citi or Goldman Sachs. The real villains have to be the anti-AIG protesters! After all, those people earned those bonuses! If ever there was a textbook case of peasant thinking, it’s struggling middle-class Americans burned up in defense of taxpayer-funded bonuses to millionaires. It’s really weird stuff. And bound to get weirder, I imagine, as this crisis gets worse and more complicated."

Hear this, Teabagging Peasants and Reagan Democrat sympathizers: the richest 1% of society does not give a flying fuck about you. Does not mingle with you, does not share any of your concerns, in fact, does not even notice you unless your strikes shut down their factories, or you come banging at their chateau gates with battering rams, while holding torches. These are people whose ancestors saw slavery and child labor as good business. Anyone recall what Scrooge had to say about workhouses? Know what they were?

Stupidest protests ever.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Let The Sunshine In

I don't often do this, but David Sirota's latest post at Open Left is something I've been feeling for a while, and a question that is it critical to ask oneself periodically. Think of it as mental maintenance...

Existential Question: What The F%$@! Are We Doing?
by: David Sirota
Tue Apr 07, 2009 at 20:46

Over the last decade, I went from idealistic college kid, to idealistic Hill staffer, to cynical political campaign operative, to angry/angsty writer/activist, to full-time journalist, and in this last stage, I've hit an existential question that I think many are struggling with in their own lives, regardless of their age: What the fuck am I doing?

What, for instance, am I doing working in a media/political business that is so often governed with no rhyme or reason, and so often rewards the foolish, the stupid and the immoral? I mean, really: for every Rachel Maddow, there are five Sean Hannitys, but it's not even that - that's just an ideological bias against progressives, and that I can make sense of (even though it disgusts me). The worse truth - the one I simply cannot grasp - is that for every Harold Meyerson (ie. for every legitimately brilliant progressive writer) there are 25 Joe Kleins (ie. braindead megaphones).

This is the kind of thing that makes me want to throw my computer out the window, wear my PJ's and a robe to the supermarket, and play Halo all day. It's not the conservatives that really get me - their existence/success at least has a rationale (ie. serving the corporate masters who pay them). It's the unskilled - the classic No Talent Ass Clowns, if you will. I work in a business that treats Andrew Sullivan and David Broder and Matt Bai and Journolist and the Politico and Tom Friedman as Very Important, Very Serious, Very Newsworthy People - people worthy of not just applause, but of emulation. Scores of the precocious and the ambitious in this business aspire to be these people, scores of youthful college kids head to D.C. dreaming about being the next Joe Klein or David Broder. Indeed, there are entire magazines like the New Republic whose foundational objective is to groom the next Matt Bai.

Though I certainly don't want that for myself (thus, my flee to the sanity of the Rocky Mountain West), I'm struggling with the questions about the system. I wonder: What am I doing working in a system that creates those desires, rewards that idiocy, and creates a gross incentive structure?

That's the question, as I said, I think lots of people are asking about their own lives, whether in the media business or any other field.
David Sirota :: Existential Question: What The F%$@! Are We Doing?
Thanks to the economic meltdown, ensuing AIG bonuses, and promotion of economic criminals to top White House jobs, it has never been more clear that the American economy and political system is one that rewards everything we say we don't want to reward. The media world I work in rewards David Brooks, the economy rewards AIG executives, the political system rewards Larry Summers. It's all the same fucking thing - everything we say we want to punish, but instead systemically cheer on.

So again, what the fuck are we doing? Why do we just sit here and take it? And if we're not going to take it, what the hell should we do? Most of us who have a job are totally overworked - we barely have time for our families. Those of us who are out of work are scratching and clawing to survive - they barely have time for anything else. So what should we do?

I don't have an answer to these existential least not yet. And I certainly don't know what to do in reaction to asking them. One voice in the chorus that is my inner monologue says "you're right, what am I doing? Fuck this, I'm moving to Costa Rica."* Another voice says "I'm not getting out - I'm doing the right thing by keeping the faith that this is important work." And yet another voice says, "Just don't ask those questions - they will only give you heartbreak."

All of the rationales have merit - not just for me, but for society. And I'm sure millions of people are having the same "on the one hand, on the other hand" debates in their minds. Some days we defiantly push on, other days we want to drop out and move to some far away nirvana.

Shit, maybe this is my quarter-life crisis (though that would mean I'd have to live to 120) or my mid-life crisis (that would mean I'd be dead at 66 - that would suck). Whatever it is, all I know right now is that we live not in interesting times - we lived in fucked up times, and that means fucked up questions are going to be asked. Here's hoping we don't fuck up the answers.

* I know, I know - there are definitely serious problems in Costa Rica. But at least its warm and near the ocean...or at least that's what I tell myself as a rationale for seeing that Central American nation as a terrestrial version of heaven.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

More People Not Worth The Price Of The Gunpowder To Blow Them To Hell

It has been a while since I've done a Gunpowder post but I think the liars, fools and idiots on parade the past few weeks warrant it.

A perennial...Bill O' Reilly

The Royal Family likes the Obamas. The Queen hugged Michelle, and the I-Pods contents were thoughtful. Sorry they thought the Bushes were classless jackasses. Get over it right-wing fools.

I saw this man in Grand Central. He ran chills down my spine: he even walks in a manner that is hostile. I hate that he is allowed to vent to the entire world, that he has a paid public forum for tantrums that should be reserved for his therapist.

Glen Beck...again, a man who should be crying to his doctor, not in a PAID forum where his loony ideas can influence the gullible fools who watch him. 9/12?? I love Tina Brown's description of him as a "charlatan evangelist" and "frothing". Curse you Fox News.

Rush. Anal poisoning? His speech at CPAC? His wish for Obama to fail? Ugh. This ass is no longer a mere revolting, so-called entertainer, he now believes his own publicity and imagines himself the leader of the conservative movement, and the Republican party.

President Karzai. Review? He's going to review a law that essentially allows husbands to rape their wives? What the hell was he thinking?

Friday, March 20, 2009

An Appointment with "The National Razor"?

Yes, this is America, and yes it is over two hundred years later, but I find myself amazed as each new story breaks of the naked greed, and disregard for the public's outrage. Don't these captains of industry know their history? Don't they know bubbles are meant to burst? Don't they realize that when you are in a hole you don't keep digging? Or are they so deep in denial that they will only realize when they are dragged away (figuratively) by the torch-carrying, pitchfork wielding mob?

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Where's Tarzan When You Need Him?

My late father loved the adventure movies of the 30's and 40's, so consequently, I saw a lot of Johnny Weissmuller swinging through the trees on The Escarpment, giving that ear-shattering cry, as a child. Weissmuller starred in 12 Tarzan films from 1932 to 1948.

In the 1943 film, Tarzan Triumphs, the Nazis have come to Africa and taken over the lost city of Pallandria. Tarzan, being, well Tarzan saves the city from the Third Reich. At one point in the battle, Tarzan divides the Nazis pursuing him, then calls "Nazi! Here Nazi!" the way one would a somewhat stupid dog. Each man turns in the direction of his voice, Tarzan comes at them from the opposite direction, and hits them over the head. No more Nazi threat to Sub-Saharan Africa!

Pope Benedict is in Africa. Preaching that condoms don't fight AIDS. On the continent that has 67% of the global HIV cases. The place that had 3/4 of all AIDS deaths in 2007.

Tarzan needs to hit another Nazi over the head and save Africa once again.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Never thought I'd find myself writing this: Leave Meghan McCain Alone!

Talk about eating one's young. I found Meghan to be an irritating cheerleader for her father during the election, and her recent whining about being dateless because of him ridiculous self-pity. However, the piling on by these Republican female media "personalities" is outrageous.

This from Bob Cesca:

Malkin vs. Meghan McCain

Malkin appears to be choosing which stand-up comics Meghan McCain is allowed to like. Doesn't Malkin know that if you choose your comedy based upon ideology, you'll only be allowed to like Larry the Cable Guy, Victoria Jackson and Dennis Miller? That's not a huge pool. Nor a particularly funny one.

But this Malkin line was revealing:

The trouble with Meghan McCain is that, like her father, she has no fixed ideological principles — conservative, liberal, or otherwise.

Fixed ideological principles. If this is the view of the broader Republican Party, they're in deeper trouble than we expected because clearly the lessons of George W. Bush, and how his "fixed" positions destroyed his presidency, his party and, almost, America, are having no impact whatsoever on how they move forward.

And this from HuffPost:

Fresh off her feud with controversial conservative author Ann Coulter, Meghan McCain is in a spat with another prominent female conservative and media personality: Laura Ingraham. In the latest insult, Ingraham sent out an email calling McCain a "useful idiot" who is only gaining any traction in the media because she's a Republican criticizing the GOP, and dismissing the coverage of her remarks about McCain's weight as phony indignation (Via Think Progress):

Memo to Meghan McCain: Enjoy the media coverage while it lasts, but know you're being used. You are the flavor of the month in left-wing media land because you are a Republican bashing the GOP...

...The left's indignation in this instance is manufactured and totally phony. If any off-the-cuff remark about a woman's size was condemnable, then where was the outrage when President Obama made a passing reference to Jessica Simpson's "weight battle" during his Super Bowl interview with Matt Lauer? And of course they look the other way when obvious personal attacks are levied against conservatives.

The feud with Ingraham began when she criticized McCain for her recent remarks about the Republican party, saying that McCain was just looking for attention and making a snide remark about her weight: "Ok, I was really hoping that I was going to get that role in the Real World, but then I realized that, well, they don't like plus-sized models."

McCain responded during her appearance on "The View" by channeling Tyra Banks, telling Ingraham she could "kiss my fat ass!"

When the best response one can muster to a critic from a family in the inner circles of one's own party is "You're fat!" First off, she's not fat simply because she's not the size of these soulless stick-figures attacking her. Second, she could be Jabba the Hutt, it does not make her wrong. These catty women only embarrass themselves and their disgraced party further by not having REAL discussions about issues and their future. Though people who have nothing to say always mock, don't they?

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Guilty of Neglect...

Ah yes, I admit it. I have simultaneously been lazy and busy. Busy with work and another writing project, lazy with my blog. Poor neglected blog, no more pathetic whimpering in the corner, Mama's back.

What might I write about? Going to D.C? All right. By the week before election day, I was feeling as if I had overdosed on politics, and was having fever dreams of what Palin a heartbeat away from the presidency would bring. Seriously, it gave me horrible nightmares. I kept imagining the US morphing into the Gilead of "The Handmaid's Tale" with a cackling Sarah Palin ordering all the whores and dykes rounded up and put into sprawling re-education camps in Idaho, spending their days breaking rocks and digging up potatoes whilst clad in Amish castoffs, or big blue Taliban burkas. Sarah, of course, kept her three inch designer heels and miniskirts.

Enough of my fear of the right-wing, the point was I temporarily, at least had no desire to focus on any elections, national, international, local-nothing. I had no intention of going to DC...then, well, I hadn't been in many years...and my friend, Melanie lives there now...and look at the preparations...and it's historic...maybe...I might go?

Needless to say, by the time January rolled around I was fired up again. Let me say this as well, I hate, despise, abhor CROWDS. This was worse than the crowds at the Queen's Golden Jubilee in 2002. Yes, I hate crowds, and yet I was there too. Perverse, I know.

When I think of it now, the day itself comes out jumbled, as a stream-of-consciousness.

We were walking shoulder to shoulder, and yet there were almost no arrests. People were smiling and laughing and talking to strangers. A German couple on the bus told me that they could now stop living in fear of our government. The irony of that didn't escape me. I met a Vietnam vet who works for the VA who came all the way from Alaska at Union Station. He is white, and lives with the Inuit. They hate Palin. Ancient black church ladies in big hats were crying as they rolled their walkers. A band from the town Obama's family came from in Ireland was there singing, and crowing. "Two Irishmen in the White House!" At the Washington Monument, the trees were filled with climbers wanting a better view. I am so proud of my country. Two million people came. So many parents brought young children. Two million. I wished my parents were alive. The temperature was nineteen degrees! People are singing Na na na, na na na, hey hey, goodbye to George W. Bush. And booing! Vendors were selling Star Wars Obama shirts: In a Galaxy ready for Change...The long, long walk back through the closed-to-traffic tunnels beneath the Washington Monument reminded me of The Stand. (I think of Steven King at some very odd moments) I have never been so cold in my life. We were outside for six hours, but even the children weren't complaining. I had no IDEA how many men find Michelle Obama sexy. I lost count of how many seniors I heard declare they never thought they would live to see this day...