Tuesday, September 26, 2006

What are You Going to Put on Opposite CSI or
Welcome to TV 3.0

www.idonothingallday.com is an amazing blog dedicated to one purpose: showing slow-motioned videos of attractive women around Manhattan. If you’ve ever been to NYC, you might agree that there is an implicit hotness to the women that is indescribable without slow-motioned video. Even if you’ve ever seen an attractive woman, you probably don’t need me to go into detail about the appeal of this blog.

This site is symptomatic of a new trend. Blogs should now be seen as what they are: the birth of everyone as their own channel. And something people learn fast is that putting hot girls on makes your channel popular fast.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Get Tested!

America's Juan Johnson proves it's cool to get tested.

The Apocalypse

I used to think that the radical religious right loved the idea of the appocalypse. I was wrong. If they did, they would be fixated on the idea of the coming Climate Crisis. No, they hate the idea the earthly actions have consequence, because that’s an argument for reason, which requires proof.

What they really love is the idea of punishment. And reward for differencing oneself from the sinners. Because that’s an argument for faith, which requires faith.

The Politics of Screaming

The new English teacher was stupid and dressed like surfer, but it didn’t bother Celia except that it drove her brother crazy. Made him yell fuck, shit and anything else he could at the cars on the freeway as they walked home. Phrases she hadn’t heard since they lived in Bakersfield, before they ever started school. The grossest things she’d ever heard. Things men with spotty beards had said outside while she pretended to sleep. Only a piece of wood as thick as a girl’s thumb separating them and the horrible words. Things they’d like to do to a woman. Things that made her never want to be woman. Both Celia and Humberto had one ear pressed down into the thin cots that heir mother had pushed together to make a bed. Their mother’s palms pressed against each of their exposed ears as those men drank on into the night. At first it didn’t work, only made her notice the men getting quieter and then louder again and again until the sun came up to remind them that they better sleep a little bit before it was time to work. But Celia was amazed that eventually, after nine nights, she learned to sleep through it all and had even forgotten the exact words. But not Berto. He never slept, and now he was screaming every word he’d heard at buses, men on motorcycles, even down the sewer. She tried to cover her own ears. Even with her two hands pressing as hard as possible, it was hopeless without her mother around.

The words snuck right in.

Her mother had special powers, because she was an original. So gentle that it constantly reminded Celia that she wasn’t from here or there. She wasn’t from anywhere. Her mother said that she was actually born in America, but had no proof like papers or pictures or skin or money. She just ended up in Oaxaca because her father loved trains and that's where the last one went before she died. But she had made it back North for the twins’ birth. God had given her, a boy and a girl, her own Adam and Eve. Which was His sign that that was all he wanted for her. Then she returned to Oaxaca right as her babies could first walk. Celia’s aunt told her that Celia’s father was a bad man and had hit her mother, made her get stitches on her scalp. But that was almost impossible to believe. All her hair was fine, and she was happier than anyone else in America. She even smiled when she vomited, which happened once. Her voice was like kind music and that’s why rich people fought to have her take care of their children, sent giant bouquets of roses and foreign flowers on her birthday. She was a professional mother, and she never said the wrong thing.

As they walked and the screams got worse, she wished Berto would just slow down and talk to her about the teacher. She had the right things to say. He’s new. He thinks he’s funny. Did you see how big his feet are? He has to walk sideways up steps. That flappy belt that droops down over his fly just means he has bad clothes, bad taste, probably stinking coffee breath. She knew all the words, but she didn’t want any of the anger that belonged to the teacher. She didn’t want anyone’s anger. Anger that would wake up when she was alone in her room as her mother slept or, worse, anger that would turn into pictures as she dreamt. Faces and buildings and terrors that would make her sleep even more tiring than being awake. So she just walked slowly behind him, head down, rolling her eyes up to him if it seemed like he needed her attention. But mostly just making a schedule for homework. Five minutes for each page that needed to be read. Three minutes for each question in math.

When they were a block from their apartment, Berto actually screamed right in the face of a little boy on a tricycle. So close to the meanest thing Berto had ever done. The boy had kept bumping his front tire into a step, going nowhere. It drove Berto insane. He grabbed the boy’s handlebars, turned them straight and opened his mouth. THEN SCREAMED. Why him? He was the saddest little boy she’d ever seen even before Berto’s attack with his lungs. There were no clear words, but it lasted almost thirty seconds, the longest scream she’d ever heard. Berto’s neck shaking as the boy fought himself to not scream back. And now the boy was crying. His mother was never around. No brothers or cousins. No friends. Maybe he had no mother at all, probably just an Abuelita who could barely walk anymore she’d worked so hard. She’d seen that boy watch the other children line up for the ice cream truck, and he seemed to not even understand that with fifty cents he could be in that line too. But now he just laid his tiny chest on his handlebars and wondered why people, big people, men, screamed in his face. And that’s the only time they even care. She wanted to stop, to hug him, whisper noise in his ear. But Berto would take that so wrong, be so mad, scream at her and more people who wouldn’t scream back. So she just lingered hoping that Berto would run ahead, tasting cold milk and cereal on his tongue, feeling his butt planted in front of the TV watching the videos of the music she hated. Music that sounded like fighting with sexy girls thrown in the middle. Girls whose soft, sexy purrs cheered the violence on, made it worth something. But of course, Berto waited. Read her face and got angrier as he had to turn around walk past her and stop over the little boy, who’s tears had now turned into his normal sorrow, a tilted stare at the sky over the world. Berto leaned down and rubbed the boy’s back. His hand wider than the boy’s shoulders. Sorry, he said. It’s not you. It’s those fucking white puntos who like to have cactuses up their ass.

That was even worse than saying nothing.

Berto watched videos till dark while Celia solved for x and y and then read about the best of times and the worst of times. The same sentences over and over, amazed when they finally made sense. Maybe that’s how the teacher would be. Then her mother came home. She heard her sing, “Humberto” and then her name. Such a fine sound it went right through the walls.

Whenever she arrived she rubbed Berto’s head and said, You OK? And he always nodded like it was the most serious question he’d ever heard. She imagined that happening, and then she would come see her. Her mother always checked her work, not for solutions but for sufficient markings, effort, a sense of completion. What does this mean, she might ask and Celia would babble like the teacher had asked a question and she didn’t really know the answer so she spoke until something close came out. She’d let Celia finish and nod like she was exactly right.
But it happened different. She came in with a face that Celia knew was a frown, but to anyone else she was just not smiling. That’s her real sadness.

What’s wrong with him?
The new teacher speaks very fast.
He kept asking Berto questions that he didn’t understand.
Everyone laughed.
Then the teacher started speaking Spanish to him. The worst Spanish you ever heard.
Oh, no.
Yeah, he said dumb things.
Asked him if he liked to dance with horses.
Used every Spanish word he knew. Like fifteen. Said them all wrong.
Oh, God.
After class, Berto was so mad he didn’t talk.
Now, he’s just been like this.
How can I help him?

You can make him not a boy.

And her mother laughed, thank God.
Somehow that night, all Celia’s dreams were fine.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Democrats Look Good for the Fall if They Can Get Out the Vote

It's looking good for Democrats to gain seats and possibly take back the Congress. But no one should get too exited.

Lincoln Chafee's win in Rhode Island proved again that the White House, led by the ruthless tactics of Karl Rove, knows how to muscle in the close wins.

Don't forget: The Democrats have to match the Republicans tactic for tactic and publicize the Republican's attempts to unethically win elections through unethical, if not illegal, methods like clearing voter rolls and making it nearly impossible for Democratic precincts to vote.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Notice: You Suck

No one had ever confirmed it, but he knew it was true: You are as exactly lame as who you end up in bed with. And here he was: alone and caressing his Foreclosure Notice like it was some lover who’s mind he could still change. He was amazed that it actually said “Foreclosure Notice” on it, three separate times. It wasn’t breaking it to him slowly. But harshly, over and over—which is the worst because it works. Arguing just makes you a sore loser. Weak.

Maybe he should frame it? It was that important, but printed on thin, see-thru white paper. Light enough to be sent with one stamp. No wicked banker had to take the morning to deliver it. No knowing, evil laughs tucked inside. Nothing but facts. They’d even spelled his middle name right. The facts. He’d fucked up. Bad. And this wasn’t the result of any conspiracy except the daily conspiracy of nonsense that guides and confounds anyone who doesn’t have money. Real money. This was the natural conclusion to an endless series of fuck-ups he accumulated effortlessly in such a rapid manner that he had to stop talking to close friends or anyone who gave a fuck. You can’t ask people to feel that bad for you.

Not unless they married you.

He dropped the Notice and let it drift to the floor, gracefully. His life was over. The last good thing he had. Gone. What if he didn’t give up? I mean, how many times did everyone he’d ever met NOT have to rally around him in his time of need before he realized that it wasn’t a wonderful life?

He packed some pillows at the small of his back and sat up. Maybe if it were something interesting like drugs that ruined his life, then maybe he could sleep or find some boring enabler to help him. Fiending at least had a logic. But car repairs? The stupid desire to buy a house when he shouldn’t? A stagnant income with no chance of growth for the next ten to one million years? These were the kind of things that should ruin weekends, bachelor parties, not lives. It all sat on his shoulders, feeling like a hawk’s talons tearing into his muscles. But both shoulders. Strange it was balanced. Maybe it was his drinking. He did drink consistently. If he didn’t have that one DUI from six years ago, his insurance would be cheaper, half the price. He could have bought a newer car. Saved that two-three hundred he was spending a month to band-aid the radiator to the whateverthefuckitwas. Built up an emergency fund. Taken a vacation once in the new millennium. Been happy. Gotten a better job. Met a wife who he didn’t secretly hate precisely from the moment they married.

I don’t do, he should have said—despite every social pressure in the known world forcing him to do it. No. I don’t do. Then the Priest should have looked up and said, “Thank, God.”

After? Maybe a real marriage. Maybe a kid, a family. Something worth working for; unlike attorney’s fees, alimony. Imagine him then: he would have cared about his neighbors, smiled at them. Done nice things. Lent them anything. Won their trust, love, support. Improbably completed some extremely noble and faceless task one midnight in the midst of blinding pouring acid rain. Such a resonant good deed that it coincidentally saved the entire city from being washed away by fear, debt, evil foreigners. Man, how easy would it be—knowing what a good guy he was down deep below the decade of mistakes—to earn the community’s belief in him as a person and an investment? What if everyone in his zip code gave him a dollar?

If only he’d done any of that: They would be marching into his living room right now with fish bowls and punch bowls and salad bowls filled with impossibly crumpled money. Crumpled with haste, not filth. Bills over bills given substance by change. Pennies. Dimes. Quarters from the kids. The kids who could just tell that that he was the kind of man you trust just based on his posture. I’ll skip ice cream at the baseball game, they’d think as they emptied their piggy banks into a giant bowl, all so nice Mr. Nobody doesn’t have to move his Barcalounger, or worse sell it for twenty bucks because he doesn’t want to have to lug that piece of shit to his new third-floor apartment in a part of town where the only feeling of community came from the fact that the local Pioneer Chicken wasn’t a franchise. It was family owned and operated. Every time he’d go in there to get mashed potatoes and fried chicken hours past dinnertime, he’d be dumping bills into their bowl. They could have the kind life that he’d been denied. Keep the change. Put it in the bank with whatever the fuck coleslaw is.

This was just the beginning of the next episode of his life.

Call it: Alone, Divorced, Foreclosed.

Highlights to include: Eating a fried-chicken drumstick as he walked down the street alone, praying he’d be in bed within 124 minutes so he could sleep slightly more than six hours before he had to be up and out again. A young girl would pass—eyes averted like he could molest her gaze— and he’d smile at her between bites. Somehow thick grease drips down across his one nice shirt. The only good thing his ex had ever given him.

That was the future, except probably even worse. What was the future now but a painful space of seemingly perpetual time, like fingernails across a black board. He lied down and reached up his arm so his hand could kill the light.

There was no way to lie that didn’t hurt his neck, that made his shoulders feel right. Maybe he had one last phone call. Maybe that’s why he was awake. And he wasn’t going to use it. Who could he call that would just say the truth: You suck.

No one.

Except the ex and he didn’t have her number.

Suicide would be nobler than what he planned, he was sure. He was going to go on sucking, suck harder every single day of his life. Then one day it would be over. But whenever that was, he knew it wasn’t up to him. Maybe to some that was like not giving up? But he knew it wasn’t even close.

He tossed and he turned. Even tried to sleep with his head the opposite way. It didn’t feel like a human body was meant to lie down. He tried the floor. Tried the lounger. Tried Tylenol PMs, which actually made him more wired, ready to drywall hundreds of rooms or fight demons made of insulation. Fuck you, tiny pieces of fiberglass, asbestos. I ain’t afraid of you.

And when he was almost asleep, the thought, “I’m almost asleep,” woke him up. He sat at the edge of the bed, the approaching daylight giving the night a break and him some impossible bravery. He paced around the rooms, surveying everything he owned. Not the house anymore, but the crap inside.

He picked up his baseball bat, took half-swings at the TV, the couch, the wedding album and decided against the drama of breaking things. At his center—where he should have been a community hero, a fireman, a doctor with a Harley—he was pro-stability, against destruction. He wasn’t working for THEM, whoever it was that was working against him because he was normal and hopeless and smart enough to know how bad it was. Who were they? Did they even care? What could they do to stop him from getting in his crappy car and driving away from it all?

Let them foreclose on this shit. Take it all. The dirty socks, the dusty corners, his dozen pairs of old shoes he kept for no reason, a kitchen table he’d found on the street, a million scraps of paper that he kept because that’s what homeowners did.

Take it all.

He’d drive and drive and drive and drive and drive. And eventually the car would break down. And he’d walk; get a ride from a new love, a divorcee with no kids. What the fuck did he have to lose? He had half of a mortgage payment to bankroll his new life. In individual twenties, it was impressive. A thick stack. And really, that was more than enough.

If he outran his past, who could bring it back? Maybe if he started over and made different mistakes, better mistakes then—then every thing he lost might actually matter.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Fanning Changes Music Again

I was effusive when MySpace announced that it would be selling songs by unsigned artists. I think I called it "The End of the Labels as We Know Them" and other grandiose predictions. I didn't know at the time that the technology enabling these sales will be provided by Snocap.

Snocap is Shawn Fanning's legalized follow up to the original Napster. His attempt, almost a half decade in the making, to make the hugely complex issue of selling music online simple. Basically, he's made selling as easy as stealing.

Now, Fanning will revolutionize the music industry for the second time before he turns thirty. As this Motley Fool article says, "Lots of people bring up the old-fashioned idea that "unsigned" translates into artists without talent." They say the Internet is changing that all. I'd say that this effort will at least do for music what eBay did for collectibles, that is bring efficiency to the market. Snocap and MySpace won't need five bands selling a million records to make their money. They can bank on at least a hundred thousand bands selling averaging at least 500 records.

That's just the beginning. When major artists see how much these artists are making on their own, how long before they bypass the labels and sell straight to the fans?

Monday, September 04, 2006

Eulogy for the Devil: The Death of the Major Labels

Remember this: When the major label oligarchy officially ended, it happened with a whimper not a bang. I think we’ll have a hard time even remembering when the Big 4 or 5 roamed the musical landscape with their teats as the only possible source of milk for the torrents of people who wanted to be musicians. Now it’s all over.

When the New York Times writes, “MySpace Music Store Is New Challenge for Big Labels,” they should really be saying, “MySpace Instantly Redefinines the Music Industry, Again.” After proving that labels will at least stream their music for free, they are finally capitalizing on the best known secret of the social networking world. That secret? All they had to do was put a “Buy” button and instantly bands could begin to monetize the traffic they get to their profiles. Basically it’s the beginning of a merch booth that’s going to make the requisite MySpace page for bands less of a brochure and more of a gold mine.

This is the real beginning of the pracitical version of what Napster started so long ago. Completely decentralized distribution based on social and community filtering.

The three historical rolls of record labels have been. A) Distribution. DONE, over. B) A&R or the talent search and packaging. They haven’t been very good at that in years. C) Marketing and Promotion. Payola in other words. The machinery that greases wheels and gets artists sold.

Now, what can a label do for an artist that a decent PR firm can’t handle?

Or is anyone really better at the new game of selling music than Tila Tequila? Maybe all you need is a picture with her to sell a few thousand songs? No one knows yet.

Yes, MySpace selling music is a challenge to the labels in a the same way that the CD Rom was a challenge to the 3.5 inch disk.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Don't Forget How the Iraq War Ended

Do you remember the Iraq War and how abysmal the future was before the Democratic landslide of fall of 06? Now the prospect of a never-ending ground war in Asia may seem as absurd in Iraq as it did in Vietnam or the premise that one terrorist attack was enough to threaten the daily security of 260 million Americans. But yes, pals, it really was the Conventional Wisdom in that heat-stroked summer.

What changed it? Or who?

Well, I don’t have to remind you who did it, but it is humorous to recall that some thought it would be Neil Young, Mariah, Nelly or even the corpulent Rick Ross—who is getting serious Oscar buzz for his portrayal of Suge Night in this spring’s release of Steven Spielberg’s Ruthless.

No. No. No. No!

It was through the funhouse mirror of Just Butts that America saw it’s soul on a cross or tied to a railway or deteriorating like the sales of CDs.

You may forget that how the song came straight off of Myspace to local ‘Jeep Bumps’ in across America. But it took Gideo Yago of MTV News doing the piece about the ‘Jeep Bump’ at Arby’s on Sepulveda Blvd in the San Fernando Valley to recognize the moral imperative crystallized in Just Butt’s “Boo-Freaking-Hoo.”

Some say Yago responded to the last line before the second and final chorus, “If God sent us to war, then what kind of fucking example are we fighting for?” Some say it was blogger Michelle Malkin’s deliciously evil response to the suicides of men detained at Guantanamo Bay, “Boo freaking hoo.” Some say Yago chuckled when he realized that even Bill O’Reilly couldn’t endorse that absurd inhumanity.

But I say it was the seventeen-year-old boy who’s Jeep was bumping “Boo-Freaking-Hoo” that made Yago’s appendages perk. Whatever it was,

thank GOD


Boo Freaking Hoo