“It is useless to attempt to reason a man out of a thing he was never reasoned into”

Jonathan Swift
"The Democrats have moved to the right, and the right has moved into a mental hospital." - Bill Maher
"The city is crowded my friends are away and I'm on my own
It's too hot to handle so I gotta get up and go

It's a cruel ... cruel summer"

Friday, September 29, 2006

This Is Important

Because Rivethead and Clint liked the story on Van Os, I am posting the editorial I wrote for the Sept. 28 issue. It is as much a story as I is an editorial, however. And it won't please Mr. Swinford, for sure.

Here it is:

The smell test.

We all know what that is. It’s when something just doesn’t smell right. Most of the stench comes from partisan politics.

The smell in question today arises from allegations attorney general candidate David Van Os recently made: Texas Republicans are using “pay to play” to guide state activities.

Van Os wanted to connect the dots between one of the Panhandle’s legislators, Houston home builder Robert (Bob) Perry and his wife, who gave six-figure contributions to Attorney General Greg Abbott’s re-election campaign, and an attorney general’s ruling on oversight of the home construction industry.

Van Os said the donations came a day before state Rep. David Swinford asked the attorney general to rule whether the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts had authority to audit the performance of the Texas Residential Construction Commission.

Van Os said the TRCC protects home builders.

The Texas Ethics Commission database confirms that on Dec. 15, 2005, Perry, of Bob Perry Homes, and Doylene Perry, of Houston, each dropped a $50,000 check into the attorney general’s war chest.

Public records confirm that on Dec. 16 Swinford, R-Dumas, asked for an AG opinion on the comptroller’s investigation. Perry, no relation to the governor, gave Swinford $2,000 on Dec. 20, 2005, and $10,000 on Feb. 9, 2006.

In August 2005, Rep. Todd Smith, R-Euless, asked the comptroller to study whether the TRCC was doing its job of mediating disputes between home builders and home owners. The comptroller announced in a letter to Smith and in a news release Jan. 23, 2006, that the TRCC protected home builders.

So, is there a connection between the contributions and Swinford’s request of the attorney general, who ruled the comptroller had no authority to undertake that kind of performance audit?

Not according to Swinford.

“The Democrats are sort of after Bob Perry, the home builder, because he gives money to the Republicans, one of the larger Republican contributors, so they try to draw lines that are really not there, which is sort of what they’re doing,” Swinford said.

“He was not accurate whenever he said that I was involved in some kind of a deal here. It might have been a series of coincidences or something, but I am telling you right now I am not involved in anything that has anything to do with anything inappropriate. I just don’t do that.”

Van Os was not accurate in suggesting or indicating a connection between what he and Perry were doing, Swinford said. Swinford said he never questioned the comptroller’s right to audit the financial performance of the TRCC. He questioned the comptroller’s right to “rulemaking,” which he said was the Legislature’s purview.

What prompted his letter?

He explained he is the chairman of the Legislature’s Committee on State Affairs, which has oversight and jurisdiction over TRCC and the comptroller had “usurped” his authority. But, Swinford never directly answered what prompted him to ask for an AG ruling.

“It has nothing to do anything else,” he said. “That letter was written a whole lot longer before, a long time before, any of this happened.”

Later in the interview, Swinford said the contributions weren’t a coincidence — he was running for re-election. He is a staunch conservative getting support from another staunch conservative.

Swinford wrote off Van Os’ assertions as “campaign issues.”

When asked if there might be an appearance of impropriety, he said, “There is an appearance that somebody says it and then somebody comes along and says there’s an appearance. And that’s it. It was not related at all.” Swinford had plenty of opportunity to answer questions directly.

If he had, he might have passed the smell test.

I am Sam. Sam I am. Sam are we all.

My name is Samuel, Samuel.
My name is Samuel, Samuel.

My name is Samuel, an' I'll see you all in hell.

An' I'll see you all in hell,

Damn your eyes.

The graphic novel from which the above picture is taken—Uncle Sam, by Steve Darnall and Alex Ross—portrays a homeless, indigent and schizophrenic Uncle Sam who, like Kurt Vonnegut’s Billy Pilgrim, has come “unstuck in time.” He drifts in and out of American history, always seeming to land on our ugliest moments: the Black Hawk War of 1832, the riots at the Ford factory in Dearborn, Michigan in 1932, Shay’s Rebellion.

It was soothing in a guilt-ridden sort of way to re-read Uncle Sam last night, after our elected officials had sanctioned torture and chipped a good-sized chunk off the thousand-year-old marble monument known as habeas corpus. It was a reminder that America has never lived up to her ideals, that we have always and ever aimed for far more than we were willing to achieve. Yesterday was particularly ugly. Habeas corpus was settled practice and law before the Magna Charta. It’s not ours to revoke, and it’s not only for our citizens. Satanic historical figures whose pitchforks W isn’t fit to carry have paid lip service to the writ through the centuries—and though it was often only lip service, we no longer even pay that much.

Still, the hope remains that—somehow—this, too, shall pass, that the great words written on the yellowed parchment will yank at our souls and our consciences until we cut and rip and tear the cancer from our own bodies. It will be as painful and as difficult to achieve as liquid fire, but we have done it before.

Every great artist seems to have a specific theme that runs through their life’s work. The late Johnny Cash, who sang the traditional lyrics quoted above on his American IV: The Man Comes Around album, produced an oeuvre largely about the eternal battle within all our souls between the repentant and the unrepentant sinner. The songs “Sam Hall” and “I Hung My Head” from that same album are both about murderers facing the gallows. “Sam Hall” tells the crowd gathered to watch his execution that he hates them “one and all.” He faces death with no remorse whatsoever. Cash sounds great, and real, and true singing the song.

But he sounds equally great, and real, and true in “I Hung My Head” when he sings
I prayed for God's mercy
For soon I'd be dead.
I hung my head.
I hung my head.
The conflict Cash presents rages in all our souls. There are so many questions that rose into so many newly-minted minds as humanity endured its eons-long march up from the swamps and down from the trees and away from animal instinct and into thought. One of those questions is Just how much should we care about the crimes we commit? Animals kill with impunity—with immunity from moral considerations. Thou shalt not kill, along with the Code of Hammurabi and Hittite Law made us something more.

We grew even more with further refinement of moral codes as the centuries wore on. One of those refinements was eventually termed habeas corpus.

We don’t always want to follow our own rules. Johnny Cash was the consummate American, and by that I mean the consummate human. His conflict is as American as—as what? Apple Pie?Similes fail. What on Earth could ever be as American as that simple conflict between penitence and remorselessness, between ideals and base desires, between the hairshirt self-denial of the Puritans and the hedonistic self-indulgence of the Baby Boomers?

Like Johnny Cash, we sometimes recognize that the things we do—torturing Arab people, wiping out Native American races, enslaving black people—are wrong, and we hang our heads. We repent. We promise to try—and sometimes we succeed, a little, just a little—to improve.

And sometimes—and this is what we did yesterday—we look at the rest of humanity, one and all, and we sneer, and we smirk, and we say We’ll see you all in Hell. Damn your eyes.


use your own freakin' words

Back in July of 1996, the then-Amarillo Daily News printed a letter to the editor from one Sue Brazil that began

According to a blistering new book by FBI Special Agent Gary Aldrich, who served in the Clinton White house for three years, the president of the United States has continued his extramarital liaisons while in the White House.
The words sounded too familiar to me, the specific words, not just the already-tired, Clinton-hating tone. It wasn't long before I realized why: the same words came verbatim, down to the last adverb, from a Mona Charen column printed in the Daily News a couple of weeks earlier. "Moaning Mona" Charen the right-wing columnist, not Charon the driver of the ferry into Hell, though I can certainly understand your confusion on the matter.

Although I watched carefully, I never saw a retraction or apology in the Daily News for this incident.

In the years since, the Amarillo Globe-News has, from time-to-time, published Republican astroturf-- letters generated in some think-tank somewhere that are cut-and-pasted and submitted under a number of different names to a number of different papers. Prodigal Son and I have delighted in pointing these letters out to the Globe-News editorial staff. And although we have watched carefully, we've never seen a retraction or apology for publishing this misleading information in the Daily News.

Another of those endless back-and-forth debates that take place exclusively in your Amarillo Globe-News continued Monday. Jim Perkins, a local Democrat, answered a "ridiculous" letter from John Chandler pointing out that an earlier letter from Jayne Farris had been copied from Roger Waun's website. Perkins stated that this accusation wasn't proven, but in fact it is accurate.

More disturbing was Perkins' main point. He said
Whether the Sept. 8 letter from Jayne Farris was a word-for-word copy of something on the Internet . . . is unimportant . . . what is important is that the information in her letter is true.
Jim Perkins is a decent fellow and a good local Democrat. But-- as a writer who has published columns, short stories and poetry, and who regularly writes in this space-- I must respectfully disagree with his characterization of this plagiarism as unimportant.

Perkins states that "permission to reprint" might have been given. His point seems to be that no one was harmed, so what's the damage? And as a good liberal, I certainly agree that we should work to reduce persecution and prosecution of victimless crimes.

But this "crime" is by no means victimless. The author and purported author may have had some sort of arrangement, but this arrangement would steal newspaper space from writers wjho make the effort to use their own words. It also misleads the newspaper subscribers, who have the right to expect content with a clearly-labeled origin. (That the Globe-News staff itself regularly violates this expectation is, for the moment, beside the point.) It is misleading and dishonest to imply that something written by a candidate or a candidate's staff was actually written by a disinterested citizen. And when such is exposed it discredits, in the public's mind, the argument being expressed. I believe that the liberal philosophy is the correct one and would result in the most good for the most people. When we give our opponents ammunition to delay our eventual political victory, it hurts everyone. Hardly a victimless crime.


Sunday, September 24, 2006

"I have had it with these mothereffing steaks on these mothereffing sticks!"

I've experienced some disquieting things at the Tri-State Fair over the long years. Many of you may have heard the story of the mullet I once saw standing right in the middle of the Midway and eating something-on-a-stick. He wasn't the classiest of fellows to begin with, and the sea of gangsters, rednecks, and Caprock High School cheerleaders parted to give him a wide berth as he enjoyed his besticked meal, fat dribbling down his chin.

And then It Happened. The mullet cocked his head and looked up, shook like he was trying to maneuver something loose from the party end of his infamous hairstyle, and then looked down at the half-eaten remains on the stick. He shoved the sausage, snausage or whatever down the stick a ways so that the pointed end stuck out, and, to the horror of everyone on the Midway, he used that stick to clean – out – his – ear.

The worst was yet to come. When he was satisfied with his cleaning job, he smiled a toothless grin, shoved the foodstuff back up to the business end of the stick and he Went. On. Eating.

It was an apocalyptic horrorshow. All around that mullet, people passed out from the sight. Good citizens of the tri-state area ran away screaming in the night. And none who were there will ever forget what they saw on that dry September night.

Still – for reasons few can understand – I continued to attend the fair, even to look forward to it every year. Perhaps it is the writer in me; like Arthur Rimbaud, Hunter Thompson or Janette Oke, I feel compelled to explore the Edge, to see the most decadent, the ugliest, the most Republican side of humanity, to tickle the seamy underbelly of our worst natures.

Rimbaud died at 37. Those of us who live longer than he did go on to witness horrors he could not have dreamt of. At this fair, on this year, Spacedark, Jr. wanted to ride one of those hammer-type rides that spin you upside down into the sky. I agreed to ride the damn thing so that he could ride it. We waited in line and were strapped into our cage.

The ride was as hastily thrown together and as high-tech as one of the devices used to train the Mercury astronauts in the early, catch-up-with-the-Russkies-no-matter-who-has-to-die, years of the Space Race. Still, the experience wasn’t entirely without fun as we were hurled into the sky and turned upside down.

Until—in an instant—a tweenish girl behind (and, more to the point, above) us was screaming the words you never want to hear in such a situation: I just threw up! I just threw up!

And I look down at my hand, which was suddenly wet and sticky. I forgot the fact that I was being hurled around a rusted metal cage as I felt the back of my neck, my shirt and realize that all, all, were wet and sticky. Vomitus was raining down on us like acid rain, like radioactive fallout after a nuclear test, like the very fury of the very gods. I was wearing the “Save CBGB” shirt I had brought back from New York. It was a bitter irony: I was probably in a punk club (and much younger) the last time I was so remorselessly vomited on.

Some of you like to go to the fair for the food: the potatoes, the funnel cake. I can tell you, all such things lose their charm when they are raining down on you from above after being in someone’s stomach.

In an instant, the ride came to a screeching halt. The carnie who had been so friendly a moment ago as we boarded the ride suddenly was in a pisser. “Who puked?” he screamed. “YOU?!” he pointed at Spacedark, Jr. and me.

I shook my head and pointed behind me. The carnie yanked the frightened girl out of her seat and shove her off into eternal humiliation. I looked at him and asked if he had napkin or a paper towel, anything we could use to clean off. He just screamed at us, “YOU ALL HAVE TO GET OFF! I HAVE TO CLEAN IT UP!”

I tried again. “You know, we only got half a ride and we’re covered in vomit. Any chance of a refund of our tickets?”

“GET OFF THE RIDE! NOW!” the Carnie screamed, and apparently morphing into a horned demon from the depths of Hell is quite a painful process because he had a expression on his face like that occasioned by a sudden migraine headache accompanied by appendicitis and a kidney stone.

We left, found a restroom to clean up in and the art exhibits and spent another hour or so at the fair. But we were over it, and I doubt I'll go back to the fair any time soon.


Thursday, September 21, 2006

In Deference To The Cunning Realist

The Ghostly Voice ponders:

Thus comes the question: Why cannot moderate Muslims condemn in forceful language the outrageous reactions of their fundamentalist brethren?
The Cunning Realist answered this question before the Ghost asked: A Particularly Slippery Slope

Onward, Christmastian Soldiers

Christmastian Dave Henry Laments:


Oklahoma taxpayers footed the bill for the more than 2,600 children born to illegal immigrants last year, according to a state Senate task force. The cost was an estimated $10 million. Here's the point when it comes to illegal immigration: Those who want to enforce immigration laws aren't aiming at a specific race, even if one race is predominantly represented in this statistic. Taxpayers are hacked off at having to pay millions - and that is just on a statewide basis - for those who broke the law to get here. It really doesn't matter where they're coming from - the principle of the argument is the same.
I think it's telling that someone who wears his religion on his sleeve would call providing healthcare, education and other assistance to children (of any status) a sign "America is heading downhill." Perhaps at your next Bible study you can visit Matthew 25:45. Matthew is one of the books located between Leviticus and Revelations.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

are all Monsters related? do they all look alike?

In the Tony-award winning musical Avenue Q, currently running on Broadway, Brian defends his Japanese wife, who has just asked him to take out the “lecycraburs”. Princeton, Kate Monster, and Gary Coleman ("yes, that Gary Coleman") ask him what that means and then break into laughter when he translates “recyclables”. Brian bristles:

Hey! Don’t laugh at her! How many languages do you speak?
he sings. The others suggest that he lighten up. Kate Monster sings
Oh, come off it, Brian! Everyone’s a little bit racist.
I’m not, Brian insists, and to prove it he asks the musical question
How many Oriental wives have you got?
We saw the play at the John Golden Theatre on Broadway last Saturday night, and even before Princeton and Brian’s wife, Christmas Eve, called him out on his use of the “offensive” term “oriental,” I knew that Brian was, in fact, “a little bit racist.” I knew it in part because I am exactly the same sort of thirtysomething white liberal as Brian, and guys like us always think that we’re inoculated against racism by our Asian-American wives or (in my case) half-Hispanic sons. And I’d found out in Chinatown that week that I, too, was a little bit racist.

As I walked down Canal Street, I heard very little English. Feeling like I was in a foreign country, I walked into a grocery store. I wanted to buy some sauces and spices but couldn’t read the labels of most of the jars. I finally found a couple that had English translations and went to the counter to buy those. Since my fiancée’s sinuses were bothering her, I also wanted to buy some Advil Cold & Sinus, which was behind the counter.

Naturally, I asked for it by speaking in a loud voice, pointing, and holding up two fingers to indicate how many I wanted.

“Okay, two Advil Cold & Sinuses, there ya go,” the clerk said, tossing them in the bag. I felt like a freakin’ Ugly American Idiot stereotype.

So I saw Brian’s foot entering his mouth from a mile away.

After Chinatown and Little Italy, I rode the subway up to Harlem to see the Apollo. I figured that Harlem, like the rest of Manhattan, was into an advanced stage of gentrification. So I gleefully snapped pictures of historical sites and actually managed to walk about sixteen blocks into West Harlem before noticing that I hadn’t seen another white face in some time.

I didn’t bother me; I just noticed it. And I actually felt a little bit less racist, since I know dozens of ‘necks who would have noticed far, far earlier.

At one point, I was taking a picture of the sign of a Jamaican food restaurant. (Since the S.O. was in conference sessions and I wanted here to share my day, and since I had a gig on my SD card, I took pictures like a Japanese touris– I took a lot of pictures.) I snapped the photo of the restaurant, and an African-American woman on the sidewalk started yelling at me. “You’re not takin’ my picture, are you?” she shouted.

“No, no,” I said smiling and gesturing. “I’m just taking a picture of that sign. So I can remember to come back.” Meaning that I thought the food might be good.

At that point the woman went a little berserk. “You don’t need to come back!” she screamed. “They ain’t done nothin’. You don’t need to come back at all. They ain’t done nothin’ wrong.”

“Okay,” I said and shuffled away. I was a little confused until I realized that I was wearing the polo shirt with the official C.I.A. logo that Prodigal Son had once given me. Suddenly her paranoid reaction snapped into place. I was the only white boy in that part of Harlem, and I was wearing an official C.I.A. polo shirt. Obviously, I was going to bring a world of hurt with me.
Everyone’s a little bit racist, it’s true.
But everyone is just about as
racist as you.
Fortunately, both the African-American women and I were only a little bit racist. As Princeton says,
Everyone makes judgments based on race. Not big judgments like who to hire or who to buy a newspaper from, just little judgments . . .

Everyone’s a little bit racist, it’s true.
But everyone is just about as racist as you.
If we all could just admit
That we are racist a little bit
And everyone
Stopped being so P.C.,
Maybe we could
Live in – harmony!

We liberals are often guilty of making racism a constant issue while piously believing ourselves immune. Some conservatives are guilty of actually being racist while loudly denying the fact. Others are guilty of enabling racist friends and allies, using code words, or cynically using racism as a political tool. And racism continues to derive political and social power through the duality posed by Avenue Q: “No one’s really color-blind,” but “we all know that it’s wrong.” And the musical’s solution, that “just admitting it” will help us get along may be glib—but, hell, nothing else has worked. In any event, liberals, who value the expansion of human freedom, should understand the liberation in admitting imperfection.

It’s also appropriate that this dead-on indictment of the state of Race in millennial America comes in a Gen-X written and produced musical parodying the Sesame Street of our youth. It was the well-intentioned adult liberals of the Sesame Street era who told kids of my generation that Racism had been solved and would no longer be bothering us.

They couldn’t have been more wrong.


all photographs taken by spacedark except the Avenue Q publicity still

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Thanks for nothing, comrades.

There go those big-government liberals on the Amarillo City Commission, telling Xcel Energy how much they can charge city customers.

City says no to Xcel

Why don't they remove their heavy-handed restrictions and let the free-market decide what should be charged?

Friday, September 15, 2006

why spelling matters

From TalkAmarillo, posted by BabyBlue_02:

[The KKK] said taht whites are the surprem being, whites are the only ones that go to heaven, that the black man is the best in the bible.


Thursday, September 14, 2006

Neo-con...apply directly to your forehead

yes, that's the book for me

Since David H. Henry finds it something of a challenge to write an entire 750-word column, he frequently fills out his missives with pats on backs and kicks in pants. Today he also added "another weekly sign that America is heading downhill." Amazingly, he wasn't referring to his own column. Instead, he was discussing the Texas Freedom Networks' concern that Bible classes in high schools aren't being taught as history and literature, but as received wisdom from an Evangelical Christmastian God Almighty.

The problem for Dave is that the Texas Freedom Network is way right on this one.

The problem with the courses begins with the fact that they are often taught by itinerant professional ministers rather than trained educators. It should come as no surprise that these men of the cloth find it hard to avoid proselytizing. It’s more than their job to do so; it’s their calling.

It isn’t easy even for trained educators to jump through all the right hoops when teaching Biblical history and literature in the most rabid parts of the Bible Belt. I used to teach excerpts from Lamentations in my senior English class. It just became too much to deal with, and I banished Lamentations to the part of my syllabus that I never manage to get to. Teaching the Bible apparently gave some kids license to announce that they were holier than St. Augustine. It gave others opportunity to attempt to hijack the class into a denunciation of most of contemporary science. Still others veered off into righteous denunciations of the atheist powers that wouldn’t let them pray in school. And after the kids sang hymns to their own righteousness, the test gave them the opportunity to show that—despite their claims to godliness—they really didn’t know a damn thing about the Bible.

The year after I quit trying to teach the Bible, the Texas Lege allowed that we needed to start praying—sorry, having a “moment of silence”—in class. Surely, these junior Pope Pompouses and Saint Augustthroughmays that I had been teaching would jump at the chance to have a little bit of church on a weekday morning, right?

Not so much. They just used the time to make eyes at one another and to have silent but complicated, lip-read conversations. Or they just talked out loud.

The Revs who teach these classes must find it even harder than I do to stay secular when the young pontiffs who take these classes begin to pontificate. Ordination doesn’t necessarily correspond to education or social appropriateness: I once knew a preacher whose love of fart jokes was unsurpassed. More ominously, he was great friends with the personnel director of the school district. He coulda taught one of these classes.

Dave tips his hand when he makes the sarcastic comment “My goodness! A class on the Bible being taught from a Christian perspective?”. We’re supposed to respond, well, yeah, them Texas Freedom Wahozitwhatsits sure are being ridiculous. I mean, of course, the Bible is a Christian document; of course it should be taught as such.

Only it’s not, not entirely, as everyone but Dave Henry knows. I taught Old Testament books. Lamentations doesn’t really have much to do with Christianity at all. How would Dave feel about the issue if a rabbi taught the class and tried to convert his kid?

Henry hints at how he’d feel when he says “The Texas Freedom Network can feel free to study the high school curriculum of classes on the Quran and the Torah, just for perspective.” This shows you how stone-dumb Dave Henry is: he thinks the Torah and the Bible are two completely different works. And what's he implying anyway? That Imam Hamid Ali is teaching a fundamentalist Moslem class two doors down?

One of the first indicators of stone-dumbness is when you think everyone is just like you except the ones who are not, and they’re all evil. The Emperor W showed this characteristic when he recently announced the Coming of the Third Great Awakening ‘cause, gosh, everyone he talks to sez they’re praying for his ugly ass. The Emperor, like, Dave Henry, sees everything backwards through Christmastian lenses. I suppose I’m even praying for him because I say “God help us all” every time he stammers through another speech or press conference.

Dave Henry and the Emperor are two of a kind. And Henry’s such a lost cause that he would probably think that’s a compliment.


Tuesday, September 12, 2006

This is New York. This is America.

Last night at about this time the S.O. and I were just returning from a dinner cruise around Manhattan island. It was, I don't need to remind you, September the Eleventh, five years on from the original September the Eleventh, and the city was commemorating the dark anniversary in various ways. Relatives read lists of names at the WTC site. George Bush made a speech and attended a mass at St. Paul's. And throngs of people throughout Manhattan did what Bush and our own Civic Leaders back in Amarillo cynically recommended that Americans do in the immediate aftermath of that frightening day: they shopped.

Yesterday morning we listened for the bells that chimed from the various churches around the city at the minutes that the planes struck the towers, and at the minutes that the towers fell. Then we took the C-train down to High Street in Brooklyn and walked back toward Manhattan across the Brooklyn Bridge. The previous evening we'd taken the subway back to midtown after barhopping in the Village. We’d passed Rockefeller Center as we walked backed to our hotel from the subway stop. It had just become the Eleventh as we walked and Rockefeller Center was already crawling with cops. But they weren’t anxious cops or cops who had been summoned because of a threat. This was routine, and the cops were saying things like, "See anything over theah? Me neitheh, let's get some pizza."

So I expected a higher security presence on the eleventh and in fact the subways were littered with MTA employees and security, but the entrance to the Bridge itself was guarded only by a couple of cops on bikes. It was easy, even, to forget, until you glanced toward the financial district and saw the big empty hole that still, five years on, oppresses the skyline by its absence more than any presence could.

Manhattan was a strange place to be on the anniversary. So much was utterly normal and so much wasn’t. After crossing the bridge, my fiancée and I caught the train back to midtown and grabbed the cheese, olives, and roasted tomatoes I had purchased earlier in the week from Di Palo’s, in a part of town that has become Chinatown to everyone but the Di Palos. To them, their corner remains Little Italy, and always will.

We grabbed our food, plus some wine, and headed for Central Park. We had a nice, quiet picnic two blocks and a world away from Manhattan. Two blocks and—for the most part—a world away from the Eleventh of September, although we did watch as a group unfurled a giant flag across the Great Lawn.

At six, after a short cab ride to the Hudson, we boarded the Duchess for our dinner cruise. It was mostly a tourist thing: drinks, dancing and a nice dinner as you ride the ferry around the lower end of Manhattan island and then up to Roosevelt Island. There you turn around and head down to Liberty Island and then return.

It was, as I say, mostly a tourist thing, but of course this was the Eleventh of September, and as we approached the financial district, the Tribute in Light shone its two great beams of light from the spots where the WTC towers had once stood. But—as always in life—there was a twist. The massive beams of light were impressive enough in themselves, a powerful exemplar (as is all of Manhattan) of human hubris. But at the top of the beams we witnessed a serendipitous and singular beauty that no one could have predicted or planned for, and that I cannot presume to describe. The beams struck the clouds in a way that could not but evoke a religious awe.

We stood together on the top deck of the Duchess as we sailed around the Statue of Liberty and for a time we could see both the Tribute in Light and the Statue in our field of vision. And tears actually streamed down my face as it suddenly hit me full on: I had just spent a week in a city of immigrants and history, of wealth and despair, of madness and dreams, of art and fear, of freedom and limitations, of soaring peace and of petty wars. This was America, and in an instant I realized how important the battles we all fight to save her depleted soul really are.

After the cruise, we rode a pedicab back to our hotel. Our driver (peddler?) wasn’t the sort to let irony wash over him unacknowledged. When we asked him to take us to 48th and 8th, he informed us that the intersection we were headed toward was his own answer to the question, “Where we you on September the Eleventh?” He told us that story, and then he switched gears and bragged about his eminently brag-able city. Five years have passed. So much has changed. So much has not.


Sunday, September 10, 2006

Web Roundup - happy trails

So, you wanna be a rock star? Try the punkomatic.

Quickest patch ever for Windows involved Digital Rights Management. Everyone else has to wait until the 2nd Tuesday of the month. Just who is MS's real customers?

CIA dismissed Saddam / al Qaeda ties before the war.

Everything old becomes new again. Leggings, Ankle Boots, Skinny Jeans Lead Fall Trends. I like the ankle boots, not to big on leggings.

I'm a sucker for 007 movies, Casino Royale. Hopefully, they'll have more story and less gadgets.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

so that's why there are so many new local bands these days

Total precipitation, August, 2006, Seattle, WA: .02 inches
Total precipitation, August, 2006, Amarillo, TX: 5.17 inches

Makes me feel a little stupid. And contagious.


Friday, September 01, 2006

Web Roundup - kills stuff dead

Two U.S. citizens refused entry back into the U.S.

How a decades old law costs U.S. consumers $2.3 billion.

New combustable engine may double gas mileage

Maybe they should take this money (Pentagon moves towards monitoring the media) and apply it to this problem (Republicans cut funding for treating and researching brain injuries).

Bump keying, time for a new type of lock

Just F***in Stop. Now.

Wow. . . the chickenhawk pantload brigades and 101st fighting keyboarders are everywhere on CNN and FAUX news, etc. cheering on . . . a world f**king war. Ahhh. . . good times.

The world war II = WOT despicable marketing plan for the upcoming elections is in full force.

Rummy was out there the other day, but for some reason media ain't buyin' what they's sellin'.

Boston Globe: Loose lips sink history, the latest effort -- transparent as it is inaccurate -- tries to draw parallels between Iraq and World War II.

LA Times: Pipe Down, RummyRumsfeld's cranky outburst mangles a historical analogy, bad-mouths legitimate critics.

Seattle PI: Iraq War: The false specter the defense secretary now deals with questioning of the mismanaged campaign by raising the false specter of World War II style appeasement.

Dubya is blathering this theme in political speeches, and then excoriated the press by saying they are not political.

Peeps, America is not in WWII, WWIII, or WWIV.

OK, rightwing goosesteppers, if this is a world war . . . Where is the draft? Where are the tax hikes? War bonds? Retooling manufacturing industry? Sheeet, where are the nukes?

Just askin . . .

-Prodigal Son