Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Republican National Convention 2008

You know, it's interesting: You can't find much RNC '08 on youtube which is really too bad. I mean, obviously, youtube is a left-leaning website and thus, for the most part, filled with left-leaning videos (most of which are retarded and beside the cable television itself, yet even still more esoteric). Wouldn't it be great if youtube had more videos illustrating the opposition's point of view? Like, isn't that what good debate is all about? Trying to learn your opponent's arguments as well as your own?

I don't mind admitting to you that (for this very reason) I watched nearly every minute of this past RNC '08 convention, held in Minneapolis, MN. It was stunning, for many reasons, the least of which was that, from above, the convention center looked like what you've always heard hell looks like: a giant dark pit, with fiery red floor, bunch of half-broken people mindlessly wandering around. I don't know who was in charge of designing the '08 RNC but whoever hired them really had no idea what they were doing. Whoever that person is should have a glass of water poured over their head every night for the rest of their life.

Check out the enormous digital American flag. That's weird. That makes no sense. I tried to imagine who would think that's cool. I thought of myself when I was 12. And even then I might have thought that t was stupid. The live in-house progressive jazz band was amazing, so much so that they were hard to describe. They were uncanny, the way the guy in the bear suit, leaning over and sort-of fellating the butler in The Shining was uncanny. Unfortunately, I couldn't find any footage on youtube. That was probably THE MOST sterile music I have ever heard - and I like sterile music! It's weird and totally amazing in a non-human/post-human kind of way. (Where's Pitchfork when you actually need them?)

And, of course, the most amazing moment of the RNC 2008 was at the very beginning when an honor guard marches through the half-empty coliseum and the whole room stands in silence, their hands over their hearts, when a solemn voice comes on over the intercom (think mid-twentieth Eastern European internment camp) and commanded everyone to turn around and freeze for one full minute while a super-fancy camera overhead takes everyone's picture. Everyone turns around with their hat/hand over their heart and holds their pose for an entire minute while the camera takes their picture. Have you ever seen several thousand people in a coliseum freeze and hold completely still for a full sixty seconds? It's creepy. It's a lot like observing a ritual in the most old-school pagan kind of way. All political (and athletic) events are ritualistic (obviously), but most of the successful, modern events successfully (I think; and, really, this could be an entirely different post) somehow successfully mask their own Ritualness...the '08 RNC should go down in history as one of THE MOST POORLY disguised political rituals EVER. And that sucks. For all of us. If we're going to be a two-party system we have to act like it. We need both the D's and R's to really want it, and know how to want it. Do you get the feeling we have a third party slowly galloping our way? God, I hope they're smart.

Well, anyway, I did find this clip from the RNC '08. Enjoy:

Also: Doesn't this look more like a scene out of a new David Lynch film rather than a contemporary conservative political rally?

Incidentally, I had lunch with a political columnist from the New York Observer a few months ago who was at the RNC, and was standing on the floor when Sarah Palin gave her introductory speech and he thought she killed. He said he was there with his editor and they both thought that it was all over for Obama. It's funny: I watched the RNC on a live internet stream and I thought it looked cheap and poorly orchestrated and I thought, almost immediately, that Obama was definitely going to take it. Televised orchestration's a big deal. You've got to have a candidate that looks good, who plays well on-screen. But, I know you know that. Well, the Republicans had an off year. They were due.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Execution of Saddam Hussein-GRAPHIC CONTENT

I think this is an important video. It's footage of Saddam Hussein's execution as seen from an illicit cell phone camera. WARNING: This footage is not for everyone.

I've never seen a man taken to his death before. George Orwell's The Hanging has long been not only one of my favorite pieces of writing but was one of the first texts that made me want to write. I'll be honest with you: I gained respect for Saddam Hussein, as a man, after I saw this video. Politics aside, I thought he died with pride; he didn't let the room-full of masked executioners rattle him. When they chant "Moktada! Moktada! Moktada!" He sneers back, "Moktada? Please. That charlatan?" When they fill the room with chants, he prays out loud for himself, focused, complete.

Now contrast the first unofficial footage with the official staged version:

There's no live sound, just some douche-bag guy talking over it, reporting from his little edge of nowhere. He assures us that they won't actually show the execution - they'll just show you the part leading up to the execution...with an idiot talking over it.

Why is it we're not allowed to see: Men's Genitalia, Sex, Birth and Death? Why? Someone tell me. I give up.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Jimmy Scott

A friend of mine showed this to me. Enjoy.

Recent String of Events (in no particular order...)

Someone decapitated long-dead, frozen, baseball great Ted Williams. And then used his head as a soccer ball. Ladies and gentleman: The future of cryogenic freezing! Where your frozen cadaver can be mutilated for sport!

NASA fired a missile at the moon. And nothing happened. Yet. I don't think we're going to know much about this one for a while. Like maybe after you and I and all of our children are gone.

I stubbed my foot on the couch and broke my toe. Not only did I break my toe, I tore the joint. And now I'm wearing a boot (and it's really not as bad as I thought it would be).

Barack Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize this morning and I almost feel sorry for him. He's trapped in between the almost completely unrealistic positive and negative expectations that people have of him. I can't imagine this is easy for him (not that it's supposed to be). And now the Europeans just piled a Nobel on top of everything else. That just might have been one of the most unwanted Nobel Peace Prize's in history. (But...I think he might deserve it, after all.)

I read The Grapes of Wrath for the first time. I know you don't need me to tell you this's a pretty good book. Not bad. Nope. Not at all. Not one tiny bit. The part about the machine-tractors replacing man on God's green field? That's not shit you ever forget. That's Biblical.

There was (what I like to call) the Free-Speech Five-Step:

1) Serena Williams lost her cool (and the match) in the semi-finals to (eventual champion)Kim Clijsters at the recent U.S. Open when she verbally abused a short, fat Asian line judge. No one talked about this as a racial "incident" but I think Serena thought it was (at least at first) and before she knew it she was over the edge.

2) Kanye West steals the microphone from what's-her-face at the MTV music awards while she's accepting an award. Awesome. Even the fact that what he did is stupid isn't interesting. But that fact is. Subsequently, Barack Obama is heard, off-the-record, calling Kanye a "jackass" for what amounted to a really excellent, unintended, social mores moment from a sitting president who is (socially) far cooler than the rapper. Think about that. That kind of moment doesn't happen too often.

3) Joe Wilson's hateful shout of "You lie!" to the president was disgusting. That's one of the most blatently shameful things I've seen in this country in a long time. I believe it was an assassination attempt. I think it means, "Back the fuck up, BITCH!X!X! or next time I won't just be throwing words." Hateful stuff. Make no mistake. Also: look at the faces of the two men next to Wilson. Do you trust those guys? They want to see Obama go down in flames - literally.

4) Michael Jordan's Hall of Fame acceptance speech was stunning. Flat out. I thought it was awesome. Painful and gross and weird and embarrassing...but awesome. It was just so honest. How many living legends (that's what he is) just come right out and say what they've been thinking throughout the years in one extended public speech? I think there's something kind of remarkable about it. He was like: "This is what I did to you people. And now I'm telling you about it." I bet he loved it. Probably felt like a fifty point game to him. There are millions of Michael Jordans but only one Michael Jordan. Here's the first part of the speech:

5) And Muammar al-Gaddafi's lengthy speech at the U.N. (By the way, has anyone's name ever been spelled so many different ways?) Behold, the King of Africa:

You can tell it's going to be a long morning by the way he sifts through his papers in the opening. I have to say: I watched about 45 minutes of this thing, and I didn't mind it so much. I find the disposition of contemporary dictators entirely compelling. For instance, I thought Saddam Hussein came off as completely brave and border-line heroic the way he faced down his masked executioners - he had far more composure than, I think, most Liberal Democratic leaders would. Imagine what Gaddafi would be like if he was ever put on trial at the Hague! He'd make Milosevich's pathetic, irrational, child-like defense look like a Supreme Court hearing.

Conan O' Brian fell down and hit his head.

David Letterman executed a flawless public apology by calling "sex" sex and came out even stonger.

I administered a stool test to myself and almost threw-up. (No photograph.)

I watched The Wizard of Oz twice. It's as good as The Grapes of Wrath. They're both primal contemporary American myths. It's genuinely creepy when the Witch writes Surrender in black swirling smoke lines in the sky. Also: So this is where David Lynch got so many of his ideas!

Roman Polanski was re-arrested for child rape and various high-end Hollywood
celebrities immediately made complete asses of themselves. Justice may be imperfect, justice may be fickle - say whatever you want to say about it - but don't try to say this guy is somehow above the law because of his artistic genius. That's so gross it's obscene. (I think Bitter Moon was one of the best movies of the nineties and Chinatown is an official classic but I still think he should serve his time.) Also: if you still think he's being treated unfairly read the Grand Jury Testimony for the explicit details of how he drugged and raped a child. Best of luck defending him after that. (Also: I just realized, in '70s, Polanski, looks like Rob Blagojevich.)

And last but not least: All hail William T. Vollmann! Ladies and gentleman, we have a real artist in our presence. Remember when that Nobel Judge said a few years ago that an American writer would never win now because American writers are so self-centered,
disinterested, etc? He's obviously not paying attention. I read Riding Towards Everywhere (a road adventure/national memoir), then Poor People (part repudiation of James Agee's And Now Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, part moral examination of the concepts of wealth and poverty (but I mean, really, aren't they inseparable?) I'm currently reading through IMPERIAL. It's a huge, mad, slow book but it's totally worth it. The end of part one when he imagines what IMPERIAL would be like if written by Flaubert or Steinbeck or an American border guard is absurdly hilarious. What other contemporary American writer even comes close to this guy's imagination/output/scholarly attention to detail? Give him the Nobel!