In God We Trust by Eduardo Galeano

Presidents of the United States tend to speak in God’s name, although none of them has let on if He communicates by letter, fax, telephone or telepathy. With or without His approval, in 2006 God was proclaimed chairman of the Republican Party of Texas.

That said, the All Powerful, who is even on the dollar bill, was a shining absence at the time of independence. The constitution did not mention Him. At the Constitutional Convention, when a prayer was suggested, Alexander Hamilton responded:

“We don’t need foreign aid.”

On his deathbed, George Washington wanted no prayers or priest or anything.

Benjamin Franklin said divine revelation was nothing but poppycock.

“My mind is my own church,” affirmed Thomas Paine, and President John Adams believed that “this world would be the best of all worlds, if there were no religion in it.”

According to Thomas Jefferson, Catholic priests and Protestant ministers were “soothsayers and necromancers” who divided humanity, making “one half fools and the other half hypocrites.”

-Eduardo Galeano (1940-2015) RIP

Yer in the Army Now….

So much has been happening lately I’m afraid this will be a big confused mess, but what th’ hey, right?
 
The world is in a Meltdown. Hell that’s the reason I have time for this crap, ya know? This is NOT a surprise. We’ve all known it’s been coming for a looong time now, though it’s hard to nail down that specific moment when we knew. Maybe we always did. I’ll get to how I think we’ve known, and how we didn’t know we’ve know a different time. For now, a somewhat more imminent thought. Here’s one place to find a buncha bone-chilling stats http://www.theglobaleducationproject.org/earth/index.php . The numbers are everywhere. This is only one source, and far more officious, (don’t mess with me, I used that word on purpose), sources are available. YOU look ’em up. Anyone wanting to look fuckin’ stupid can tapdance around them til–well, til the Apocalypse–and they’re not gonna change, cause tapdancin’ won’t change it. If it was gonna, it woulda! I already put it more or less in a nutshell: WE’RE FUCK-ED!!

But we’re not. We’re still breathing, still eating, drinking, fucking, pumping out babies, and so on. I have two accidental children whom I love without bounds. I genuinely thought it would be rude, at best, to sire a new Person and foist all this bullshit upon him16 years ago when the pertinent romantic interlude took place. Maybe it is, in way, but in plenty of other ways life is as always a thing of such great, broad, deep beauty that I think all potential for its fulfillment ought to be pursued. (Don’t imagine I’ve converted to Catholicism or something–that though was rather more metaphysically driven, and you should put on a raincoat if it looks like rain. Or waders if it looks like–you know ;)) Look around, though. We’re ALIVE!! More than we know. And life shows us in every discrete packet of light entering our retinas that it will rise, no matter what. We can’t kill the Earth. I rather think she’d prefer us to work this out, but she’ll be fine. We can certainly destroy our ability to live here as Humans, though.

In Consider the Lilies, I started to explain what I’m up to here. Every time I approach that question, the answers that come to me sound more and more absurdly grandiose. Save the world? I mean, reeealy! when I was a young child, like in the 3rd grade or something, (no shit–ask Mom), I was politicized and set in a frame of mind opposed to fascism, oppression, and unkindness, for lack of a better term. Everyone knows this is the course of idealism, though, right? I got out in the “real” world and it struck me that one must make some pragmatic concessions to get by. Right? We all learn this, don’t we? Usually when it “strikes” us it’s like a brick in the head. It’s usually thrown at us by some cog in the Fascist machine.

If you’ve read the earlier posts, or caught my live rant, you’ve likely been puzzled by my carryings on about money being a bad metaphor. It’s outdated poetry, good for a time, now hopelessly outdated like that ridiculous, overwrought Victorian romance shyte you may have read in college or high school. (Leave them kids alone, teacher!). “All bad poetry springs from genuine feeling, ” wrote Oscar Wilde, and the old thing has gotten us a long way, in fact, it’s gotten us right here. Fucked. Or on the cusp of some spectacular event(s).

We live in a competitive world. Whichever doctrinal approach one embraces, whether scientifically mechanistic or holding out for divine fiat, it’s the scrabbling over game pieces that has us in this sinking boat. Everyone has to have a buncha shit they don’t need, in order to display for all the other poor losers how dominant they or their team has been in the Game. This isn’t a fuckin’ game anymore, though. Look at those numbers again. Do you really think a little half-assed reduction in increase in greenhouse gas emissions over the next 100 years or whatever is going to save the human race? Get real! Do you really think we might someday pay off our $23 trillion debt, or whatever it is? What’s that shit, anyways? To whom do we owe it? When did we sign that contract? Didn’t someone steal that from us last month? Do we really think we can survive a collapse of the oceans, the food chain, the watersheds, etc, etc, and so on?

I may be grandiose and ridiculous, but I can read the writing on the wall, in the sky, on the face of the Moon. We’re gonna need to stop fiddle-fuckin’ around and wrestle this shit to the ground, or we’re all gonna die. Our kids are gonna die. Our grandkids, if we live to see them, will be mutant freaks like Goldbloom’s fly monster, just like the poor fucked up three-eyed fish around Chernobyl and downstream of a BHP Billiton mine , (BHP: Broken Hill Properties. It’s only a secret if you close your eyes, kids). They’ll die miserably, and the Earth will breathe a sigh of relief, having fought off a pestilent Virus. Or we can CHANGE EVERYTHING.

I saw a panel discussion at the community college yesterday, (PPCC). A Bahai, a Buddhist, a Pagan, and a Christian philosopher walked into a bar and the bartender said, “What is this, a fuckin’ joke?” Oh–sorry. They actually sat behind a table and spoke as cogently as they were able, and we all took them fairly seriously, if with the standard portion of salt–you know it’s still all bullshit, right? A thematic keystone was the notion that we’re all One, that it’s all All-One. You’ll notice me playing that riff for all I can wring from it. It’s got a lot of Soul, and it sounds good. When I say we’re all gonna die, I don’t mean all us minor league players. The whole stadium is collapsing. It’s already collapsed in a lot of ways. Check out my friend Skip’s posts about the Federal Reserve. Don’t be tapdancing when you read. The Fascists will die with us. Their secret bunkers won’t do. Competition is over; the game pieces are reduced to Parker Bros. parts. Cooperative living is at hand.

Only LOVE will save us. That’s right, y’all.Think that’s hokey? Sure. It is. But that’s a view from the old game. I put this shit up because I believe it. I’m just as much like water as anyone else. I’d stay comfortably here at the lowest level if it seemed for one second to me like that might be an option. It does not. It is not. Change or die. Right now. Today. Look me up. I have a couple ideas, and I bet you do too, if you were to stop concentrating on that tapdance.

There are many, many more things to say about all this. Come back and see us, eh?

Viva la rivoluzione!
Viva l’Esercito dell’Amore!

(Reprinted from Hipgnosis)

Jeanne Assam, rogue private security shooter, friend of George W Bush, to be honored in Colo. Springs for being gay

That’s it, my romance with the local GLBT community is over. Yes I had some qualms when my fey friends leaned hard on Gay Marriage when it was made a wedge issue in the election of 2004. Yes I rebuffed the campaign against Don’t Ask Don’t Tell because it implicitly encouraged military service in a time of US war crime. But I remained in the fold because I was reminded that equal rights for gays and lesbians are fundamental to the embrace of universal equality. Now my humanitarian tolerance is being tested by having to extend equality to moral-idiocy. Today I received an invitation to a GLBTA gala honoring former Colorado Springs lesbian Jeanne Assam, the most famous lesbian they could tap apparently. Famous for what? The name rang a bell. Assam was the disgraced police officer, redeemed New Life Church security volunteer, who preempted a presumed massacre by a teen abused-churchgoer come home to roost. He was bent on an armed rampage, but does that excuse Assam shooting him from a concealed position, without even an attempt at apprehension? Local GLBTA leaders think it does apparently, and maybe it’s no surprise then that they chose this photo to promote the event. Now I admit, next to preemptive war criminal George W. Bush, Jeanne Assam is an angel, even in sexuality-irrelevant Officer Unfriendly Ray-bans. But I say it’s time local GLBTA leaders give thought to showing equal consideration for the people of conscience community.

Photos from DC antiwar actions

First bust on National Mall
WASHINGTON DC- First citation issued to Camp Out Now, unloading Funk The War sound gear on northwest quadrangle of National Mall.

Washington DC protest in Faragut Square
My PEACE NOW design for the SDS Funk The War BAD ROMANCE march on Friday.

Antiwar drum circle
Conclusion of Saturday A.N.S.W.E.R. march on the White House, before the eight arrests. Cindy Sheehan’s account here.

More pictures on Facebook.

Artist Stephen Morath eyes Second Base

Manitou artist Steve Morathe- Autumn by the Spanish Peaks, the Wahatoya of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains
The painting drew our eyes as we ate in the Eastside Del Taco. Among many gaily colored prints by the same artist was this pop-ish depiction of what could only be the Spanish Peaks. Southwest-scapes are ubiquitous enough to seem completely generic, and Pikes Peak belongs to America the Beautiful, but the Wahatoya are our private purple majesties. Did a stranger conjure these breast-peaks to pair with another iconic fixation, the red pickup truck, or was this uncharacteristic fast-food outlet choosing to showcase a local talent? Neither.

The prints were signed “S. Morath” and sure enough, that’s Steve Morath of Manitou Springs, regular regional Opera chorus member, church music director, and beyond-the-scene fine-artist. He doesn’t exhibit locally, but the mild-mannered Morath doubles as an artist of national distinction. He’s represented by the Leslie Levy Fine Art Gallery in Phoenix, Arizona, and every internet art poster purveyor. There are even online sources for digital downloads if you want to do the reproduction yourself.

If you did not know that the Spanish Peaks of the Sangre de Cristos are called by the Native Americans the Wahatoya, or “Breasts of the Earth,” then my post title may have seemed cryptic. Otherwise, obviously Stephen Morath’s little red truck is going much further. If the connection was obvious, touching a girl’s breasts is getting to “Second Base,” I would have titled this Morath Has Eyes on Home.

Only a classic car buff is looking at the ’48 Ford/Chevy, and your eyes don’t linger long on R. Crumb’s Madonna Nature’s pointy brassiere. The focal point of this composition is the little curve in the road, lying at the intersection of the male and female.

I’ll embarrass myself further to reassure you that I am not lost in the anatomy of this topography, as I was oversimplifying again. The most sensuous curve of a reclining nude is the navel. That’s the apex of this scene, of course. Morath’s little red figure is perched, bending forward with comic virility, deja on the mons veneris, to be perfectly clinical.

Whether the equally soft-curved shiny hard-body is parked, idling, or teetering serendipitously onward, I believe Morath has captured the charm of physical romance with the lights on. His is a loving tribute to the fertile feminine, and a whimsical suggestion of the masculine, as an itinerant, man-made, self-armored, commuter-adventurer feeling his way into the gentle valleys of the she.

It may not be exactly the reason Del Taco chose to hang the piece, but I think a number of Morath’s paintings are similarly sexualized. Or not. I say that because it doesn’t matter really. They’re beautiful and they tell social stories, whichever way you chose to take them, with bold electric color.

And while I’m on a subject about which I know demonstrably little, I’ll say a brief something about Del Taco: the cleanest, brightest fast food restaurant I would ever recommend. The key to their ne-plus-ultra fish tacos may be the lime, or it may be that the fish is lightly deep fried. I hope you try it despite the fact that I will confess the predominant delight is their crisp raw cabbage. Marie and I now plan our eastward treks contingent upon a lunch break at Del Taco. But let’s applaud their patronage of the arts. I don’t know if Del Taco fare is Tex-Mex, or Cali-Mex, but the decor of their eateries in these parts is Old-Mex.

Evidently I predict that as a poster, Autumn by the Spanish Peaks will only grow in popularity. It may turn out that Morath will have defined Las Cumbres Espanolas in the lexicography of American pop images. How many mountains do non-MST-zone dwellers know by name, even by sight? And now with sensual affection?

Twilight- Go see the movie!

twilightAs a reward this week for having to put up with the disgusting job CS School District 11 is doing in supposedly teaching her, I took my daughter out to see the movie she wanted to see, which was Twilight.

She has just finished reading all the 4 Vampire books out in this series and had to go see this movie, and she dragged me to doing it with her because going to see a romance novel movie is normally the last thing I would ever do. I’m glad she pushed me to go, because I thought it was a damn good movie and probably about the best teenage vampire movie that has ever been made!

Now most movie critics have not agreed with my assessment and the reason why is quite simple. They are older farts that want to totally concentrate on the Puritanism of the author, and not on the film itself. Let me just say to them though, that sometimes FUN is the main reason for things, and not merely the political message. As an atheist kid, I thoroughly enjoyed much of CS Lewis’s work, conservative Christian messaging or not, it simply made no difference to me when I was a pre-teen/ young teen reader. One has to see this movie and take it on that raw entertainment level, and not the level of it being a Conservative morality play.

Roger Ebert actually has a fairly intelligent review of the movie out, and recommends a Swedish vampire movie at the end that now I and my daughter will also have to see. So one vampire thing leads to another, and that’s why if you haven’t yet seen the movie, go see it NOW! Vampires are fun, and Focus on the Family needs more vampirism in their family life!

Funny thing about the movie, I liked it but my daughter felt it to be too racy on screen as compared to how it read to her by book. She wanted Edward to restrain his bloodlust (sexual drive) yet more!

Well, you simply cannot please all the people all the time, but all in all, a very well made movie on the Vampire theme. I give it 4 1/2 stars out of 5. Check it out. Ed the Vampire just won’t bite you unless you open up to him willingly! He’s just that good a Vampire! I think that my daughter would rate it about 3 stars out of 5. But she’s Hooked on Books!

TWILIGHT vampires resemble predators of the less mystical sexual variety

stephanie meyer dreams of Babe the PigTWILIGHT- For those parents who have unwittingly encouraged their daughters to delve into Twilight, where our episodic fascination with Dracula lore is adapted for the young adult romance genre, be forewarned that author Stephenie Meyer may have fogged her rose-colored glasses with romantic nostalgia from her Mormon upbringing: old older men, arranged marriages, and, if you’ll pardon the dropped pretense, date rape.

DESPOILER ALERT.
Better you than your child?

Old fashioned matchmaking
First, Meyer’s teenage vampires are generations-old men, stuck reliving their teens, repeating high school to prey on each successive year of students. Matthew McConnaughey played it, minus fangs, in Dazed and Confused: “That’s what I love about these high school girls, man. I get older, they stay the same age.”

Off campus, some of the undead “imprint” on newborns. Want that explained? Meyer’s succubus babies are born fully-conscious, if that’s any excuse, but elders are able to perceive them as soul-partners, and claim dibs to pair with them later. When they are of consumable age, I presume.

Perhaps you find these details to be inconsequential “vampire” technicalities protected by Meyer’s un-poetic license. There’s a zinger in the fourth book which you may find less palatable.

Vampire sex
Because your tween-ager should know to make the distinction?

In book four, Bella marries the 117-year-old high school hold-back Edward Cullen, and finally he consents to consummate their marriage. He’s been withholding his afflictions for fear that vampire sex would kill her. By the way, that’s the romantic dynamic of the first three books, in case you wonder what’s titillating your acts-beyond-her-age young reader.

Typical of respectable novels, and the romance genre too perhaps, the sex scene is glossed over. Bella disrobes and joins Edward for a midnight swim, where he “leads her to deeper waters.” The narrative returns as the sun rises the next morning.

Classy enough for this lowbrow storytelling, except that Meyer earns no credit for obscuring the steamy bits, because the exact details are lost on her post-coital heroine as well. A fog of amnesia covers Bella as she spends the morning trying to reconstruct what exactly happened to her. With only her bruises for clues.

Meyer describes Bella waking feeling as if her skeletal-structure has been crushed like a wishbone, “but in a good way.” Bella discovers that she’s covered in bruises which grow still darker in severity, obscured by a dusting of feathers. Nevermind the injuries apparently, why the feathers? Her ravisher reveals he had to bite “one or two pillows” to keep himself from eviscerating her. For this act of consideration, Bella, and the readers, find Edward all the more endearing. Since vampires kill humans, how sweet that Edward merely vampire-man-handled her.

Bella survived the Twilight climax, and although she doesn’t remember the act, she’s feeling sexually satisfied. I’m open to the possibility that a gender gap might be confusing me. About what is Bella all aglow, if she doesn’t recollect what happened? Conquest? Having hosted a smashing party? I’ll tell you what I think has quenched Bella’s desire, if the Mormon motif is any indication. She’s fulfilled her biological drive. Not to possess Edward, but to become pregnant. In Meyer’s grandiose predestined sense, Bella is triumphant in having attained motherhood.

Do these themes fly over the heads of her impressionable readers? Why put them there.

The scene reads to me like waking from a date-rape drug, although the experience might more likely describe a young Mormon girl coming out of the state of shock induced by the violence of her older experienced polygamist husband rapist. At the least, how she might cope with having endured the brutality of a sexual drive unmatched by her own, and beyond her comprehension.

Men are not to blame, they are but slaves to their monstrous sexual urges. Obviously this is where Meyer looks for humanity in her vampires. Your daughter’s assignment? Assure her presumptive taker that she’s up for the worst he can unleash. She can favor the monster who feigns leniency.

Four books versus two
You may not have to worry about your child reaching the S&M sex, pregnancy, and monstrous-birth scene of Book Four. There’s a good hope that your young sophisticate will tire of Meyer’s underwhelming literary skill before the end of the first tome. There’s an even more likely chance that books three and four will bore her into maturity. Even Meyer’s fans hate the vacuity of those stretches.

Apparently the fourth volume was written as the original sequel, but was rewritten later to make room for the two filler episodes. They upped the Twilight movie take by fifty percent. Every fan is saying you appreciate the movie the most if you’ve read all the material.

What a great publishing scheme! The movie tickets are eight dollars, but the requisite quartet box set, sets you back $100. Ravaging the innocence of America’s tweens? Priceless.
Edward Cullen Robert Pattinson
Twilight the Movie
The biggest anxiety I heard expressed about the movie, was not if it could do the books justice, but whether the character of Edward could possibly live up to his physical perfection in the novel. Judging from audience reviews, film Edward was an exact match, which means Meyer left no room for a reader’s imagination. Is that what young-adult fiction is about?

Stephenie Meyer’s dream crush, as cast in Twilight the Movie, resembles the fittingly abusive Stanley of A Streetcar Named Desire, literally Marlon Brando’s brooding stage turn as the violent husband, wearing an Elvis wig, on lithium, as viewed through a camera lens smeared with Vaseline, probably also a polygamist staple.

How about just a bite?
You might be thinking, what’s wrong with just the first book? Can’t a girl luxuriate in the hyper-romantic swoon over the opening story?

I don’t know. I’ve often been perplexed about the teen Goth living death fixation, nihilism and teen suicide. I suspect they get fuel from mall rat romantics like Stephenie Meyer.

You be the judge. I was able to wrestle a few minutes with our household copy, to see that Meyer opens with this quote:

But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.
Genesis 2:17

Does that equate vampirism with the forbidden fruit of knowledge? Meyer followed Dan Brown’s example to find a biblical passage to provide coded authority. More proof that insipid writing multiplies with inbred fiction authors.

In the spirit of taking guidance from a quotation, I entreat you to sample the preface of Twilight, because the Amazon Look Inside sample astutely skips it. If you’ve already read Twilight, please slap yourself on the cheek and try to extricate yourself enough to look at these paragraphs one by one.

Here it is, adulteration entirely courtesy of Meyer. Even if she was twelve when she wrote this, I hope your daughter can show more acuity than she.

PREFACE

I’d never given much thought to how I would die — though I’d had reason enough in the last few months — but even if I had, I would not have imagined it like this.

I stared without breathing across the long room, into the dark eyes of the hunter, and he looked pleasantly back at me.

Surely it was a good way to die, in the place of someone else, someone I loved. Noble, even. That ought to count for something.

I knew that if I’d never gone to Forks, I wouldn’t be facing death now. But, terrified as I was, I couldn’t bring myself to regret the decision. When life offers you a dream so far beyond any of your expectations, it’s not reasonable to grieve when it comes to an end.

The hunter smiled in a friendly way as he sauntered forward to kill me.

I bet Stephenie Meyer cannot even gag herself with a spoon.

Military fiction, publishing as product takes us further downhill to total cultural illiteracy

photoWhen Americans step inside the big chain publishers’ bookstores, Barnes and Noble and Borders, they are almost always under the delusion that they are inside real bookstores containing real books. Nothing could be farther from the truth though. We instead have merely entered into the realm of publishing as product.

What do I mean by ‘publishing as product’? The answer simply put is that publishing historically was an act of putting an art form in front of the art appreciating public. That art form was called literature and you had to read to get it. Publishing was never a pure process without politics, but far from it as politics was essential to what often got published, and what did not. But todays publishing world is far different than that of the past. What does the American literature reading public run into today?

Today’s publishing world has as much to do with art (literature) as McDonald’s has to do with cooking (culinary arts). Content inside the big publishing firms today is handled like a product, not an art that has high impact on politics and national culture. Conservative businessmen still limit what gets published and what does not, but the censorship involves not censuring and disallowing individual radical authors, but censoring and disallowing entire product lines. To cover up this censorship, a whole new group of alternative products have been developed to better hide the fact that real literature is no longer a product to be carried on the shelves.

As an avid book reader since I was a kid, I have been going into America’s bookstores for 1/2 a century which has allowed me to see this devolution in process on a continual basis. So let me name a few of the new publishing product lines that have displaced the old book shelves that once were partially inhabited, at least some, by novels in translation from other parts of the world.

Americans have always been an ethnocentric society and that has been always encouraged by conservative publishers who published mainly American authors. But where once stood Steinbeck and Zola, now stands shelves after shelves of books under other categories of products instead of just Fiction , all now directed to a population segmented by market research science laboratories. We now have Gay Literature, Christian Literature, and the latest grouping something called Military Literature. Further, one finds literature now very much separated into gender categories (Thanks, Oprah! See what you helped do?). Of course, as a remnant of the ’60s we have tiny sections of Black Fiction, Chicano Fiction, Native American Fiction, though not Black Fiction from elsewhere than the US, Latin American fiction from elsewhere than the US, or Native American fiction from say Guatemala or Peru.

We also have oodles of shelves with product lines directed to UFO believers, New Age dabblers, fascist talk show lovers, ‘self help’ addicts, and this new grouping identified for product line identity sales, the US military grunt fan club of all that is weaponry and war. Hence comes ‘Military Fiction’.

There is nothing really modern about this since Hollywood keyed in on this crowd since way back even before John Wayne. (Kids, if you don’t know who John Wayne is, then text message some Dude who might know and ask him?) What is new is to see this product line as marked out, pushed, and delineated as it is today. We shall all be corporately sliced and diced down to our very genes, it seems…

So who are the ‘writers’ for this new product line called Military Fiction? Here they are in Barnes and Nobles, War and Military Fiction division. Notice all those B&N sub-divisions of this hither before non-existent category of Fiction. Notice how they tossed in Vonnegut and Hemingway to make the new product line look less superficial than it really is?

Can you imagine this sort of thing in French, Italian, or German bookstores? They don’t have half their countries’ populations working for the military-security-industrial complex though. Personally, I can see a future reduction int he Christian Fiction and Christian Non-Fiction product lines, and and even larger spread of product items in the War and Military Fiction and Non-Fiction departments. Maybe even an ICE Fiction product line, too? And Private Military Contractor Fiction area?

Meanwhile, culturally, the US heads toward being a total illiterate wasteland in the publishing of real literature in the English language, especially in the translation of foreign authors of note. The worst of all this, is that almost all those entering into these warehouses of bookfood products think that they are part of the educated just by being there among the shelves of what??? … shelves of trash. All the books have been replaced by artificial-alterficial-superficial bookfood, or spam of lit. This delusion of education being sold at the bookfood warehouses is the phoniest product line of them all.

Oh, and that photo that led off this commentary? That is a promotion from a category of bookfood called ‘Women’s Military Fiction’, which is a combo of Romance, pseudo Feminism, and Pentagon Pro-war propaganda? Here is Lindsay McKinna’s website promo comments about her bookfood.

‘Lindsay McKenna (A.K.A. Eileen Nauman) is the best-selling author of Valkyrie and 75 fiction books in the last 20 years. Known as the “Top Gun of Women’s Military Fiction,” she created the sub-genre of military adventure/romance and covers a mainstream women’s market having sold over 10 million books worldwide.’

Who needs international literature in American bookstores when there is this sort of crap to sell? That’s why literature by authors from other countries just really is not there anymore. It has been replaced by bookfood spam.

Tim Robbins is an activist god

Tim-Robbins-unwrapped-graphicMaybe it’s the start of baseball season — I’m watching the 22nd inning of the Rockies-Padres game! — that has me remembering the first time I saw the movie Bull Durham. It was a movie that had everything I love — sport (baseball), romance (Costner and Sarandon) and humor (in the form of an idiotic-yet-talented young pitcher). The imprint of Bull Durham remained on me for a long time. I pictured Crash Davis and Annie Savoy living in Happily Ever After, and hoped that someday I might be as lucky.

Imagine my horror when I heard that Susan Sarandon had taken up with, not Crash, but the nimrod pitcher Nuke LaLoosh. In real life! The guy was named Tim Robbins, he was twelve years her junior and, worst of all, he was a complete moron. Or so I thought, and continued to stubbornly think, for many years.

Well, no more. Tim Robbins is now the object of my fantasies. He is a guy who is brilliant and passionate about not only sex and sport, but social issues as well. The thing that sets Tim Robbins apart more than anything is his ability to clearly articulate his positions, bravely defy social norms and niceties, cleverly connect historical dots, and positively SKEWER lesser mortals with their idiocy, hypocrisy, dishonesty, immorality and overall worthlessness, while making them laugh at the same time. He is so completely likeable that those who have been ripped to shreds by his razor wit invite him to have another go.

When social change is a goal, when mindsets must be shaped and molded, we need more activists like Tim Robbins. People who strike us as pompous and obnoxious, who are heavy-handed and unlikeable, are rarely successful change agents. To educate, to influence, to sway an opinion requires first to be heard. I know that I personally refuse to listen to anyone who browbeats me, provides no inspiration, and displays a complete lack of social awareness. I refuse to cooperate in any way, even if I agree with the vision. I doubt I’m the only one.

Tim-Robbins-unwrapped-graphicIf you haven’t already done so ten times, you should listen to (not read) Tim Robbins’ keynote address to the National Association of Broadcasters. He plays the audience in a masterful progression from inculpation to inspiration, while they cling to his every word. In the end he’s left them feeling that he’s an ally, that they can work together. The broadcasters are free to walk out the door feeling empowered, dignity intact, eyes opened, ready to go.

Tim Robbins possesses keen social intelligence. Unlike many activists, he isn’t an obstacle to change.

She’s a real doll

Realdolls come ready to step out of their steamer trunk
 
Over the weekend I saw Lars and the Real Girl, a strange but funny movie about a mentally-ill introvert who, much to his concerned family’s delight, finds a “girlfriend” on the internet. The girlfriend, Bianca, it turns out, is actually a Real Doll, a life-sized anatomically correct silicone woman, created by Abyss Creations in California and sold for upwards of $10,000. The entire community sweetly honors the “relationship” while Lars works through deep psychological issues resulting from his mother’s death at his birth.

The brilliance of the movie is that it causes us to gain an uneasy acceptance of something that would otherwise seem perverse and completely laughable. Yet Lars is not, by any stretch, a normal guy, so our acceptance is tenuous. What type of real man is satisfied substituting a silicone representation of a woman for an actual relationship? Abyss Creations has sold thousands of Real Dolls and have an order backlog even as we speak. So who is purchasing these things? Maybe the same man who leaves his wife sleeping upstairs while spending hours looking at internet pornography? The guy who can’t handle the complexities of a real relationship with a flesh and blood female?

At the core, Real Dolls and pornography appeal to the same man. Both give the illusion of love–a travesty of love–created for poorly mothered or often-rejected men. For once these men have control over the omnipotent feminine. The unattainable girl. The instrument of rejection. That intense and infantile vulnerability to the female is turned on its head. The female is now submissive, expendable, interchangeable. Performing for you! Wanting only you! Loving only you!

Ryan Gosling, who plays Lars in the movie, is quite charitable in his assessment of the men who own Real Dolls. “There’s a whole culture of guys out there who have these dolls, and they have very intimate relationships with them. Part of it is sexual, but a lot of it is emotional. One guy goes hang gliding, and he takes his doll to watch, so that he has someone to support him in the things that he likes to do. Some guys cook with them and have dinners; they’re part of the fabric of their life. So, all of this is possible. … I think it’s a romantic idea, that love’s not a transaction. It’s something you have to give, and you give it freely to whoever and whatever you want.”

Okay, I can’t disagree. It’s plenty romantic. Objectification of women is the epitome of romance. In fact, it’s the definition of romance…an artistic work that deals with sexual love, especially in an idealized form…an idealized form like a silicone doll or a stylized airbrushed photograph.

Borders & Ignoble

Retail citadelI found myself inside one of these boxes again, waiting for my wife to finish up some mall shopping I had tried to talk her out of. These 2 chains of supposed bookstores are like the Democrats and Republicans almost. Nobody can tell any real difference between the two of them.

Usually, I can pull up a chair, and browse their discount picture books for a bit, but this time they had the music (Christmas oriented for the season) cranked up double the usual volume, and it began to drive me a little crazy. It was really annoying, giving some, I guess, an incentive to buy quick and get out of there. I didn’t have that incentive though. These places aren’t really bookstores so much, and I have a hard time even finding anything much of interest to read inside, let alone for puchase.

What do I mean about Borders and its chain competition not really being bookstores? Well, I happened to come across what B & N describe themselves as being to explain some. Here it is…

“Our mission is to operate the best specialty retail business in America.”

This little pearl of thought sits upon all the computer screens as a screen saver, and also is meant to be personal inspiration for the mechanized robots, I meant customer assistants that work there. Nothing about books about these places really. It’s about specialty retail business.

Still, people who enter are most often confused. They do seem to believe that they are in a real bookstore. Actually, meany of the customers have nere seen an actual bookstore, or at least not close up between the shevles. Or even if they happened to stroll through the shelves of a real bookstore, have never really looked much to see what was on the shelves. So it’s kind of easy to see how so many get confused about thinking that they are inside an actual living breathing bookstore. But they aren’t!

They are inside a specialty retail business, that’s all. A good place to sit at a table with a laptop sipping coffee. A good place to buy some pop music crap for some demented teenager one might know. Or a place to pick up a calendar, or some blank sheets of paper for correspondence or a blank diary perhaps? Sure there are books there, but not so many real ones. Many are dedicated to computer programming, or things like Manja (6 shelves alone for that Japanese cartoon stuff and ‘role playing’).

There are categorized sections of everything, well almost. Theses stores are marked off like a MS windows filing system and give sort of a superficial encyclopedic appearance. But little old stupid me. The category that interest me most is Foreign Literature. But look around? I saw about 55 shelves titled Fiction and Literature, but strangely enough there’s hardly a book of foreign literature in this group! One would think upon browsing there, that only dimwitted American authors were alive today? Oh, and maybe a dimwitted Brit, or two.

Oh sure, maybe I should go over to the Science Fiction (20 shelves), Mystery (14 shelves), or Romance (10 shelves) sections. Nothing. Everybody is an America. Apparently they never write mysteries or SF in Italy or Spain, Brazil or Africa? If they do, certainly you can’t find it at an American specialty retail store, as opposed to a bookstore. Despite their supposed thoroughness, Borders and B & N apparently don’t carry certain stuff. Like foreign fiction. Go figure.

They also don’t carry current affairs (3 stacks) commentary much, unless it is Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, that sort of gag-us quality of thought. One does find 13 stacks of Christian babble, too. 6 stacks of Tarot/ New Age 1 1/2 stacks of ‘Eastern Religions”. I am an atheist myself, so I looked for that stack? If you really want to befuddle employees in these stores, go up to one and ask to be directed to atheist oriented non-fiction. It’s great fun!

Or better yet, tell them that you have found the 10 stacks of Romance novels, but that you are a man and would like to see some male oriented porn instead. In book form. They might direct you to a shelf entitled Erotica (in some stores less regionally influenced by Dobson’s minions)? But then, you will see only gay ‘erotica’ there. Tell the clerk that you are not gay and would rather see their collection of porn books for heterosexual men. “Sorry, Sir, we only have magazines in that genre.” My reply is always, “What? The adult entertainment business is a multi-trillion dollar one, and yet your retail establishment carries not a porn book at all, outside of the gay ones!” And in Colorado Springs, not even much of that. Moo.

So, as an atheist heterosexual porn seeker who loves foreign lit, I am kind of out of luck at these specialty retail establishments. If I was a gay person, ‘spiritually inclined’, and didn’t know that a word was ever written outside US national boundaries, I might be in better shape, it seems. Or, if I could just get more interested in reading romance novels or military history, which is where the multiple stacks are. Yes, these stores don’t really seem to know that history has been passed through, unless it circled on a planet other than USA and has been interpretted by a Republican minded citizen. Not true, you can find some Democrats, too. Like Michael Moore, perhaps? But you’ll be much better off if you like books with names like ‘Semper Fi’, etc.

All in all, these retail establishments are more Americana than a retro Fifties Diner would be. But they are not quite being bookstores by doing that. In short, your prospective reading material is being grossly censored, and that’s why so few are purchasing from the shelves, and more just seem to be sipping their Lattes and Mochas, or talking on their cell phones while inside. Borders and Ignoble seems more like a telephone booth at times, than an actual bookstore.

At this point, one might object to my comments. “‘Erotica’ should be censored by B & N. Go to an ‘adult store’ if you want such filth!” But they don’t carry books there, I will moan. “And as an atheist, go to Hell and get some books by atheists.” Or to the philosophy stacks, as I have been directed by employees. As if all philosophers were automatically atheists, lol. Sorry, I’ll just order my atheist books from the Sceptical Inquirer magazine folk, thank you. And for a good porn book, I’ll just have to write my own, it seems. Though it’ll never get published, let alone make it to the B & N.

And if I might want to know how the French care about life, I will just have to confine myself to Agatha Christie, it seems. That is after I get through with the latest from Ann Coulter I purchased at the specialty retail store. She tells it like it is about the French. And she is informative about the Arab mind, too.

Nobody reads anymore, no publishers publish anymore, and no specialty retail establishments even stock what little is still around. The last time I have seen much of interest in a bookstore/ specialty retainl establishment was in a University of Texas dorm building. They had a little used bookstore that had some used books of African writers that had been published by the African Studies Dept of the UT.

Americans once wrote great literature back before the ’50s. Unfortunately, all those works are out of print and unavailable mainly. The lit was too red, it seems. Efforts to get them reprinted have flopped miserably. We have become a specialty retail people, and not a literate one. Oops, my wife is back from the mall. Got to end my rant. Bless her heart, she bought nothing at all. Or, maybe she did and is just hiding it away from Scrooge?

America’s Pirates

No, this is not about ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’, but about Microsoft and WalMart instead. Every year Forbes Magazine does its glowing presentation about the super-rich who rule us that really should be better called ‘Pirates of The United States of America’. Replace Johnny Depp with Bill Gates, perhaps, and have a great flick! Actually, a lot of liberal Democratic Party romantics already really seem to find him sexy, and if they flutter over Al Gore’s movie then certainly Bill Gates as pirate would be a blockbuster for them, if made into film. And YES go figure about some liberals’ personal taste? Throw in Hillary with Bill for yet more romance amongst the pirate super-rich. And the Democratic Party faithful will swoon.

So the gist of Forbes summary this year is that the top 400 people with big bucks gained another $120 billion over the last year. Yes, all through hard work. That gives these worthy pirates a total value of 1 and 1/4 triillion dollars. It broke my slide rule just calculating all that dough. Where did it come from, Folks? So hard to guess, ain’t it?

Hint, hint, hint, for the really thick. It came from theft. You got your pocket picked and still don’t know it! What could you do with an extra 1 and 1/4 trillion dollars those top 400 US pirates grabbed overall? And shoot, that’s not even talking about any Chinese, Japanese, Europeans, or dark seedy Arab pirates! How many pirates do you think the world’s poor can support? The Mexican poor support quite a few all alone, including ones’ called Hank, and another called Slim! And no doubt, America will turn out yet more next year.

Attention, All Pirates. Neiman Marcus’s Christmas catalog will be out soon! I hear there is even a yacht made out of solid diamonds for sale. How can it float, but it’s quite a sight to see? I love that catalog!