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April 30, 2002

The Onion a.v. club interviews

The Onion a.v. club interviews Danny Hoch:

This kid came to my show, like, "Yo, homeboy," with his hat to the side and his pants hanging off his ass. He came to my show four times and paid to get in, and he brought his friends, and I was blown away. He's like, "Hey, man, yeah, you know, I never seen anything like this. What is this?" And I said, "What do you mean, what is it?" And he said, "What do you call this that you're doing?" And I said, "Theater." And he said, "Nah. No, bullshit, it's not theater. What is it called?" And I said, "No, really, it's theater." And he said, "No, dude, if it was theater, it wouldn't be about me."
So is Jails, Hospitals, and Hip-Hop going to be released after all?

For Palestinians, the effects of

For Palestinians, the effects of the clashes and border closing have been staggering. Their economy, roughly one-20th the size of Israel's, is dependent on exporting goods and day workers to Israel. The border closing and severe restrictions on movement inside the territories for the last three weeks have doubled Palestinian poverty and unemployment rates, according to United Nations estimates. Relief officials estimate that 50 percent of Palestinians now live below the poverty line and that up to 60 percent are unemployed.

There is a glut of tomatoes and cucumbers, products that Palestinians normally sell to Israelis, while prices soar for products imported from Israel, like sugar and flour. "Basically, the Palestinian economy is linked to the Israeli economy, not the other way around," said Ephraim Kleiman, an economics professor at Hebrew University. "It's been hit in a much more serious way."

Read this NYT article about Israeli-Palestinian economics, even though I just quoted approximately a quarter of it. Oh well.

Thanks to Ishkur's Guide, I

Thanks to Ishkur's Guide, I finally understand electronic music -- every artist is a genre!

In the conventional sense, this

In the conventional sense, this is not so much a novel as a projected mood, a state of mind poetically objectified in words, an attitude externalized in naturalistic detail. Whether you will want to read the book depends upon the extent to which you value the experience of discovering the stale and familiar terms of everyday life bathed in a rich and strange meaning, devoid of pettiness and sentimentality.

Seems Richard Wright also really dug The Heart is a Lonely Hunter. The strange, uneasy feeling that has stayed with me years after reading Reflections in a Golden Eye kept me passing over Carson McCullers on our bookshelf. Then one day it was just time to give her another try. I'm glad I did.

April 29, 2002

Battleground God

Can your beliefs about religion make it across our intellectual battleground?

In this activity you’ll be asked a series of 17 questions about God and religion. In each case, apart from Question 1, you need to answer True or False. The aim of the activity is not to judge whether these answers are correct or not. Our battleground is that of rational consistency. This means to get across without taking any hits, you’ll need to answer in a way which is rationally consistent. What this means is you need to avoid choosing answers which contradict each other. If you answer in a way which is rationally consistent but which has strange or unpalatable implications, you’ll be forced to bite a bullet.

How far can your religious beliefs survive on Battleground God? I won a medal of distinction - so there!! (via this thread on MetaFilter)

originally posted by Chris

Morris Engel and Ruth Orkin:

Morris Engel and Ruth Orkin: Poets of Everyday Life (Bright Lights Film Journal).

It's not hard to see why Little Fugitive, Engel and Orkin's most famous and successful film, was so inspiring not only to the French but also to American auteurs like Cassavettes and Scorsese. Like the two features that would follow it, Little Fugitive is a paean to the sights, smells, and sounds of New York, from the cramped but somehow comforting streets of Brooklyn to the dazzling chaos of Coney Island as seen through a child's eyes. Engel and Orkin extrapolate the universal from the personal in this Homeric story of a little boy's heroic trek alone through the vastness of an urban amusement park.

Reviews for: randomwalks.com/

"Be the first person to write a review!"

Every little girl needed a

Every little girl needed a doll through which to project herself into her dream of her future. If she was going to do role playing of what she would be like when she was 16 or 17, it was a little stupid to play with a doll that had a flat chest. So I gave it beautiful breasts.
Barbie's creator has died at the age of 85.

I know this will be

I know this will be a better film than `Phantom Menace,' because it's pretty much impossible [for it] not to be a better film.
New York Times: The Force Returns, With Caution.

April 28, 2002

At the far end of

At the far end of town
where the Grickle-grass grows
and the wind smells slow-and-sour when it blows
and no birds ever sing excepting old crows…
is the Street of the Lifted Lorax.

Just as I covet

Just as I covet the classic sixes of others, my 3-year-old daughter, Hannah, envies those with a pet of their own. While I like to peer into the windows of brownstones and admire picture molding and period chandeliers, she can be counted on to espy windowsills with sleeping cats. Dog owners in the park have become accustomed to her hammering away with an open hand — a toddler's version of a soft pat — with fingers covered in sand and Tasti D-Lite.

Hannah would love to have her own tail to pull and whiskers to wrench. But ours is a typical undersized Manhattan apartment, where the food processor is jammed somewhere between winter blankets and holiday lights and removing anything from the top shelf of the linen closet invites head injuries. Simply no room for nonhumans.

Until the froglets arrived in the mail.

"In an Apartment the Size of a Teacup, a Froglet Will Do as a Pet." Jennifer Steinhauer is the reason I go to nytimes.com every day. (Today she also wrote about the upcoming renovation of Gracie Mansion, to be overseen by Jamie Drake, Bloomberg's personal designer.)

April 26, 2002

Abercrombie should be held responsible

Abercrombie should be held responsible for the false and misleading message it has sent the public: that it's harmless fun to portray Asian Americans as coolies, laundrymen and rickshaw drivers, because everyone knows better and there no longer exist any problems of racial discrimination, harassment and violence based on the misconception that Asian Americans are exotic foreigners.

Federal Trade Commission rules require a business who engages in misleading advertising to spend 25 percent of its advertising budget on corrective advertising. By analogy, activists should demand that Abercrombie dedicate one-fourth of the costs it incurred in designing, manufacturing, distributing, and marketing the T-shirts to educate its own employees and the general public regarding historical and continuing racial discrimination against Asian Americans.
Abercrombie & Fitch Still Doesn't Get It (ModelMinority.com).

AlterNet -- Is Taking Psychedelics an Act of Sedition?

I wouldn't necessarily want to trip in the aftermath of Sept. 11, but I can now use my psychedelic training for coping with the epistemological cyclone of a cataclysm such as this. I grew up in the cushiest reality in the history of the planet. Now I see demons pouring over the lip of my existence, but I've learned through psychedelics how to breathe through it and not believe its story.
AlterNet -- Is Taking Psychedelics an Act of Sedition?

Kerouac, in his boyhood, prepared

Kerouac, in his boyhood, prepared an elaborate fantasy baseball game, seen here in various iterations. Although Mr. Gewirtz cannot say exactly how the game was played, he does display tables, cards, statistics, box scores, a board against which an eraser was tossed to initiate the game, handbills and "Baseball Chatter," Kerouac's newsletter that covered the exploits of managers and players on teams he named for automobiles (among them the Pittsburgh Plymouths, Boston Fords and Washington Chryslers).

In its detail and obsessiveness, at least, Kerouac's fantasy baseball evokes the Brontës' imaginary chronicles of Gondal and Angria: in the play of adolescence, lifelong lessons in craft, discipline and detail would appear to coalesce.

The New York Times reviews a new exhibit of literary treasures and souvenirs, now on display at the New York Public Library.

It's not true there was

It's not true there was a massacre, because guys did not shoot at civilians just like this. However -- and this is terrible -- it is true that we shot at houses, and God knows how many innocent people got killed.
Ill-Prepared For a Battle Unexpected: Israeli Reservists Tell Of Jenin Camp Assault (washingtonpost.com)

April 25, 2002

DC area folks: this was

DC area folks: this was in the latest "Capitol Comment" column in the Washingtonian (my emphasis added):

The sounds of summer this year will include Better Than Ezra, Cracker, the Pat McGee Band, and They Might Be Giants. They are among the acts headlining a new free-music series, DC Sessions. The concerts will feature five hours of free music?about four bands a night?from 5 to 10 PM Saturdays on the steps of the National Portrait Gallery. G Street between Seventh and Ninth streets will be closed to accommodate crowds of up to 15,000 people.

April 24, 2002

Ladies and gentlemen, Christianity offers

Ladies and gentlemen, Christianity offers the only viable, reasonable, definitive answer to the questions of 'Where did I come from?' 'Why am I here?' 'Where am I going?' 'Does life have any meaningful purpose?' Only Christianity offers a way to understand that physical and moral border. Only Christianity offers a comprehensive worldview that covers all areas of life and thought, every aspect of creation. Only Christianity offers a way to live in response to the realities that we find in this world -- only Christianity.
House Majority Whip Tom DeLay, speaking to a group of evangelical Christians last week.

"The media always wants to

"The media always wants to reduce it to a fairy tale," he said. "You can't tell the difference between the war in Afghanistan and 'The Fellowship of the Ring.' Even the names are similar."

Lapham is most dismayed that he has been accused of being unpatriotic, when he isn't. "In a democracy, the most valuable quality is candor," he said. "Democracy works best when people try to tell each other the truth. That's not what we've got. We've got a lot of cant."

Harper's editor Lewis Lapham talks with the San Francisco Gate. (Via MediaNews.)

April 23, 2002

The NY Times auto-blog updates

The NY Times auto-blog updates with each addition to the New York Times website. "If the NY Times had a weblog, this is what it might look like," says creator Dave Winer.

The Illustrated Complete Summary of

The Illustrated Complete Summary of Thomas Pynchon's "Gravity's Rainbow" is, I gather, suitably inscrutable.

Soft Shuttlecock was created

Soft Shuttlecock was created specifically for the Frank Lloyd Wright- designed rotunda of the Guggenheim Museum by the artists in celebration of Oldenburg's 1995 retrospective there. While planning the exhibition, Oldenburg and van Bruggen were also developing a project for the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Missouri, in which four 18-foot high shuttlecocks in plastic and aluminum are situated in the grass on either side of the museum, as if the building were a badminton net and the 'birdies' fell during play. For the Guggenheim installation, the artists playfully engaged the same object, this time rendering it in more pliant materials. Early preparatory drawings show the shuttlecock transformed into a costume for a tightrope walker to wear while crossing the museum's rotunda. The final result was no less a daring interaction with the space. Oldenburg and van Bruggen draped the flaccid feathers of the shuttlecock over several ramps and suspended others from the skylight above with cables. Like the Nelson-Atkins installation, Soft Shuttlecock humorously deflates the imposing structure of the building by diminishing its relative scale, while underscoring the museum's institutional role as a site not only for culture and education but also for recreation and entertainment.

Dan Bricklin logged about 2

Dan Bricklin logged about 2 hours on a Segway earlier this month, riding indoors, outdoors, over bumps, hills, and people's feet. Read his impressions in two parts: "what happened" and "what I learned".

In Central Asia there is

In Central Asia there is a simple one-stringed instrument, the tar -- 'tar' means string -- and it's played by wandering bards and mystics, fakirs. The idea of the tar seems to travel to ancient Persia, where one string became two, and it was called the dutar. And then in India it became the more familiar sitar. The string seemed to travel China and also westward, and in Arabian countries it's known as quintara, with five strings, and in Greece it's known as the chitara, which was much like a zither. And in the form of a stringed lute, it travels to Spain, and it is known as the guitarra, and then to America, where it is known as the guitar . . . and so if you're following the terminology of stringed instruments, you're following the influence of the Silk Road.
The single theme of this year's Smithsonian Folklife Festival is The Silk Road, an early trade route which linked Asia and Europe, reaching from Venice to Japan.

"Eminem's defense of the homophobic

"Eminem's defense of the homophobic lyrics on his albums has always been that he's not speaking as himself, he's speaking as a character, and he's representing homophobia in America ... I thought it would be quite interesting to take that method and just to imagine a scene where a boy meets a famous rap star backstage at his concert and is surprised to discover he's gay and ends up sleeping with him. Just to present rap in this homosexual context. I mean, there obviously are gay rap stars."
MTV.com: Pet Shop Boys 'In Love' With Gay Eminem Character

April 22, 2002

I saw Sarah Jones' Surface

I saw Sarah Jones' Surface Transit this weekend, and it got me all excited about theater again. If Suzan-Lori Parks, the first black woman to win a Pulitzer Prize for Drama, is truly "this generation's Shakespeare," then I definitely want to see Topdog/Underdog.

He's not just a

    He's not just a giant baseball, he's also a patriot.

Mr. Met vs. the Taliban.

April 21, 2002

And here I was hoping

And here I was hoping Le Pen would become a detail of history. Freaky.

originally posted by judlew

Jefferson Heirs Plan Cemetery for

Jefferson Heirs Plan Cemetery for Slave's Kin at Monticello:

One of those descendants criticized the offer on Friday. "Nothing's changed in 200 years, has it?" the descendant, Julia Westerinen of New York City, said after learning of the recommendation by the Monticello Association's membership advisory committee.

picture that

  • "For All the Black Gold in the Caspian Sea," by Vincent Prado
  • Iraq: A Depleted Generation," by J.B. Russell
  • "Lights, Karma, Action," by Jonathan Torgovik
  • Issue 10's well worth your time over at Foto8.

    The entire process is under

    The entire process is under the control of the hen's pituitary gland. This gland is actually the
    mastermind of almost any animal. First, it stops producing the hormone that induces egg-laying. Next it sends out another hormone that causes several other
    glands to go to work. This causes one to produce increased Seretonin which is the same results you or I would get from taking the popular drug Paxil.

    My hens are broody.

    originally posted by judlew

    April 20, 2002

    Last month the P.R.-conscious Pentagon

    Last month the P.R.-conscious Pentagon proudly unveiled what is supposed to be the perfect nonlethal crowd control device — a high-powered energy beam that can disperse an unruly mob without killing, maiming, or harming anyone.

    Yes, well, read to the last sentence. I trust it won't debut on the streets today . . .

    originally posted by judlew

    Mulholland Drive 2

    Samuel L. Jackson cursed his luck getting stuck in the 818 area code in "Pulp Fiction." Alicia Silverstone's character in "Clueless" dreaded attending a party in the least cool part of town. They were referring, of course, to that vast expanse of tract homes and backyard barbecues that is the San Fernando Valley. The valley, with its valley girls and mini-malls, never shared Los Angeles's cultural cachet.

    But the 1.4 million people who live in the valley, many of them solid middle-class homeowners, may now take political revenge on the city that slights them: the valley is pushing to secede.
    Mullholland Drive 2: Residents of the San Fernando Valley are considering secession from LA.

    samuel mockbee

    Mockbee, who died in December, was also a pioneering architect. He was motivated partly by a desire to right wrongs effected upon the critically disenfranchised black population of the deep south. But equally he was spurred on by a love of architecture, which he saw as both an engine for social change and an art that enabled people to create great beauty. The results have certainly changed Hale County, a tiny corner of Alabama that no one would rightly associate with go-ahead design ideas.

    If you drive through Hale County today, you can see Mockbee's stylish legacy in small but striking buildings, made in a range of materials more often used for other purposes. There's a house made from baled hay, and a church constructed from tyres filled with soil and covered in stucco. "Pods", or tiny dwellings, built for students to live in, are a jumbled mass of extraordinary parts - from licence plates donated by a county court judge, to old street signs. A silvery wall of metal printing plates - thrown out by the local newspaper - shimmers in the sun like Frank Gehry's Bilbao Guggenheim (although that's made from costly titanium).
    I've just come across the life and works of Samuel Mockbee and the Rural Studio. Golly.

    roger ...

    The first track, "I Am Trying to Break Your Heart," begins with an extended instrumental section that could have opened Kid A (another recent unconventional success from Radiohead). You can almost picture Reprise executives trading distressed looks as the song buzzes, pulsates, whirrs, tinkles, and chimes through its entire first minute. When Tweedy's gravelly voice finally makes an appearance, it is to deliver the line, "I am an American aquarium drinker." You know at once that this is going to be a different sort of Wilco album.

    Short-wave radio is the overriding metaphor of YHF, which is named after a station operated by the Mossad. The record has a haunting, retro-futuristic sound as it experiments with the themes of static, noise, and imperfect communication. The lugubrious third track, "Radio Cure," is a moonlit drive between distant Midwestern towns, with sounds approaching and receding in the rear-view mirror. On "Ashes of American Flags," white noise interrupts the song. When Tweedy sings, "I would like to salute/the ashes of American flags," it is an elegy for Americana. Wilco is demonstrating the musical possibilities outside its borders.
    Any of y'all heard "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot" yet?

    Soy what?

    "I think a lot of what we think about milk is caught up in these romantic American notions of milking cows on the farm ... Meanwhile, it's ironic that there is promotion of milk to students of all colors at a time when these students have to sit in school with bloated stomachs and gas."
    Even Starbucks has soy milk, but U.S. schools can't take a taste.

    April 19, 2002

    Abercrombie pulls racist Asian

    Abercrombie pulls racist Asian themed T-shirts

    ... the popular youth clothing maker had believed the shirts might appeal to Asian-American consumers, and was surprised by the hostile reception they received.
    "The thought was that everyone would love them, especially the Asian community. We thought they were cheeky, irreverent and funny and everyone would love them. But that has not been the case."

    Surprised by the hostile reaction? Why in the world would that be?
    I can't imagine anything to be concerned about here.

    originally posted by dm8k

    Vatican Meeting on Abuse Issue

    Vatican Meeting on Abuse Issue Is Set to Confront Thorny Topics (NY Times).

    A top Vatican official said today that next week's meetings with American cardinals about the sexual abuse scandals in the church would cover controversial issues like celibacy, the screening of gay candidates for the priesthood and the role of women in the church.

    April 18, 2002

    This project is dedicated

    This project is dedicated to my cat, Precious, who passed away January 8, 2002, the same day construction was completed. May this church, of such amusement to My Little Chirper, express some of the joy she brought me.
    The church is made of legos.

    The bulletins from September 28

    The bulletins from September 28 until October 16 2000 (a total of 89 bulletins) were transcribed and the number of lines of text that were devoted to different themes were counted. Of 3,536 lines of text, only 17 explained the history of the conflict. The key issue of water was barely mentioned. It was apparent that many people did not understand that the Palestinians were subject to a military occupation and did not know who was "occupying" the occupied territories.

    On TV news, journalists sometimes used the word "occupied" but did not explain that the Israelis were involved in a military occupation. It is perhaps not surprising then that many in the audience did not understand the nature of the "occupation". In the sample of 300 young people, 71% did not know that it was the Israelis who were occupying the territories. Only 9% knew that it was the Israelis and that the settlers were Israeli. There were actually more people (11%) who believed that the Palestinians were occupying the territories and that the settlers were Palestinian.
    Missing in action: nothing new there then. Resources on water in the Middle East: Waternet and MidEast News.

    Salon.com Technology | Triumph of the mod

    By one estimate, what we now know as mods appeared in 1983, with a fan-made reinvention of the original "Castle Wolfenstein," a classic arcade-style action game for the Apple II. (You played an Allied spy fighting it out with Nazi combatants, who'd shout at you in German as they opened fire.) But the inspiration for this mod was not so much WWII as Saturday-morning cartoon.
    Salon.com: Triumph of the mod. Apparently, "Castle Smurfenstein" may have been the first 'mod' (in which graphics and gameplay are altered by hacker fans).

    April 17, 2002

    Tso what?

    Not one in 10,000 knows who General Tso (most commonly pronounced "sow") was, nor what terrible times he lived through, nor the dark massacres that distinguished his baleful, belligerent career. Setting their chopsticks aside, patting their stomachs, the satisfied diners spare scarcely a thought for General Tso, except to imagine that he must have been a great connoisseur of hot stir-fried chicken.
    The Washington Post asks: Who Was General Tso and Why Are We Eating His Chicken?

    This is citigroup.

    This is citigroup.

    April 16, 2002

    The Village Voice: Music: Skipping on Air by Carola Dibbell

    The Village Voice reviews Cornershop's new Handcream for a Generation.

    The Village Voice: Features: Brothers to Another Planet by Erik Baard

    Of the roughly 6400 astronomers in America, two dozen are black. Facing that and similar voids in its astronaut pool and engineering base, NASA is sponsoring the fledgling City University of New York space science program to draw bright college students into its ranks, but more surprisingly, it's reaching down into junior high and grade school to spark black kids into thinking about getting fitted for a space suit. NASA began after-school programs last week in Brooklyn for junior high school kids to study the science they'll need to be part of the space program decades down the line.
    The Village Voice: Features: Brothers to Another Planet by Erik Baard. Maybe my son will moonwalk for real...

    A handful of rW editors

    A handful of rW editors have eaten at Govinda's vegetarian lunch cart (some of us ate there every day), which was located in Liberty Plaza across from the World Trade Center. I just found an interview with Jerry Abrams, who ran the cart for two years. I'm glad to discover he's still alive - now I just wish I could eat some of his tofu scramble. Also, "Brooklyn is the center of the universe."

    Debunking six common Israeli myths:

    Debunking six common Israeli myths:

    • Myth 1: There is no moral equivalence between suicide bombings on the one hand, and Israel's killing of Palestinians on the other
    • Myth 2: Israel's invasion of Palestinian cities and refugee camps is self-defence against suicide bombings
    • Myth 3: Arafat Refuses to Condemn Suicide Bombings in Arabic
    • Myth 4: Arafat has not done enough to stop terrorism
    • Myth 5: Arafat Spurned Barak's generous offer at Camp David and broke off negotiations with Israel
    • Myth 6: Arafat started the Intifada

    This Modern World by Tom Tomorrow

    The Palestinians are a brutally oppressed people--and Israel is a nation under siege. The deaths of 400 Israeli civilians since the start of this latest intifada are senseless and tragic and maddening--as are the deaths of 1500 Palestinians during that same time.

    And if you read that last bit and vehemently disagreed with half of it, and are already composing a response in your head to explain why the side with which you are aligned is morally superior to the side with which you disagree--well, that's kind of the problem at this point, isn't it?

    Tom Tomorrow, talking sense.

    April 15, 2002

    "Larry Summers strikes me

    "Larry Summers strikes me as the Ariel Sharon of American higher education," Dr. West said today. "He struck me very much as a bull in a china shop, and as a bully, in a very delicate and dangerous situation."
    In his first public comments since Princeton announced his hiring, Cornel West goes there.

    DENVER (AP) -- Colorado Gov.

    DENVER (AP) -- Colorado Gov. Bill Owens has chosen "Snow in August,'' by Pete Hamill, as the book all Coloradans should read as part of a nationwide effort to get people to read.
    Colorado Joins 'One Book' Trend

    Pitchfork's We Are The World

    Pitchfork's We Are The World nails my fave hip-hop albums from 1990 to 1992. Did it get yours?

    monopod intro

    How to use a monopod -- I think I can use these great tips (which distinguish a monopod from a tripod), since my Nikon 990 has a lens that swivels independent of the mount point.

    Wachovia Bank, Personal Finance, Banking, Lending and Investing Center

    Woodmore is a racially mixed subdivision, with African American professionals making up more than half the population. And it's by far the classiest address in Prince George's County. But the county, The most affluent majority-African American county in the nation, has not seen the price appreciations of other markets in the Washington area. It's also not suffering from the same desperate lack of houses that parts of Northern Virginia, Montgomery County and the District are facing, shortages that fuel prices in those areas. In other words, right now it's the best buy in terms of value for money in the Washington area.
    This Washington Post article is from 2000 -- I'd love to know if anything has changed; it doesn't seem likely. See also Rich and Black in The Washington Times.

    April 13, 2002

    "The word is Orwellian," said

    "The word is Orwellian," said one producer who asked not to be identified. "We're all pretty stunned. They're dumping people but calling it an initiative to strengthen cultural programming."
    The Washington Post and The New York Times are reporting that NPR is drastically refocusing its arts coverage, cutting several dozen positions -- many associated with the classical program "Performance Today" -- and opening an office in Los Angeles to better cover the entertainment industry. randomWalks is not surprised to see no mention of hip hop in either article.

    How I Benefit from White

    How I Benefit from White Privilege by Donna Lamb

    Route to Terror (washingtonpost.com)

    On the highway, rescue workers laid out the cell phones of the dead in a neat row. For hours they rang and rang and rang.
    On Israeli Buses, Fear is a Perpetual Passenger (washingtonpost.com)

    what cost dissent?

    If we assess the foreign policy accomplishments of the Bush administration since Sept. 11, the scorecard is quite dismal. There are some people in the Bush administration who have the same mentality as Arafat or Sharon. I can name names, like Ashcroft, Cheney and Rumsfeld, although that is considered impolite. ...The war on terrorism cannot be won by waging war.
    George Soros: billionaire revolutionary?

    O is for the Other

    O is for the Other Things She Gave Me: Jonathan Franzen’s The Corrections and Contemporary Women’s Fiction (Jane Elliott in Bitch Magazine)

    As Franzen himself pointed out when he admitted that Oprah had picked ‘some good books,’ the Oprah list is neither as middlebrow as its detractors would have it, nor as unfailingly invested in bringing quality to the mainstream as its supporters often claim. Despite the widespread perception of Oprah books as spoon-fed schmaltz, many of the novels Oprah has chosen—like Edwidge Danticat’s Breath Eyes Memory and Joyce Carol Oates’s When We Were Mulvaneys—invite the same sort of thoughtful reading Franzen seemed to desire from his audience. But because it draws unapologetically on one person’s taste, the Oprah list doesn’t reflect a consistent standard of literary merit. Rather, it records exactly the sort of meandering path many habitual readers take through the landscape of the literary, dipping into the comfort of Maeve Binchy’s Tara Road one day and stretching to accommodate the difficulty of Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye the next. And just because the same person reads both Binchy and Morrison doesn’t mean she reads them both for the same reason or suffers from any confusion about their relative merits. Just as the presence of male writers on Oprah’s list often gets erased, many critics ignored these quality variations as well, lumping her choices into the general category of what one commentator called ‘earnest, womanly fiction.’ As the pejorative use of the word ‘womanly’ suggests, these generalizations rely on assumptions about literary quality that are close at hand—namely, the longstanding association of female writers, ‘feminine’ forms, and middlebrow status.

    April 12, 2002

    robert jensen

    "I helped kill a Palestinian today."

    There will be a screening

    There will be a screening of Promises this Sunday at the Brooklyn Society for Ethical Culture.

    "Promises" is an Academy Award nominee this year for Best Documentary Feature. It was shown late last year on PBS's "POV," and is currently in theatrical screenings around the country.
    "Promises" won numerous film festival awards in the last year, and has received positive reviews in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Variety, Il Manifesto (Italy), The Sydney Morning Herald (Australia), Ha'aretz and The Jerusalem Post (Israel), among other international publications.

    There will be a screening

    There will be a screening of Promises this Sunday at the Brooklyn Society for Ethical Culture.

    "Promises" is an Academy Award nominee this year for Best Documentary Feature. It was shown late last year on PBS's "POV," and is currently in theatrical screenings around the country.
    "Promises" won numerous film festival awards in the last year, and has received positive reviews in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Variety, Il Manifesto (Italy), The Sydney Morning Herald (Australia), Ha'aretz and The Jerusalem Post (Israel), among other international publications.

    April 11, 2002

    justified and ancient

    I recognized the voice at once. I'd have known it anywhere. It was my old friend, Wynette Byrd, born Virginia Wynette Pugh, with whom I had worked and played and recorded in Birmingham for the past few years. She had not long ago kissed me goodbye outside the Pussycat-a-Go-Go club down under the viaduct, where we had gone to hear some blues. I turned the radio up in my Monza as loud as it could go. Damn, she sounded good! And the material was right for her.

    When the song ended, I was surprised to hear the singer identified not as Wynette Byrd but as a "new" artist named Tammy Wynette. I can still remember how strange that felt.
    Counterpunch's David Vest goes from Birmingham to Nashville on T.W., eh?

    April 10, 2002

    ABC Electric Journal: Book Discussion

    ABC Electric Journal: Book Discussion Scheduled -- "Interested parties should read the short classic tale on this page and meet back here, at this entry, at nine o'clock EST this Sunday (the fourteenth of April) to unearth its deep mysteries, to sound its fine art."

    smallpox vaccine

    A young calf has his belly shaved. Many slashes are made in the skin. A prior batch of smallpox vaccine is dropped into the slashes and allowed to fester over a period of days. During this period of time, the calf stands in a head stall so that he can’t lick his belly. The calf is led out of the stock to a table where he is strapped down. His belly scabs and pus are scraped off and ground into a powder. The powder is the next batch of smallpox vaccine.
    Vaccines: A Second Opinion by Natural Living champ Gary Null.

    b92 john peel

    You mentioned the John Peel Sessions. Which is your favourite?

    PEEL: Well, over the years we've had almost everybody, except the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, of the kind of big bands of the past. More recently Oasis, I never really thought Oasis were much good to be honest, so they didn't do one. Whereas Blur did a couple of times. My favourites would be fairly obscure things - the two sessions the Slits did during the punk era which were just magical, I thought, were just terrific. Oh, there have been so many. There have been so few that have been bad, it’s amazing, really, when you consider how many have been done. Many thousands now. Very few of them have been disappointing. The Clash did half one, and then amazingly said that the equipment in the studio wasn't up to the standards that they'd expected so they couldn't complete the session. Which seemed to me to be unbearably pretentious of them [laughs]. It'd be very difficult to pick out an absolute favourite from them. There was one by the reggae band Culture that out of all of the sessions that were released on record is the one that I listen to the most, I think.
    Belgrade radio station B92 interviews John Peel.

    robocop @ MIA

    Q18. What is your response to critics who say universities are being turned into think tanks for the military? A18. As a vast training bed that captures lessons learned exceptionally well, runs whole bases dedicated to educating men and women and produces soldiers who are inspired by our nation’s values and ideals, there is much that the military can share and shares in common with our nation’s universities. It is in everyone’s best interest that the military and academic institutions collaborate. It is also in everyone’s best interest that ideas from academia, the entertainment industry and the military be improved through the rigors of scientific research.
    So that's that then. The Institute for Soldier Nanotechnologies, established at MIT in March, is working on things such as exoskeletons, shoes with power packs (I want a pair) and molecular chain-mail armour. According to the BBC, the aims of ISN are:
    • threat detection;
    • threat neutralisation such as bullet-proof clothing;
    • concealment;
    • enhanced human performance (now who couldn't use some of that?);
    • real-time automated medical treatment;
    • reducing the weight of equipment from today's 145-pound loads to the 45 pounds carried by Roman soldiers.
    According to ISN,
    In addition to protecting the individual soldier, "imagine the psychological impact upon a foe when encountering squads of seemingly invincible warriors protected by armor and endowed with superhuman capabilities, such as the ability to leap over 20-foot walls," said Thomas. The leaping ability, he explained at the news conference, would be enabled by "building up energy storage in shoes." Thomas went on to note that MIT researchers have recently created "world-record actuator materials" that are "better than human muscles."
    So here's one more addition for the FAQ: on average, how many 20-foot walls are left for jumping over after the USAF has dropped its load?

    April 9, 2002

    ALEXANDRIA, Va. — The voice

    ALEXANDRIA, Va. — The voice from the audience echoed in the hall like a shout across time. "Kumbaya!" it called out from the dark.

    At center stage, looking fit and petite, her salt-and-pepper hair clipped short, Joan Baez let out a giggle of surprise. She gazed at the sea of heads, many of them silver-haired, filling Town Hall in Manhattan, a stop on her recent tour of the Eastern Seaboard. "The only places I'll sing that," she said drily, "are places that are currently under siege." ...
    Someone's singing, lord.

    portrait of a war

    The Guardian interviews 20 Israelis, Palestinians and outsiders, who describe one day in their lives during the present conflict.

    April 8, 2002

    "Do not think of

    "Do not think of a dollar coin as necessarily replacing a dollar bill. Think of it as replacing four quarters in parking meters, coin laundries, vending machines, mass transit," Benfield says.

    Officials with the Mint blame the slow economy for the low demand. But Bobbitt of the American Numismatic Association says the problem has always been more basic.

    "As long as the dollar bill is around, this coin will not work, nor will any other coin work," he says.
    I missed this last week! I loved those coins. (via leatheregg, one of my burn baby burn group)

    Boing Boing discussion: Oprah sez:

    Boing Boing discussion: Oprah sez: "Literature is dead"

    U: This just in -- MetaFilter is not dead: a wonderful discussion about the demise of Oprah's Book Club in which the "everybody read" phenomenon, the "high vs. low art" debate, and many good authors, books, and bookstores are referenced is well worth your attention.

    April 7, 2002

    Rock Obituary Index.

    Rock Obituary Index.

    Celebrating a Window Man's Greatest Scrape (washingtonpost.com)

    It's like, you know, you put dog or cat in some box and put smoke there, how he gonna fight for life? Same we did.
    Celebrating a Window Man's Greatest Scrape (washingtonpost.com). "It is a squeegee handle, and on Sept. 11, 2001, it -- and the coolheaded MacGyver thinking of a humble window washer -- saved the lives of six men," and it's on display at the National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C.

    They ramble across the

    hip-pole-hop, you don't stop

    "If Mickiewicz was alive today, he'd be a good rhymer."
    Polish Hip-Hop Rocks the Homies on the Blok (NYT)

    April 6, 2002

    michael moore has white frights

    The Guardian has excerpts from Michael Moore's new book Stupid White Men. Here's a bit of it:

    You name the problem, the disease, the human suffering, or the abject misery visited upon millions, and I'll bet you 10 bucks I can put a white face on it faster than you can name the members of 'NSync.

    And yet, when I turn on the news each night, what do I see again and again? Black men alleged to be killing, raping, mugging, stabbing, gangbanging, looting, rioting, selling drugs, pimping, ho-ing, having too many babies, fatherless, motherless, Godless, penniless. "The suspect is described as a black male... the suspect is described as a black male... THE SUSPECT IS DESCRIBED AS A BLACK MALE..." No matter what city I'm in, the news is always the same, the suspect always the same unidentified black male. I'm in Atlanta tonight, and I swear the police sketch of the black male suspect on TV looks just like the black male suspect I saw on the news last night in Denver and the night before in LA. In every sketch he's frowning, he's menacing - and he's wearing the same knit cap! Is it possible that it's the same black guy committing every crime in America?

    I believe we've become so used to this image of the black man as predator that we are forever ruined by this brainwashing. In my first film, Roger & Me, a white woman on social security clubs a rabbit to death so that she can sell him as "meat" instead of as a pet. I wish I had a nickel for every time in the past 10 years that someone has come up to me and told me how "horrified" they were when they saw that "poor little cute bunny" bonked on the head. The scene, they say, made them physically sick. The Motion Picture Association of America gave Roger & Me an R [18] rating in response to that rabbit killing. Teachers write to me and say they have to edit that part out of the film, if they want to show it to their students.

    But less than two minutes after the bunny lady does her deed, I included footage of a scene in which police in Flint, Michigan, shot a black man who was wearing a Superman cape and holding a plastic toy gun. Not once - not ever - has anyone said to me, "I can't believe you showed a black man being shot in your movie! How horrible! How disgusting! I couldn't sleep for weeks." After all, he was just a black man, not a cute, cuddly bunny. The ratings board saw absolutely nothing wrong with that scene. Why? Because it's normal, natural. We've become so accustomed to seeing black men killed - in the movies and on the evening news - that we now accept it as standard operating procedure. No big deal! That's what blacks do - kill and die. Ho- hum. Pass the butter.

    catalog | jerry garcia | intro

    McFarlane Toys has released a "statuesque" Jerry Garcia action figure. Oddly, all these photos and the photos on the package show Jerry with glasses, but the actual figures I saw at the toy store yesterday must have been wearing contact lenses. Jerry was cool, but I couldn't resist Moishe.

    April 5, 2002

    Randy Castillo: 12/18/50 -

    Randy Castillo: 12/18/50 - 3/26/02

    Ozzy Osbourne lost another Randy last week when Randy Castillo, who played drums for Ozzy, Motley Crue, and Lita Ford, died of cancer. My brother and I saw him in concert a little over ten years ago, and he rocked.

    April 4, 2002

    The National Press Photographers Association

    The National Press Photographers Association has awarded its 2001 NPPA Best of Photojournalism prize to an unpublished photo of a woman being sexually assaulted at the Fat Tuesday Riot during Seattle's 2001 Mardi Gras celebration. The riot also left the city with lingering racial tensions and one young man - who had stopped to help a young woman who had fallen down and was savagely beaten - dead. Is the photo exploitative (as Concerned Women for America has claimed), or does what it conveys justify its existence?

    Whatever the case may be, the grinning faces of the men in the photo are one of the most chilling things I've seen in recent memory:

    (This has been cropped and I added some more pixelization; to see the entire photo, click here.)

    originally posted by Chris

    Swap your identity for someone

    Swap your identity for someone else's, at the Identity Swap Database. Why not? Heck, my results included a man with a metal face!


    Tune into the Transmissor, the alternative information directory.

    short quiz on organic foods

    Why Eat Organic Foods?

    Q: What do the following statements have in common??

    1. The Green Revolution was a step forward for agriculture.
    2. Pesticides have been rigorously tested by the EPA.
    3. Pesticides are safe if used as labeled.
    4. The higher the dose of pesticide, the higher the risk.
    5. Pesticide residues on produce are safe because they are so low.
    6. Without pesticides, pest infestation would wipe out many farms.
    7. The benefits of pesticides outweigh the environmental costs.
    8. Large-scale farms are much more productive than small-scale farms.
    9. Organic crops are dangerous because they are fertilized with manure.
    10. Organic foods are more expensive than the conventional food that comes from discount stores like Costco or Wal-Mart.
    11. The use of genetically engineered crops will reduce pesticide usage.
    12. Genetically engineered food will feed the starving masses of the world.
    13. Vitamin-A rice will solve the problem many countries have with their eyes.
    14. Genetically engineered crops are fully tested for safety.
    15. Genetically engineered crops will be a great benefit to all farmers.
    16. The genetically engineered crop industry is the most regulated industry in history.
    17. The science of inserting genes into cells is extremely accurate.

    A: All are false

    April 3, 2002

    Independent Media Center: Palestine Electronic

    Counterpunch: An American Student in

    Counterpunch: An American Student in Ramallah

    My name is Tzaporah Ryter. I am an American student from the University of Minnesota. I currently am in Ramallah. We are under a terrible siege and people are being massacred by both the Israeli army and armed militia groups of Israeli settlers. They are shooting outside at anything that moves.

    I am urgently pleading for as much outside help as possible to help save lives here.

    I arrived in Ramallah last Thursday. I had come back for a visit to the Palestinian city where I had been previously living and studying. On Thursday afternoon, the Israeli army began sealing off each entrance to Ramallah and there were rumors that they planned to invade.

    Women carrying their children were trying desperately to flee from Ramallah, carrying infants and toddlers, and their young children were running along in the rain through the fields, slipping and falling on the rocks, trying to reach safety. Israeli jeeps were speeding across the terrain pulling up from every direction and shooting at the women and children, and also at me, as we ran in opposite directions. They were chasing down people, hunting them like that in the fields.

    When night fell, Israeli tanks began to invade and also we saw Israeli troops coming on foot from the valley, and surrounding our house. I could hear them calling to each other in Hebrew. They were against our door and all around. They were firing everywhere a barrage of bullets and there was tank fire. We had to lay on the floor and keep silent. We stayed there, on the floor, for nearly four days in the darkness.

    We knew that our circumstances were better than others because old people or infants or people with medical emergency needs had no help. It was very cold, with most families packed all in one room. Some people are without life sustaining medicines like insulin, and they are altering their doses dangerously if they have any medicine left to take. People are becoming dangerously sick from lack of food and water and heat. The fear and terror only makes things worse, but it cannot be avoided.

    The numbers of these killings I fear are much greater than the numbers confirmed in the press, because the human rights offices and the media centers have been stormed, and everything is shut down. No one can move without almost certain chance of being shot by the Isreali snipers, who are everywhere.

    The Israelis are demanding that all journalists leave Ramallah and today another foreign journalist was shot. They do not want any more internationals here and are deporting people. It seems quite clear that they do not want eyewitnesses which is only heightening my own fears.

    The hospitals have also been surrounded and invaded and Israeli troops are taking the injured people and interrogating them. Today a woman, a patient, tried to walk out from hospital. The Israelis shot her in the neck and killed her.

    There are reports that they are rounding up men between the ages of 14 and 45 in that neighborhood, and these civilians, from these same Palestinian families trapped in that building, were just used to walk in front of an Israeli tank as it invaded the Preventative Security Compound.

    This is a massacre. The foreign delegations tried to get in but were turned back, the International Committee of the Red Cross is trying to help but they are being ignored. Please help.

    On the news in America, we see hardly anything of demonstrations. What are you doing over there?

    For the love of God, please stop this slaughter. Please help.

    "Mothers come pushing strollers, singles

    "Mothers come pushing strollers, singles and whole families come from all over the Del Ray neighborhoods. At least 50 people from my office are members. They all descend on the truck. You can smell the basil 50 yards away. It's the smell of summertime."

    We've hungered all winter for our CSA share; nursed from time to time by the news updates from the farm.

    April 2, 2002

    matthew herbert

    This is The Mechanics Of Destruction - an anti-globalisation performance piece by the prolific, avant-garde DJ and producer that has already caused a sensation in Europe and Japan. The show sees Herbert creating live techno music out of the on-stage trashing of corporate products - a kind of live No Logo rave. It is, says its creator, about creating something good out of shit.
    Guardian article on DJ Matthew Herbert, whose project seeks a place for electronic music in the post-September 11 world, and to smash up some TVs and Big Macs along the way. Also interviewed by dj courtney here: Herbert has the "balls to stand up in front of 1000 strangers and try to entertain them with a bag of crisps". Sounds like fun.

    April 1, 2002

    Groups of women tend to

    Groups of women tend to espouse an "illusion of equality" in which variations from the norm are seen as dangerous betrayals. "Any expression of anger or the introduction of a tabooed subject may result in the group's scapegoating of one of its members," she observes. Because one of the biggest taboos is against any overt display of female aggression, these attacks are invariably covert, indirect and maddeningly unexplained. "Most women have a repertoire of techniques with which to weaken, disorient, humiliate or banish other female group members."

    Salon review of Phyllis Chesler's Woman's Inhumanity to Woman. The veteran of the Second Wave feminist movement and pioneer in women's mental health turns a scrutinizing eye inward-- exploring the ways in which women do unto each other-- and dishes the dirt on the not-so-sisterly goings-on of the feminist elite. I doubt this is news to the women of color who had to fight, often to no avail, to have their issues even put on the agenda. thanks, follow me here.

    Good luck, Vancouver yogis!

    Good luck, Vancouver yogis!

    originally posted by judlew

    "I figure we'll give away

    "I figure we'll give away 10,000 books this weekend," he said confidently, after putting out simple sidewalk sandwich-board signs announcing, "Free Books."

    Book Thing proprietor Russell Wattenberg of Baltimore is more bibliomaniac than bilbliophile, according to the New York Times.

    I like records. I want

    I like records. I want to have a record. I want to look at it. I want to have the tactile experience of having it in my hands. A burned CD has my handwriting on it, and I can't stand my handwriting!
    Interview with Jeff Tweedy of Wilco at The Nation.

    The biennial underscores contemporary-art museums'

    The biennial underscores contemporary-art museums' ever warmer embrace of late-late-late Conceptual Art and conceptual-based object-making. At the same time, it underscores how much of this art tends toward exhaustion and extreme derivativeness. And it suggests, as do the crowds lined up in front of the museum, the degree to which conceptual-type art defines the popular notion of contemporary art, because it reduces so easily to a catchy or pretentious sound bite, demanding little active engagement or thought.
    Not having seen the Whitney Biennial, I still enjoyed this critique about the purpose of museums and the tepid nature of much of their current stock-in-trade.

    o.e.: old english ... or original empire?

    "What is needed is a new kind of imperialism.

    "The opportunities, perhaps even the need for colonisation, is as great as it ever was in the 19th century."

    ... "The weak still need the strong and the strong still need an orderly world.

    "A world in which the efficient and well-governed export stability and liberty, and which is open for investment and growth, seems eminently desirable."
    Blair aide Robert Cooper needs to loosen his collar. (via an IM with Interesting Monstah)