Friday, March 03, 2006


Fiery Furnaces

Of Montreal


The Soft Boys (why isn't Robyn Hitchcock famous?)
Ba'al damn all,
that link went bad - glad some of you
got to hear it before it did. You
can hear live interviews/performances here

!! Broken Social Scene interview/music from World Cafe !!

A review of The Strokes in concert.

And if you've been reading rave reviews of

believe the hype. Best novel I've read this year. More later.
Anything for a Good Headline

Who cares if you've undermined 30 years of diplomacy and treaties on nuclear proliferation and handed major leverage in negotiations to all wannabe nuclear powers, if you're George Bush, you'd hump an ocelot for the appearance of good news:
Steven R. Weisman writes in the New York Times: " 'This deal not only lets India amass as many nuclear weapons as it wants, it looks like we made no effort to try to curtail them,' said George Perkovich, vice president for studies at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. 'This is Santa Claus negotiating. The goal seems to have been to give away as much as possible.' "

Farah Stockman writes in the Boston Globe that "critics of the deal, under negotiation since July, said Bush did not drive a hard enough bargain. They said he failed to win any major restrictions on India's nuclear arsenal, such as a halt to the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons.

" 'It's not meaningful to talk about 14 of the 22 reactors being placed under safeguards,' said Robert J. Einhorn, a senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, who served as a top nonproliferation official in the Clinton administration and the early days of the Bush administration. 'What's meaningful is what the Indians can do at the unsafeguarded reactors, which is vastly increase their production of fissile material for nuclear weapons. One has to assume that the administration was so interested in concluding a deal that it was prepared to cave in to the demands of the Indian nuclear establishment.' "

" 'India has wanted this deal for 30 years,' said Jon Wolfsthal, a former policy adviser for the US Department of Energy under President Clinton who now works at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. 'For them, this is the Holy Grail of international acceptance, and we sold it for pennies on the dollar.

Hmmm. There's one other possibility that worries me (as if allowing a country to roll you in exchange for a disruption of the endless stream of bad news isn't worrisome enough): the neo-cons are still in power, they view China as the future enemy, and they don't think India has enough nuclear weapons.

The cost of bad faith: the Bush Administration could have made an exceptionally nuanced and uncynical and appropriate deal with a country of key strategic and economic importance, a deal which does reduce India's need for burning fossil fuels, that reduces the human costs of outsourcing American jobs, that forges an important position in the key triad of relationships among India, China, and the United States, a relationship that could - and probably will - be the dominant international relationship by 2020.

But no one believes the Bush Administration is honest enough to have made that deal, and no one believes that if the Administration was honest enough to make that deal they would be competent enough to make that deal. Every country in the world is reevaluating its relationship with the United States, and each one of them looks at George Bush and thinks, let me at him.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Video Proof Bush Lied

Great figgety figs. Video shows Bush was briefed before Katrina hit that the levees could break. Please remember, four days after they did break, Bush said no one had been briefed.

I'm going to skip the recitation of all the ways he's lied, blundered, screwed-up, etc. As Jerry pointed out earlier, and all of us here know, we have an idea, but have no idea of the magnitude, just what evidence of his corruption and incompetence and dishonesty and truly stupendous and willful stupidity will come to light, but it's going to start coming to light faster and ever more spectacularly as people who helped perpetrate it all race to save their sorry asses. We are going to be aghast and amazed and horrified and ashamed.

If Republican leaders have any political sense whatsoever - if they have any survival instinct whatsoever - they'd start impeachment hearings, just to try to take some of the stink off themselves. Cause this administration's stink is going to be the most rancid, most toxic, most cripplingly noxious stank in American history.

We, the citizens of this country, Liberal or Conservative, Democratic or Republican, are fucked. In ways we know, in ways we don't fully understand yet, in ways we're going to find out, and the consequences of it all: we are so fucked.

And it gives me, a passionate Liberal, a partisan Democratic, absolutely no joy to say so.
Warehouses to Empty

I've written about my - and most people's - thorough conditioning to
respond to lists, I'm swamped at work, and Amazon, in an attempt, I'm guessing, to clear product out of the warehouse before pre-tax inventory, dropped an email on me this morning announcing that their editors have compiled lists of the Best of the Half Decade. Synchronicity.


Classical (so much Bach? Not an anti-Bach sentiment, just curious.)

Best Rock with Guided by Voices on the list, but not on the

Alt Rock where I would have expected them to be.
To be honest, the alt rock list is decent; I've never caught the Radiohead bug, though I understand and respect why some do; I love the Flaming Lips music (especially pre-Yoshimi) if not the Flaming Lips, self-promoters; I've raved about MMJ. I could quibble and add and subtract choices, but it's just a list.

By the way, The Flaming Lips have a new album due out this April. I've heard the single - it's not bad, but if it's indicative of the whole, they're not bringing back any of the Soft Bulletin and before sound.

AND: speaking of GbV and Robert Pollard, a review in today's Village Voice online that asks the question that's always asked: prolific or profligate? "
It's easy to fill your basket if you don't separate the wheat from the chaff." Um, yes.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Simple Math

Hundreds of king's ransoms' worth of capital was invested in the Republican takeover of the three branches of the United States government, especially the restoration of the executive after Bill the Imposter wrenched eight years that should have been Republican but for the tax fecklessness of Bush the Elder (and that class traitor Perot). And seemingly worth every penny: capital moves relatively unfettered across national frontiers in a unipolar world vanquished of any competitive economic ideology, where gross consumer self-indulgence is celebrated as a sign of advanced civilization, and in the world's most powerful country, with the world's most influential and powerful national economy, a pro-business party runs the executive, legislative and, most importantly, the judiciary. Greed has been re-branded as quotidian ambition, poverty as personal weakness, economic Darwinism as an equal playing field. All that was left to do was to install a benign doofus, one who believed, shallowly if devoutly, in the self-rewarding cliches of the open market, who could be manipulated gently, behind the scenes, by playing to his cowboy vanity, while capital invested steadily in controlling the media, advancing the agenda, sponsoring gay-baiters and liberal-baiters and pay-for-play corporate preachers and disgruntled Vietnam vets who never got past Jane Fonda.

You think we hate George Bush?

The irony that global capital was as incompetent in its vetting of George Bush as George Bush is incompetent as President will be lost on the global poobahs (who can point to their palaces with gold bathtub fixtures for self-reassurance). Equally lost on the poobahs will be that their greed to exploit 911 to further their economic goals mirrors George Bush's greed to exploit 911 to further his historic legacy. You handpick a nepotistic mediocrity as caretaker/figurehead, and KA-BOOM! in the aftermath of an attack against global capitalism the doofus goes and develops a Churchill complex. George Bush was anointed for his stringability, not his stringency, and his puppeteers have to be pissed. All he had to do was not fuck it up.

Global capital will still win, but it will not win on its terms in this turn of the game, and once you have almost everything all that counts is getting what's left, not for what's left's sake but for getting it your way when you want it. And they wanted it now. Somewhere, someone's throwing a tureen of Galapagos turtle bisque at a servant, imagining that the servant is George Bush. The servant better not duck. George Bush better.
The Ball Poem

by John Berryman

What is the boy now, who has lost his ball,
What, what is he to do? I saw it go
Merrily bouncing, down the street, and then
Merrily over—there it is in the water!
No use to say 'O there are other balls':
An ultimate shaking grief fixes the boy
As he stands rigid, trembling, staring down
All his young days into the harbour where
His ball went. I would not intrude on him,
A dime, another ball, is worthless. Now
He senses first responsibility
In a world of possessions. People will take balls,
Balls will be lost always, little boy,
And no one buys a ball back. Money is external.
He is learning, well behind his desperate eyes,
The epistemology of loss, how to stand up
Knowing what every man must one day know
And most know many days, how to stand up
And gradually light returns to the street
A whistle blows, the ball is out of sight,
Soon part of me will explore the deep and dark
Floor of the harbour . . I am everywhere,
I suffer and move, my mind and my heart move
With all that move me, under the water
Or whistling, I am not a little boy.

Monday, February 27, 2006


More love for the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, this time in London's Guardian, which asks, could the new album be a "pop classic?"

American Public Radio broadcasts a weekly program called Speaking of Faith, an hour program, hindered by a ponderous format, oleaginous music, and a too earnest host, but informed by (sometimes) wonderful topics and guests who offer smart, spiritual, progressive things to say about theology. Last night's (it's broadcast Sunday evenings here in DC) guest, Prahbu Guptara, talked about the morality of business in cooperation with and antagonism to the theologies of major religions. One comment he made, that reminder that there are warehouses of food ("mountains of cheese," he said) sitting in reserve to keep commodity prices stable while 3500 children a day die of starvation or impotable water, stuns. And yet he is not anti-business. Good listen. Check out the slideshow at last night's link. One of the previous shows investigates the protests over the Mohammed cartoons and has some good history (but not enough about the residual effects of colonialism).

An article in yesterday's Washington Post magazine on the radio business in general (and how it both sucks and must create the suckage destroying it to survive) and on the product a station is trying to replace Howard Stern in particular. Metaphors abound.

Cute Overload. Beware.
Spam in Postneo (or, In My Box)
Permit me to inform you of my desire of going into political relationship with you.
I got your contact through my careful search for trust worthy assistence in the net.

I prayed over it and selected your name among other (3) names I got also due to it’s esteeming nature and the recommendations given to me as a reputable and trust worthy person I can do politics with and by their recommendations I must not hesitate to confide in you for this simple and sincere politics.

I am American Conservatism the only child of late chief and Mrs Irving Podhoretz Kristol. My father was a very wealthy bullshit merchant based in Greenwich Connecticut, the five o’clock highball capital of United States of Nepotism and Privilege before he was poisoned to death by his neo-business associates on one of their invasions on a business deal. When my mother died on the 11th September 2001, my father took me so special because I am motherless.

Before the death of my father on 2nd November 2004 in a private booth of delusion here in Gatedcommunitistan he secretly called me on his bedside and told me that he has a sum of honor and prestige and morality left in suspense account in a local memory hole that he used my name as his only son for the next of kin in deposit of ideology.

He also explained to me that it was because of this ideology that he was poisoned by his neo-business associates, that I should seek for a foreign partner in a country of my choice where I will transfer this ideology and use it for investment purpose (such as nation-building management). I am honorably seeking your assistance in the following ways.

1) to provide backwater midwest state where this ideology can be transferred to state university rotc and snakehandlers

2) to serve as the guardian of this ideology in your country since I am boy of 22 years old without ideology and no neo-business exparience.

3) to make arrangement for me to come over to your country to further your education and to secure a residential permit for me in your country. Moreover, I am willing to offer you 15% of total sum of ideology profit as compensation for your effort imput after the successful transfer of power to your nominated conservative. Furthermore, you can indicate your option towards assisting me, as I believe this transaction would be concluded within seven (7) days you signify interest to assist me and endeavor to furnish me with your brain and ethics for easy communication. Thanks and God bless, hoping hear from you soonest.

Yours sincerely,
American Conservatism

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Midpoint, Maybe

by Rachel Hadas

No longer so much when did it begin
As how far does it stretch,
The border where, the frame invisible,
But there is a frame. And here we are
In one another’s arms, with the illusion
That in some sudden switch we are abruptly
Closer to the end than the beginning.

Measuring time back from a beginning
Starts to get old, at which point we begin
Measuring it forwards toward an end.
We measurers dawdle in a still green garden
Going slowly golden.
And then the leaves will fall,
As one of us will, followed by the other.


An interesting article on Broken Social Scene in particular and a larger issue in general in today's NYT magazine. I read it in light of the minor fuss I've heard regarding some comments made by US athletes - or in connection to US athletes - at the Olympics I've not watched, comments to the effect that competing is enough, winning is a bonus. The spirit of the Olympics and all. Wags in the sports sections have been bemoaning the lack of emphasis on winning - one complained that his six year old son got a trophy just for competing, and in the son's t-ball league they didn't even keep score (though the parents did in their heads). And now here is a band and a music scene who seem more interested in collaboration than competition, community than individuality. Something is going on, culturally, an emerging pushback, if yet only on the scale of reexamining ambition in the grids of global capitalism and, perhaps, the shadow of a certain country's bumbling and bloody failures at global dominance. S'worth watching.

Music from:

William Orbit

Tom Vek

Mary Timony

The dBs

Teenage Fanclub

Mirah (do try this one if you only try one)

A friend mailed me and asked me for my opinion about my reaction to Fiona Apple's latest album and for suggestions on similar artists. I confessed to not particularly caring for Apple's earlier works and, because of that, not having sought out the new one. I then went to, a service that allows you to build "radio stations" based on a particular artist; it then will play that artist and other artists that pandora's listeners have identified as similar. The listener is asked for her opinion for each song that is played - yes, this should be on this "station," no, this song shouldn't. I created a Fiona Apple "station" and heard about four songs from the new and earlier albums (and haven't changed my mind about Apple's music - it's not awful, it just doesn't move me) and six cuts from bands/artists I'd never heard. One song, by a band called Arkade was interesting.

But his question got me thinking about Jane Siberry, who I used to listen to always, who put out a stretch of albums - The Speckless Sky, Bound by the Beauty, The Walking, and the exceptional When I Was a Boy - that I think (thought?) brilliant. I saw her band at Goucher College in Towson for The Walking tour, saw her solo at Gaston Hall at Georgetown University for the When I Was a Boy show (and how cool to walk 200 yards from my desk to a concert), two of the best concerts I've ever attended. (Gaston Hall is on the top floor of Healy, the oldest building on campus, and feels like a medieval church - Siberry singing, just her and her guitar, "Calling All Angels," was goosebumpingly magnificent.)

If you click on the radio link you can hear samples of some of Siberry's songs as well as other artists on her Sheeba label. Me, I'm heading to my stacks to find the old plastic. More on Siberry, including the choices she's made in her art since When I Was a Boy, later.