Friday, April 07, 2006

The Silken Tent

by Robert Frost

She is as in a field a silken tent
At midday when the sunny summer breeze
Has dried the dew and all its ropes relent,
So that in guys it gently sways at ease,
And its supporting central cedar pole,
That is its pinnacle to heavenward
And signifies the sureness of the soul,
Seems to owe naught to any single cord,
But strictly held by none, is loosely bound
By countless silken ties of love and thought
To everything on earth the compass round,
And only by one’s going slightly taut
In the capriciousness of summer air
Is of the slightest bondage made aware.

The Incompetence Defense

There is so much to mentally unpack in the Libby testimony that the President himself authorized the leaking of the very leaking he sternly denounced, vowing to prosecute and fire the leaker not if but when caught, that I can't get my head around the entirety of it yet. The best grasp I have right now is this: George Bush authorized the leaking of national security information in order to support a lie; or rather, true information was selectively used to discredit true information which contradicted a carefully crafted false narrative meant to justify a war of choice. The President claims the legal (and I would assume they'd argue) moral right to declassify and use state secrets at his discretion in order to discredit information that proves his dishonesty.

Soon to come: his supporters are no doubt scouring documents and history books (and making up bullshit) in order to say that what this President has done and is doing is no different than what previous Presidents have done, and that it is only the viciously partisan hatred of this particular President that has made this non-issue an issue. All the more shameful, of course, in a time of war and yadda. Presidents have always lied to the public, don't you know, and stop pretending to a virginal naivete you partisan bastard.

So, in anticipation, let me just say, supposing there's truth to the argument that previous Presidents have done similar, and it's a dirty but crucial aspect of the office of the President: This fucktard, this megalomaniacal coward, this thumbless doofus with his crotch-sock-stuffed flight suit, he can't govern competently, he can't strategize or set tactics or delegate or prioritize competently; this dumb lying sack of cement can't even LIE competently. What has this fucktard done at any point of his presidency which makes a sane person confident that he has the intelligence and moral core to navigate the matrix of complexities such decisions require?

Thursday, April 06, 2006

What if you want to be both huge and tiny? Profound and silly? World famous and obscure? Both king and fool?

If you're Wayne Coyne and The Flaming Lips, you make an album like At War with the Mystics.

1999's Soft Bulletin had the wondrous curse of being (appropriately) lauded as a masterpiece, and 2002's Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, while saggy in places under the weight of expectations, still sounded fresh and almost bursting. To old time fans of The Lips, Soft Bulletin arrived like an affirmation of our gut instincts about the band, and if Yoshimi seemed a bit too postured (down to the bunnies in the videos), well, the band - formed in 1983 after all - had earned the privilege to indulge in whatever music and (music) business decisions they chose. Yoshimi is an almost great album; please don't think I'm slamming it. But The Lips were aiming for something grander than the trippy contemplation of the mysteries of the universe which animated all their earlier albums. It's as if they capitalized all their themes and italized all their tropes, and instead of winking at you as if you were in on the buzz they nodded at you as if they were teaching you an insight. The music was great; the trip was a bit of a bummer.

I'm guessing that The Lips weren't sure what kind of album they wanted to make after Yoshimi. Go back to Transmissions from the Satellite Heart to mine for pre-Soft Bulletin whimsy? Advance operatically to a logical successor to Yoshimi? It's like they want to be famous, really really bad, but they want to be famous on their own terms - which is admirable - but know in their hearts that their own terms won't make them famous. They want to make political statements: the first cut and single off Mystics, the wonderful Yeah Yeah Yeah Song, asks "if you could blow up the world with a flick of a switch, would you do it" and then proceeds to ask "with all your power, what would you do." The second cut calls on all self-called "free radicals" to perform some dearly needed self-introspection. And then, perhaps feeling too agit-propped, it's time to break out the Tull-fluted and Floyd-guitared vibe on The Wizard Turns On and the jangling eyesparks of Pompeii and Gotterdammerung and the gentle unwinding of Mr Ambulance Driver.

Perhaps after the thematically coherent Yoshimi The Lips wanted to make an album of songs (and some fine songs too), but on Wizards what I hear is a band who doesn't quite know what it wants to be, which must be disconcerting on one level for a band that's been together for 23 years. And I don't know whether, as a fan - and a man the same age as the musicians in the band - I should be happy or sad if in fact these questions of identity ARE intentional. Shouldn't we know what we want to be by now, and is the correct answer Yes or No? Wizards is a very very good introspective album from a previously extroverted band. I don't think it is an accident that this is the first Lips album I've heard made for the crashing side of a trip rather than the ascent.
Heads Exploding! Or Not.

Well, these will challenge the pinheads who don't tolerate narrative-deviance:, or it won't:

George Bush authorizes leaks. This one is fairly easy to defend by the voluntarily, militantly blinkered: after all, if the President does it, it can't be illegal.


Judas Iscariot as Jesus' campaign manager?

Rather than the traitor as Judas is portrayed in the New Testament, this document -- The Gospel of Judas -- indicates that he acted at the request of Jesus to help him shed his earthly body.... The key passage comes when Jesus tells Judas "you will exceed all of them. For you will sacrifice the man that clothed me...." This indicates that Judas would help liberate the spiritual self by helping Jesus get rid of his physical flesh, the scholars said.

This one is fairly easy to defend by the voluntarily, happily blinkered: after all, if Jesus does it, it can't be immoral.

The President uses false information to promote his agenda, throwing a key aid under the bus. Jesus stages his false execution to promote his agenda, throwing a key aid under the bus. And both are defended by the "if he did it, it must be OK" defense. Hmmm.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

The Swimming Pool

by Thomas Lux

All around the apt. swimming pool
the boys stare at the girls
and the girls look everywhere but the opposite
or down or up. It is
as it was a thousand years ago: the fat
boy has it hardest, he
takes the sneers,
prefers the winter so he can wear
his heavy pants and sweater.
Today, he's here with the others.
Better they are cruel to him in his presence
than out. Of the five here now (three boys,
two girls) one is fat, three cruel,
and one, a girl, wavers to the side,
all the world tearing at her.
As yet she has no breasts
(her friend does) and were it not
for the forlorn fat boy whom she joins
in taunting, she could not bear her terror,
which is the terror
of being him. Does it make her happy
that she has no need, right now, of ingratiation,
of acting fool to salve
her loneliness? She doesn't seem
so happy. She is like
the lower middle class, that fatal group
handed crumbs so they can drop a few
down lower, to the poor, so they won't kill
the rich. All around
the apt. swimming pool
there is what's everywhere: forsakenness
and fear, a disdain for those beneath us
rather than a rage
against the ones above: the exploiters,
the oblivious and unabashedly cruel.
We Are the Enemy (April edition)

Incredible though it seems, if viewed dispassionately (which I cannot do), there are those who feel that because my child is protected from their indoctrinating of their mythology in our public schools, for which I am thankful, there is therefore a "war against Christianity" being waged in America. My next door neighbor is such a midget, and while I don't bother pointing out to him that if Jesus was the son of God then Jesus knew he risked nothing by participating in the propaganda skit called the crucifixition, I did need to tell him to keep his religious views to himself, and advised him that it was best not to discuss his cannibalism-based rituals with me.

The neighbor had a barbeque this past weekend, and after his and his guests kids had gone inside along with the women, the neighbor and two friends, over cigars and multiple whiskeys, went to their cars and brought out their guns and sat on the porch and, caressing their weapons, discussed their faith: How no Liberals were going to get in the way of their faith, how much they'd like to shoot Ruth Bader Ginsberg, and how this is going to be a Christian Nation one way or the other, and how much they were looking forward to next weekend up in West Virginia when the Capital Soldiers for Jesus are meeting for manouvers. It was a warm night, our windows were open, they were drunk and loud, so I'm not sure I was meant to overhear, but I'm positive the neighbor was sincere when he said, When the shooting starts, I got dibs on that fucking Liberal next door.

I am not an atheist. I acknowledge a hankering for faith, but I'm agnostic as to whether it's psychological, biological, or some combination of both. And I understand the comfort of rituals, the warmth of community, the need to belong, the desire for authority that everyone feels and that some find within the structure of organized religion. I understand that my moral system is based on thousands of years of Judeo-Christian traditions. I am not anti-religious.

But I am not a Christian - especially not a Clown Christian. I don't want Christianity forced on me or my family, I don't want Christianity legally forced on my country, and I especially don't want a born again moron to be my president, and that makes me the enemy of people who do. I've said this before: a significant proportion of whack-Christians are deliriously praying for an excuse to kill or be killed for Jesus.

Militias are training. Weapons are being stocked. Fortresses being readied. Morons being brainwashed. Clown Christians control the Senate, the House, the Presidency, the judiciary, and they claim to be threatened by a raging anti-Christian war. Imagine what they'll do when they really feel endangered.

DCU 2, NY Red Bulls 2

United was without Gomez (red card suspension), so Nowak started Olsen in the 10, a questionable move not only because Olsen can't play the 10, it took Olsen out of his best role as holding midfielder. Nowak changed at halftime, inserting Eskandarian on front line, moving Adu to middle, dropping Ben back to holding, pushing Gros up off backline to wing, and it worked.

Djorkieff's 35 yard free kick for NY was beautiful. The second NY goal, caused by a ghastly mistake by (pick one) Perkins, Prideaux, both, evoked memories of last year's horrid defense. But Alecko's goal, special for more reasons than the goal itself, sparked a bright second half: DCU must have had possession for at least 2/3s of the half.

A point sucks for the team that had a 2 goal lead, seems satisfactory for the team 2 goals behind, but tells you nothing. They'd better take all three points this weekend vs Chivas, cause Houston (nee San Jose) is the week after, and that will be tough.