Friday, May 12, 2006


Hold Steady

Damien Jurado




and I'm starting to think that this book that I told you to go read last week is truly important and remarkable.

I'll say more after I've finished my second trip , or maybe third trip, through, but I haven't been this worked (in the rube sense of that verb) by an author in a long time, and I mean that as the highest possible complement I can give. And that I think it's possibly a *Ship of Fools*/*Lord of the Flies* for our time... but more later. Go read it.

What's the RogueKing of a Rogue State to Do?

The sheep haven't been properly frightened by big bad Iran? Hankering for the good old days of Liberal-baiting during The Cold War? Maybe it's time to gin up a conflict with Russia.
The United States is concerned about Russia's use of its energy resources as a political weapon and China's lack of transparency over military spending, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld was quoted as saying.
Vice President Dick Cheney provoked an angry reaction from Russia earlier this month when he told Baltic and Black Sea leaders that Russian President Vladimir Putin was backsliding on democracy and using energy reserves to ``blackmail'' Moscow's neighbors.
The only political tool they used when they were at 91% approval right after 911 is the only tool they have now that they're at 29%. And they gots to change the subject toot sweet, yes?

And frankly, it's in Putin's interest to jack up antipathies too. Mediocre, cowardly, threatened megalomaniacs with greedy visions of omnipotence think alike.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Diversionary Thursday

Earlier this year, because people slobber like Pavlovian dogs (or cats) at the prospect of useless lists, the editor of the New York Times Book Review polled a couple hundred writers and asked them to vote on what one American novel was the best of the past 25 years, and the results are here:

The winner:

Toni Morrison's *Beloved*


DeLillo's *Underworld*

Updike's Rabbit Tetrology (*Run*, *Redux*, *Rich*, *Rest*)

McCarthy's *Blood Meridian*

Roth's *American Pastoral*

I can't argue with any. If you haven't read *Blood Meridian,* do. They also list novels that received multiple votes, and I only disagree with one, Mark Helprin's turgid *Winter's Tale,* though to be honest, I've never heard of Denis Johnson's *Jesus' Son.*

* * * * *

I know it's still not Friday, but have some

Dismemberment Plan

Thought Experiment

I realize I'm asking you to stretch your imagination fantastically, but try: Let's assume, just for a minute, that behind The Decider! Administration's deliberate erosion of civil liberties, deliberate abandonment of American law, and deliberate disregard for the US Constitution is an honestly motivated and deeply held belief that only by doing so can America be protected from terrorists attacks on American soil.

Because this is the choice they are giving you: What is more important to you? Your personal liberties or your death and/or the death of your fellow citizens.

It's a false syllogism of course:

A. Our job is to protect America
B. Any and all methods to protect America are justified
C. If you object to those methods you want to die

but that's the best case rationale this administration can muster for their misdeeds if you are working on the assumption that their motives are good, their ends laudable, their methods reasonable, their execution competent. Even if you can imagine that this administration was honest (I know, it's hard, but try), theirs is the illogic of cowards.

If this administration's motives and actions are honorable, then eighteen terrorists flying four airplanes have successfully compelled the government of the United States, out of well-intentioned fear, to abandon those very freedoms and civil liberties the terrorists supposedly abhor. If all the actions of The Decider! Administration are motivated by nothing greater, nothing less, than a heartfelt desire to protect the American people and the American way of life, the terrorists have won.

If you give this administration the benefit of the doubt, which would be foolish, not to mention trollish, they are decent, honorable, bedwetting cowards who in their cowardice have undermined everyone's civil liberties and over 230 years of law. That's the best case scenario for defenders of the actions of The Decider! Administration

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Here are two songs of Escovedo's, one, "Arizona," off his new release, the other a re-release from 2002.

I've been a fan since

and I think

one of my favorite albums, so it's a happy week that Escovedo, who's survived a lengthy and vicious fight with Hep C (there's a reason so many of the songs, and album titles, are about drinking), releases a new, and extremely good, album.

Dark, haunting, forlorn, uncanny. Strange and familiar. A friend who knows you too well. A friend you don't know at all.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Ba'al, Is It Monday

Have some music, four days from FRIDAY!

Start with 11:11.

(or not at all.)

Weds update: Jeebus, yesterday must've been pissy since I called it Monday.
But, if you liked the Film School, right now (3:47 EDT 5/10) they're playing live
on KEXP, and if they archive the performance I'll link to it. They're very very good.

No, Richard, Your Invertebratedness Did Not Prove Crucial

Richard Cohen is being properly and publicly flayed (oopsy: Liberal using violent metaphor!) for his ridiculously huffy column in today's Post bemoaning the hotted-up responses to his idiotic column last week (you know, the one where he called a bully a comedian playing to a hostile audience, including a man who has sent over 2000 Americans and countless tens of thousands of Iraqi citizens to their death and has asserted his right to disregard any law he deems troublesome). At the risk of being rude, thereby causing American Liberalism to collapse on its own incivility, Richard Cohen may bite me. Jon Chait too.

Now that The Decider!s been recognized by roughly 70% of the American public to be the incompetent ideologue and rogue warmonger and corrupt oligarch and dangerous schizophrenic all of us loons on the Left have been screaming since seemingly forever, now that even the piggiest Republicans are challenging his authority, the "grown-ups" of the Democratic institutions have decided they themselves, holding to their counsel of impotent frustration compounded with craven complicity, are responsible for The Decider!s demise. And it's important, to promulgate the demise, to guarantee that the "grown-ups" get the rewards of that demise, that tut-tutting be kept to a civil minimum. Can't we see how low cowardly silence in the face of war and criminalities has brought The Decider!?

Hence the Stalinist talk. Hence the meme of The Fever Swamp. Hence the outrage, the outrage! that a scrawny comedian with courage didn't play by the rules in the face of a man who recognizes no rules except his own. This isn't about civility, this is about power. Remember the frantic panic at Howard Dean's meteoric rise in primary 2004: nobody worked harder to sabotage Dean - hardly a Leftist, by the way; Left of centerleft by a smidge, maybe, but hardly a Leftist - than the powers of institutional Democrats.

There is nothing that could benefit The Decider! more now than a civil war among Democrats - and look who's starting the civil war: it's not the "uncivil" Left, it's insider Democrats.

I am by no means saying that the grassroot Left and the blogs that support it are more than partially responsible for The Decider!s dismal poll numbers: that Fucktard gets the Fucktard's share of the credit. But it was those of us screaming, shouting, documenting, sharing, and trying to hold anybody to any accountability that made the initial noise about this administration and kept the noise constant and steady and made it louder.

We were told to shut up when The Decider!s power seemed unimpeachable. We're being told now to shut up when The Decider!s power is there to be quashed. We didn't listen when the invertebrates felt hopeless. Why should we shut up now that the same invertebrates sense a backbone?

Monday, May 08, 2006

Grant McLennan of the great Go-Betweens has died at 48.

It seems a strange testament to me, but perhaps the aspect of the Go-Betweens that strikes me as most remarkable is that they were a band that I loved and loved dearly but loved quietly. Whenever I would play one of those stupid desert island games and would think of what music I would take, I'd never think of them though they were always in the CD case if not in the CD player. I've no doubt that I've listened more often to the Go-Betweens than just about any other band, and their most famous song, "Streets of Your Town," so strongly evokes memories of a particular time in my life that I have to make sure to compose myself if others are around.

They were making new music, and 2005's *Oceans Apart* was one of that year's best. Here is a link to that album's single (and my least favorite song on the album, alas) "Here Comes the City." Yep Roc Records has a few live Go-Between cuts here. Pitchfork has an obit and song here.

Maybe there's finished new stuff in the can, but the thought that there will not be any more Go-Betweens music is amazingly, mufflingly, gray.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Colorado 2, DCU 1

Back in the last bad years of DCU's drought, when the spiritual leaders were the washed-up once greats Stoitchkov and Etcheverry, United played every game as if the opponent was not the other eleven in uniform but the referee. Once the referee made one call slighty maybe an itsy bit wrong against DCU their game concentration disappeared, and the rest of the game became one long losing harangue against the ref. I'm not saying that's what happened last night after Brian Hall gave a PK to Colorado on what may or may not have been a foul (it depends on whether you're an advocate that if it would have been a foul outside the box then it's a foul in the box or an advocate that PK fouls should be a little extra). I am saying the DCU was the better team up until the PK and the lesser team after.

Ben didn't start; the Post says he had a slight groin strain, though I'd like to think that Nowak was rewarding Ben for both his service to United and his making the USMNT roster by not risking injury (or further injury) and spoiling Ben's trip to Germany.

Next week at home v KC, three points they need if they don't want the season to become an early grind. It's going to grind at some point - that stretch from June 28 to August 19 when they play seven out of eight on the road comes to mind - so taking full points at home against a conference rival (who are ahead of DCU in standing NOW) is important.