August 31, 2004

From now on nothing holds us back, cacophony forever

* High Plains Grifter, the life and crimes of george bush, by Jeffrey St. Clair. excerpt:

"Because it's all an act, of course, a put on, a dress game. And not a very convincing one at that. Start from the beginning. George W. Bush wasn't born a cowboy. He entered the world in New Haven, Connecticut, hallowed hamlet of Yale. His bloodlines include two presidents and a US senator. The cowboy act came later, when he was famously re-birthed, with spurs on his boots, tea in his cup and the philosophical tracts of Jesus of Nazareth on his night table. Bush is a pure-blooded WASP, sired by a man who would later become the nation's chief spook, a man frequently called upon to clean up the messes left by apex crooks in his own political party, including his own entanglements (and those of his sons) with the more noirish aspects of life. His grandfather was a US senator and Wall Street lawyer, who shamelessly represented American corporations as they did business with the Nazi death machine. Old Prescott narrowly escaped charges of treason. But those were different times, when trading with the enemy was viewed as, at the very least, unseemly.
"How wicked is Barbara Bush? Well, she refused to attend her own mother's funeral. And the day after her five-year old daughter Robin died of leukemia Barbara Bush was in a jolly enough mood to spend the afternoon on the golf course. Revealingly, Mrs. Bush kept Robin's terminal illness a secret from young George, a stupid and cruel move which provided one of the early warps to his psyche.

Her loathsome demeanor hasn't lightened much over the years. Refresh you memory with this quote on Good Morning America, dismissing the escalating body count of American soldiers in Iraq. 'Why should we hear about body bags and deaths and how many,' the Presidential Mother snapped. 'It's not relevant. So why should I waste my beautiful mind on something like that?'
"Speaking of cocaine, Bush, by many accounts, had more than a passing familiarity with the powder. Several acquaintances from his days at Yale tell us that Bush not only snorted cocaine, but sold it. Not by the spoonful, but by the ounce bag, a quantity that would land any black or Latino dealer in the pen for at least a decade. Young Bushtail had become the Snow Bird of New Haven.
"If the son of a millionaire political powerbroker can't make it in Midland, Texas, he can't make it anywhere. George was set up in his own oil company in the heart of the Permian Basin. His two starter companies, Bush Exploration and Arbusto, promptly went bust, hemorraghing millions of dollars. His father's cronies in a group called Spectrum 7 picked up the pieces. It flatlined too. A new group of savoirs in the form of Harken Oil swooped in. Ditto. Yet in the end, George walked away from the wreckage of Harkin Oil with a few million in his pocket. One of the investors in Harken was George Soros, who explained the bail out of Bush in frank terms. 'We were buying political influence. That was it. Bush wasn't much of a businessman.'
"The Rangers deal was never about building a competitive baseball team for the people of Dallas/Ft. Worth. No. The Bush group seduced the city into building a stadium with nearly all the proceeds going straight into their pockets. It was a high level grifter's game, right out of a novel by Jim Thompson, the grand master of Texas noir. Bush played his bit part as affable con man ably enough. Even though he only plunked down $600,000 of his own cash, he walked away from the deal with $14.7 million-a staggering swindle that made Hillary Clintons's windfalls in the cattle future's market look like chump change.

As team president, Bush printed up baseball cards with his photo on them in Ranger attire, endulging his life-long fetish for dress-up fantasies. He would hand out the Bush cards during home game. Invariably, the cards would be found littering the floors of the latrines, soaked in beer and piss."

* "We had no idea of the impact these songs would have, nor illusions about fame or legacy. We thought we were just obeying the dictates of our generation - demand more freedom, have fun through art, and sniff the winds of freedom." -- Ed Sanders
I told you why I changed my mind I got bored by playing with time

-- loren connors toe's broken
I dropped
that guitar on it. Look, there are
hawks out. Limbs of trees
are shivering, shivering when I pass out
and shivering when I wake up....

punk rock poem
-- tv smith

It was strange being in a punk rock band
People gobbed on us, then shook us by the hand
We played every toilet in our green and slimy land
First of all for fifteen quid, then - later on - a grand!

Thirty days of madness touring with the Dammed
Turning up to soundcheck to find out we'd been banned
Driving back to London in the mini-van

Didn't get to the USA as planned

And, looking back, we didn't change the music scene a lot
But we did have one hit single, and supported Iggy Pop
And sometimes people tell me that the Adverts changed their lives
And that's nice

It was great being in a punk rock band

-- by john "broken hand" morton

War is Bad for Children & ME!!
fuck bush, fuck george bush
ignorant asshole supreme
fuck him in the ass
my dick in his sneering gob
a mean dumb motherfucker

* An open letter from electic eels guitarist John "broken hand" morton, to president bush.

August 30, 2004

all the criminals in their coats and their ties
Are free to drink martinis and watch the sun rise

* Even the Grannies are Raging. For more protest pictures click here. [via maud newton]

* New report contradicts drugs czar's claims. [via drug war rant] excerpt:

"Washington, DC: A newly released federal report refutes claims by US Drug Czar John Walters that the United States is being inundated with Canadian pot, that the drug's potency is dramatically rising, and that marijuana poses a greater public health threat than heroin or cocaine.

"According to the US Department of Justice report, 'National Drug Threat Assessment 2004,' the overwhelming majority of commercial grade marijuana consumed in the US comes from California and Mexico. The report further adds that Hawaii, not Canada, is the US' 'leading source of high potency marijuana.' The report estimated that between 10,000 and 24,000 metric tons of marijuana is available in the US.

"In recent months, Walters has testified that the US marijuana market is being inundated with high potency cannabis from British Columbia, dubbing it the 'crack of marijuana.' Most recently, Walters has claimed that this influx of Canadian pot is directly responsible for sending rising numbers of Americans to the emergency room.

"According to the DOJ report, however, increased mentions of marijuana during emergency room visits 'in recent years have not been significant,' and account for less than ten percent of all drug mentions. The report further stated that the average THC content of US commercial grade marijuana is around five percent, despite claims by Walters that today's marijuana potency levels are '10 to 20 times stronger' than they were a generation ago.

"Authors of the report note that despite federal and state anti-drug efforts, marijuana remains 'widely available' in the United States, with '98.2 percent of state and local law enforcement agencies nationwide [describing] marijuana availability as high or moderate.' Nevertheless, only 13 percent of state and local law enforcement agencies identified marijuana as 'their greatest drug threat,' and less than five percent identified pot as 'the drug most contributing to violent crime in their areas.'

"The release of the DOJ report came on the eve of an announcement from the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy that the administration plans 'to shift some of the focus in research and enforcement from 'hard' drugs such as cocaine and heroin to marijuana.'"
And in this land of conditions I'm not above suspicion I won't attack you, but I won't back you

* BBC estimates 250,000 protested Bush in New York City yesterday. New York Times on the protest.

* Shut Up and Color: the politics of bullying. excpert:

"The United States is an experiment, whose outcome can be in doubt on any given day. But when our leaders embrace the ethics of Don Corleone, they undermine the very terms of our democracy. Go back to Richard Nixon's 'Southern strategy,' where he deliberately used racially polarizing language and images to lure White southerners into the Republican Party. Or the Willie Horton ads overseen by Karl Rove's mentor, Lee Atwater. Or the Iran-Contra scandal, when the first President Bush and key members of the current president's administration, then working for Reagan, crafted and enacted secret foreign policies that defied the will of Congress-while collaborating with dictators and terrorists. Or the illegitimate purging, in the 2000 election, of 94,000 largely poor and minority voters from the Florida rolls. Recently, the same five Supreme Court justices who installed Bush prevailed by a single vote in upholding Tom DeLay's midnight redistricting in Texas and Pennsylvania--where Republicans broke all conventional rules about redistricting only after a census, and instead gerrymandered as many Congressional seats as they could, just because they held the reins of power.
"But just as a culture of silence is contagious, so is one of courage. And citizens are beginning to stand up and question, from Republican conservationists questioning Bush's environmental policies, to career foreign service officers decrying the rift our unilateral actions are creating between us and the world, to cities across America challenging the Patriot Act.

"The challenge now is to make the issue of bullying the central theme of the election, linking the intimidation of all questioners with the blind insularity that leads to debacles like Iraq. If we can do this, Bush will lose. As old-fashioned as it may sound, the demand that our political leaders play fair still resonates. And in a democracy, we should expect nothing less."

* Mike Watt on his new record and old band. [via largehearted boy] excerpt:

Q: Let me ask you a little bit about the touring. Grueling is the word I hear the most to describe your tours.

Mike Watt: Well, Greg Ginn and the Black Flag guys turned us on to that. The first tour was actually riding around in a van with them. I can’t say it was part of the punk thing in Hollywood in the 70s when we started seeing shows. I think only the Dills had a van. Greg Ginn, as a younger man, had a ham radio kind of deal, so he thought outside of his town more. He translated that into his way of doing music when he got Black Flag going. There’s only so many gigs in town; you take it on the road. All those bands (on SST) felt like we were part of a movement.

You find out that there’s actually a long tradition of this, going back to vaudeville. We didn’t invent anything, we just picked up on a thing that had been going on for quite a while, working the towns. For us it wasn’t just the gigs. It was exciting to play in someone else’s town, but it was getting there too, from there to to the next one. It became a whole journey in itself. I know all these rock and rollers talk about touring, how it’s killing them with boredom and monotony and stuff, but not for us.

D. Boon really got me into reading, he’s be like “check out this stuff,” and it became a righteous part that I never really thought about, but was a great little side benefit of touring. Grueling? Or a burden? The way we looked at it, if you added it all up, it was a big plus. I’ve never gotten tired of it. And it’s basically the way I make my living.

It was fun back in the Minutemen days. We came from punk rock, we decided we were going to make up our minds about everything, so we decided the world was divided between 2 categories: gigs and flyers. Everything that wasn’t a gig was a flyer. Everything was about getting people to the gig. The records, interviews like this, pictures, whatever, these were all flyers. They told people about the gig. Playing for people, that’s the bottom line. Everything else serves that purpose.

I know touring’s supposed to promote the record, and I’ve got a new record coming out, but when we first talked about the big gap between the two records...I did 11 tours in that gap! So it wasn’t like I was doing nothing. I just try to put out a record so I can tell people about what I’m doing.

It’s also important to me to take chances. On this one here, I made another opera, like that last one, but I put myself in a different situation with a different kind of trio, using an organ instead of guitar. I’m kind of relieved of some of the responsibility, because he can actually go lower than me. Also, I don’t have to compete with sounding like a guitar, beause there isn’t one, so I could try effects. This one’s a bit different because the other one was about D. Boon and my father and stuff, but this one kind of has a happy ending, because I got well (laughs).

August 27, 2004

Their voices are bringing trees to their knees

The story behind Jeff Johnson's poster.
The man in the White House - oooh! He's got a conscience black as sin!

* Bob Herbert in todays New York Times. excerpt:

"In what is surely the most important election of the last half-century, we seem trapped in the politics of the madhouse. What is incredible is that these attacks on men who served not just honorably, but heroically, are coming from a hawkish party that is controlled by an astonishing number of men who sprinted as far from the front lines as they could when they were of fighting age and their country was at war.

"Among them:

"Mr. Bush himself, the nation's commander in chief and the biggest hawk of all. He revels in the accouterments of combat. The story was somewhat different when he was 22 years old and eligible for combat himself. He managed to get into the cushy confines of the Texas Air National Guard at the height of the Vietnam War in 1968 - a year in which more than a half-million American troops were in the war zone and more than 14,000 were killed.

"The story gets murky after that. We know the future president breezed off at some point to work on a political campaign in Alabama, skipped a required flight physical in 1972 and was suspended from flying. He supported the war in Vietnam but was never in any danger of being sent there.

"Vice President Dick Cheney, another fierce administration hawk. Mr. Cheney asked for and received five deferments when he was eligible for the draft. He told senators at a confirmation hearing in 1989, 'I had other priorities in the 60's than military service.' Many draft-age Americans had similar priorities - getting an education, getting married and starting a family.

"Attorney General John Ashcroft. He is reported to have said, 'I would have served, if asked.' But with the war raging in Vietnam, he received six student deferments and an 'occupational deferment' based on the essential nature of a civilian job at Southwest Missouri State University - teaching business law to undergraduates.

"Paul Wolfowitz, the deputy defense secretary and a fanatical hawk on Iraq. He was not fanatical about Vietnam and escaped the draft with student deferments."

* George Saunders in Slate. read it. excerpt:

"Last Thursday, my organization, People Reluctant To Kill for an Abstraction, orchestrated an overwhelming show of force around the globe.

At precisely 9 in the morning, working with focus and stealth, our entire membership succeeded in simultaneously beheading no one. At 10, Phase II began, during which our entire membership did not force a single man to suck another man's penis. Also, none of us blew himself/herself up in a crowded public place. No civilians were literally turned inside out via our powerful explosives. In addition, at 11, in Phase III, zero (0) planes were flown into buildings."
"Who are we? A word about our membership.

"Since the world began, we have gone about our work quietly, resisting the urge to generalize, valuing the individual over the group, the actual over the conceptual, the inherent sweetness of the present moment over the theoretically peaceful future to be obtained via murder. Many of us have trouble sleeping and lie awake at night, worrying about something catastrophic befalling someone we love. We rise in the morning with no plans to convert anyone via beating, humiliation, or invasion. To tell the truth, we are tired. We work. We would just like some peace and quiet. When wrong, we think about it awhile, then apologize. We stand under awnings during urban thunderstorms, moved to thoughtfulness by the troubled, umbrella-tinged faces rushing by. In moments of crisis, we pat one another awkwardly on the back, mumbling shy truisms. Rushing to an appointment, remembering a friend who has passed away, our eyes well with tears and we think: Well, my God, he could be a pain, but still I'm lucky to have known him.

"This is PRKA. To those who would oppose us, I would simply say: We are many. We are worldwide. We, in fact, outnumber you. Though you are louder, though you create a momentary ripple on the water of life, we will endure, and prevail.

"Join us.

"Resistance is futile."

* Melbourne, Australia man makes car that runs on compressed air. picture at link.

August 26, 2004

I'm tired of aching, summer's what you make it

To Whom It May Concern
-- by J.V. Cunningham

After so many decades of ... of what?
I have a permanent sabbatical.
I pass my time on actuarial time.
Listen to music, and going to bed
Leave something at the bottom of the glass,
A little wastefulness to end the day.

-- by Jane Cooper

If you want my apartment, sleep in it
but let's have a clear understanding:
the books are still free agents.

If the rocking chair's arms surround you
they can also let you go,
they can shape the air like a body.

I don't want your rent. I want
a radiance of attention
like the candles's flame when we eat,

I mean a kind of awe
attending the spaces between us --
Not a roof but a field of stars.

Waiting for You
-- by Dean Smith

Gritty red brick row house
outskirts of Baltimore
circa the second coming,
I'll look through the stained glass between us
while my victrola scratches "Exile on Main Street."

Saturday morning around my way
children tear down the alley,
a lewd cacophony smeared
with a mix of dirt, ice cream.
Mamas spend the day in curlers
watching Bowling for Dollars.

Obsolete papas scrape mustard
from their backfins, over cases
of National Bohemian.

Working the night shift on a loading dock
with a forklift full of broken hearts,
space on my arm for a flamingo tatoo,
I'll wait until you grace these marble steps.

August 25, 2004

Hate was just a legend and war was never known

* From the bad news hughes diary of indignities:

"Age 19 – I'm making out with a punk chick in a dark back corner of a bar. Even though I've generally held nothing but open disdain for the contrived, self-destructive side of old-school punk, doing something tough and sleazy seems appropriate, so I give myself a lighter burn. This involves heating up a disposable Bic for a minute or so and pressing the hot metal into skin. I jam the top of the lighter into my left bicep, instantly raising a blister in the shape of a happy face. Not wanting to be outmatched, my makeout partner hikes up her skirt and requests one as well. I burn a smiley face right on her tender inner thigh. She winces. My arm hurts. We now have matching smiley-face burn blisters. I wonder what the hell possessed me to do something so stupid, and consider throwing myself in front of a bus."

* Bob Dylan memoir to be released in the fall. The 304-page tome is due out on October 12, published by Simon and Schuster and will be followed about a week later by an updated edition of Lyrics: 1962-2001, a compendium of lyrics to nearly every Dylan song.

* DCist, a new blog from the folks at gothamist. check it out.
It's been evening all day long, It's been evening all day long

* Pictures and quotes from soldiers wounded in Iraq. [via travelers diagram].

Sam Ross, 21, Pennsylvania, lost his left leg and his eyesight May 18, 2003, in Baghdad, when a bomb blew up during a munitions-disposal operation.

"I lost my left leg, just below the knee. Lost my eyesight, which it's still unsettled about whether it will come back or not. I have shrapnel in pretty much every part of my body. Got my finger blown off—it don't work right. I had a hole blown through my right leg—had three skin grafts to try and repair it. It's not too bad now. It hurts a lot, that's about it. You know, not really anything major. Just little things. I have a piece of shrapnel in my neck that came up through my vest and went into my throat and it's sitting behind my trachea, and when I swallow, it kind of feels like I have a pill in my throat. I never had a health problem my entire life. Now I'm going to be seeing doctors every couple of months for the rest of my life. I just went and got fitted for my hearing aide. I've had 15 surgeries and at last 5 more to go. I ask myself that all the time, Why didn't I die because in a sense. You know, I think I should have."

* Momus discusses Bunraku theatre. excerpt:

"Bunraku is puppetry as a fine art, a vocation. It's not theatre on the cheap, or theatre for childen, but a kind of purified, refined expression of all that's most theatrical about theatre, a demonstration of how art is better when all the manipulation and simulation are visible rather than hidden behind the scenes. Bunraku is very Japanese in the way it mixes spontaneity with skill and custom -- kikkoshibari, the art of bondage, Japanese calligraphy, or the way Nature is both respected and ostentatiously controlled here, all show the same balance between the splashy and the tight, the chaotic and the controlled, the spontaneous and the trained.
"You can see some splendid RealPlayer video clips of the Osaka Bunraku Theatre here, courtesy of UNESCO. The fact that the music in the first clip sounds, incredibly, rather like Captain Beefheart underlines the fact that, to me (and I feel the same way about Harry Partch) there's no reason to think that this couldn't be the sound of pop music being made right now, or in the near future. The music is dramatic, it has a good ratio of figure to ground, sound to silence, it's decisive and constantly interesting, balancing voice against music in a way pop music also does, telling stories the way a pop song can."

* Washington, DC is the worst place to die.

August 24, 2004

Rock and Roll Lives On

John Belushi is buried in Abel's Hill Cemetery on Martha's Vineyard.

* How a "big" record reaches your ears. [via boblog]

* How not to get spun by drug war statistics.

* Iraqi policy dictates U.S. tactics.

August 19, 2004

we could be daytime drunks if we wanted

* build your own bush

POTLUCK setlist

junkies go home -- ill ease
seems so -- apples in stereo
erroneous escape into eric ekkles -- of montreal
turn a square -- the shins
boys you won't -- the wrens
love will tear us apart -- the swans
walk down the street -- the modern lovers
short history of the human race -- the fugs
never met a man i didn't like -- the crust brothers
something for the weekend -- super furry animals
ode to street hassle -- spaceman 3
andy's chest -- lou reed
7 chinese brothers -- rem
grow fins -- captain beefhart
ain't it fun -- rockets from the crypt
satan gave me a taco -- beck
three way -- tom heinl
jordache -- black nasty
endless voices crying for kindness -- the fugs
brokedown palace -- will oldham
teen age riot -- sonic youth

back tuesday......

August 18, 2004

It's a sin when success complains

Four poems by Franz Wright:

Year One

I was still standing
on a northern corner

Moonlit winter clouds the color of the desperation of wolves.

of Your existence? There is nothing

On Earth

Resurrection of the little apple tree outside
my window, leaf -
light of late
in the April
called her eyes, forget
forget --
but how
How does one go
about dying? Who on earth
is going to teach me --
The world
is filled with people
who have never died.


Long nights, short years. Forgiving

When morning comes, and pain --

no one is a stranger, this whole world is your home.

Diary Otherwise Empty

Caught a brown trout in a trickle of creek;

looks like rain.

When he is no longer needed Christ will come again.

August 17, 2004

Oh i'm sitting watching rainbows and watching the people go crazy

* Excellent editorial from the Traverse County Record Eagle:

"An open letter to President George W. Bush

Welcome to Traverse City. Hopefully you got a glimpse of Grand Traverse Bay on your flight in and the beautiful landscape that makes this such a special place to live.

Since this is a campaign stop, it is appropriate to address issues that residents of this area find important and would like to see addressed in this election year:

- Air quality. Frankfort, a village of about 1,500 located right on Lake Michigan, has an ozone reading comparable to urban areas and is just one step away from being forced to adopt curbs on auto emissions.

Obviously, that pollution isn't coming from Frankfort; it's coming from coal-fired power plants in Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin that have been exempted from tougher pollution standards by your administration. When will it stop?

- Taxes. Residents here would love to jump on the tax cut bandwagon, but don't make enough money. Only 1 person in 55 in our region made $125,000 or more a year in 2002, just over half of what it took to qualify for the highest tax cuts.

The Congressional Budget Office says those in the top 1 percent of income - $1.2 million a year - got a break of about $78,000. Those making $57,000 a year got about $1,100. When do the rest of us get our turn?

- Great Lakes. Biologists warn the Lakes are just one foreign species predator away from seeing the charter boat and commercial fishing industries wiped out. And yet the U.S. Coast Guard refuses to enforce existing rules against dumping ballast water. Why?

- National parks. As home to the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, park policy matters here. The National Geographic Society and the General Accounting office say the parks are facing a $600 million shortfall in operating funds. Deferred maintenence has hit $5 billion. Wasn't there room in the $400 billion-plus deficit for our parks?

- The economy. No rebound here. Regional unemployment was 6.9 percent in June, and most new jobs are low-pay service industry positions that don't include benefits. Can they expect some help?

- National forests. A 2001 rule aimed at keeping roadless national forests closed to logging is being dismantled. It would allow states to decide if forest land should be opened to logging. So whose forests are these, anyway?

- Iraq. Families across northern Michigan worry every day about a loved one in Iraq. What do you tell them when they ask why we're there? No weapons of mass destruction, no al-Qaida links, no "imminent" threat to the United States all equal no justification. But nearly 1,000 Americans are dead, more than 6,000 have been wounded. And we're not out yet. Why?

These are things that are important to northern Michigan, Mr. President, and we hope you give them your attention.

May your stay with us be a pleasant one." [via

* 480 pound women dies after living six years on her couch. excerpt:

"Gayle Laverne Grinds, 40, died Wednesday, after a failed six-hour effort to dislodge her from the couch in her home. Workers say the home was filthy, and Grinds was too large to get up from the couch to even use the bathroom.

"Everyone going inside the home had to wear protective gear. The stench was so powerful they had to blast in fresh air.

"Investigators say Grinds lived with a man named Herman Thomas, who says he tried to take care of her the best he could. He has told them he tried repeatedly to get her up, but simply couldn't. No charges have been filed, but officials are looking into negligence issues.

"Emergency workers had to remove some sliding glass doors and lift the couch, with Grinds still on it, to a trailer behind a pickup truck. Removing her from the couch would be too painful, since her body was grafted to the fabric. After years of staying put, her skin had literally become one with the sofa and had to be surgically removed." [emphasis added]

* Fantastic flash project: 32 ways to open a beer.
we're gonna find the meaning of feeling good

Sonic Youth at Webster Hall NYC August 13, 2004 [photos found here]

* At Fluxblog, an mp3 is posted of Sonic Youth doing 'Brother James' from their 1992 European tour, as well as some notes regarding Sonic Youth's recent show at Webster Hall.

* The Colonel's Weed, by Steven Young tells the story of a hemp farm run by the Chicago Tribune during the 1930s. The farm was set up by the paper in "hopes of bringing innovation to the desperate farming industry." [via drug war rant] excerpt:

"As crops throughout the midwest withered during the drought of 1936, the Chicago Tribune reported on one plant untroubled by the lack of water. 'When we stopped to look at the test plot where the hemp is growing, we wanted to doff our straw hat and give this plant a little applause,' wrote reporter Robert Becker. 'It has grown remarkably in spite of intense heat and drouth [sic]. In fact, one of the boys was saying that during the week of the most severe heat the hemp kept pushing its head to the blazing sun.'

"Becker's report showed up in a regular Tribune feature called 'Day by Day Story of the Experimental Farms.' This space kept readers up-to-date on two farms in the western suburbs that had been started (and publicized) by the Tribune in hopes of bringing innovation to the desperate farming industry.

"Hemp, traditionally used to make products like rope, paper, and birdseed, was an obvious choice for the experimental farms. Though it had been cultivated in the U.S. since colonial times by the likes of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, Americans weren't growing much hemp in the 1930s. But new technological advances, as well as its natural resistance to drought, made hemp potentially attractive to struggling farmers.

"Less than a year after Tribune employees reported on the impressive properties of hemp, the drug czar of that day published an influential article in American Magazine. The story by Harry Anslinger, head of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, began: 'The sprawled body of a young girl lay crushed on the sidewalk the other day after a plunge from the fifth story of a Chicago apartment house. Everyone called it suicide, but actually it was murder. The killer was a narcotic known to America as marihuana.'

"It wasn't long before the Chicago Tribune's hemp crop was the focus of a federal drug investigation."
"To accompany Ridgway's column, the Tribune published a photograph of farmworkers attempting to harvest the massive plants. At least one person was troubled by what he saw.

A few days after the photograph appeared, the Chicago office of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics received a letter from Washington. [FBI head Henry J.] Anslinger wanted a 'full report' on the Tribune's hemp."

"Anslinger wanted more information. Bass pressed Ridgway, who referred her to H.W. Bellrose, president of the World Fibre Corporation, an Illinois firm that processed the hemp produced by the Tribune farms."
But Bellrose saw more than paper coming from hemp. It promised salvation. "The growing of hemp by the American farmer means the growing of a crop that goes into industry and into the human stomach, and therefore, constitutes the only resolution of the present day agricultural problem," he wrote.

"Apparently Anslinger was not impressed. In 1937, at his insistent urging, Congress passed the Marihuana Tax Act. Though it didn't outlaw marijuana or cannabis, it imposed a tax so high that legal production became economically impossible. Anslinger vowed that hemp farmers would not be impacted by the new law.

"'I would say that they are not only amply protected under this act, but they can go ahead and raise hemp just as they have always done,' Anslinger stated during congressional hearings. It wasn't true. Hemp farmers, including those at the experimental farms, were about to learn that they'd been regulated out of legal existence."

* Krugman. excerpt:

"It's horrifying to think that the credibility of our democracy - a democracy bought through the courage and sacrifice of many brave men and women - is now in danger. It's so horrifying that many prefer not to think about it. But closing our eyes won't make the threat go away. On the contrary, denial will only increase the chances of a disastrously suspect election."

August 16, 2004

the plot of our life sweats in the dark like a face

* The Guardian catches up with old Gainsbourg flame, Jane Birkin excerpt:

"Jane speaks quickly as if fearful that, like Serge, she might run out of time. Her sentences crash into one another. She's self-deprecating and eccentric as only an Englishwoman can be. But she is also Bohemian and expansive, a free spirit the British couldn't handle. When she famously sang with orgasmic abandon on Serge's hit single 'Je T'Aime Moi Non Plus' in 1969 the BBC promptly banned it. 'It wasn't a rude song at all,' she says now. 'I don't know what all the fuss was about. The English just didn't understand it. I'm still not sure they know what it means.'

"She fled this country 35 years ago after causing a minor scandal by being the first woman in a British film to show her pubic hair on the big screen as she cavorted with David Hemmings in Blow Up . She departed - already a single mother after a year-long marriage to composer John Barry - and swiftly became a central figure in Paris society, replacing Brigitte Bardot as Serge's lover. In England she is barely recognised in the street; in France, everyone knows her. In 1981, she scandalised a nation once again - this time France - by leaving Serge (with whom she had a daughter, actress Charlotte Gainsbourg) for director Jacques Doillon when she was already pregnant with his daughter, Lou. When Serge died in 1991, she left Doillon and became the keeper of the Gainsbourg flame."

* Midnight on Them Spurs, a new short story by Steve Almond.

* Amy Sedaris is on the shortlist to replace Craig Kilborn as host of The Late Late Show.

* "Revenge is golden. Silence is shit." -- Patti Smith
what is peace to the people who work the land and die in wars?

* From the August 2004 edition of Harpers:

-- Number of the 50 airstrikes targeting Iraq's leadership during the invastion last year that hit their target: 0

-- Number of words in the first sentence of Bill Clinton's memoir and in that of George W. Bush, respectively: 49, 5

-- Number of HealthSouth executives charged with conspiracy, fraud, money laundering, or lying since March 2003: 20

-- Number who have pled guilty: 17

-- Number of those now in prison: 0

* American Library Association will focus on giving school children a more balanced view of copyright law. excerpt:

"The ALA sees a need for this because materials offered by groups like the Business Software Alliance and the Motion Picture Association of America are designed to influence kids with one-sided information, said Rick Weingarten, director of information technology policy for the ALA. Topics like 'fair use' -- the right to use copyright material without the owner's permission, a key concept in American law that intellectual-property experts say leads to innovation -- are not adequately addressed.

"'There is certainly concern about the fact that when the content industry talks about copyright and young people in the same sentence, they are either calling them all crooks or they are making claims for copyright that far exceed what copyright is all about,' Weingarten said. 'Any education program that comes from that source is inherently going to be biased.'"

* Last week's top ten conservative idiots. excerpt:

"1. Alan Keyes: So Fox News contributor and former lunatic presidential candidate Alan Keyes formally accepted the Republican nomination to run for Senate in Illinois last week, and will now go head to head against Barack Obama in November. Despite his name recognition, Keyes is currently slumping despondently in the polls with a mere 28%. Although possibly he's slumping because of his name recognition, we're not sure. Anyway, the funny thing is that the Illinois Republican party is so desperate they had to find someone who doesn't even live in Illinois to represent them. That's right - Alan Keyes lives in Maryland, has never lived in Illinois, and has to move there in order to run. But wait a second, I hear you cry! You can't criticize Alan Keyes for that! What about Hillary Clinton moving to New York to run for a Senate seat in that state? Ah, indeed. You're absolutely right. We can't criticize Alan Keyes' carpetbagging because Hillary did the same thing. However, we can criticize Alan Keyes for straight up talking out of his ass. Because when Hillary ran for Senate in 2000, Mr. Keyes said, 'I deeply resent the destruction of federalism represented by Hillary Clinton's willingness to go into a state she doesn't even live in and pretend to represent people there. So I certainly wouldn't imitate it.' Oh, hypocrisy, thy name is Alan.

9. Dick Cheney: In his recent speech to the UNITY Journalists of Color Convention, John Kerry said, 'I believe I can fight a more effective, more thoughtful, more strategic, more proactive, more sensitive war on terror that reaches out to other nations and brings them to our side and lives up to American values in history.' Sounds pretty sensible. But it didn't take long for Team Bush's top attack dog - uh, I mean, the vice president - Dick Cheney to cherry-pick Kerry's comments. At a campaign stop in Dayton, Ohio, Crashcart told the crowd, 'America has been in too many wars for any of our wishes, but not a one of them was won by being sensitive ... A sensitive war will not destroy the evil men who killed 3,000 Americans and who seek the chemical, nuclear and biological weapons to kill hundreds of thousands more. The men who beheaded Daniel Pearl and Paul Johnson will not be impressed by our sensitivity.' Nice spin, Dick. Perhaps you should mention some of that to your boss though, because here's Dubya at the UNITY convention the day after John Kerry: 'Now in terms of the balance between running down intelligence and bringing people to justice obviously is - we need to be very sensitive on that.' Whoops! Oh, and here's Dubya at the USS Reagan ceremony in March 2001: 'Precisely because America is powerful, we must be sensitive about expressing our power and influence ... In all our dealings with other nations, we will display the modesty of true confidence and strength.' Oh no! Tsk tsk, Dick will be disappointed that the Boy Blunder just made him look like a total buffoon. No supper for you, Georgie!"

August 13, 2004

Join me and our August special guests dj dj and skitch, Wednesday August 18, 2004.
Midnight cowboy stained in black reads dark roads without a map

* Fistful of Euros on german spelling reform. excerpt:

"This brings me to the German spelling reform, which shows that linguistic ignorance remains as widespread in Germany as elsewhere. This reform touches on a few minor inconsistencies in German spelling, to wit, the 'ess-tset' (ß) will be replaced by a double 's' after short vowels, a few anomalous compounds will be spelled as separate words, derived words will generally retain the spellings of their roots, even when this results in tripple letters (Stemmmeißel with three 'm'’s instead of Stemmeißel with only two), and a few loan words will have more regularised forms. These reforms will make my job writing morphological analysis software for German somewhat easier, and will probably have some effect on easing the development of spellcheckers able to support the morphological creativity of Germans. Languages like German that allow writers to create new compound words have always posed problems for software engineers."
"As for the German reform, the major German newspapers don’t matter. There is only one person whose opinions count. Somewhere in the bowels of Microsoft is a middle level employee whose job title is something like 'German localisation manager for Word.' Microsoft currently offers a choice of the two spelling dictionaries for Word, but he or she either will decide or has already decided which of the two is going to be the default setting. Once that has happened, the battle is over. And I’ll bet that whoever that person is, they’ve already decided that no one ever got fired for complying with the government spelling reform."

In other German news, a river of beer has been located in the Black Forest. [via heck's kitchen.]

"The existence of the Krautlager River, as it has been named, came as a pleasant surprise to most Germans as it is not even charted in maps of their legendary forest. The river of beer is believed to be the result of a fluke of nature.

"Fresh water from an underground spring flows down a riverbed surrounded by wild hops and barley plants. As the plants are periodically washed into the river, fermentation eventually occurs. The result is a delicious golden lager, which bubbles through the woodlands.

"Beer lovers from around the world have been making pilgrimages to the Krautlager River since its discovery earlier this year. Many of these beer pilgrims have bathed in the beer believing it has magical powers that can increase their consumption and tolerance levels."

* The backless brief: like freebagging it. [picture at the link]

"Australia could be on the brink of a startling underwear revolution, thanks to Gold Coast couple Jan and Chuck Digney ('just your average mum and dad') and their invention: the backless brief.

"Jan had a visible G-string problem and asked her daughters for advice.

"'They said they freebag it, basically, `We don't wear undies Mum.'

"'Well,' says Jan, speaking after a champagne-fuelled lunch to celebrate the launch, 'there's got to be something out there to stop people from doing that.'

"She worked through 50-odd prototypes before arriving at a design that replaces the back with two bra-style straps under the bottom.

"'It's like freebagging but you're protected,' she says."

* Meet Ted Kooser, America's new Poet Laureate.

August 12, 2004

So let's have a smile for an old engine driver

* Walter Cronkite thinks prisons are needlessly overpopulated with drug offenders. we agree. excerpt:

"Much of the nation, in one way or another, is victimized by this failure, including, most notably, the innocents, whose exposure to drugs is greater than ever.

"This is despite the fact that more than 500,000 people are housed in federal and state prisons and local jails on drug offenses. Clearly, no punishment could be too severe for that portion of them who were kingpins of the drug trade and who ruined so many lives. But, by far, the majority of these prisoners are guilty of only minor offenses, such as possessing small amounts of marijuana. That includes people who used it only for medicinal purposes. The cost to maintain this great horde of prisoners is more than $10 billion annually.

"And that's just part of the cost of this war on drugs: The federal, state and local drug-control budgets last year added up to almost $40 billion."
"The deep perversity of the system lies in the fact that women with the least culpability often get the harshest sentences."
"We can expect no federal action during the congressional hiatus in activity ahead of the November elections, but it would be of considerable help if, across the country, campaigning politicians put this high on their promises of legislative action, much sooner than later."

* Splendid interviews galaxie 500. [via chromewaves]. excerpt:

Splendid: Timing is everything, so I probably wouldn't be asking this question if it were a year ago or a year from now, but in light of the big Pixies reunion this summer, where you can't go a day without reading something about something as it pertains to the band, is the video anthology your reunion with Galaxie 500? It really feels that way -- I was more excited to read there was Galaxie 500 DVD than I was at the thought of lining up for hours to see the Pixies.

Dean Wareham: That's a good idea. I really like that. All I can say about them is that they're making a shitload of money. And they hate each other. The nice thing about this DVD is that Damon, Naomi and I are on better terms than we have been, which is nice. We still don't really speak -- they were really angry when I quit -- but I think it's hard to say angry at someone.

Damon Krukowski: It's probably as much a reunion as there will be, because we put it together as a band and we certainly don't intend to get on the stage together, I don't think. It's as close as we'll get to what the Pixies are doing. I think it's interesting how the Pixies are doing this right now because they were the band that overshadowed us when we were together, too.
Splendid: But you do own your music and the collapse of Rough Trade provided that opportunity.

Damon Krukowski: It did, and it made a good thing happen out of an otherwise bad situation. We were never getting royalties from Rough Trade, so that was the other side of that coin. We do have control of the material, which is pretty much a godsend at this point because we signed the same bad contract that every young band signs -- but then the company went bust and we did something about it.

Dean Wareham: In some ways were very lucky -- we own the rights to all of our stuff because our record company went bankrupt. Damon went down and bought them at auction. If we'd been on a major label they would have owned all the stuff and it would have been a lot more complicated. It's the advantage of being on an indie.

Splendid: Especially bankrupt ones.

Dean Wareham: Especially bankrupt ones. In some ways it was good for the band that Rough Trade went out of business and the records were out of print for five years. Ultimately, I don't think it hurt the band.

* Washington Post on the Swift Boat Smears. excerpt:

"If accurate, this would demolish a central part of the picture of Mr. Kerry as Vietnam hero. But the weight of the evidence supports Mr. Kerry. Mr. Rassmann, having had no contact with Mr. Kerry for the previous 35 years, came forward during the primaries to tell the story of how Mr. Kerry, braving enemy fire and with an injured arm, pulled him back on board. 'John came up to the bow, and I thought he was going to get killed because he was so exposed,' Mr. Rassmann recalled. Other surviving crew mates corroborate that account. 'I was there,' crew mate Del Sandusky told CNN. 'I saw the bullets skimming across the water. I saw the firefight gun flashes from the jungle. I know the firefight and the ambush we were in." Another crew mate, James Wasser, told ABC: "What boat were you riding on? Because you weren't there -- we were.'

"It's also relevant to know who's underwriting this advertising campaign. The biggest single donor so far to Swift Boat Veterans for Truth isn't a Swift boat veteran but one of the leading Republican donors in Texas. Houston builder Bob J. Perry gave the group $100,000, accounting for the bulk of the $158,000 in receipts it has reported. It's fair to ask whether truth is at the top of this group's agenda."

Over the past few years Perry has donated almost $3 million to Texas Republican causes.

August 11, 2004

Men of good fortune, often cause empires to fall

Poems by Adrienne Rich

from Twenty-One Love Poems


Wherever in this city, screens flicker
with pornography, with science-fiction vampires,
victimized hirelings bending to the lash,
we also have to walk . . . if simply as we walk
through the rainsoaked garbage, the tabloid cruelties
of our own neighborhoods.
We need to grasp our lives inseperable
from those rancid dreams, that blurt of metal, those disgraces,
and the red begonia perilously flashing
from a tenement sill six stories high,
or the long-legged young girls playing ball
in the junior highschool playground.
No one has imagined us. We want to live like trees,
sycamores blazing through the sulfuric air,
dappled with scars, still exuberantly budding,
our animal passion rooted in the city.


I wake up in your bed. I know I have been dreaming.
Much earlier, the alarm broke us from each other,
you've been at your desk for hours. I know what I dreamed:
our friend the poet comes into my room
where I've been writing for days,
drafts, carbons, poems are scattered everywhere,
and I want to show her one poem
which is the poem of my life. But I hesitate,
and wake. You've kissed my hair
to wake me. I dreamed you were a poem,
I say, a poem I wanted to show someone . . .
and I laugh and fall dreaming again
of the desire to show you to everyone I love,
to move openly together
in the pull of gravity, which is not simple,
which carried the feathered grass a long way down the upbreathing air.


Since we're not young, weeks have to do time
for years of missing each other. Yet only this odd warp
in time tells me we're not young.
Did I ever walk the morning streets at twenty,
my limbs streaming with a purer joy?
did I lean from any window over the city
listening for the future
as I listened here with nerves tuned for your ring?
And you, you move toward me with the same tempo.
Your eyes are everlasting, the green spark
of the blue-eyed grass of early summer,
the green-blue wild cress washed by the spring.
At twenty, yes: we thought we'd live forever.
At forty-five, I want to know even our limits.
I touch you knowing we weren't born tomorrow,
and somehow, each of us will help the other live,
and somewhere, each of us must help the other die.


I needed fox Badly I needed
a vixen for the long time none had come near me
I needed recognition from a triangulated face burnt-yellow eyes
fronting the long body the fierce and sacrificial tail
I needed history of fox briars of legend it was said she had run through
I was in want of fox

And the truth of briars she had to have run through
I craved to feel on her pelt if my hands could even slide
past or her body slide between them sharp truth distressing surfaces of fur
lacerated skin calling legend to account
a vixen's courage in vixen terms

For a human animal to call for help
on another animal
is the most riven the most revolted cry on earth
come a long way down
Go back far enough it means tearing and torn endless and sudden
back far enough it blurts
into the birth-yell of the yet-to-be human child
pushed out of a female the yet-to-be woman

November 1968

you're beginning to float free
up through the smoke of brushfires
and incinerators
the unleafed branches won't hold you
nor the radar aerials

You're what the autumn knew would happen
after the last collapse
of primary color
once the last absolutes were torn to pieces
you could begin

How you broke open, what sheathed you
until this moment
I know nothing about it
my ignorance of you amazes me
now that I watch you
starting to give yourself away
to the wind

August 10, 2004

Heard one person starve, I heard many people laughin'

* Unfuckingbelievable. Follow the link to listen to Bushs definition of tribal sovereignty. How anyone could still vote for this man is beyond me.

* Slipkid praises On the Beach.
deviances anticipated triple-x or at least r-rated

* "Everyone in the world is Christ and they are all crucified." -- Sherwood Anderson

* Great chart describing all of George Bush's broken promises. excerpt:


"There are 43 million uninsured Americans, 4 million more than when the current administration took office. George W. Bush will reverse this trend by making health insurance affordable for hard-working, low-income families." [Source: Bush-Cheney 2000 website]


In the first two years Bush was in office, the number of uninsured American increased by nearly four million. Since Bush took office, health insurance premiums have risen by an average rate of 12.5 percent per year. According to a major study, "widespread adoption [of Bush's major health care plan] could drive up the annual deductible paid by workers." [Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 7/8/04; Kaiser Family Foundation, 4/04; USA Today, 4/25/04]


"George W. Bush will establish the 'Healthy Communities Innovation Fund' to provide $500 million in grants over five years to fund innovative projects addressing targeted health risks, such as childhood diabetes." [Source: Bush-Cheney 2000 website]


Bush never established this fund. [Source: The Philadelphia Inquirer, 1/20/04]

* "The first time I took it I was terrified because I really didn't know what the effects were going to be. But when I did I just couldn't believe it. Within half an hour the pain had started to fade for the first time in years. I just couldn't grasp the fact that there was something so much more effective than all the conventional medicine I had tried, yet it was not available on prescription. It didn't make any sense.

"The government seems to be blase about our fate. I cannot believe the research is taking so long and anyway I do not need any research because I know exactly what works for me. All that I and hundreds of other MS sufferers want is some compassion." -- Kate Bradley

Kate Bradley, formerly a UK undercover drug cop, who now advocates and uses medical marijuana to alleviate pain caused by MS.

August 9, 2004

I don't have to think I only have to do it

* Ron Reagan's case against George Bush concludes:

"GEORGE W. BUSH PROMISED to 'change the tone in Washington' and ran for office as a moderate, a 'compassionate conservative,' in the focus-group-tested sloganeering of his campaign. Yet he has governed from the right wing of his already conservative party, assiduously tending a "base" that includes, along with the expected Fortune 500 fat cats, fiscal evangelicals who talk openly of doing away with Social Security and Medicare, of shrinking government to the size where they can, in tax radical Grover Norquist's phrase, 'drown it in the bathtub.' That base also encompasses a healthy share of anti-choice zealots, homophobic bigots, and assorted purveyors of junk science. Bush has tossed bones to all of them—'partial birth' abortion legislation, the promise of a constitutional amendment banning marriage between homosexuals, federal roadblocks to embryonic-stem-cell research, even comments suggesting presidential doubts about Darwinian evolution. It's not that Mr. Bush necessarily shares their worldview; indeed, it's unclear whether he embraces any coherent philosophy. But this president, who vowed to eschew politics in favor of sound policy, panders nonetheless in the interest of political gain. As John DiIulio, Bush's former head of the Office of Community and Faith-Based Initiatives, once told this magazine, 'What you've got is everything—and I mean everything—being run by the political arm.'

"This was not what the American electorate opted for when, in 2000, by a slim but decisive margin of more than half a million votes, they chose . . . the other guy. Bush has never had a mandate. Surveys indicate broad public dissatisfaction with his domestic priorities. How many people would have voted for Mr. Bush in the first place had they understood his eagerness to pass on crushing debt to our children or seen his true colors regarding global warming and the environment? Even after 9/11, were people really looking to be dragged into an optional war under false pretenses?

"If ever there was a time for uniting and not dividing, this is it. Instead, Mr. Bush governs as if by divine right, seeming to actually believe that a wise God wants him in the White House and that by constantly evoking the horrible memory of September 11, 2001, he can keep public anxiety stirred up enough to carry him to another term.

"Understandably, some supporters of Mr. Bush's will believe I harbor a personal vendetta against the man, some seething resentment. One conservative commentator, based on earlier remarks I've made, has already discerned 'jealousy' on my part; after all, Bush, the son of a former president, now occupies that office himself, while I, most assuredly, will not. Truth be told, I have no personal feelings for Bush at all. I hardly know him, having met him only twice, briefly and uneventfully—once during my father's presidency and once during my father's funeral. I'll acknowledge occasional annoyance at the pretense that he's somehow a clone of my father, but far from threatening, I see this more as silly and pathetic. My father, acting roles excepted, never pretended to be anyone but himself. His Republican party, furthermore, seems a far cry from the current model, with its cringing obeisance to the religious Right and its kill-anything-that-moves attack instincts. Believe it or not, I don't look in the mirror every morning and see my father looming over my shoulder. I write and speak as nothing more or less than an American citizen, one who is plenty angry about the direction our country is being dragged by the current administration. We have reached a critical juncture in our nation's history, one ripe with both danger and possibility. We need leadership with the wisdom to prudently confront those dangers and the imagination to boldly grasp the possibilities. Beyond issues of fiscal irresponsibility and ill-advised militarism, there is a question of trust. George W. Bush and his allies don't trust you and me. Why on earth, then, should we trust them?

"Fortunately, we still live in a democratic republic. The Bush team cannot expect a cabal of right-wing justices to once again deliver the White House. Come November 2, we will have a choice: We can embrace a lie, or we can restore a measure of integrity to our government. We can choose, as a bumper sticker I spotted in Seattle put it, SOMEONE ELSE FOR PRESIDENT."

* Meat Puppet goes to jail.

Former Meat Puppets bassist "Cris Kirkwood, 43, was arrested Dec. 30, 2003 for the downtown Phoenix post-office parking lot incident. He pleaded guilty to charges of assault with a dangerous weapon May 10.

"What happened that December day last year seems anything but Christmas-like. According to various published reports, Kirkwood argued over a disputed parking spot with a female motorist, Jenny Hom. Both Kirkwood and Hom then pulled into a parking lot around 5 p.m., where he continued to shout obscenities at her.

"'He shrugged his shoulder as if he was going to hit me,' Hom told the Arizona Republic. As Kirkwood followed Hom into the post office, she informed Goodrum that she was being harassed. Goodrum then attempted to escort Kirkwood out of the building. Kirkwood then allegedly pushed Goodrum, who raised his baton in response and instructed him to leave the premises.

"But the rocker turned the weapon against Goodrum, striking him in the head. The guard retaliated, drawing his gun and firing one shot at Kirkwood. Kirkwood was treated for a single gunshot wound in his abdomen before his eventual arrest.

"It could have been much worse for the bassist. Kirkwood might have faced as much as 27 months had a judge not taken his injuries into account. Also, had he not pleaded guilty, Kirkwood could have faced 10 years behind bars if convicted."

* The Irish Space Program by David Berman

The day was hot and it was not cold.
He sat by a stream east of the trees,
the very picture of invisible labor
in the old price ranges of folklore,
like a hermit in a romantic ballad.
I guessed him dreaming of unnoticed things
or unnoticed aspects of noticed things
in that meadow whose fundamental beauty
was commensurate with its uselessness
as was, so often was, the case.
It was the wonderful overgrown field,
ever-redolent of an abandoned stage
where I had written "Death Rents A Flower"
and "Reactions From A Snowbound Academy"
the year before. Finding it occupied
I continued down the shabby road
past the barn that seemed to hide things
not worth finding. There was a waterlogged
tavern door lying flat on its back
in the grass. With a stick I engraved
curse words on the surface of a forest pool.
Oh why should I lie to you! I was desperately
unhappy. I could hardly believe how
uncomfortable my clothes had become.
Was I to return to the wobbling candlelight
of the inn to gamble for nightingales
with west-country earls? These forests
were just voids with bears inside.
I could not have felt more harrassed
if it had been raining carrots.
I turned on my heels and headed back,
determined to eject that hermit from
my thinking spot. Hatred came flipping
down my forearms. Any refusal would be met
with super-refusal. It was not for nothing
that I called my hands the Wild Fives.
But upon returning, I found my pastoral arena
depopulated once again. I took a seat and
turned an ear to the birds inside the sky.
So only ten bad minutes had been appended
to my life. Leaves fell in soft corkscrews.
A lone rabbit hopped by.
The day was hot and it was not cold.
Well, I've been turnstyled, junkpiled and railroaded too

* The virtue of idleness . Author Tom Hodgkinson aruges that from the Bible on, moralists and nags have wrongfully promoted the benefits of hard work and early rising. excerpt:

"I wonder if that hard-working American rationalist and agent of industry Benjamin Franklin knew how much misery he would cause in the world when, back in 1757, high on puritanical zeal, he popularised and promoted the trite and patently untrue aphorism 'early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise'"?

"It is a sad fact that from early childhood we are tyrannised by the moral myth that it is right, proper and good to leap out of bed the moment we wake in order to set about some useful work as quickly and cheerfully as possible. Parents begin the brainwashing process and then school works yet harder to indoctrinate its charges with the necessity of early rising. My own personal guilt about feeling physically incapable of rising early in the morning continued well into my 20s."

"As a student, I developed complex alarm systems. I bought a timer plug and set it to turn on my coffee maker and also the record player, on which I had placed my loudest record, It's Alive by the Ramones. 7.50am was the allotted time. Being a live recording, the first track was prefaced by crowd noise. The cheering and whooping would wake me, and I'd know I had only a few seconds to leap out of bed and turn down the volume before Dee Dee Ramone would grunt 'One - two - three - four' and my housemates and I would be assaulted by the opening chords of Rockaway Beach, turned up to 11. The idea was that I would then drink the coffee and jolt my body into wakefulness. It half worked. When I heard the crowd noise, I would leap out of bed and totter for a moment. But what happened then, of course, was that I would turn the volume right down, ignore the coffee and climb back to the snuggly, warm embrace of my duvet. Then I'd slowly come to my senses at around 10.30am, doze until noon, and finally stagger to my feet in a fit of self-loathing."
"People criticise drunken sex but in my experience it tends to be better than sober sex. Drink and drugs improve sex by removing all the performance anxiety and guilt and concern about having a crap body, as well as certain, ahem, inhibitions.

"Dreams and idleness go together and are dismissed as 'the children of an idle brain', as the sensible and grounded Mercutio says to the starry-eyed Romeo in Romeo And Juliet. Dreamers are 'away with the fairies.' They are told to start living in the 'the real world.' The trick, indeed the duty, of every serious idler is to harmonise dreamworld and dayworld.

"Dreams make the world go round. Our dreams at night fill our subconscious with strange reflections of the day. In our dreams, our spirit roams free; we can fly, we can sing, we are good at things (I have dreams where I am brilliant at skateboarding, for example), we have erotic encounters with celebrities.

"For surrealist filmmaker Luis Buñuel, dreams were the highlight of his life: "If someone were to tell me I had 20 years left, and ask me how I'd like to spend them, I'd reply: 'Give me two hours a day of activity, and I'll take the other 22 in dreams ... provided I can remember them.' I love dreams, even when they're nightmares, which is usually the case.'"
"The art of living is the art of bringing dreams and reality together. I have a dream. It is called love, anarchy, freedom. It is called being idle."

* Olympic insanity: fans may be booted from events for using "non-sponsored" brands. excerpt;

"In a far cry from the high-minded ideals of humanity and tolerance embodied by the Olympics, the organizers of the Athens games have warned spectators that they could be barred for taking a surreptitious sip of Pepsi or an illicit bite from a Burger King Whopper.

"Strict regulations published by Athens 2004 last week dictate that spectators may be refused admission to events if they are carrying food or drinks made by companies that did not see fit to sponsor the games.

"Sweltering sports fans who seek refuge from the soaring temperatures with a soft drink other than one made by Coca-Cola will be told to leave the banned refreshment at the gates or be shut out. High on the list of blacklisted beverages is Pepsi, but even the wrong bottle of water could land spectators in trouble.

"Fans will be allowed into the Olympic complex if they are drinking Avra, a Greek mineral water owned by Coca-Cola, which paid $60 million US for the privilege of being one of the main sponsors. Officials are under orders not to let in rival brands' bottles unless the labels are removed."
"Kostas Giannis, a Greek sports fan, said: 'I don't see why, after all the money that Greek taxpayers will end up paying to host the games, McDonald's should dictate what I can eat in my own city.'"

* Review of a recent show by my first favorite band, the who. [via largehearted boy] excerpt:

"Townshend took swipes at the ravages of time -- leaping around crazily and violently stroking his Marlboro red Stratocaster during the traditional three-song opening run of "I Can't Explain," "Substitute" and "Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere," as if he could somehow shake the whole thing back to life by himself. Daltrey, gorgeously oblivious, was the grateful marionette he has always been -- the struggle for the soul of the Who has always been Townshend's.

"Townshend was the zealot who clobbered Abbie Hoffman on the head when he tried to make a political speech during the Who's set at Woodstock. Music was more important than politics. In those days, the Who stood for something. Now the Who means million-dollar box office and $200 tickets.

"It wasn't as if Townshend and Daltrey took the opportunity to explore some of the intriguing nooks and crannies of the band's vast back catalog or bring some new ideas to some of the old songs or even play a song that might have come as a surprise. No, it was straight-down-the-middle FM classic rock radio Who -- the band playing second-rate broadcast fodder like 'You Better You Bet,' 'Who Are You' and 'Eminent Front straight-facedly as if they were certified Who classics.

"For a group that has gone without a new album for more than 18 years, Townshend took pains to play both the mediocre two new numbers the band tacked onto yet another greatest hits album this year, a move that already smacked of a certain desperation for some kind of commercial relevance in today's marketplace, even before having to undergo the further humiliation of the new songs largely going ignored. 'Real Good Looking Boy' finds Townshend writing again in the pop suite form of 'A Quick One, While He's Away' that led to the rock opera, 'Tommy,' although 'Real Good Looking Boy' is a long way from 'Tommy.'"

"But then so was the 20-minute medley of 'Tommy' that closed Saturday's show."

* Metropolitan plays DC's Ft. Reno tonight around 7:45pm, with Out Circuit & Pagoda.

August 6, 2004

Our secret's safe and still well kept where even Richard Nixon has got soul

Three poems by Leonard Nathan:


Through an open window of late summer evening
a woman cries, Ah-ah-AH!

Neighbors pause, blush perhaps, then go on
with their homely chores, smiling to themselves.

What do you do with this—another’s shameless,
lonely ecstasy? Or your own? I put

a tape of Mozart on to cover our confusion.

Testament of Beauty

You know how the boys next morning talk: they say
They've had exquisite virgins by the gross
And drunk the center of the city dry.
They wink and write their bragging off to loss.

Maybe a single bare bulb overhead
Has fouled their fantasies with dirty light;
Or maybe the bony girl they coldly had
Required a dry bed for one rainy night.

We've felt taht idiot pang, come dawn, and pulled
The covers to our chins. The truth of it
Sounds in the coughing of a petty cold
Contracted in the bottom of some pit.

By noon, of course, the world was gold unspent,
And young, with nothing yet quite real to do,
We made a kind of sorry testament,
Lying for beauty better than we knew.


A weather of crows and kites
The mailman left no mail,
My head is stunned by the sky,
And where will I get a style?

That one has lent me this,
This one has lent me that,
The head that aches is my own
But I've filched this flop of a hat.

These kites are birds, not toys,
Their beaks are hooked to rip,
Maybe a pen should be hooked,
But love has a blunting lip.

The crow comes walloping down,
He has snached a -- what from that pile?
My head is full of the weather
And the weather has no style.

Or is war the minimal style?
A Hell of a note to whistle,
But the crow invaded at dawn,
And the kite angles in like a missile.

August 5, 2004

I feel like Travis Bickle listening to Highway to Hell

* Today in 1962, Marilyn Monroe was found dead in her home. The "probable suicide" was caused by an overdose of sleeping pills. Monroe was 36 at the time of her death.

* Richard Cohen on Bush and his flip flops. excerpt:

"But on other matters, Bush has flipped and flopped with the best of them. As a presidential candidate, he declared himself implacably opposed to nation-building. Now we are engaged in building Iraq and Afghanistan. In Iraq, the cost has been not merely a ton of money, as it was in Haiti and other places Bush said he wouldn't go, but nearly a thousand American lives lost and countless more ruined. Mind you, with weapons of mass destruction all but declared a mirage in the desert, the new -- and sole -- justification for the war is not anything approaching self-defense but getting rid of Saddam Hussein and his regime. This is nation-replacement and nation-building, a total rehab project.

"Bush also declared himself a determined unilateralist, kissing off treaties and understandings and even spurning NATO's help in Afghanistan. Now, though, the unilateralist of old is sending Colin Powell around the world, seeking alms and arms for Iraq. Flip-flop.

"Bush would not negotiate with North Korea. He did. Flip-flop.Bush told the United Nations to butt out of Iraq. Now he wants it in. Flip-flop.

"The president opposed creating the Department of Homeland Security. Soon after, his strong opposition apparently slipped his mind and he flip-flopped his way to an embrace. Bush later opposed the creation of the Sept. 11 commission, but now he cannot thank it enough. He did not want his chief aides -- Condoleezza Rice, for instance -- to testify publicly before it but relented in the face of popular opposition. Flip-flop. He himself would not testify for all sorts of hallowed constitutional reasons and then, of course, did. Flip-flop. He insisted, though, on taking Dick Cheney with him, the functional equivalent of bringing the textbook to the exam -- not exactly a flip-flop, I grant you, but such a blatant admission of ineptitude that I am moved to include it nonetheless. Look, it's my column."

* Bob Weir sums up the 2000 election: "If every Deadhead in the state of Florida had voted in the last election, it would be a very different world today."
and I'm nowhere near what I dreamed I'd be

* Dave Eggers interviews David Cross for the Guardian. excerpt:

"DE: You've been on a few TV shows in the US, Mr Show With Bob And David and Arrested Development, but both of them seem weighed down by your presence. Have you ever thought about quitting them so the shows could be better?

"DC: After I auditioned for the part of David in Mr Show With Bob And David, I remember thinking that I had really blown it. They were looking for an edgy nerd and I had just come from the American Douchebag Awards on MTV, so I was wearing my Prada suit and sunglasses. But they were able to see through the real me and see that I could, in fact, play a socially awkward nerd, and they gave me the part. But, in answer to your question, I struggled with that very dilemma often. I sought guidance from Jim Belushi, who told me that it didn't matter at all if I was talented or right for the part or not, that the best thing to do was not only ignore my obvious lack of any discernible talent or charm, but to embrace my loutishness. I will for ever be in his debt.

"DE: Or a more serious one: you've ranted about how goofy American protesters can be. When the war in Iraq was being pre-protested, you were on some of the talkshows, and you were berating the left for bringing bongo drums and dressing as clowns and generally treating an antiwar protest as a sort of hippie-love-in-party. And you're one of the leading liberal voices who's critical of how silly the left sometimes looks. There were more protesters of that war than at any time since the civil rights era. Were they ignored - by the media, too - because they looked like hippie freaks?

"DC: I'm not so sure that they were ignored, rather than dismissed. They (at least 15 million worldwide) seemed to be regarded with a sense of tolerated obligation, that this is what you get when you live in a free society - sorry, folks. A protest would be shown on the news and treated like it was a minor annoyance, like a bad storm or an outbreak of flu. And while there were plenty of 'regular' folks from all over the world who trekked to wherever because they felt it was important for their voices to be heard, it was usually only the radical stereotypes who got shown on TV because of, not in spite of, their inane, childish hippie outfits. Dressing up (inexplicably) like a robot wearing a multicoloured afro wig, standing on stilts and yelling that Bush is a Nazi at scared and disgusted middle-aged tourists only makes the already severe polarisation (not to mention the fierce anti-intellectualism) in this country even more irreversible. Way to go you dumb fucks."

-- If you look closely at the cover of David Cross's newest cd Its Not Funny, myself and two friends are visable in the lower right hand corner of the cd, to the right of the microphone stand and to the left of the parental advisory sticker. The show was taped in DC in January.

* Stressed Israeli soldiers suffering from combat stress after tours of duty in the Palestinian territories could soon be treated with cannabis.

* Yo La Tengo will be appearing tonight on CNBC's McEnroe.

August 4, 2004

count the days that we have wasted from the start

* Chess: a game of dictators. excerpt:

"Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, a diminutive 44-year-old man with Eurasian features and a cherubic smile, has since 1993 been the president of the former Soviet republic of Kalmykia. In 1995, after soliciting permission from Boris Yeltsin to carry on two simultaneous presidential roles, Ilyumzhinov was elected president of FIDE (Fédération International des Echecs), the world's foremost chess organizing body. As a head of state, he has rendered Kalmykia into a thriving command/capitalist economy with his iron-fisted rule; as for FIDE, however, many say he has managed to run the game of chess into the ground.

"The Kalmykian leader counts among his friends Bobby Fischer and Saddam Hussein, or at least that's the conclusion one might draw from the fact that Ilyumzhinov's bizarre personal homepage names the chess recluse and the Iraqi leader on a 'Meetings and Friends' link. On the Hussein page, Ilyumzhinov waxes romantic about his pal (quoting himself from a statement he made in1996): 'Living in a blockade for five years and not only ceasing the inflation, but also raising people's wages--these are things which not every leader would be capable of. Everything is fine in Baghdad.' (Other 'friends' Ilyumzhinov outs on his website include the Dalai Lama and the Pope; elsewhere on the site, the president has put up cute pictures of himself as a uniformed, fifth-grade 'Young Pioneer.') And one can only speculate as to why Ilyumzhinov was reportedly one of the last foreigners to see Uday Hussein alive, on a curiously-timed visit to Baghdad this April."
"In fairness, FIDE and Ilyumzhinov are not entirely to blame for the enfeebled status of chess. Many believe that the international chess community has rendered itself a laughing-stock by infighting and internal fragmentation. At present, for example, there are not one, but three world chess champions, because the chess world cannot come to a consensus on this matter. One champion is Kasimdzhanov, by virtue of having won the FIDE tournament in Tripoli. Another is Garry Kasparov, the highest-ranked player according to the Byzantine FIDE scoring logarithm (Larry Parr, former editor of Chess Life, calls Kasparov 'the whatever champion by virtue of universal acceptance.') The third is Vladimir Kramnik, having defeated Kasparov in competition. Even those persons most principally affected by the rankings are confused.

"It seems that, whether the cause is Ilyumzhinov's corruption, the End of History, or disorganization, the chess world's incapacity for self-governance has left an intermittent vacuum, making it easy for the game of kings to become the game of dictators."

* Washington Post's Harold Meyerson asks where's Rumsfeld? excerpt:

"Could be the Abu Ghraib business. After a couple of days digging around, I discovered in the current issue of Newsweek a story that speculates that Rummy's own special committee to investigate how nice American boys and girls turned into a Junior Gestapo might actually finger Rummy himself.

"But that couldn't be the whole story. Rummy's been under wraps for a while now. In fact, he disappeared around the time U.S. forces in Iraq disappeared.

"I mean, what have we heard out of our guys since we transferred power, as we say, to the Iraqis at the end of June? The whole occupation is under wraps. In June, when we were running the joint, 42 American soldiers were killed. In July, when we'd reduced ourselves to a historical footnote, 54 American soldiers died, but who knew it? None of our guys is around to talk about the occupation anymore. L. Paul Bremer is gone. Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez is gone. Rummy is -- well, that's what I was trying to find out.

"We've gone from Mission Accomplished to Mission Invisible. The fact that we still have men and women in harm's way doesn't play very well if the boss is going to get reelected. The fact that we never had a plan for Iraq after Saddam Hussein -- or, worse, that we had plans from the generals and from State and from the CIA, and that Rummy trashed them all and figured we could run the place with nothing more than Ahmed Chalabi and the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo -- is not something the Bush boys want voters thinking about as the election draws near."

* The Caribbean returns to Boston Friday, August 6, and will be playing Durrell Hall (Central Square YMCA), Cambridge, Massachusetts with Xiu Xiu.

The Caribbean are also scheduled to play in Norfolk, Virginia next Wednesday, August 11, also with Xiu Xiu. The show, at Relative Theory Records, begins at 8pm.
I'm gazing up at the faces staring blankly at me

* Last year George and Laura Bush (as well as their children and top aides) received about $130,000 in gifts from the Saudi Royal Family. excerpt:

"According to today's documents, compiled by the State Department's Office of Protocol and published in the Federal Register, the single-most valuable item received in 2003 was a $US95,500 ($136,000) matching set of diamond and sapphire earrings, bracelet and necklace presented to First Lady Laura Bush by Crown Prince Abdullah.

"Mr Bush received a mantel clock 'elaborately detailed in silver and gold vermeil' and worth $US8500 ($12,100), while the 'first family' was listed as the recipient of two Bulgari necklace, ring and earring sets.

"Made of pearl and diamonds and diamonds and black onyx - and valued respectively at $US8000 and $US8500 dollars ($11,390 and $12,100) - the sets appear to have been intended for the president's twin daughters, Jenna and Barbara.

"All the prince's presents - including two $US1500 ($2135) gold and silver ceremonial daggers for White House chief of staff Andrew Card and national security adviser Condoleezza Rice, a $US3000 (about $4300) horse sculpture presented to Rice deputy, Stephen Hadley, and a $US1500 ivory and gold letter opener offered to Secretary of State Colin Powell - have been turned over the National Archives, according to the documents."

* Heck's Kitchen previews the Washington Redskins. [no link scroll to story] excerpt:

"Offense...Jesus-lovin' Mark Brunnell came from a long stay in Jacksonville to compete with incumbent third-year quarterback and fellow Jesus-lover Patrick Ramsey. Third-stringer Tim Hasselbeck has an endearing receding hairline. Brunell'll probably start, based on his big contract, experience, and better mobility in the pocket. Ramsey has the quicker release and bigger arm. Running back Clinton Portis was the big get of the offseason, coming from Denver for Pro Bowl Cornerback Champ Bailey. He'll play a big role in Gibbs' run-oriented offense.
"Special Teams...Spurrier didn't give a shit about special teams, and it showed. Gibbs takes them seriously, and we've got a big guy kicker in John Hall (Arrington's best friend on the team) and a punter (and former Buckeye) who won't screw things up in Tom Tupa."

* On Poverty:

"How come its a 'subsidy' when Pan American Airlines asks the government for a hundred million dollars to keep flying, but when people ask for considerably less to keep going, it is a 'federal handout.'" -- Russell Baker

"It would be nice if the poor were to get even half of the money that is spent in studying them." -- Bill Vaughan

"When I gave food to the poor, they called me a saint. When I asked why the poor were hungry, they called me a communist." -- Dom H. Camara

August 3, 2004

I dreamt of a house haunted by all you tweakers with your hands out

* Not at all like watching paint dry: Watch this women fold a shirt. It begs to be watched twice. [via travelers diagram]

* Ten games that changed the way football is played. excerpt:

"3. Baltimore Colts 23 New York Giants 17 OT, December 28, 1958
The Greatest Game Ever Played

"Many simply call this the greatest game ever played. It was the first NFL title game to be decided in overtime and the extra session caused a change in the way the game is played. The lure surrounding this game grows more and more every year and it is still talked about nearly 50 years later.

"It was a game that was very sloppy at times but there were a lot of big plays as well. After holding a 14-3 halftime lead, Baltimore found themselves trailing 17-14 with 2 minutes remaining. Baltimore quarterback Johnny Unitas lead the Colts down the field on a drive that ended with a 20-yard field goal to tie the score at 17-17 with just :07 seconds left in regulation. After the Giants punted in overtime, Unitas lead another long Colts drive that ended in Alan Ameche scoring on a 1-yard touchdown run to give the Colts the title. If you are a football fan you have probably seen the image of Ameche scoring from 1-yard out, it is thought to be the most recognizable image in NFL history and is one of the most popular sports photographs of all-time.

"The drama of overtime really helped the NFL and ratings for the 1959 season went through the roof. Many sports historians actually debate as to whether this was the greatest game ever played, but it was one of the most important for the league and in came in what many refer to as the Golden Era of Sports (late 50’s to mid 60’s)."

* 1997 Barcelona Review interview of A.M. Homes. [at the link is a link to her short story, A Good Doll] excerpt:

"BR: Are you working on any projects now?
AMH: Of course.

BR: Anything about it you want to share?
AMH: No.

BR: What are you reading now? What are some works that have affected you remarkably?
AMH: I am reading non-fiction on the subject of marriage. I am reading the novels of Richard Yates, of John Cheever and others and studying up on the progress of suburban life. I am also very interested in Russian Literature and read a lot of non-fiction. I love biographies.

BR: What are your interests musically?
AMH: I listen to a lot of classical music when I am writing--Bach, Chopin,Glen Gould playing the piano.

BR: All right. Now it's my turn: What does your mother think of your work? Have you had the opportunity to discuss it with her? Have you sat down over coffee and chatted about Barbie and Ken from the final story of The Safety of Objects? I guess my real question is, again, how do you take this stuff--these stories--and assimilate them into your everyday life? I don't mean this to be spiteful, but I'm fascinated in what one might do to approach such topics and leave them relatively clear-headed.
AMH: It seems off the point to talk about what my mother thinks of my work--suffice to say that I once did a reading of the Barbie story in a bookstore with my whole family there, including my grandmother who is in her 90s. What's a Barbie? She asked me later and I showed her one. Why is it called The Safety of Objects, she asked, and I explained.

You seem to have a recurring question or concern about how I assimilate what goes on in my stories into everyday life. I am a fiction writer, I work from my imagination, in response to things going on in the culture. Your morning newspaper is filled with things far more frightening than my stories. What I find difficult, if anything, is that in order to write, one must spend a lot of time alone, one is somewhat separated from other people who get up in the morning and go to the office--I dream of going to an office.

BR: What is your one guilty pleasure in life? Or if you don't feel particularly guilty about it, what's the one thing you'd least like people to know you do or enjoy?
AMH: Oh please. I should be writing a novel right now . . ."

if I had a home you'd know it'd be in a slide trombone

* President Pickpocket. excerpt:

"In 2000, George Bush said that tax cuts would do the trick to make a fairly healthy economy even better. The anticipated federal deficit for 2004 was released yesterday at $445 billion. Since taking office, the national debt has skyrocketed to more than $7.3 trillion - more than $1.6 trillion have been added on Bush's watch - with the debt ceiling being raised three times!

"With the Senate, the Congress and the White House all under Republican control, we have been shown that fiscal responsibility definitely does not reside within that political party. For them, it would seem that their motto is 'Party On!'
"For the past three years, we have been told that the economy is 'turning the corner,' is 'right on the cusp,' is going to grow 'in the next quarter,' and that 'any day now' recovery is coming. But Bush's current policies are not designed for an economic recovery that will reach all of the citizens of our nation, they are designed to give illusions and justifications with no results.

"George Bush inherited a budget surplus which he rapidly converted to a budget deficit, rewarding his friends and family with massive tax cuts and no-bid contracts.

"The disparity is seen by the rising need of families that are seeking help from area food banks. The number of people in the United States that are 'food insecure' (meaning they lack the ability to ensure healthy meals and are vulnerable to some form of chronic malnutrition) is 34.9 million, affecting 11% of families. The 2003 U.S. Conference of Mayors survey of 25 cities showed that demand at food banks rose 17%.
"This administration offers only its failed policies and that is why you won't hear them exclaiming how wonderful they are - you will only hear them deride the opposition.

"We are all smarter than we get credit for in this country. We know that what we see with our eyes and experience in our lives is reality and we know when we hear lies and obfuscation about the facts. Don't be deceived by the rolled up shirt sleeves - George Bush doesn't know what working is. He didn't work himself through college, he didn't finance his own corporate failures; instead he relied on other people's money, the public's gullibility and his father's name.

"We need to have honest representation in our government that understands that life inside the Boardroom and the Beltway is quite different than life on Main Street."

* Will Farrell returns as President Bush in this hilarious campaign ad.

* Old Puncture piece on Sparklehorse. excerpt:

"Like a modern-day Van Gogh, Mark Linkous takes in the simple, barren countryside around him and recasts it as art. What Vincent did with paint, Mark must do with words, chords, and melodies, and he splendidly evokes the idyllic and mystical aspects of the rural south on Sparklehorse's debut, vivadixiesubmarinetransmissionplot (on Capitol). From his rented farm in Bremo Bluff, Virginia, an hour outside Richmond, Mark glances out at the cows and horses, or his motorcycle, or the sky, or the dream he had last night. The only nonrustic thing Sparklehorse's main man plucks from the domestic scenery is that mass of metal passing through the yard at 50 miles an hour.

"'I love trains. I try to keep them out of my music because they're sort of a hack thing to write and sing about,' Mark says, reminded of a century's worth of Chattanooga Choo Choos, Mystery Trains, and City of New Orleans. 'You hear people like Hootie and the Blowfish or Soul Asylum talking about trains. I don't want to hear it romanticized anymore.'"
"Mark's Southern hospitality extends to letting us in on the rather odd title to Sparklehorse's album, Vivadixiesubmarinetransmissionplot. 'It's a bunch of words from a dream. In it, [Confederate] General Lee had a submarine, and I was swimming toward it. I heard an old-time band playing inside. That's where the title sort of came from.'

"The 16 tracks on Vivadixie spring from innocent observations or painterly interpretations. "Spirit Ditch" is sung by a dark character who could have migrated from a Faulkner novel. In the three-minute masterpiece, as overlapping guitar notes emulate the gentle flow of a woodland creek, Mark's quavering voice relates, 'Woke up in a burned-out basement/Sleeping with metal hands in a spirit ditch.' At a moment when you expect a bridge or a ringing guitar solo to pick up the pace, a woman's voice funneled through a telephone recounts a dream in which seven-year-old Mark plays in the woods, falls down a hill, gets hurt. It's his mom.

"Mark, now in his early 30s, remembers how it came together. "We were working on the song in the studio, and we'd left a space for an instrumental solo. I was like, `Man, I don't want to do a fuckin' guitar solo.'

"'Then I called home to check my messages and my mom had left that story. I put the mike up to the telephone, and it fitted perfectly. One of those great little accidents.'"
"But Mark Linkous isn't just a lonely figure who reads books and strums solemn
guitar. He shares the farm with his wife, Teresa, and a battalion of animals. Mark describes his surroundings: 'Big open fields. The people we rent from live in a mansion not too far from our house. They rent the fields to someone who raises cattle. Sometimes I can't record, when the cows get really loud.'

* via Jesus' General: