The River

Monday, November 26, 2007

Laughing my ass off

Anyway, the shouting. In the first place, shouting is Wolf Blitzer's only mode of address. I fear that crouching on the hotel floor while bombs went off overhead during the first Gulf War permanently damaged his inner ears. My grandmother is quite hard of hearing these days. Every room in her home contains a TV, every one of them is always on, and all of them are turned up so high that Helen Keller could understand every word by feeling the vibrations in the floorboards. I walked in just the other day and Blitzer's Phillip K. Dick scream-a-thon, the "Situation Room" was playing in the living room. There he was standing in front of 4,000 moniters each subdivided into 97 tiny image insets all talking simultaneously. And there he stood, bellowing.

Now if that were not bad enough, Blitzer speaks English as if it were his eighth language, and he has never mastered its interrogative form. I am somewhat sympathetic. Having never quite achieved native fluency in French, I often find myself constructing elaborate statements followed by a wilting n'est-ce pas when I'm trying to ask something in that language. Blitzer questions like an autistic Latvian on a three-day cocaine bender, shouting subjects and misconjugated predicates in rapid series until a whole edifice of somehow-related anecdotes and propositions sits teetering in the empire of the airwaves, then shuffles his ever-gaping yawn-hole into a preposterous frown and asks everyone to raise their hand if they agree. The reason that they shout back at him is the same reason I shout at my grandmother: I figure she won't hear me if I don't, and besides, I have no fucking idea what she's talking about in the first place. Names and events from decades before I was born in neighborhoods I have never entered elide themselves into a miasma of sensecent nostalgia. Do I remember Johnny Kanootz who used to come into the bar, who they called Johnny Go-Go because of his girlfriend, or maybe because of his car, back in '64, when the Pirates still played at Forbes Field? Good god, no. This, friends, is what it's like to be poor John Edwards confronted by that bearded madman. You are half-afraid that in the middle of a sentence he's going to forget your name, start screaming, "Why are you in my house?!" and try to stab you with a butter knife. It is, in other words, at once deeply sad and thoroughly terrifying.

-- IOZ

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Southland Tales opens tomorrow in select cities

Apocalypse Soon: A Mushroom Cloud Doesn’t Stall 2008 Electioneering

New York Times, November 14, 2007


American cinema is in the grip of a kind of moribund academicism, which helps explain why a fastidiously polished film like “No Country for Old Men” can receive such gushing praise from critics. “Southland Tales” isn’t as smooth and tightly tuned as “No Country,” a film I admire with few reservations. Even so, I would rather watch a young filmmaker like Mr. Kelly reach beyond the obvious, push past his and the audience’s comfort zones, than follow the example of the Coens and elegantly art-direct yet one more murder for your viewing pleasure and mine [When I saw the preview in the theater, I asked my freind, "and I should care why?" -- ed.]. Certainly “Southland Tales” has more ideas, visual and intellectual, in a single scene than most American independent films have in their entirety, though that perhaps goes without saying.

Neither disaster nor masterpiece, “Southland Tales” again confirms that Mr. Kelly, who made a startling feature debut with “Donnie Darko,” is one of the bright lights of his filmmaking generation. He doesn’t make it easy to love his new film, which turns and twists and at times threatens to disappear down the rabbit hole of his obsessions. Happily, it never does, which allows you to share in his unabashed joy in filmmaking as well as in his fury about the times. Only an American who loves his country as much as Mr. Kelly does could blow it to smithereens and then piece it together with help from the Rock, Buffy, Mr. Timberlake and a clutch of professional wisenheimers. He does want to give peace a chance, seriously.


Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Time Lapse Video of Guy Driving Across the Country

Thursday, November 08, 2007

What mainstream reporters don't tell you

Asked if removing the counter-weight of a strong Iraq didn’t vastly increase Iran’s power, he [Bush] took a deep hit off his crack-pipe and said, “I think that, ultimately, they’re going to feel pressure about the type of government they have when their people look across the border and see a flourishing, free society.”


Asked by a French reporter about the Iraqi quagmire, Bush once again pulled out his trusty crack-pipe, inhaled deeply, and replied, “I don’t -- you know, ‘quagmire’ is an interesting word.” Adding, “and have you ever looked at your hands, I mean really looked at them?” Okay, what he really said, which is significantly more batshit out-of-his-head-loco, was, “If you lived in Iraq and had lived under a tyranny, you’d be saying, god, I love freedom -- because that’s what’s happened.”


I know it should be obvious that Bush is smoking crack, but how can reporters justify leaving it out of their reports?

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

The Best of The River, Year IV

This indictment of cultural blindness somehow escaped notice for the year III best of list. So it's here.

The Rolling Stones visited the western hippie paradise known as Missoula, Montana, and Keef seemed especially pleased to have discovered a new pocket of coolness.

Matt Dillon portrayed a surprisingly believable Bukowski in a beautiful little indie film.

I voted in an election with little confidence in its ultimate integrity due to the easily manipulated electronic voting and counting machines.

Found poetry on

American companies excel at one thing – marketing. It keeps a lot of people employed (ahem), but when car companies confuse rebranding with sustainable practices, the joke is on them, and us.

There’s quite a bit of “killer culture” out there, such as the vastly overrated work of Quentin Tarantino, which says a lot about Americans. Would that more people could find some critical distance, instead of gulping it down just because the hose is open.

A proposal to Websters for an honest definition of “McJob.”

Since they hate us for our toasted white bread, it is obvious we must engage in a global struggle to bring toast to the, uh, dark corners of the world.

Some would denounce The World’s Oldest Curmudgeon as a toast-hater, merely because he’s perceptive enough to realize there’s nothing inherently good and right about white bread.

Welcome to absurdistan. Or, Bring your own context to media stories, or go nuts.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

A Tribute to Existence

The creativity on the Net is beautiful.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Fourteen Twenty: Easier

Friday, November 02, 2007

It's All Just a Little Bit of History Repeating

"Bush will go down in history as the torture president. I hate that this country ever had a president who made the torture of human beings official government policy."

-Tristero at Hullabaloo

American liberals accuse their conservative counterparts of atavism, but they themselves are equally guilty--if not guiltier--of eying an imaginery past. Because their program is untethered from the history and reality of the actual United States, a vapid, vacuous series of exhortations to the better angels of our nature without the slightest attempt to grapple with the real actions of our country over the past centuries, they propose it as a reinvigoration or restoration of a peaceable, humanitarian, democratic tradition that never in fact existed. As partisans, it's understandable that they would want to exculpate their own political and intellectual forebears. Likewise, it's easy to see why the myth of a Just America plays so heavily in their rhetorical contortions. I'll make the point again: all politics is conservative in the sense that it seeks to fulfill the promise of an heroic past. The impediment is that the past wasn't heroic, but that's never stopped anyone.


Who is IOZ? the whole thing. Some fine blogging.

Very click-worthy. Go ahead, click. Thank you.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Springsteen news

I think people should shoot both their radio and their television (except for the non-commercial, of course), but since so many do listen to commercial radio, this is an interesting story:

The album is already gold and headed right towards platinum and he's got a great shot to win a Grammy for Best Album of the Year. Magic's reviews virtually everywhere are over the top and the intro to his latest interview in Rolling Stone refers to the album's subject matter as "weighty stuff like the direction of our democracy and party stuff that recalls the days when sparks first flew on E Street more than three decades ago."

Republican radio network Clear Channel, a monopoly in many cities and a dominant player in most of the rest, isn't interested. Is it because Springsteen has been an outspoken campaigner for Democrats and progressives? Clear Channel has taken a political stand with its programming in the past. Just think back to their boycott of the Dixie Chicks. Oh, no... not way back, just back to when they released their most recent album. Despite being one of the top 10 best-selling American albums of the year-- across all genres and demographics-- radio studiously ignored it. There were maybe half a dozen country stations that even played it at all. What Clear Channel did to the Dixie Chicks is a watertight case for the need to break the media companies up into a thousand pieces. (John Sununu disagrees; he's pro-censorship.) I spoke with an old friend who heads a record company and preferred to speak off the record.

"When you have artists like the Dixie Chicks and Bruce Springsteen who have overtly spoken out against this Administration, they are taken to task in spite the clear and undeniable indications from the marketplace that people want to hear their music. What seems to be happening-- if sales are any kind of a barometer of what the marketplace is-- is that these politically-connected radio networks like Clear Channel are not looking to succeed as radio stations as much as pushing forward some political agenda."

Another friend of mine distinctly recalls the Senate hearings on radio consolidation in light of the Dixie Chicks boycott where Barbara Boxer and John McCain heard testimony including an internal Clear Channel memo threatening "Just wait and see what happens if Springsteen tries this." I guess we're seeing that right now.


The first comment to this DownWithTyranny! post is great:

the forces of repression have been trying to kill off rock and roll since the fifties. not much luck so far and not much luck up ahead...sometimes they are offended by the gyrating pelvis, sometimes by the 1,2,3,4, what are we fightin for, sometimes by it's inherently anti-fascist gestalt and sometimes by the liberation it invites the masses to seek...but fuck em, rock and roll is hear to stay....