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Archive for October, 2009

Lovely Human Beings.

This story is really fucking moving. It’s strange that so much money will go to trying the suspect, imprisoning him if found guilty, and rewarding the person who turned him in; but the victim has to face an enormous drop in the quality of life along with a staggering rise in medical costs pretty much alone. At least in this case, someone came along and decided to do something wonderful. If only governments and justice systems did that…

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Godspeed You! Black Emperor being vague, or, you know, something like it

Godspeed You! Black Emperor being vague, or, you know, something like it

Without a doubt, the greatest 57 seconds in music is “Attention Mon Ami Fa-Lala-Lala-La-La (55-St. Laurent)”, with 57 being arbitrary, since the piece is actually 1:18, and that piece is actually just a fragment of “She Dreamt She Was A Bulldozer, She Dreamt She Was Alone In An Empty Field,” which is, in turn, just one of the movements in “Anthems,” the fourth song on Godspeed You! Black Emperor’s eternally something else album, Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven. Said album also has the greatest introduction to any album anywhere ever,  “Lift Yr. Skinny Fists, Like Antennas to Heaven…”

There’s no real point to this, but I just want to put it out there. I was listening to Do Make Say Think’s new album Other Truths, and all of a sudden I was very much, dude, I need something epic-and-more. Something which is going to not just space me out, but speak to all the nuttiness I feel after Capitalism. I loved Lift Your Skinny Fists when I was a young lass, and I can’t say my feelings of it have changed in the slightest. Ultimate point being, there can’t really be a way (I hope) for a human being to hear “Attention Mon Ami Fa-Lala-Lala-La-La (55-St. Laurent)” and not just feel something fucking huge.

Levez Vos Skinny Fists Comme Antennas to Heaven

Levez Vos Skinny Fists Comme Antennas to Heaven

On a side note, Godspeed You! Black Emperor is one of the few bands where I’d like to meet the whole crew, though they haven’t recorded in ages and probably won’t in the foreseeable future. Still, there are not many other groups I’d really want to sit down and just listen to them bullshit or rant and rave. It’s not like I’d particularly like to pick their mind about the songs, but I just sorta like what they say (and don’t) and the explanations they give (or avoid giving at all). Plus, they named themselves after a Japanese documentary about bikers entitled God Speed You! Black Emperor. I don’t know, them, they just make sense to me. Yeah, that’s it.

from the film which gave the band the name which made all the songs which are super neat

from the film which gave the band the name which made all the songs which are super neat

And if I haven’t mentioned they have one of, if not The, greatest names for a band ever, let me say it: Godspeed You! Black Emperor has one of the greatest, if not The Greatest, name for a band. Ever.

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People for Peace

Isn’t it incredibly fascinating how schizo-fucking-phrenic conservatives are? Last week, loads of Republican media personalities celebrated America losing the Olympics last week, despite Bush pushing for Chicago’s bid himself just a few years back, and claimed it as some sort of bizarre world rebuke of the President. This week, Obama wins the Nobel Peace Prize, and they are suddenly “How dare they give him an award when all he has done is give speeches? Eleven days, star power, blah blah blah!”

I think there are several ways to look at the opposition. First, they’re crazy. Second, they’re morons. Third, they do not care for the concept of America whatsoever, which I really wouldn’t mind if they weren’t such rank hypocrites. Fourth, maybe they should see this as a rebuke of themselves, since the world finds Obama’s rhetoric world-saving compared to the shameful violence and bullheaded-ness of the previous eight years.

Ignoring insane Republicans, there is a legitimate question of whether Obama really deserved to win. I think the people questioning it are completely right, but at the same time I see this particular decision as unique. Pretty much anyone else who had won would not have received the amount of attention that Obama will receive. Usually the recipient wins, gets some articles written up, there’s debate in a few circles, time passes, people forget.

Awarding the Nobel Peace Prize to Obama is obviously premature. It is also fucking brilliant. It holds the President to a higher standard. It reminds him (and everyone) that the American President serves his country, but he also serves the world. It’s the most influential position on Earth. Simply having a President who isn’t insane, who engages in dialogue with other world leaders, who is willing to look at a situation like Afghanistan and ask questions instead of delivering pre-determined answers is truly a Godsend to the rest of the planet. They too are affected by the decisions of the American executive. By giving Obama the prize, the committee made a conscious decision to send a message: we value the rhetoric of a man who says he will work for peace. We value the opportunities which are uniquely present right now, especially as we are facing certain unprecedented life-extinguishing threats. Instead of waiting till the danger has passed, instead of waiting till the war is over, instead of waiting till the work is done and declaring a verdict, the Committee chose to involve itself in a new way and value possibility. Everyday, President Obama will realize he won the Nobel Peace Prize. Hopefully, he will feel a need to live up to that. Plus, dudes, who wants to run for president against a Nobel Peace Prize recipient??

So my take is ultimately, yes, obviously Obama has not done much to earn this award. But I think the Nobel Peace Prize Committee has done a subversive thing: they have chosen to be proactively involved in the peace process. They have chosen to encourage a particular narrative and to not sit on the sidelines, but to themselves participate. I find that to be remarkable.

Also, to the complainers, one or two things.

Henry Kissinger, that distinctly un-charming human being, won the Nobel Peace Prize. This while pushing decidedly war-mongering policies in Cambodia. Please, just, just stop.

Also: it’s their award to give. Not ours. Sorry the rest of the world thinks Rush Limbaugh is a gasbag and George Bush is an idiot. Try putting forward some real leaders, and not imperial figureheads uninterested in other people. Because if you’re not interested in others, you’re not interested in peace. That’s what selfishness gets you. A big ranch and a sports franchise perhaps, but certainly not global respect or the gratitude of histoy. Or, in other words, you snooze/you destroy thousands of lives, impoverish people, and decimate the planet’s resources… you lose.

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puddle raging

puddle raging

This is not a pleasant world for most people. I just finished watching Capitalism: A Love Story. I walked out into the mildly chilly Maryland evening feeling lots of anger. I will talk about that soon. But, as I can’t find Newsies to calm me down, I chose to have a cold beer and watch “Hoppipolla” by Sigur Rós.

Everything they do is glorious (yeah, especially that). Everything they do makes a person a little less inclined to create a secret identity based entirely on Robin Hood, bows and arrows being especially essential.

see, everything.

see, everything.

Of course, that doesn’t mean I intend to let lovely Icelandic bands and their whimsical videos showcasing old people and children doing enchanting things pacify me completely. I’ll just allow it to abate my headache at the present time.

these assholes don't do a fucking thing which doesn't make you wanna spin in a circle or take a nap.

these assholes don't do a fucking thing which doesn't make you wanna spin in a circle or take a nap.

So I guess in a world run by miserable jerks living off the backs of decent, hardworking people, there’s still some lovely stuff which doesn’t make one want to go tie one’s self to a streetlight in front of Morgan Stanley while on a hunger fast. Or at least, there’s something calm to think about while getting a sturdy metal chain.

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Apparently I am really into talking about vegetarianism today. I can live with that!

Stella

Now, let me begin by talking about The Beatles. I have always loved John Lennon. Then, I read the new biography by Philip Norman.  Not only was it not well-written, but I no longer care much for John Lennon. I didn’t mean to, but it happened. Yoko was right when she said the book is not kind to John. Obviously a brilliant, interesting dude. But as a good, decent person, I now pretty much love only Ringo. And, maybe Paul. This is troubling. The way I look at the world, it is changing. Paul was always, hey, great, but after the Beatles? Hmm.

But now he’s starting to really make some headway in my heart. This morning, feeling grouchy, I saw this profile of Stella McCartney at The Guardian. I didn’t expect to be interested, but since there’s a new void in my life (ha) which is aching for a new Beatle to adore, I had to check it out. And! Paul! Your daughter is kinda super cool!

I mean, we all know she’s a vegetarian and a fashion designer who doesn’t use leather or fur in her clothing collections. Cool enough. But as a person, she is also apparently neat-o. I was first impressed by bits like the following, where she talks about the efforts she makes to live sustainably, but also acknowledges that she is able to do so because of her wealth. I like that. Nothing enrages me like the rich imploring the desperately poor to take up the environment as a cause. Anyway, rants aside:

“We use Ecotricity at the studio and at home. We have biodegradable corn shopping bags. We use a hybrid car company when we need to get taxis. I’m obsessed with not chucking away food. I’m lucky enough to have a gardener, so we grow sweetcorn, tomatoes, beetroots, cabbages, pumpkins, lettuce. I’m trying to get into blanching it and freezing so I don’t have to buy veg over the winter, but then you need loads of freezers, and that’s not ideal . . . I don’t fly nearly as much as I used to, although that’s as much about having kids and not wanting to be away as it is about principle.”

I like how she’s thinking things out. Yes, it’s great to freeze stuff, but then there’s the issue with freezers. She tries not to fly as much, but she acknowledges that it’s not solely out of a desire to be eco-friendly, but it’s also because she has kids. She has a gardener, but knows that’s extremely a-typical. Then she points out her ability to make quality, cruelty-free clothing relied on having an incredible amount of support to fall back on.

“The greatest luxury of having the parents I had was that it has enabled me not to have to compromise. In the back of my mind, I always knew – if this all goes horribly wrong, I’ll be all right. That’s an option that most people just don’t have, financially.”

Then she just sounds out-right adorable.

“At Stella McCartney fashion shows, the show notes given to guests are prefaced with a page of dedications in her handwriting, almost always to “mum and dad”, as well as her husband and children…Later, at a tea party for editors, McCartney arranged a puppet show and low benches so that guests could bring their children; the hostess could be found perched at knee height, discussing the merits of Ben Ten with younger guests.”

I’m just a sucker for this shit. Sweet to kids. Vegetarian. Cruelty-free products. Concerned about the environment. Humble about acknowledging the fact that she’s able to do all this shit because she was born with immense privilege. Though I’m an immense advocate of public schools in pretty much every possible situation, I like that she wrestles with the question at the end of the interview and acknowledges she does her best but isn’t perfect and doesn’t know all the answers.  Best of all, in the most shallow of senses, she gives me lots of new reasons to think about why I should perhaps make Paul my favorite Beatle.

‘The way my parents brought me up to see the world is still absolutely key to what I am about…The beliefs I was raised with – to respect animals and to be aware of nature, to understand that we share this planet with other creatures – have had a huge impact on me. I was brought up to understand that we are all here on planet earth together. The idea of taking responsibility for what we take out of the earth . . . it’s not something we sat down and had lessons in; as a way of thinking it came quite naturally.’  The best piece of advice she was ever given, she tells me, was “do unto others as you would be done unto yourself. My mum and dad always said that and I don’t think you can go far wrong with that.’ From the viewpoint of today’s melting icecaps, the ethos of respect for nature in which the farm was steeped seems more prescient than far-out.

Alright Paul. Totally likable daughter who has completely awesome things to say about the way you raised her. It seems you might be in it to win it (my total utter devotion, I mean). After all, it’s hard to live without being nuts over at least one Beatle.

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Baltimore Gets It Done, 'It' Being Animal Rights and Healthy Eating. Not Football... Today, Anyway.

Baltimore Gets It Done, 'It' Being Animal Rights and Healthy Eating. Not Football... Today, Anyway.

I was driving on home today, listening to some NPR, when I heard this adorably terrific story. Adorable because I love Baltimore. Terrific because I love seeing vegetarianism being promoted. Together, it means I just love Baltimore even more.

Tony Geraci, the Food and Nutrition Director in Baltimore, would like to see Baltimore kids eating less junk food, and more of things that aren’t quite as… you know, invented in a lab with all sorts of sugar involved, or things which didn’t have lots of hormones pumped into them. So far there’s been a lot of effort to bring in more Maryland-grown produce. Now, Baltimore has started having Meatless Mondays. They are, I believe, the first school system to do so in the nation. That’s fucking right. It wasn’t San Francisco, or somewhere in New England, or Montgomery County. I love those places. But I am really excited that Baltimore did it first. It reminds me of why they paint “Greatest City in America” all over those benches.

It’s just utterly thrilling. They’re exposing 80,000 kids to healthy choices. They’re providing them with information about why what we eat matters, and why the method in which we grow and/or raise our food is important. This is happening in a city in which poverty and unhealthy eating is an epidemic. People in Park Heights cannot afford to go to Whole Foods even if there was one nearby. At the very fucking least, children can have something healthier offered to them besides burgers and whatever that stuff they put on pizza is, since God knows it’s not actually sausage or pepperoni. Yeah, Baltimore. Yeah.

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