Friday, October 28, 2005

The 'I' stands for "Indicted"

I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, the Vice President's chief of staff, has been indicted by the 1920s social gadfly, author, and prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald.

For those of you keeping score at home: Iraq, Katrina, indictments, and a flawed Supreme Court nominee who would have received deeper consideration from the American Idol judiciary than the US Senate.

Can life get any worse for our beleagured heroes in the White House? Maybe Bush will employ this tactic to fight back against the "liberal media."

This entry wouldn't be complete without an adorable portrait of our nation's foremost hatchetman.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Post Gazette turns GOP Rag!

The Post Gazette endorsed a record number of Republicans over the past week, leaving me to wonder if Tony Norman's recent departure for Michigan finally tilted the Editorial Board towards a position of Objectivity... or whether the PG is finally as disgusted as the rest of us.

The reformist tone in the Post Gazette's endorsement of Doug Price & Geneva McKee for County Council, and Bob Hillen for City Council shows that since the advent of Jim Roddey's Republican reformist platform, moderate Republicans have fully assumed the progressive mantle in Allegheny County. Democrats, fresh from endorsing Tom Flaherty for judge, wonder why they are seen as stale and counter-productive. Fighting to give Allegheny County what it really needs (3 more Costas, 2 DeFazios and an O'Connor), they should probably do a gut-check to figure out why the PG & the voters are less than grateful.

Pennsylvania voters are disgusted with failure and corruption at every level of government right now, and standing up for business as ususal is a damned good way to lose. Its not enough to claim to be the party of labor, or the anti-Bush party, or the heretofore progressive party in the same election cycle as the state pay-grab, the county assessment boondoggle & the city fiscal meltdown. Someone needed to stand for change, and the County GOP is up to the task.

Council V. Pres. Charles Martoni (District 8) and challenger Michael Finnerty (District 4) were aptly pinned as party lap-dogs in the PG's endorsement of their opponents. The Post Gazette cited both candidates' opposition to necessary reforms and support for the corruption plagued Sheriff and Treasurer's offices. Bob Hillen's bid for City Council is one hell of an uphill battle; but in a district that sent Republican Michael Diven to the state house, Motznik might have to fight for his seat. For once, I hope voters take a healthy look at the PG's endorsements. Having got the reform religion, it would be a shame to reject good advice from the PG... especially since it was heretofore so preciously rare.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Swallow you, swallow me

It's not quite Friday porn, but it's funny enough to be blogged.

Friday, October 21, 2005


"From: [New Mexico]
Tuesday, October 12, 2005 2:14 PM

Subject: So
you're an...Entrepreneur?

I wonder how much money you rake in from those
exhibits. If you took people's secrets as seriously as you claim to, surely
you'd donate your profits to anti-suicide charities, rape abuse centers and the
like...I can't help but pose a query as to the exploitation of others' guilt for
your own financial gain. -New Mexico"

So what I really want to know is... why is it a crime for someone to reap
financial rewards from their art? I don't at all consider the exhibits to be an exploitation of others' guilt. It is not as if the site is presented as anything other than an "art project" and art typically goes into exhibits. I think it is a very nice piece and the contributors willingly contribute their posts for the presented purpose.

But this actually brings an interesting point to my mind. Whenever a not-so-well known artist (especially in music and film) becomes well known and therefore starts to make a sizable profit, he or she becomes a "sell-out"... what does that mean, exactly? I mean, of course, I would be lieing to say it doesn't make me a tad jealous that my talents will not make me millions despite my hard work, but good for the person who can make a lot of money for their talents. I don't think that makes them a sell-out. People who claim as such are jealous and dumb.

Friday, October 14, 2005

PNC Bank Sucks

What I Want, What I Want

I want a bank that doesn't punish me for supporting the home team. PNC of the eponymous baseball diamond on the North Shore (Side) will now charge Pirates fans $10 a year for the privilege of carrying a PNC Park check card. As if it wasn't humiliating enough to be known as a Pirates fan every time I bust out the plastic, now my bank wants me to pay for it, too.

Memo to Jim Rohr: I'm going take the big, blue microphone and stick it up your posterior.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

John Perzel Hounded for Payraise

John Perzel, pictured surrounded by pigs and dollar bills, defended his massive payraise. The Tribune Review and the Post Gazette report he lied to the students about the limo he rode to the event. But to a legislator prone to lying, Pennsylvanians less than surprised.

Smurfs, 16 Kids, and Johnny's in the Closet

UNICEF launched a new ad campaign aimed at quelling the historically warlike instincts of Belgian. Like any nation wedged between the pacific borders of France and Germany over the last 200 years, Belgium surely needs warned against the maurading nature of mankind. UNICEF's campaign, featuring the effects of warfare on the village of the Smurfs, was doubtless planned to coincide with the 200th anniversary of Waterloo wherein Belgium played its historic role as Playground of the Gods. The Smurf-orrific clip featured a dead Smurfette, and an orphaned baby smurf crying in the mud. Belgians complained that an accurate portrayl would have included mustard gas and goose-stepping SS. Perhaps UNICEF should have run the ad in Saudi Arabia?

From Arkansas, again fertile ground for the smurf ad, newly born Smurf fans abound. An Arkansas woman gave birth to her 16th child on October 13th. Dad, who is apparently thrilled to death to be so overwhelmed with children that none ever receive adequate attention, said he'd like a few more: "We'll take what the Lord gives us." Dad says this not realizing that his 15 yr. old daughter Janna knows a bit about making babies herself, and that her deeply religious twin John David, has spent lots of time in the locker room showers staring hungerly at the same football player Janna blew just two hours previously.

Less fortunate in their sex-capades is this Squirrel Hill burgular, caught in the act as he robbed a Hobart Street apartment building.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Stunning Parking Violation

Frank Caruso, 66, is the picture of bucolic life in Mt. Lebanon. Owner of a pizza shop in one of the community's quixotic boutiques along Washington Road, Caruso has been a fixture in the local business community of this wealthy suburb for decades. Residents like Caruso's pizza, and find his thick accent and poor command of English charming. How then does this shop owner, respected in the neighborhood, so successfully obscure his darker side for so long. How long has Frank Caruso been Mr. Hyde?

July 21st was a typical summer day in Mt. Lebanon: the sun shining on the white faces of those God's perverse creation chose to bless with inordinate prosperity. Children smiled and skipped along the brick-paved sidewalk, shops bustled with activity. Yet not was all well in Normalville. Behind the wheel of his car, Frank Caruso seethed with unspeakable undefinable rage. Like the Grinch and his sneer towards Whoville, like the Theodoric with a hungry eye towards a vulnerable Rome, Caruso cursed the wealth of happiness around him. He was determined to either wreck it, or have it for his own.

The angels in heav'n ceased their singing in horrified expectation as Caruso's venomous mind unleashed his plot. The wicked sinews of his evil heart pulsed in delicious expectation as Satan bade evil forth into God's creation. As Caruso pulled his car across a sidewalk, the once blue sky swirlled blood red. Horror! Caruso had blocked the sidewalk to a clutch of walking senior citizens, several would-be bicyclists, and 14 members of the US Special Olympic Wheelchair Racing Team on their final qualifying lap around the neighborhood! The churchbells of Mt. Lebanon Presbyterian hearlded the coming Armageddon: God and Man's Law on Appropriate Parkage of Transport, sacrosanct since Justinian first decreed that no chariot might unduely block passage in the narrow streets of Constantinople, has been violated.

The Mt. Lebanon Police, however, were fast to respond. They fought with Caruso, made him move his car, then pulled him over again for good measure. At the second pull-over, they declared the 66 year old man a threat, tasered the bastard and took him in.

In heav'n there was much rejoicing!

Bored Suburban Cops: 141
Rational World: 2

Monday, October 10, 2005

The Oldest Story

Exactly two days ago I was taking stock of an irrational decision I had yet again committed myself to. It seems I was skittering down a narrow country route, in eastern New York, bravely fording a fresh Hudson River tributary, formerly a road, in what was the worst weather I had seen all year. My SUV was being attacked by columns of heavy rain and the road (what was left of it, again) was innocent of street light, making this trip especially brainless in retrospect. It was only 6:30 in the evening yet there wasn't another car in sight. And all this for what? For a beer. No, not just for a beer; for a beer and a meeting in a slimy bar with two relations, only one of them amorous. I was cursing myself aloud, wondering very deeply what the hell I was doing hydro-planing in this unsturdy 1997 Ford Explorer, at my advanced speed, in terrible weather on a hash of a country road.

You're a real idiot for this, you know. You have to pull over and let this pass. You could crash the car out here and they wouldn't find you till tomorrow. Maybe later than that. PULL OVER.

Anyway, I made it. I didn't pull over and I didn't crash the car either, but I considered very seriously the reasonability of both. The decision to keep going was mine alone and if it all ended badly, well, whose fault was that? I could accept the accumulating danger as long as I had a choice in the matter. Now place all this alongside the experience of my co-worker, a pleasant young man of equal age, whose mother was instantly killed in a car wreck here less than two weeks ago. I did; I thought about this woman's death, plus the possibility of my own, as the Explorer lost all purchase with the road on that flooded Saturday night. She had been driving very early in the morning along a west-to-east interstate route, from Poughkeepsie to Danbury, Conn., or perhaps some indistinct point between. The car was struck from behind by a driver in the left lane -- a thoughtless girl, only twenty-three, sleep-deprived, careless -- and was propelled forward across two lanes of oncoming traffic from its original place on the right, fish-tailing, swerving, flipping, disintegrating. The next morning's newspaper framed it starkly: in the feature photo, dropped dead-center, was an overturned slab of metal embedded in a grassy depression on the interstate highway's shoulder; it was difficult to locate the ghost of the car anywhere in this picture. It was very bad.

Most of us will continue to be lucky in matters of life and death. The people we love will not be ruthlessly taken away. Our time here will not be unexpectedly cut short. We must all experience loss, yes, but not so sudden -- above all not so painfully sudden. Our entire health-care industry is dedicated to the banality of death: the slow decay; the gradual slipping away; the final goodbye in the hospice. Without this kind of preparation, death defies all forms of explanation. Collaterally, it makes life seem hapless and random. When my brother returned from Iraq after a tour of more than a year he was graciously unscarred. I never contemplated for even a second what it would feel like to see a newspaper photo injuncting me to live life without him, to pick up the pieces after that kind of inexpressible grief. Now this young man, my co-worker, must do just that. When I saw him last I was confronted with the possibility that I would never be ready for that type of death, for an absence of choice or preparation in the most severe circumstance confronting a human being. I wanted to be comforting. I didn't know what to say but I tried. I think I attempted to offer Shakespeare or John Donne but they were insufficient, so I stopped myself before sounding like a fool. Hemingway was the same thing. Yeats too.

The only reason I write this now, in what could fairly be construed, I agree, as a criminal attempt to insinuate myself into someone else's personal pain, is the fact that a) the car wreck story is public knowledge, and b) enough time has past to allow me to weigh my words infinitely better than I could ever chance to speak them. I had hoped to understand, in plotting out this essay, what this poor person could be going through, but that is elusive and maybe even impossible, as I now realize. Writers today talk as if they're confronting the possibility of occupational obsolescence: they say the language, via technology, is changing too fast to commit to posterity. How can one capture a fluid reality when the words don't even exist to define it? But they forget another side: the evergreen failure of these words and narratives to conquer, let alone describe, the elemental facts of life and death. In moments of incredible pain, the receding power of language and words to combat ugly randomness, not the corrective power of art, remains the story most familiar.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Friday Porn: Sunday Edition

Esquire, a magazine written for sophisticated and virile heterosexual males by gay men, has recently unveiled its newest "Sexiest Woman Alive" honoree. And the winner is (drum-machine roll, please) ... Jessica Biel!! Yes, Ms. Biel and her breasts grabbed the crown after Esquire showcased the issue on October 6, in New York. What are her just-christened duties you ask? As Esquire's "Sexiest Woman Alive" Jessica Beil must: 1) continue to be hot; 2) be hit on by Mickey Rourke; 3) resume hotness; and, 4) remind me again of a single movie she was ever in. (God! It's totally on the tip of my tongue. The one where she's in that rain-soaked tank top. It was called, ummm... Dammit!)

Friday, October 07, 2005

America talks, Cripple listens

I'm trapped in an Hampton Inn hotel room 20 miles east of Atlanta. I could go without ever seeing another piece of cherry wood in my life.

Too drunk to drive, too alone to care. But wait. Hampton Inn has an extensive selection of cable channels. I haven't watched this much television - in one sitting - since I had mono. I'm enthralled with the Time Life infomercial. Greg Brady and some sex kitten in a tight-knit sweater are pitching a compilation of forgotten soft rock and disco ballads. Music from the 1970s draws out my romantic qualities. I must buy.

Before I commit four easy payments of $29.99, I ask myself if there are any other dubious products worth purchasing. I flip, flip, flip again. My clicker lands me on C-SPAN. It's a 25th anniversary celebration show. Some dope, Joel Lawrence Steinberg, Fairfax Virginia's preeminent mental midget, is reading a trite self-authored essay about the virtues of C-SPAN.

Joel gives me a headache.

I recall that my dear pal, the inimitable Dain Pascocello, has also contributed an essay to C-SPAN's contest. Read it here, America.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

best and worst foods...

Poptarts? Toaster Pastry? Donuts? Death-in-an-individualized-wrapper?

reminiscing with a co-worker about favorite treats in youth, I can see what my parents were doing... and successfully so. Frozen orange juice concentrate instead of ice cream ... homemade popsicles made from real juice... ovaltine... (I wonder if any of that is still any good...)

So, I decided to do some google research as to the best and worst things I can be feeding my kids... Thank goodness PB&J was not on a list of nono's!!!

My kids love processed pre-packaged food as much as the next... poptarts... donuts... popsicles... fruit rollups... yogurt so thick with sugar it doesn't slide down a wall and it takes up paint with it during cleaning...
but perhaps we'll stick with the fruit and cheese.

a palestinian perspective

A used-to-be-good-friend-of-mine is a Palestinian refugee from Jordan. I suppose that is what you would call him, anyway. His father was a Palestinian, yet the used-to-be-good-friend-of-mine didn't set foot on the soil of Israel/Palestine until age 21. Nevertheless, I had the pleasure of discussing the most recent pull-out of Israeli's from the Gaza strip with the Palestinian father. I consider him to be a wise man. He considers all sides, he thinks very carefully before he speaks, he recognizes a difference between Jews and Israelis (though I don't think Jews always acknowledge a difference) and he speaks slowly. Speaking slowly always gives the sense of wiseness, I am sure. He believes that the pull out of Israeli's was not in any way linked to an Israeli attempt at peace and that this prophecy will come to a head when there is no further movement toward peace and there are no Israeli pullouts from the west bank. He says it is simply a matter of an overconsumption of Israeli troops to patrol the Gaza strip for some 8000 Israeli settlers. Truth? Falsehood? I expect the truth lies somewhere between aljazeera and cnn.


Scanning the Post-Gazette today, I noticed the news establishment has finally uncovered Pennsylvania's great idea for complying with a recent Supreme Court ruling requiring states to treat out-of-state wineries and in-state wineries the same.

While most affected states have opted for progress by unfettering out-of-state wineries to ship products to citizens, Pennsylvania has maintained its long government/mafioso grip on the liquor industry by actually instituting a level of bureaucracy to comply. Now Pennsylvania wineries will have to distribute to in-state citizens through the LCB.

That's right local businessman, kiss the Don Harrisburg's ring and give him his taste.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Breasts, Bibles, and the Meta-Media

You will likely think this post is all over the place, but rest assured you will be treated to a titillating discussion of breasts and bibles. This will, in a roundabout fashion, lead back to my commentary on blogs as meta-media, having read an interesting 25-page novicle that Daingerous sent me a couple months ago from The Atlantic Monthly by David Foster Wallace about (conservative) talk radio and John "Call me Zig while I spell out N-I-G-G-E-R on the air" Ziegler.

You see, on the bus today, I kept looking at this woman's enormous breasts, that to my defense, were a little more visible than absolutely necessary, right down to the flesh-colored lacy brassier. I mean, come on, was she looking for an audience? I didn't stand there amongst my morning EBS brethren and gawk or anything, but I looked furtively a couple of times, to verify my previous glances. What did the rest of the gaggle think of these jiggling phenomenons? Disgust? Arousal? To steal a quote from a source I can't remember, I could go either way. Disgust because what's the point in showing them off if its improper to look. Arousal for obvious reasons.

Right next to the woman with the elephantine breasts sat another lady with cotton up to her ears, perusing a dog-eared bible. I guess people read and re-read bibles in sort of a transcendental-meditative way, rather than reading new books for actual knowledge. All the amens, and begats, and lyrical platitudes translate down to "Om" from where I'm sitting. Clearly, people can't read and re-read the bible looking for knowledge, especially since everyone just takes the parts of the bible they like. I bet big-breast lady is a Christian but reads the modesty references a different way than bible-lady.

To pork or not to pork? Is coveting okay if no one else finds out? Do bushes really talk?

I suppose religion is our meta-media for drilling down into what the bible means, and like talk radio, you can join a group that likes the slant you do.

Like the news, the bible says everything! And it says it sincerely, just like the news does, seeming to present the topic of spirituality and God as an answerable kind of thing. But is there an answer any more than there is an answer to why some kid gets struck by lightning at his 8th birthday party? Probably not. Okay, no. Is there an answer to the age old questions, should she be showing and should I be looking?

Thank God almighty for the meta-media, for talk radio, for my little blog, that lets me and John Ziegler talk about the real truths in life, about breasts on the bus, unabashed revelations of people, and why people read the bible. You aren't going to see a lot of breasts on TV.

And thank God for religion, because the bible is as meaningless by itself as a FOX news broadcast. Next time you pick up that over-used text, have a little perspective, and realize the best religion comes from the best people, not the best translation. That's gotta meta-mean something.