Sports Question

December 1st, 2011 at 8:21 pm

When Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow kneels in the end zone, is he thanking god that he wasn’t molested by a coach?

Or is he condemning the Pope for condoning Priest Pedophilia?

Tim Tebow Tebowing

No one likes to get Fined.

But have you ever been Sanduskied?

Campaigning for Questions

October 3rd, 2011 at 7:45 pm

In his book The Revolution, Ron Paul relates George McGovern’s post-government struggles as an innkeeper. It just so happens that the Senator, former presidential candidate, and HST muse was forced to close his hotel because of exorbitant expenses mandated by (dum dum dum) “The Fed” to install things like automatic sprinkler systems and new exit doors.

<fist shaking in air> Those pesky exit doors! (In Homer Simpson grumbling voice)…I hate them so much…

George McGovern tells us:

“If I were back in the U.S. Senate or in the White House, I would ask a lot of questions before I voted for any more burdens on the thousands of struggling businesses across the nation.”

To this, Ron Paul concludes: “That is an important lesson: government intervention into the economy cannot be assumed to be good and welcome and just.”

To that, I conclude that we must ask more of our leaders. (I think, George, we were all hoping that you were asking a lot of questions in the first place.)

I have been consuming Dr. Paul’s book only because he has charmed me as a Presidential Candidate.

But to this, I’m calling bullshit.

Complete and total and utter bullshit.

There is too much focus on where our leaders stand on “issues.” It is time to stop asking our potential leaders what exactly they will do, and instead ask that they just do it well.

“Ask a lot of questions before I voted…”

Before??? <smacking forehead with open palm> Why didn’t I think of that?

Shoot the Yankee Bastards

September 29th, 2011 at 6:34 pm

There are many reasons to be fascinated with North Korea, as I am.

The Bond-esque villain-dictators, the high-step marching, the tragic wincing flinching impossibility of it all…

Nothing to Envy

If you were to actually read a book about the people who have lived there, as opposed to passive consumption of current events as I have, you’d be interested to know that there are also a few reasons to be humored by North Korea:

1. Korean Math Questions:

“Three soldiers from the Korean People’s Army killed thirty American soldiers. How many American soldiers were killed by each of them if they all killed an equal number of enemy soldiers?”

2. Korean music:

A song from music class, Shoot the Yankee Bastards, contains the lyrics, “Our enemies are the American bastards/Who are trying to take over our beautiful fatherland./With guns that I make with my own hands/I will shoot them. BANG, BANG, BANG.”

It’s too bad North Korea doesn’t have technology because I would LOVE to hear a recording of first-graders singing that.

Ron Paul Doubts Artist’s Abilities To Fill Out Government Forms

September 25th, 2011 at 10:35 am

Republican Presidential Candidate and graduate of the Ross Perot School of Elocution, Ron Paul has two books on the shelves. In his first one, The Revolution: A Manifesto, he doubts artist’s abilities to fill out government forms:

“NEA [National Endowment for the Arts] funds go not necessarily to the best artists, but to people who happen to be good at filling out government grant applications. I have my doubts that the same people populate both categories.”

Ron Paul would like to use this as an argument against federal spending and in support of the free market. “The NEA represents a tiny fraction of all arts funding,” Paul tells us, quick to note that private donations to the arts totaled $2.5 billion in 2006. With the NEA providing a comparatively miniscule $121 million.

“Freedom Wins,” Ron Paul is fond of saying. A campaign slogan, do I detect? And I totally agree: one year for Christmas an Uncle only gave me 50 bucks and my Grandparents gave me $200. I never spoke to that Uncle again. Right Ron Paul?

The Revolution by Ron Paul

Paul would love the relatively dismal and inevitably imperfect system of federal spending on art to support his case against government spending and in support of the free market. But Mr. Paul’s argument is instead an incomplete analogy that when taken to its inevitable conclusion, actually indicts the true nature of our government’s corruption. Can’t the same accusation be made of corporations, that the ones who succeed aren’t actually the best at doing business and making money by providing a service the people need, but rather merely the ones savvy in lobbying, filling out forms and affluent enough to contribute to major campaigns to ensure favorable market conditions? Paul would love to extol the virtues of capitalism and free enterprise, at the expense of that perpetually nefarious monolith of dangerous dissidents known as “Artists” of course, but in actuality it’s the Corporate State who is guilty of an addiction to an unsustainable and dangerous system of collusion and cyclical waste.

Leave the artists alone, Ron. Call me when a Banksy exhibit goes horribly wrong and hundreds of millions of gallons of spray paint spill into the Gulf. Everyone would think it was a Christo spectacle anyway.

Let’s focus on the problem. Is the problem Federal Spending? Or is the problem government investment in an unfair and dangerous economy of corporate welfare?

There are many things to like about Ron Paul. He wants to end the drug war. We wants to end war. He is a vocal advocate for the Constitution and personal liberties. He’s fun to listen to.

But like a lot of Republicans he seems to harbor a lot of resentment and disdain for various segments of the population. For a lot of Republicans, this disdain often manifests in peculiar social policies.

Whaddya got against the Artists, Mr. Paul?


September 12th, 2011 at 7:28 pm

¬°Satiristas! is an almost-coffee table book consisting of interviews with stand-up comedy’s modern luminaries as interrogated by Paul Provenza, of Aristocrats fame, and punctuated with photographs by Dan Dion, “the world’s premier portrait photographer of comedians.”

We all gotta be something, I guess.


¬°Satiristas! was published in 2010. Comedian Greg Giraldo passed away on September 29, 2010 after being taken off of life support following a prescription drug overdose.

We get to Greg Giraldo’s interview around page 261 of the hardcover:

“Let me put it this way: a week ago, my wife’s shrink – who met with me just so he could tell her what to say to me – called me psychotic, violent, and suicidal. I’m telling you this on purpose, for dramatic effect, so you can just cut and paste this right into my obituary.”


Jay-Z Decodes 18 Things

September 6th, 2011 at 5:35 pm

Sometime in 2010, Jay-Z published a memoir/manifesto/song explainer, Decoded.

Decoded by Jay-Z

Soon to be released as a blog post, here are 18 original Authwhore tracks sampled from the book:

1. Childhood Kicks: “It was the seventies and heroin was still heavy in the hood, so we would dare one another to push a leaning nodder off a bench the way kids on farms tip sleeping cows.”

2. Adolescent Fortitude: “When Dee Dee was murdered, it was like something out of a mob movie. They cut his balls off and stuffed them in his mouth and shot him in the back of the head, execution style. You would think that would be enough to keep two fifteen-year-olds off the turnpike with a pocketful of white tops. But you’d be wrong.”

3. Form: “I still loved rhyming for the sake of rhyming, purely for the aesthetics of the rhyme itself – the challenge of moving around couplets and triplets, stacking double entendres, speed rapping.”

4. Thoroughness: “To tell the story of the kid with the gun without telling the story of why he has it is to tell a kind of lie.”

5. History: “I was part of a generation of kids who saw something special about what it means to be human – something bloody and dramatic and scandalous that happened right here in America – and hip-hop was our way of reporting that story, telling it to ourselves and to the world…We came out of the generation of black people who finally got the point: No one’s going to help us.”

6. Hip-hop: “Hip-hop is the only art that I know that’s built on direct confrontation…There are very few beta rappers – it’s alphas all the way…It’s a recurring story in hip-hop, the tension between art and commerce.”

{Isn’t hip-hop a funny word when written? It seems a character from Watership Down.}

7. Boxing: “Boxing is a glorious sport to watch and boxers are incredible, heroic athletes, but it’s also, to be honest, a stupid game to play. Even the winners can end up with crippling brain damage.”

8. Cristal Champagne: “It was symbolic of our whole game – it was the next shit. It told people that we were elevating our game, not by throwing on a bigger chain, but by showing more refined, and even slightly obscure, taste.”

9. Failure: “I don’t accept that falling is inevitable – I think there’s a way to avoid it, a way to win, to get success and its spoils, and get away with it without losing your soul or your life or both.”

10. Physics: “There’s an equal and opposite relationship between balling and falling.”

11. Seeing Yourself on TV for the First Time: “After my first record got on the radio and on BET, it was wild being at home, feeding my fish, and suddenly seeing myself on TV.”

12. Duality: “I think it’s worth it to try to find that balance. It’s like life – sometimes you just want to dumb out in the club; other times you want to get real and go deep.”

13. Poverty: “One of the reasons inequality gets so deep in this country is that everyone wants to be rich. That’s the American ideal. Poor people don’t like talking about poverty because even though they might live in the projects surrounded by other poor people and have, like, ten dollars in the bank, they don’t like to think of themselves as poor. It’s embarrassing.”

14. Charity: “To some degree charity is a racket in a capitalist system, a way of making our obligations to one another optional, and of keeping poor people feeling a sense of indebtedness to the rich, even if the rich spend every other day exploiting those same people.”

15. 80s Hair Bands: “Rock started to change. Style started trumping substance, which culminated in the rise of the big hair bands. There were probably some great hair bands – I wouldn’t really know – but I do know that most of them were terrible; even they’ll admit that now. And what’s worse is that the thing that made rock great, its rawness, whether it was Little Richard screaming at the top of his lungs or the Clash smashing their guitars, disappeared in all that hairspray. It was pure decadence. It crippled rock for a long time. I wasn’t mad, because rap was more than ready to step in.”

16. Preferences: “More than anything, I love sharp people; men or women, nothing makes me like someone more than intelligence. Big was shy, but when he said something it was usually witty. I’m talkative when I get to know you, but before that I can be pretty economical with words. I’m more of a listener.”

17. Religion: “I don’t believe in the fire-and-brimstone shit, the idea that God will punish people for eternity in a burning hell. I believe in one God.”

18. Poetry: “…a set structure forced sonnet writers to find every nook and cranny in the subject and challenged them to invent new language for saying old things. It’s the same with braggadocio in rap…If you can say how dope you are in a completely original, clever, powerful way, the rhyme itself becomes proof of the boast’s truth.”

Empire of Illusion by Chris Hedges

August 29th, 2011 at 6:55 pm

I haven’t had this much fun reading and writhing with outrage since Naomi Klein’s The Shock Doctrine.

If there is a way (gratefulness? enlightenment?) to enjoy total frustration and exasperation, this book is it.

Empire of Illusion

Even before you get to the excoriating criticism of how modern culture has depraved our existence, you’ll know where you’re headed because of the subtitle, “The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle.”

What is the Empire of Illusion? Is it an updated criticism of technology?¬† We are told that, “Romanticism was sincerity, modernism was authenticity, postmodernism is visibility.” And whereas the camera provided visibility, the computer has allowed for connectivity. Hedges is no Luddite for sure, but our recent advances in technology, televisioncomputerInternetprogramminghacking, have certainly aided and abetted our plunder.

The Empire of Illusion is a place where “Hedonism and wealth are openly worshiped on shows such as The Hills, Gossip Girl, Sex and the City, My Super Sweet 16, and The Real Housewives of…The American oligarchy, 1 percent of whom control more wealth than the bottom 90 percent combined, are the characters we envy and watch on television.”

Ouch. I was not expecting a book that would deplore my fascination with reality television. Have we all become useful idiots? Is it still acceptable to watch Wipeout and Storage Wars?

American culture’s worship/obsession of our socioeconomic superiors, as Hedges would have us have it, is indicative of the illusion of literacy.

As it turns out, The Empire of Illusion has a lot of illusions.

Hedges oscillates from splendidly detailed descriptions of a wrestling match, The Swan, Survivor, and Jerry Springer with vigorous rants ending in well-turned extrapolations and conclusions. He slings a lot of mud. “Narcissistic self-absorption” is used.

Hedges tells us that “the Cult of Self dominates our cultural landscape, a cult with the classic traits of psychopaths: superficial charm, grandiosity, and self-importance; a need for constant stimulation, a penchant for lying, deception, and manipulation, and the inability to feel remorse or guilt. This is, of course, the ethic promoted by corporations. It is the ethic of unfettered capitalism. It is the misguided belief that personal style and personal advancement, mistaken for individualism, are the same as democratic equality. In fact, personal style, defined by the commodities we buy or consume, has become a compensation for our loss of democratic equality.”

Cult of Self? Yeah, I think we’re all on Facebook by now.
Screw Scientology. I want in on this Cult of Self.

Hedges continues, saying that this rampant self-absorption is the same perverted ethic that is to blame for our poor economy.

“We are a culture that has been denied, or has passively given up, the linguistic and intellectual tools to cope with complexity, to separate illusion from reality.”

We are lazy. And it’s no wonder, what with splendid little books like How to be Idle.

And then Hedges gets to the good stuff: Porn, the illusion of love. Did you know that porn can be degrading, harmful, and even dangerous?

You may like porn. But do you like supporting nefarious corporate conglomerates purporting to be decent organizations? You should know that AT&T and GM rake in approximately 80 percent of all porn dollars spent by consumers. (There is little definitive research, but overwhelming intuition, on who benefits from free porn.)

According to Hedges’ journalistic pining, porn is the new rock and roll. And porn has gone young and dirty. We learn that the genre “Gonzo Porn” is usually filmed in a house or hotel room for a style that pushes the boundaries of porn and often includes a lot of violence, physical abuse, and a huge number of partners in succession:

“Roldan would endure numerous anal penetrations by various men in a shoot, most of them “super-rough.” She would have one man in her anus and one in her vagina while she gave a blow job to a third man. The men would ejaculate on her face. She was repeatedly “face fucked,” with men forcing their cocks violently in and out of her mouth. She did what in industry shorthand is called “ATM,” ass-to-mouth, where a man pulls his penis from her anus and puts it directly in her mouth.”

Hedges tells us that, “Porn reflects the endemic cruelty of our society…The violence, cruelty, and degradation of porn are expressions of a society that has lost the capacity for empathy.”

At the risk of being a sexist apologist, this sounds like a lot of correlation and little causation. If modern porn has moved to an extreme distance away from notions of consent, mutual pleasure, and mere fetish, perhaps it is indicative of a desperation and desensitization? Another way, is porn the problem? Or is the horrifically depraved state of certain modern porn genres indicative or larger trends and societal failures? Don’t hate the player, hate the game? We are awash in troubled, violent times desperate to feel good, to feel at all. You can only blame porn for so much…Please read We Did Porn by Zak Smith.

But an Empire of Illusion is not built upon just reality television, celebrity worship, and porn alone. It also takes a corrupt education system, the illusion of wisdom.

See, porn isn’t the only problem!

Hedges informs us that, “Our elites – the ones in Congress, the ones on Wall Street, and the ones being produced at prestigious universities and business schools – do not have the capacity to fix our financial mess. Indeed, they will make it worse. They have no concept, thanks to the educations they have received, of how to replace a failed system with a new one. They are petty, timid, and uncreative bureaucrats superbly trained to carry out systems management. They see only piecemeal solutions that will satisfy the corporate structure. Their entire focus is numbers, profits, and personal advancement. They lack a moral and intellectual core…The democratic system, they believe, is a secondary product of the free market – which they slavishly serve.”

So it’s good news that the leading Republican Presidential candidate got poor grades at a rural public school in Texas?

But The Empire of Illusion is not just reality television and celebrity worship and porn and our corrupt education system, it’s also the “positive psychology” movement, the illusion of happiness.

Hedges traces this movement of pseudo-science professionals to a corporate culture of arbitrary goals and metrics, accountability based on peer pressure, and coercion masked as harmony.

“Corporatism, aided by positive psychology, relies on several effective coercive persuasion techniques, similar to those often employed by cults, to meld workers into a “happy” collective. It sanctions interpersonal and psychological attacks and lavish praise to destabilize an individual’s sense of self and promote compliance. It uses the coercive pressure of organized peer groups. It applies interpersonal pressure, including attacks on individuality and criticism as a form of negativity, to ensure conformity. It manipulates and controls the totality of the person’s social environment to stabilize modified behavior.”

Hedges continues, “Positive psychology, like celebrity culture, the relentless drive to consume, and the diversionary appeals of mass entertainment, feeds off the unhappiness that comes from isolation and the loss of community. The corporate teaching that we can find happiness through conformity to corporate culture is a cruel trick, for it is corporate culture that stokes and feeds the great malaise and disconnect of the culture of illusion.”

“The nagging undercurrents of alienation and the constant pressure to exhibit a false enthusiasm and buoyancy destroy real relationships. The loneliness of a work life where self-presentation is valued over authenticity and one must always be upbeat and positive, no matter what one’s actual mood or situation, is disorienting and stressful. The awful feeling that being positive may not, in fact, work if one is laid off or becomes sick must be buried and suppressed. Here, in the land of happy thoughts, there are no gross injustices, no abuses of authority, no economic and political systems to challenge, and no reason to complain. Here. we are all happy.”

I’ll just let that last excerpt soak in.

Hedges ends with the illusion of America. Because television + celebrity worship + porn + a corrupt education system + positive psychology = America!

Math with exclamation points.

Ultimately, I suppose we are a participatory fascism.



August 15th, 2011 at 10:10 pm

Dictionaries should be read and consulted if not for the imagery alone:

3. (of a volcano) neither extinct nor erupting

Volcano Poaz

How To Be Idle by Tom Hodgkinson

May 6th, 2011 at 10:07 am

Writing a book is probably the least idle thing I can think of. Try to not hold that against Mr. Hodgkinson when reading his “How to be Idle: A Loafer’s Manifesto.” The inherent irony of this book’s existence will torment your lazy brain.

How To Be Idle

Take your time with it. Library fines be damned.

“How to be Idle” is a whimsical lark of a book, pondering such hefty topics as Saint Monday, hangovers, and the “Death of Lunch.”

There are pertinent references to [productive] cultural luminaries such as Keats and his concept of “diligent Indolence.” Diligent Indolence. Now that’s something I could get behind. If I weren’t so torpid.

I am also a big fan of the chapter, “On Being Ill.” If you cannot relate to the “exquisite langour of surrender,” then this book is either for you or not for you.

Did you know that in 1839 it was considered elegant to take a tortoise out walking?

“How to be Idle” is peppered with poets and songs and philosophers, musings and collections. It is humorous and admirable, a dutiful effort for a book on idleness. It affords for worthy ruminations on drinking, working, and dreaming. As well as the impact of the Industrial Revolution on our modern working lives and consumer culture. Damn you Robber Barons and Titans of Industry!!!! My clenched fist shakes in your general direction.

“How to be Idle” is ultimately an eloquently argued plea for the value and worth of less. I hope that makes sense to you. Less is more. Small is the new big. Downsizing is the new expansion. Fuck outsourcing, you shouldn’t be sourcing in the first place.

Buy this book. If you get around to it.

And then read it. Eventually.

I guess.

War by Sebastian Junger

April 12th, 2011 at 9:58 am

I too was disappointed and, quite frankly, utterly shocked upon realizing that this was not a book about the perennial funk rockers infamous for such groovy hits as “Low Rider.”

War by Sebastian Junger

“Society can give its young men almost any job and they’ll figure how to do it. They’ll suffer for it and die for it and watch their friends die for it, but in the end, it will get done. That only means that society should be careful about what it asks for.”

This book, from the author of The Perfect Storm, is about combat. Not war.

Sebastian Junger puts himself on the tip of the fucking that is the American military machine currently thrusting into the deep oily swaths of Arabian pussy. And god bless him. He embeds with the very best jism of our society’s ejaculate.

“Wars are fought with very heavy machinery that works best on top of the biggest hill in the area and used against men who are lower down. That, in a nutshell, is military tactics, and it means that an enormous amount of war-fighting simply consists of carrying heavy loads uphill.”

“War” is pure and true, touching on both the logistical realities of modern warfare, as well as its philosophical underpinnings. It is a griping, fierce read. But it sometimes misses the point with too much journalistic focus:

Junger relates that, “The market town of Nagalar was a mile to the east and boasted a “men’s club,” whatever that meant; at night something akin to Christmas lights flashed weirdly over the rooftops.”

What??? That’s it? Let’s go! To the titty bar in Nagalar!!!! You shitty, shitty journalist.

There is bonding and camaraderie and love and devotion. Friendship and family. Triumph and terror. Despair and delight.

Junger gets to know the men and describes their plight with stunning simplicity and passion. Hemingway, your seed has sprung. But it is Junger’s analysis and observation that comes with cool cutting, slicing through the heat, blood, and death.

“The idea that there are rules in warfare and that combatants kill each other according to basic concepts of fairness probably ended for good with the machine gun.”

And I know what you’re thinking: “WHAT ABOUT THE 2ND AMENDMENT!!!”

And I agree, this book is a stirring rebuke of the second amendment’s validity.

But let’s let him continue, as he does, later:

“As a result, much of modern military tactics is geared toward maneuvering the enemy into a position where they can essentially be massacred from safety. It sounds dishonorable only if you imagine that modern war is about honor; it’s not. It’s about winning, which means killing the enemy on the most unequal terms possible.”

Damn fine writer.

Ah, poetry. Blunt brutal reality, stirringly told:

“War is a lot of things and it’s useless to pretend that exciting isn’t one of them. It’s insanely exciting.”

So let the drumbeat roll, the machine gun rattle.

“The machinery of war and the sound it makes and the urgency of its use and the consequences of almost everything about it are the most exciting things anyone engaged in war will ever know. Soldiers discuss that fact with each other and eventually with their chaplains and their shrinks and maybe even their spouses, but the public will never hear about it. It’s just not something that many people want acknowledged. War is supposed to feel bad because undeniably bad things happen in it, but for a nineteen-year-old at the working end of a .50 cal during a firefight that everyone comes out of okay, war is a life multiplied by some number that no one has ever heard of.”

And then somber inevitability:

“Suddenly it seems weak and sad, a collective moral failure that has tricked me – tricked us all – into falling for the sheer drama of it. Young men in their terrible new roles with their terrible new machinery arrayed against equally strong young men on the other side of the valley, all dedicated to a kind of canceling out of each other until replacements arrive. Then it starts all over again. There’s so much human energy involved – so much courage, so much honor, so much blood – you could easily go a year here without questioning whether any of this needs to be happening in the first place.”