Legalize It Or Not --We Win, In the End
So: Criminalize something most reasonable people want, and that they are morally entitled to have; that only the stupidest, vilest, most evil members of a given society choose to outlaw. Then, put its production in the hands of those with little or nothing to loose.

Who has the moral high ground then? Which side comes up with badass shit like this:

Mexican officials seize ‘narcotank’


Whose side do you want to be on? Which side is right and frankly, more American, in the purest, most ideological sense?

Go to any underground hardcore punk show this weekend. Or any skate park, in any major real American urban center. Notice how the majority of all the attendees over 35 are olde school tattooed peckerwoods, and everyone under 25 is niggaz/blatino/azn/etc.? It's not about the color of your skin; but rather, what you believe in that makes you an Outlaw, or in other words ... an American (in the purest, most original and ideological sense).

Overheard: "Fuck the birth certificate. I'll take the death certificate!!"

* Hitler’s death was also announced on May 1.

* Amusing to watch the bitterness and wet blanketry on the various right wing blogs.

* Million-dollar compound with 18-ft walls, yet no telephone or internet services; also, residents burned their trash, instead of hauling it out to the curb like all their neighbors. These among other idiosyncrasies raised suspicions.

* Who will take his place as a figurehead? Wouldn’t be surprised if it was (someday, not immediately) Adam Gahan, aka Adam al-Amriki.

* Also wouldn’t be surprised if it was a Pakistani who fired the fatal shot. If it was, however, an American, safe to say this guy never buys a drink again in his.

* Biggest loser today is Trump.

* “Body will be treated in accordance with Muslim custom?? “ WTF? In the speech, it’s “he wasn’t a true Muslim,” but then he gets the full Muslim interment?

* I heard the news first on … yelp, of all places.

* Hiding out 90 miles from the capital of Pakistan? Come on, now. For how long??

* Need to tune in to Fox News to see who they're taking the news.

* Trying to find Pakistani news reports about this. Looks like Islamabad's paper of record went to press before the news was announced. But, it does contain this tantalizing blurb, in the bottom left corner on p. 1:

"ABBOTTABAD, May 1: A helicopter crashed on the PMA Kakul Road late on Sunday night.

According to TV reports, security personnel cordoned off the area after the incident and launched relief work."

Guess Which Country?
Guess which country's national medical association, relying on findings from a new study, has advised its doctors to increase the use of placebos for patients complaining of asthma, chronic inflammatory problems, mild depression, chronic pain, and other such diseases with "subjective components." Under this country's medical ethics standards, doctors are not required to tell patients they are receiving placebos.

The link to the news story which reveals the answer follows: BUT TRY AND GUESS BEFORE CLICKING THIS LINK.

Just sayin.

This is the best song I heard in 2010
Very hard to find streaming online, but clicky: Andre Williams, Tricks!/item/12fzp

Andre Williams:

..and I&apos;m a pilot

(PS - he is not an anti-Obama tea party token, etc.; just thought it was a neat pic)

Best string of English words ever entered into the Wikipedia:
"As she's leaving, he reveals the wager to Sam, who, in her excited state, agrees to loan him her panties to help him win a dozen floppy disks."

wikileak wiki
The Second and Fourth Estates are in a tizzy over Wikileaks's recent release off 250,000 "sensitive" diplomatic cables, many of which were not very diplomatically worded at all. The old media/old government position is typified in this editorial from U.S. News & World Report (whose continued existence may come as a bigger surprise than anything in the released cables), emphases added:

But much of it also deteriorates into pure gossip and accomplishes nothing except to damage delicate negotiations and relationships. This balance is measured all the time by legitimate news organizations when they obtain previously unpublished documents or information. Does the public have a right to know the information?

More than anything, the Wikileaks releases --all of them --will be remembered for exemplifying an instant era in time when old-monied, established private commercial enterprises no longer got to unilaterally decided what truths the great unwashed masses wanted, and/or could handle. You can throw the old era on the heap that contains White Man's Burden.

Every action has an equal and opposite reaction, and this is simply the reaction to the technology which enabled the omnipresent surveillance state. Transparency works both ways. It should anyhow, and that's why Julian Assange is a hero. I don't know if he would be more effective if he dyed his hair black or purple, but I think the white works well enough. That's about as serious a concern as anyone can have with the guy's judgment right now.

In a post-finance world where paper money is backed by nothing other than a vague promise about the character of the issuing state's judicial system, credibility becomes a nuclear-level asset. The wikileaks cables show who has it, and who doesn't, in what areas. The nation states that adjust to the new reality and conduct themselves with the assumption that every diplomatic action it takes is of public record --that is, behave diplomatically --will benefit enormously.

Ode to the Brown Line
Well-scrubbed young urban professionals
Queue politely when the train pulls to the platform
Standing back to let passengers alight, before new ones board
Then taking the first available seat
Or offering it quickly to the aged, the visibly pregnant or the infirm
Talking quietly among themselves, texting or listening to white earbuds at muted volume
Or silently reading Kindles, the paper, a magazine or a novel
Perfectly courteous and respectful citizens
Never littering, harassing or otherwise being disagreeable

It is not usually that way on the Orange, the Green, the Red, Pink or Blue Lines; their riders more bestial
At the end of the work week, the Brown Liners go to places served by those other lines to have fun.

/Ode to the Brown Line, and its social symbolism

Some Thoughts (20, to be Exact) on the Changing Nature of Journalism and “Old” Media vs. “New Media”
A while back, was discussing “old” vs. “new” media with a friend who is a reporter for a newspaper in Boston. I thought some of my offhand remarks might have been misinterpreted as being dismissive of the value of professional journalism, and the contributions of professional journalists. That definitely wasn’t my intent; rather, I was just saying that, like it or not, and for better or worse, “old” media is being supplanted by “new” media, and that the practice of journalism (as a vocation and as an avocation) will continue, though in forms unlike those we’ve been accustomed to. Overall, I think this will result in a net benefit to society. I thought it would be helpful to follow up on our conversation by laying out what I thought about this change in an email, and then figured, well shit fire, may as well post it to livejournal, solicit some additional perspectives


1. The Internet is, at its most basic, a system explicitly designed to decentralize the flow of information, over a maximized set of nodes, and to defy any attempt at thwarting that flow of information.

2. The foundational concepts of old media (i.e., TV, radio, magazines, newspapers as they existed before the Internet became available to consumers on a large scale) were largely based on the reality that only a small, relatively wealthy and educated de facto elite controlled the means to distribute information over anything beyond the most limited set of nodes.

3. A corollary to #2 --Only a small, relatively wealthy and educated elite controlled the tools necessary to produce information in a format suitable for mass distribution (printing presses, television studios, ownership of broadcast frequencies, truck transport, etc.).

4. A further corollary to #2 --The training necessary to gather and disseminate information in a manner suitable for mass consumption, and in a manner that would generally be considered reliable and credible to a mass audience, was somewhat limited, and obtaining and pursuing such training was subject to significant entry barriers.

5. #1 is fundamentally at odds and incompatible with #2; i.e., the distribution monopoly once enjoyed by old media. That monopoly cannot be regained (short of legislation or judicial decree).

6. Advances in microprocessor technology, consumer electronics, desktop publishing, digital video, etc. have significantly reduced the disparity in production technology that once existed between traditional content producers (i.e., “old media“) and modern content producers (i.e., “new media” -in other words, anyone who wants to be the media).

7. An approximation of the training contemplated in #4 can now be obtained more readily, and by more people, than ever before, and the entrance barriers to same have been dramatically reduced.

8. The standard training contemplated in #4 was, and currently remains, generally superior to that contemplated in #7 --at least on a systemic level.

9. The audience for old media and new media (and there is overwhelming overlap in those audiences) generally accepts the reliability and credibility of old media; but this acceptance is aggressively being questioned by some contributing elements of new media, as well as increasing numbers of consumers of new and old media.

10. As a vocation, old media tended to attract the more intelligent, more educated and more liberal elements of society. New media attracts those elements as well, but is also more accessible to those who happen not to be (as) intelligent, educated and/or liberal. This results in a democratization of the media.

11. Democracy is the worst system of government in the world. Except for all the other ones.

12. Old media is in a die-off now because it has not figured out how to apply its old, profit-driven (or at least, profit-dependent or revenue-dependent) business models in the face of the new reality of universal distribution capacity, near-universal access to tools, and autodidactic training opportunities.

13. The monetization problem contemplated in #12 remains unsolved due to the lack of creativity and foresight shown by the corporate leadership, professional managers, and other such leeches attached to the practice of for-profit journalism. In other words, the Bob Woodwards of the world haven’t failed journalism in this respect --the Rupert Murdochs have.

14. The monetization problem will be solved by upstart new media, which is, as a whole, nimble, daring and creative.

15. The greatest thing old media has going for it, and which will allow at least some existing old media institutions to continue --perhaps even to thrive --is to provide filtrated content. That is, content which the average (“mainstream”) consumer of media trusts as being produced in accordance with a set of rigorous, professional and ethical standards, which strives for objectivity (or at least objectivity within the scope of specifically defined and disclosed limitations) and has credibility the way an ISO-certified manufacturing concern does. The existing old media outlets which most effectively react to the (rapidly growing) concerns and criticisms about institutional bias in old media will be the most likely to make the cut.

16. The next best thing old media has going for it is the nascent, incipient Western disillusionment with democracy and democratic processes. The backfiring of the installation of democratic regimes in the middle east --which, left unchecked, will empower the will of the simple majority, i.e., regimes more fundamentalist and more hostile to mainstream Western values than those which they were installed to replace --will lead to a reconsideration of whether the raw will of the people should be given effect in every case. Similarly, the increasing partisan rancor, discourtesy and vulgarity in this country surrounding health care reform, the Tea Party movement, various cultural debates, etc. will further highlight the seamier, mob-like side of democracy. The eventual reaction in mainstream thought will be the abandonment of democracy as the highest secular goal, replaced by stability. An embrace of elite institutions --e.g., old media --which provide a measure of stability will accompany this shift, so long as the masses are still allowed an illusion of freedom (particularly in the choosing of amusements).

17. In the medium-term, “new” vs. “old” journalism will be akin to being a freelance, public intellectual vs. being one attached to a university/think tank. The former may now be taken more seriously than in the past (e.g., bloggers), but instant credibility is (still) had by simply being able to say you are part of a rigorously self-selecting institution, such as a top university, institute or media outlet. Of course, the downside of all this is demagoguery and inflammatory, hateful rhetoric. The upside is that more individual voices are ultimately heard and considered, and that more classes of people than ever before have an opportunity to be heard and considered.

18. The new v. old media debate will be echoed in the future in debates on old v. new academia (coming very soon).

19. One of the key foundational concepts of new media is the acknowledgment of whuffie, or reputational currency --that is, the concept that people produce --and distribute --content (their own, or that created by others) for reasons independent of financial remuneration. The infinitely reproducible nature of intellectual property acts as a force multiplier for modern ideologies informed by file sharing, reputational currency, whuffie, celebrity culture, open source, copy left, etc., all of which are concepts that presuppose the distribution of free content as one of the highest secular ideals.

20. #19 reshapes not only the world of media, but the very foundational concepts of economics. Traditional economics (and labor theory of all persuasions) has always assumed limited supply and the compensatory self-interest of producers as givens. In a world where the key economic commodity --i.e, content --can be duplicated and distributed infinitely, and at virtually no cost, the old economic models fail. Accordingly, many institutions based on these economic models are in for radical restructuring; the media perhaps more than any other, given the extent that its modern form is founded on concepts which are subject to this radical change.

also, keep in mind you get what you pay for
So here's Holly's Beauty Salon, in the neighborhood sometimes known as Chinatown North (which is actually mostly Laotian and Vietnamese, but whatever).

I love the new advertisement, in vinyl press-on letters stuck to the door. What the fuck? When did these new names for various muff waxes arise? "Jives" and "Shambas" and "Chachachas?" Why, back in my day, you had bikini waxes and Brazilians and that was it; if you wanted a landing strip or something fancy, you just explained it to yr waxer, and they'd see what they could do. None of this fancy-frou frou namey shit. This is across the street from a strip of family restaurants, small grocery stores, etc., so I think it could lead to some interesting questions from the kids. The look on the model's face on the poster in the background just makes it.

"Race" Is (still) For Suckers --Especially the Census's Version
Came home from work today to see this taped to my mailbox:

I suppose it's because on the 2010 Census I checked "Some Other Race" to the question which asked about 'race,' and wrote in "American" in the space provided:

I've been through this before with the Census, exactly 10 years ago, when similar responses on my 2000 Census (long) form prompted a visit from one of their agents:

I invited her in to my apartment, and spent about 20 minutes explaining to her my position, while she dutifully took notes on her laptop.

There's no such thing as "race," of course, in the sense that most people use the term. There's phenotypes (and that's what I'm referring to when I colloquially use the term 'race' in general conversation), but the idea that checkbox type "race" exists is probably the biggest, mass-delusional hoodwink of the last 400 years. Here's Exhibit A:

No one calls Tiger Woods the world's greatest Asian-American golfer, do they?

While race doesn't exist, ethnicity does, kind of, and even by the terms of the people who believe in race, that's what the 2010 Census is really trying to suss out (though poorly). So it's a shame that the current Census doesn't provide a space for people who, quite precisely, deem "American" to be their ethnicity/culture, regardless of their skin color or ancestors' place of birth. A head count of the people who self-identify in that sense --or any alternative sense based on making a conscious choice as to how you wish to interact with the world, rather than accepting a fake, arbitrary role that's been picked for you --is infinitely more useful than the meaningless checkboxes that were provided this year. Hopefully, that'll change by 2020. In the meantime, I'm writing in 'American' every chance I get.

Red Dawn x Road Warrior n Body Count's Cop Killer
Best song/video of the last 10 years, maybe 20

M.I.A, Born Free from ROMAIN-GAVRAS on Vimeo.

Obscure Swedish Psychedelic Group Presaged N.W.A. By 15 Years
The song is called "Fuck the Cops." The musicians behind it are not from Compton, nor are they black, or even hip-hoppers. It is not recent. In fact, it's ancient, by a Swedish psychedelic outfit called Charlie & Esdor, and was recorded ca. 1970. There's no wikipedia entry for them, that's all I know about them except for this excellent tidbit conveyed by a WNUR DJ who hepped me to it when I was driving home from work yesterday: Almost everything on the album is written in Swedish, but not this song title. I guarantee you cannot listen to this without reflexively putting a fist in the air.

The Fabulous Miss Wendy, Green Jelly, Nashville Pussy - Reggie's Rock Club, 4/21/10
The other night, I remarked to SS that I was going to see NaSHVille Pussy at a small local venue, and that doing so was important, because rather few bands extant bring the rock these days, NP being one of them, though even they have been at this 14+ yrs., and have just been going through the motions for a while now. So it was quite a pleasant surprise to get there and catch one of the opening acts, known as the Fabulous Miss Wendy. The eponymous Wendy --lithe, long red haired girl appearing about 17 years old --stood onstage in a Lady Gaga t-shirt and wearing tight jeans slung about four inches below the top of her pelvic girdle, tuning her guitar and doing ostensible pre-show calisthenics, mainly consisting of arching back her still-developing chest while pulling on her fingers. After about 15 minutes of this, her backing band --a guy in his mid-20's who looked like he may have been a finalist in the My Chemical Romance tryouts on bass and a cute, sturdy blonde on drums was introduced by a long-haired balding fat man in a black satin western shirt who said simply "Please welcome the Fabulous Miss Wendy to Chicago, my hometown." Note sure if he was the club owner, Wendy's dad, court-appointed guardian, or a Kim Fowley-type character who came up with the rough sketch of all this. Then it was on, Wendy hitting things off with a an extremely competent rendition of Eddie Van Halen's solo in "Eruption," before her band launched into a standard late 80's hard rock backbeat over which Wendy sung (that she was) a "Crazy Fcked Up Bitch," one leg planted atop a monitor, undulating with over-the-top jailbait moves while middle aged men in the front row ogled and reached out for her like she was Slash and they were 17 year old hessian girls. That would have been that, and it would have been a fine little trick, a timely companion piece to the tween assassin in Kick Ass. But things soon took a dirty tiki bar rockabilly turn, with Wendy proving herself a truly scorching guitarist, and the rest of her band (particularly the drummer) keeping right up, with Wendy writhing on the floor during guitar solos and thrusting her hips into her guitar without compromise. In the middle of their set, she gave a short monologue about their home base, L.A., being composed of shallow narcissists and condemning the pursuit of fame and cash, with a little wink.

Wendy's set was brief, and as her band was tearing down, a guy in a dark wool trenchcoat, black top hat and steampunk goggles strode onstage with a circus barker's megaphone: "Let's hear it for the Fabulous Weeeeeeeeennnnnnddeeeeee....." he intoned in a Victorian era accent. He was soon joined by a woman wearing a giant tomato mask on bass, and an old school punk, shaven-headed, shirtless and wearing thick black glasses on drums. While they were setting up, Top Hat said he needed five volunteers from the crowd for a "life-changing experience." With a little cajoling he soon had convinced more than that number, who quickly went behind the stage, and about two minutes later, before Wendy's band was even offstage and without further ado, the lights went down and they reemerged wearing enormous paper mache puppet heads. The new band, which I recalled from a flyer outside was called Green Jellÿ (after Kraft made them change it from Green Jello) launched into a White Zombie type stomp. I'm not sure if it was planned or not, but they also shanghied Wendy and her band into staying onstage and playing backup. The puppet heads (they were introduced by character name, but I forget all except The Wiccan Chicken) danced in the background. Top Hat guy, the band's lead singer, changed costume frequently, appearing as the Victorian barker, a robotic creature in enormous platform boots and wiring intertwined like dreadlocks, a militant vegan cow, and a Hassadic Jewish rabbi, who selected an audience member to be bar-mitzvahed, complete with being carried around above the heads of the crowd on chair, a stunt which caused the security (one of whom was a squat midget, about 4-feet tall and 250 pounds wide) to charge into the audience to set the guy down on the floor. They played a lot of punk covers, with Wendy laughing and adding guitar solos while random people in giant puppet heads gyrated around her. One of their songs was called (I assume) "Chocula," a straightforward rendition of Rob Zombie's "Dragula," with Count Chocula as the titular subject, and lyrics about breakfast cereal. Another was a cover of "Anarchy in the U.K," which was turned into "Anarchy in Bedrock," and performed while two audience members dressed as Flintstones ran around stage bashing each other with inflatable wooden clubs.

Green Jelly, Reggie's Rock Club, Chicago, 4/21/10, taken on my BlackBerry Curve. Dorks with cell phones taking pictures at shows is the modern equivalent of dorks holding up cigarette lighters during power ballads

I wasn't sure if these were two bands or one, but I later found out they are indeed two separate entities. The Fabulous Miss Wendy is actually 22, and has been performing for about 6 years. She and her band seemed genuinely surprised to be playing with Green Jellÿ, but I suspect it happens pretty frequently, since I learned they are on a multi-city tour of mainly small clubs, along with Nashville Pussy, called the Parental Advisory Tour. Green Jellÿ, from Buffalo, NY, is kind of like an indie GWAR, and has an amazing history, having been around since 1981, billing themselves as "The Worst Band in the World." I don't know how I never gave them a listen before, as they've gained a fair amount of notoriety over the years, but I guess I just never got around to it. They've had, I would've guessed around 20 members (though their myspace says "257 and counting"), most of whom have gone on to various kinds of success and some of whom constitute the core of Tool. Their wikipedia page ( is worth looking at. Also, dig Buffalo's amazing city hall (nb: pop. 580,000 ca. 1950, probably about 250k today):

Nashville Pussy played next, but had definitely been upstaged by what came before them. I recall that that's how I was first introduced to NP, one random school night when I wandered into the old Stache's, with a coworker from Adriatico's, to see the Candy Snatchers and New Bomb Turks, ca. 1996/97. Some band I'd never heard of, with a tall lanky bassist whom I couldn't quite pin as a male in cowgirl drag, shemale or female, was setting up, and would soon be --figuratively and literally --blowing fire into the crowd, before the Candy Snatchers and New Bomb Turks --figuratively and literally --further destroyed the club, leading its owner, Dan Dougan, to launch into a legendary tirade (referenced on his website, and recorded on DAT by a friend of another Adriatico's coworker who was there that night) against the audience. But Nashville Pussy definitely owned that night, and upstaged the headliners. They were new and fresh and unknown at the time, and though they're getting long in the tooth now, and seemed more than a little road weary, I still love them as they soldier on, constantly on tour and playing modest clubs in towns both large and small, as if to defy exhaustion until they've passed on the rock and roll torch to enough people to ensure a viable enough gene pool for the genre to survive, and perhaps even advance.

I note that with enormous delight and inspiration that about 25% of the crowd was inner-city Hispanic kids.

rock n roll

By now, everyone's heard about the Hutaree, the right wing Christian militia group that just got raided by the FBI, at various locations in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana and Illinois. Pretty standard fundamentalist apocalypse/rapture wingnut stuff. Their website is totally worth checking out though, before someone in their organization figures out how to yank it. First, check out the "BEASTWATCH" section, which chronicles antichrist sightings in everyday life --"BMW of the Beast," "Word Processor of the Beast," "Retail Price of the Beast," etc. Who says apocalyptic Christian fundamentalist domestic terrorists don't have a sense of humor? Next, dig the video of these guys shooting up the woods on their homepage. The soundtrack is Sisters of Mercy!! I shit you not. I've said it before and I'll say it again: There has never been a more interesting time to be alive.

straight outta geocities:
omfg, "Beastwatch": http:///ezrafiles.htm

the RIAA's past and future, in one collectible package
I hate the RIAA, and I feel I'm doing my part to help evolution along every time I download a track, rather than give one penny to those evil litigious fossils. But this caught my eye the other day:

It's called Light on the South Side and at first it looked like just any other coffee table book when I spotted it at Quimby's. But it's not just that --it's a double album of blues rarities, accompanied by a 132-page glossy hardcover photobook documenting the denizens (that is, the patrons, not the musicians) of hardcore south side Chicago blues joints ca. the 1970's, with a bonus 45 RPM single and a trading card thrown in for good measure. Listening to the equivalent mp3's and viewing the .jpg's just wouldn't be the same. I bought it, and would definitely buy more well-executed book/records (or book/CD's) in the same vein. I didn't even own a turntable at the time of purchase, so after work today I stopped by Transistor and picked up a Numark PT-01 USB turntable. Actually have a lot of vinyl, mostly 7"'s I'd pick up at shows, figuring someday I'd get a turntable and archive them as mp3's. Gonna set it up now, smoke a big joint, put on some big-ass headphones and relax 70's style.

In other news, along with Light on the South Side, I also picked up the latest issues of 2600 and Gothic Beauty. Haven't cracked the former yet, but GB, which I'm not very familiar with, was pretty interesting. Articles on goth gardening, and a feature on the top U.S. cities in which to be goth (after surveying the Top 100 metro areas in the country, the top 25 is pretty much what you'd expect, with some isn't-it-too-hot-to-be-goth-there surprises thrown in like Tampa at #16 (up three places from last year), along with Phoenix, Miami and Dallas. There was also a full-page ad for a goth cruise on Carnival Cruise Lines.

Pepsi Throwback Throwdown
Soft drinks are poison, but to the extent I occasionally choose such poison, I prefer Coke to Pepsi (or 7-Up to either). I never cared for Pepsi's exaggerated sweetness, or its marketing or even its logo, which has always been lacking compared to Coke's iconic script, and today looks like some state's D.O.T. logo from the late 70's. I have, however, been curious about this Pepsi "Throwback" that is out for a supposedly limited time, boasts about being made with "real sugar" and is implicitly superior or otherwise preferable to the current formulation. So today at the grocery store I bought a 20 oz. of each for a taste comparison. Cans would have been ideal, but I suppose these plastic bottles would do:

I smoked some homegrown Ohio killbud to prime my palate, marked the underside of two identical, disposable plastic cups, one with "REG" and the other with "TB," and poured the corresponding drink into each. Then I closed my eyes and shuffled them around for a couple minutes, left the room, came back and did it again til I couldn't tell which was which. The cup to my right tasted stale and flat, but was immediately nostalgic and did bring back a very brief splash of childhood memories. The one on the left was bigger, more acidic and gassy, with a finish reminiscent of liquid cellophane. I then checked underneath the cups and found that the one on the right was, as suspected, the old version, which is, at it turns out, superior to the current iteration. I think Pepsi may be pulling the opposite of a New Coke here. But neither was good enough to stop me from pouring the remainder of both bottles down the sink.

feels good
Dear Hollywood:

A couple weeks ago, I was supposed to bring home some stuff from Target, and Season One of Mad Men from the video store. Had never seen an episode, and was wondering what the fuss was about. At Target, I noticed that the DVD boxed set was on sale for only 20-some bucks, so I figured I'd just buy it and save a trip to the video store. It was cheap and convenient, so I bought it.

Loved the hell out of Mad Men. Watched every episode of Season One over the long weekend. Couldn't wait to see what happened next. So after work one night, I thought
I'd pick up Season Two on the way home. Was downtown, so I knew it'd be a gouge. 50-something bucks. But I was loving the show, and wanted to keep watching it, so I paid the inflated Loop price. Way overpriced, but a such a good product, it was worth it to be able to continue watching that night. It was expensive but convenient, so I bought it.

Season Two was every bit as good as Season One. Watched the episodes back-to-back. Aside from the Rose Bowl and one episode of HGTV, it's the only thing I've used a television for in 2010. Couldn't wait to see what happens next. I know the broadcast season just ended. Checked Hulu. Nothing. Checked the AMC site. Nothing. Checked amazon. Season Three comes out March 23. So I fucked around with torrents for a while. What a pain in the ass. Took me a few tries to find a working one, but I did, and a couple hours later I sat down with some leftover pizza and watched Episode One of Season Three (SE03E01 in torrent-speak).

I'm through with your games, Hollywood. You broadcast the entire third season on AMC --it's over. Been over for months. But you won't release the DVD until March 23. Come on now. I'm not playing your games anymore. You can't unilaterally dictate things like that going forward. My time's valuable. I want the entire season, now. And you're dragging your feet, for whatever reasons, and I don't have time for that. I would've paid basically any price you would've asked for it, if you'd made it reasonably available, but you've forced me to download a torrent instead.

You need to start being more responsive, Hollywood. You've lost a paying customer for Season Three, and I'm going to get to enjoy it anyhow. I will watch Season Four, rather communally, with the rest of America when it airs, but be mindful to make it available on on-demand. I don't alter my schedule to fit your broadcast times, so make sure I can select when I want to see it. If not, I'll just get if from the torrents.

Let this be a lesson to you, Hollywood. Run along now. Provide me some content worth considering paying for. Chop, chop.


myself & millions of others similarly situated

The Web, It's Temporary
A few days ago, I plugged in the computer I had when I moved to Chicago back in '98. A 200Mhz Pentium I running Windows 98 w/ 48 MB of RAM, a 3.5" floppy drive and a read-only CD drive. It served me pretty well --I was able to go broadband with it around Oct. 1999, and burned my first mix CD's with it using an external Iomega. I retired it in 2002, and hadn't touched it since then. Recently though, I got to thinking that it'd make for a fun time capsule opening to plug it back in, and see what forgotten photographs, pr0n, mp3's, saved IM conversations, etc. were in suspended animation on its 3 GB hard drive.

It started back up with no problems --the clock even set itself to the correct date, though the time was inexplicably off by about 20 minutes. Found a bunch of old pics, which I'm in the process of transferring to 3.5" floppies (still had a sealed box of Verbatim diskettes --don't know when I got em, but there's no URL's anywhere on the packaging), which I'll then transfer to my current floppy-less machine via an intermediary.

Then I thought I'd start up Netscape Communicator for shits and gigs. This machine isn't connected to my network, so I jumped like I'd seen a ghost when it loaded the homepage. Turns out, it was just the cache that was still in memory from April 27, 2002, the last time I'd used the computer. Four settlers had been killed in the West Bank, three people had been killed in a Nevada casino shooting, Bush was pushing for "more authority on trade" and Anna Kournikova's agent was denying that she'd ever posed nude. What I was trying to get at though was four years of archived email, from my old account. It was all still there. Spent a good couple of hours on the phone with johntheobscure going over hundreds of emails that we shot back and forth in the weeks following 9/11/2001, reflecting on what was going on in the world and how it impacted where we were living (Boston and Chicago). It's a hell of an archive, containing a lot of forgotten stories, speculation that has come to pass, and a lot more that thankfully didn't.

I'm glad to have that archive, glad that I had a real ISP that allowed me to download all of my email to own computer, instead of an .edu, AOL, or 2 MB hotmail account, like most people I knew had back then, which would've turned out to be a lot more ephemeral. We take for granted that everything on the Internet will always be around, cached somewhere, that google or yahoo or the wayback machine will always be there for us, but that's not the case. Demonstrably not the case --google has stripped DejaNews's Usenet archive of almost all usability, and just last month, Yahoo! --as if anyone needed one more reason to despise them --pulled the plug on GeoCities and along with it millions of pages early web history. It's not like keeping those old sites up was hurting Yahoo; if its got the money for a ridiculous, widely-panned $100 million ad campaign, certainly it's got the money to maintain some of the web's most important early history. The fact that it chose not to, and in fact chose to affirmatively delete it puts Yahoo on par with those who torched the library at Alexandria. Accordingly, I am done with Yahoo. Now to figure out how to download all my other email from its fickle servers.

mp3 player hatin
I've never owned an mp3 player; I figure, I'm paying a premium to live in a city, may as well enjoy the sights and sounds around me, right? I've never felt the urge to drown out my surroundings when outside, whether on the El, walking around downtown, riding my bike, whatever.

Then last week, I got a noise complaint from my new upstairs neighbors. The unit above me had been empty for a while, and I'd gotten pretty used to cranking up the music, especially when I work out, which I tend to do at odd hours. I can't stand bad neighbors, wouldn't want to be one myself, so I apologized profusely, said it wouldn't happen again, and bought a Sansa Fuze 8GB mp3 player today. It's this little guy right here:

I purchased it mainly because I recalled it being favorably reviewed in this recent boing boing thread about DRM-free alternatives to Apple's iPod. Just charged it up, and its doing what it's supposed to, and bonus!, it has an FM receiver and the ability to record FM broadcasts. Since Chicago still has good non-commercial radio, this will be sweet.

see also:

The McDonald’s franchise at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba is looking for an assistant manager. The ideal candidate will have previous restaurant management experience, a valid U.S. passport and a willingness to relocate to Cuba. Apparently, no special security clearance is required. Perks include great weather, potential tax free status for year-round residents, and half of the successful candidate’s stateside rent paid by the company. The Gitmo McDonald’s has been in operation since 1986, and serves the base’s 6000 inhabitants, including military personnel, their families, Jamaican and Filipino guest workers. and 215 detainees, who can receive Big Macs, fries and other items for their cooperation.


image source:

Odd Encounter on a Chicago Street
A week or so ago I was in Andersonville, returning to my car after getting something to eat after work at La Cocina de Frida, maybe around 9:30 p.m. I passed by a few cop cars, at the corner where that independent convenience store just south of the restaurant is, blocking the intersection east of Clark St. --three or four of them, one or two unmarked, all with grille and/or roof lights pulsing. A half-dozen or so black kids, in their early to mid-teens were being detained and searched/questioned as a small crowd looked on. I didn't pay it much more attention than that. A few blocks later, as I was passing by the window of the Alamo Shoe store, a portly, middle-aged, somewhat effete sounding white guy came walking/huffing up from behind me and said "Excuse me."

I looked over and noticed he was wearing, if I recall correctly, a light blue shirt, tweed beret, sport coat and brown pants; I think may have had a graying blonde goatee. He said he was doing a "school project" on whether palms could be read from a digital photograph, and asked if I would allow him to photograph mine. He was holding a scuffed up, cheap point-and-shoot digital camera, probably two or three years old. I figured he was a continuing ed or night student from a local college, and this was part of a sociology project, something like "testing strangers' willingness to acquiesce to an obviously ludicrous request if it seemed harmless enough." I said "palm reading, huh?" skeptically, and he said yes.

"Yeah, sure," I said and turned up and extended my right, then left, palms to be photographed. "So what's this experiment really about," asked as he took the pictures. I vaguely recalled, from an undergrad psychology class, that if you conduct a social experiment which involves a pretense in order to elicit a behavior unrelated to the ostensible purpose of whatever test was being conducted, you were supposed to debrief the subject of the test of its true purpose, once the test was concluded. Or something like that. I thought that me asking him this might prompt him into revealing what he was really up to. Instead, he asked me to turn over my hands, so he could photograph them knuckles up. The he asked me to hold my thumbs side-by-side, knuckles up, and photographed them positioned like that too. I complied, figuring the debriefing was coming. Then he said thank you and quickly disappeared around the corner of Summerdale, without offering any explanation. The whole encounter had taken no more than 90 seconds, tops.

I wondered what the guy was up too, and I was slightly worried that my finger prints might be fabricated from the digital images, and then find their way to the scene of some caper or crime which I'd be framed for. Pretty ridiculous, though not much more so than believing that this was something being done for a school project on palm reading.

Or was it? Anyone heard of a project like this being conducted in a college class --sociology, psychology, biometric security, whatever --particularly one in the Chicago area? Is it part of some identity theft scam I'm not hep to? Art project? Sexual fetish? Or market research by a bank, supermarket, big box chain, etc., designed to investigate how readily people might --quite stupidly, on reflection --give up biometric identifiers?

Mayor Daley learns that Chicago has lost the 2016 Olympics

Made by magdalene1

Neptunus Rex
An ancient tradition of mariners, at least Western ones, is the Neptunus Rex, a.k.a. "Crossing the Equator." Its exact origins lost, Neptunus Rex ceremonies occur when an ocean going merchant or military vessel crosses over the equator, thereby providing an opportunity for experienced sailors to subject green ones who haven't yet sailed over the demarcation line to drunken and homoerotic hazing rituals. I recall that during the last election, there was some concern that photographs of John McCain's Neptunus Rex shenanigans might surface. I have no idea if McCain ever participated in a Neptunus Rex ceremony or if any such photos exist, but if they do, they might look a little something like these:

Below: USS Wisconsin, ca. 1946. Source:'s-page_2.htm

ca. 1980-83, vessel unknown (source:

ca. 1980-83, vessel unknown (source:

A good collection of vintage Neptunus Rex photos from Bob Bragman is maintained by here.

Crossing the Equator ceremonies, at least in the U.S. services, seem to have been outlawed and/or Disneyfied in recent years, after some recent hazing deaths.

The best part though? An actual .mil site maintains a great archive of historical Neptunus Rex "subpoenas," certificates, first-hand accounts, etc., from the 18th Century through World War II. Check them out:

Certificate from King Neptune to Rear Admiral John Rodgers, 1870; Subpoena from Davy Jones to Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 1936; Subpoena from Davy Jones, Clerk of the Court of Neptune, 1943:

First-hand accounts:

Subpoena from Davy Jones to Franklin Delano Roosevelt, to a Crossing the Line Ceremony on USS Indianapolis (CA-35) in late November 1936.

Subpoena and Summons Extraordinary
The Royal High Court of the Raging Main

BE IT KNOWN, That we hereby summon and command you


Now the Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy, to appear before the Royal High Court and our August Presence on the aforesaid date at such time as may best suit OUR pleasure under penalty of eternal pickling.

You will accept most heartily and with good grace the pains and penalties of the awful torture that will be inflicted upon you to determine your fitness to be one of our Trusty Shellbacks and answer to the following charges:

CHARGE 1. Disregard of the traditions of the sea.
Specification: In that Franklin D. Roosevelt, having, for many years sailed the high seas and bounding main, entirely through kindly assistance, toleration and consideration of his Majesty Neptunus Rex, has, for lo these many years, failed to appear in person to show allegiance to his Royal Highness, thereby masquerading as a man of the sea, and by this utter disregard added insult to other previous crimes.

CHARGE 2. Taking liberties with the piscatorial subjects of His Majesty Neptunus Rex.
Specification: In that, Franklin D. Roosevelt, having taken liberties with the denizens of the Realm of Neptunus Rex, by maliciously removing them from the depths of their recognized habitat, has permitted these acts to be publicized by print, town crier, and all other means of shameless publication; and, furthermore, has exaggerated this crime by the public humiliation of the greatest of these creatures of the sea, by stuffing them full of sawdust, and placing them in a position of eternal disgrace in a national museum where the eyes of all mortals may regard their pitiful and ignoble plight.

Disobey this summons under pain of Our Swift and Terrible displeasure
Our Vigilance is ever wakeful, Our Vengeance is Just and Sure

Ruler of the Raging Main


Lots more at the above links.

Inglorious Basterds
Saw Inglorious Basterds this weekend, which I’ve been looking forward to for over a year. Got there at the end of the previews, but just in time to see the part of the trailer for the film adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. I didn’t know a film version was even in the works, but it looks good, judging from the bit of trailer I saw.

Anyhow, Inglorious Basterds was uproariously funny and epic. One of the things I like best about Tarantino films is the care and detail put into the backstory, which leaves me with the following questions:

potential spoilers behind the cutCollapse )

Post-Apocalypse Burlesque
Wow, two of my most favorite and disparate interests, all rolled into one sex0ry package:

Will have to check this out on Saturday.

Everyone's stocking up for one apocalypse or another these days (economic, NCB terror, sun spots, plague, Rapture, 2012, etc. etc.). I suppose I am, too. In the past couple months I've acquired a shotgun, a compound bow, and a bunch of knowledge I hope I never have to use. I suspect I won't, it's all just-in-case, a security blanket of stuff that, no matter what happens or doesn't happen, is actually fun to play with. But, if there ever was to be an apocalypse, the one thing I want to position myself as is the person in charge of wasteland party planning and event promotion. An active vice scene is always an indicator of a society concerned with, and capable of, more than just mere survival.

The previous Sunday, it said "BEWARE OF ZOMBIES"
Construction signage in my neighborhood @ Montrose & Damen, 4:45 a.m., Sunday 6/14/09:

I know this shouldn't be funny to grown ups, but everyone up/still awake that early that passed by did a double-take and guffawed. Apparently others are sick of this interminable road construction, too.

Baseball Funnies
Originally posted in Baltimore City Paper, larger version available here (via corvus).

This appeared in the Atlantic online on Friday. The explanatory text, from Jeffrey Goldberg was "Bill Francis, a research librarian at the Baseball Hall of Fame, passed this article on to Michael Chabon, who passed it on to me. It's from the September 1, 1926 edition of The Washington Post:"

WTF? Did this game actually take place? What happened?

From fark, this random pic used to comment on the above story:

And here is a random installment of the weekly comic "Tom the Dancing Bug," this one from Nov. 27, 2008:

Ruben Bolling, the creator of Tom the Dancing Bug, who started drawing comix full time after receiving his J.D. from Harvard Law School, is a comedic genius, rivaled perhaps only by Mike Judge. I highly recommend purusing the Tom the Dancing Bug archive, which can be found here:

(no subject)
Just saw the new Star Trek. It was highly entertaining, even if you're not a Trekker (I'm not), and never watched much of the recent movies and television series. Waiting for the thing to start, I was reminded of how much I hate having to sit through movie previews. I remember long ago when they used to be a treat, but now they're just an unpleasant, interminable annoyance. I suppose I'd enjoy watching a preview of Inglorious Basterds, but other than that, previews suck and I'd go out of my way to patronize a theater which proclaimed "NO PREVIEWS" or "GUARANTEED NO MORE THAN TWO PREVIEWS" or something.

Movie Previews:

I generally find movie previews at a theater to be an enjoyable experience.
I generally dislike having to sit through movie previews at a theater.

Old School Time Capsule Tonight 5-9-09
Saw this ad in the Reader yesterday:

La Mere Vipere was a Chicago punk club, ca. 1977-78, and according to its myspace, "the world's first punk dance club:"

It began life as a gay bar, a satellite of another gay bar owned by Noe Boudreau named "The Snake Pit". Located at 2132 N. Halsted St, LaMere held its first "Anarchy Night" on May 8th, 1977 (Mother's Day), at the suggestion of Mike "Sparkle" Rivers, a LaMere bartender who also worked at Sounds Good Records, one of the few Chicago record stores to carry the latest punk releases from England. A subsequent "Anarchy Night" on May 29th was reportedly delayed so the bar could play the first Sex Pistols single "God Save the Queen". A three-day event called "Punk-O-Rama" featuring punk films, live performances by local bands and a punk fashion show was held in late June, marking the club's transition to a full-time punk bar. The club soon drew a steady barrage of media attention, the hostility of it's neighbors and the police, and an onslaught of gawkers and tourists. The band Chicago was famously turned away at the door because the bar was already too crowded. According to an interview with former LaMere bartender Monica Lynch, NY culture mavens Steve Maas and Anya Phillips visted [sic] the club before Maas opened his own punk disco in downtown Manhattan, The Mudd Club. LaMere was destroyed by a fire on April 27th, 1978. The cirumstances [sic] surrounding the fire have always been suspicious and many folks at the time said that there was foul play involved. Some say the police had a hand in the fire, but that could never be substantiated. [...]


I love subculture histories in general, and punk subculture histories in particular, so I figured I'd def be checking out the La Mere Vipere Reunion, which will be held tonight (May 9, 2009) at Club Foot in Chicago (1824 W Augusta Blvd). I went to the O'Banion's reunion held there a few years ago (O'Banion's = 2d Generation Chicago punk club, if you'd consider La Mere Vipere 1st Gen. see footnote below if you like nerding out about this sort of thing), and it was a good time, though kinda a little like being at a wedding reception for people you barely now. I'm not gawking though. I love the energy, vitality, rebellion and creativity of that era. I got all nostalgic for an era that I only know historically, just looking at the pics posted on the La Mere myspace, and on the myspaces of the peeps La Mere counts as friends, most of whom are in their late 40's and early 50's now. But here's what they looked like back then:

from a zine, Gabba Gabba Gazette. source:

La Mere regular source:

La Mere peeps source:

This guy went on to be in Thrill Kill Kult source:


Special Affect, feat. a pre-Ministry Al Jourgensen. source:




From 1975. Not a look I associate with that year, which is why it's so cool to see real people's photos. source:

I'm surprised Chicago was that hep, back in 1977. Tonight, Club Foot, starting at 8:30 p.m., til 2:00, playing the music from that era.

And for what it's worth: My own subcultural heyday --ca. 1994 --had it's own reunion, of sorts, when the New Bomb Turks got back together for a free show at the Cobra Lounge a couple months ago. 1989-style Chicago hip house is all over the blogs. And now electroclash is said to be back! Something from 2002 can already be "back?" I never thought it left, but man, retro's sure a bitch.

[FOOTNOTE] If you like nerding out about this sort of thing, I consider 1st gen punk to be roughly '76-'79 (death of Sid) --art punks, Vivian Westwood, Pistols, initial media outrage; 2d Generation to be '80-'85 (Black Flag breaks up); hardcore, esp. California hardcore, beginnings of militant DIY ethic, emo, straight edge, etc.; and 3d Gen to be '86-'94 (Death of Cobain), alt.-era, the year punk broke, 90's garage, zines, riot grrl; that's when I quit keeping track, but I suppose we're on 5th gen now.)

All photos from publicly accessible sources, linked as attributed, and used pursuant to fair use provisions of 17 U.S.C. § 107. If I'm using a photo you took and you don't want it linked here, just email me.

Spring Fashions Review
Old School

In other news, I've been wearing these white leather velcro Rockports ($39.00 @ Alamo Shoes on N. Clark St.) with jeans and a sport coat.


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