This is the loveliest time of year in Los Angeles...every week or so, a gentle storm rolls in from the ocean and washes the air clean, then the winds blow warm air off the desert to dry us out. Last week, stuck in traffic of course, the sun set in a terrific blaze while clouds and rain moved across the city, and an enormous rainbow bridged the entire sky. It made everything else in the world seem petty and ephemeral, that most ephemeral and yet permanent of all things, the light refracted in raindrops.
Anyway, If you live in the city of LA, the Department of Water and Power has started an excellent program, where for spending some time in a tree-care workshop, they'll give you a free tree. I've changed my mind about some things in life, but trees aren't one of them. If anybody wants to go I'd be glad to go and get an extra tree for you...we need more trees. Call (800) 473 3652.
I've also recently seen "Inside Daisy Clover" again, a film about a young girl growing up on the Santa Monica Pier who, thanks to her great singing voice, is catapulted into stardom. A rather dark film with a pat ending, young Natalie Wood has a good time playing, essentially, herself (her parents shoved her into Hollywood at the age of 5) and Robert Redford plays one of the first characters I know of where there's even a hint of him being gay. I always enjoy overblown movies about Hollywood. I also like movies made during 1965, like this one, looking for hints of what the world was like when I was born. It was a simpler place, that's for sure, and Hollywood was in love with itself, making plenty of these kind of movies about how good it was to be bad. You don't see that any more; now everything about Hollywood is so cynical that they've essentially dragged the rest of the world down to their level. WRONG.
I've also been reading an interesting novel, Democracy, published anonymously in 1880 by, as was revealed after his death 30 years later, Henry Adams, the grandson and great-grandson of presidents. About a young widow who moves to Washington DC because New York City is too boring, and opens a "salon" across from the White House in Lafayette Square, it is a fascinating look at how much and how little politics has changed in 120 years. If you've read much 19th century literature, it is comparatively racy. It is even hinted (and this blew my mind) that one character MIGHT be homosexual. In Victorian America? Whoa.
I'll bet you're all waiting with baited breath to see what Joel has to say about the Superbowl. Surprise! The Jackson family continues to distract us from all the real lying, murder and mayhem that we should be paying attention to. A bare breast in the middle of a football game, OH MY GOD! GET THE KIDS AWAY FROM THE TELEVISION! I've got pictures of my friends (thanks, Coco and Una) that are far more exciting! If Janet Jackson was on an advert in the Paris Metro, they'd slap a "100% SEXISTE" sticker over her breast and THAT WOULD BE THE END OF IT. No wonder SO MANY Americans are SO FUCKED UP.
Here's what the NFL had to say:
and what they should've said (thanks, Mrs. Chance):
What didn't get one second of press coverage was the anti-Bush advert that CBS refused to run during the football game:
Censored at the Super Bowl
By Jonathan Darman
You won't see MoveOn.org's ad during Sunday's big game. But you will see it everywhere else.
CBS Cuts MoveOn, Allows White House Ads During Super Bowl
By Timothy Karr
Yeah, a good, wholesome day of entertainment, that Superbowl.
A Super Bowl of Sleaze
By Tom Shales
The Washington Post
Incomplete! Viewers who tuned in expecting a big-time football game saw the Super Bowl of Sleaze instead. Sexy and violent commercials that included jokes about flatulence and bestiality mercilessly interrupted the CBS telecast of Super Bowl XXXVIII from Houston last night, making it a dubious choice for family viewing.
After Flash of Flesh, CBS Again Is in Denial
By Alessandra Stanley
New York Times
Anyway, after the Superbowl, I went off to the LA Cacophony Society's annual Christmas Tree Bonfire. For those who don't know about the Cacophony Society, they operate around North America, creating havoc wherever they go. Here they've hosted such notable events as the illegal U-turn contest, the Santa Claus riot, "Jew Night" at Mister T's, and the Taliban Beach Party. At the Christmas Tree burning they gather up dead trees and pile them up on Dockweiler Beach (the only beach in the urban area where you can have a fire) and lit it up. This year the main bonfire was about fifteen feet high, liberally laced with fireworks. It was most impressive, and I took care of some personal items which needed to be burnt, including the California flag that used to fly from my front door, taken down the night Arnold Schwarzenegger was elected Governor. A photo, which does not do the enormous, hot pile of burning trees credit, is enclosed. For the other disturbing photo, I can thank only the inimitable Monsieur Steiner, who wonders what Saddam Hussein was going to do with all that bread he had stashed away.
Whatever happened in Houston, good things are happening in Los Angeles:
Federal Judge Rules Part of Patriot Act Unconstitutional
The Associated Press
LOS ANGELES - A federal judge has declared unconstitutional a portion of the USA Patriot Act that bars giving expert advice or assistance to groups designated foreign terrorist organizations.
Like this judge and others in Massachusetts, violations of justice by the powers-that-be are being dealt with by the proper authorities...the judges themselves.
The Rebellion of Freedom’s Guardians
By Patrick Jarreau
As the shock of September 11 becomes more distant, jurists are mobilizing against the threats that the Bush administration’s “War on Terrorism” brings to bear against public freedoms.
But you could still get into a lot of trouble...
Priest Bagged for Growing Pot in Rectory
unless, of course, you live in wonderful, bonfire-happy CALIFORNIA:
California Police Return Marijuana to Men
So here's a potpourri of what's been lurking under the radar since last I assembled your friendly neighborhood SCREED. We continue to destroy our international relations...I mean, c'mon, send Cheney and Rumsfeld to Europe?
Arms Issue Seen as Hurting U.S. Credibility Abroad
By Glenn Kessler
The Washington Post
Meanwhile, at home, there's almost no coverage of the Republican spying on Democrats in the Senate:
Infiltration of Files Seen as Extensive
By Charlie Savage
The Boston Globe
Senate Panel's GOP Staff Spied on Democrats
The investigation into who "outed" a CIA agent in the White House continues:
Ex-C.I.A. Aides Ask Inquiry by Congress Over Leak of Name
By Douglas Jehl
The New York Times
If you were disappointed (as I was) in Matt Groening's rather weak "Banned Words for 2004" cartoon, this list is much better...and yes, "bling bling" is on it:
Speaking of bling bling:
New Vietnamese Coins Being Gobbled Up
Booze-Laced Aussie Cookies Hit Sour Note
Yet more good news:
Poll: Bush Slipping Among Independents
The Associated press
And an environmental disaster (yet another) that you may not know about:
Damage in Appalachia Trickles From Top
By Elizabeth Shogren
The Los Angeles Times
Residents argue in court that leveling peaks for mining is destructive, as the Bush administration revises the law in favor of the coal industry.
EPA Sued for Illegally Taking Direction
from Chemical Industry Group
Earthjustice Press Release
Mother Nature has ways of getting her revenge:
Decomposing Whale Explodes on Taiwan Street
Texas Woman Strikes Oil in Toilet
And finally, a game on the web where you can stare at pictures and try to read a stranger's mind...at the same time (thanks, Miles):
A time-waster that helps catalog the web:
--- begin forwarded text
This game let you label images. If you and your opponent use the same label
you score points.
The real nice thing behind it is this:
"Labeling an image means associating word descriptions to it, as shown
below. Computer programs can't yet determine the contents of arbitrary
images, but the ESP game provides a novel method of labeling them: players
get to have fun as they help us determine their contents. If the ESP game
is played as much as other popular online games, we estimate that all the
images on the Web can be labeled in a matter of weeks!
Having proper labels associated to each image on the Internet would allow
for very accurate image search, would improve the accessibility of the Web
(by providing word descriptions of all images to visually impaired
individuals), and would help users block inappropriate (e.g., pornographic)
images from their computers."
Vive le Screed!
09 February 2004