The quiet in my in-box is palpable...is this the calm before the storm? Perhaps I should answer some of my huge pile of accumulated e-mail, eh?
What a nasty, crow-eating week we've been having here. Ordinarily I'd glued to the TV, enjoying the "gotcha" expression on Donald Rumsfeld's mug, but I've been caught up between family emergencies and my friends undergoing a sudden "Hollywood" personality shift. All I can say is...you took my mind off work, at least. You guys crack me up.
Speaking of Hollywood, here's a Hollywood story for you that will lead into this week's up-tempo Screed: almost ten years ago a friend of mine, a PA (and if you don't know what that is, I've gone Hollywood too) decided to have his birthday party in Bungalow 3 at the Chateau Marmont on the Strip. Andrew has odd taste...although he's gay, he had another birthday party at a Ukrainian Mafia-controlled strip club...I'm aware of this because we share that birthday, and in those lonely days of the early 1990s I would tack my hopes and aspirations onto those who share the date with greater resources (to which M. Anton can attest.) But anyway...end tangent. Andrew had a bevy of friends, including several young French actresses, in attendance. I asked Andrew, "Did you pick this room specifically?" "No," he said, "why?" "Because this is the room that John Belushi died in."
Well, Andrew said I'd given him the best birthday gift EVER, although I still don't believe he'd forgotten about the famous Bungalow 3 at the Chateau Marmont. The French actresses jumped up and down on the bed, one of them panting, "Is zees where John die?" I replied, "I hope they changed the mattress." One of the actresses was a young Julie Delpy, who at that time had never been in an American film. When Andrew introduced us, I said, "I know who you are. You're Julie Delpy." She was taken aback. Am I famous already? perhaps she thought. "How do you know me?" she asked suspiciously. "I read THE FACE," I said with pride, and I had.
For those of you who know The Face, you remember the real glamour of the 1980s. But now The Face is about to fade into the past (thanks, Geri):
The pain of losing The Face (which I must admit, I haven't read since I was in the Gare du Nord in Paris two years ago) is somewhat ameliorated by the following website, sent to me by two people who should meet someday, and if you have a broadband connection, you can enjoy this slightly bullshitted hellride by a very hot Ukrainian biker through Chernobyl in near-real time (thanks, Mark and Ellen):
Thought some of you travelers would appreciate this fascinating/scarifying website I was just hipped to -- a motorcycle ride through the Chernobyl "exclusion zone" -- replete with pix:
You've got to get your ya-yas in foreign lands, I'll be the first and loudest to tell you. Here's the bullshit that passes for freedom in the New Amerika:
Disney Forbidding Distribution of Film That Criticizes Bush
By Jim Rutenberg
New York Times
If you want to sign a petition protesting this decision (like petitions and prayer ever helped you at Disneyland), do it here:
But how about some good news:
California Secretary Of State Bans Electronic Voting
With harsh criticism, California Secretary of State Kevin Shelley ordered the plug pulled on all touch-screen voting machines in the state because of concerns over security.
Diebold Facing Ban in California
The Associated Press
SACRAMENTO, Calif. - The state's top elections official called for a criminal investigation of Diebold Election Systems Inc. as he banned use of the company's newest model touchscreen voting machine, citing concerns about its security and reliability.
Meanwhile, across the waters, the changes I saw during my trek are coming to fruition:
Top European Praises Spain on Pullout
By Clifford J. Levy
New York Times
ROME, April 19 The European Commission president, Romano Prodi, today praised the new Spanish prime minister's decision to withdraw troops from Iraq, and he suggested that other nations were likely to follow.
While the US has a different way of making friends:
Condoleezza Rice Threatens Jamaica Over Aristide
People are just so touchy these days:
Cop Suspended for Hitler Salute
Although the Europeans were as kind to me as ever (although I'll never again fear being overwhelmed by [Northern] Italian hospitality!), my government is still doing its best to tell the world, drop dead:
"THE MARCH 11 TERRORIST bombings in Spain show that the threat of terrorism remains dire. Removing Saddam Hussein from power did not reduce that threat, and intelligence agencies warn that it has in fact increased Al Qaeda's ability to recruit. At the same time, the Iraq war has proven costly to America's ability to attract others to our larger cause. ..."
And I witnessed an enormous physical and mental sea-change in Europe, which now reaches from the Pillars of Hercules to the suburbs of St. Petersburg:
Globalist: Despite discord, unity wins out in Europe
By Roger Cohen
I especially like the German take on the European Union enlargement; the Bild put some topless Eastern beauties on their webpage as a "welcome":
The birth of our greatest rival after China hardly made the newspapers here, forget the television news:
At EU milestone, U.S. is focused elsewhere
By Roger Cohen/IHT
Although the Irish, who hosted the enlargement ceremonies, seemed a bit confused as well:
Cyprus or Crete? Stamp Seems to Blur EU Map
Yeah, they confused Crete and Cyprus, but careful examination will also show that they left out the border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. No confusion there...they always do that. No doubt dozens of pissed off Unionists are venting their emotions in Belfast even as you read this.
Here's a pissed off Frenchman taking it out on his favorite whipping boy...I like this article...if you substitute the name "France" for "United States" anywhere in this article, it still works pretty good:
America and Its Moral Superiority Complex
By Patrick Jarreau
The humiliations and tortures inflicted by American soldiers on Iraqi detainees in a prison close to Baghdad force America, once again, to face the contrast between the moral superiority to which it lays claim and the violence that it produces.
The French also complain, rightly, about the weak structure of the EU, now containing twenty-five very different nations. Hmm, I wonder who they'd like to see in charge...
Europe Without a Head
Le Monde Editorial
The moment was solemn. The President of the French Republic, who had not given a press conference in four years, chose that means of _expression Thursday, April 29 to talk about Europe on the day before its enlargement.
Head or no head, the Russians are sensing the direction of the weather, and may back the Europeans:
Russia May Be Ready to Ratify Kyoto Treaty on Climate Change
By Andrew Osborn and Stephen Castle
The Independent U.K.
While our idiotic neo-con government can't agree with the world on anything:
U.S. Stalls on Ratifying Sea Pact
By Paul Singer
The Chicago Tribune
The Law of the Sea Convention, an international treaty governing uses of the world's oceans, was steaming toward Senate ratification last fall, backed by everyone from the White House to the Navy to lawmakers from both political parties.
They have the worst environmental record since the environment was even an issue, worse than the first Bush, worse that Reagan:
Scientists Seek to Add 225 Species to Endangered List
Scientists, including acclaimed wildlife biologist Jane Goodall, joined environmental groups Tuesday in petitioning the government to add 225 plants and animals to the endangered species list. The species are not new to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; four-fifths have been on the agency's waiting list for a decade. Some have been waiting since 1975. The average is 17 years.
The destruction is here and now; the thousands of dying trees visible outside my window in the San Gabriel Mountains are just part of a global pattern. We're not living in bubbles:
Climate Changes; Forests Struggle
By Angie Wagner
Some blame global warming; others are unsure of the cause. Bark beetles take up where the climate leaves off, changing the West.
Even the lush forests and vast tundra of Canada, which kept me mesmerized once again from the air on this trip, are in danger. But the Canadians are looking for warmer climes anyway, aye:
USATODAY.com - Canada could ditch winter blues by annexing Caribbean paradise*
But who cares? There's plenty of work, right? It's jobs we're worried about, right?
Occupiers Spend Millions On Private Army of Security Men
By Robert Fisk and Severin Carrell
The Independent UK
We're in charge...
Bulgaria President Shot at in Iraq
It's like a big party...
Journalists Send Drugs to Politicians
And we're all gonna join up.
Is Military Draft in the Works?
By Andrew Greenley
The Chicago Sun Times
We can do it all alone, and foreigners can go to hell:
Re-open America's school doors for foreigners
By Robert M. Gates
Check-in times to US may hit five hours
Wednesday April 21 2004
Transatlantic travellers may in future have to check in five hours early for their flights to answer detailed security questions, the travel industry warned yesterday.
So relax, sit back and enjoy a sausage, as I did in this late-night dive in Schwaz with Mr. Hirner (in the enclosed photo.)
And finally, courtesy of Mr. Steiner in gay Paris:
A three year old boy in his bath examines his genitals and asks,
"Mommy, are these my brains?"
Says Mom, "Not yet, honey."
Vive le Screed!
09 May 2004