Well, this was supposed to be a good year for us, eh? We were gonna kick that dumkopf back to Texas and crawl back to peace and prosperity. After being in debt for 17 years, I was gonna pay off the last credit card (which I did), get a swinging Downtown loft and create the salon that LA really needs. Instead I got bumrushed at work, by circumstances and by real estate agents, and it wasn't even spring before I was ready to split the country entirely. Too bad. In the last few months, I've been plagued by crackheads, bitter civil servants, people who see my lips move but don't know how to lip-read, etc. My Goddaughter liked LA so much she split after less than a week. Two of my oldest friends died within a month of each other, and no less than four others pulled the ladder in after them as they took off for Europe.
I was watching a documentary tonight about a woman, half-Vietnamese and half-American, sent by her mother to the US at the age of seven when the Americans pull out in 1975. She grew up in redneck Mississippi and was thrown out by her adopted mom in college, and so tried to find her birth mother. When she did and went back to Vietnam to be reunited with her mother, it didn't turn out as nice as she'd imagined. She never fit in Mississippi, she never knew her GI dad, her adopted mother was an alcoholic idiot, and though her family in Vietnam seemed to really love her, they blew her away with their poverty and expectation that she'd at least send them a stipend from America every month. By the end of the documentary she was crying and freaking out, and then I started freaking out and wondering, WHY THE HELL DID THEY MAKE THAT?
And then I realized, once again, that life is not meant to be entertaining. It can be, but only if you have a very refined sense of humor.
Here's a joke for you, then (thanks, Dana and Aunt Nona):
> The President, the First Lady and Dick Cheney are flying on Air Force One.
> George looks at Laura, chuckles and says, "You know, I could throw a
> $1000 bill out the window right now and make somebody very happy."
> Laura shrugs her shoulders and says, "Well, I could throw ten $100
> bills out the window and make 10 people very happy."
> Cheney says, "Of course then, I could throw one-hundred $10 bills
> out the window and make a hundred people very happy."
> The pilot rolls his eyes, looks at all of them and says to his
> co-pilot, "Such bigshots back there...hell, I could throw all of
> them out the window and make 56 million people very happy."
On that light note, I am very sorry to report that the most recent emigre to Europe is my friend Tanya's sister Cyndi Akel. Although she and her old man will have a grand time in Paris, it is another loss for Los Angeles that hopefully I will not have to bear much longer. I am nearly fully packed and itching to vamoose.
A few days back I had the downer of taking David Del Valle to the airport, with Chris Dietrich's ashes in the back seat, sorry for the bumpy ride, Chris. At the same time I was wondering if my friend Lorinda's sister had survived her Christmas vacation to Thailand. I've since discovered that she did, although I think it must be kismet that Lorinda did not go herself, only to be washed out into the Indian Ocean with John. It is very easy to forget that the Earth has unique ways of showing its love.
Asia Struggles as Death Toll Hits 52,000
By Andi Djatmiko
The Associated Press
To say nothing of the horrible death and destruction, it is awe-inspiring to see the wreckage of this great tsunami, generated by the entire island of Sumatra sliding 100 feet southwest over the sinking floor of that ocean. This tsunami was so enormous that it still generated a 2 meter wave at one place in Mexico, and lapped our our California coast with about 20 cm of force left...after rounding Australia and crossing the Pacific. WOW.
Most useless political campaign of 2004 (although don't tell my Iranian friend who sent me this article), the successful boycott of the National Geographic by Iranian groups for referring to the Persian Gulf, even parenthetically, as the Arabian Gulf:
You can see the related news in the following URL:
Such pretty script, don't you think?
My favorite website of 2004 might have been http://www.sorryeverybody.com/, or maybe it was the kittenish animation of http://www.rathergood.com/gaybar/, but let's take the high road and enjoy something more intellectual; this site compiles the most recent images from Reuters, the BBC and the New York Times RSS feeds every hour, essentially creating a constantly changing mosaic of our world:
In 2004, Ronald Reagan keeled over and I threw a party. Right at the end of the year, I've lost two of my mentors:
Susan Sontag, Author and Activist, Dies at 71
By Hillel Italie
The Associated Press
Seymour Melman, 86, Dies; Spurred Antiwar Movement
By Jennifer Bayot
The New York Times
Seymour Melman, a Columbia University scholar who helped galvanize the antiwar movement from the 1950's on with analyses of the social costs of military spending, died on Dec.16 at his home in Manhattan. He was 86.
Yeah, I can say with no compunction, that 2004 really bit it.
Anyway, on with the screed. Here's another site that will help those of you feeling that America is still worth saving have some way to express your angst by shopping (thanks, Shirley):
Although retailers made it too easy for us:
Wal-Mart Elected "Grinch of the Year" for 2004
Jobs with Justice
Cintas and Comcast runners-up in national contest to determine who did the most harm to workers and their families this year.
On a completely different note, those of you from Berkeley might have been cheered when Barringtonian Micah Garen was kidnapped by the Iraqi insurgency; once they realized what a hot potato they had, of course, they immediately let him go. No Barringtonian has ever been successfully confined for long, unless of course you considered living in Barrington as a kind of confinement.
You can let Micah know how glad you are for him, his cute fiancee and their cute dog at:
He fared better than the Fat Man did in some countries:
Santa Claus beaten up by teen candy-grabbing gang
Santa Workshop Said Under Threat from N. Pole Thaw
Not even global warming, however, will stop overweight Germans from stripping down to nothing and then jumping into ice-cold water:
Top Stories Photos - Reuters
By the way, it's almost time for the Academy Awards...who thinks this is the biggest lie since "Hope Is On the Way"?
Michael Moore Promises "Polite Speech" if Selected
Official Wire News Desk
Republican threatens boycott of Hollywood if F9/11 wins.
Personally I think this guy has his priorities in order:
French priest's mission is in a bar
I may be living in a French bar, after the United States goes broke:
New War Funding Request May Hit $100 Billion
By Bryan Bender
The Boston Globe
2004 wasn't the Second Coming, but it wasn't the best year we've ever had in America:
America's war on itself
Bush's wrecking tactics over climate change follow an established pattern of self-destruction
I have a persistent mental image of US foreign policy, which haunts me even in my sleep. The vanguard of a vast army is marching around the globe, looking for its enemy. It sees a mass of troops in the distance, retreating from it. It opens fire, unaware that it is shooting its own rear.
2005 ain't the Second Coming either, but it won't be much fun...it may remind some of us of the early 1970s:
A Flood of Troubled Soldiers Is in the Offing, Experts Predict
By Scott Shane
The New York Times
WASHINGTON - The nation's hard-pressed health care system for veterans is facing a potential deluge of tens of thousands of soldiers returning from Iraq with serious mental health problems brought on by the stress and carnage of war, veterans' advocates and military doctors say.
And it'll be well-deserved:
America's Sinister Plan for Falluja
By Michael Schwartz
The chilling reality of what Falluja has become is only now seeping out, as the American military continues to block almost all access to the city, whether to reporters, its former residents, or aid groups like the Red Crescent Society. The date of access keeps being postponed, partly because of ongoing fighting - only this week more air strikes were called in and fighting "in pockets" remains fierce (despite American pronouncements of success weeks ago) - and partly because of the difficulties military commanders have faced in attempting to prettify their ugly handiwork.
There's plenty of more war to come:
U.S.-European discord over Iran is deepening
The New York Times
European diplomats believe the participation of the Bush administration in talks with Iran is essential to their success.
Iran Ready for Invasion
Read This News ::
We'll probably keep playing Spy vs. Spy in the most obvious way:
IAEA Leader's Phone Tapped
By Dafna Linzer
The Washington Post
U.S. pores over transcripts to try to oust nuclear chief.
Pentagon Weighs Use of Deception in a Broad Arena
By Thom Shanker and Eric Schmitt
The New York Times
Washington - The Pentagon is engaged in bitter, high-level debate over how far it can and should go in managing or manipulating information to influence opinion abroad, senior Defense Department civilians and military officers say.
I hope my friends in Europe can really save the world, one country at a time. They did better with the Ukraine and Iran, and they may tame even the ugliest corners of the globe, where the US just fans the flames:
EU-Croatia talks may stir change in Balkans
International Herald Tribune
EU leaders meeting in Brussels are expected to decide on Friday to open accession negotiations with Croatia.
The future, as you well know, I believe to be in their hands:
In Defense and Space, Europe on the Move
By Michèle Alliot-Marie
At this year's end, the successful launching of the Helios IIA observation satellite by the Ariane 5 rocket on Saturday December 18 constitutes a strong symbol of Europe's cooperation in defense matters.
China Expands. Europe Rises. And the United States . . .
By Fred Kaplan
The New York Times
You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows, eh?
Vive le screed, happy new year, and all that jazz!
29 December 2004