The Friends of California Libre...

21 July 2007

Bring Out the Brand New Guillotine

Greetings, friends,
Thanks for all the replies to my request for a fax machine...although some of you seem mystified that I was asking for the second time.  Hmm, don't raise a ??? if you ain't reading the screed, folks, it was right there in my 4 July special.  Anyway, now I know who's got one and who doesn't, and I discovered the hard way that if you get rid of your long distance service (because of my cellular phone), you may be in for a surprise.  You'd think I could fax via my cell but if you know how, please let me know.

I'm also gratified by the accolades given to my catty chapbook Scream at the is my publisher, the Booklyn artists' cooperative in New York.  Thank you and keep spreading the word around...somewhere out there is a young, nervous literary agent (I'm thinking Darrin Stephens from "Bewitched "...and the Dick York version as opposed to Dick Sargent) who needs to be paired with an organized, slightly toasted writer like myself.

Speaking of slightly toasted, although the weather is not unpleasant, we are definitely in summer here in Los Angeles.  This time last year I had moved onto my couch, and remained there all through August...we'll see how it works out this year.  We will have trouble breaking our rain record, which fell through the basement last year:
Los Angeles to Break 130-Year Drought Record

There is a lot about 2006 that doesn't bear repeating.  I had this dream last night that we threw a party...a big one...for the Summer of Love, and all these old hippies showed up and ruined it.  Goddamn hippies!  While I was at Berkeley, I'd visit my Grandma Sarah down in San Jose, and she'd always tell me some story about listening to KGO late at night, when the "hippy kids from Berkeley" started calling in.  I hope you steer clear of them hippies, she'd warn me, and I was gratified that my redneck granny and my redneck uncles were worried about me.  No worries, I thought, ready to put on my black clothes, snort another line of speed and go do battle with the "hoopies".  I picked a side long before Sarah did.

That said, I have finally finished my memorial video to Jason Rhoades, who would have been 42 on 9 July.  I hope you enjoy it...I'd also hope you could send it around, especially to interested persons who were present but are not on my mailing list, like Heather Santana and Paco, among others.  Well, enough said:

Look quick before I get sued:
Justice Department Takes Aim at Image-Sharing Sites
By Declan McCullagh

And then just some housekeeping; if you are feeling creepy this weekend, a group of us are going down to the Hollywood "Forever" cemetery at Santa Monica and Gower tonight (Saturday) to see "Suspiria" at 7.30 PM...a real treat.  My first Argento film, and one of my first "mushroom adventures" at the then-new UA6 theatre in North Hollywood "back in the day".  Without a doubt my favorite anti-Austrian movie.

The more fortunate among you might be seeing Daft Punk the same evening at the Sports Arena (not sold out last I checked.)  I, however, anticipate my encounter Sunday evening with the adorable Ely Guerra at the Knitting Factory...she's like the naive late 1980s Sandra that I remember, or maybe more like a certain Spanish girl I have a crush on.  Well, either way I'll be the only 41 year old Los Feliz White Trash there.  See you...if you dare.

If you live in my neighborhood you might have noticed the new traffic light going in at Hyperion and Monon (in front of the Trader Joe's).  Man, that's long overdue.  I wonder how many people got run down in the crosswalk or t-boned turning into the market before the city put 1 + 1 together.  I can't remember how many times I've nearly been rear-ended there.

When I get up to the Bay Area I might forgo owning a car the 21st century we do have options like Flexcar or, wow, the BART.  Owning a car is a drag.  My most recent, Lucky Seven, has pretty much lived up to the name, but it's finally getting old (a 1993 Jetta) and mechanics are starting to throw their hands up at the problems without even my poor vehicle lacks a working heater, air conditioner (but I still have a fab sunroof) and can barely get up my hill.  What will car number 8 be...a hybrid?  Yet another Jetta?  Like I said, cars are a drag.

Speaking of cars, thanks to MTV Tres being broadcast on channel 63, I finally get to see some of MTV's cable offerings, like "Yo Momma" (evil) or "My Super Sweet Sixteen" (unbelievably evil) but my favorite has to be " Cribs".  Yes, there is very little that can make me even more disgusted with Los Angeles than I already am, but "Cribs" has to be it.  Seeing all the useless, large vehicles and other goods accumulated by the Beverly Hills hoi polloi convinced me that there is one significant silver lining to global warming:  whether we find a new way of living or destroy the Earth completely, at least this horrific age of excess is ABOUT TO END.

On Bastille Day I was fortunate enough to be surrounded by real French folks, yammering away in their poetic tongue, and I found myself face-to-face with an old-fashioned monarchist.  Although personally I find it easy to make suppositions about the "rabble" when you're sharing glasses of expensive wine on a balcony overlooking Topanga Canyon, at least we agreed that we were both disappointed Sofia Coppola's recent "Marie Antoinette" did not show the young Austrian noble go to the guillotine.  For opposite reasons, of course:  the monarchist wanted to see the Queen of France lose her head with dignity, whereas I just like to see those people get beheaded.  That movie (and Bastille Day in general) reaffirmed my distaste for monarchy.  Maybe it's just me (or the fact that my relative actually fought in the Revolution) but I don't believe in the death penalty with one exception:  anyone who claims to be royalty should be put to death immediately.  I know many of my European friends (and too many of my American ones) are not in agreement with me on this, but too bad.  I'll never forget the look on a friend's face in Paris who asked me what I thought of Versailles, and the answer was, "You need to tear that place down."  That's a new one, eh?  Yeah, I know, big palaces and bigger churches are what Europe is all about.  Here in the US of A we have "mansionization" and "megachurches".  Maybe it's time for a brand new guillotine, eh?

Ostentation doesn't win prizes, however.  Recently the masses were asked what their favorite American buildings were.  Not too surprising that bigger is better, as the tall but drab Empire State Building came in at number 1, while the stately but shorter Art Deco Chrysler Building only ranked number 9.  Our friend Miss Christine will be glad to know that her own architect, Maya Lin, made number 10 with her Vietnam Veterans' Memorial.

The first California structure on the list, showing how sentimental and tasteless Americans really are, was the Golden Gate Bridge at number 5.  Even more sentimentally, the now-ghostly but previously ugly World Trade Center was "raised" to number 19.  And this will give my fellow Los Angelenos even more of a complex; the best regarded local building on the list was the Gamble House, one of the most beautiful Craftsman houses in the world, which peaked at 66.  Our iconic Union Station only made it to 75.

You can witness all the other idiotic structures that Americans find artful here:

America's Favorite Architecture

"America's Favorite Architecture is the result of an AIA and Harris Interactive poll of 1,800 Americans naming their 150 favorite structures across the nation." The poll was conducted in honor of the AIA's 150th anniversary in 2007. Features a list of buildings and photos, starting with the Empire State building, and including the White House, the Golden Gate Bridge, and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. From the American Institute of Architects (AIA).

Anyway, my SCREED has nothing to do with monarchy or mediocrity.  I've been pondering high-tech gadgets in this short tribute to all the new junk that belongs in our "cribs" or our ugly fucking buildings.  First up, a battery charger that works on all batteries, even the "nonrechargeable" alkaline ones.  I bought one of these Chinese devices years ago and haven't bought a battery since...I get dead batteries from friends and revive them.  You might want to buy one fast; I haven't seen one of these in a long time, which until I saw it again I ascribed to a conspiracy of the battery manufacturers.  Yeah, that is a Duracell battery you see in the charger; I am not kidding.
Battery Xtender

Another useful product I believe we all need is a velvet painting, straight outta Tijuana, of Dick Cheney or Donald Rumsfeld.  I have seen these in person and lust after one:

Okay, seriously, one recent development in medicine is very encouraging:
Stem Cell Success in Type 1 Diabetes
By Karen Kaplan
The Los Angeles Times
Diabetics Cured by Stem-Cell Treatment
By David Rose
The Times UK
Senate Passes Stem Cell Vote
The Associated Press

But of course, our "Christian" President can't stand for such a non-miraculous cure.

Here's a conspiracy that I found slightly amusing; all the sunscreen you folks have been slathering on for years (with my swarthy Mediterranean tan I've never indulged) is useless:
Sunbathers: Beware the A-ray
By Jessica Marshall
The New Scientist

Sorry about that.  I hope none of us face the consequences, because getting sick in this country is an even bigger drag than owning a car.
Why Cuba Is Exporting Health Care to the US
By Sarah van Gelder
YES! Magazine

Although maybe not for much longer:
Massachusetts Begins Universal Health Care
By Christopher Lee
The Washington Post

Really, though, when your time is up...
Fire Hydrant Death
I thought you might find the following article from interesting:

Here's a gadget that will only make sense to those of us over 30:

The Best of Both Worlds

By Jenny
Coolest Keyboard Ever [BB-Blog]. I want.

The good news is, the Internet is not making us dumber, but smarter:
Surprise: Study Finds Online Users Finish More Stories Than Print Readers

The bad news is, it's gonna cost:
By Giles Slade
Mother Jones

Here's a creepy innovation, the implications of which can only boggle the 20th century brain; what can you do with a powder that can communicate?
Hitachi develops RFID powder

Well, at least if your identity gets stolen you can find out pretty quick:

StolenID Search

Enter a social security number or a credit card number to discover whether the number is found in "the world's largest repository of stolen and compromised personal information." The site notes that "individuals only enter credit card numbers and social security numbers. Even under the worst case scenarios, divulging this information alone is highly unlikely to lead to risk of identity theft." From a company that provides anti-identity theft tools.

Here's another interesting site; are you being censored in China?  Why would they do THAT?

Great Firewall of China

This Dutch site checks website addresses against Chinese government Internet censorship protocols to find if a site is blocked in China. The site notes that this service "may report sites as being 'blocked,' while there are only technical reasons for their unavailability." Includes a FAQ and discussion forum. From a group of "web designers, documentary film directors and journalists."

Too bad.  Even if the Chinese can't find the truth, you and I can:

Research Beyond Google: 119 Authoritative, Invisible, and Comprehensive Resources

Annotated list from October 2006 of authoritative websites on the "invisible web." The "invisible web comprises databases and results of specialty search engines that the popular search engines simply are not able to index." Topics include search engines, art, online books, business, consumer, finance, government, international, law, health, science, and transportation. Librarians' Internet Index is listed. From the Online Education Database (OEDb), a site that offers reviews of online schools and degree programs.

In case that doesn't work, here's a useful tool to find a real person to speak to (even if that person is real far away, like India):


This website features a list of consumer service telephone numbers and tips for how to get to speak to a person. The company lists also include a letter grade and are browsable by category, such as automotive, credit, finance, insurance, products, and travel. The site includes a description of how grades are assigned, a blog, and discussion forums. From a consumer advocate and other volunteers.

And here's a bright idea, just when we're about to ban talking on a cell phone while driving (which should, IMHO, be a felony):
The Internet in Your Car
Please click on the link to see the corresponding content:

Not that there aren't fun sites to surf while you're driving: U.S. Maps & Data

This site "is a geographic information system (GIS) portal, also known as the Geospatial One-Stop," "designed to facilitate communication and sharing of geographic data and resources to enhance government efficiency and improve citizen services." Search for federal, state, and local geographic data, maps (such as of transportation and natural hazards), and statistics. Also includes discussions of key resources for topics such as atmosphere and climate, business, and human health. Part of

Or sailing; my favorite part of this first site is the "tracker" application, which allows you to watch large ships off the coast much like flight trackers allow you to watch planes flying overhead: Weather for Sailors

Information about weather, tides and currents, and ship traffic around the world. The site primarily uses data "reported via the World Meteorological Organization's Voluntary Observing Ship (VOS) program to provide a snapshot of current weather conditions at sea, worldwide." View maps with weather information (such as wind speed and water temperature), or search for ships by call sign, location, or name. From a company that sells mapping tools for mobile devices.

Noonsite: The Global Site for Cruising Sailors

This site's mission is to provide "essential information on all matters of interest to sailors planning an offshore voyage anywhere in the world." Features profiles for dozens of countries, with details about "clearance formalities, visa requirements, fees, weather, special events and other facts needed by visiting sailors." The site also includes piracy updates "with up to date reports on incidents around the world." From a sailor and author.

I'll bet these numbskulls wished they'd been better with the Internet:

Drug-Running Boat

Photograph shows a drug-running boat with eight outboard motors.

Just what Marie Antoinette needed...too bad!  Chop! And vive le screed!

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