The Friends of California Libre...

29 July 2007

Romantic Full Moonlit Wasteland

Greetings, friends,
Excuse me, but is it time for a full blown summer RANT?  Sorry, but I'm in one of my moods.  It's Saturday night, and after sitting through "Amores Perros", I'm bummed.  Whoever told me it was a great movie was mistaking bathos for greatness, and as someone who actually likes Mexico City, I had to dig out a copy of "Los Caifanes" as an antidote to my malaise.  Why is 2 1/2 hours of people (and dogs) brutalizing each other somehow artful?  I found it ugly and depressing, but because Los Angeles and Mexico City have so much in common, it did give me an insight I'd like to share with you.

My car, "Lucky" Seven, spent the last week at the mechanic, and I spent much of that week on the bus.  I'm not exaggerating, to get from Burbank to Lakeview Terrace, a 20 minute drive, took 2 hours and 45 minutes on the bus.  Sure, I had a Walkman and a book, but I still took time out for a little righteous indignation (coming off pretty false, as I was usually the only white dude on the bus.)  I never saw anybody else reading.  I don't know how people do it...if I'm even sitting by myself eating in a restaurant, I need something to read just to keep my mind off how scary most people around me are.  You know me, the public librarian, the constantly preoccupied misanthrope.  How different we are, the nice middle class people stuck on the freeway in our cars and the nice lower class people on the bus staring out the window or carving their tag into the seats, but the one thing in common is a blissful indifference.  While I was watching "Amores Perros" I thought, a shared indifference to suffering is the language here, and you can spend 2 1/2 hours sharing the lives of people you don't care about who live awful lives because YOU DO THAT EVERY DAY.  It's one reason why I read so little "literary fiction" even though it is, supposedly, my genre; because literary fiction accepts indifference, cruelty and inhumanity as a basic truth, and you can only satirize or realize the truth, but you can't reject it, right?

People in Los Angeles and Mexico City and a lot of other big cities, I fear, have cultivated this wonderful masochism.  It's the blank stare or the look of surprise or (my favorite) fury I get when I flip out on strangers, which is my new hobby here.  At least the Bay Area, for all the hard things some of you have said, is still small enough to revel and celebrate its freakiness, instead of shrugging at it.  Once you pile enough people on, that adorable urban charm is snuffed out from the sheer weight of shared misery.  LA is way past that point for me, who was not super-tolerant of it even ten or twenty years ago.  The diff now is that I'm spending every night in front of the fan working out my feelings on the computer, instead of out-and-about with my friends and bottles of booze.  I'm on the bus staring out the window, I'm in the background of "Amores Perros" watching a disaster in slow motion.  Yikes!

That said, I'm glad to announce that the official release party for Scream at the Librarian will be 13 September at Miss Light's gallery, more details to follow, and I'm thinking up a doozy of a poem to encapsulate all of my disgust.  Bring plenty of slings and arrows and sticks and stones to give me a good send-off.  I'll bring the French wine and a one-way ticket to Topanga!

If you've made it this far, I owe you poor slighted Los Angelenos a few tidbits.  On 1 August (Wednesday) there will be a free screening of David Lynch's "Inland Empire" at the Hammer Museum in Westwood...Lynch will be there to do a Q&A and perform some music!  In order to attend you need to send an RSVP to the following e-mail BEFORE 5 PM on Monday (and for some of you clicking on this link will open your e-mail program!):

There are, of course, other things to do at the Hammer, there are 4 exhibitions up, a DJ, and there will be drinks.  The Hammer is giving MOCA and LACMA a run for their grant money.  I'm hoping to see Jason Rhoades' piece there on Wednesday, which very sadly is one year since we lost him to, yeah, that general indifference.

I'm glad many of you have seen my short tribute to Jason on YouTube, although it would be nice if someone would leave a comment or a rating so strangers might have a better idea what the hell is going on.

Unfortunately I have a lot of other bad news gathered up to storm down this week.  One of the worst (and I am not being sarcastic...this publication essentially got me through the summer of 1986):
Weekly World News to close (aliens not blamed!)

I am also very, very sorry to deliver this news:
Sherman Torgan, 63; owner of New Beverly Cinema
By Mary Rourke
Times Staff Writer
Sherman Torgan, who turned an adult movie house in Los Angeles into the New Beverly Cinema, an arty repertory theater that screens classic, independent and foreign films, died Wednesday. He was 63.
The complete article can be viewed at:,1,2652698.story?coll=la-news-obituaries%3A

For those who don't know, the New Beverly is a dirty, uncomfortable little theatre, and the last revival house in the city.  I can't enumerate how many great movies I squirmed through there, and how many times I bought a ticket from Sherman himself, who turned himself over to giving us an education in cinema...a noble profession indeed.  Many was the night I came out of the New Beverly, shook my head, lit a cigarette and said "Wow" to a bunch of strangers.  I don't know how long his son will keep the theatre open, but in this greedy city contemptuous of its own heritage, I won't hold my breath.

I was also saddened to hear this tragic news:

The apparent double suicide of Jeremy Blake and Theresa Duncan

Friends cite strange behavior in the final days of a golden couple in the art world.
By Chris Lee, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer,0,4215227.story?coll=la-home-middleright

I only met Jeremy Blake once or twice, but he was close to good friends of mine, so my sympathies to them.  Again I count them among the victims of this disgusting urban malaise which unfortunately also manifests itself in New York City.

Phew, the only nice thing I have to say is that a cruelly neglected landmark in Los Angeles, which was repaired last year, now has its lights fixed:
The Triforium

I'm feeling a little bit of a SCREED coming on.  Last time I bitched about the bullshit survey of American architecture, and had more response than I was counting on (although none from you architects...what's with THAT?)  One person sent me a photo of the Burj Dubai...this is TRULY awesome, the Goddamned "Towering Inferno" to a T.  This building is only 2/3 done and just passed the current tallest building in the world, the Taipei 101.  When it's done, the Burj Dubai will be well over 600 m, 1/3 again as tall as the Sears Tower (!), over 160 stories, and even taller than the CN Tower (sorry, Canadians), currently the tallest freestanding manmade object:

I love when the Arabs go crazy like this.  They have plans for another building over 1 km tall...that's over half a mile, friends:

I also got a message about this wonderful, huge abandoned concrete shell on the skyline of Pyongyang:

And from San Francisco I got a mini-screed about One Rincon Hill, a huge ugly tower ruining the skyline of the City:
Here's one for the screed.

This freaky tower, climbing up far from the rest of Downtown San Francisco next to the Bay Bridge, caught my attention last time I was up there, so much so I had to call Kathy right away and ask her what the hell it was!  Does NO ONE remember "The Towering Inferno"?

AND NOW a public service announcement.  Do you know about PHISHING?  If not, take this quiz and save your self some identity theft:
The quick and fun quiz tests your ability to detect dangerous Web sites by looking at their homepages.  To take the quiz, just go to

Another website I've discovered recently is called Wikimapia...a combination of Google Earth and the Wikipedia, this site allows you to highlight and remark upon your favorite places...check it out, I've added a few myself (all out in the Mojave Desert).  Be cautious, though, I've had this site crash my browser a few times.

And one more event, although I have no idea where this is, it's got to be better than Sunset Junction (which is $12 this year) the following weekend:

Bollywood extravaganza to be held in Los Angeles

"Los Angeles, July 25 (IANS) Coinciding with the 60th anniversary of India's independence, a mega event focusing primarily on Indian cinema will be organised here next month."

Now, before I drift off to sleep...I just want to make certain nobody thinks I'm being unfair to Los Angeles.  On the contrary, every wasteland everywhere sucks, under that full moon.

America isn't sucking as bad as it used to:
New Poll Finds That Young Americans Are Leaning Left
By Adam Nagourney and Megan Thee
The New York Times
Poll: Impeachment Talk Gains Steam After Libby Move
The Boston Herald
Much of US Favors Bush Impeachment: Poll
Agence France-Presse
US Congress to Retake Trade Authority From Bush
By Veronica Smith
Agence France-Presse

I mean, I've already mentioned a few times that the President sucks, haven't I?  Come on, he's even pissing off his fellow Republican assholes:
Former Bush surgeon general says he was muzzled
Ex-Officials Tell of Conflict Over Science and Politics
By Gardiner Harris and Robert Pear
The New York Times
Plan B Use Surges, and So Does Controversy
By Rob Stein
The Washington Post

We're getting ready to rein in his suck-up Supreme Court:
Legislators Consider Fixes to Supreme Court Rulings
By Elana Schor
The Hill

But they're at each other's throats anyway:
Even in Agreement, Scalia Puts Roberts to Lash
By Linda Greenhouse
The New York Times

The Valley sucks (literally):
San Fernando Valley Porn
Click here to view the video.

Wisconsin isn't so bad...
Wisconsin Passes Universal Healthcare Plan
By Scott Bauer
The Associated Press

But Louisiana definitely sucks:
Black High School Students in Louisiana Threatened With Lynching
By Rick Perlstein

Nope, we just plain suck:
US Image Abroad Still Sinking
By Jim Lobe
Inter Press Service
Planet Pentagon: How the Pentagon Came to Own the Earth, Seas, and Skies
By Nick Turse
Congressman Denied Access To Post-Attack Continuity Plans
Newhouse News Service
Jerry Garcia's speakers and bidet to be sold online
Washington split over Clinton cleavage

The Europeans already know we suck:
Europeans See US as Threat to Peace
By Daniel Dombey and Stanley Pignal
The Financial Times UK
While Europeans Holiday, Americans Toil
By Marie Cocco

And so they're cranking up the Euro to bury us:

Paul B. Farrell
Is America becoming a global credit risk?
ARROYO GRANDE, Calif. (MarketWatch) -- Subprimes downgraded. Will Moody's downgrade America's debt next? Actually, that's already happening; our credit rating is collapsing with the dollar. ... Read the rest of the story
L'euro bat un nouveau record face au dollar
[] près avoir frôlé, ces derniers jours, son plus haut niveau historique d'un euro pour 1,3682 dollar, atteint le 27 avril, la monnaie européenne a franchi, mardi en milieu d'après-midi, le seuil de 1,37 dollar, atteignant 1,3717 dollar.
Accédez à l'intégralité de cet article sur,1-0@2-3234,36-934030,0.html

Atlantic Free Press - Hard Truths for Hard Times
You can access it at the following URL:

They've even got better Internet than us now, the bastards:
The French Connections
By Paul Krugman
The New York Times

But nobody's perfect.  Spain's got an attitude problem:
Noisy neighbour gets two years jail in Spain
Nazi Beach in Spain

The French suck, at least with style:
Beautiful French Slag Heap
Please click on the link to see the corresponding content:

Nah, let's just say they all suck:
Europe Escapes the Impasse Without Recovering Its Elan
By Pierre Haski

I've always thought the Ukraine must suck:
Window Opens on Holocaust in Ukraine
The Associated Press

The Spajic brothers convinced me that Serbia probably sucks:
By Ignacio Ramonet
Le Monde Diplomatique

Russia certainly sucks:
Russia Steps Back From Key Arms Treaty
By Andrew E. Kramer
The New York Times

I'll be the first one to tell you that Mexico sucks, even before I saw "Amores Perros":
When Crossing the Border Becomes a Game for Mexicans
By Ségolène Allemandou
Le Monde
Raid on Mexican Drug Dealer's House

The two-faced Chinese suck coming and going:
China rejects two substandard US food products

I'm starting to wonder if even Brazil sucks:
Rio police arrested for mugging U.S. cops

Really, everyone sucks.  Let's just forget the rat race.
Dark Underbelly of the World's Most "Peaceful" Countries
By Riane Eisler
The Christian Science Monitor

And finally, remember to wear your Goddamned seat belt, because death sucks!  (WARNING - this is DISGUSTING.)
Thrown from vehicle
Check out this video!

Vive le sucky screed!


Anonymous said...

Very nicce!

Anonymous said...

What do you think about WIKILEAKS?

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