The Friends of California Libre...

10 August 2007

Your Pretty Puppet State Is Going to Hell

Greetings, friends,
This week I'm feeling lean and mean, friends...lean and mean and nasty. I don't like myself this week. I used to enjoy August...the children are at the public pools and away from the library, and their parents are away on's hot enough to keep my windows open all night and fall asleep on the couch to Conan O'Brien. Not any August seems, like the other eleven months, to about lost memories, dying friends, and the anticipation of disaster. That's a cockle-warming start to a rip-roaring SCREED, you think, but actually, it's more like the start to a life-sapping ennui that makes getting out of bed (or off the couch) a chore, forget about assembling this occasional safety-release blog.

There are always bright spots. I'm getting a lot of face time with my writing, which is always a good thing. I've been cycling a lot, walking (more on that shortly) and feeling healthy. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day! It's also often the hardest to chew. I'm comforted that Barry "Hit Me" Bonds' record-breaking* 756th home-run baseball got picked off, in front of the home crowd, no less, by a New Yorker in a Mets jersey. This young gun, who smiled through the bloody beating the San Franciscans gave him, will bring down a cool half-million for that ball, hopefully none of which will benefit Bonds, the Giants, or San Francisco, but go straight to Australia with him.

I've had time to catch up on such useless news, as I was stuck for nearly three weeks in my apartment, my car bouncing from mechanic to mechanic, each trying to uncover what turned out to be, of course, a completely pedestrian problem (pun intended.) The last time I was confined to my apartment thus, I'd broken my leg in three places in Ireland. Then as now, I sublimated my cabin fever into an obsession with material things. Something as minor as replacing my bicycle headlight takes on a cosmic significance, it's progress and another front in the battle against chaos. My old headlight, a standard model, had literally disintegrated and gone spinning into the gutter as I coasted down a Los Feliz hill...the replacement is a modern low-power LED. It is incredibly bright and flashes too, at a frequency that might induce a Judge Roberts-style seizure in the unwary; a light so bright, in fact, that I found it slightly irritating from BEHIND. It gave me a wicked thrill to blast cars with this halogen-like torch, like some LA gangster in his street-racer. More than that, it's comforting to know that for once, NO ONE will open their door in front of my bike. Instead they freeze, puzzled by the Close Encounters beams blazing into their mirrors. I even saw one woman put a hand over her face as she approached from the opposite direction, a very strong endorsement of the CatEye Company.

"Close Encounters of the Third Kind", just to make some of you feel even older, will be 30 years old in November.

While commuting to work via bike and bus, I've also pulled out my treasured Walkman, the once-hot portable stereo from the early 1980s. Other than a broken belt hook, this cassette player has outlasted two regular stereos and countless batteries and shows no indication of letting up. Like most hardened bus jockeys, I keep the earbuds at near-damage level, essential to block out the sounds of a roaring diesel engine and screaming insane street scum. Paired with my Walkman is a full milk-crate of vintage comp tapes. It's always good to pull out the comps, friends. First of all, the key to bringing a fragile cassette beyond its 10 year lifespan is to play it regularly, keeping the magnetic tape from getting stiff and brittle, and store it properly away from electrical fields or direct sunlight. It's worth it, because it's nice to find that those snippets and juxtapositions, which once meant so much, now mean much more...or much less. Like letter-writing, the musical transition and compilation is pretty much a dead art, left to alt-radio DJs. The art of finding weird sound-bites to insert between the songs on comp tapes is also pretty much dead.

As I listened to the comp tapes I'd been given by friends, unfortunately I found myself more annoyed than nostalgic. How many comp tapes have I made as gifts, only to imagine them pushed to the backs of drawers, broken, stolen, crushed...and then all the friends themselves disappeared? Sure, I still burn a CD for someone now and again, and I treasure some of the crazy CDs I've been given...but there is nothing more personal to me than an unduplicated, original comp tape. Like my old letters, I'd like to push them into a shoebox in the corner of my parent's garage, but I like the music too much. I'd rather wear them out like I wore the owners out.

Yeah, if months and months of radio silence here in Los Feliz could not convince me it was time to get the deuce out of Hell-A, then riding the bus four to five hours a day finally did the trick. LA is becoming a great, top-heavy city, ready to fall over and smash like all the stolen antiquities ready to be sent back to Italy by the Getty. Well, I'm back on the road in my car, "Lucky" Seven, repaired after three weeks bouncing between my mechanic and the unscrupulous employees of Volkswagen. One of the first things I observed was a Ford 150 (a very large pickup) closely tail-gating a moped. Yes, I thought, you're back on the streets, and your pretty city is going straight to HELL. I'm cowed by LA at last, completely overwhelmed, afraid to go out, timidly probing the streets and freeways with my old VW, keeping to the right, staying at home as much as possible, flying under the radar until I can bail out of this Dog Day pressure cooker.

At least my car is white:
Automobile accidents: black cars are more accident prone

I did get some good news from San Francisco...I just received the results of my exam with the SF Public Library and scored in second place...obviously they think more of me than my current employer! Not that the future in the Bay Area looks much brighter...the news, I fear, is bad up there too. A crime spree in Oakland appears directed against those least likely to profit by it. A bunch of normally lovey-dovey San Franciscans beat the crap out of a tourist on national TV. The A's are doing pretty good (before they take off for Fremont, anyway) but that doesn't matter if your car is stolen and somebody puts a bullet in your head. Well, I've always preferred the palm trees and the warm, BBQ haze over Oakland to the chilly Starbucks fog of the City, but at least in San Francisco there's less of chance of waking up dead...except for all the drugs and diseases. What the hell...I'll take Northern California anyway. I've always lived by the final verdict of Judge Dredd: "The crime is life. The sentence: DEATH."

Yeah, I'm all about death this August, death that's slowing the living down and literally killing time. It was only a year ago 1 August that my friend Jason Rhoades crossed over to the other side. Sixty-two years ago on 6 and 8 August, we WON the war, Robert, when the Army Air Force and Dr. Oppenheimer blasted Hiroshima and Nagasaki into oblivion. We're still learning about that atrocity too, my friends:
The Terror America Wrought
By Robert Scheer
HBO Airs A-Bomb Footage Kept From Media for Decades
By Greg Mitchell
Editor and Publisher

That also means it's been twelve years since the "Stop the Bomb" party at Geri's when Peter offered my then 17-year old student Kamilah a hash pipe. Our newscaster emeritus here in LA, Hal Fishman, died the night before last. Lee "These Boots Are Made for Walking" Hazlewood died Saturday, and John Gardner, the author of my favorite spy novel The Liquidator, died the day before that. And that's to say nothing of Tom Snyder, Bill Walsh, Ingmar Bergman and Michelangelo Antonioni, who all died late last month. And it's hard to believe that it's been eleven years since I started working for the City of LA, in the Science and then Children's Department of the Central Library, but easy to imagine my burnt-out self travelling back in time to admonish a younger, more naive Joel...get ready! Well, as the Irish, say, it could be worse, eh?
Tragic Event Forces Man To Spend Rest Of Life Confined To Office Chair

And at least I'm not forced to deal with Australian idiots:
Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it's a baby...

A few nights back I was so melancholy, during my bike ride home I needed a liquor break over at Karen and Joe's apartment. This was only a partial success as Joe passed out while their two youngsters ran around until I retreated. As I did some drunken bicycling through the humid, dark Los Feliz streets, I realized that my very first alcoholic experience involved putting down several Kamikazes and then weaving to the video game "parlor" on my bike...twenty-seven years seems so long ago. Why would anyone want to live forever? Phew.
Fun Toy Banned Because Of Three Stupid Dead Kids

Well, let's not start on such a negative note. First, if you haven't already, remember Jason at his best:

I also heard a little noise about the drubbing I gave "Amores Perros" last time...hey, I didn't make the movie! If you want to see a happier side of Mexico City, or are just having a bad day, you will feel better after you see "Miedo" by the queen of that city's New Wave, Maria Daniela:

I want you to know (and I feel a SCREED coming on...) that there are always glimmers of hope:
UN Approves Peacekeepers for Darfur
By John Sullivan
The New York Times
Irate Catalans Humiliate Spanish Bull Symbol

We might even get peace in the Middle East...
Arab League delegation visits Israel
Arab envoys visit Israel, push for statehood talks

...if some people have less time on their hands.
Israelis bombard Gaza -- this time with salvo of salad

But in this country is exactly the opposite...there is almost nothing that we can do, even for the better, that doesn't reek of American self-interest, and we have FAR too much time on our hands.
Stoner Architect Drafts All-Foyer Mansion
Rowdy 'Redneck Games' irk neighbors
Teen rescued after dangling from cliff

I just finished Nemesis by Chalmers Johnson, a book which essentially states that not only are we becoming a military dictatorship like ancient Rome, but we've already been there since the 1940s and just don't get it yet. This might be an enormously depressing book to most of you, but since I am a scummy secessionist and the name of this SCREED is CALIFORNIA LIBRE, I think it's great. Because for us Californians, maybe the end is getting near. We're not in Ohio:
Ohio Bill Would Make Abortion Illegal Without Paternal Consent
Feminist Daily News Wire

Or New York:
NYPD: Drugs sold out of ice cream truck

But we're still in America, eh?
Carload Of Faggots Just Pulled Up To Drive-Thru, Cashier Reports
Breast implants linked with suicide in study

That they're coming to get me, and then you, is no longer in doubt:
Senate Passes Bush Terrorism Spy Bill
By Lara Jakes Jordan
The Associated Press
Bush Signs Law Widening Reach for Wiretapping
By James Risen
The New York Times
NYC police discover strange submersible in river

Seriously, read some of these new laws and wonder if they DON'T apply to you (scary):
Executive Order: Blocking Property of Certain Persons Who Threaten Stabilization Efforts in Iraq
Office of the Press Secretary

YOU should be righteously pissed that so many of our representatives shredded the Constitution right in front of us:
Wiretap Bill Roils Liberal Base
By Elana Schor
The Hill

I'd like to think that even some of the news out of Iraq is positive; anyone outside the United States knows how uplifting this must be:
Iraq advances to first Asian Cup final
Iraq 1 Saudi Arabia 0, but in Real Life, It's More Complicated
By Pierre Haski

But that country will never solve its problems, or even begin sorting them out, until our Imperial adventure comes to an end:
US Cannot Account for 190,000 Guns in Iraq: Report
Agence France-Presse
Weapons Given to Iraq Are Missing
By Glenn Kessler
The Washington Post

The problem is, there is no sign of us leaving Iraq anytime soon:
US Troop Levels in Iraq Reach All-Time High
Agence France-Presse
Gates, US General Back Long Iraq Stay
By Ann Scott Tyson
The Washington Post
Air Force Quietly Building Iraq Presence
By Charles J. Hanley
The Associated Press

Sure, our allies are moving clear of the disaster:
Britain Will Take Troops out of Iraq Regardless of US, Says PM
By Andrew Grice
Belfast Telegraph UK
British Pullback in Iraq Presages US Hurdles
By Stephen Farrel
The New York Times
British Criticize US Air Attacks in Afghan Region
By Carlotta Gall
The New York Times

Our other friends are busy taking care of their own problems:
Spain hauls in 8 tonnes of jellyfish
Bed bugs hamper French sleeper train service
French snail-guzzling fest sets new record
Blind Estonian man arrested for driving car
At least the German jail food will be free...
Bull imprisoned with Serb owner to avoid slaughter

Meanwhile, the central mission in Iraq has failed:
Bush Told Iraq War Has Helped al-Qa'eda
By Tim Shipman
Telegraph UK

More costs are becoming apparent...
Labor Dept.: 1,001 Contractors Have Died in Iraq
By David Ivanovich
The Houston Chronicle

But our "dictator for life" is no Julius Caesar; he doesn't know when to quit:
Bush Envisions US Presence in Iraq Like South Korea
By Steve Holland

Now, I don't want all of my optimistic American friends out there to give up hope; we did elect a new legislative branch in 2006 to clean up the mess, and they're trying:
House Votes to Ban Permanent Bases in Iraq
The Gavel
Democrats Have Daggers Drawn for Bush
By Stephen Collinson
Agence France-Presse
Democrats Call for Combat to End By 2008
By Anne Gearan and Anne Flaherty
The Associated Press
Senate OKs Referendum on Iraq War
By Jordan Rau
The Los Angeles Times
House to Defy Bush With Defense Bill
By Anne Flaherty
The Associated Press
House Votes to Force Bush to Withdraw US Troops From Iraq
By David S. Rosen
Liberals Vow to Block Continued Iraq Funding
The Politico

That's good, because eventually we're literally going to run out of war money:
Report: Wars Costing $12 Billion a Month
By Andrew Taylor
The Associated Press

And what do you think will happen when all those troops come home?
Shelters Take Many Vets of Iraq, Afghan Wars
By Anna Badkhen
The Boston Globe

This is money better spent elsewhere, as we're going to find out the hard way:
Bridge Collapse Revives Issue of Road Spending
By Susan Saulny and Jennifer Steinhauer
The New York Times
Bridge Collapse Spotlights America's Deferred Maintenance
By Ron Scherer
The Christian Science Monitor

Even Bush's own party in the Congress can see which way the wind is blowing:
Two GOP Senators Defy Bush On Iraq
By Shailagh Murray and Robin Wright
The Washington Post
Snowe Embraces Troop Withdrawal Bill
By Anne Flaherty
The Associated Press
GOP Congressman Joins Sen. Domenici in Breaking With White House on War
Editor and Publisher
"Crack in the Dike": White House in "Panic Mode" Over GOP Revolt on Iraq
By Martha Raddatz
ABC News
Bush Aides Consider an Iraq Truce at the Capitol
By Paul Richter and Noam N. Levey
The Los Angeles Times

Some "brave" politicians are calling for the obvious:
Feingold Introduces Resolutions Censuring Bush, Others
By Frederic J. Frommer
The Associated Press
California Primary Ballot May Include Iraq Question
By Jennifer Steinhauer
The New York Times

Down here in the streets, everyone knows what the score is:
Impeach George Bush to Stop War Lies, Deaths
By Jimmy Breslin
US Conference of Mayors Takes a Stand: Out of Iraq!
By Michael R. Blood
The Associated Press
Poll: Most Support Iraq Timetable

But our imperial military is on a religious Crusade:
Video, Report Details Evangelism at Highest Levels of US Military
By Jason Leopold
t r u t h o u t Report
(thanks, Robert)
Top Veteran Official Joins Debate Over Allowing Pentacle to Appear on Nev. Soldier's Headstone
Memorial Day, but not for Wicked soldiers.

They even considered provoking our largest rival:
Defense Officials Tried to Reverse China Policy, Says Powell Aide
By Jeff Stein
Congressional Quarterly

American corporations know that money talks:
Nelson: Oil a Factor in Iraq Deployment
The Age, Australia
Opposition to American Oil Grab Is Unifying Iraqis
By Ben Lando
United Press International

Here's the corrupt state we should REALLY have turned on by now:
Saudis' Role in Iraq Insurgency Outlined
By Ned Parker
The Los Angeles Times
US House Votes to Deny All Aid to Saudi Arabia
By Maxim Kniazkov
Agence France-Presse

But the White House has an old deal with that monarchy:
U.S. readying Saudi arms deal, official confirms
US Set to Offer Huge Arms Deal to Saudi Arabia
By David S. Cloud
The New York Times

Even our friends in Europe know it's folly to give guns to the Saudis:
Merkel Party Warns US Arms for Gulf Could Set off "Powder Keg"
Agence France-Presse

And unlike Hillary Clinton, my boy in the hunt for President in 2008 opened his trap about it:
Edwards Assails US Arms Sales to Arabs
By Nedra Pickler
The Associated Press

Meanwhile, we're giving mixed messages to the one Muslim country, Pakistan, that really could nuke us:
US Says Qaeda Safe Haven Inaccessible
Bush Threatens Attacks in Pakistan
By Tom Lasseter
McClatchy Newspapers
Strike by US in Pakistan Is an Option, Officials Say
By Walter Pincus and Joby Warrick
The Washington Post

Yep, the lunatics are firmly in control of this asylum. Get ready!
Cheney Opposes Closing Guantanamo
By Michael Abramowitz
The Washington Post
Cheney Pushes Bush to Act on Iran
By Ewen MacAskill and Julian Borger
The Guardian UK
Cheney's Iran-Arms-to-Taliban Gambit Rebuffed
By Gareth Porter
Inter Press Service
Senate Panel Cuts off Funds to Cheney
By Andrew Taylor
The Associated Press

Vive le screed!

1 comment :

Farmer mark said...

JR: That wasn't even Osama in the video. Forget about the dyed beard, the match wasn't even close. Eyes, nose, etc. Fuck it was like Michael Jackson from Thriller to HIStory. And I don't think they truck with that sort of vanity in the Koran.
Anywho ... heck of a reading. Well done.

On another note: I thought Hitchens came a bit late to the party until I got my hands on his "god is a dickweed' tome. There is clearly room for Harris, Dawkins, and the Hitch. I sense a buddy a picture in all of this where they go to a Christian dude ranch ... chaos ensues, as it always does. And god alone knows Ben Stiller hasn't done enough films for a lifetime.
yrs, MN

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