The Friends of California Libre...

22 October 2007

You Get No Points for the Obvious

Greetings, friends,
October is usually a pleasant month in California...we've had our first seasonal rains, and this is good...any sign that this year will be normal and not baked dry or flooded out like the previous three years.  And after the rains, like clockwork, come the dry Santa Ana winds.  Yesterday I took a nice spin along Mulholland Drive and those winds had blown the smog out to sea...the ridge of Santa Catalina was nice and sharp forty miles away, and a very rare sight indeed, the peak of Mount Santiago in Orange County was clearly visible poking above the haze beyond Downtown Los Angeles.

Not so today, when four fires shot up in the western part of the county, filling the sky with helicopters and beige smoke.  All of our friends appear to have dodged another bullet, but the losses were historic this time:  the Castle Kashan and the First Presbyterian Church above Malibu Canyon.  Wish us luck as the hot winds continue to fan the flames.  It's doing nothing for our air, which is starting to get worse again after years of improvement, as millions of new peeps move to LA:
Residents Speak of Smog With Passion, Knowledge
By Janet Wilson
The Los Angeles Times

Anyway, we celebrate autumn with fires and helicopter blades here in LA.  I suffered through it by getting my first cold in over a year, since I began using the "neti pot", and needless to say, the germs that got past my yogic trickery were a doozy.  If you're in LA, get your flu shot and beware this nasty bug.

Here's a song that will cheer you up no matter how bad you feel:  Jaan Pehechaan Ho by Mohammed Rafi...

I've recently crossed two of my own definitions of "old"; first, given the option, I would rather go back 40 years to dance with the Indian beauties of the previous video than see how the world might develop 40 years in the future.  That's old.  Second, when I sold the spare tire of my now dismantled Jetta, Lucky Seven, to a hot tattooed young woman from Santa Monica, I thought, who would I rather be seen with, this tasty coed or one of my MILF friends, I had to vote for the MILFs.  That's old.

And now for something completely different:  In the "I love hypocrites" department, I'd like to honor the performance artist Karen Finley, whom I recently bootlegged at Kim's LightBox.  Naturally I uploaded this once-in-a-lifetime event to YouTube, which I'll do for just about any event I can get away with these days.  Document, document, document!  Last time I checked, nearly a hundred people in the intervening week had watched at least part of her diatribe.  Then I got a plaintive request from the gallery to take it down...apparently the "artist" had freaked out that someone recorded her performance (though there were no signs or warnings to the contrary.)  My first thought, natch, was of a protest in the summer of 1990, during my tenure at the American Film Institute.  When Finley, Tim Miller, John Fleck and Holly Hughes were denied their NEA grants, I wrote a joke into a short film ("keep your knees together, baby, I got an NEA grant") and went to an angry "art riot" at UCLA, where only sure-footedness and a knowledge of the campus kept me from getting popped by the UC police.  There's irony for you...I nearly go to jail demanding freedom of speech (well, freedom to get paid by the Feds for free speech) for a woman who, 17 years later, browbeats a friend of mine into denying me the same freedom.  And I don't even want a grant!  Well, if your curiosity is piqued, you can still watch these videos at my YouTube site...but you'll need to "friend" me and then I'll make them available to you on a "private list".  Ooh, aren't you special.

If I'm a little down on artists this time, now you know why.
Conceptual Terrorists Encase Sears Tower In Jell-O*

Naked chocolate Jesus rises again in New York

To get over the blues, I sit here and write to you, and you and you and you, I call you on Skype, and I listen to music.  I recently came across one song that had me laughing (and understanding) so well that I've done something I've never done before, actually uploaded a song (and technically ripped this guy off), but I hope you'll buy the album "The Swastika" if you really dig it.  It's a little ditty, suitable for anyone age 7 to 70, called "Jail" by Dan Bern.  In order to open or download, you will need to RIGHT CLICK this 10 Mb file:

I also want to share this article that had me laughing my ass off last Wednesday, from the Los Angeles Times...the first page of the Food section had a huge article about "gorgeous, shimmering jelly shots".  Jelly shots!  I hope my mom didn't see the paper...and Ana, I expect to see trays and trays of jelly shots at your birthday party.  Just think, one of the ultimate white trash weapons, first introduced to me by my younger sister's friends in the early 1980s, has now spread beyond the fraternity houses and suburban heavy metal soirees to reach the Times.  I wonder if Sandra Bernhard and Roseanne Barr had anything to do with this.  Anyway, if you have no idea what I'm yakking about, read it and weep:
The cocktails you eat
Gorgeous, shimmering jelly shots are taking the party season by storm. Go ahead -- nibble that drink.
By Betty Hallock
Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
You have every reason to throw a party. There are signs of diplomatic progress in North Korea, America's Team is undefeated, and both the Sex Pistols and Spice Girls are getting back together (though not to form one band).
The complete article can be viewed at:,0,7424336.story

Let's keep the fun coming...I read an article recently about a "riot" in Switzerland over some of the more racist inferences of the right-wing SVP (the "People's Party").  The thing that really cracked me up is the image of the nice "white" Swiss sheep kicking the "black" sheep off the Swiss flag.  That's subtle, eh?

Now, I don't want my Swiss friends to think I'm poking fun at them.  (They KNOW it!)  I mean, I LOVE the overt racism of my European's so much easier to accept (and make fun of) than the kind we have over here in Amerika.  On Columbus Day, or Indigenous People's Day, or Dia de la Raza or however you like it, I was in a room with a French woman, an Armenian and a Bosnia Serb when I made the scandalous toast, "here's to our conquest of this hemisphere!"  The French woman, natch, was stone-faced, but I think I actually shocked a Serb!  How hard is that!

Anyway, if you look at that website of the SVP, they remark "It's time to get rid of the 'criminal foreigners' in Switzerland.  Most foreigners are law abiding, but facts are facts!"  That's white of them to admit.  If you're curious, here are the various crimes they list on the bar graph, with the percentage being the percent of the crime committed by foreigners:
The total of all crime
Bodily injury (assault)
Murder (deliberate killing)

Wow, next time I'm in Switzerland, I intend to go on a criminal rampage, and get my black sheep ass kicked out of the country, hopefully into Italy, where nobody cares.

The SVP even has some games for your children to on this page:

In the second game, "Stop Criminal Foreigners!", the proud Swiss ram keeps out the black sheep...some of whom are taking the bus into Switzerland!  I like the other games can keep foreigners from getting Swiss passports by eating them, shoot arrows into money being swiped by the EU, or eat up speed limit signs (while avoiding radar cameras) placed by greedy cantons.  Who knew Switzerland was such a hotbed of controversy!

Hey, laugh it up, but on Saturday the SVP won 30% of the seats in the Swiss Federal Assembly.  The laugh is on us freaky black sheep.

Actually, even Europeans have their limits.  They drew the line when Dr. James Watson, the American co-discoverer of DNA, said he hoped everyone was equal but that "people who have to deal with black employees find this is not true".  Oops (thanks, Robert):
Museum drops race row scientist

Maybe Dr. Watson was thinking of our cousins:

Research shows Neanderthals may have talked

My experience has been that the opposite of the prevailing opinion is often correct.  For example, archaeologists in the New World were puzzled that large cities, like Teotihuacan and Chaco Canyon, were initially built as ceremonial centers, empty except for select priests.  Later on, as the civilizations grew, people began living in these "cities".  In Europe and the Middle East, it was always assumed that cities were built and immediately occupied, but recent studies reveal this is not true...the very first cities in Mesopotamia were empty religious centers, which later were occupied by the first "urbanites".  This interesting idea that the city predated the citizen came from Dr. Anne Porter, a professor at USC who studied Uruk (until the US Army built a base next to it.)

Let me use that tangent to recognize another talented person, who recently received a Nobel Prize...why of course I'm speaking of Doris Lessing:
Nobel to Lessing, Incisive Voice of Women's Fate
By Motoko Rich and Sarah Lyall
The New York Times

I know Crissy will be proud she was so far ahead of the curve on this one.  I'll admit to be slightly surprised (as was Lessing herself); she's well past her prime and easily one of the most radical writers to get a Nobel Prize.  Several of her titles were very influential upon me, such as Briefing for a Descent into Hell and The Good Terrorist ; she also wrote the Canopus in Argos series, probably the only interesting Marxist-feminist science fiction novels in existence.  So good for her, and I see it hasn't tempered her mouth:

Nobel laureate Lessing says 9/11 not as bad as IRA attacks

I know Ms. Lessing would approve of this campaign for world peace:

Women send panties to Myanmar in protest

And this one:

Prostitutes in Bolivia threaten nude march over morals campaign

Anyway, some of you may have heard that another "friend of the earth" won the Nobel Prize last week:
Gore and UN Panel Win Peace Prize
The Associated Press
A Prize for Mr. Gore and Science
The New York Times | Editorial

And like the early LA rains of 2007, this is good.  You get no points for the obvious, but I do give points if, like Mr. Gore, you beat the hoi polloi with the obvious for decade after decade.  Well, Al, it finally stuck.  I still do not regret not voting for you in 2000, because you are a one-trick pony...more Elmer Gantry than Franklin Roosevelt.  If we'd gotten President Gore in 2000, would global warming be atop the agenda, or would the US be mired in a war in the Sudan?  Interesting speculation, but speculation all the way.

In case you are interested in the group Gore founded to combat the inevitable end of human civilization upon this planet, read on:

The Alliance for Climate Protection

The mission of this organization, founded by former U.S. vice president Al Gore, "is to persuade the American people -- and people elsewhere in the world -- of the importance and urgency of adopting and implementing effective and comprehensive solutions for the climate crisis." Its site features articles with suggestions for reducing climate change at home and at work, stories about people who are working to help solve the crisis, and video clips.

And I'd like to think that Gore and the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change won the Nobel Prize not just for what they've done, but what they will continue to do, give us the straight talk that might save us, unworthy as we are:
Climate Change Disaster Is Upon Us, Warns UN
By Julian Borger
The Guardian UK

Yeah, even I'm in on the act, if you read my recent letter to the local rag Citybeat.  Anyone with a voice needs to start yelling if we're not going to be living in tents by 2050:
Scientist: Greenhouse Gas Levels Grave
The Associated Press

Even the Pope is in on the act (thanks again, Robert):
BBC NEWS | Europe | Pope leads eco-friendly festival

And that is good too...we need some heavy hitters to get on their knees and start praying:
Arctic Melt Unnerves the Experts
By Andrew C. Revkin
The New York Times
Loss of Arctic Ice Leaves Experts Stunned
By David Adam
The Guardian UK
Ice Caps Melting Fast: Say Goodbye to the Big Apple?
By Paul Brown
Summer Sea Ice Melt Larger Than Texas and Alaska
By Jane Kay
The San Francisco Chronicle

Of course, there is always a silver lining (thanks again, Robert):
Warming 'opens Northwest Passage'

Even for Indians:
As Race for Oil-Rich Arctic Heats Up, Inuit Stake Their Claim, Too
By Colin Woodard
The Christian Science Monitor

Though I'm worried all this new power and wealth is going to the Canadians' heads:
Canada Not Listening to Leading Environmentalist
By Jonathan Spicer

Where are the Canadians that I've grown to love?

BC Ferry crews warned against smoking pot

For the non-human residents of the Arctic, of course, it is a titanic disaster:
The Appalling Fate of the Polar Bear, Symbol of the Arctic
By Geoffrey Lean
The Independent UK
Polar Bear Population Seen Declining
The Associated Press

In case you want to feel even more guilty, here's a plateload of aw-shucks for you:

Unusual Encounter

Photographs show an encounter between a polar bear and some sled dogs.

Here in California, we're also busy kicking ass on Mother Nature when she's not burning our ass to the ground:
US Judge Overturns Whale-Protecting Ban on Sonar
Agence France-Presse

If you believe in the Gaia Hypothesis, that kind of ass-kicking only goes one way:
Bernard Vaissière: "Yes, the Bees Could Disappear"
By Jean-Luc Goudet

Even animals that our ancestors hunted to extinction are coming back to fuck with us:
Mammoth Dung, Prehistoric Goo May Speed Warming
By Dmitry Solovyov

Unfortunately, when we go down, we take a lot of them with us, as they say:
As Brazil's Rain Forest Burns Down, Planet Heats Up
By Jack Chang
McClatchy Newspapers
Amazon Jungle Could Be Lost in 40 Years, Say Campaigners
By Ian Sample
The Guardian UK

Unless we go native:
Congo Pygmies Go High-Tech to Protect Forest Home
Indigenous People Make Best Forest Custodians
By Marwaan Macan-Markar
Inter Press Service

But here's the deal, warming is not just about losing the coastal cities, the glaciers, the polar caps, and a few million species of animal and plant.  It's about losing the food and water that about 10% of us have an adequate supply of NOW:
Our Drinkable Water Supply Is Vanishing
By Tara Lohan
Dirt Isn't So Cheap After All
By Stephen Leahy
Inter Press Service

I mean, has no one been to the store lately, and noticed that the price of a loaf of bread just DOUBLED (thanks, Mark)?
FYI, compadre:
Soon, we may need to take our *meals* in "Second Life!"
World events work against grain buyers -*

Here's some Goddamn American innovation, at last; instead of making the Mexicans jump the border fence, cross the harsh desert and wade the Rio Grande, we can go down to Mexico and exploit them there:
Short on Labor, Farmers in US Shift to Mexico
By Julia Preston
The New York Times

Anyway, the very busy United States Congress has finally begun to spin its wheels on this crisis:
Congressional Action on Climate Change
By Tim Bentley
The Daily Report

Based on California laws, natch, because California rules in the "We're OK, You're OK" department:
Historic Bill in Senate to Fight Warming
By Zachary Coile
The San Francisco Chronicle

Problem is, the Congress is not the whole Fed shebang:
US Moving Backwards
By Stephen Leahy
Inter Press Service
US Trumps States Over Siting Power Lines
By Mark Clayton
The Christian Science Monitor
How the White House Worked to Scuttle California's Climate Law
By Zachary Coile
The San Francisco Chronicle
State's Climate Suit Tossed
By Dale Kasler
The Sacramento Bee

Maybe if the Germans suck up to George Bush something beautiful will occur:
Germany's Merkel Urges US to Support Climate Deal
By Sophie Hardach

Don't the Germans have enough problems of their own?

And now let's toast schnitzel!

Here's a European solution that will make George hard:
One Answer to Global Warming: A New Tax
By N. Gregory Mankiw
The New York Times

Well, as Mother Nature screams at Al Gore every night, payback is a bitch:
Climate Change-US: Delay Now, Pay Dearly Later
By Stephen Leahy
Inter Press Service

Let's see who drops to their knees when the Bible Belt finally pays the price:
Drought-Stricken South Facing Tough Choices
By Brenda Goodman
The New York Times

No, friends, it's every state for themselves in the US; and I'm gratified to see so many stepping up to the plate.  The first "FiT" (Feed-in Tariff) to support renewable energy, common in Europe, might be implemented by the bohunks up in Michigan, for chrissakes:
First Renewable FIT Introduced in US
By Paul Gipe

And in Kansas, someone actually stopped worrying about abortion and evolution to address the obvious:
Power Plant Rejected Over Carbon Dioxide for First Time
By Steven Mufson
The Washington Post

Our friends in Nevada finally nailed the coffin closed on the nuclear vampire, and it was so easy it seems stupid:
No Nevada Water for Nuclear Dump
By Ralph Vartabedian
The Los Angeles Times

But hey, whiskey is for drinkin' and water is for fightin':

Dihydrogen Monoxide

The movement to ban "dihydrogen monoxide" strikes again!

And seriously, who didn't know that this weird shit was bad for you?
Environmental Groups Petition US to Regulate Air Fresheners
By Jane Kay
The San Francisco Chronicle

Yeah, if you use "air fresheners", you either need to clean your kitchen more often, or perhaps live in a smaller house.  Mother Nature has a way of getting to your big house.  Here's a bit of screed for my architect friends in Spain and France:
Big Houses Are Not Green: America's McMansion Problem
By Stan Cox
"Sustainable Development Will Revolutionize Architecture"
Grégoire Allix Interviews Françoise-Hélène Jourda
Le Monde

And really now, can we all agree that, even if we're all going down, can't we all go down fighting?  That's the fucking American Way.  Because we've hit peak oil, and when we run out of oil in the US, friends, you ran out of oil yesterday:
Slippery Slope
By David Strahan
The Guardian UK

I mean, has anyone else noticed these pandering commercials some of the oil companies are starting to slap on PBS?  "We're not just some huge, blood-sucking corporation exploiting the Third World on your behalf.  We're PEOPLE TOO, and we have to live on this planet while we drag it into hell."  Or something to that effect.

Here's an adorable feel-good game that Chevron spammed me with the other day; you can give it to your kids and say, "See?  Chevron isn't so bad.  They have HOPE and they are PEOPLE TOO."
Play Energyville now at

Meanwhile, when I move to a cave in the desert, I'll be out there with my hippie friends blowing up dams so the salmon, at least, can go extinct with a bit of dignity:
Hydropower Doesn't Count as Clean Energy
By Sarah Phelan
Earth Island Journal

Because, by the Goddess, there are some things that we DO NOT NEED ELECTRICITY for any more:
Brazil makes extra power for soap opera,8599,1666390,00.html

Okay, okay, I'm sorry.  Let me throw you a bone so you can get to sleep:
The Renewable Energy Future
The Los Angeles Times | Editorial

Finally, if you're around Santa Monica on Tuesday night, you can join me with some Berkeley professors who, I suspect, are a lot more upbeat than yours truly:
"Air...Water- What is our future?"
Join Professors Bill Nazaroff and David Sedlak as they discuss how to improve California's environmental quality and accommodate a population of 50 million by 2050.
Tuesday, October 23, 2007, 7 PM
Shutters on the Beach
Santa Monica, CA

Vive le screed!

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