The Friends of California Libre...

12 February 2010

Time Waits for Newman

Greetings, friends,
If you happen to be in LA this Saturday, it'll be something rather unpredicted, a housewarming, hosted by yours truly.  Who would've thunk it?  Don't expect much...I've only just finished ripping up the carpet (and laying it over my lawn to kill it.)  Let's start in the early afternoon (so some of you can bring your kids or get to your meditation seminars) and continue until you all get frightened of my very, very black neighborhood.

If you bring small children, I'll just warn you that my house is NOT kid-friendly; the carpet tack boards are yet to be removed, I like to collect tiny bite-size souvenirs, there is some pretty blatant pornography in the bathroom and on the DVD player, there are lots of unsecured poisons, drugs, and even some dangerous areas of broken glass and chopped-up rose bushes in the backyard.  Not to mention my black widows, although the rain drove them into hiding.

Ignore your GPS and follow these directions:

Westside or South Bay - 405 either way towards LAX, exit Slauson/90 east, right on Slauson.  Continue a few miles until you reach Overhill (just past La Brea), where you should see the long descent into the vastness of the LA Basin.  The first light at the bottom of the hill is Alviso...make a right (south), then left on the first stop sign, 60th Street.  Two blocks and right on Keniston to 6216 (green porchlight and a lawn covered in carpet.)

Hollywood or points north - get thee to La Brea, go south over the Baldwin Hills.  At the top of the hill keep to the left on Overhill, and at the bottom, left onto Slauson.  The jazz club (La Louisiane) and the health food place (Simply Wholesome) are top-notch.  Follow the directions above from Slauson to my "pad".

Downtown or Koreatown - pay attention:  Crenshaw south to Vernon, turn right.  Vernon turns into Angeles Vista and winds across the hills.  You're in black Beverly Hills (aka Windsor Hills)!  See any gangs?  I didn't think so.  Turn left at the second stop sign (Rimpau), then across Slauson to 60th, make a right and then a left on Keniston.  Be cautious crossing 54th...there is no stop sign and the locals use this as a shortcut or a dragstrip.  See you...?  If you get lost or would rather call me than see me, you're in good company:  (323) 317 2248.

Speaking of maps, one of the most interesting things I've found on the newest version of Google Earth, other than the ability to fly about underwater, or the Moon or Mars, is that you can now look at some places in the past.  There's a little clock at the top of the screen, and it shows all the dates of satellite photos in the area you happen to be looking at.  I was a little perturbed when I found the oldest photo of my hometown to be 1989, yet a grainy black & white image undoubtedly taken by some weather satellite.  I can barely make out my old house, the trees, the pool, knowing that I was in there, unemployed, 23 years old, just out of graduate school and probably in despair.  It looks so old, even though 1989, for some of us, still sounds terribly futuristic.  I mean, that was five years AFTER 1984, right?  But once we elected Bill Clinton, and nothing changed, then crossed into 2000, and nothing changed, then elected Barack Obama, and nothing changed, how could 2010 seem even modern?  It's just a number, ticking off the distance from one of our supposed messiahs.  Everything changes at light speed for us, but the truly great changes come at a speed that we can hardly comprehend.

Like always, I embrace change and remain the same; I enjoy hanging out with "the kids", who are now almost half my age, the people who go out and get drunk and do drugs and have big ambitions.  Not that any of you, dear friends, don't have the same dreams and ambitions, but you and I have lost a lot of common ground and common priorities.  I was thinking this a few nights back, walking around the Hammer Museum at the closing of Robert Crumb's Book of Genesis, smirking at the long line for the bar, and the retro kids in '30s gear dancing to Ian Whitcomb...celebrating a culture that is now, eek, almost a century old.  I don't say this to patronize anyone; indeed, I am humbled by the dry humor and laser-focused desires of the people I know in their 20s and early 30s, and the brilliance and perseverance of those in their 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s...but I think young people today have a different relationship with loneliness, even if they still suffer from it, as I offer them a rare example of embracing it.  I live alone and rarely even stay over at someone's place; I often go for days without even speaking to a friend on the telephone.  Some might call it lonely, but I don't think there's any difference between me and those with significant others and kids, surrounded by other people night and day, as we are all basically alone, right?

But there is a solipsistic kind of dialogue that separates me from many people.  I used to dream, when I wanted to be "normal", of sharing life, yet nobody shares their life more than I do, with blogs and e-mails and that false sense of connection,, the difference is that when I talk to myself in the market, and laugh at stupid things I see around me, I've lost the patience to share, because none of us have time to share, do we?  So I entertain myself, and find myself very entertained now, never bored as I once was.  When I hear a fantastic song on the radio (and living near KXLU at last, the DJs are smokin' hot), I don't think any more, "I wish so-and-so was here to share this."  Now I just get into the moment, and when I go, as Ray wrote, I'm takin' that drum solo with me.  That's the message I have for "the kids", and the lament I pass along to the rest, that you unpack those dreams and ambitions, reject the ones with no value, and embrace the ones that will bear us all up into the cosmic consciousness we all, I'm afraid, are destined to return to, and return to each alone and in our own way, and sooner than we think.

Wha...wha...WHAT?  Mom, Joel's WHINING again...but really, I've having a blast, every day is full of potential.  In bridging the gap between the '80s (the pay-phone, the " letter", the person who you know for a while and then never see again), to the '10s (the instant message, Skype, and the sudden reunion with people you never really knew and want to know now even less), I just got a headache.  Sorry if I've been so silent, but after the false promise of " Facebook Reunion Summer" (and only now is the truth starting to hurt) I went straight into buying-a-house hell, and then Christmas hell magnified by my-brakes-went-out hell and now-I-owe-HOW-MUCH-in-property-taxes? hell, then woke up in February 2010 just in time for the housewarming.  Can I beam that date into the past?  LITTLE '80s BOY, LITTLE '80s GIRL, FEBRUARY 2010:  It will happen and it won't be anything like "they" promised.  But fuck that:  instead of fantasizing about beaming wonderful and subtle truths into the past, I'd rather pour the future a cocktail and hand it to them; we're headed that way anyhow.

Life 'meaningless' for one in 10 young adults
By Alan Jones, PA
One in 10 young people believed life was not worth living or was meaningless, according to an "alarming" new report today. A survey of 16- to 25-year-olds by the Prince's Trust found a "significant core" for whom life had little or no purpose, especially among those not in education, work...
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Besides, not to bum you out, but I'm pretty well convinced that in a hundred years there won't be much left; all those ideas of making nice art and movies and books to send our culture into the future, well, better be buried in the backyard and written in something legible to a very intelligent insect or evolved bird.  I don't want to scare your kids, but I'm starting to envy my parents; they could only imagine the same Christian Armageddon that's been passed around for hundreds of years, but I can see the walls closing in, and the very narrow path ahead; those kids running around in their teens, when they're very old, will either see a radical Transformation or, more likely, the closed door for humanity at the starving, bloody end of the road.  Or maybe not; like Zappa said, "It isn't necessary to imagine the world ending in fire or ice; there are two other possibilities: one is paperwork, and the other is nostalgia."

Cheery, eh?  Well, I had to get that off my chest.  I just want to explain why so much of the complaining going on around me means absolutely nothing.  Some of you can attest, I've broken up fights and silenced complaints by stating, "WHATEVER:  the sun is going to blow up in a few billion years and burn the Earth to a cinder."  Now I could add, "We'll be extinct in a few centuries; the only question is how many other species we take with us."  Part of my mission, friends, which I think about and tell my new backyard plants every day, is to create an oasis that might outlast me, and become the seeds of a future jungle, an oasis of native creatures that will spread out from Hyde Park and reconquer the lawns and topiaries of a very unsustainable LA.  The gathering of hummingbirds, spiders, bees and other creatures around my companion sage, my buckwheat, clover, ceanothus and coyote brush bears me out.

Well, going out with a whimper rather than a bang, at least:

Okay, enough self-indulgent crap.  Now, a message from our neighbors to the north:

Do I sense a SCREED coming on?

I don't usually brag about the terrible movies I've seen (bullshit:  I ALWAYS do), but thanks to White Springs TV, which I no longer can receive, I caught a couple of doozies before I moved out of Los Feliz.  Both of them, by coincidence, were made in South Africa during the 1960s...and I can't say I've ever seen ANY movies from apartheid-era South Africa before.  Needless to say, there were absolutely no black characters in either film.  The first was "The Cape Town Affair" (1967), a nearly word-for-word remake of the classic "Pickup on South Street" (1953).  Except that future Mr. Streisand, James Brolin did a hack job of Richard Widmark's smart-mouthed street punk, and (sigh) Jacqueline Bisset, about to hit the big time as Miss Goodthighs in "Casino Royale", is actually terrible trying to ape Mrs. Howard Hughes, Jean Peters.  The second movie was actually fascinating to me, it was so awful:  "Coast of Skeletons", a caper film where American cowboy actor Dale Robertson plays a criminal boss much like Ronald Reagan in "The Killers", slapping around Elga Andersen, who looked unnervingly like Sharon Tate.  Hot on his trail are two English character actors, Richard Todd and Derek Nimmo.  Even though an English production in South Africa, most of the cast and crew appear to be West German.  And there were a few black people in the background, as they chase each other through the streets of Jo'burg.  But neither of these movies were very enlightening about the life in '60s South I'm sure that government wanted it.

Speaking of South Africa, I want to remind you that if that country can change, any country can.
Death to No One
Wednesday, November 4, marked the 30th year since the 444-day Iran hostage crisis began in 1979. On this day, the media traditionally offer us images of Iranians burning American flags and effigies of Uncle Sam. We are reminded of the great chasm of mistrust and misunderstanding that has marked the last three decades of US-Iranian relations. But in the past year, both Americans and Iranians have asked for something new. Americans have elected a president who promises to pursue diplomacy and Iranians have given birth to a popular democratic movement.
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I am glad to see, as we all should, the struggle for freedom by one of the oldest, most educated, and yes, pro-Western countries in the Middle East.
After Iran Crackdown: Reform Movement Shows Resilience,8599,1907918,00.html
After Sunday clashes in Iran, 'Green Movement' supporters take stock
Source: - Khatami denounces Iran election, arrests  
United Press International
Iranian clergy group blasts election
INTERNATIONAL / MIDDLE EAST   | December 21, 2009
Death of Iranian Cleric Could Set Off New Protests
The senior cleric's funeral on Monday is widely expected to be a catalyst for possibly violent confrontations between protesters and the police.
Thousands Protest in Iran, Defying Crackdown Vow
Tehran -Thousands of protesters streamed down avenues of the capital Thursday, chanting "death to the dictator" and defying security forces who fired tear gas and charged with batons, witnesses said. The first opposition foray into the streets in 11 days aimed to revive mass demonstrations that were crushed in Iran's postelection turmoil.  Iranian authorities had promised tough action to prevent the marches, which supporters of opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi have been planning for days in Internet messages.
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Government Executes Protesters in Iran
Iran hanged two opposition protesters on Thursday and sentenced nine more to death for taking part in widespread rallies against President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad following last June's presidential election.
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Iranian consumers boycott Nokia for 'collaboration'
Saeed Kamali Dehghan
The Guardian
The mobile phone company Nokia is being hit by a growing economic boycott in Iran as consumers sympathetic to the post-election protest movement begin targeting a string of companies deemed to be collaborating with the regime.  Wholesale vendors in the capital report that demand for Nokia handsets has fallen by as much as half in the wake of calls to boycott Nokia Siemens Networks (NSN) for selling communications monitoring systems to Iran.
Supreme leader Khamenei diminished in Iranians' eyes
Since Ayatollah Ali Khamenei openly sided with President Ahmadinejad with the election results still in dispute, 'opposing him is no longer the same as opposing God,' one analyst says.
By Borzou Daragahi
Reporting from Beirut - For two decades he was considered to be above the petty political squabbles, a cautious elder contemplating questions of faith and Islam while guiding his nation into the future.
The complete article can be viewed at:,0,4685397.story
Friction among Iran authorities heats up
With street protests quiet, factional disputes intensify. Hard-line clerics call for opposition leader Karroubi to stand trial, and reformist lawmakers want supreme leader Khamenei investigated.
By Borzou Daragahi and Ramin Mostaghim
Reporting from Tehran and Beirut -- Rival camps within Iran's corridors of power intensified their threats against each other Friday, signaling potentially dangerous clashes within elite circles and the security establishment after the disputed June 12 reelection of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
The complete article can be viewed at:,0,2622663.story
Iran move to defrock dissident ayatollah opens rifts in theocracy

The Persians have even been making gestures of conciliation to the West, which is not like them:

Exclusive: Read Iran's New Proposal for Nuclear Talks

By Dafna Linzer, September 10, 2009 4:37 pm EDT

But there is still a lot of bad blood between us...
Tomgram: Dilip Hiro, Iran, 1979 and 2010
History shows that a revolutionary movement triumphs only when two vital factors merge: it is supported by a coalition of different social classes and it succeeds in crippling the country's governing machinery and fracturing the state's repressive apparatus...

And of course, we're not doing shit to help.
Senate Quietly Passes Iran Sanctions Bill
The Senate quietly passed legislation Thursday implementing tough new sanctions against Iran that advocacy groups say will cause more pain for the citizens of the country than for the government it's intended to cripple.  The sanctions would target gasoline companies and Iranian imports of refined petroleum products. In addition, the bill includes provisions to ban imports to the US and exports to Iran, with the exception of food, medicine and other humanitarian aid goods. Assets of certain Iranian individuals could also be frozen.
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Not to highlight the disagreement I have with many of you about Afghanistan, which I think President Obama parsed about as well as I expected, I hope that the backchannel way out of that country is really being pursued, as it was successfully in the war we started with NO justification in Iraq...
Britain and US prepared to open talks with the Taliban
Richard Norton-Taylor
The Guardian
A concerted effort to start unprecedented talks between Taliban and British and American envoys was outlined yesterday in a significant change in tactics designed to bring about a breakthrough in the attritional, eight-year conflict in Afghanistan.
A War of Absurdity
There is no indication that any of the contending forces in Afghanistan, including the Taliban, are interested in bringing al-Qaida back. On the contrary, all the available evidence indicates that the Arab fighters are unwelcome and that it is their isolation from their former patrons that has led to their demise.
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It may not look like it on the outside, but there really is a feeling of compromise in the air, one hopes, after Obama went to Cairo and began the slow process of withdrawing a huge, huge American military out of the world.
Fatah's Metamorphosis
The history of peace negotiations in the Middle East has so often yielded disappointed hopes that it would be risky to expect too much from the results of the Fatah convention, which just concluded in Bethlehem. Yet, the historic grouping of the Palestinian Movement has just accomplished an unprecedented metamorphosis, by having pragmatic political officials - a priori more inclined to compromise, both with Hamas and with Israel - enter its leadership.
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Let them work it out, eh?
McClatchy Washington Bureau
Tensions rise as Iraq blames Baathists in Syria for bombings
By Adam Ashton and Laith Hammoudi
BAGHDAD ­ Iraq Tuesday demanded that Syria hand over two high-ranking Iraqi Baath Party officials following last week's bombing of two government ministries. Iraq later recalled its ambassador to Damascus for consultations, and Syria followed suit, withdrawing its envoy from Baghdad.  The bombings, executed with thousands of pounds of nitrate fertilizer carried on trucks, killed at least 95 people and wounded more than 1,200 near the Foreign and Finance Ministry buildings last Wednesday.  Iraq's Council of Ministers called for an international investigation of what it characterized as "war crimes."

Might as well, since we are all alone in that country, for real.
McClatchy Washington Bureau
The 'coalition of the willing' in Iraq becomes an army of one
By Hannah Allam
BAGHDAD, Iraq ­ The British said cheerio back in July, around the same time the Romanians cleared out "Camp Dracula," their compound on a U.S. base in southern Iraq. Tonga and Kazakhstan left ages ago, and no one seems to remember if any Icelandic forces ever made it to Iraq.  It doesn't matter now, anyway, because as of Friday, former president George W. Bush's "coalition of the willing" formally ceased to exist, leaving only the U.S. military's 130,000 or so forces to shepherd their Iraqi counterparts through a volatile election season before a full American troop withdrawal that's expected by the end of 2011.  U.S. commanders officially disbanded the Multinational Force Iraq, or MNF-I, and introduce the USF-I, or U.S. Force Iraq, at a ceremony Friday in Baghdad. American soldiers and officers said the transition is largely a formality because they've been going it alone since the summer.

Now comes the real problem, which some of you remember from the '70s.  The Feds are doing their best to contain the anger of the world...
Gates Invokes New Authority to Block Release of Detainee Abuse Photos
Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has blocked the release of photographs depicting US soldiers abusing detainees in Iraq and Afghanistan, invoking new powers just granted to him by Congress that allows him to circumvent the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and keep the images under wraps on national security grounds.  In a brief filed with the US Supreme Court late Friday, Department of Defense General Counsel Jeh Johnson, and Solicitor General Elena Kagan, said Gates "personally exercised his certification authority" on Friday to withhold the photos
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Musicians protest use of songs by US jailers htm

But we are hooked on war.
America's Wars: How Serial War Became the American Way of Life

On July 16, in a speech to the Economic Club of Chicago, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said that the "central question" for the defense of the United States was how the military should be "organized, equipped - and funded - in the years ahead, to win the wars we are in while being prepared for threats on or beyond the horizon." The phrase beyond the horizon ought to sound ominous.
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Even the junkies want to quit...
Pentagon Board Says Cuts Essential
Tells Obama to slash large weapons programs.
Washington - A senior Pentagon advisory group, in a series of bluntly worded briefings, is warning President-elect Barack Obama that the Defense Department's current budget is "not sustainable," and he must scale back or eliminate some of the military's most prized weapons programs.
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Not a problem if you're gay, though, don't worry about a marriage commitment or dying for your country, two great American pasttimes.
Gay military question still up in air

Maybe not everywhere...
Iowa Supreme Court legalizes gay marriage
** Iceland's PM marks gay milestone **
Iceland's new openly lesbian Prime Minister Johanna Sigurdardottir has generated little excitement at home, but her appointment will make waves abroad, says the BBC's Vanessa Buschschluter.
< >

D.C. Council Votes To Recognize Gay Nuptials Elsewhere

By Nikita Stewart and Tim Craig
The D.C. Council unanimously voted yesterday to recognize gay marriages performed elsewhere, joining a growing number of states to loosen restrictions on the unions.
Article at
OpEdNews » Z├╝rich Elects Lesbian Mayor as City Gears up for EuroPride
Vermont Legalizes Gay Marriage With Veto Override

Montpelier, Vermont - Vermont on Tuesday became the fourth state to legalize gay marriage - and the first to do so with a legislature's vote.  The House recorded a dramatic 100-49 vote, the minimum needed, to override Gov. Jim Douglas' veto. Its vote followed a much easier override vote in the Senate, which rebuffed the Republican governor with a vote of 23-5.  Vermont was the first state to legalize civil unions for same-sex couples and joins Connecticut, Massachusetts and Iowa in giving gays the right to marry.
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Of course, a lesbian might be running Iceland, but here they can't even find a place to live after jumping in front of bullets and bombs:
More female veterans are winding up homeless
"WASHINGTON - The number of female service members who have become homeless after leaving the military has jumped dramatically in recent years, according to new government estimates, presenting the Veterans Administration with a challenge as it struggles to accommodate the hundreds of thousands of returning veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan."

Eventually the military will crack from within, as it did (if you read HOWARD ZINN) near the end of every war we've fought in:
GI Resistance Under the Radar
An interview with two former soldiers who describe how they helped prevent their unit from deploying to a war zone.
What do you do if you are a soldier being asked to fight a war you do not believe in?  For two former soldiers whose unit was ordered to deploy to Iraq in April 2005, the answer came in the form of work slowdowns, letter-writing campaigns, and one-on-one organizing with fellow soldiers.
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Oh well.
Use It or Lose It? How to Manage an Imperial Decline
Do empires end with a bang, a whimper, or the sibilant hiss of financial deflation?
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Tomgram: Chalmers Johnson, Dismantling the Empire
Welcome to 2025: American Preeminence Is Disappearing Fifteen Years Early
Memo to the CIA: You may not be prepared for time-travel, but welcome to 2025 anyway! Your rooms may be a little small, your ability to demand better accommodations may have gone out the window, and the amenities may not be to your taste, but get used to it. It's going to be your reality from now on.
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Anyway, let me conclude with the punchline of the joke:

Vive le screed!

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