Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Pumpkin Seeds: Butterflies in my Stomach Edition

1. Tonight is another louder than words and yes, it's true, it could very well be the last one. That's my attitude going into it, at least. A lot of it is riding on how I feel by the end of the show.

2. Right this minute, I feel like it could go either way. But I'm a cynic, so that's not really saying anything.

3. The major tweak for tonight will be me stepping more fully into the center ring and taking charge from beginning to end. I'm going to treat it like it's MY show this time and not go out of my way to leave openings for people. Closer in tone and pacing to the first show than the last two. For better or worse.

4. The soundtrack for tonight is my favorite so far. Even without any Milli Vanilli in the mix. Can you say Was (Not Was), 2 Live Crew and Celia Cruz?

5. Per Rich and Fish's ruminations, I offer a few quotes that sum up my thinking on the matter:

With or without religion, you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion.
--Steven Weinberg

A cult is a religion with no political power.
--Tom Wolfe

I have too much respect for the idea of God to make it responsible for such an absurd world.
--Georges Duhamel
6. "Which Syndicated Radio Talkshow Host Are You?"

Don Imus
You are Don Imus. You can be funny, you can be cynical, and you can be influential, but you are not the most famous, richest, or controversial. You hold your own.
Yeah. That sounds about right.

7. "Which American City Are You?"

You are blue collar and Rock n Roll. You Work hard and party harder.
I must admit that this one is something of a surprise. And yet, Dennis Kucinich is from Cleveland, so maybe not so much?

Monday, June 28, 2004

Attn: Department of Homeland Security

While catching up on the news this morning, I came across the following information buried in some left-wing propaganda on the "record-breaking" box office for Fahrenheit 9/11 that leads me to believe an insidious act of terrorism has been successfully launched on our soil:

The Wayans brothers' comedy "White Chicks," about two black FBI agents who go undercover as white debutantes, opened in second place with $19.6 million for the weekend. That pushed the total for "White Chicks" to $27.1 million since opening Wednesday.
I believe this qualifies as what has often been referred to as a "dirty bomb."

This dastardly attack, unanswered, could lead to further undesirable incidents - Jackie Brown II, or the return of The Secret Diary of Desmond Pfeiffer, ultimately escalating into a remake of Birth of a Nation!

Perhaps special agent Lynndie England should be sent undercover - in blackface? with ass implants? a nose job? - to interrogate the Wayans brothers and find out who they're working for?

Sunday, June 27, 2004

Yummy Sandwich: Revisited

Due to a sudden rise in Google searches for "Yummy Sandwich" leading to my journal over the weekend, and a couple of sad attempts at revisionist spin in my comments section, let's recap for the newcomers.

1) On May 20, 2004, I wrote about Yummy Sandwich's Powerpoint presentation and it's questionable use of "illegal immigrants" to promote their product. They had recently been brought in by the company I work for and a co-worker pointed me to the offending slide in the presentation.

2) On June 4, 2004, in a P.S. to an entry about the xenophobic Vernon Robinson, I noted that Yummy Sandwich had been given the boot by my company, officially because "[they] could not follow a consistent schedule when delivering their products."

3) In the comments to the above entry, I later noted that Yummy Sandwich had quietly ammended their Powerpoint presentation and removed the offending reference to "illegal immigrants." Case closed, as far as I was concerned.

4) Today, out of the blue, I get two comments to the May 20th entry defending Yummy Sandwich, claiming there was no such reference to "illegal immigrants" in their presentation and accusing me of "stirring a pot of nonsense" and "picking on small, growing companies." Of course, today is June 27th, 23 days after I noted they'd removed it.

Dear Yummy Sandwich:

While I appreciate the traffic to my journal - be sure to check out www.kucinich.us if you're really interested in creating an environment supportive of small businesses - I'd suggest there's a better way to go about dealing with your ill-advised Powerpoint presentation. Coming clean and apologizing would, of course, be the most sensible route.

You might also want to update slide #2 in your presentation, the table of contents, as it still reflects the original order of your version before you removed slides #8-9, "Who is Yummy Sandwich," which included the name of the marketing person I assume came up with the thing. You might consider "deleting" her altogether. The deleted slides have also shifted your menu out of place, by the way.

Generally speaking, I'd reconsider your overall approach to your business, as keeping people at their desks may be a great sell for the CEOs looking to "increase productivity," but it's those same employees that will make or break your business and many of them don't take kindly to being taken for suckers, much less being told getting some fresh air during lunch is a waste of company time.

As I'm a big believer in small, growing companies, I wish you the best of luck in your efforts to establish yourselves. By most accounts, your sandwiches were in fact, yummy, but your marketing leaves a bad taste that can't be overcome.

Guy LeCharles Gonzalez
Bronx, NY
PS: Interestingly, variations on George Clooney's tattoos in From Dusk til Dawn are the most popular search leading to this journal over the past month or so. Go figure!

Friday, June 25, 2004

SCENE: Midtown Comics, East-side. A half-block-long line of stereotypical geeks, mostly male, and a smattering of normal-looking geeks, all male.
I like to believe I'm one of the latter.

There was a time when I would have felt extremely self-conscious in a situation like that, standing on line outside a comic book store waiting to get in for an author's signing. Being one, I'm obviously not dissing geeks in general, but stereotypes don't come purely out of thin air and there were more than a fair share of red-blooded, blue-balled, never-going-to-be-kissed geeks there.

Or is "dork" the more appropriate term?

I mean really. Do something to your hair. Wash it, at least! Get a second opinion on the t-shirt. Clean is a good place to start. Consider baggy jeans. Make eye contact with real people at least half as often as you do with Michael Turner's Supergirl artwork.

What's even more annoying, though, are the condescending looks from passerby as they realize we're all on line for a comic book store. Sadly, I recognize the look as the same one I gave all those people outside Tower Records last year, trying to get a glimpse of Madonna, so I only roll my eyes in response.

NOTE: Ladies, check the mirror honestly before looking down your nose at the guys (or girls) on line for the comic book store. Your superior attitude is merely annoying when you're something to look at but, when the only difference between you and the worst of the guys on line is that they read comic books, you might be better off asking for phone numbers than throwing shade. It'll ultimately be more productive than lying about yourself on Match.com...

Anyway, the signing had a better turnout than I expected so I ended up waiting on line for almost 45 minutes before getting my book, Whiteout: Melt, signed. Geoff Johns and Judd Winick were there but I was mainly interested in meeting Greg Rucka (Gotham Central and Adventures of Superman on my current pull list) to express my enthusiasm for Gotham Central and grabbed Whiteout: Melt off the shelf to have something for him to sign. Never heard of it before but that's the beauty of finding creators you like and discovering their non-Marvel & DC work.

I was disappointed they hadn't stocked any of his novels, though, which is what I was really looking for. Not sure if that was simply short-sighted or if it says something about the reading tastes of the average comic book reader.

On a loosely-related note, The Chronicles of Riddick was a lot of fun, arguably Vin Diesel's Conan. While he's definitely a little too crazy in love with his own gravelly voice, there's no denying the Riddick character, and his entire universe, has a whole lot of potential. Almost like Star Wars if Han Solo, Luke Skywalker and Darth Maul were the same person, and George Lucas had more than one trick up his sleeve. Fun story, great special effects, solid supporting cast - some reviewers need to get over the simplicity of "Crematoria."

Tolkeinesque in its scope, it was a perfect bookend to Pitch Black's claustrophobic prologue, leaving plenty of room to fill in the space between with a couple of more sequels. Unfortunately, unless it significantly picks up the pace with DVD sales, the box office isn't exactly demanding a follow-up. :-(

Meanwhile, work has already begun on yet another Star Trek sequel, despite the last one bombing even worse than The Final Frontier.


Tuesday, June 22, 2004

One last time, with enthusiasm!

For more info.

Monday, June 21, 2004

Pumpkin Seeds: Post-Father's Day Edition

1. Isaac, my 3.5 year old son, can't understand why mommy and daddy can't stay in bed with him and watch Noggin instead of going to work. Frankly, neither can I.

Thursday, June 17, 2004

You're not a poet,

you just slam a lot.
I should note that I tend to define slam poets in a very general sense, beyond the specifics of the actual competition. IMO, non-competing poets that read frequently at slam-affiliated open mics are also slam poets, looking for and benefitting from the audience the competition attracts and the energy it generates. To pretend otherwise is hypocritical. Or self-delusional.

While the question of the level of importance of the competition in the early days of slam is the subject of some debate, few will argue that Marc Smith's original intent was to reach a wider audience. The competition was simply a gimmick to draw that wider audience in.

As such, I've always valued, and found much more intertesting, the non-poets' opinions on poetry, especially in regards to slam and its periphery. In theory, they are the audience most slam poets are trying to reach, and yet, I've found that the more accepted a poet is into the scene, the more dismissive they tend to become of the non-poets' opinions.

NEWS FLASH: Other poets are not the audience one should be primarily interested in reaching. Or impressing.

Most poets hate - or hate on - the crowd favorites, especially those poets that consider themselves...ahem, Poets, and see accessibility as pandering or appearing on Def Poetry as selling out. (Until, you know, they get invited to tape and have to edit something down [or up] to 2.5 minutes; then they're "raising the bar.") It's the simple-minded, reflexive mentality - of which I've been guilty of many times, the opening lines of this post being just one example - that says something with wide appeal is, by definition, of a lesser quality. While sometimes the case (Britney Spears, Adam Sandler, Friends, American Beauty), the fact of the matter is that it is all ultimately subjective. And that's okay.

Understanding - and more importantly, accepting - subjectivity is the key to understanding all forms of art and appreciating its place in our society.

Main Entry: 1sub·jec·tive

4 a (1) : peculiar to a particular individual : PERSONAL <subjective judgments> (2) : modified or affected by personal views, experience, or background <a subjective account of the incident> b : arising from conditions within the brain or sense organs and not directly caused by external stimuli <subjective sensations> c : arising out of or identified by means of one's perception of one's own states and processes <a subjective symptom of disease> -- compare OBJECTIVE 1c
I've come to believe that there's no such thing as good or bad art, just art that does and doesn't appeal to me personally.

I like Bukowski, but I have no interest in Whitman.

I like Baldwin, but McMillan bores me to tears.

I like big butts and I cannot...oh, wait!

Point is, it's all good as long as it's connecting with someone. Even Jewel's poetry has artistic value because her work can speak to the "views, experience, or background" of those that Lourde, Angelou or Giovanni cannot.

To dwell on the question any further than that is to waste perfectly good brain cells that you're better off destroying with drugs or alcohol. You'll get more pleasure from it as you head to the same end result.

The worst thing a poetry slam can do is attempt to impose a certain aesthetic on its audience. Without an audience, there's no poets, simply diarists.

In its most ideal form, a poetry slam should make a place for all voices, offering a buffet to the widest possible audience. More than just having a sign-up list that anyone can get on, that means actively reaching out to both the mainstream and the "indie rockers," creating a forum where they can happily co-exist, to the ultimate benefit of both the audience and themselves.

To each his own and, taken together, the sum will become much greater than its parts.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Blame it on Matt Ruff but there's days I wish I suffered from Multiple Personality Disorder.

I am Jack's raging spleen.
It's not really a new feeling but it's become more...defined (?) since I read his Set This House in Order: A Romance of Souls. And it's not because he glorified things, or whitewashed the severe downside of the affliction. Quite the opposite, really.

I really want to knock the fucking daylights out of people and blow shit up.
There's something to be said for having an outlet for the frenzied, manic portion of your brain to stretch its legs every now and then. Or the creative portion to breathe freely, unfettered by the constraints of the "real world." Without the excuse of being drunk.

Why is philosophy a fucking luxury? Why can anybody make a decent living being a fucking corporate drone but not by doing something good for society? Why does anyone believe things will get better if we're not doing anything to change the status quo?
Our society is so tightly wound that it's a wonder more people don't snap.

Keep your fucking right to vote. Give me guns and people willing to die for something.
There's no balance to our lives anymore. It's all workworkwork, treading water, and the rare moments of play are so compressed, we often go to extremes to squeeze as much out of them as possible. Which is exhausting, making workworkwork even more tedious and treading water even more offensive. Which makes play even more extreme, if we're not too tired already and just skip it. Which is a vicious circle that usually ends in burnout.

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.
I'm sick of the illusion.

I'm going to break the wizard's fucking neck.
Tired of playing the game.

Don't hate the game. Hate the players that perpetuate the game.
Fed up with complacency.

Ain't got shit to be complacent about.
No longer satisfied by excuses.


Monday, June 14, 2004

Pumpkin Seeds: Fortress of Solitude Edition

1. The list of things I didn't do this weekend that I wanted to do is annoyingly long and indicative of the mental rut I've been in lately.

2. On the positive side, I somehow got a little bit of writing done and any time we get to spend two full days relaxing at home without interruption is a good thing.

3. This coming Sunday is Father's Day, my fourth, and it's the closest I've ever felt to actually being a father. Not a sperm donor with screwed up priorities, but an actual "Father."

4. Being a "Father" is an intimidating thing. I fully understand how it can break someone not ready for it. It's cowardly and I don't condone it, but I can understand it.

5. While it's the most expensive city in the US, New York City is only 12th in the world. Buenos Aires and Johannesburg are among the least expensive. Remind me why we live here again?

6. When you catch yourself indulging in thoughts of finding hidden portals to other worlds, and you're giving it serious consideration as if it were a possibility you could perhaps coerce into being, it's time to start writing more consistently because you're probably on the verge of a nervous breakdown.

Friday, June 11, 2004


Not sure which one I'll read next but thanks to all for the suggestions a while back. A pretty diverse list.

Prison Memiors of an Anarchist
Alexander Berkman

Running with Scissors
Augusten Burroughs

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay
Michael Chabon

Meaning of Consuelo
Judith Ortiz Cofer

Learning to Question
Paulo Freire, Antonio Faundez

Pedagogy of the Oppressed
Paulo Friere

The Old Man And The Sea
Ernest Hemingway

Monstrous Regiment
Terry Prachett

Kiss of the Spider Woman
Manuel Puig

Breakfast of Champions
The Sirens of Titan
Kurt Vonnegut

Farming of the Bones
Edwidge Danticat

The Da Vinci Code
Dan Brown

Thursday, June 10, 2004

I get daily emails from Idealist.org about job openings in non-profit and socially-minded for-profit companies.

Every week there's usually a few interesting jobs that are right up my alley. Invariably, they pay considerably less than my current corporate rut job. "Considerably less" as in Executive Directors for some of these places make less than me.

And that's not because I make Executive Director money.

I don't hate my job, specifically, as much as I hate the corporate atmosphere I have to to do it in. Things like the Yummy Sandwich incident. Or the stupid-hire-in-the-first-place, boss on probation fiasco.

Most days, I actually like my job a lot. But having to put on a dog-and-pony show for new bosses in order to not get screwed out of what you deserve and were already on-track for before the shuffling, sucks donkey dick.

Non-consensual donkey dick.
You are the Hero!

Congratulations, you make it until the end!
You are the strong, modestly good-looking man
who doesn't take it from anybody.

How fast would you die in a cheesy zombie flick?

brought to you by Quizilla

Wednesday, June 9, 2004

I love randomly discovering new [to me] writers, especially when they're not well-known bestseller list types. That whole underdog thing.

I finished Crawfish Dreams last week and am happy to say that Nancy Rawles is a remarkable talent! She weaves an intricate tale of a family of Creoles living in mid-80's Los Angeles into a delicious literary gumbo. Pretty Miss Camille Broussard is the roux, a strong base around which her family, the Watts "riots," and the dark side of Reaganomics all come to vibrant life. Her children, in particular, are so finely detailed that you want to smack them upside their heads for what they put her through. The entire Broussard family is one you'll grow to love, warts and all, wondering how they're doing long after finishing the book.

The included recipes - for meat pie, gumbo and other yummy dishes - are a clever little bonus, but the story succeeds purely on its own merits.

I'm now halfway through Venom's Taste, a newish Forgotten Realms novel that's turning out better than I expected, which of course, isn't saying much. That it's so blatantly a marketing piece for some of their newest game supplements (specifically, the Expanded Psionics Handbook and Serpent Kingdoms) isn't as annoying as it could be as the author, Lisa Smedman, is actually a pretty decent writer. Relatively speaking. Solid hackwork, it follows the D&D formula to the letter, making for perfect brain candy after back-to-back full-course meals with Ruff and Rawles.

What's really sad, though, is that Venom's Taste ranks 9,382 on Amazon.com while Crawfish Dreams languishes at 1,568,014! It's surprising that it was even stocked, never mind displayed, at Borders the day I bought it. Someone else apparently loves the underdog, too.

Tuesday, June 8, 2004


"I absolutely believe in God... and I absolutely hate the fucker."
--Richard B. Riddick, Pitch Black
The New Stuff
For Rich Villar

I remember the new stuff.

When it hit the mic raw
and risky like homemade sushi
more interested in the flavor
than the presentation.

We were too hungry
for pretense.

I remember the new stuff.

When it burst from the heart
like a ball of fire
through an origami parade
on a mission from god –
prophecy overflowing
from the mouths of babes.

We were going to change the world but
were tempted by it instead.

I remember the new stuff.

When writing was like breathing
and everything was new
and new was good
because the old stuff was old
and our voices were changing daily
and three strikes was two too many
because there were only so many ways
and so many times we could speak
and not sound like a politician
breaking another promise.

I remember the new stuff.

How it came less and less often
the older we got
afraid to take risks
afraid to lose face
afraid to keep moving forward.

I remember the new stuff
coming from other voices.

When we took a minute to stop
remixing ourselves
recycling ourselves
repeating ourselves

took a minute to stop
and listen
took a minute to stop
and listen
to the new stuff
took a minute to stop
and listen
to the new stuff

prophecy overflowing
from the mouths of babes
making new promises
they’ll never keep –
until they learn how to listen, too.

Monday, June 7, 2004

Pumpkin Seeds: Trickle Down Edition

1. My earliest "political" memory is of rooting for Jimmy Carter over Ronald Reagan in the 1980 Presidential election. My second is of being disappointed that Reagan didn't die when he was shot in 1981.

2. Reaganomics can kiss my ass. Shit trickles downhill, not prosperity. There is no pony buried under the manure; just more manure.

3. On Tuesday, my boss finally got the boot. Thursday's goodbye lunch was one of the most awkward moments I've ever had to contribute $21 to. What do you say to someone that was justifiably fired and knows it?

4. Realized last week that I've only once worked directly for a boss that was married with children, and that was an economic marriage of convenience if I ever saw one. The rest? One married; one widowed with children; several gay or lesbian; a couple of spinsters. All but three were women. All of them were white.

5. Isaac, a half-hour into Saturday's comic book show at Penn Plaza Pavillion: "Daddy, comic books are for boys, right?"

6. After a couple of issues, fan favorite Michael Turner's artwork starts to get rather boring. Sure he draws great-looking women, but they all look the same! His much-anticipated run on Superman/Batman has been something of a letdown and has turned me into a closet speculator.

7. 39 comics for $19. Forgotten Realms, Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, Arion, Atari Force, Moon Knight. The "collection" is well over 300 now, close to one comic for each day since I started buying again, and has spread into a second longbox!

8. Gearing up for Omar's new D&D campaign and it looks like it may do for me what I'd hoped my own would: spark some long-term writing. He's set up blogs for each of our characters!

9. It's only been a little more than two weeks since I've been to a poetry reading but it feels like months. Tomorrow's Acentos is a must but, if it weren't Rich featuring, I'm not sure I'd make it out. Fortunately, it is Rich featuring so the batteries should get a much-needed recharge.

10. I would happily work four 10-hour days if it meant 3-day weekends.

Friday, June 4, 2004

You can't make this stuff up.

"Jesse Helms is back! And this time he's black." That's Winston-Salem city councilman Vernon Robinson's campaign slogan as one of eight GOP candidates in the July 20 primary for North Carolina's 5th Congressional District.

Pretty inoffensive, though, compared to the radio ad he's running:

ANNOUNCER NO. 1: Vernon Robinson, conservative. The aliens are here, but they didn't come in a spaceship. They came across our unguarded Mexican border by the millions -- illegally.

They've filled our criminal courtrooms and invaded our school. They sponge off the American taxpayer by clogging our welfare lines and our hospital emergency rooms. They've even taken over the DMV. These aliens commit heinous crimes against us, like Maximiliano Esparza, who raped a nun and strangled her with her own rosary -- illegally.

They commit crimes but won't commit to learn our language. You walk into a McDonald's restaurant to order a Big Mac and find to your horror that the employees don't speak English -- illegals. You may be in the heart of America, but you feel as though you are in the Twilight Zone.

Vernon Robinson will secure our borders, cut off the welfare payments and once and for all make English our official language. Press one for English? No. Vote Vernon Robinson for English.

VERNON ROBINSON: I'm Vernon Robinson, and I approve this message.

ANNOUNCER NO. 2: Yo Gringo! Este episodio de Twilight Zone era pagado para Robinson por congreso.
The ad's come under fire, not for it's extreme offensiveness but for the fact that the required disclosure at the end - "This ad was paid for by Robinson for Congress." - is in Spanish.


When is somebody going to decide WE need a regime change and liberate us?

PS: In related news, Yummy Sandwich got the boot earlier this week, officially because "[they] could not follow a consistent schedule when delivering their products." My email to HR complaining about their promotional tactics never received a response.

Thursday, June 3, 2004

If you haven't heard by now, Bill Cosby aired some dirty laundry in full public view a couple of weeks ago, speaking at a gala marking the 50th anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education desegregation ruling.

"Ladies and gentlemen, the lower economic people are not holding up their end in this deal," he declared. "These people are not parenting. They are buying things for kids -- $500 sneakers for what? And won't spend $200 for 'Hooked on Phonics.' . . . I am talking about these people who cry when their son is standing there in an orange suit. Where were you when he was 2? Where were you when he was 12? Where were you when he was 18 and how come you didn't know that he had a pistol? And where is the father? . . . With names like Shaniqua, Taliqua and Mohammed and all of that crap, and all of them are in jail. Brown versus the Board of Education is no longer the white person's problem. We have got to take the neighborhood back. We have to go in there -- forget about telling your child to go into the Peace Corps -- it is right around the corner. They are standing on the corner and they can't speak English."
Many have since questioned the appropriateness of his remarks, which he later qualified as "I was talking to the movers and shakers," and intended his statements as "call to action." NAACP Executive Director Kweisi Mfume agreed with "most of what Cosby said... He said what needed to be said."

While I'm a firm believer in airing dirty laundry as the only way to truly get it clean, I understand the concept of a time and place for everything. As someone who has frequently been accused of speaking out at the wrong "time" and/or "place," though, I don't buy it.

There is no wrong time for the truth if you're sincere about effecting change. And there's no benefit to sugarcoating or whitewashing it, either. The fact that the majority of the uproar has been over that he said it, as opposed to what he said not being true is most telling.

The truth hurts, in general. When it comes from one of your own, it leaves a mark you can't ignore.

Understand where Cosby was coming from. This isn't Trent Lott talking out of his hypocritical ass. Cosby, a high school dropout and son of an "$8 a day maid and an absentee father," is a successful black man from a generation where opportunities for young black men were few and far between - and what was there was the result of hard-fought battles and many lives lost - he was speaking out of frustration over the sad fact that 50 years after desegregation not nearly enough has changed. His comments were harsh, no doubt, but if you're being objective, they included some general truths. And, what I think offended people the most was that they were often quite funny, too.

Which makes sense as Bill Cosby IS, you know, a comedian.

I said somewhere awhile back that I didn't consider comedians to be real activists. In the context of a comedic skit or rant, legitimate commentary is overshadowed by the entertainment factor. (Same thing applies to political poets, especially in the slam scene.) No matter how incisive the delivery, you can simply chose to laugh it off and not think twice about it.

Richard Pryor set himself on fire. Arsenio Hall was called an "Uncle Tom." Bill Maher lost his job.

Bill Cosby is much more than a comedian, though, and has been for years. That night, "for his philanthropy toward institutions that have worked on behalf of African Americans, Cosby was being honored by the three institutions, including the [NAACP] Legal Defense and Educational Fund, that share responsibility for winning the Supreme Court decision that broke the back of American apartheid."

He chose that moment to speak out, in a forum where his comments couldn't be laughed off like a Dave Chappelle skit, or dismissed like a Keenan Ivory Wayans movie, where the people in the audience - a well-heeled, successful group of "dignitaries," many of whom are more likely to receive a bonus check than write one out for charity - weren't the ones he was criticizing directly, but were no less guilty than those he roasted.

We all bear a portion of the guilt for the failures of our society.

Bill Cosby understands that and his life is a blueprint of someone trying to make a difference. He offered a "call to action," hanging the shit-stained bedsheets out on the front lawn, in the hope that they might finally be washed clean.

Instead of worrying about what "the neighbors" - ie: opportunistic conservatives who might use his out-of-context comments as ammunition in their war against affirmative action - might think, people need to go their closets, take the doors off the hinges and start picking through the messes they find therein.

You can't clean up the neighborhood when your own house is falling apart all around you.

And that's a message everyone should take to heart.
Ladies and gentlemen: Mr. Trent Lott!

Lott Defends Treatment of Iraqi Prisoners
By Helen Dewar, Washington Post, Thursday, June 3, 2004

Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.) proved he has not lost his knack for inflammatory rhetoric when he defended "really rough" treatment of Iraqi prisoners by U.S. soldiers, including the use of dogs against a prisoner "unless the dog ate him."


"Hey, nothing wrong with holding a dog up there, unless the dog ate him, scared him with a dog," Lott said. When WAPT news anchorman Brad McMullan noted that a prisoner died at Abu Ghraib, apparently after a beating, Lott responded, "This is not Sunday school; this is interrogation; this is rough stuff."

Some of the prisoners "should not have been prisoners in the first place, probably should have been killed," he added.
Wow. What more could I possibly add to this?

Tuesday, June 1, 2004

Pumpkin Seeds: Entertainment Edition

1. The Day After Tomorrow is a stereotypical NYC slam poem: good intentions; overt but shallow politics; a handful of clever moments. New York City flooded; an environment-hating, Dick Cheney-lookalike VP; and American refugees fleeing across the Mexican border are the main highlights of what is basically a special effects exhibition that borrows liberally from the same formula that birthed Independence Day, minus the semi-coherent script. Overall, a guilty pleasure. Hopefully they'll be able to add a disclaimer to the DVD that "no careers were harmed in the making of this motion picture" as I like Dennis Quaid and am rooting for Jake Gyllenhaal.

2. I have to wonder if environmental and political groups that have latched on to Tomorrow actually saw it before deciding to center an awareness campaign around it. It's kind of like dressing George W. Bush in a flight suit and landing him on an aircraft carrier off the coast of San Diego to declare Mission Accomplished...in Iraq!

3. The preview for I, Robot looks hot. The robots are the freakiest things since that alien stepped out into the alleyway in Signs.

4. White Chicks. Why Keenan? Why?

5. The WB's Superstar USA is just wrong. In a good way. I have newfound respect for Vitamin C. Rosa is my pick for the "winner," though I wouldn't be upset if JoJo beat her out. I just hope they do something for the decent-to-good singers they misled along the way.

6. I've seen Billy Hung and, Mario, you're no Billy Hung.

7. In NYC's battle of the free daily newspapers, amNEW YORK vs. Metro, it's not even close. Metro is 90% AP articles, and the original stuff is often poorly written and many times not even local! Also, their pseudo-hipster slant and purposeful lack of an official editorial position on anything is both boring and lazy. amNEW YORK is a quick, clean read with an obvious native feel throughout.

8. nycSLAMS is a collaborative webzine focused on New York City's spoken word poetry scene, featuring interviews, reviews and original poetry from the scene's best poets, venues and events.

9. That last one doesn't currently exist but it might by the fall. Interested?