Saturday, September 30, 2006

The Engine Driver

every once in a while you come along a song that you can't believe was written in recent years. it sounds so classic, it seems impossible that an artist didn't pull it out of the ether before you were born. but, incredibly, there are classic melodies you haven't discovered, and there are even more that have yet to surface in artists' minds.

hot damn.

Monday, September 25, 2006

fights with strangers

I hate getting into fights with strangers. I really do. Road rage, random exchanges in stores that lead to words -- all unnecessary strife with people who you have no beef with in reality.
Craig's List is the virtual facilitator of some of this needless grief. I'm currently embroiled in an altercation with one Insiyah from whom I "purchased" an original nintendo as a wedding gift for a friend (um, yeah...I'm awesome).
I forced Ins to bring the Nintendo to my apartment since she wouldn't let me come to hers, because I wanted to be at a place where I could test the machine out before paying her for it. The machine didn't work, but I was leaving on a plane later that day for the wedding and wasn't sure if perhaps the two of us, in our basic technological ineptitude, couldn't figure out how to plug the thing in properly. Insiyah graciously allowed me to take the machine without taking money from me, and I assured her that if it did work after I tested it in L.A., I would pay her for it. Turns out the machine was missing a certain cable (pictured above), and my brother happened to have an extra one lying around (a fact which, in itself, we should pause to appreciate). With the cable, the machine worked perfectly.
I was willing to pay I. for the machine, but as it was missing a piece without which it wouldn't have worked, I didn't think full price was fair (which was 40 bucks, but that's not the point). She's standing firm on the 40 and that's kinda pissed me off, on principle, so I haven't been responding to her e-mails and haven't sent a check, and she's threatened to take "further action," which is kind of hilarious.
I intend to send the check, but I want to piss her off for being a sucky bitch, which apparently I've succeeded at doing since she's threatening to sue me or whatever. And the reason I've relayed this entire story is because it's an instance in which I'm not actually sure who's right and who's wrong (though I concede that I'm being a big baby in withholding the money). Still, it's not just senseless road rage at work here. There are principles when it comes to buying and selling, dammit! Ah, Amazon buyer protections...Craig's List could use 'em.

Monday, September 18, 2006

The Middle Church

If you've felt despondent about the radical right over the past 6 years (though it feels more like an eternity) you need to hear Rev. Dr. Bob Edgar speak, and possibly read the book he was pushing this morning on WNYC's Leonard Lopate show. The book is Middle Church: Reclaiming the Moral Values of the Faithful Majority from the Religious Right. Seems like such an obviously necessary thing to come out and say and do, but really how often do the necessary right actions happen, how often do articulate, moderate, well intentioned, moral voices make it through the cacophony of pundits and radicals? Not often.

Edgar and his book, hopefully, will make it through as more than a footnote. He's the general secretary of the 45 million strong National Council of Churches USA, served six terms in the House of Representatives for the heavily Republican 7th District of Pennsylvania, and he's a liberal democrat. This morning on the show, he articulated in an extremely level headed, logical way how the Bush administration's use of religion to forward its agenda is a distortion of Christian -- and really all -- religious values (I'm making it sound more partisan than he did; he's far more diplomatic and well-spoken). Perhaps this has become the conventional wisdom among thinking, liberal democrats, but to hear it from someone who takes religious doctrine seriously, and doesn't just use it as a talking point for getting elected (Edgar imposed term limits on himself and is no longer in politics), is so shocking that it makes you realize how absent the point has truly been from the public arena.

The period of silence for moderate Christians, at least in the States, and moderate Muslims throughout the world (where are they, dammit??) perhaps isn't a coincidence. In times when radical voices are the only ones getting through, it takes more than courage to speak for moderation -- it takes complete depth of conviction. It's ironic, but not surprising, that that strength of conviction can come from the same religious roots as the ones being used to manipulate and polarize. But someone like Bob Edgar proves that it is possible. The voice of moderation for radical Islam will also come from within its corps, but so far a Muslim with his same courage and conviction has failed to make him or herself heard.

Friday, September 15, 2006

two Orwell items

first published in Adelphi, Dec. 1936:

A happy vicar I might have been
Two hundred years ago,
To preach upon eternal doom
And watch my walnuts grow;

But born, alas, in evil time,
I missed that pleasant heaven,
For the hair has grown on my upper lip
And the clergy are all clean-shaven.

And later still the times were good,
We were so easy to please,
We rocked our troubled thoughts to sleep
On the bosoms of the trees.

All ignorant we dared to own
The joys we now dissemble;
The greenfinch on the apple bough
Could make my enemies tremble.

But girls' bellies and apricots,
Roach in a shaded stream,
Horses, ducks in flight at dawn,
All these are a dream.

It is forbidden to dream again;
We maim our joys or hide them;
Horses are made of chromium steel
And little fat men shall ride them.

I am the worm who never turned,
The eunuch without a harem;
Between the priest and the commissar
I walk like Eugene Aram;

And the commissar is telling my fortune
While the radio plays,
But the priest has promised an Austin Seven,
For Duggie always pays.

I dreamed I dwelt in marble halls,
And woke to find it true;
I wasn't born for an age like this;
Was Smith? Was Jones? Were you?

and from Why I Write, 1946:

So long as I remain alive and well I shall continue to feel strongly about prose style, to love the surface of the earth, and to take pleasure in solid objects and scraps of useless information.

Monday, September 04, 2006

this is what happened to hip hop...?

Image Nation

Granted, it's not hip hop per se, but it is a clear channel for...well, I won't sum it up. I'll let the website describe what they do. Here's a nice round-up taken from the site:

Our viewers thirst for more complex, realistic and imaginative portrayals of themselves. Imagenation quenches that thirst. We edify our viewers' imaginations and galvanize their spirits with cinema, Soul Cinema.

The founder of Image Nation, Moikgantsi Kgama, was on WNYC today and she was awesome. But one question that came up for me that I didn't feel was answered on the site or in her interview was, how does the organization relate to people who are not of color? Is Image Nation for everybody, or is it just for the "African diaspora" community (as Kgama puts it)? Maybe they've intended to leave that question unaddressed...