Sunday, April 11, 2004


Youth Not Always Wasted on the Young

I was on the 3rd Street Promenade in Santa Monica on Saturday afternoon, doing what I frequently do--performing Amiri Baraka poems pantsless for cash--when I saw a gaggle of attractive young people set up at a table with John Kerry bumper stickers, buttons and mini-flyers that advertised "Cocktails for Kerry" every Wednesday night at the Cat & the Fiddle. I marvelled to myself at how young and eager they were and wondered if I were ever that way. Inspired, I put on my pants and sauntered over to their table. One of the young women, undoubtedly a college student, smiled brightly and gave me the spiel, "Have you thought about volunteering for John Kerry? We have to defeat Bush this November. If you have any time or interest at all, perhaps you could fill out this information sheet?" While I'm loathe to give out any personal information or fill out any forms (what a perfect ruse for The Man--masquerading as a young liberal!), I do feel like I want to do SOMETHING other than rail in my blog against the Bush administration. So I filled out the form, turned it in, wished them all luck and picked up the cocktail flier. While I'd rather be having Cocktails WITH John Kerry, maybe I'll drop by and have a 7 & 7 for the cause. After all, I just want to do my part and maybe the best way to feel young again is to rediscover some of the idealism and work ethic of my youth. Besides, no one really reads this blog anyway and there is a certain satisfaction that comes from putting up a flyer or making a phone call to a supporter. You feel invested in the machine instead of at odds with it and that is always a good thing.

Janet's No Boob

I caught some of Janet Jackson's hosting of Saturday Night Live tonight. She's one of the best hosts they've had for a while and for at least the half hour I watched, the show was unusually funny. Jackson's impression of Condoleeza Rice was so dead-on perfect, it actually gave me the creeps. She showed the requisite ability to make fun of herself (the boob incident, her crazy family, even the high cost of her own concert tickets) and she seemed looser and more at ease than she has at any time since the infamous halftime "show".
It was a good reminder that "Damita Jo" actually started as an actress (Good Times, Different Strokes) and has occasionally shown a natural presence on the big screen (mainly in Poetic Justice). Two pet peeves about Janet on SNL: 1) her song was terrible, although she and her dancers engaged in their usual spectacular choreography. It's easy to see why her album has been so panned by critics and 2) what's with all the so-called SNL alums coming back for repeated cameos? Are Chris Kattan and Tracy Morgan off the show or not? I'm not a fan of anything that gives more air time to those two and less to Maya Rudolph, the brilliantly weird Rachel Dratch or the host.

WMD Update

I haven't mentioned the ongoing cash reward offer for finding Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq lately because of the high body count and ongoing struggle in the attempt to subdue Fallujah. I'm a satirist at heart, not a sadist and with American lives being put increasingly in harm's way (not to mention all the Iraqi's) it seemed petty at best and obnoxious at worst to keep hammering away at what should now be obvious--there are not now, nor have there been for several years, weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Therefore, by the Bush Misadministration rationale, we are dying there for no reason other than imperial hubris.

I am prepared to raise the stakes even further. If legitimate WMD's are found in Iraq at any time prior to the general election, I will videotape myself walking down Sunset Boulevard wearing both a sandwich board that reads "Vote For Bush" and an Uncle Sam hat. Then I'll write an open letter to liberal billionaire George Soros and conservative billionaire (redundant?) Rupert Murdoch encouraging them to provide a million dollars to the first person or troop that comes across the WMD's. That's how confident I am that I'll never have to pay up...

The Amazing $4.29 Economic Recovery

Bush and his campaign have lately been trumpeting the economic recovery that some economists say has begun. Forgive me for not having the numbers in front of me, but supposedly well over 100,000 jobs were created in the last economic quarter. Problem is, and it's funny how Bush leaves this part out, the vast majority of those jobs are low paying clerical jobs or service jobs or even temporary employment, which I personally don't think should be included in the totals. And of course, conservatives are dead set against raising the minimum wage, so everyone on the bottom might be finding work, but they're making less money while the people at the top get filthy rich and send most of the real jobs overseas, most notably to India, China, Mexico and Southeast Asia. (Well, you don't have to cross a sea to go to Mexico, but I digress.) There, you can pay somebody 11 cents an hour to make Nike gear, or you could pay them substantially more to do basic software programming (see LA Times, 4/4) but Big Business comes out ahead no matter what and John Q. America (or, more likely, Jane Q. America) is wondering if they're hiring at Micky D's.

NOTE FROM RES (4/12): The figure quoted by the Labor Department is 308,000 new jobs, which means only 1.7 million jobs have now been lost during the Bush administration's rule. No word on how many of the 308,000 new jobs are actually high paying enough to offset the rising costs of gasoline and health care.

Why Sports Really Is Just Like Real Life

After their overtime 110-100 victory against the Portland Trailblazers tonight, the Denver Nuggets are in excellent position to make the playoffs for the first time in nine years, where they will almost certainly be dismantled by either the Minnesota Timberwolves or the LA Lakers in the first round. What should be an amazing Cinderella story of how a team improves by 25-plus wins and develops a new star in Carmelo Anthony, is marred by the fact that ownership not so secretly wants to fire the coach who guided this transformation, Jeff Bzdelik. The reason? Aside from Coach Bzdelik's lack of vowels, he is known as a hard-working, overachieving, basketball geek who doesn't relate well to the modern, pampered, overpaid professional athlete but nontheless is able to get results out of them. The Nuggets, who will never be confused with any of the marquee franchises in sports, want a sexier name that the players will "respect" and that might help sell tickets (George Karl is out of work and well-known by even more casual basketball fans, although like Bzdelik, he's never won an NBA championship either). This is like re-casting a part that has Kathy Bates written all over it with Cameron Diaz, even though it's a good bet Diaz won't be nearly as good no matter how pretty she is to look at. Or, it's like the guy in the cubicle down the hall who gets the promotion because he kisses the boss' ass better than you do and isn't losing all of his hair. None of this is anything to get pissed off about, it's just sports, but it does strike me as odd that somebody can improve the performance of their team by 150 PERCENT from one year to the next while adding only a rookie scorer and two other supporting players and then be blamed for why the team isn't doing any better. Logic often fails us.

A Parting Quote

"Diplomacy is the art of saying 'Nice doggie!', until you can find a rock."
--Wynn Catlin

For those who celebrate it, Happy Easter! Until I blog again...