Friday, June 30, 2006

I Want My MTV (To Sell Me Airtime)

In England's Prospect Magazine, Stephan Smith-Said has penned a brief but decent take on the status of "protest" in popular music today. His mention of MTV's motives in refusing to air any anti-war video or paid commercials while simultaneously decrying the lack of protest voices in modern music on their website is especially poignant.

From the article:
"Just two days after my article came out, MTV, which has refused to play anti-war videos even by the biggest stars, published an article addressing the need for political consciousness in mainstream music. In a flourish of Bush-like hubris, one of the country's chief purveyors of military recruitment ads to youth posted the article, "Where Is the Voice of Protest in Today's Music?" The webpage boasted an Army video game in the bottom right corner. Where's the voice of protest? It's in MTV's trash can."

As someone with intimate knowledge of the numbers migrating between the two entities, I can attest to the reasons for the content blackout on MTV. Indeed, they are entirely fiscal in nature. Not that it necessarily takes my corporate clearance to verify, though. It's straight outta Business 101. And therein lies the roots of the problem. It's once again all about the corporate-federal circle jerk, the common interest, due diligence and the bottom line. The citizenry's sold out once again. The fruits of modern hyper-capitalist America grow more bitter with every bite.

Read Why Neil Young Is Wrong by Stephan Smith-Said.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

"School of the Americas" For Dummies

The PicassoDreams blog has some great scans of an 80's picturebook manual for anti-government hijinks. While it aint necessarily a "School of the Americas"-grade education, the pages cover some basics for those with a desire to stick it to the man.

From their post:

"In the early 1980s, the right-wing Reagan U.S. Government was determined to undermine or overthrow the leftist government of Nicaragua. As part of this campaign, the Central Intelligence Agency produced a small illustrated booklet in both Spanish and English designed to destabilise the Nicaraguan Government and economic system. It instructed dissaffected individuals on acts of sabotage they could carry out to this end."

--Read the Full Post And See the Scans Here--

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

The Answers, My Friend, Are Floating on the Wind

Anyone else smell that?

Quick, check the headlines ‘round the net and sniff again. Now smell anything? Thought so. That odious reek is the further decay of American democracy and it’s wafting from the very much alive carcass of one Karl Rove. The fully-restored Bush Administration and GOP hatchet man is back on his game after nearly going to prison (and temporarily losing his White House bestowed sensitive info access—thus the benching) for facilitating the undercover CIA agent name leak. The latest full-court press by the crooks in the administration, and their obedient enablers in the rank-and-file GOP, has the twisted, cynical fingerprints of evil-genius Karl Rove all over it.

It’s like the NOW – That’s What I Call Music of “conservative” hot-button political issues. All the greatest hits are out there on parade for all the dopes ‘n’ rubes who’ll still lap up anything bearing the official seal of the GOP on its cover… regardless of an expired shelf-life, debunked status or residence nowhere on planet Earth. All in an effort to whip up some support over a growing disenfranchisement within the fold.

You name it, they're in some phase of floating it. Lessee, whatta we got this week? What cockamamie bullshit’s getting floated up into the bought-and-paid-for mainstream press? What ultimately factless, flaccid “news item” is getting pumped full of hot air, bounced around in the echo chamber or repeated ad nauseum but sine causa? Hhhmmmm.

Well, there’s the freakout cause du jour, the attacking of the "Lib-ruhl Mee-dya." Specifically the stage-managed shit-fit at the New York Times for writing about a facet of intelligence gathering. The article looked into some particulars of the financial snooping done by the CIA in attempts to track “terrorist” dough. Nevermind that the broad facts of the operation were common knowledge from September 12th on. Or that the mid-level details were reported on extensively less than two years ago. Or that the fine points were, given the nature of the program’s previous disclosure, absolutely intuitive to all but the thickest, least imaginative terrorists (or Americans) out there. And for good measure, don’t pay any attention to the fact that the Los Angeles Times and the Wall Street Journal printed similar stories on the heels of the NYT non-bombshell.

33rd degree rhetorical blackbelt , Glenn Greenwald lays into the administration’s allegations with fists of fury. When he’s done and all the hot air’s been let out, the GOP hystericals are left toting around all that manufactured outrage on a set of flat, flat tires. Do yourself and those around you a favor and read The Bush Lynch Mob Against the Nation's Free Press. Also Alex Koppelman’s got a good spot on this as well over on The Huffington Report. (The HuffPo, by the way, seems to be under a troll attack today as the comment boards are swamped with contrarian PoV’s ranging from mildly cretinous to personally provocative. It’s got everyone wondering if there’s been another hiring boom in the Bush propaganda department or whether it’s a desperate new tactic from tubby, mom’s basement dwelling rightists—turning off the opposition’s readers by debasing message boards with inane, offensive and, most importantly, stoooopid blurts 'n bursts.)

Ok, ok, enough of that. What else is out there this week? Well, some selective reporting about how watching The Daily Show might make you dangerously apathetic… as long as you take the report out of context, that is. And, oh yes, there’s the perennial coal-stoking Flag Burning amendment that gets trotted out every few years by “conservatives” looking for some cheap props with their voting bloc. Once again it went nowhere. But don’t fret. All you hot-button types are in for a real treat seeing as this is an election year. In the view of which, this week's sanctimonious horseshit coming outta the White House and echoed by the GOP faithful in the government and on TV, is all pre-game warm-ups, muscle-stretching, wind-sprints, etc… The real shit will fly soon enough. And we’ll all be tits deep in it.

And then there’s… ahh funk it. I’m ‘bout outta gas for the day. The a/c broke in my modern Chicago skyscraper this morning and it’s been getting steadily muggier. Yick. I’ve had just about enough for today. You all get the drift anyway, right?

Friday, June 23, 2006

"Choking-On-Yr-Own-Fleghm Friday"

That's soon to be registered trademark, bub.

Cuz it is indeed Friday and because by this time tomorow I'll have pushed yet another year into my 30's and because I've got a bottle of tequila cold chilling in the freezer, today's post will be a handful of looks at the strangest "rock" "band" known to mankind, Caroliner.
"Caroliner, a black light augmented, go to hell and pump thunder band, was formed in 1983 in order to portray the cabin fever and ergot poisoned hallucinations of early America, namely the 1800s." (Via Cake & Polka Parade.) "Caroliner has created its own bizarre universe combining monstrous fantasy creatures with early American music and folklore -- not Uncle Remus and "Yankee Doodle Dandy," but the sick, hopeless lives chronicled in the incredible Wisconsin Death Trip book[...] In other words: cabin fever, sunstroke, poisonous grain = hallucinations. Not in a "peace, my brother!" Grateful Dead sense, but in a mentally "at the end of your rope" way[...]" (Via the mighty Mark Prindle.)
"If all of this sounds strange, imagine what it looks like. Surreal sculptural scenery of indeterminate function saturates the Caroliner stage. Often it's even difficult to determine where the scenery ends and the band members begin, as the performers' unwieldy costumes are cut from the same creative cloth as the props. Bathed in black light, the Caroliner handiwork basks in all of its Day-Glo glory. And, perhaps most amazing of all, Caroliner recreates the rickety tunesmithery of its 10 albums. It's not a noisefest, but a carefully composed collection of abstract expressionist folk songs from an alternate universe." (Via The Metro Times.)
"[...]Caroliner is not an impenetrable noise band. They are willfully DIFFICULT, and at first listen do come across as lo-fi irritants using their instruments incorrectly, but if you take each song as an individual unit and hand each one to your ears on a silver platter of respect and attention, your intelligence and quest for novelty (meaning "newness," not "Dr. Demento-style joke music") will be handsomely rewarded in actual silver coins that pop out of the record at regular intervals. In its darkest heart, the debut Caroliner album is a snazzy goodtime folk/blues/rock record by a group of people who clearly had no interest at all in being a successful folk/blues/rock band. They haven't "deconstructed" the genre[...]they've made it as sloppy as possible and buried it in varied glops of disconcerting noise, leaving you (the listener) feeling as if you're experiencing schizophrenic aural hallucinations while trying to listen to a backwoods family of half-retarded inbreds play their homemade boogie for you." (Via Mark Prindle's review of 1987's Read End Hernia Puppet Show.)
If all that whets yr whistle, here's some Caroliner magic via YouTube:

(All Photos Used Without Permission But With Oh-So-Much Love)

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Sled Dog Day Afternoon

Woof. It's busy around here this week. I'm ready for an AWOL day soon. Very soon.

In the meantime, if you missed the PBS Frontline special on Dick Cheney and the Iraq War buildup that aired Tuesday night, fear not, it's available for viewing on the web. I would highly recommend making the time to view it. It's a fact-based dissection of the Bush administration and its various designs both domestic and foreign. Chocked-full of high-profile interviews and analysis, this top-notch TV documentary doesn't judge, doesn't angle... it just lays it out there.

Watch Frontline: The Dark Side.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Situation Normal, All Fucked Up

Well, it aint much of a surprise. These people are crooks and enablers of crooks. But at least it's easy to see what they stand for when things are put to a vote. Ya know, were the political landscape reversed, were progressives really in charge of the "liberal media," imagine the talking points they would be turning to headlines given the results of this vote.

Via What Really Happened:

GOP Kills Senate Bill to Police Halliburton

In an effort to stop companies like Halliburton and its subsidiaries from cheating our troops and stealing from Americans, Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND), introduced S.AMDT.4230 and attached it to the Defense Authorization bill currently being debated in the Senate. The bill was intended to improve contracting "by eliminating fraud and abuse and improving competition in contracting and procurement."

Dorgan's bill -- cosponsored by 17 Democrats and called the Honest Leadership and Accountability in Contracting Act of 2006 -- was tabled by a roll call vote of 55-43, effectively rejecting the amendment. Every single Senate Republican voted against the measure to make the contracting process honest and impose penalties on those who break the law.

**UPDATE: Frist Slips 'Poison Pill' to Minimum Wage Bill (Thanks, Ed!)

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Yankee Doodle Martyr's Brigade

Haven’t been too absorbed in the headlines lately. It’s a question of sanity and self-preservation more than free time or motivation. But I’ve been keeping abreast to be sure. To wit, last week’s Guantánamo suicides were tragic but not surprising—all humans are wired the same, after all. The emotional fruits of endless despair and periodic torture are the same for the terrorist (would-be or never-was) than they are for the pencil pusher. Our fearless leaders would like us to believe that the actions of the three “detainees” was calculated sabotage. That their final, desperate act was in fact another act of war against our great nation. “Asymmetrical warfare,” they call it. And apparently in all seriousness, Rear Admiral Harry B. Harris described the dead men as being “smart, creative, committed.” To which’s Anthony Alessandrini replies, “[That] is a perverse compliment being paid by the torturer to the tortured”. And to which I reply, "Rear Admiral, eh?"

So, it was warfare, it was terrorism, but in no conceivable way was it the act of desperate men who in succumbing to their hopelessness, took the only way out they’d been able to find. Sure. And as expected the administration and its enablers hide behind a variation on their running themes, Patriotism and Fear, to give us the bologna about the suicides being a creative assault on America. It’d be frickin’ funny if it wasn’t so pathetic, so sad. But at least fewer and fewer of the ol’ constituency is buying that kind of line. Hell, some higher-profile folks have even begun to wake up and see this mess for what it really is, fundamentally un-American. Just ask James Norton. The Christian Science Monitor published his op-ed piece, Roots of US War Prisoners' Rights Run Deep, this morning.

Should you find all that dry as toast wiffout butta, perhaps check in with the take over on fafblog. 6/10 Changed Everything, should sweeten the deal. And the comments page is a force of its own as user, Famousringo points out, "The obvious counterattack to this kind of assault is to pre-emptively respond in kind: To commit suicide.Only elite suicide squads, killing themselves with ruthless efficiency, can provoke the guilt and shame necessary to win this conflict."

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

MSNBC's Husky Tart, Owned

This is part and parcel from the great

"[N]ice, but dumber than a suitcase of rocks," is how MSNBC's Keith Olbermann reportedly described colleague Rita Cosby, a charter member of 'TV's Aryan Sisterhood.'

Rod Stewart Got His Stomach Pumped

Getting edgy this afternoon as the Coulter-clone in the cube next to mine has her desktop satellite radio turned way up. It never veers from the all top-40 station. All top-40, all the time. And, really, it’s only like the top 20, cuz I swear to Jebus it’s always the same 20 over and over and over again, all goddamned miserable day long. If I go another day hearing that nasally pussywillow sing “you’re beau-ta-fa-uh, beau-ta-fa-uh” another dozen times, I’m gonna need the good insurance cuz I will have rammed my steel letter opener right into both eardrums. Which would be better than having to hear that untalented douche whine about his testicles getting torn off in a threshing accident and falling in love with his favorite goat or whateverthefuck that shitty, shitty song’s about. And don’t get me started on the half-assed dancehall “right temperature” song. Fucker’s so played out it’s deader than Abe Lincoln. White kids summer party song, my ass.

I wear these wickedly painful earbud headphones all damn day not only so I don’t have to listen to the endless top-40 song cycle, but also to avoid having to listen in to the newly-graduated, frat-sorority conversations that go on around me. These kids set new levels in vapidity every day. Any time I catch one saying anything half-way intelligent, after nearly falling out of my seat, I wanna give ‘em a pat on the back and say something like, “THERE you go, kiddo. Spoken like a college graduate. Keep at it and one day you might just walk upright.”

But I don’t. My hope is usually dashed when the next thing outta their mouth is less intelligent than what my dog says with her eyes. I go back to pounding my head against the brick wall in my mind while my fingers get back on track and type, type, type…

All this while today some fucking moron in Massachusetts calls the cops because he buys a vanity for his bathroom remodeling project only to get it home and discover a huge amount of drugs stashed away in it. The luck. I mean it’s the kind of thing stoned college kids and down and out losers everywhere dream about day in and day out. Jagoff.

Type, type, type…

Monday, June 12, 2006

On Turd Eating and Tuna Tartar

Oh man… eating my tuna fish sandwich dinner tonight (the chef’s at her graduation party) and doing the ol’ station flip-flip-flip because the White Sox have pretty much run away with the only baseball game on TV. I get to the suite of cable news stations or “The Devil’s Alley” as it’s known around this household. Except for the station that’s always showing the screaming bald stock-picking guy, every single one is in the middle of a discussion of misanthropic psychopath Ann Coulter’s recent mocking of the 9/11 widows on the Today show. Every station. At the same time.

Of course we all know the sick-souled "journalist" uses this kind of outrage to whip up controversy around herself and thus pump sales for the packets of sustained hate that are her books. And of course the unofficial GOP propaganda unit, Fox News, was the only one who actually Coulter herself on. Shocking, I know.

But there was a sublime moment in all of it. GOP agent and all around human shitstain, David Horowitz was on Larry King playing the smirking Coulter apologist. I sat through a couple minutes of his turn in the roundtable "discussion." But I was quickly overcome and turned the station just before blood rocketed from my all orifices. I wound up a few clicks up on Fox News where human feltchstain Sean Hannity was, I kid you not, in the middle of THE EXACT SAME TALKING POINTS as Horowitz had been only 5 seconds earlier. I mean it was word for word. I clicked back and forth for the next minute or so and, goddamn, it was uncanny. It was like they were reading from the same script.... which, you know, in a lot of ways they probably were.

(This post totally unlinked for your own protection. Unless of course you want the dirt on this Horowitz chap. In which case may I turn your attention to this excellent article by Kurt Nimmo on Counterpunch, “The Delusions of David Horowitz,and Scoobie Davis’ ongoing smack-down site, HorowitzWatch.)

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Photo Post

"The Devil's Son-In-Law Takes One for the Team (A Process)"
(Copyright 2006, B. Hoben)

Thursday, June 08, 2006

There's a Monster In My 7-Grain Cereal

A couple of hours ago I started writing something about how with sleepy eyes and a mouth full of cereal I learned about Al-Zarqawi’s death this morning. And about how I was initially thrilled about what it meant. After I woke up a little bit I wasn’t exactly sure what the hell it meant (though I can imagine every cable news channel pundit has already gone blue in the face telling us exactly what it means). After I woke up a little more I began to remember all the varied accounts as to exactly who this guys was, what kind of power he had and exactly what he was responsible for. I remembered no one could agree on any of it. Ever. But now, apparently, he’s dead and us Americans are so bloody desperate for some good news in Iraq that even the haters and the peaceniks are high-fiving over this one.

So I was in the middle of writing a piece on all that nonsense, when a desperate and cranky financial manager from New Jersey called trying to track down a sizeable sum. In my telepathically received panic I managed to lose the draft. So, in lieu of my normal, prize-winning political commentary, I bid you, dear reader, to visit the great Counterpunch where columnist Chris Floyd lays out some of the more contentious aspects of the figure that is/was Abu Musab Saddam Osama al-Zarqawi. Read “The Timely Death of al-Zarqawi: Hubub in Hibhib.”

I’ll then direct your attention to the quote of the day, supplied by Miss Jenny Lynch of Boston, MA:

"He finally broke loose and, thank goodness for sweat pants with elastic on them, because he tried to climb up my britches' leg."
(Via Orlando’s WFTV.)

Thanks, Jenny.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Poetry Corner

Elements of the Fight (An Ongoing Work)

1. Nests built in apprehension of a surly weather report.
2. Fibrous moments seized in random contexts are allowed to filter the personality to some recognizable form.
3. A mainstay of confidence and security.
4. Something to hold back the madness, like a gently constructed dam.
5. Holes in your shoes as you step on others’ toes.
6. To walk with a dogged limp, a tired ghost ready to give it up.
7. A logjam of supports, tenuous at best, but there’s solidity to some extent, in some temporary sense.
8. The overflowed and otherwise useless receptacles of regret converge in trashheap conversations several trashdays overdue.
9. An early start at transformation sidesteps legislation from the primary vices.
10. Multi-level declarations brought about by living situation complications.
11. ‘Free and Fair Use’ is determined detrimental to the modern democracy.
12. Pave the sidewalks, pave the sidestreets.
13. Static days lead to restless nights.
14. “We left the body in the woods.”
15. To reconstruct one’s life as to bring about change sometimes backfires and recidivism trumps progress.
16. The medication must be multiplied as daily doses increase with the desperate feeling that someone, somewhere is drowning.
17. Coming to conclusions often means acting hypocritical.
18. Tossing away photographs of onetime lovers.
19. Contaminants create an inauthentic life, neither real nor unreal.
20. Comforts come form whacked-out death-trip fantasies.
21. On-line journals open for business spill our intimate guts, while family gatherings remain eerily quiet.
22. “I was just gonna hit him, but I’m gonna kill him now.”
23. All deeds seem dirty.
24. Setting up a line of defense, as in a game of chess, to protect some part of oneself from an attack, real or imagined.
25. As television disciples, our past and present are tethered only by our most extreme moments.
26. Literal interpretations log increased airtime in mind’s eye, while all figurative and critical models are heretofore designated anti-American.
27. Ever-increasing agoraphobia stalks the public psyche.
28. “You stare long enough into the void, the void stares back into you.” = “The more you shop, the more you save.”
29. A mild feeling of nausea when the air-conditioning is not on.
30. While some keep a pack of dogs made vicious by hunger, others keep people made vicious by other circumstances.
31. Metafiction of mass consumption mediated by model citizen dressed in maintenanced morals.
32. Advertising will one day corrupt every word in the lexicon.
33. Forked tongues remain untied.
34. Saving the best for last becomes the big joke in our modern era.
35. And on and on and on.

(Copyright 2003, Dung Magazine, B. Hoben)

Monday, June 05, 2006

Bring It, Summertime, Bring It.

Fresh off a two-day backyard grilling extravaganza in some of the best weather to be found on the planet. Sunny and warm in the day, cool and starry at night. Day one was a party in miniature. The laughs flowed almost as freely as the gin drinks (see Friday night’s post). It was just what the doctor ordered. Day two was a solo affair that involved significantly less boozing, reading a great book and falling asleep in the loungy deck chair as the day wore on.

What better lead-in for a column on the upcoming SEC football season. The strongest conference in the nation is gearing up for several pivotal battles as former cupcakes and up-and-comers look to knock off a handful of would-be powerhouses. The talent has been spread around pretty well throughout the conference over the last few years and with so many SEC players going pro lately, the playing field has been greatly leveled. For many teams the pressure to win will fall to the younger players.

My Florida Gators are one of those teams. A very young team, but a very talented team. Their offense is set to explode under option-mad coach Urban Meyer’s second year. And the defense has surprised a lot of us with its aggressiveness. The shut-down prowess they exhibited last year when the offense failed to carry the team was nothing short of thrilling. And, you know, it’s not a stretch to say that two of the losses couldn’t be pinned on the defense. Offensive miscues and Leak’s timid movement outside the pocket lost games as much as any defensive gaffes. But with a full season of Meyer’s approach under their belts, some impressive rookies ready to start and one of the best damn QB recruits in the nation waiting in the wings, the offense is looking much improved and far more dangerous than last year.

Atlanta Journal-Constitution sports columnist, Tony Barnhart lays out the upcoming SEC season for us. Key matchups, player and coach hotseats, and assorted drama. Dig it.

Friday, June 02, 2006


Just spent three hours crafting what I'm confident in calling the best pasta sauce I've ever put together. (Onions, Red, Orange, Yellow Peppers, Garlic, Tomatoes, Chicken Andoullie Sausages, Variety of Sliced Mushrooms, Red Wine, Trader Joe's Sauce Base and Several Spices.) While it stewed I worked on perfecting my new Summertime Gin and Juice drink. (Gin, sparkling lemon drink, sparking lime drink, a couple pinches sugar and a twist of lime over ice.) All the while I spun a couple of excellent albums. (The Low and Sweet Orchestra's 1996 country-punk-by-way-of-Waits godsend, "Goodbye To All That", followed by last year's much maligned, yet thoroughly top-shelf indie-rock masterpiece, "Apologies To The Queen Mary" by Wolf Parade.)

Up On My Soap Box Bar

Gonna take some time to decompress this weekend. Hopefully get back on the posting tip next week with something about how one of the most revolutionary things you can do these days is to ask someone WHY they believe what they believe—and make time to hear their answer if they actually have one.

The proliferation of cable news and AM radio opinion shouters combined with the subsequent evaporation of insight, reasoning and honest facts have done to the American mind what fast food, preservatives and high fructose corn syrup have done to the American physique. The too-busy, too-distracted public have become far too reliant on pre-packaged, pre-digested, manufactured angles and opinions. Challenging someone to explain themselves (and letting them do so) seems like a decent antidote to the modern wave of anti-thought that’s engulfed the culture. Being too busy or too lazy to take the time to understand the forces at work in the world today is little more than a prescription for oblivion. If folks would at least take the time to figure out why they think what they think, we as a people may at least proceed with some kinda conciliatory confidence that would surely trump the paranoid fatalism whispered in our ears day in and day out.


And then there’s this: Yo Gabba Gabba! is apparently a new kids TV show. And from the sneak peek, it looks sensational. Watch the clip, listen to the tunes and just see if anyone can knock the smile off your face for the next several hours. I doubt it!

(Via Boing Boing so, of course, you know all about it already.)

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Picking It Up

Back in Chicago and at work for the time being. Will try and get somthing new on here soon.

Sorry about the lull. It was a bit of an emergency, but things seem to be back on track now.