October 2002 Archives

Happy Halloween

James carved me a jack o' lantern.

No one ever called the NRA "sensitive"

Some Tom Waits MP3s

No, it's not an Onion story

Christina Mazzalupo

One of the fabulous artists in the Barry and James collection has a new web site!

She's adorable, and she's in a band!

Can't be an Atheist in the Boy Scouts

From CNN: Atheist Scout given a week to declare belief

"We've asked him to search his heart, to confer with family members, to give this great thought," Brad Farmer, the Scout executive of the Chief Seattle Council of the Boy Scouts, told The Sun of Bremerton.

"If he says he's an avowed atheist, he does not meet the standards of membership."

On membership applications, Boy Scouts and adult leaders must say they recognize some higher power, not necessarily religious. "Mother Nature would be acceptable," Farmer said.

I have an idea. Could it be... Satan?

Follow up to "he's lying"

Here's a followup to my earlier post about Bush's uncomfortable relationship with the truth. Eleanor Clift, columnist and wife of James's old companion on the college newspaper, Tom Brazaitis, has a column on MSNBC: Not the Un-Clinton After All.

I don't miss my home state


In an article on the fact that the wife of Arkansas's governor, Mike Huckabee, is running for Secretary of State at the same time he is running for re-election against my close friend Jimmie Lou Fisher, we have a number of nice quotes. She (the wife) is so embarassing.

Mr. Huckabee was already being accused of having pretensions to royalty. For example, he accepted $23,000 in clothing and gift certificates from Jennings Osborne, a wealthy supporter and appointee, in 2000 alone, then sued to block the state ethics commission from investigating such gifts.

But his wife's campaign difficulties have added to the governor's burden. Her insistence on her own 24-hour state police detail, her crisscrossing the state to campaign events in a giant trooper-driven Ford Excursion provided by the state and her travel in and out of Arkansas on the state airplane, both with and without her husband, for reasons the governor's office refuses to disclose all produced a month's worth of bad press for both Huckabees at the start of the fall campaign.


Mrs. Huckabee remains indignant, writing off her detractors as either mistaken about her or mean-spirited. "I'd be lying if I said it didn't bother me," she said in an interview. "If it wasn't for the grace of God, I'd have shot a few people already."

"Jesus wasn't liked, either," she added. "And Jesus was mistreated, and called names."

Democrats say Mrs. Huckabee has shown a mean streak of her own, particularly in her only televised debate with Mr. Daniels, on Oct. 16. There, she raised the subject of Mr. Daniels's drunken-driving convictions in 1983 and 1990, the more recent offense in a state vehicle; attacked him for putting his wife and daughter on the state payroll; and said he had not come up with "an original idea the whole campaign."

Mr. Daniels's driving-while-intoxicated record was well known, and he apologized again for it. But Mrs. Huckabee maintains that he would be a bad role model for Arkansas youths. "He says his problem with alcohol was 12 years ago, and I know that's not true," she said this week. "I've had personal experience with it, but I haven't brought that out. He could hardly stand up at the governor's gala last Christmas."


She has a daredevil streak. As a youngster, she crossed the Arkansas River on a pipeline in the black of night. As first lady, she has gone bungee jumping, and even skydiving — albeit strapped to an Army paratrooper.

Well, maybe I miss it a little. You have to read her statements in the proper accent. Also, where do I sign up to get strapped to an Army paratrooper?

Attacks on girls' schools in Afghanistan

The NY Times has a followup article on the story I posted yesterday. The latest attack was 30 miles from the capital. Don't tell me we've "secured" the country.

Bloomberg, the new Giuliani?

Bloomberg is turning into the new Giuliani. Not only is he talking about a West Side stadium, the Police are starting to treat homeless people as a "quality of life issue":

Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said yesterday that the homeless have been targeted since February in Operation Clean Sweep, a crackdown that focuses on quality-of-life crimes using the same computer-assisted strategy that the NYPD uses to drive down major crimes.

Kelly said that while "being homeless is not a violation of the law," trespassing and sleeping in city parks are against the law.

"Basically, what our outreach program does is contact homeless people and offer them assistance, shelter and hospitalization," he said.

That was certainly not the policy on E. Fourth St. yesterday, where several witnesses watched officers from the Ninth Precinct verbally abuse a pair of homeless men and throw their Styrofoam shelter into a city garbage truck.

"Don't talk to me like I have a heart, because I don't!" one beefy cop told the pair, according to Joseph Esposito, 37, who witnessed the exchange on his way to work.

At no time were any services offered to the men, said Esposito, an assertion later backed up by the pair in an interview with the Daily News.

"Instead of just saying, 'Hey, listen, you have to leave,' it was, 'I don't ever want to see you in my precinct again,'" said one of the men, who refused to give his name out of fear of reprisal. "They gave us nothing."

Good for the Daily News! These two articles were on the same page today.

Page Not Found

While looking for Wieland Wagner pictures for my "Woyzeck" post, I came across this excellent Page Not Found error page at Frankfurt Opera.


Two nights ago we saw "Woyzeck" by Tom Waits, Kathleen Brennan, and Robert Wilson at BAM.

The music is amazing. Tom Waits's music at this point is that of a new Kurt Weill, and I mean Weill at his best. We were sitting on the front row, so it was fun to be able to watch the small orchestra as it played. The lyrics (created by him and his wife Kathleen Brennan) are brilliant. They never choose the clichéd or obvious word in a phrase. In "Coney Island Baby":

Every night she comes To take me out to dreamland When I'm with her, I'm the richest Man in the town

I almost expected the phrase to be "the richest man in the world", but "town" works so much better.

Some other favorites from various songs:

The plural of spouse is spice.

God's Away, God's away
God's away on Business. Business.

She's a rose, she's the pearl
She's the spin on my world
All the stars make their wishes on her eyes

I'm not crazy about Robert Wilson. I think he has some good ideas and things are often attractive, but he's in a rut. His style hasn't changed much over the last ten years, and there are certain gestures -- such as a spotlight only on a character's hand -- that have become rote. There were however, a few fabulous moments. When Marie and the Drum Major have their first big scene together, at one point she is singing "Everything Goes to Hell":

I don't like dirty dishes in the sink. Please don't tell me what you feel or what you think.

and she sits on his back as he crawls across the floor on all fours. It's hard to describe well, but the audience burst into spontaneous applause before it was completely over.

Anyone who has seen images of Wieland Wagner's [framed site - hit cancel if asked] productions at Bayreuth can realize that Wilson is not as much as an innovator, in terms of visuals, as many people think.

At the reception afterward we talked with our friends Charles and Ray, fellow BAM-ites not to be confused with the artist Charles Ray, and looked at the celebrities: Isabella Rossellini, and Russian gay activist/poet/porn star Slava. James has some good links for him.

Many of the songs from "Woyzeck" are available on Tom Waits's "Blood Money" CD. I talk about that CD plus his "Alice" -- both highly recommended -- here.

Later today I will add a couple of MP3s from "Blood Money" and "Alice".

I love a Man in Uniform

The Guardian has an article on two small town policemen, a gay couple, in South Africa.

Em & Lo's UK Debut

My friends Emma and Lorelei (of Nerve fame) have just made their debut in the Guardian.

Our war in Afghanistan

I'm tired of listening to people talking about how we bombed Afghanistan because of our more enlightened view of women. Most of the government isn't in favor of women's rights -- being only slightly to the left of the Taliban on that issue.

We're not interested in putting enough resources into the country to stabilize it, only enough to get started working on an oil pipeline.

Vandals, With Fire and Rockets, Attack 4 Afghan Girls' Schools

Great letter in Salon

... by Christopher Dazey on media coverage of anti-war rallies. Here is a sample, but you should read the whole thing, plus the rest of the letters. As a group, they are one of the best discussions of the art of protest -- including all of the fringe groups and seeming off-topic speakers that often drive us all crazy when we attend one.

Michelle Goldberg's disappointment with the protesters in Washington over their apparent lack of a coherent message is akin to a campaign manager saying that her candidate should "stay on message." However, the protesters were not running for office, and the language of corrupt, corporate politics should not be applied to grassroots movements.

Cheney disinvited to Wellstone's Funeral

Good for the Wellstone family! They have disinvited Dick Cheney from the memorial service, because they're unhappy at the vociferous Republican attacks on Mondale even before he is a candidate. [Link via TBOGG]

Newt Gingrich went on "Meet the Press' to say that Mondale supported privatization of Social Security. Isn't the GOP in favor of that? You would think he would be more careful about lying about something that could easily be investigated.

Williamsburg galleries

We went to Williamsburg this afternoon to see our friend Meighan Gale's show at Black & White Gallery, on its last day. If you like what you see on the web site, you can call the gallery to see the work. I saw some paintings from the next show, by Lael Marshall, that looked promising.

Other highlights:

A great drawing show at Parker's Box, with works by Simon Faithfull (often drawn on a palm pilot and blown up) and Bruno Peinado.

Bjørn Melhus at Roebling Hall: fabulous video show, with my favorite work (titled "Oral Fixation") being a weird talk show, with all of the dialogue sampled from actual shows.

I also saw this solar-powered peace sign, a project of Think Global Peace.

Ha'aretz has had it

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The only Middle Eastern paper I read regularly -- Ha'aretz seems to have had it with the settlers and the increasing destruction of anything resembling a sensible government in Israel. Who can blame them? The settlers are destroying any moral credibility that Israel once had. They are no better than the apartheid government of South Africa, and they are increasingly the people who set the terms of debate in Israel.

Buried in the stories (here is one from the Daily News, not exactly a pro-Palestinian paper) of the latest suicide bomber is this:

Six miles away, a mob of 10 Jewish settlers set upon 30 Palestinian farm workers and peace activists, pummeling them with stones and rifle butts, when they heard about the attack.

A Palestinian couple, their two children and four activists were treated at a nearby hospital for their injuries.

An American, James Deleplain, 74, suffered a possible broken rib and an American-British citizen, Mary Hughes-Thompson, 68, had both arms broken, according to the International Solidarity Movement.

Those attacked were harvesting olives.

One of today's Ha'aretz essays, titled "Before Jewish fascism takes over", discusses interesting similarities between this era and that of the fall of Jerusalem to the Romans. Yossi Sarid argues that what caused Jerusalem to collapse was zealotry, and Israel faces the same danger today:

There was no "civil war" in those days because wars require two sides. The zealots of the day decided during the Great - and doomed - Revolt against the Romans to begin a campaign of organized terror against all those they decided were too moderate. The domestic terror toppled the responsible leadership, which feared the zealotry that fell upon them. The leadership threw up its hands in surrender without battle, so there was no "civil war."

The crazed "patriots" didn't cool off until they had managed to burn all the grain silos of Jerusalem, driving the residents of the besieged city into hunger and making certain that if there had been any chance for the Great Revolt, the fall of Jerusalem became inevitable. Therefore it was Jewish zealotry that destroyed the Second Commonwealth - and not a civil war.

It appears likely that the Labor party will leave the government over its opposition to payments to the illegal settlements in the Occupied Territories. It also appears that the government won't fall, forcing new elections, because a far right party will join Sharon's government. That party is National Union-Yisrael Beiteinu, which has advocated mass expulsions of Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza. I think it's time for Israelis to ask themselves how they've reached this point. I read a quote from an American Viet Nam veteran at Saturday's anti-war rally in DC, who said, "If violence made people safer, Israel would be perfectly safe".

But wait, there's more.

There is a column by Akiva Eldar in which he argues that the Labor Party has abandoned American Jews, allowing the right to have its say, and to be able to argue that Americans support Sharon's government.

The lack of an alternative to the Sharon/Ben-Eliezer government has paralyzed the supporters of compromise inside the Jewish community. MK Avshalom Vilan, who recently visited Washington as part of a Peace Coalition delegation, says that congressmen, including Jewish congressmen, were surprised to learn that the majority of the Israeli public supports the establishment of a Palestinian state and opposes the settlements. The pro-Israeli lobby constantly feeds them information about corruption in the Palestinian Authority, but they've never been told that in less than 10 years there will be an Arab majority between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River. Obviously, nobody asks them to protest the highway robbery of olive harvesters and the land grabs of Palestinian properties.

The leaders of Reform and other liberal movements in American Judaism admit to their friends in the Israeli peace camp that their communities refuse to listen to a word of criticism about the Israeli government's policies. "How can you expect us to pressure the administration to change its attitudes to Sharon's brutal policies," they ask, "when the Labor Party's leader executes those policies and the Nobel Peace Prize laureate [Shimon Peres] does such a good job of explaining the policies?"

For that sin, the abandonment of American Jewry, the peace camp may yet pay for many years to come.

I'll end with an excerpt from one of today's editorials -- "The settlers' persecution".

The settlers of Itamar in the West Bank have taken upon themselves security powers and are violently chasing away the farmers from the adjacent villages of Yanoun and Akrabeh. According to reports from the villagers, armed settlers are riding into the villages on all-terrain vehicles and are threatening and beating the farmers who are going out to harvest the olive trees they own or lease, thereby undermining their principal source of income at this time of the year.

This ongoing persecution - which has been accompanied by gunfire directed at the farmers and their homes, the torching of the Yanoun village generator and the contamination of the well in the area - has already caused most of the village residents to abandon their homes. The village, which was once home to 150 families, now has less than 10 families living there.

Dozens of complaints dating as far back as 1998 and concerning the vandalization of property have been filed by the village residents with the Israel Police, but these have gone no further than a confirmation of their receipt. Till now, no one has stood trial and no indictments have been served against the persecutors.

Electronic voting

Since we live in a third-world country, unlike Brazil, we don't have electronic voting in our small towns. There is a good slashdot discussion on this here.

Vote Green

I see no reason to vote for Carl McCall in this election. Pataki, whom I despise as much as the next person, appears ready to win in a landslide. He has been endorsed by all of the major newspapers in the state, and the latest polls show that McCall might even get less votes than Golisano.

So my advice: McCall's going to lose big anyway, so vote for the Green candidate, Stanley Aronowitz. You'll help keep the Green Party on the state ballot without them having to go through and expensive petition process.

Aronowitz is a great candidate. He was a steelworker and union organizer, and he is currently Distinguished Professor of Sociology and Urban Education at the CUNY Graduate Center.

Every endorsement of Pataki has talked about how dysfunctional Albany is, with most decisions made by just three people: Pataki, Sheldon Silver, and Joe Bruno. Why reward the two major parties by letting them continue to operate this way? 98% of state legislators are re-elected in each election.

I'm very, very serious about this. We have watched the Democrats collapse in front of the Republicans over civil rights, drug laws, health care, tax cuts for the wealthy, and war. When you have a chance to vote for a Green, particularly when doing so doesn't help a Republican, you must do it.

Good coverage of NY Politics, including the poll numbers, can be found on PoliticsNY.com.

Don't tell me the anti-war side is wacky

I keep hearing stuff about how most people see those attending anti-war protests as out of touch liberals and wacky leftists. Here is the text of a flyer put out by the NYU College Republicans, according a story in the NY Daily News:

Save the Children ... Bomb Iraq

I suppose only good Christian American children count as children.

Queen ... puck ... Canadian

I find this comic vaguely compelling:


It's referring to this:

A day at the galleries

We walked around for quite a few hours today, going to Chelsea galleries. It's hard to link, since a lot of galleries AREN'T BEING VERY WEB SAVVY. I need to get my planned galllery and artist web site hosting company off the ground soon. The first client (an artist) will go live soon -- I'll let you know when.

Recommendations, in no particular order:

Rob Fischer and Conrad Ventur (2 separate shows) at Elizabeth Dee Gallery

Gustave Kluge at Klemens Gasser & Tanja Grunert

David Schrigley at Anton Kern

Kiniko Ivic at Andrew Kreps -- Grrreat!

Yoshitomo Nara at Marianne Boesky -- I don't really like the "cuteness" aspect of a lot of Japanese art in this genre, but I really think he manages to pull it off. I love his work.

James has a more comprehensive list of what we liked today.

New photos added

Go here.

where did all the real art go

Follow-up to anti-SUV ads

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Arianna got a huge response to her anti-SUV advertising proposal. There is now a fund set up to pay for such ads on TV.

Salon has an interview with the author of the book "High and Mighty" about SUVs, in which he explains that they're not only bad for the environment, they're not even safer than other vehicles.

Even the Car Talk guys are starting to speak out against them.

The government is so concerned about our children's welfare. Apparently, the "No Child Left Behind Act", President Bush's education law passed earlier this year, contains a small provision regarding military recruiters in its 670 pages. Secondary schools must provide a list of addresses and telephone numbers (even if unlisted) of all students to military recruiters, or risk having federal education funds withheld. The same thing happens if they don't allow them access to the school for recruiting events. A number of cities have tried to bar military recruiters from public schools because of the military's anti-gay discrimination.

At least one school in Vermont is not happy.


Photo of Israeli soldiers at the Supreme Court. They have refused to serve in the Occupied Territories.

Paul Wellstone

This is HORRIBLE. One of the only liberal members of the U.S. Senate has died in a plane crash.

The (S) Files


I went to the opening of "The (S) Files" at El Museo Del Barrio. They have great opening parties -- and the crowd, to quote Chris, was Hhhhhhhottttt.

It's definitely worth a visit -- one of the best group shows I've seen lately. Favorites: Alejandro Cesarco's film of people playing scrabble, spelling out his influences (from Baudrillard to Leonard Cohen), Chico MacMurtrie's big robotic monkey, and of course Maria Alos's Manhattan project, since James and I were in the group of models:

There's an article in Backstage (via Yahoo) on Penny Arcade's run for the state assembly. It starts out talking about antiwar sentiments among performers, but ends up as an article about her and politics.

I would vote for her if she were in my district!

CD 2002

Eric Doeringer's latest project is cool. I just added to my Eric Doeringer collection here at the Barry and James abode.

Jihad against dog owners

Maybe this Iranian cleric can start with my building?

I don't hate all dog owners, just most of the ones in my building.

A feminist play in Gaza

A nice story out of Gaza for once: a feminist play with Palestinian actresses. Check out the photo -- great design!

Why can't they just say "he lies"?


From the Washington Post:

For Bush, Facts Are Malleable

Other times, the president's assertions simply outpace the facts. In New Hampshire earlier this month, he said his education legislation made "the biggest increase in education spending in a long, long time."

In fact, the 15.8 percent increase in Department of Education discretionary spending for fiscal year 2002 (the figures the White House supplied when asked about Bush's statement) was below the 18.5 percent increase under Clinton the previous year -- and Bush had wanted a much smaller increase than Congress approved. Earlier this month, Republican moderates complained to Bush's budget director, Mitchell E. Daniels Jr., that the administration was not spending the full amount for education that Congress approved. Daniels said it was "nothing uncommon" and decried the "explosively larger education bill."

Why does the reporter use euphemisms like "the president's assertions simply outpace the facts" rather than say he chooses to lie to the American people?

Got Oil?

Arianna says, if we're going to run those stupid "drug users fuel terrorism" ads, why not run ones that really say who pays for terrorism -- gas guzzling American cars. I would donate money to run these ads:

So how about using the same shock-value tactics the administration uses in the drug war to confront the public with the ultimate -- and much more linearly linked -- consequences of their energy wastefulness? Imagine a soccer mom in a Ford Excursion (11 mpg city, 15 mpg highway) saying, "I'm building a nuclear bomb for Saddam Hussein." Or a mob of solo drivers toodling down the freeway at 75 mph shouting in unison, "We're buying weapons that will kill American soldiers, marines, and sailors! Yahoo!"

It's not just a fantasy. Last week, talking to my friend Scott Burns, co-creator of the "Got Milk?" campaign, I was delighted to hear that he already had two ad scripts ready to go. The first one feels like an old Slim Fast commercial. Instead of "I lost 50 pounds in two weeks" the ad cuts to different people in their SUVs: "I gassed 40,000 Kurds," "I helped hijack an airplane," "I helped blow up a nightclub," and then in unison: "We did it all by driving to work in our SUVs."

The second, which opens on a man at a gas station, features a cute kid's voice-over throughout: "This is George." Then we see a close up of a gas pump. "This is the gas George buys for his car." Next we see a guy in a suit. "This is the oil company executive who makes money on the gas George buys." Close up on Al-Qaeda training film footage: "This is the terrorist organization supported by money from the country where the oil company does business. " It's followed by footage of 9/11: "We all know what this is." And it closes on a wide shot of bumper to bumper traffic: "The biggest weapon of mass destruction is parked in your driveway." Pretty effective.

Remember that the Bush administration found time in its busy schedule this month to weigh in on the side of Detroit in a lawsuit against California's stricter automobile mileage regulations.

Office Killer

I finally saw Cindy Sherman's film Office Killer.

Wow. It really is awful. Good cast (Molly Ringwald, Carol Kane, Barbara Sukowa), some nice shots, great score, but it's really a mess. I knew a couple of people that worked on the production, and they weren't kidding about how badly it turned out.

Loving David Ehrenstein

Beautiful, beautiful post about queerness, Gus Van Sant, Michael Chabon, etc.

And Then?

An essay by a writer on his first muse: his Sicilian grandmother.

Evildoer t-shirt

I should get one.

Hey! I resent that!

Those Democrats

... are going speak up as soon as it seems like the right time -- Tom Tomorrow.

Daily News followup

James says I should take credit, but I doubt it's my doing. The NY Daily News has an article about the White House denying "it did anything wrong by sitting on the bombshell disclosure that North Korea had nuclear weapons until after securing the congressional okay to attack Iraq."

Another interesting thing, given the Daily News publisher's and editorial board's support for bombing Iraq, is that there are a number of anti-war letters in today's Voice of the People. I'll quote part of my favorite one:

You dilldocks! President Bush isn't FDR, he's Japanese Emperor Hirohito, attacking a country that hasn't attacked his just because he sees a threat.


I saw this when it was just a workshop production at Target Margin's Ring Festival. I just got a card in the mail about a full production of it. I'm there!

DUMBO Art under the Bridge Festival

I still have this flu-like thing going, but I went for a few hours to this DUMBO festival. It was pretty cool, and there were a HUGE number of people there. I think DUMBO is already becoming Williamsburg-esque.


Nina Levy sculptures at Metaphor

Fabulous design and furniture at a new architecture firm called FREECELL. Also, check out their cool bookmobile project with artist books and zines. They will be at Cooper Union October 29-31.

Open Studios (just for the festival) -- especially Andrea Cohen, David Baskin, and Torsten Zenas Burns; and the current exhibit, from Smack Mellon.

Secrecy Smells

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I don't normally link to anything that has my real name from this site, but I couldn't help myself this time. I'm the top letter in the "Voice of the People" in today's NY Daily News!

The letter is about what I discussed earlier, that I find it outrageous that the Bush administration knew about North Korea's nuclear program before the vote on the Iraq resolution, but didn't tell Congress until afterward.

Beautiful Eggleston Photographs

Go here and click on the slide show.

The End of Middle-Class America


Paul Krugman has the cover article in this week's NY Times Magazine, on how America is becoming a plutocracy, and that the days of America as a middle-class society are ending. He also points out that all of our arguments about America being the richest country, and benefitting from it, don't really hold once you realize that we're now at that point because the rich have so much, not because the average American does.

One criticism: He barely mentions the role of organized labor in the creation of a middle-class America in the 1950s and 1960s.

Over the past 30 years most people have seen only modest salary increases: the average annual salary in America, expressed in 1998 dollars (that is, adjusted for inflation), rose from $32,522 in 1970 to $35,864 in 1999. That's about a 10 percent increase over 29 years -- progress, but not much. Over the same period, however, according to Fortune magazine, the average real annual compensation of the top 100 C.E.O.'s went from $1.3 million -- 39 times the pay of an average worker -- to $37.5 million, more than 1,000 times the pay of ordinary workers.


One ploy often used to play down growing inequality is to rely on rather coarse statistical breakdowns -- dividing the population into five ''quintiles,'' each containing 20 percent of families, or at most 10 ''deciles.'' Indeed, Greenspan's speech at Jackson Hole relied mainly on decile data. From there it's a short step to denying that we're really talking about the rich at all. For example, a conservative commentator might concede, grudgingly, that there has been some increase in the share of national income going to the top 10 percent of taxpayers, but then point out that anyone with an income over $81,000 is in that top 10 percent. So we're just talking about shifts within the middle class, right?

Wrong: the top 10 percent contains a lot of people whom we would still consider middle class, but they weren't the big winners. Most of the gains in the share of the top 10 percent of taxpayers over the past 30 years were actually gains to the top 1 percent, rather than the next 9 percent. In 1998 the top 1 percent started at $230,000. In turn, 60 percent of the gains of that top 1 percent went to the top 0.1 percent, those with incomes of more than $790,000. And almost half of those gains went to a mere 13,000 taxpayers, the top 0.01 percent, who had an income of at least $3.6 million and an average income of $17 million.


You might think that 1987, the year Tom Wolfe published his novel ''The Bonfire of the Vanities'' and Oliver Stone released his movie ''Wall Street,'' marked the high tide of America's new money culture. But in 1987 the top 0.01 percent earned only about 40 percent of what they do today, and top executives less than a fifth as much. The America of ''Wall Street'' and ''The Bonfire of the Vanities'' was positively egalitarian compared with the country we live in today.


Canadians can expect to live about two years longer than Americans. In fact, life expectancy in the U.S. is well below that in Canada, Japan and every major nation in Western Europe. On average, we can expect lives a bit shorter than those of Greeks, a bit longer than those of Portuguese. Male life expectancy is lower in the U.S. than it is in Costa Rica.


Although America has higher per capita income than other advanced countries, it turns out that that's mainly because our rich are much richer. And here's a radical thought: if the rich get more, that leaves less for everyone else.


Many Americans assume that because we are the richest country in the world, with real G.D.P. per capita higher than that of other major advanced countries, Americans must be better off across the board -- that it's not just our rich who are richer than their counterparts abroad, but that the typical American family is much better off than the typical family elsewhere, and that even our poor are well off by foreign standards.

But it's not true. Let me use the example of Sweden, that great conservative bete noire.


But life expectancy in Sweden is about three years higher than that of the U.S. Infant mortality is half the U.S. level, and less than a third the rate in Mississippi. Functional illiteracy is much less common than in the U.S.

How is this possible? One answer is that G.D.P. per capita is in some ways a misleading measure. Swedes take longer vacations than Americans, so they work fewer hours per year. That's a choice, not a failure of economic performance. Real G.D.P. per hour worked is 16 percent lower than in the United States, which makes Swedish productivity about the same as Canada's.

But the main point is that though Sweden may have lower average income than the United States, that's mainly because our rich are so much richer. The median Swedish family has a standard of living roughly comparable with that of the median U.S. family: wages are if anything higher in Sweden, and a higher tax burden is offset by public provision of health care and generally better public services. And as you move further down the income distribution, Swedish living standards are way ahead of those in the U.S. Swedish families with children that are at the 10th percentile -- poorer than 90 percent of the population -- have incomes 60 percent higher than their U.S. counterparts. And very few people in Sweden experience the deep poverty that is all too common in the United States. One measure: in 1994 only 6 percent of Swedes lived on less than $11 per day, compared with 14 percent in the U.S.

Dan Savage has lost it

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I ignored Dan as he kept screaming about Ralph Nader supposedly costing Al "can't wait to talk about God and morality again" Gore the election.

Now he's ranting about how liberals should be FOR the war in Iraq because it will liberate the Iraqi population from a terrible dictator. He thinks this administration is capable of pulling of a post-WWII Japan trick on Iraq!

Did aliens replace his brain? It's more fun to read David Ehrenstein's discussion of it than it is to read the actual column.

Oh, and he's tired of worrying about AIDS too:

"I used to think about AIDS all the time, read about AIDS constantly, and do a lot of writing about AIDS. But in the last few years, I've found it harder and harder to give a shit about AIDS. Instead, I want to write about the monorail or Iraq -- this despite the fact that two of my best friends in the whole world are infected with HIV."

Where are our priorities? I just read this letter in the NY Times.

Re "The Forgotten Domestic Crisis," by Marcia Angell (Op-Ed, Oct. 13): In addition to placing health care increasingly out of the economic reach of individuals and businesses, our commodity approach guarantees that the pool of insurable individuals will continue to shrink, thereby undermining the very essence of affordable insurance.

Insurance works because a lot of people pay premiums and not everyone uses services. The more healthy people insured, the stronger the system. A single-payer, broadly financed health insurance system is hardly socialism; it is the only way health care can become universally accessible and even remotely cost-effective.

San Francisco, Oct. 15, 2002

My first reaction was that we're going to have national terrorism insurance before we have national health insurance!

Julian Fleisher

Gay City News has an article on the lovely and talented Julian Fleisher.

Julio Rivera

Probably many people have heard of his murder, but know little else. Gay City News has a good history of the murder and the political changes that followed.

Christoph Schmidberger

When I wrote about his show earlier, I couldn't link to images of his work because Nikolai Fine Art's web site is having some technical difficulties. I found out today that he has his own web site, so head on over and check it out.

schmidberger.jpg   schmidberger2.jpg

So, the Bush administration knew about North Korea's admission concerning its nuclear program one week before the vote on Iraq in Congress. Were they waiting because they were afraid that Congress would raise questions about the logic of bombing Iraq but negotiating with North Korea?

Good letter in the NY Times today:

In "North Korea Says It Has a Program on Nuclear Arms" (front page, Oct. 17), you say "the administration's decision to keep news of the North Korean admission secret for the past 12 days while it fashioned a response appears significant for several reasons."

One reason not directly addressed in the article is the timing of the admission in relation to the Iraq resolution that was debated in Congress.

The administration withheld its announcement about the North Korean nuclear program until the day President Bush signed the resolution.

If this announcement had been made just a few days earlier, it would have been yet another reason for members of Congress to question the wisdom of invading Iraq over its hypothetical nuclear program when a real one exists in a different hostile government.

The administration's decision to withhold this information was apparently another cynical ploy to force a vote in Congress about Iraq while withholding critical and relevant facts.

Haverford, Pa., Oct. 17, 2002

Interesting fact: When the Assistant Secretary of State James A. Kelly returned from his trip to North Korea on October 5, he canceled his planned press conference.

I can't believe anyone trusts this administration at all.

Yes, it's real


From a BBC article on the BG Wildlife Photographer Of The Year awards.

The contest site is here.

My current favorite blog

... is TBOGG. He's consistently funny, whether he's skewering Andrew "shilling for big pharm" Sullivan, having a "Name the War" contest, or castigating President Bunnypants.

Remind me which ones are allies?

The Council on Foreign Relations, not exactly a left-wing group, has issued a new report saying that Saudi Arabia is turning a blind eye to fundraising by al-Quaeda and similar groups.

There's also a BBC article on the subject.

Bush and his ilk care more about oil and doing business with oil-rich despots than they do about terrorism. Anyone who thinks otherwise is sadly misguided.

My home state doin' us proud


House Viet Nam Vet opposes Iraq War


I just read a column in the NY Daily News by Juan Gonzalez about Silvestre Reyes, a conservative Democrat from El Paso (and former Marine captain in Viet Nam, 1968-1969).

"Thirty-five years ago, I found myself half a world away in a place called Vietnam," Reyes said during the Iraq debate. Now, he went on, "mothers and fathers and veterans come to me and tell me, 'Please, do not let us get back into a war without exhausting all other avenues.'"

"As a member of the Committee on Intelligence, I have asked consistently the question. ... What is the the connection between 9/11 and Iraq and Saddam Hussein? None.

"What is the connection between Iraq and Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda? Very little, if any. As to the weapons of mass destruction ... there is a lot of speculation."

Even a top general who testified before the committee expressed severe doubts about a U.S. invasion of Iraq, Reyes said.

Quite simply, the congressman concluded, "the case has not been made."

One of the other things that struck me, and should be bigger news, is this: 47 of the 52 members of the House that are either Hispanic or African-American voted against the Iraq war resolution. The news media should be asking why. Is it because they realize that their constituents will suffer so that more powerful people can get richer from the war?

One reason for war you won't hear from the White House is spelled O-I-L. Iraq has the world's second-largest proven oil reserves after Saudi Arabia, about 11% of the world's total.

Kenneth Derr, the former CEO and chairman of Chevron, said it best in a 1998 speech at the Commonwealth Club of San Francisco.

"Iraq possess huge reserves of oil and gas - reserves I'd love Chevron to have access to," said Derr.

Flu? Plus Craig Chester

I might not post much for a little bit. I think I have the flu, or at least something unpleasant with a cough.

We saw a reading of a new screenplay called "Adam and Steve" tonight, written by Craig Chester, at Fez. The cast included Ileana Douglas, Nora Burns, Mike Albo, and Bryan Batt. It also featured the Dazzle Dancers. I half expected to see Dan'l there. It was very funny, and the cast really got into it.

Two favorite moments:

Two men go into a store in Chelsea, looking to buy a ring. The salesman asks, "Nipple, cock, pride, or finger?"

When asked what it was like to be in the city on 9/11, someone responds, "Oh, you know. The sky was all purple, there were people running everywhere."


I once had Craig Chester as a waiter for Florent's big Bastille Day celebration outside on Gansevoort Street. This was after Swoon, not before, and he said he was helping out a friend for the day. I remember this was the year that there were a lot of protests over the French resuming nuclear testing in the South Pacific. Chi Chi Valenti, during her performance, unfolded a big sign that said, "STOP FRENCH BOMBS!" The crowd went wild.

Why do I read the NY Daily News?

Yes, sometimes their owner/publisher, and columnists like Zev Chafets (blaming Jerrold Nadler for not caring about the safety of American Jews) make me want th throw the paper across the room. But then they do something like this:

Gay rights overdue

State Republicans are signaling that a gay rights bill stalled in Albany for three decades may finally come to a vote. Why now? It's obvious. Election Day is a month away, and Gov. Pataki's efforts to get the legislation passed this year have come to naught. Gay and lesbian voters comprise a sizable, focused chunk of the voting public.

And so the GOP is scrambling: Pataki's angling for a preelection Senate vote on the bill. State Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno hints that a vote could actually happen - after the November election. Mayor Bloomberg insists the measure will be passed before the end of the year, thanks (of course) to Pataki's support.

Pataki's name was booed by many when Bloomberg mentioned it recently at a major gay event, and the frustration is understandable. After 30 years, you'd think that adding two little words - sexual orientation - to the list of personal qualities protected from discrimination under state law would be a no-brainer. Twelve states and 20 New York localities, including the city, have managed to do it. The holdup in Albany? While Pataki has supported the bill for several years, though initially he opposed it, Bruno, who is allied with some of the state Senate's most conservative Republicans, hasn't yet struck a deal.

The bill, like so many pieces of legislation that languish in Albany limbo, should have been approved long ago. It should be passed as soon as a new session can be convened. But meanwhile, let's hear - pardon us - straight talk from state leaders, starting with Bruno: Will the gay rights bill, a matter of simple decency, be passed or won't it? If they can't deliver, surely they understand: Voters, gay or straight, can swing both ways.

Our own theocracy

Maybe they should spend some time reading about world history, other cultures, and an intelligence report or two.

White House staffers gather for Bible study

(via TBOGG)

The NY Times Magazine

... has two great articles today.

What is a European, by A.S. Byatt, and Michael Kimmelman on the re-appearance of Robert Smithson's Spiral Jetty.

Article on Tom Ryan

Bay Windows has a great article on the only out gay man in the NY Fire Department -- Tom Ryan.

Earlier, in an interview, Ryan, who turns 43 in early November, said that in the last year he found out that 25 closeted firefighters died in the World Trade Center. When Bay Windows spoke to him a week after the terrorist attack, he reported that to his knowledge none had-at least ones that were open about their sexuality. "There also were gay firefighters in the buildings who survived and still are afraid to come out," he said. "I find that incredible. How could you fear anything after going through that?"

Gallery recommendations!

We braved the rain to go to a few shows today, and I strongly recommend two of them:

The Johnson show had me thinking about whether I could sell something to buy one. Also, go see the movie about him at the Film Forum.

Firefighters' March

I just got back from standing in the rain, watching the firefighters march up Eighth Avenue from 14th Street to Madison Square Garden for the memorial service there. When I awoke this morning, the first thing I heard through my apartment windows was the sound of bagpipes.

There were only a few people standing on the sidewalks watching. The barricades that had been up since 5 last night seemed overkill.

They all seemed fascinated by the NYSC on the corner of 23rd and Eighth. Maybe there was a class with pretty women happening -- all of the ones I saw do that were men. The departments from Florida and Texas were notable for the amount of Latinos/Latinas in their groups -- a lot more than we have.

I saw men in kilts, bagpipe players having finished their march, carrying five cameras at once to take pictures for their friends that were still marching.

Most of them were Americans, but there were a lot of Canadians, and we saw one small group of Italians and one that was French. I'm sure there were more countries, but I didn't see the whole procession. A policeman standing near us was telling a neighbor from my building about going to Ground Zero to try to help -- "they were turning people away, there were so many."

I could hear the ceremony starting a little after ten on the loudspeakers that were set up along the avenue. I think Giuliani's living with a gay friend in his apartment for a while has been good for him. The first thing he said was that he wished that Father Mychal Judge were there to speak first. He also said that the people who died were trying to rescue people regardless of race, religion, or sexual orientation.

Police barricades everywhere

There are police barricades everywhere along Eighth Avenue and Ninth Avenue in Chelsea. Those were the only avenues I saw tonight. I don't know if they're on Seventh too.

The waiter at dinner -- a new idiosyncratic Italian place called Morelli's at 21st Street and Ninth Avenue -- said it was because of a firemen's march.

What, are they planning a riot in my neighborhood tomorrow?

More than one per week

They won because they're the best technology, right?

Microsoft discloses security flaw

Microsoft Corp. disclosed a security flaw Thursday of "critical" severity in its Outlook Express e-mail programs.


The security bulletin is the company's 58th this year.


This one's for Glenn: an exhibit of amateur paintings of clowns from the collection of Robert Berman and Diane Keaton.

Speaking of Ms. Keaton, I recently watched Manhattan for the first time since I moved to NYC in 1989. It's such a wonderful appreciation of New York. Now that I've lived here for years, I recognize so much, and I know where they are when they're in that gallery building on West Broadway where Castelli, Sonnabend, etc. were located. I would not have laughed as much at the "oh, you liked that?" conversation when Diane Keaton first appears. I don't think I knew who Diane Arbus even was when I first saw it. I still remember laughing at the angst over pronouncing "Van Gogh" when I first saw it in college.

Guide to Tracey Emin

Let's talk about art for a bit, rather than politics. The Guardian has an amusing Web Guide to Tracey Emin, a/k/a 'Mad Tracey from Margate'.

Pete Stark for President

Wow! Salon has the text of the speech he gave on the floor of the House yesterday opposing the Iraq war resolution.

"Let us not forget that our president -- our commander in chief -- has no experience with, or knowledge of, war. In fact, he admits that he was at best ambivalent about the Vietnam War. He skirted his own military service and then failed to serve out his time in the National Guard. And, he reported years later that at the height of that conflict in 1968 he didn't notice 'any heavy stuff going on.'"

"So we have a president who thinks foreign territory is the opponent's dugout and Kashmir is a sweater.

I've resisted the temptation to quote more, so go on over there and read it!

I worked on one of his campaigns when I lived in Texas.

Anti-war protest in Hilary's office

Two stories:

1010 WINS

NYC Indymedia

Signing away the Constitution

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Having relinquished the power to decide war and peace, the House moves on. They have passed a resolution saying the President can decide when, or if, to attack another country. I consider this abandonment of Congress's right to declare war illegal. Every person voting yes should be impeached.

As the Senate prepares to do the same, we have this ridiculous statement from Daschle:

Across the Capitol, where the Senate was moving toward passage of the same resolution, Majority Leader Thomas A. Daschle (D-S.D.) said Americans will return attention to the economy "once we get this question of Iraq behind us."

How is going to war putting it "behind us"?


I was waiting for the subway at 23rd/7th tonight, when the resident entertainer, a blind singer named Bobby Blow, started talking about how "all singers have big mouths". I learned a new fact from Mr. Blow. "Satchmo" is short for "Satchellmouth".

Trip photos

I think I'm done (or mostly done) with my trip photos. It's pretty impressionistic. You're as likely to see pictures of pretty people as famous tourist sites. I figure you can see those, with much better photographs, online or in books. For Vienna especially, everywhere you turn is worthy of a photograph.

Finally something amusing on my block

Having endured Krispy Kreme, Boston Market, and Trailer Park, finally something interesting has opened. We have a new Ricky's.

Burn This


"Make it personal, tell the truth and then write 'Burn this' on the bottom."

We saw Burn This last night, and it was awesome. I've been going to Signature Theatre for years, and this was not the typical crowd for one of their plays. This was much more like a Broadway audience, and believe me that's not a compliment: plenty of scary suburban New York Magazine types. It was a gayer crowd than usual, but I suspect that was as much a function of having Ed Norton in it (who was great despite someone's opinion of him), rather than the fact that it was a gay-themed play by a great playwright. I don't typically see that many pretty, blank Chelsea boys at a serious play -- perhaps they were brought as arm candy by more serious playgoers. I much prefer smart pretty boys.

I first saw Ed Norton in 1994, in the world premiere of Eward Albee's "Fragments" at Signature. I still remember how he looked and talked, and not just because he was hot. Apparently this was Catherine Keener's stage debut, and she was excellent, with a great presence on stage. I would not have guessed that she had concentrated only on film before. I've only seen her in one movie, "Being John Malkovich". Given that Mr. Malkovich played the Ed Norton role in the play's debut, there is a nice symmetry at work here. The entire cast of four was pretty amazing.

There were a few celebrities in the crowd. The ones I spotted: Monica Lewinsky (I think I was cruised by her!), Paul Lombardi (yes Sam he's quite hot in person too), and Paul Rudnick.

Here are some reviews.

Chomsky interview

Znet has a very informative interview with Noam Chomsky on Iraq. He sounds pretty reasonable for a man many paint as a lefty fanatic madman.

A few highlights:

Saddam's worst crimes, by far, have been domestic, including the use of chemical weapons against Kurds and a huge slaughter of Kurds in the late 80s, barbaric torture, and every other ugly crime you can imagine. These are at the top of the list of terrible crimes for which he is now condemned, rightly. It's useful to ask how frequently the impassioned denunciations and eloquent expressions of outrage are accompanied by three little words: "with our help."

The crimes were well known at once, but of no particular concern to the West. Saddam received some mild reprimands; harsh congressional condemnation was considered too extreme by prominent commentators. The Reaganites and Bush 1 continued to welcome the monster as an ally and valued trading partner right through his worst atrocities and well beyond. Bush authorized loan guarantees and sale of advanced technology with clear applications for weapons of mass destruction (WMD) right up to the day of the Kuwait invasion, sometimes overriding congressional efforts to prevent what he was doing. Britain was still authorizing export of military equipment and radioactive materials a few days after the invasion. When ABC correspondent and now ZNet Commentator Charles Glass discovered biological weapons facilities (using commercial satellites and defector testimony), his revelations were immediately denied by the Pentagon and the story disappeared. It was resurrected when Saddam committed his first real crime, disobeying US orders (or perhaps misinterpreting them) by invading Kuwait, and switched instantly from friend to reincarnation of Attila the Hun. The same facilities were then used to demonstrate his innately evil nature. When Bush 1 announced new gifts to his friend in December 1989 (also gifts to US agribusiness and industry), it was considered too insignificant even to report, though one could read about it in Z magazine at the time, maybe nowhere else. A few months later, shortly before he invaded Kuwait, a high-level Senate delegation, headed by (later) Republican presidential candidate Bob Dole, visited Saddam, conveying the President's greetings and assuring the brutal mass murderer that he should disregard the criticism he hears from maverick reporters here. Saddam had even been able to get away with attacking a US naval vessel, the USS Stark, killing several dozen crewmen. That is a mark of real esteem. The only other country to have been granted that privilege was Israel, in 1967. In deference to Saddam, the State Department banned all contacts with the Iraqi democratic opposition, maintaining this policy even after the Gulf war, while Washington effectively authorized Saddam to crush a Shi'ite rebellion that might well have overthrown him -- in the interest of preserving "stability," the press explained, nodding sagely.

That he's a major criminal is not in doubt. That's not changed by the fact that the US and Britain regarded his major atrocities as insignificant in the light of higher "reasons of state," before the Gulf war and even after -- facts best forgotten.

Those wacky Christians

I love stories like this:

Grade tampering scandal hits Christian college

Gardner-Webb University has been embroiled in controversy ever since the school's president admitted he wrote a memo two years ago ordering a star basketball player's GPA to be calculated without an F he received for cheating -- in, of all things, a religion class.

Without the change, Carlos Webb would have been ineligible in 2000-01, the season Gardner-Webb won the National Christian College Athletic Association championship.

... and we all know how important Christian athletic leagues are in the grand scheme of life.

What corporate scandals? Let's talk War!

I feel the need to quote TBOGG's title for this:

We'd love to look into this...but we've got a war to fight...

Harvard University's financial relationship with President Bush's former oil company was deeper than previously understood, with the university's management fund creating a separate ''off the books'' partnership with Harken Energy Corp. that helped keep afloat the financially troubled company, according to a report to be released today.

HarvardWatch, a student-alumni group that monitors the school's investments, plans to issue the report and say that it has analyzed documents showing that the Harvard fund, an independent entity that manages the university's endowment, formed a partnership in 1990 with Bush's oil firm called the Harken Anadarko Partnership. The partnership effectively removed $20 million of debt from Harken's books, relieving the Texas company's short-term financial problems.

About the same time, the Harvard fund invested about $30 million in Harken, which also helped keep the firm afloat. The partnership has not been mentioned in recent accounts of Bush's financial dealings in the oil business.

The Boston Globe article may be found here.

NYPL exhibit

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On a happier note, there is an exhibit at the NYPL on New York City wildlife -- yes there actually is some here other than the kind of people Mr. Swill meets on the subway.

I recommend going to see it. It's free!

In These Times has an interview with Scott Ritter, who served as Chief U.N. weapons inspector in Iraq until 1998. In case you haven't heard, he is opposed to our attacking Iraq, warning "If the United States unilaterally invades Iraq, we will go to war as a rogue nation ourselves and join the short list that includes North Korea, which invaded South Korea, and Saddam Hussein, who invaded Kuwait."

I want to start screaming everytime I read or hear someone talk about the weapons inspectors being expelled. Here is Ritter's account:

Saddam Hussein didn’t kick out the U.N. inspectors. They were ordered out by the U.S. government, which then used information they provided to bomb 100 locations that had nothing to do with weapons of mass destruction. So the weapons inspectors were used by the United States. This is the reality: When Madeleine Albright called up Richard Butler and said, “Jump!” Richard Butler always said, “How high?” It was obvious from day one.

Money for war, but not for the veterans

Apparently Bush and his masters think there's enough money to spend $9+ billion per month on Iraq, but there's not enough money to provide pension benefits for disabled veterans. Rumsfeld and Bush think it's "double dipping" for a veteran to get any extra money if they're retired AND disabled.

Bush Threatens Veto of Defense Bill - President Wants Costly New Disabled Military Pension Benefits Eliminated

The Republicans seem to feel the same way about soldiers that they do about babies. They're OK at the beginning, but we don't care what happens to them later.

Statistic: Nearly one quarter of all homeless people are veterans.

Smart column on our Wilsonian problem

Walter LaFeber, distinguished historian, has a good column in the Washington Post on our country's Wilsonian split personality when it comes to engaging the outside world.

Wilsonianism, more than any other -ism, has shaped the foreign policy thinking of Americans in the early 21st century. Articulated in Wilson's 1917 speech asking Congress to declare war, it rejects neutrality in an age where the conduct of "civilized states" was at issue.

Wilsonianism has been glorified, especially since the American triumph in the Cold War. But it is less a policy than a disorder. That is because at its core, Wilsonianism has a split personality. One Wilson preached the ideal of worldwide democracy and free enterprise under the aegis of the League of Nations. The other Wilson was the greatest unilateral military interventionist in U.S. history.

He sent troops into Haiti, Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic and elsewhere, and it took generations of diplomacy to clean up the results. This was the Wilson who pledged to teach Mexico "to elect good men," even if he ended up sending in U.S. troops to do rather intense, if irrelevant, teaching. This was also the Wilson who, when asked whether he was going into World War I in concert with "allies," replied that the United States would maintain its freedom of action and thus enter the conflict only as an "associated" power.

Georgie Anne Geyer Rocks!

I just found this column, courtesy of TBOGG.

Some readers may have gotten the impression that I am unequivocally against a war with Iraq. As a matter of fact, that is not true. But one reason that I am against an attack upon Baghdad is because I do not think our military leaders are the best ones to lead it.

To the contrary, I think that our many superzealous civilian officials who are impassionedly leading the fight should be right up there in the front lines. Wars always need the most aggressive and "warlike" at the front. Instead, we find ourselves today in a virtually unheard-of situation where most of the men planning this abstruse war are hawkish and agenda-prone intellectuals who seem to think that war is the ultimate metaphysical experience -- for someone else, of course.


Richard Perle revealed his own deep concern for American soldiers when he was asked on a recent "Wide Angle" TV show about the threat of chemical and biological weapons to troops landing in Iraq. All he could do was announce, without any emotion, "These are not effective weapons in terms of the outcome of the engagement."

Go, Maine!

Protesters Jeer Gephardt

"Gephardt, Gephardt has no spine! He just follows Bush's line," the crowd loudly repeated, holding signs and banging drums, standing a few feet away from the high-ranking Democrat. The age of protesters ranged from college students to middle-aged parents to white-haired seniors.

Rally media follow-up

The New York Times article is horrible. My feeble post was as journalistic as their report, which mostly quotes people with the most tangential messages to show that it was "just a bunch of kooks -- nothing to worry about". A lot of people at the rally itself spoke very well on the use of 9/11 as an excuse for the Bush administration to do what it likes anyway in terms of stifling dissent and shredding the Bill of Rights. They also talked about how talk of war is being used to distract the country from the problems of corporate crime, the bad economy, and people's worries about their retirement. Here'a a good Alternet column on this topic, whose thesis is that we may not even go to war. War talk is being used to win the election.

The Daily News's coverage is better. They and the other media outlets, such as the BBC, also use higher numbers than the Times.

Anti-war rally

I'm getting a cold, so this is going to be a stream-of-consciousness post about the rally. There are some photos here.

We got there a little after 1pm, and stayed until it ended around 5 or 5:30. As we walked from the subway station (the 6) to the park, a couple of people yelled at us that this was a "good war", or that we must be Saddam Hussein lovers. All of these people were driving SUVs. In the station itself, things got started early, even before we were out on the street, with a group of college students chanting.

One of the most moving people I saw was a rescue worked from Ground Zero -- I think his organization was Ground Zero for Peace, but I'm not sure. He said that rescue workers rescue anyone, regardless of their politics or race or religion, and they didn't want more casualties.

Signs and t-shirts spotted that I liked:

* Fighting for Peace is like Fucking for Virginity
* All Bully No Pulpit
* Silence = Consent
* Madness of King George
* The Emperor has no Brain
* Regime change starts at home
* Bombing Iraq is so 10 years ago
* Autogeddon

One interesting tidbit -- out of the 20,000 or so people there, I only saw a single smoker.

The main announcer sounded a lot like a South Asian Eleanor Roosevelt.

There were a number of celebrities. Susan Sarandon was very good, telling Bush and those that saw questioning the government as treasonous, "This is what democracy looks like. This is what an intelligent citizenry does." She also said that a pre-emptive strike "as defense" was what Pearl Harbor was. She mentioned that Robert Byrd is talking about doing a filibuster to prevent a vote on war with Iraq. It was probably the first time a crowd like that ever cheered Byrd. Go read James's account of Byrd's speech last week.

Susan's significant other, Tim Robbins, was great. He talked about how this is all basically a ruse to distract us from the scandals of Halliburton and Enron, and the bad economy. He said that fundamentalism of any kind was abhorrent to him, because it was opposed to the things that mattered to him: art, music, film, books, and independent women.

Tom Duane was the only currently-elected official I saw there. He said he wished he had more politicians to stand with him at the rally.

A young woman from Stuyvesant H.S. said that it was the duty of youth to dissent, since they would have to live with the world that is being created now, and much longer than Bush will.

Martin Sheen reminded us that 40 years ago next week, the Cuban Missile Crisis was worked out without going to war. He also read part of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I have a dream" speech.

A woman from Global Exchange, the group that interrupted Rumsfeld at his Armed Services Committee appearance a few weeks ago, said they were called "rude and unreasonable women". She also used the great phrase "Weapons of Mass Distraction".

Two young girls -- nine and ten -- read a great statement they had written. My favorite part: "We have more than enough money to buy the oil we need, so why do we need to steal it?"

Cynthia McKinney spoke, and I can see why the Republicans hate her so much. She said that Bush, et al, are so gung ho for war, but none of them had actually fought in any wars.

There was a lot more, including appearances by Reno and David Byrne, but I think you get the picture.


* Common Cause
* Not In Our Name

Final note: I can't find coverage of today's event in any U.S. media right now, but there's an article on the BBC web site. They estimate the crowd at 20,000.

Back from the anti-war rally

I'll post more in a little while -- just got home. We were there until it ended. I would estimate there were at least 10,000 there, it might have been closer to 15-20,000. I just went to look at the NY1 and 1010 WINS web sites. The former's top story is about a fake ticker-tape parade and other fake "Olympic" activities to promote NYC's attempts to bring the games here. 1010 WINS's web site has these as the top stories:

* Cop Shot in Brooklyn
* Survey: NY Congressman Support War
* Report: Mentally Ill Locked Down in Nursing Homes
* Firetrucks and Car Collide in Bronx - 12 Hurt
* Claims Adjuster Found Guilty of Damaging Home
* Campbells Recalls Mislabeled Soup
* Police in CT Arrest 3 'Jackass' Wannabes
* Supreme Court Considers Taking NJ Senate Case
* Report: Derailed Air Train was Near Top Speed
* Bloomberg to Crack Down on Sidewalk Cafes
* Jogger Rape Suspect Says He Raped Another
* Mayor Heads to Colorado to Push Olympic Bid
* Record Spending in NY Governor's Race
* Brooklyn Brothers Plead Guilty to $50M Fraud
* U.N. Shooter Denied Bail Over Flight Risk
* Parents Plead Innocent in Son's Heroin Death
* Families Want Steel Cross to Stay at Ground Zero
* NYC, Nurses Union, Reach Deal
* Parties Lobby Supreme Court on NJ Ballot Issue

If 10,000+ people oppose a war, it's not news. Of course, London had at least 150,000 for theirs.

All guns, no butter

I'm about to head up to Central Park for this. I hope to see some of you there. Actually, maybe I hope it's so big that it's hard to find anyone I know.

Creepy anti-semitic encounter

Read James's account of our encounter with the "Jews hate Bush" lady.

Why the teddy bear?

Why are there always teddy bears at things like this? I find it sort of creepy.

This bench is in front of the grocery store where James's brother shops.

Potty Mouth

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I went to see Andy's show Potty Mouth last night (or is it early this morning). As we waited outside to be let in, there was an adorable little dark-haired kid playing on the sidewalk. When some air-conditioner condensation -- I hope that's what it was -- started pouring off the awning above our heads, he jumped into it and got all wet. He then proceeded to try to embrace all of the gay guys in line. A future performance artist is born!

It was GREAT. I had seen part of it "in process" at Dixon Place, but that was months ago, and I think it has really come together into a fabulous raunchy, moving, hilarious piece of one-man theater. It runs through October 25. Go!

I am still so jet-lagged. I got my second wind around 2am, and went with some of my fellow bloggers/audience members to Lolita. I liked the vibe of the place -- low key (and cute) bartenders, and a crowd that was about half straight and half gay. Not enough places pull that off successfully in NYC, even on the Lower East Side. There were gorgeous photographs of the abandoned buildings at Ellis Island in the back. The even had Brooklyn Weisse on tap!

Do I have to list all of the bloggers that were there and link to them here? I'm tired. The one person I hadn't met before, at least not in "the real world", was Mark. At one point, when Andy talked about gay men with cats, we both groaned simultaneously -- getting a reaction from our performer.

For those that missed it, e.g. Glenn and Sparky, James was sick and didn't make it either. We might go see it on October 18 at 10pm if anyone wants to join us.

Just plain creepy

Bob Crane -- of Hogans Heroes fame -- was a home pornographer. His son has a web site where you can get pictures, videos, etc., and he's rather obsessed with how hung his dad was -- to the point of publishing his dad's autopsy report to prove it.

Titled Doubts set in on Afghan mission, it says that the Americans are looking increasingly like occupiers to the Afghans and themselves. The soldiers have also been given little plastic cards (they show one to the reporter) telling them what to say to the press. Via cursor.

Dipping my toes back into the art pool

I should be doing work, but several shows were about to close, so we went to a few Chelsea galleries this afternoon. I'm writing this while I wait for Apache to compile on a few clients' machines -- security release!

I wasn't that excited by some of the shows, but there were a couple I would recommend going to see before they close:

Paula Cooper gets extra points for having the flyer for the Not In Our Name rally on Sunday in Central Park taped to the gallery door.

As I walked home, I noticed that 17th Street between Eighth and Ninth Avenues certainly is gentrifying! There is a Karim Rashid store, plus an upscale hair salon, where people were waiting out front drinking sparkling water from wine glasses -- glass ones, not plastic.

I love Jesus because he keep oil cheap for my SUV -- spotted out in front of the Catholic Church on 10th Avenue:

Random broken window image:

Choire says it better than my still jet-lagged brain can. Go sign Michael Moore's petition, and send some letters.

This should be the last one. These are some notes I took on the flight to New York.

  • Looking around the departure lounge at the information boards for other flights, I really felt like we were rather "east" -- there were flights to Pristina, Kiev, and Damascus in nearby gates.

  • The area next to us was for a flight to Cairo. There was one Arab woman near us wearing a sweater and well-fitting camel-colored wool pants, and her son was named William. Most of the women for that flight wore head scarves.

  • The airport bookstores have quite a bit of gay porn for sale -- most stores would only have straight stuff, especially in America. They also all have special sections for books on the Nazi period. One tiny store had a fountain in the middle with fish.

  • There were two female flight attendants - one a chubby latina and the other a black woman with a shaved head -- pushing around the duty free cart. They were FABULOUS. I told them I loved them both, but I didn't feel like buying anything. The latina suggested I buy the big box of chocolates, suitable for sharing with the crew. When I laughed, the black one asked me what I was laughing at. I said, "you laughed, so I did too." Her response: "Good answer. It's like the old Welcome Back Kotter show -- I'm not laughing at you, I'm laughing with you."

Random final notes on trip

  • One of the rooms we visited in the Schoenbrunn in Vienna was the room used by Franz Josef II for his audiences. Any citizen of the empire had the right to an audience with the emperor, even peasants from the provinces. They were instructed to wear formal attire if they had it, or native costume if not. The descriptions from the time talk about farmers and country people wearing their native costumes, and today the waiting room before the audience room has mannequins wearing traditional garb from the various regions: Tirol, Carinthia, Galicia, etc.
  • Empress Elizabeth, known as Sisi, the wife of Franz Josef II, was fanatical about her weight. She dieted and excersized for hours every day. One of the rooms in the palace still has exercise rings hanging in one doorway.
  • One of the popular drinks at this time of year in Austria is Sturm -- "young wine" -- barely alcoholic grape juice.
  • When we visited the Alte Pinakothek in Munich to see Breughel, etc., we bought t-shirts in the museum shop by Sean Scully, with the words "Starr/McCarthy: Two Great Americans".
  • I forgot to mention this, and it was important. The Melk exhibit on the town during the Nazi period which I mentioned earlier specifically mentioned homosexuals in the list of people sent to concentration camps. A lot of exhibits only talk about Jews, and maybe political prisoners, failing to mention homosexuals or gypsies.
  • I highly recommend Hotel Austria, where we stayed in Vienna.
  • When we visited the Wieskirche, there were areas of the church where people had left gifts of thanks, or votive offerings in hope of some holy intervention. There was card for a fireman named Tommy, lost on 9/11. There was also a letter of thanks from a man who had prayed there for God to send him a man, and he was thanking the church for his happiness after finding a wonderful mate. I guess the Church really is often better on a local level than at the archbishop-on-up level.
  • I felt bombarded by news about Iraq while we were there. Every paper -- German, Austrian, French, etc. -- had Bush and Iraq on the front page every day except 9/11.

Galileo at BAM

We went to the NYC premiere of Philip Glass's new opera "Galileo Galilei" at BAM last night. It was very disappointing. The music wasn't that interesting, the libretto wasn't so hot, and the directing was terrible. It seemed like a good idea: Galileo, Philip Glass, and director/co-librettist Mary Zimmerman (Metamorphoses).

As James said, it was more like a masque than an opera, but it just didn't work. The direction at times drove me crazy. At one point several people are moving in a gondola. It moves because a person at the front pulls it, but there is a gondolier there making the motions. That's fine, but once they get to the middle of the stage and the boat isn't actually moving, both the gondolier and the person with the rope at the front continue to move as if it is. I get the idea, but I was so distracted by the fake motion of the guy pulling the boat I couldn't listen to the music. At another point in the opera, Galileo refuses a drink from a servant when invited to share some wine with an important cardinal in the garden of his villa. I don't think so. Even if he didn't drink, there's no way he would have refused the glass.

Bad art is so depressing.


Followup on Thurday: The NYT review. It's one of the most non-committal things I have ever read. One good quote though:

But without wishing to disparage either Mr. Glass or "Galileo" — which is notably fresher than Mr. Glass's last few operas — can it really be that, 20 years on, Mr. Glass is still the standard-bearer for what's "next" in music? Isn't the festival now an entrenched orthodoxy with a postmodernist accent?


I hate the gym. Hate it hate it hate it! I hate the blank-eyed pretty boys with bed-head who go over and lift their shirts to look at their abs after doing work on their arms. I hate the ones who wear clothes more appropriate for the Roxy. I hate looking around and feeling like I'm the only one in sight who has read something more challenging than HX in the last year.

So of course you're asking, "why go?" I started going about a year ago, after attending the funeral of a cousin. We shared the same immune system condition -- X-linked Agammaglobulinemia. He was about 10 years older than me, which was enough of a difference in terms of medical advances for his life to be much more fucked-up by it than mine is. I also think he fought having to be treated for it more than I did. His last few years weren't pretty, and if being in better shape meant it was less likely to happen for me that way, I thought I should try it.

New blog to read

I'm adding David Ehernstein to my blogs in the right column. Check out HIV or SUV, and Loose Cannons.

The real goal is empire

Jay Bookman, one of the editors of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution has a very good column from a couple of days ago about the real goal of war on Iraq. It's to further the goal of people like Cheney and Rumsfeld to finally assemble a global American empire.

The official story on Iraq has never made sense. The connection that the Bush administration has tried to draw between Iraq and al-Qaida has always seemed contrived and artificial. In fact, it was hard to believe that smart people in the Bush administration would start a major war based on such flimsy evidence.


This war, should it come, is intended to mark the official emergence of the United States as a full-fledged global empire, seizing sole responsibility and authority as planetary policeman. It would be the culmination of a plan 10 years or more in the making, carried out by those who believe the United States must seize the opportunity for global domination, even if it means becoming the "American imperialists" that our enemies always claimed we were.


Once that is understood, other mysteries solve themselves. For example, why does the administration seem unconcerned about an exit strategy from Iraq once Saddam is toppled?

Because we won't be leaving. Having conquered Iraq, the United States will create permanent military bases in that country from which to dominate the Middle East, including neighboring Iran.

Bookman refers in the column to a report issued in 2000 called "Rebuilding America's Defenses", available for download from New American Century, which is a conservative think tank. Its authors include quite a few people now in charge in the Bush administration:

Paul Wolfowitz is now deputy defense secretary. John Bolton is undersecretary of state. Stephen Cambone is head of the Pentagon's Office of Program, Analysis and Evaluation. Eliot Cohen and Devon Cross are members of the Defense Policy Board, which advises Rumsfeld. I. Lewis Libby is chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney. Dov Zakheim is comptroller for the Defense Department.

I would think Israel would be rather concerned about this if they suspect it's what we're planning. If Iraq becomes our "aircraft carrier" in the Middle East, Israel's strategic importance for us will drop sharply.

News log on Iraq

AlterNet has a War on Iraq newslog page.

I just saw this story, as I was looking through news upon my return.

Director Abbas Kiarostami, one of international cinema's biggest names, is blocked from attending the New York Film Festival and speaking at Harvard.

This is terrible. We're sending the message that the only way for countries to communicate with each other is through war. He had visited the U.S. seven times in the last ten years.

New York Film Festival spokeswoman Ines Aslan said that festival organizers, along with the two universities involved, tried "very, very hard" to convince officials at the U.S. Embassy in Paris, where Kiarostami had applied for a visa, to make an exception for the filmmaker. "It wasn't that they could not make an exception," Aslan said. "It was that they did not choose to. It is very sad." Officials at the embassy told the festival that they would require at least 90 days to investigate Kiarostami's background -- which is well known to film scholars and fans, and contains little in the way of political activity -- and process the visa paperwork.

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