Thursday, April 28, 2005


Forgot to pass this along:

Once in the darkest days of the Reagan Years, Wonder Woman (with whom I go back quite some ways, come to think of it) and I were seated in a pizzeria on Bleecker Street in the West Village, feeding the inner man. Our table was next to a picture window facing a cross street, might have been 10th or Christopher. I think Matt Umanov Guitars was across the street.

Up the side street, a limousine crept. It stopped at a red light, right next to us.

The door of the limo crashed open, and out leaped Joe Jackson and two smokin'-hot babes. Joe was wearing a white ice-cream suit and a straw skimmer.

The three of them danced around the limo, hollering and generally whooping it up. Joe twirled first one, then the other of the two babes. Waving the skimmer in the air, he did a manic buck-and-wing down the sidewalk.

The light turned green, and the three of them, alerted by the driver, leaped back into the limo and sped off into the night, leaving WW and I rolling on the pizzeria floor.

It was the Eighties. Joe had "Night and Day" under his belt, and no doubt a fine headful of Bolivian Marching Powder in his brain.

Can't say just the tiniest touch of green didn't glow around the Jingo phiz.


Blue Girl in a Red State commented in my Joe Jackson/Todd Rundgren post from a couple days ago, asking how the gig went.

Well, I liked it better than Dave McKenna at The Washington Post did, I can tell you that.

Strange that McKenna should make note of how the crowd "confused" Joe when, during "Is She Really Going Out With Him?" he sang, "Look over there!" and we yelled "Where?" True, he did stop and giggle, but I've heard at least four live versions of that song, and the crowd always yells "Where?" -- it's on the original record fercryinoutloud. It's tradition.

At any rate, this show would have been much, much better in a smaller venue. Joe Jackson at a solo piano is (believe it or not) a very warm and charming performer, and the intimacy a solo performance needs was a bit lost in the cavernous Warner Thea-taaaaaah. Also, I sorely missed the Joe Jackson Band, which is a fierce, fierce, fierce little rock band, rivaling and even surpassing The Attractions at their sharpest. Joe's rendering of "Awkward Age" and "Take It Like a Man" were terribly underpowered without Graham Maby.

For an experienced perfor-maaaah, Todd Rundgren was strangely unable to calibrate his act to a solo setting. He basically oversold himself, I think. A man standing alone on a large stage playing an acoustic guitar is not a particularly absorbing thing to watch (unless you're Bob Dylan in 1963), and I think he felt he needed to compensate by oversinging, mugging, reaching for notes he couldn't hit on even his best day, and generally trying too hard. Pity. His ukelele rendering of "Bang the Drum All Day" did amuse, with a modified verse:
And I get my sticks and go out to the shed
And I pound on that drum like it was John Bolton's head!
The opener, Ethel, a string quartet in the mold of The Kronos Quartet, was utterly wonderful, and the fact that the Warner Thea-taaaaah has a policy of allowing latecomers -- some as much as 40 minutes late! -- to be seated during their perfomance made me want to strangle somebody. Add to that the yacketing and guffawing emanating from the bar in the lobby and you have one cranky occupant of Seat 17-S. Those tickets weren't cheap, dig?

(One other note: I just hate the sound made by an acoustic guitar with a piezo pickup that's plugged directly into amplification. It sounds the way plastic tastes, like prechewed polystyrene. Go grab a big mouthful of bubble-wrap, and that's the way a plugged-in acoustic sounds to me. I understand you risk less feedback that way, and you can apply effects to the signal, but Jesus. Ick. Like being trapped in Guitar Hell with 200 of those horrible plastic Ovations all playing at once. Bleah.)

Rip My Tongue Out

It's an obscenity -- it just makes me want to rip my own tongue out -- that Spec. Joseph Darby, who blew the whistle on Abu Ghraib, remains in hiding under protective custody because of death threats, while not one single member of the Bush Administration has taken one iota of responsibility for the irretrievable destruction of American prestige and credibility abroad.

An obscenity.

(Hey, whaddya know: I'm a science-positive existentialist, and despite this moral enfeeblement, I recognize sin! Stick that in your stovepipe and smoke it, Joey Ratz!)

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Mind in the Gutter

New York Times headline, certainly got my attention:

Few See Taint in Service by Pope in Hitler Youth

Well, I should certainly hope you wouldn't... I mean, after all those priests...

Oh. Wait.

Never mind.


Twin sons of different mothers

Wonder Woman and I are getting a rare treat tonight, an occasion out to go and act like grownups: We're going to see Todd Rundgren, Joe Jackson and Ethel the Frog down at the Warner Thea-tahhhh. WW's been a slavish Toddnik since Hermit of Mink Hollow, and I've admired him at least since he browbeat Andy Partridge into making the Finest Pop Record In All of Time and Space. Lately he's been a bit recalcitrant, but I just downed his "Liars" from last year, and it sounds like it's got some fire in its belly. I shall hum the Munsters Theme Song as he takes the stage -- a joke that will be understood by approximately four people between here and Portland, Oregon. But four very nice people, with excellent taste in music.

Joe's been a pal since Look Sharp! and I played last year's Volume 4 until I wore out and zeroes...on the...thingy.

Is there a needle inside the CD player? And does it ever need to be replaced?

And what about the little man inside who sings all the songs? Doesn't he ever get tired?

Monday, April 25, 2005

What's the Matter with Liberals?

Tom Frank always makes me want to kick somebody in the nuts.

George W. Bush was authentic; John Forbes Kerry, like all liberals, was an affected toff, a Boston Brahmin who knew nothing of the struggles of average folks. Again and again, in the course of the electoral battle, I heard striking tales of this tragically inverted form of class consciousness: of a cleaning lady who voted for Bush because she could never support a rich man for president. Of the numerous people who lost their cable TV because of nonpayment but who nevertheless sported Bush stickers on their cars.

The most poignant, though, was one I saw with my own eyes: the state of West Virginia, one of the poorest in the nation, in the process of transforming itself into a conservative redoubt. This is a place where the largest private-sector employer is Wal-Mart and where decades of bloody fights between workers and mine owners gave rise to a particularly stubborn form of class consciousness. It does not stand to gain much from Bush's tax cuts and his crackdown on labor unions. But if class is a matter of cultural authenticity rather than material interests, John Kerry stood about as much of a chance there as the NRA's poodle did of retrieving a downed duck.
Here's the whole essay at the New York Review of Books.

Loose Expectoration of His Speech

Harpers this month has a long review of a new book on John Brown: The Good Terrorist, by David S. Reynolds.

Brown's always been an ambiguous figure, and I don't think this book's going to clear anything up. Brown represents for me the extent to which a too-fervent belief in anything -- even so laudable a thing as the abolition of slavery -- can lead you into comically grandiose delusions. He was an effective and passionate advocate, no doubt, both before and after his Raid. Ultimately on the side of the angels, absolutely. But as an ends-justify-the-means Total Warrior, he was less Spartacus (the comparison he'd have most liked) than he was the abortion bomber Eric Rudolph of his time. And as a tactical and strategic thinker he was about as incisive as Yosemite Sam: The notion that the slaves of Harpers Ferry -- relatively well-treated urban domestic servants rather than the hideously abused fieldhands of the big plantations to the south that had spawned Nat Turner 20 years previously -- would rise up and take to a life of Castro-like guerrilla warfare in the Blue Ridge is pretty silly. A levelheaded person, unblinded by ideology, would have shunned the Harpers Ferry Raid like a dirty shirt. As did, for example, Frederick Douglass.

But those were times when levelheaded people weren't very thick on the ground. (Unlike oh, say, now, for example.)

Perhaps it's a measure of how terribly the country was divided in 1859 that Brown's execution -- the meting out of justice by a duly empowered State -- was perceived by many as the opposite of justice. The Abolitionist North viewed the aftermath of Brown's miserably incompetent raid as the revenge of an outraged South -- Ralph Waldo Emerson, it's noted, said Brown made "the gallows glorious like the cross."

Some causal relationships tend to get forgotten or overlooked. Three years before his raid, on May 24, 1856, in Pottawatomie, Kansas, Brown and four of his sons used broadswords to brutally murder five pro-slavery settlers. This fact is often recounted in history textbooks without context, and it becomes a bit more understandable (if not a whit more excusable) when it's remembered that Brown's actions were a small part of a brutal frontier war over the spread of slavery into new territories.

It shouldn't be forgotten, either, that on May 20, four days before the Pottawatomie events, Sen. Charles Sumner (R. Mass.) had risen in the Senate to excoriate the Kansas-Nebraska Act as a cynical swindle (which it was) and mocked the Act's authors, Stephen A. Douglas of Illinois and Andrew Butler of South Carolina, comparing them to Don Quixote and Sancho Panza. Sen. Sumner's tirade included this little gem:
With regret, I come again upon the Senator from South Carolina (Mr. Butler), who, omnipresent in this debate, overflowed with rage at the simple suggestion that Kansas had applied for admission as a State and, with incoherent phrases, discharged the loose expectoration of his speech, now upon her representative, and then upon her people.
Uh-oh. "Incoherent phrases"? "Loose expectoration of his speech"?

Butler had suffered a stroke. His speech was slurred.

Ooooh: Low blow!

Two days later, on May 22, Preston S. Brooks, a congressman from South Carolina and a kinsman of Butler, whaled the stuffing out of Sumner with a cane on the floor of the Senate. Absolutely poleaxed him. It took Sumner three years to recover enough to return to office.

Two days after that, five settlers died in Kansas under Brown's "terrible swift sword."

Not a bad argument for civility in legislative discourse, is it?

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Remember, Man, as You Pass By

On my drive home after the ghastly events on Tuesday, feeling utterly gutted, I couldn't resist a soul-restoring stop-in at the St. James Reformed Cemetery. (And I was just gonna say, if you ain't reformed your cemetery yet, Jim, it's high damn time you saw to it, you wastrel).

Nothing like a little of somebody else's tragedy -- tragedy that you can walk away from after you've gawked at it for a bit -- to restore some sense of perspective.

Lovettsville was established as "The German Settlement" by Pennsylvania Dutch emigrés, who'd escaped the bloodthirsty Europe of the Thirty Years' War and the War of the Spanish Succession in the first decade of the 18th century.

These people were (and are probably proud to say they still are) a parsimonious bunch. Compared to the contemporary Quaker and English neighboring towns of Waterford and Hillsboro, Lovettsville is a bit unprepossessing, grandeur-wise. I've seen comments by Yardley Taylor, a mid-19th-century surveyor, who was moved to observe that the descendants of these first settlers at the foot of Short Hill had established marvelously prosperous farms and businesses and could easily afford to improve their homes -- but still chose to live in small, rude, one-room cabins.

I took a picture of one of the earliest gravestones I could find:

It reads:

An-Maria Mauer
Gebohren den 6 Abril
Anno 1789


An-Maria Mauer
Born 6 April
Year 1789

A terribly sad story: A young child, no more than 20 months, who died we don't know how. But it was a cruel, cruel world these people inhabited, and the Lovettsville cemetery (as with any cemetery in the world that predates antiseptics and antibiotics) is filled with tragic cases like this. But what's so moving about this one is the amateurishness of the carving -- backwards N's, visible line-rulings, nonstandard spelling of geboren (my German is BabelFish pathetic -- if anyone can tell me if this is an older spelling I'd appreciate it).

But despite the lack of skill, look at the obvious care lavished by the barely literate carver. I can't help but think that this was done by the child's father, and when I think of the idea of having to find within myself the strength to carve my own infant child's headstone using only materials to hand, I have a hard time keeping myself from weeping.

But there it is, 215 years later. We still know An-Maria lived. You were a good father, Herr Mauer. I'd like to shake your hand.

I also speculate that a professional stonecutter moved to the valley soon after An-Maria shuffled off this mortal coil, because the gravestones started to look like this:

Such beautiful lettering! Such elegant lines, graceful strokes of varying weight, subtle widening of the descenders in the lowercase y's -- look at the descending loop in the lowercase g in the word "age" in the second to last line! Mary, I'm sure, was worth the effort -- every bit as elegant and refined as her tombstone when she died at the age of 28. I bet Samuel really loved her.

Here's Margaret Colmes Wire, who's of special interest because the Wire family still runs the George's Mill Bed and Breakfast just down the road from me. Margaret was 29 when she died in childbirth in 1821. The text in the heart at the bottom of the stone informs us that her unnamed infant is buried beside her.

Hannah Cole was born at the same time as the U.S. Constitution and died the year the Monroe Doctrine was declared.

Here's the detail that prompts her inclusion here, a sober truth that's been very much on my mind lately:

Remember, Man, as you pass by
As you are now, so once was I
As I am now, so you shall be
Prepare for Death and follow me
Thank you, Mrs. Cole. Thank you very much.

(Psst! Sisyphus Shrugged kids! There's lots more good stuff... Try the Mobberly Trail, an ongoing series about an entertaining Civil War psycho (there's a link to the next post in the series at the bottom of each post) -- plus I've got stuff about the Pogo Comical Strip, Rhino Records psychedelic rereleases, how to write the World's Catchiest Song, an abandoned stone house I found in the woods near my house, a meditation on time... If you ever get lost click the title of the blog; that'll take you back to today's post.)

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

That Was the Day that Was

What a day. What a gruesome day. What a horrible, no-good, awful day.

I can't go into particulars, because a lawsuit making Jarndyce versus Jarndyce look like American Idol is very likely to come out of today's events, but I can at least give you the gist.

Imagine, if you dare, the ghastly mental state brought on by the indiscriminate mixture of the following ingredients:
  • A father-in-law in the advancing stages of Alzheimer's who in the vigor of late middle age but the vulnerability of new widowerhood some years ago didn't have the sense to fend off the advances of a hideous, gold-digging trull whose face is the result of a baleful mating ritual between Margaret Dumont and a turkey buzzard.

  • Said hideous, gold-digging trull.

  • A pair of disgusting, pusillanimous nursing-home administrators, the thing they'd send up from Central Casting if you'd called down for Starched-Shirt Scumbag Weasel Bureaucrats.

  • A brother-in-law who, I'm afraid to say, gets his dander up when thwarted by Parties of the Second and Third Parts above in defense of the interests of the Party of the First Part, and who expresses his displeasure quite vocally.

  • The Party of the First Part's daughters, Wonder Woman included, who merely wanted to make their father's losing his mind a slightly less horrifying experience by decorating his Spartan managed-care facility room with some trinkets and memorabilia, with which h. g.-d. t. is confoundingly unwilling to part. H. g-d t. enlists disgusting, pusillanimous n.-h. a.'s to prevent our gaining access to Father-in-Law's property, which we have gold-plated Power of Attorney to do. Screaming match ensues, and lawsuits are embarked upon.

  • Oh, yeah, almost forgot: A nearly pathologically conflict-averse Neddie Jingo. I get the shaking sweats when I read angry patty-cake pee-pee contests at Fark.
I've managed to dull the worst of the dull throbbing behind my temples by means of a restorative vodka and soda or three, and I'm beginning to feel some small part of my equanimity returning, but it was touch and go there earlier this evening. On the way home, sad beyond measure, I stopped at the St. James church graveyard in Lovettsville, and got some utter heartbreakers of photographs, which I will post as soon as I am somewhere I can upload without contracting a case of the Shrieking Marthambles.

Habemus Papam

Oh, goody! I can go back to unambiguously detesting the Pope! I'd almost forgotten what that was like.

(Later -- Edited the title, adding that "m" to "Papam." Can't have improper Latin case declension in a post declaring the Pope a Cock.)

Monday, April 18, 2005

Puzzling Evidence

Through the magic of the Jingo server logs, it has been revealed that a search at Google France on the terms "tassel loafer" and "skinhead" produce a direct hit on these premises.

If anybody would care to try and explain this to me, I'll be under the sofa, arranging dust bunnies by size and flavor.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Staying Up Too Late Watching TV on a School Night

Fucking cocksucking cunt-lapping great show

Let us now declare ourselves knocked-out drooling fanboys of that cocksucking Deadwood show.

The Conversion Moment came during tonight's epsode. Actually there were two Conversion Moments, the second confirming a momentary impression raised during the first.

I began to believe that I was watching something on a higher plane during the scene where the hotel proprietor and ineffectual Deadwood mayor E.B. (played by Larry-with-the-two-brothers-named-Darrell-on-the-second-Bob- Newhart-Show), spitting mad at his exclusion from a meeting of Deadwood's movers and shakers, raged like a demented Lear on his front porch at the closed doors across the street. His exaggerated gestures are nothing less than theatrical, as if directed by Akira Kurosawa. That is, his speech, manners and gesticulations literally belong on the stage, not on the Small Screen. Hmmm, thinks I, what giveth?

The second moment came minutes later, when the long-suffering Al Swearengen, embodied memorably by Ian McShane, is seen speaking in close-up. His speech reveals, in elegant Victorian periods punctuated by his usual guttural obscenities, his inner monologue -- hitherto hidden truths of the plot are revealed through his ratiocination. As the camera pans back away from his ravaged face, it reveals an empty room -- empty, that is, until it becomes apparent that Swearengen is addressing his entire speech to a package wrapped in brown paper, sitting on a chair, with which (his declamation reveals) he intends to further the plot. That is to say, we are receiving Swearingen's mental processes through a speech delivered to no one but himself, which is something modern dramatic writers long ago learned to avoid doing, as counter to the dictates of Naturalism.

It was, in the most scholarly sense, a soliloquy.

Now, two points to be made here.

First, When was the last time you saw an actual soliloquy being delivered by a character in a major television program?

Second, and I think a more subtle point: The show is written with a commandingly perceptive and sympathetic ear for Victorian diction. By this, I don't mean that I'm blown away by the complex sentences uttered by the characters; plenty of contemporary drawing-room dramas exhibit equally subtle and attention-demanding dialogue; no, what I mean is that the characters in Deadwood are so fully realized that their speech reflects their individual intelligence and subtlety. That is to say, some characters speak beautiful Victorian English, commensurate with their clarity of thought and the acuity of their understanding of their circumstances; other characters -- chiefly more minor ones like the pimps' seconds who surround Swearengen and Tolliver -- speak an unnatural, muddled and clumsy version of it.

The show's producers have a deep understanding of something I've only intuited for some time: The people of the 19th Century had only the stage and the printed page to provide them with cues and blueprints on how to act in the world. The more acculturated they were, the more sophisticated they were able to make themselves appear to their contemporaries. Subtlety of speech was sexy -- only look at the Widow Garrett's cool and measured kiss-off to Swearengen in tonight's episode -- smokin' hot! Those who only acquired their acculturation at secondhand, -- who imitate rather than invent -- appear less elegant; and the farther the characters dwell from the stage and literature, the more mannered they are.

As you watch the show, watch for the characters who appear to be stiffly reciting lines, bad actors in a play they don't understand. That's directed at us. How many among us get by every day by repeating punch-lines we heard and noted on yesterday's Jon Stewart Show?

You go, girl!

Friday, April 15, 2005

Gotta Stop Reading these Books...

...I'm going to go bats...

Civil War as Fraternity Prank:

From Joseph Nichols' Legends of the Loudoun Valley:
At least twice when the Union army occupied Harpers Ferry [Mobberly] rode up on the Loudoun Heights, raised a Confederate flag, gave the rebel yell, fired his carbine and then stood laughing when the Union soldiers ran for cover. He once waked up George Bajent in the middle of the night and forced him to walk nine miles in his night clothes to Hillsboro where he left him.
Joe Bageant's unavailable right now, but I'm certain that's another of his ancestors.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Odds Are

I tell you: Sometimes Life Its Own Self will sneak up and spank your ass with a coincidence that's just way weirder than you can possibly handle.

I was preparing to kill John Mobberly -- the 140th anniversary of his death was last week; he died a few days before Appomattox -- squirreling away at an action-packed blog-post full of historical facts-n-figures from Northern Loudoun's Favorite Boy Psycho. Part of sharpening my sword involved another quick run-through of Richard Crouch's Rough-Riding Scout: The Story of John Mobberly, which has been a huge help to me in feeding this strange little mania of mine.

As I read a chapter on Mobberly's relatives in the Lovettsville area, my eye lit on a sentence that had escaped my notice before, and as the full import of it made itself clear, I confess I came to understand exactly what they mean when they talk about knocking you over with a feather.

Here's the sentence:
It is John J. Mobberly [of Lovettsville] and Maria Mobberly who are shown marrying off their daughter Emily H., age 22, to George S. Waters, farmer, age 23, on January 12 of 1871, and their daughter Mary A. Mobberly, age 26, married Joseph L. Bagent, laborer, age 26, on January 30, 1868.

Yes. Joe Bage[a]nt. This guy.

The guy who wrote this. And this. And this.

Well, no, not exactly that guy -- he'd have to be 160 years old -- but his ancestor. Married into the Mobberly family. In 1868. Just down the road from my house.

Now, one of the extremely cool things about running this blog has been the people it's put me into contact with. Right about the same day that James Wolcott blogrolled me, I received a nice little howdy-let's-have-a-drink-sometime from Mr. Bageant, who lives in Winchester, up Route 7 from me. A friend of his had alerted him to Neddie's existence and his strange little obsession with a Northern Virginia historical character, and Joe was nice enough to pop in and say hi. I haven't mentioned it up till now because, well, because it wouldn't be polite, I suppose.

But now I find this literally breathtaking mention of a Joseph Bagent marrying into the Mobberly family.

Time for a phone call.

Turns out 21st-century Joe has, framed on the wall of his office, the petition of Joseph L. Bagent to the US Government for his pension after being mustered out of the US Army after the Civil War. Turns out many of the documents he has on Joseph L. Bagent were written by his wife, Mary A. Mobberly Bagent. Turns out Joseph L. Bagent was a Loudoun Ranger who spent the war chasing John Mosby. And John Mobberly. Turns out that after the war, he married John Mobberly's cousin.

Turns out Joseph L. Bagent's pension application was complicated because he was wounded in battle in Waterford. Oh, you know. This one.

I was jabbering about the incredible coincidence of it all into the phone, waving my arms wildly and stringing together half-sentences, when 21st-century Joe Bageant pointed out something in his elegant Virginia drawl: "You know, there just weren't all that many people around back then."

Yeah, I guess. I suppose. Probably.


Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Browse Music Globally

Boy, it just makes me itch when people blow a great opportunity to make the world a better place. And I hate having to go negative, too: I already spent much of today's reserve of bile on The Hitchhiker's Guide movie, and this post was going to be the big palate-cleanser that proves to the Jingo Public that Neddie ain't all about the vitriol.

First Make Nice: The folks down at the Smithsonian's Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage have put together a web site called Smithsonian Global Sound, an online shop where you can download 99-cent songs from their Folkways Records -- some 2,500 album titles of ethnic music dating back decades. Their announced intention is to "encourage local musicians and traditions around the planet through international recognition, the payment of royalties, and support for regional archives."

All very laudable. An iTunes Store for field recordings of music from around the world where the artists (theoretically, at any rate) get paid -- what's not to love? The free streaming radio is truly great, you don't know what wonderful weird thing's going to come out of it next -- this afternoon I've listened to harmonium dance music from India, a capella gospel from Alabama, a Japanese jaw-harp artist, Polish-language polka from Milwaukee, a Congolese drum troupe, and Brahms' Hungarian Dance #8 played on a bizarre hammered-dulcimer-looking thing called a Cimbalom. Jack Radio for the Alienated Intellectual!

If all you wanted to do was plug into the site and launch the Radio, it would be perfect. That's mostly what I have it bookmarked for. But if you're actually trying to find something specific to download, say Balinese gamelan music or Appalachian shape-singing, you are going to butt your forehead against a byzantine bit of information design -- the sort of thing you point to as a negative example when teaching a youngster How Not to Design a Web Site.

You know you're in trouble when you click something and nothing appears to happen, and you click it again and nothing appears to happen, and then finally you notice a little bit of instruction text in the left rail, about a hand's breadth from where you'd been clicking fruitlessly, that says "SCROLL DOWN to see the results of your selections." Oh dear.

There are huge flaws all over the place -- what am I to make of a button labeled "Browse Music Globally? -- but I think the most egregious flaw is their regular flouting of the Interactivity Designer's Golden Rule: Always allow a user to correct an error, to back out of a wrong choice. Once I've begun a trek down a pipe that ends in an unexpected result, or a style of music I didn't intend to investigate, there's no quick way to start over again -- besides your browser's Back button. Phooey.

And what, please, is the difference between Browse by Instrument and Browse by Geography? What (that is to ask) is the difference between Lebanese psaltery music and psaltery music from Lebanon?

No, I hope the Smithsonian folks have big plans for Version 2 already in the works, because it's appallingly evident to me that they didn't do any usability testing on Version 1 -- I've designed enough of these things and watched, humiliated, behind one-way mirrors while test subjects flail impotently with my designs, to know that that browse mechanism would fail miserably on the average home user.

(Folks, I'm gonna say something that might be interpreted as slightly inflammatory, OK? Come on, lean in here so I can whisper it, so it's just between you 'n' me, right...? OK, here we go: Don't ever, ever, EVER, under any circumstances, I don't care if tsunamis will be unleashed and comets will crash into earth if you slip your deadline, never -- that's NEVER, OK? -- let a goddamned software engineer within 6000 yards of user-facing UI design. 'Kay? That's it. Lesson for the day. Clap the erasers and empty the trash. Class dismissed.)

Noted & Quoted

Imagine a puddle waking up one morning and thinking, 'This is an interesting hole I find myself in -- fits me rather neatly, doesn't it? In fact it fits me staggeringly well, must have been made to have me in it!' This is such a powerful idea that as the sun rises in the sky and the air heats up and as, gradually, the puddle gets smaller and smaller, it's still frantically hanging on to the notion that everything's going to be all right, because this world was meant to have him in it, was built to have him in it; so the moment he disappears catches him rather by surprise. I think this may be something we need to be on the watch out for.

--Douglas Adams

Neddie Reviews Movies He Hasn't Seen Yet

My psychic powers are just scary-good.

My ability to predict the stock market has allowed me to retire a billionaire many times over and pursue a leisurely life of insouciantly shooting my mouth off on the Internet. I know the date and time of the death of every one of you -- including myself -- down to the minute. That's why I'm sometimes not such good company. It makes me sad knowing that you -- yes you -- are going to die riiiiiight now -- Look out! DUCK!!! Oooooh. Ouch! Bet that smarted!

So that's how I know that the Touchstone Pictures release of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, starring The Office's Martin Freeman as Arthur Dent, is going to, as they say in in the snugs of the West End -- and I really hate saying it, because I was really rooting for this movie -- totally blow dead bear.

Well, let's amend that. To a fan of Douglas Adams' writing, this movie will blow dead bear. Sci-fi movie fans might or might not like it, I don't know. I'm not a major fan of the genre, and the whole space-opera thing leaves me pretty cold. (Next up for Psychic Review: Star Wars Episode Three...) But I am a twitching, grimacing, bedwetting fanboy of Douglas Adams' narrative style, and that is, the Jingo Crystal Ball says, exactly the thing that will be completely lost in this flick. Sure, we'll get jokes, there will be some laffs -- but as sure as the night follows the day they won't be Douglas Adams' jokes.

I liked the books because Adams could suddenly, out of nowhere, smack you in the face with startling, absurd imagery: "the Vogon ships hung in the air in exactly the same way that bricks don't," or Arthur Dent's mind filled with muddled thoughts "like supertankers doing k-turns in the English Channel." By all accounts Adams was fanatically careful about dialogue, honing it and polishing it to the point of mania -- and you know what Hollywood typically likes to do to carefully honed dialogue.

As I say, there will probably be laffs. But how in the name of Life, the Universe and Everything can you film something like this?
The problem is, or rather one of the problems, for there are many, a sizable number of which are continually clogging up the civil, commercial, and criminal courts in all areas of the Galaxy, and especially, where possible, the more corrupt ones, this. The previous sentence makes sense. That is not the problem. This is: Change. Read it through again and you'll get it.
Dear me... I think I did know about this little thing, but I'd completely forgotten about it: Richard Dawkins' Eulogy for Douglas Adams.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

A Rich Fantasy Life

Well, despite this morning's encounter with the homegrown American flavor of fascism (see below), it turned out to be the sort of winsome spring day that beguiles a man into thinking that things just might turn out all right after all. I'm sure this irrational optimism will meet the stark fist of reality soon enough, but for now let's warm our tummies in it, shall we?

I'm reconciling myself to the realization that the garden here at Sysiphus Acres will never be completely whipped into shape, but poco a poco bits and pieces of it succumb to my civilizing rod. Pulling weeds from dawn to dusk gives a fella lots of time to think, and quite a bit of today's inner debate took as its theme Resolved: The wrong man in the wrong time.

Later, soaking the humus off in the tub as dinner sent mouthwatering cumin-redolent wisps of joy through the house, I came across a passage in Wodehouse: A Life that sent me into a bit of a reverie. It's 1906, Plum is 23, and has just had his first unqualifiedly successful year as a coming talent in literary London: His first novel, Life Among the Chickens, (the first Ukridge) has been published to good reception, he's contributed lyrics to a hit musical, he has a regular column in The Globe and Strand, his freelance writing has earned him 500 pounds over the last year (a very heady sum for the time), and he's left behind forever the miserable banker's life he'd appeared to be fated for.
Every summer weekend during this opulent decade [1900 - 1910], young men from the City or the imperial civil service, or the newspaper and magazine world of Fleet Street and the Strand, would take the train to some nearby provincial town, Tunbridge Wells, perhaps, or Stevenage. There, they would throw their heavy cricket bags into the horse-drawn carriage awaiting them at the station, then rattle through leafy summer lanes to the ground, change into white flannels, play from midday to sundown.... [Wodehouse's] team, the Actors vs. Authors, included Arthur Conan Doyle.... He also played for the Punch XI, which included the young A. A. Milne, and J. M. Barrie's XI, the Allahakbarries...."
Yo, Mephistopheles! You there, buddy? OK, here's the deal, Sparky. I need me a time machine -- yes, I said a time machine -- and I'm willing to put up some serious scratch to get one. Serious scratch. Immortal Soul? No problem, Nick, no problem at all... Where do I sign?

Ring Ring!
"Ahoy, ahoy!"
"Plum! It's Arthur! Arthur Conan Doyle!"
"Hallo, Arthur! How positively ripping to hear from you! I read your last 'Brigadier Gerard' in The Strand, absolutely top hole!"
"Why, thank you very much, old cock! Your Life Among the Chickens is very promising stuff, I think that Ukridge fellow could take you places!"
"Thanks, old thing! Just trying to capture the gaslight-and-spats zeitgeist before the whole thing comes to a melancholy end on the reeking battlefield of Passchendaele, you know the thing!"
"Yes, yes, awful, that. Dulce et decorum est, what-what?"
"Yes, exactly, old bean. So -- to what do I owe the pleasure?"
"Well it's about tomorrow's cricket match against the Punch XI at Stevenage: Rudyard Kipling's cried off, the swine, and we're a man short. Do you know anyone who might be able to fill in -- a long off or a short slip would be ideal -- at a moment's notice?
"Why, funny that you mention it, Arthur! Just last night down at the Twig and Berries I ran into an awfully nice chappie, a Yank named Jingo, Neddie Jingo, who positively bubbled over with the feudal spirit. Claims to have written a vast book about one day in the life of a Dublin advert canvasser, and is shopping it round to publishers here. He showed me the manuscript -- it looks a bit ahead of its time, actually. At any rate, he was absolutely gagging to play -- he claims to have played some baseball at school, and says the skills are transferable..."
"Well, a warm body, what?"
"Indeed, Arthur. A warm, as you say, body."
"Excellent. Well, toodle pip, then, Plum."
"Tinkerty-tonk, Arthur. See you tomorrow."
"Indeed, Plum. Unless some anarchist chap decides to hand the mitten to some crowned head of Europe. We'd be in the soup then, and no mistake!"
"Consommé absolutely splashing around the ankles, Arthur! Right -- off I go!"

Not Ha-Ha Funny...

...More like "Note-to-self, make-sure-the-passports-are-up-to-date" funny:
And the Verdict on Justice Kennedy Is: Guilty

By Dana Milbank
Saturday, April 9, 2005; Page A03
(Washington Post)

Supreme Court Justice Anthony M. Kennedy is a fairly accomplished jurist, but he might want to get himself a good lawyer -- and perhaps a few more bodyguards.

Conservative leaders meeting in Washington yesterday for a discussion of "Remedies to Judicial Tyranny" decided that Kennedy, a Ronald Reagan appointee, should be impeached, or worse.

Phyllis Schlafly, doyenne of American conservatism, said Kennedy's opinion forbidding capital punishment for juveniles "is a good ground of impeachment." To cheers and applause from those gathered at a downtown Marriott for a conference on "Confronting the Judicial War on Faith," Schlafly said that Kennedy had not met the "good behavior" requirement for office and that "Congress ought to talk about impeachment."

[yap yap yap]

Not to be outdone, lawyer-author Edwin Vieira told the gathering that Kennedy should be impeached because his philosophy, evidenced in his opinion striking down an anti-sodomy statute, "upholds Marxist, Leninist, satanic principles drawn from foreign law."

Ominously, Vieira continued by saying his "bottom line" for dealing with the Supreme Court comes from Joseph Stalin. "He had a slogan, and it worked very well for him, whenever he ran into difficulty: 'no man, no problem,' " Vieira said.

The full Stalin quote, for those who don't recognize it, is "Death solves all problems: no man, no problem."

Full Story

Friday, April 08, 2005

Have a Nice Weekend, Kids

Boy, you sure can do a lot worse than this record.

My generation's "Revolver," I think.

Unless you disagree, which you're free to do in the Comments section. I won't stop you. Let's see what you come up with by Monday.

Now off to get on top of the weeding.

(My generation: Born 1955-65.)

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Sigh. Oh, all right.

Lance Mannion has issued the challenge, and The Jingster rises to the bait:

You're stuck inside Fahrenheit 451, which book do you want to be?

If I'm stuck inside Fahrenheit 451 I have a lot more to worry about than memorizing some book -- like suddenly my reality's being controlled by a goddamned science fiction writer, and I have to reexamine all kinds of philosophical gubbins I'm rather fond of. But while I'm re-pondering Cartesian Dualism (Rayum Bradburyensis cogita, ergo sum!) I'll take it as a side project to memorize The Form of the Book: Essays on the Morality of Good Design, by Jan Tschichold. Hey -- everybody else is busy with Content, and forgetting about Form! When Rayum lets us out of Hell, who's gonna remember how to actually design the damned texts you all have been so busy memorizing?

Have you ever had a crush on a fictional character?

Tove Jansson's Snork Maiden. And I like to believe it was reciprocated.

The last book you bought is?

Where Did They Stand? The May 1861 Vote on Secession in Loudoun County, Virginia, and Post-War Claims Against the Government, by Taylor M. Chamberlin, (c) 2003 Waterford Foundation, Inc. Better than a book of randomly generated numbers, but only slightly -- unless you're a fan of John Mobberly.

What are you currently reading?

Wodehouse: A Life, by Robert McCrum. The Master. He Without Whom There Is None. The Peerless Pippin of Blandings and Points Beyond. Only started it last night; am already enthralled and Plum hasn't even entered school yet.

Five books you would take to a deserted island:

What the FUCK does John Locke think he's doing, not telling the others about that plane that smooshed Boone? How transparent is it anyway, naming the guy John Bleedin' Locke? It's like my old schoolmate Bill Watterson naming his kid and tiger Calvin and Hobbes -- you just know he got that from some dimly remembered PoliSci class and thought it'd be all cute-n-stuff giving them those names to make you run to the encyclopedia to make sure he's not getting some big Inside Joke over on the rest of us who rightly blew off that class to smoke some terrible reefer and tell lies about our stereo systems and the girls we've scored with. And that big, weird galoot who kidnapped Claire and got wasted by Charlie? Remember him? He gave his name as "Ethan Rom" which it took me 2.5 seconds with a pencil to dope out is an anagram for "Other Man," which is just exactly stupid enough for TV. And anyway I'd be spending all my time trying to get hold of Evangeline Lilly's turkey li'l pitties, so I won't be reading...
  • The Riverside Shakespeare -- Not just any volume of Shakespeare. The Riverside Shakespeare, baby. Now there's a book you can pretend to read while watching Evangeline Lilly' s taut and creamy hindquarters sashay sassily away to collect some firewood. (Just the hindquarters. The rest of her stays put. Weird. I'd say something about my knottéd and combinéd locks parting, and each particular hair standing on end like quills upon the fretful porpentine, but Evangeline Lilly might take offense.)

  • Gravity's Rainbow, by Thomas Pynchon. A screaming comes across this pie. Hard to read, my ass. Difficult to follow, stuff and bollocks. Only just the whole howling Twentieth Century stuck inside some book covers. The whole damned thing. You wonder how he made it fit. Just like you wonder how the costume designers made Evangeline Lilly's top-hamper fit inside that swelling cotton chemise. Woof.

  • Jumpin' Jimmy Joyce's Ulysses. ...and how she kissed me under the Moorish wall and I thought well as well her as another and then I asked her with my eyes to ask again yes and then she asked me would I yes to say yes my mountain flower and first I put my arms around her yes and drew her down to me so I could feel her breasts all perfume yes and her heart was going like mad and yes I said yes Evangeline Lilly I will Yes.

  • The Most of S. J. Perelman. Where the hell do you think my jokes are copped from, eh? Jokes that I would use to beguile Evangeline Lilly into my grass hut to show her my collection of erotic coconut-shell carvings...

  • The Design of Everyday Things, by Donald A. Norman. While the rest of you chumps are off giving blood transfusions through sea-urchin spines or solving mysterious word-puzzles on inaccurate maps drawn by French madwomen, I shall be designing devices for my Evangeline Lilly to use for her maximum carnal enjoyment, with skillfully emplaced affordances that leave no doubt whatever as to their purpose and execution. This thing will I do. Yes. Just so long as I get to watch.
Who are you going to pass this stick to (3 persons) and why?

Stick? Stick? No, seriously, now -- stick???

Truly Not Insane

Hah! You see? I'm not crazy!

(Well. Maybe just a little.)

Best advice I can give is, compose your blog entry offline in a simple ASCII text editor (Notepad, or I'm using just good old TextEdit for OSX) and save it there before pasting it into Blogger's text-entry widget. If you save as HTML, you can preview your text and test your links in a browser; you just won't see the CSS formatting. That way you'll at least avoid what happened to me the other day: an entire gorgeous blog-entry flushed into the ether.

The other stuff, the double-publishing, "document contains no data" errors, etc., I don't think we can do anything about -- that's Google's headache. And boy, I hope it hurts.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Hirsute Canine

Ran into StudMuffin Jeff Gannon down at the Army Surplus Store yesterday, buying some cammo condoms and an economy-sized jug of Locker Room. We got to talking about this and that, and he told me what with recent events he's been feeling like he needed some extra protection, so he'd gotten himself a mean-looking old Rottweiler to walk around with.

I asked him what he'd named the creature.

"Walter," he replied, after Walter Mondale -- he thought it would be funny to lead the man Reagan bitch-slapped in '84 around by the collar.

But apparently he'd overfed the poor thing, and it got fat and complacent.

So he snagged another Rottweiler, even meaner-looking than the first. And what was the name for this new dog?

"Walter." Walter Cronkite, natch. Liberal Media. You know.

I pointed out that having two dogs with the same name might get confusing, but he pooh-poohed the notion. On the contrary, it's more efficient. You only have to call 'em once. Makes sense, I guess.

Well, as it turns out, tender-hearted old Jeff had overfed this dog too, and just like Walter, it got fat and lazy. I asked how often he exercised the beasts.

"Exercise? I tried that, and it didn't work."

I tried to point out that regular exercise and reduced calorie intake were the approved method for weight loss in humans and canines alike, but Jeff wasn't having it. He laid a muscular hand on my shoulder, looked me manfully in the eye, and intoned,

"You can lead a whore's two Walters, but you can't make 'em shrink."

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Silly of Me

I forgot to include this in my Zappa post... Bet you didn't know there are a gene, a fish, a jellyfish, a mollusc, a spider and a planet all named after Frank Zappa...

TV Dinner By the Pool

Bobby Lightfoot's running a real funny blog-game, the "Trade with Baby Jeezis Game," where you bargain with Ol' Jeebus to try and get him to give up a few Tragically Dead in exchange for for some rather more Deserving types -- The Olsen Twins in exchange for George Harrison, say, or Usher and Justin Timberlake for Warren Zevon.

(You have to scroll down to Petak, April 1, just past Live Rust -- now that I've taught him how to hyperlink, the next step's the Permalink, the Blogger's Tricky Friend.)

Xtcfan suggested trading the entire production staff at VH1 and MTV for Frank Zappa, and I can't help but applaud mightily, in 13/4 time. By coincidence, I was listening to "Roxy and Elsewhere" this morning on the drive in to work, having been inspired to dig it out by Barry Miles' mediocre and unsympathetic book, Zappa: A Biography. I waved a lit Bic over my head during the guitar solo in "Son of Orange County," one of my all-time favorite passages of music.

To be fair, It's hard to build up a huge load of sympathy for Zappa, a fairly unsympathetic man. His towering genius was limited almost exclusively to the world of bars and dots; in pretty much anything that didn't involve entertaining large rooms full of people by making "air sculptures" he was a bit of a trog. Elitist, dreadfully sexist, possessed of a frequently repellent and cruel sense of humor, childishly quick to anger, a holder of grudges with a Gargantuan chip on his shoulder, he must have been terribly difficult to like, let alone be married to.

But on the other side, he was fanatically self-reliant, intellectually curious, fiercely independent, a fighter of good fights -- and when his sense of humor wasn't cruel and repellent, it was gut-bustingly funny.

Miles' most important contribution (he did no original research, and apparently interviewed no one for the book) is to illustrate the arc of Zappa's attitude toward people. Over his first few albums with the original Mothers, he exhibited an appealing idealism, very similar in fact to the Situationist ethos of the first Punks: Free your mind, and your ass will follow. The Mothers' legendary residence at the Garrick Theater in New York in the summer of 1967 must have been an unbelievably heady thing to have witnessed -- as challenging and artistically compelling as anything seen at CBGB ten years later. Goading off-duty Marines to rip baby dolls apart, inviting the audience to provide the music for the evening while the band watched from the seats, spraying whipped cream out a stuffed giraffe's ass -- it must have been memorable.

In the depths of the early Seventies, Zappa gradually fell away from this idealism, this idea of the perfectability of humankind through art, into a misanthropy that both repelled and fascinated. More importantly, he redirected his contempt away from a conception of society-at-large and straight at his own audience. I remember being utterly flabbergasted at a 1981 gig in Columbus, Ohio, where he directed the lyric from "Broken Hearts Are for Assholes" straight at the front rows:
But you came back on Sunday for the gong show
Next Thursday, teen town's finest...
But you forgot what I was sayin'
'Cause you're an asshole, you're an asshole
That's right
You're an asshole, you're an asshole
Yes, yes
You're an asshole, you're an asshole
That's right
...And all he got back was adoration: TESTIFY, Frank! You tell 'em! Everybody else in this room except you 'n' me, they're ASSHOLES, Frank! But you 'n' me, we KNOW BETTER! My brother in non-assholery!

I fell a little more out of love with ol' Frank that night. And also with his fans.

Miles' chief failure is he just doesn't have the chops to talk about music. He can't describe it either in technical or emotional terms, and a biography about someone as deeply musical as Frank that doesn't even address the technical aspect of his compositions of a bewilderingly large variety of musical styles shouldn't be allowed off the hook for it. I'm not looking for Wilfred Mellers, here, but you can't go from Uncle Meat to Hot Rats in six months (March - October 1969) without even mentioning the gigantic stylistic differences between them, let alone describing them. Tut tut.

(There's a danger, of course, in attempting to tackle Zappa's musical work: There's always someone who knows way more about it than you do.)

For some bizarre reason, back in that Punk Heyday you weren't supposed to admit to liking Zappa -- although Beefheart was the Received God -- but I nevertheless fell very hard for Joe's Garage in 1979. Check out Watermelon in Easter Hay from Act III -- it sums the guy up perfectly. Just an achingly lovely guitar piece, in irregular meter (18/4), -- but in the spoken intro, supposedly winding up the libretto of this increasingly creaky "rock opera," Frank cracks himself up with what can only be described as just puerile cynicism. And it's not like he couldn't do a second take -- no, he wanted that cynicism in there. From Genius to Idiot in nine gorgeous minutes.

I sure do miss the fucker, though. Yo, Jeebus! Puff Daddy for Frank! You can't go wrong!

Monday, April 04, 2005

Point of Information

Can anyone else out there in BlogLand who uses verify something for me: There are days when just seems to be flat-out broken. Different browsers return different errors, but in Firefox for Mac, which I'm using as my primary browser, in the last two weeks or so I've been getting these bursts of "Document contains no data" errors, no matter which page I'm trying to view. These last for a few hours, and then disappear. In Safari, the error message is different, but the net effect is the same: Sometimes just ain't gonna work, and you have to sit on whatever it is you wanted to say until it's fixed.

Needles to say, this is damned irritating.

I don't want to distract from the usual fun-n-games with a bunch of tech talk, but if you know anything about this, could you drop something in the Comments area, or just hit me back at NeddieJingo at aol dot com -- I'd appreciate it.

(Goddammit, it just happened again, when I tried to hit "Publish" on this post. It's Arnie. PostModern Arnie.) mentions they're having an outage, but they say nothing about this being at least the third one of these outages I've seen in two weeks.

Rejected First Drafts

#34 in a series:

"Stopping By Woods to Take a Leak On Snowy Evening," by Robert Frost.

Friday, April 01, 2005

A Disquisition on Architecture

Graceful porticos adorn an Arlington street.
A Large-Scale Disagreement
As Massive Houses Prompt Protests, Arlington Proposes Limits

By Annie Gowen
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, March 31, 2005; Page A01

In Arlington, plans for a palatial, 12,500-square-foot house on Pershing Drive call for a basement ballroom with bar, an indoor swimming pool, a hot tub, five bedrooms, eight bathrooms, a library and a prayer room. The house would be 4 1/2 times the size of the average home on the block.


Driving Arlington's efforts to curb the influx of giant houses are residents worried about construction that they find at odds with the scale and character of their neighborhoods, said County Board Chairman Jay Fisette (D).

"We know we can't legislate good taste or good architecture," Fisette said. "The modifications we've been talking about will keep the worst projects from being viable."

[S]ome critics of the proposal say they suspect that much of the discontent springs from a culture clash between longtime residents of Arlington and new, richer arrivals, many of them wealthy immigrants.

"They flat out don't like these rich people moving in and building big houses. It's a bunch of old liberals, and they've just got to give up," said Terry Showman, a developer who builds homes in the county. (Emphasis mine.)

Full story here.
Let's examine that last sentence again, shall we?

Mr. Showman, "a developer who builds homes in the county," which is a polite way of saying "a land-raping greedhead Jabba the Hutt who would happily crush his own toddler with a Lincoln Fucking Navigator if he thought it might put 32 cents into his greasy, piss-stained pocket," has the utter baldfaced carney-grifter gall to frame this as a "class war" issue, as if the nouveaux-riches buttboys who rode to Washington on the coattails of their miserable smirking Deke President for the purpose of gutting the Treasury and impoverishing future generations had even the dimmest glimmer of a chance of being thwarted in their plans to erect hideously vulgar tributes to their own villainy by something so quaint, so idealistic, so awww-shucks-ain't-that-cute as motherfucking zoning laws.

According to an online History of Zoning Laws, "The[ir] objective is to provide for the greater benefit of the community by curtailing the freedom and rights of individual property owners." "The greater benefit of the community" being defined in this case thus: that your right to behave like a dookie-chucking silverbacked gorilla by adding on six vernacular-raping stories to a Pershing Drive Cape Cod so you can have a library and a Texas-shaped indoor hot tub and a motherfucking prayer room, ends approximately at that point at which your fucking warthog of a Hummer 2 eternally blocks the sunlight from your neighbors' rose bushes.

Now, is that a liberal idea, Mr. Showman? Is that some kind of fuzzy-idealist, Woodstock-Nation, War-on-Poverty, Permissive-Doctor-Spock, baby-coddling, Hanoi-Jane-ing, Nixon-toppling tree-hugger notion, the idea that we have a right to protect our neighborhoods from your self-regarding vulgarity, your miserable chest-pounding King-Kong cock-waving?

Well, actually, no, Mr. Showman. No, it isn't. Actually, Mr. Showman, cities have arrogated unto themselves the right to declare what buildings may and may not be constructed in them since, well, since that dope-smoking hippie punk Charles II and his rad-lib Yippie henchman Christopher Wren rebuilt London after a little fire they had there a few years ago. You know. Back when we still had an Enlightenment.

"Bunch of old liberals..." There's no hell hot enough for you, you fat sack of greasy shit. You blot. We are through being polite.

It Makes You Look Like Them

Outstanding article by Kevin Mattson in The American Prospect on opposition and protest, titled "Goodbye to All That":
Authenticity of the self and actually living in a democratic community with other citizens who hold varying opinions are two very different -- if not, in fact, irreconcilable -- demands. In Chicago [at the Democratic Convention in 1968], the two ideals clashed, and authenticity won out. Protesters pitted themselves against the inauthentic masses -- the police, those who believed in the Vietnam War, the “pigs.” When this occurred, participatory democracy no longer supplemented representative democracy but replaced it; authenticity displaced the challenge of deliberating with other citizens who might disagree. To be authentic meant to give direct expression to desire rather than to work through a longer process of changing representative institutions.
And here it is, boiled down to its essence: Why it is that in George Bush's America in 2005, the best lack all conviction and the worst are full of passionate intensity.

Sure, it's personally satisfying to chuck rocks at policemen. No doubt. But to give in to that impulse -- that is, to insist on the ineluctible validity of your own "authenticity" over-against that of others in disagreement with you -- is to declare all other "authenticities" null and void. That's fine, if what you're after is complete self-alienation from the political arena. And losing elections.

So go ahead, call 'em rednecks. Mock their religion, that's always a laugh. Let's hear -- at enormous polysyllabic length -- just how fuckin' superior you are to 'em, with the purity of your purpose and the catholicity of your ethical agenda, with side trips to the evils of globalization and the virtues of hemp sandals. Bury them under with the moral ascendancy of your "authenticity" -- that'll show 'em who's boss.