I hate FoxNews more than you do

24 January 2008

I know that’s just what they want, but I can’t help playing into their hands.  Now it’s this.  I probably give celebrities more credit than they deserve for things, but I really can’t take people like this being so callous.  Even if I agreed with their politics, there are so many people with these jobs who just make me wonder how they could be employed at anything, let alone making real money.  Pricks.

T-P gets it right

24 January 2008

I actually agree with the paper that this is a great JazzFest lineup.

I’ll be skipping the Never Brothers’ “triumphant” return (you know, because I generally focus on the local acts).

But I think this is the best national lineup we’ve had in a while. Stevie Wonder, Al Green, Robert Plant w/ Allison Kraus (my brother got me the CD for Xmas, and it’s terrific), Randy Newman, Cassandra Wilson, John Prine, and Quint even caved to someone’s Raconteurs suggestion, despite his preference only to have acts his own age.

I often see the people I see all year, but at JF, it’s a little different, and I never get tired of it. I’m feeling warmer already.

Strawberry Fields, I Wanna Hold Your Gland, Norwegian Wood

23 January 2008

Strawberry Fields, I Wanna Hold Your Gland, Norwegian Wood

Originally uploaded by HammHawk

E, G, & Me heading downtown for Krewe du Vieux

Once again, Krewe du Vieux was an absolute blast.  I was thrilled to have a costume that met my dual goals of getting laughs and keeping me warm.

I even made a couple of commentaries.

Once again, I feel good about getting Carnival season off to a good start.  Now it’s up to others to keep things rolling, even if they don’t have as many giant phalli as we do…

L. A. in LA

18 January 2008

Last night was interesting.  A friend of mine from college is in town from Los Angeles where he’s a producer.  He worked on Godzilla, Eight Legged Freaks (yeah, it really shoulda been Eight-Legged Freaks), and so on.  He’s in town scouting for a TV movie he’s doing with Noah Wyle called the Librarian.  E is pretty psyched to meet him when they come back to shoot.  Despite the mundane title, it sounded pretty cool.

I’ve never had a dinner quite like that.  There were 9 of us, including E and me, and Jacques-Imo’s was booked, so we went to Emeril’s.  Everyone else was involved with the movie, including other producers, the cinematographer, a cameraman, and the director, who happened to be Jonathan Frakes (Riker on Star Trek).  I’m not a trekkie, but I have some friends and a brother-in-law who will be envious.  He seemed like a nice guy.  It was interesting to hear them talk business and talk about shooting in New Orleans, even though I know nothing about making movies.

They said that tax rebates make it very attractive to shoot here, but it’s become so popular that it’s hard to put a crew together.  But they seemed to be enjoying themselves and really scouring the city for locations.  And they were heading to see Rebirth at Howlin Wolf afterward too.

The guy who picked up the tab (thanks, Phil) is a member of the Director’s Guild, who just quickly reached an agreement on Internet issues, so it was interesting to hear his take on the writers’ strike.  He contends that sharing Internet proceeds would actually be a bad deal for the writers because people who buy on the web won’t buy DVDs, so the take will shrink.  So a fair proportion will yield less money.  I don’t know enough to tell whether that’s right or just a party line from a guy who’s frustrated with the strike, but it was an interesting perspective that I hadn’t heard before.

As always, Emeril’s did us right with the veggie option.  Really good combination of vegetables and flavors.

I was hoping we might be more help with their scouting, but they seem to have most things pretty well figured out.  They did need an old-looking library setting, and I suggested checking out Latter Library.  Also, heads up, because they haven’t settled on “the mysterious Simone” yet, so local hotties should be sending resumes.

The Onion on Piyush

16 January 2008

This is great. I wonder what diverse, multicultural elements he’ll bring to systemic corruption?

Check out a couple more American Voices.

New Orleans Magazine calls By Invitation Only a “Hatchet Job”

16 January 2008

At least that’s what I think they’re talking about. In the Speaking Out section (p. 32 of the January 2008 issue), you find this:

Carnival can count on at least one hatchet job a year. In 2006, it was a documentary that, in preaching against perceived intolerance, was as close-minded, uninformed and unfair to innocent people as the bigotry it portended to erase.

Awkward writing aside, this statement is a crock. By Invitation Only may have ruffled the feathers of elite New Orleanians, and they may have been duped a bit, but Rebecca Snedeker and her colleagues did a hell of a job exposing some people for what they are–racist, sexist, classist pricks who give a bad name to our city. I’m not sure why NOM thinks this was a hatchet job, but I’d like to know more about what it considers to be unfair and uninformed. In fact, the fact that Snedeker was informed allowed her to make the movie and to make it effective. I, for one, was glad to see what was there, even if there may have been a touch of misinformation on the part of the (willing or not) participants in the film.

Part of what chaps me is that shit likes this gives people the perception that NO is more racist than other places. I feel strongly that although there is plenty of racism here, and more than most of us would like to see, the average New Orleanian is pretty damned tolerant, and that tolerance is one thing that leads us to love the city. Yeah, this is the area that spawned David Duke and the “Wake Up White People” bumper stickers around town, but I’ve certainly never lived where my neighbors were so diverse. Nowhere growing up, Topeka-Tulsa-Lawrence-Lincoln-Beaumont, did I or my family ever have neighbors any blacker, poorer, or much different in any way than ourselves. Yet here, where I choose to live, it’s a different deal. And yet I’m painfully aware that some people wish we could go back to the “good old days” of race and class separation. This movie exposes that, and cheers to Rebecca for illuminating the rest of us.

Nevertheless, when I worry that maybe the world’s perceptions are right, and we are assholes, or I read the comments in the nola.com blogs and see the outright bigotry that they show, I come across something like this, from the progressive West. Just take a look at the article and the comments; pricks everywhere, indeed.

UPDATE:  Here’s the letter I sent to NO Magazine…

I assume the above passage refers to Rebecca Snedeker’s documentary “By Invitation Only.”  I would like to know exactly what about the film you believe to be so “close [sic]-minded, uninformed and unfair to innocent people” as to warrant the label of “hatchet job.”  As a non-elite New Orleanian, I found the film to be enlightening and strangely sympathetic to the well-connected citizens who are sometimes blissfully unaware of the hideousness of their organizations’ traditions. 

As Harry Connick, Jr. showed us in founding Orpheus, Mardi Gras need not continue to embrace the discriminatory norms of old line Mardi Gras krewes in order to be exciting, flamboyant, and traditional.  The film didn’t “portend” (I assume you meant purport) to erase bigotry but to expose it, and it did so effectively.  It’s true that some people may have been somewhat deceived as to the purpose of the filming, but as we are often told when it comes to things like the Patriot Act, if you’re not doing anything wrong, you should have nothing to hide. 

Would the krewe have admitted Snedeker’s Black boyfriend?  Did they not lampoon Darwin in past themes?  Do some of the traditions not hearken back to a time of antebellum simplicity and clarity of class standing?  If not, then rebut these claims in your magazine (I searched for any coverage of the film and found none), rather than broadly dismissing the film as irrelevant or off-base. 

I don’t disagree with the article’s premise that Mardi Gras has saved New Orleans; indeed, we all felt the presence of something like a miracle in the exuberance of Mardi Gras 2006.  Still, Mardi Gras does what it does in spite of, and not because of, the bizarre and discriminatory history of the celebrations.  Tradition is great to a point, but times change, and Mardi Gras is changing with it.  All hail Zulu & Muses!


15 January 2008

I’m a psychologist, but not a clinical one, much to the chagrin of every person who’s ever sat next to me on a plane, found out I’m a psychologist, and tries to get me to diagnose friends.  As I tell my students, they’re as qualified to diagnose or treat people as I am.

There used to be a convenient distinction between neurosis and psychosis, but it’s considered outdated.  I still like it though.  The idea is that psychoses (which is still a commonly used term for disorders) are severe and keep one from living a fruitful, productive life without medication or other heavy treatments.  Things like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder fall here.   Neuroses, as they used to be called, would be general anxiety, phobias, lower level depression (dysthymia) and so on.  Many of us have some of those.

I have plenty.  I’ve just noticed one of them resurfacing.  I’m one of those people who often has trouble enjoying the present.  When a nice summer break is going on or I’m on vacation, I thoroughly enjoy and relish the first half, but I spend the second half counting down the days til it’s over, failing to enjoy said fun as I should be.  Well, I’m seeing it now with basketball season in full swing.

In case you hadn’t noticed, KU is playing lights-out this year.  This is the best team I’ve seen since the 97-98 year when we were everyone’s pick to win it all til we began our notorious run of tanking early in the tournament.  At least that team (which had NBA-ers Paul Pierce, Raef Lafrentz, Scot Pollard, and Jacque Vaughn, among others–yeah they’re not all all-stars like Pierce, but still…) lost to eventual-champion Arizona, leading to a lifelong resentment of Lute Olson’s smug smirk.  Since then, except for a couple runs to the final four, it’s been disappointing failures after highly successful seasons.

Well, we’re damn solid this year.  I’m not predicting we’ll get beyond the first round of the tourney or anything–once bitten twice shy–but I’m really enjoying watching a balanced, experienced attack.  So where’s the anxiety?

Well, watching last night’s dismantling of OU, I realized that we’ll likely only have one returning starter next year.  So instead of relishing a great team who hasn’t even gotten 3 games into conference play, I’m sweating next year.  That’s no way to live, people.

Decision 2008, which seems to have started about a decade ago

10 January 2008

Everyone’s weighing in on the primaries, and I’ve babbled to enough people in person with my thoughts that I gotta get them out here.

First, a TMI anecdote: Around a decade ago when we were at a conference in Chicago, E & I had a “scare” and bought fetus detectors for the only time for either of us. We had gotten worked up into a true sense of panic, and then when the rabbit didn’t die or whatever, we felt complete relief. That reaction was telling. Neither of us, although married and relatively stable, had any ambivalence in our reaction. No sense of “Well, we’re glad, but it would have been exciting.” It was 100% relief; even though we agree on the perspective, it’s for somewhat different reasons. So we continued to discuss and analyze the situation for a year or so, and then took action.

What does this have to do with the election? Well, sometimes we don’t know what we’ll do in a situation until we’re there. I’ve known I liked Obama for years. One of my few “I was there” moments (the other being seeing REM at Hoch Auditorium in Lawrence, KS, with my brother in 1984, drunk on Everclear and Crystal Light–Stipe never looked at the audience, but I’ve bragged about my musical edginess ever since) was when I was reading a lot of political blogs and told people, “A guy named Barack Obama from Illinois is going to be the first Black president.” It was quite a while before it was announced that he’d give the address at the Dem convention, and everyone saw how wise I was.

Back to the scare. I’ve felt, and continue to feel, that I’ll gladly and enthusiastically support any of the Dem candidates (I don’t know enough about Gravel to say that, but you get my point). I’ll take Clinton, but I still really like Obama. But I couldn’t have predicted my level of disappointment in her win in NH, just like I couldn’t have predicted my reaction to pending offspring until I was forced to face it. Not that I don’t like her now, but it made me defensive of BO. Her victory motivated me to finally put my money where my mouth is and make a donation to his campaign.

My main reservation with him isn’t experience, which I guess will be his Achilles heel in the debates if he wins the nom, but I want to see the Repubs justify their support for W. No one had less experience than W, but that’s not what makes him a shitty president. No, my main reservation is with myself. Frankly, for as much as I try to pay attention, I can’t tell you all the things that separate him from his rivals. It’s more of a gut, and that sucks because it makes me sounds like W (“I looked into his soul…”). But the thing is, I don’t know when I’ve heard him say something that I really don’t like. I just think he’s great, and I think he’s sincere, and I think he’s brilliant, and he sure as hell wouldn’t embarrass me. I’m sure I’ll get pissed when he has to compromise, but I can overlook some of that for pragmatics. I defended Bill Clinton for Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, even though it’s stupid, because it was at least a step in the right direction. I defended Hillary’s healthcare proposal, though clearly flawed, because it was really the first time anyone had tried something like that (to my knowledge). I guess I’m a sellout (hell, I probably agree with Kucinich on more issues, but I can’t quite vote for him), but I only take my principles so far. But damn, it sure would be nice to get a 3rd party really moving, just not at the expense of my vote. I’m a flip-flopper.

A few quick takes on the primaries:

  • If a Repub wins the general election, I sure hope it’s McCain. For all his flaws (like the war), I don’t think he’s quite as full of shit as the rest of them, and he at least has a history of attempting some bipartisan action.
  • I’m disappointed that Bill Richardson is apparently dropping out. He’s really impressed me in the debates, and I think he elevated the discussion. Aside from the too-white teeth, I think he’s genuine and really capable.
  • Kerry just endorsed Obama, which is nice I guess. I would have taken any one of the folks running now over Kerry in 2004. This is a really good crop, if you ask me. I’ll be proud to pull for them.
  • I know it’s a tired cliche, but I really hate the negative stuff (another reason I like Obama is I think he’s really reluctant to go there). They agree on more than they disagree on, and one of them will probably end up recruiting another one of them as a running mate, so all that slamming crap is dumb. Keep it to on the Repubs and respectfully disagree with each other.
  • I think Hillary’s crying was fake. Who the hell gets that emotional about something like this? Like I said, I’ll still support her if she gets it, but I don’t think she does anything that isn’t calculated.
  • Even the Repubs are a breath of fresh air compared to W. I hate them, but at least they can put a sentence together and don’t sound like nouveau cowboys.
  • Finally, I really respect what Ashley and others have said in their support for Edwards, and of course I’ll gladly back him if he gets the nom, but even though NO is my passion, it’s not my only issue, and I have a harder time getting behind him. I don’t care about the hair or the mansion or the trial lawyer crap he gets, but again, I don’t have as much confidence in him as I’d like to have. I hope he keeps pushing the Katrina issues though and makes them remember. katrina.jpg

Cartoon from Handelsman

Until I can finish writing a couple long pending posts… Random

10 January 2008

I think a great band name would be Various Artists.  Or Self-Titled LP.

This just got to me, and it’s hilarious.  Katrina reference a minute or so in on the Barbara Bush 10 gallon coin!

I think if Hillary weren’t running, Bill would be on stage with Obama every time BO’s handlers would let him.

I already sent this to B, but this picture made my day.

If you don’t make a point of reading McSweeney’s regularly, you’re missing out.   I especially enjoy Lists, which suits my attention span, but just tell me these aren’t brilliant.

Helen Hill

5 January 2008

I didn’t know Helen Hill, who died about a year ago (holy shit, I just saw that it was exactly a year ago), apparently at the hand of a deranged intruder. Her case was one that, along with Dinerral Shavers, galvanized much of the New Orleans community against crime. Like many, I haven’t felt as much remorse about the thug-on-thug violence around me, but Helen’s and Dickie’s deaths have made us all feel more vulnerable, and angry.

From what other people have said, I always thought Helen Hill and I could have been friends, if I could be so lucky, and that’s one of the things that haunts me about her death. She seems like a truly great person, the kind who deserves to be alive, and whom we deserve to be around today.

But she’s not. And I’ve just been tearing up at viewing of Helen Hill: Celebrating a Life on Film on PBS. I don’t purport to be an artist, but goddammit, her work has real charisma. I’ve never understood why certain filmmakers have hit me, but her works have. Yeah, I should have seen them before, but I didn’t. She was a true artist, and even an idiot like me can see that. Shit, why does this happen? Maybe so that assholes like me will finally see and appreciate what people like Helen have to offer.

Helen, I’m sorry I didn’t meet you when you were alive, but I’m grateful to know you now. You continue to be great. We (even those who never met you) miss you.