Monthly Archives: October 2011

Quick Somebody Write Another Love Song

I had originally planned to write this for Halloween, the day that UNESCO or WHO, or one of them acronyms calculates that the world population will reach seven billion.

But though the papers have jumped the gun all week, prisoner of the zeitgeist that I am, I have held on until today.

Happy Halloween. (All seven billion of you.)

SEVEN BILLION, kiddies: Seven billion kiddies. We have overgrazed our forage, we are starving and fear the inevitable plagues; we are in a thousand brushfire conflicts and the world’s economy teeters on the brink — a global meltdown would instantly doom thousands, if not hundreds of thousands to imminent starvation, as the delivery system would go down along with the economy. Continue reading

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What Occupy Wall Street Says About America

I have pointedly refrained from commenting on the OWS protests now transpiring worldwide, prior to this date.

The Antisemitic  “Antisemitism” smear from the RNC last week

There is a good reason for this: generally when I write about a topic, I like to know something about it. I like to THINK about it. The early reports and coverage presented us with a wealth of information, but a paucity of knowledge.

Now, perhaps, I can comment more intelligently on certain aspects of the phenomenon (or, more precisely, phenomena). I would adjure the pundit class to follow this salutary example, but one might as well attempt to teach differential calculus to a three-toed tree frog. Continue reading

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Terror Mail From Texas Posts

Sometimes I get interesting comments. Sometimes psychos show up.  You can be the judge as to which category or categories this interchange falls into, following my Monday piece, “The Terror That Stalks Texas“:

Aftermath of the Bexar County Bombing Hysterics

I read your comment to my post over at TMV [The Moderate Voice] regarding your thread. Since I’m not posting over there any longer, thought I would take a look at your site and respond here. Looks like there is plenty of room and we won’t be bothered by many other posts.

My name is John Johnson. I have had several of my pieces on TMV as a guest columnist. My tag gives my brief bio. It does not include any snide little comments like “I survived Texas”.

We have very little in common except for being opinionated. I am not prissy, liberal, nor a bore.

I hope that your having my name makes you feel better.

To Which I replied: Continue reading

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The Monkey Cage

I need you to take 30 seconds to watch the RNC attack ad below. That way, all that follows will make better sense to to you, Gentle Reader/Viewer.

Antisemitism on display?  Absolutely. But more from the accusers than from the accused. From the mysteriously and anonymously registered on October 18 website steveisraelstandswiththem.com, which has mysteriously gone “offline” [update: it's back, now]:

click for the RNC YouTube original

Has the GOP gone completely mad?

Uh, yeah. But there’s a reason for it, and there’s not actually a “GOP” anymore.  Continue reading

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What America Means To Me

I will reveal here a controversial assertion that is — if not explicitly denied, then most assuredly implicitly trampled upon in common practice — as deceptively and seductively simple as it seems: words actually mean something, and what they mean matters.

Note the Liberty [Phrygian] Cap on pole

I will grant the Opposition’s case that in point of fact words are useless and as often used to obscure a point as to clarify it, only to the degree to which I agree with the Opposition, which is to say not in the slightest, whatsoever. But that point about obfuscation is good, granted.

So, what does “America” mean?

Continue reading

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The Terror That Stalks Texas

Bexar County is pronounced “Behar” just as “Texas” ought to be pronounced “Tehas,” which undoubtedly explains the cluelessness of Fox News as they ejaculated their fear all over the airwaves this week.

click here for YouTube

I happened to be, literally, right across the street at the time that the TERROR scare was happening. Continue reading

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Please Leave a Message at the Tone

You hear the ringtone. Then it picks up, with the telltale, slightly tinny sound of a recorded message:

I will be away from the blog keyboard for a couple of days. If this doesn’t tide you over, you have PLENTY of time to read:

And:

If you get through the above, please click over to the other blogs I guest-post on: The Moderate Voice and The Democratic Daily

There you will find a wealth of auctorial riches to tide you through the Stygian darkness.

And then, as you begin to leave your message, a beeping and you are automatically disconnected. The voice mailbox is full. Drat.

Courage.

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More Pitcherses

Sometimes the Left Brain (the one that controls the right side and “logical” language functions) needs to take a break. Luckily, the Right Brain (the “spatial” non-linear side that controls the left side of the body) is sometimes up to the task. Drawings by Hart Williams (in his alter- persona as Hesperion Wug) from September and early October.

Horny Toad (or Horned Frog in Texas) — these little survivors
have been around since the age of the dinosaurs. 

More after the jump. Continue reading

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Broke With A Chance of Rain

Wet or dry, it’s usually yellow.

Courage.

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Herman Cain’s Brains

And now, using state of the art, advanced brain imaging equipment, we are finally able to see what goes on INSIDE Herman Cain’s brains while he holds forth on his views of governance.

click here to view on YouTube

Time and tide wait for no meds.

Courage.

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The Worst Partisan Hackery in the World

Another proof that Republican obstructionism is killing jobs.

Courage.

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Fame as Disease; Celebrity as Illness (conclusion)

There’s a difference between Flo Ziegfeld’s shameless 1896 scandal publicity and the corporate machine that was MGM’s 1949 publicity, which brings us to the present day. You see, Ziegfeld was selling sex to a society that didn’t allow women’s ankles to be exposed in public, while MGM was pouring an endless glop of corny wholesomeness on the pancakes of sentimental hogwash to more or less that same society.

One of the tamer “official” Ziegfield girls
photos by Alfred Cheney Johnson,
The Playboy centerfold of its day 

What brings us up to date is that we now have a machine that sells the former with all the institutional muscle of the former.

Fame and celebrity are commodities, to be sold at the highest price per pound of sleaze that the market will bear.  Continue reading

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Fame as Disease; Celebrity as Illness (part ii)

We return to the story of Anna Held, Florenz Ziegfeld’s meal ticket from 1895

The 1896 Broadway revival of A Parlor Match had two musical highlights – the hit song “Daisy Bell” (also known as “A Bicycle Built for Two”), and Anna Held’s performance of the playful “Won’t You Come and Play With Me?” To guarantee ongoing publicity, Ziegfeld let out word that Held took daily milk baths, and he won headlines by suing a popular dairy for sending sour milk. The outraged dairy owner soon revealed that it was all a hoax – Held bathed in scented water that just looked milky. The brouhaha succeeded in making Held a national celebrity….

A national celebrity … guaranteeing ticket sales. Not the first use of “legal” scandal to drum up publicity, and the knowledge that controversy sells tickets, this is merely a classic example of the genre. Celebrity in this case not meaning to be “celebrated,” but, rather, the artificial and cynical creation of a “must see” curiosity factor to shuck the rubes. Now, it ought to be noted that had Anna Held NOT been a superior entertainer, it probably wouldn’t have worked, but Ziegfeld had cannily tossed the “talent” portion of the publicity out the window in favor of the “scandal” that he created by knowingly filing a false lawsuit surrounding a ridiculous lie.

… he won headlines by suing a popular dairy for sending sour milk. The outraged dairy owner soon revealed that it was all a hoax

But Ziegfeld didn’t care a fig. He knew what he wanted, and he got it: celebrity as a kind of parasitic illness, a social disease. We return to the present day … Continue reading

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Fame as Disease; Celebrity as Illness (part i)

“A pretty girl is like a malady,” quoth the poet.

Celebrity and its handmaiden, Publicity, have been with us ever since P.T. Barnum perfected the art and artifice, and Florenz Ziegfeld, Jr. learned how to create ticket sales for a “celebrity” who nobody’d ever heard of, Anna Held, whom he stole from the Folies Bergere in Paris:

The 1896 Broadway revival of A Parlor Match had two musical highlights – the hit song “Daisy Bell” (also known as “A Bicycle Built for Two”), and Anna Held’s performance of the playful “Won’t You Come and Play With Me?”

To guarantee ongoing publicity, Ziegfeld let out word that Held took daily milk baths, and he won headlines by suing a popular dairy for sending sour milk. The outraged dairy owner soon revealed that it was all a hoax – Held bathed in scented water that just looked milky. The brouhaha succeeded in making Held a national celebrity. After a calculated brief run (guaranteeing too few tickets for the growing demand), Ziegfeld took A Parlor Match on tour for several months. Held’s continental style and lavish tastes added to her appeal, drawing curious audiences everywhere she performed.

Over the next twelve years, Ziegfeld produced seven Broadway musicals tailored to showcase Held’s charms. Each one ran for a few weeks in New York before touring. … Ziegfeld never missed an opportunity to get Held’s name in the papers. When she took a tumble while cycling through Brooklyn, Ziegfeld informed the press that Anna had leapt off her bike to stop a runaway carriage and save the life of a retired judge. Most of the press didn’t buy it, and one columnist wondered what drugs Ziegfeld was using to come up with such nonsense!

So, this isn’t anything new.

What IS new is the nature of the beast that produces “Anna Held”s by the bushel. And of the accelerating American mania for celebrity, the “look at me!” factor. Continue reading

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