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March 2004 Archives

March 1, 2004



He can?

That's the headline on the back of a flyer in the mail today. It's for a Congressional candidate, a guy named Tan Nguyen. The front of the flyer has a picture of the candidate standing with his jacket slung over his shoulder, and the back has a letter from someone named Roger Rudman with whom I imagine I'd be familiar if I were to be active in Orange County Democratic circles:

    Dear Fellow Democrats,

    Tan is my good friend who is also a candidate for U.S. Congress from our District 46.

    Tan is not a politician.

Oh, no, he's not a politician. He's just on the ballot for the nomination and spending money to send me this full-color flyer. Nope, not a politician.

Dude, you run for office, you're a politician. Unavoidable. Might as well embrace it.

    Tan is just a bright guy who truly wants to help our community. I know Tan well, and I am 100% sure that once elected, Tan will make a different kind of Congressman.

I'm sure you're sure, but it's striking that in the entire brochure, there's not a single mention of any positions on policy. Not one. Taxes? Defense? Education? Deficits? Social Security? What does this guy stand for?

Go ahead, Google him. See what you can find. I'll wait.

Back to Roger's note:

    The Republicans have a clear majority in our district. However, approximately 12% of the Republican voters are of Asian descent. While race should not be a factor in deciding who to vote for,

Stop right there. "While race should not be a factor in deciding who to vote for"- you know what comes next will negate that statement. SHOULD not and MUST not are different things.

    Tan's candidacy has generated tremendous enthusiasm in the Vietnamese community. It is therefore likely that most Asian Republicans will jump ship and vote for Tan as a 'favorite son' candidate.

    With these crossover votes, Tan can close the gap and take District 46 out of Republican control.

And there it is.

Qualifications? None.

Stands on the issues? Undisclosed.

Why should I vote for him? Because he's Asian, and we can get all those Asian votes.

Isn't that a pretty damn racist assumption, especially to put in a campaign flyer? And isn't it extra-offensive to assume that all Asians think of themselves as the same? I mean, the guy's Vietnamese, the dominant ethnicity in Westminster, his end of the district. At this end (about 30 miles west), the Asian population is mostly Japanese, Chinese, and Korean. I don't believe that a Chinese-American thinks of himself as "the same" as a Vietnamese-American. You have to subscribe to the "they all look alike to me" method of ethnic sensitivity to think Asians will vote as a bloc. And imagine the reaction if an Orange County Republican suggested voting for a candidate because he was white, or male, and therefore would get the all-important white or male vote.

    We need Tan! Please vote for my friend.


    Roger Rudman




March 2, 2004


Yeah, I voted. We went to the polling place at lunchtime and found nobody there. Well, the poll workers WERE there, but there were no lines. It was in an all-purpose room on the upper level of a church up the street, card tables and voting booths set up randomly on either side of the space (they'd combined two districts into one physical polling place- they asked where you live, then sent you to the correct card table).

The big thing this time around was the voting mechanism itself. We didn't get one of the new, and evidently problematic, touch-screen systems. The actual machinery- ballot slot, laminated pages, little holes- remained the same, but you didn't get to punch the holes through the ballot anymore. No more chads for California- they replaced the pin with a little inker to mark the ballots. The poll workers were clear about this- they made us practice on a sample machine to make sure we knew what we were doing. (This wasn't the practice everywhere, if radio reports were accurate- some people took the inker and used it to punch through the ballot)

There wasn't much on the ballot- I raced through the nominees and went right for the ballot questions, inked those, done. Fran took her time and carefully considered her choices, and I restrained myself from loudly announcing that she'd completed her 2004 primary ballot just in time for the 2008 elections. (So I'm impatient. Sue me) But we did it, then went on to far more important matters, namely the weight room at the gym.

I didn't think much of the election after that. Evidently, John Ziegler at KFI/Los Angeles followed through on his threat to read the parody Prop 56 ads I'd written for the weekly e-mail I do for All Access, because I got some reaction thereto, but I didn't hear it, eschewing the election coverage in favor of cooking dinner. (Sorry, Zig, I forgot, and besides, I gotta eat. But thanks.) Hit Trader Joe's and Costco, got back to do some work, and in passing noted that Kerry won and the ballot measures are going no-no-yes-yes so far, which isn't too bad (the bond issue's still disturbing, but at least 56 is going down). They say the turnout was weak, which, judging by the turnout we saw, is true. But what did anyone expect? The presidential races were finished before we got to them, the many judges' races incomprehensible- who ARE these people?- and the ballot measures important but not compelling enough, evidently, to get people off their butts and into the booth.

And what, then, did we get for our trouble? Kerry, who has Democrats excited for no apparent reason- they think he can beat Bush, but his essential stiffness and his all-over-the-place what-the-hell-does-he-STAND-for voting record haven't been exposed to the general electorate yet. It's far different to win the primaries than to win in November. Kerry/Edwards has the party rubbing hands with glee and anticipation- it's a dream ticket! A war hero and a pretty boy Southerner! By the time they realize it's also a waffling, charisma-free suit and a trial lawyer, it may be too late.

Not that Bush is unbeatable. He continues to push unwinnable issues, spend unsconsionable billions, and avoid saying anything that might cost him points, even when honesty could WIN him points. But the real campaign hasn't started. The Democrats have been punching for months, but it's like wearing yourself out in the warmups- here comes the opening bell, and they'd better not already be arm-weary. Besides, I think they're overestimating the breadth of the Anybody But Bush camp. ABB runs deep, very deep, among those who hold to that philosophy, but that's not a majority, and it's mostly people who didn't vote for Bush before and wouldn't ever do so. They talk to each other and assure themselves that Everybody Hates George. If that's the assumption under which they're framing their campaign, they're going to be surprised.

But it's still too early, whatever the polls may say. People's heads aren't in this campaign yet. It's easy for pundits to forget that, but when you can't even get a big turnout for a primary where the state's fiscal future is at stake, it shows that the electorate's thinking about other things right now- taxes, the NCAA brackets, Janet's breast. (Hey, have YOU forgotten that? Didn't think so) There's plenty of time for the Big Issues. Wake me when the real fighting begins.


March 3, 2004


I'm floating through the day in a generally bad mood, although the source of the ill will is unclear. There's no reason for it, either, because things are generally good today:

1. The weather's fairly spectacular- warm, sunny, a nice breeze off the ocean. It's one of those days that defines L.A. by the beach.

2. I didn't think I'd be as pleased to see the grocery store strikers back at work for the first time in months, but it was really a relief. They all wore grins and expressions of utter relief. So did I. I didn't support the strike, for reasons I've already explained, but I didn't cross any picket lines, either. And now, the familiar faces are back, the checkouts went faster, the long-closed sections like the fresh fish and butcher section are being brought back to life... it's good. Back to normal. I like that.

3. This morning, I turned the radio to KFWB and Ross and Rick were there, the Dodgers dropping behind to the Mets 3-0 before going on a tear and I could picture Vero Beach, could see Holman Stadium and that berm in the outfield and the new clubhouse in right and the rickety wooden press box and Tom and Jake getting the game on the air and it's March and it's spring training and I do NOT want to get all George Will on you, but it was good to hear baseball again. It's a month until opening day. I hope I will be there.

4. Our friend Joe of HDTV notoriety is flying in tonight, a good thing tempered by the reason (family funeral tomorrow).

5. The Eagles signed Jevon Kearse- how cool is this? First, the Phillies go out and take care of business with signings and trades, and now the Eagles explode out of the blocks with a big signing. Now to take care of the offense. T.O.?

So it's a good day, but I'm sitting here zombified. I have a little dental irritation, which isn't helping, but things are generaly pretty good. Maybe some food will help. I think I'll go try that and get back to you on it.


March 4, 2004


As if to put an exclamation point on my good day/bad mood column from yesterday, here are today's conditions:

1. Weather: perfect- sunny and warm. Department of Tourism day.

2. Disposition: generally positive. Close to a good mood.

3. Experience: very positive. Got to see close friends we rarely get to see, since they live on the east coast. Took lovely drive up to Santa Barbara. Met nice people, ate well.

4. Event: funeral.

No, I didn't "enjoy" the funeral as if it was a ballgame or movie- it was sad, touching, moving. But it was a spectacularly beautiful day in Montecito, we were with people who are special to us, the sun was shining, the birds were singing, we were looking at the trees and the grass and the ocean and...

...and why can't I have days like this when I'm NOT mourning?

At some point, everything will sync up. Not yet.



Let's get this straight.

The World Trade Center was attacked on 9/11.

The President at the time was George W. Bush.

Bush went to visit the workers at Ground Zero and received a warm reception.

The attack, the recovery, and the War on Terrorism were, and are, among the defining elements of the Bush presidency.

And some people think it's wrong for his campaign ads to make reference to 9/11?

It's wrong to depict the truth? Wrong to show something that actually happened?

Would it be wrong for John Kerry to point out his heroism in service?

Oh, that's right- as Charles Johnson points out, the only 9/11 survivors cited as objecting to the Bush ads are in groups backing Kerry. So they'd let Kerry off the hook. But when fringe pressure groups are allowed to color the news coverage of a story, the bottom line is that the truth becomes taboo.



They're launching a "24/7" hunt for bin Laden:

    "We are putting the pieces in place to throw the net over him," one official told CNN.

They HAVEN'T been searching for him 24/7 up 'till now?

What exactly have they been doing?


March 5, 2004


The poor First Amendment is taking a beating these days, and I don't mean from evil Congressdrones (that, too). Check this out from Cleveland:

    A federal judge Thursday denied a television station's attempt to make Mayor Jane Campbell speak with its reporters.

    U.S. District Judge Solomon Oliver denied a temporary restraining order that WOIO Channel 19 sought over claims that the mayor had violated the First Amendment for refusing to deal with the station's reporters. The station claimed it was banned from City Hall.

There are members of the news media who think that there is a First Amendment right to make people talk to you? There are lawyers who are willing to take that argument into court?

I wonder what they're teaching in J-school nowadays. Evidently, they skipped the constitutional law part.



Martha Stewart's guilty? I didn't think they had enough to convict her, but, hey whatever. I kinda think she was most guilty of being Martha Stewart.

But you'll see her and some supporters crying about injustice. It's the same as Rush Limbaugh correctly pointing out that he's being taken to the woodshed by prosecutors for transgressions similar to those for which they've looked the other way. He's right.

And it doesn't matter.

I'd feel more sorry for Rush and Martha had they done nothing wrong at all. But they did violate the law- not enough to justify a public flogging and prison time? Maybe. But all I can think of in their cases is the wisdom of our elders:

"Don't do the crime if you can't do the time, yeah, don't do it."

An' dat's da name o' dat tune.


March 6, 2004


Because I need the weekend to recover, I'll just refer you to a piece from the Guardian, of all papers, that talks to a couple of teens recently released after all this time held at Guantanamo. How do they feel about their captivity?

    "I am lucky I went there, and now I miss it. Cuba was great," said the 14-year-old, knotting his brow in the effort to make sure he is understood.


    Tracked down to his remote village in south-eastern Afghanistan, Naqibullah has memories of Guantanamo that are almost identical to Asadullah's. Prison life was good, he said shyly, nervous to be receiving a foreigner to his family's mud-fortress home.

    The food in the camp was delicious, the teaching was excellent, and his warders were kind. "Americans are good people, they were always friendly, I don't have anything against them," he said. "If my father didn't need me, I would want to live in America."

    Asadullah is even more sure of this. "Americans are great people, better than anyone else," he said, when found at his elder brother's tiny fruit and nut shop in a muddy backstreet of Kabul. "Americans are polite and friendly when you speak to them. They are not rude like Afghans. If I could be anywhere, I would be in America. I would like to be a doctor, an engineer _ or an American soldier."

For some reason, this stuff is missing from all those human rights reports about the camp.

Via LGF.


March 7, 2004


From today's L.A. Times obituaries:

    The possibility that Paul Sweezy would one day be recognized as America's leading radical economist seemed unlikely early in his life: His father was a Wall Street investment banker whose income afforded Sweezy a privileged education at such bastions of the ruling class as Philips Exeter Academy and Harvard University. But his family wealth, he would later acknowledge, was what gave him the freedom to spurn capitalism and carve a path to its polar opposite.

Yes, the leading economic proponent of Marxism in America was a rich, privileged guy who never had to work at a real job. His entire life was theory.

And he was wrong.

That part's not in the obit. It calls Sweezy "the defining voice of Marxism in North America, revered by several generations of leftists as 'the living proof,' The Nation's Daniel Singer once wrote, 'that, even in the very heart of imperialism it was possible to resist and to stick to one's principles.'" It doesn't mention how the Communist systems he thought would better serve America than democracy and capitalism led to mass murder, endless failed "five year plans," bread lines, and societies where people had no incentive to achieve- why would they? After all, no matter how good you were, how hard you worked, you got the same as the slacker f-up doing a less important job. Sweezy's utopia was the world of assembly-line workers, brain surgeons, and artists united in common wages, common gray government flats, common everything.

But that's not how HE lived. Buoyed by a trust fund, comfortably ensconced in the affluent Westchester suburbs, owning a New Hampshirte farm as well, never having to depend on his abilities, his work ethic, or the quality of his work for a living, he could just tell everyone ELSE how to live. And that's what he did, secure in the knowledge that when the socialist structure came to America, he'd still have his home, his trust fund, his farm, and he'd never have to work again.

And if you think, well, he was just a socialist utopian, and maybe he didn't exactly support Stalinism and the like, he thought Castro had it right, which means he thought repression of free speech, persecution and murder of opponents, and seizure of people's homes was "right." That's what he wanted for America. That's what he thought would work. Maybe Steven Spielberg would agree, but you won't find too many other people using Cuba as a paragon of success.

So he's gone now, and he lived long enough to see the utter failure of his theories, yet I'm sure he was blinded to that failure- to his death, he wouldn't ever admit that the socialism he touted couldn't, wouldn't, didn't work. And, judging by the paper this morning, neither will the L.A. Times.


March 8, 2004


John Kerry discusses his core supporters:

    "I've met foreign leaders who can't go out and say this publicly, but boy they look at you and say, 'You've got to win this, you've got to beat this guy, we need a new policy.' Things like that."

This is important to him, the idea that foreigners want him to win. I've heard this from some of my more anti-Bush friends: they hate him overseas, they all want Kerry to win, we have to listen to that because we all have to live together in perfect harmony, side by side on my piano keyboard, oh Lord, why don't we? It's even trotted out as proof that Bush is worthless: if the French wouldn't vote for him, if he's not willing to sign Kyoto, if he won't defer to the U.N., even, well, see? He's a bad, bad man.

But what I don't understand is the willingness of so many people to cater to people who do not have the best interests of America at heart, whose view of the world's best interests come from a decidedly anti-capitalist perspective, who haven't been elected by the American people or anyone else. Of course it's important to take a global view on issues, but someone has to stand up for America in these matters.

That would be the President. It makes whoever has to do it unpopular sometimes, but it goes with the territory. Kerry is one of those guys who wants the world to love him, and that's dangerous- I want things to be good for everyone in the world, but when there's a conflict, WHICH IS WHAT WE'RE IN RIGHT NOW, I want someone who'll have the balls to represent MY interests, this country's interests, the interests of freedom and democracy. I don't want someone who really, really cares if Blacque Jacques Shellaque... er, Chirac thinks he's ginchy.

"We need a new policy"?

I want a President who realizes who "we" is.


March 9, 2004


Everything you need to know about the entertainment industry's values:

First, from a story about Michael Moore in the O.C. Weekly:

    Still, notwithstanding the booing that went on at the Oscars last year (Moore insists the heckling came from the suits in the gallery, not the creative types down below), Moore would be the last to deny that the entertainment industry has done well by him. When I point out the obvious, that he’s become part of the corporate enemy he’s been attacking ever since Roger & Me, he responds rather lamely that a lot of former ’60s radicals are working in the business now (some were even in SDS!) and that even Miramax’s Harvey Weinstein is a standup guy with "very committed political beliefs and a desire to see change."

And from Peter Biskind's book about Miramax, "Down and Dirty Pictures," here's how that "standup guy" shows his "very committed political beliefs":

    The English Patient was turning into a money machine, grossing $78.6 million in the U.S. and $150 million foreign, for a total of $228.6 million worldwide. The ancillary markets, mainly video, piled on even more millions. But the picture, recall, was (producer Saul) Zaentz' baby, and six years later, Zaentz complained that hadn't seena penny from Miramax, other than the $5 million Harvey paid to the talent, but not Zaentz, early on....the cast and crew of The English Patient have never seen a penny of the remaining $7 million.... According to sources, over the course of the six years, payment was always just around the corner. "You'll be paid in October." October came and went. "You'll be paid in April." April came and went.... Zaentz threatened to sue Miramax. Harvey's response was always, "Go ahead. We're the Walt Disney Co., we have two hundred lawyers here sitting around at their desks with nothing to do. You wanna pay $1 million to hire a lawyer? Be my guest." (pp. 275-276)

And there's much more in Biskind's book about Standup Guy and very committed progressive liberal Harvey Weinstein- let it suffice to say that he allegedly does not treat the peons working for him the way you'd want to be treated. Yet in populist Michael Moore's book, he's a true man of the people, standing up for the little guy. I'll bet the corporate "criminals" against whom Moore rails have provided more "little guys" with gainful employment, decent salaries, and humane working conditions than this Standup Guy.

See, Harvey's a liberal, so in Michael Moore's book, he's Good. Those corporate leaders? Probably not liberal, so Bad.

But you knew that.


March 10, 2004


Here's what bothers me about John Kerry's slam on Bush:

    Kerry told a worker in Chicago that he was ready to fight back against his Republican foes, adding in an exchange picked up by television and radio microphones that "these guys are the most crooked, you know, lying group I've ever seen."

It's not that he said it. I know that it's what he really feels, as does most of the Anybody But Bush crowd. It's that he and his campaign won't own up to what he said:

    Spokesman David Wade said Kerry was referring to "the Republican attack machine" and not specifically to Bush or Vice President Dick Cheney, although he said Bush had "a pattern of standing by while other people ... do his dirty work for him."

No, he was referring directly to Bush and his administration. And that's fine- we know that's where he stands. But if he says it, he has to back it up. And he can't blow it off or explain it away- there's no ambiguity here. The mic was open, he got caught, and he has a choice- say yes, that's what I said, I meant it, here's why... or lie and claim he was referring to something or somebody else. He's doing the latter. That's what you do if you're the weasel kid on the playground afraid to get hit back- you sucker-punch, then deny you did anything.

(And, no, this isn't the same as the infamous Adam Clymer "asshole" comment- "asshole" is an opinion, not an allegation of fact, and Bush never tried to claim he was talking about someone else or meant it in a different sense. The comment stood by itself. Bush didn't say Clymer was crooked or biased or anything else, just that he was an asshole. If Kerry called Bush an asshole, well, it might be as unseemly as Bush's use of the term, but it wouldn't be the same as calling him a crook and a liar. You don't need to prove someone's an asshole. Besides, almost everyone's an asshole these days, certainly in politics)

Wouldn't it be refreshing if Kerry stood up and said this:

"Yes, I called the President a crooked liar. That's how I feel. And here's why:..."

Okay, he may not have anything further to say- the "Bush lied" crowd tends to be a little short on specifics- but at least he'd be honest. But it appears that's way too much to ask from him.


March 11, 2004


In the AP story about world reaction to the terrorist acts in Madrid:

    The secretary-general of the Arab League, Amr Moussa, said the 22-nation association "condemns such terrorist acts that aim at killing innocent civilians."

I don't have to point out the hypocrisy here, do I?

Or have I just missed the Arab League's condemnation of "suicide bombers" killing Israeli citizens?

Nope. From the Arab League Beirut Declaration of March 2002:

    We address a greeting of pride and honour to the Palestinian people's steadfastness and valiant intifada against the Israeli occupation and its destructive war machine.

    We greet with honour and pride the valiant martyrs of the intifada....

Apparently, "condemns such terrorist acts that aim at killing innocent civilians" has exceptions.


March 12, 2004


Aw, hell, I'm tired. Let's let someone else do the work, OK?

Here's friend Johnny Angel's article about Sex Pistol Steve Jones and his new gig as a radio DJ:

click here

You'd think, after a zillion articles for the paper over the last few years, that the LA Weekly web site could spell Johnny's name right.

Enough logrolling for tonight. There's a couch and a TV calling my name. Pardon me.


March 13, 2004


From a BBC message board set up for reaction to the Madrid bombings:

    Hi. I'm also shocked about what has happened in Madrid. I can't understand how somebody can do such a horrible thing. I hope that we will know who did it soon. In my opinion it wasn't ETA. They are killers, but I think they are not able to do this. If it was Al Qaeda, I think that our president should feel responsible for what has happened, because people shouted on the streets against the Iraq war. God bless all the victims and families

    Alex, Barcelona, Spain

And here it comes.

The anti-war contingent will never hold terrorists responsible for their own actions. Murdering innocent civilians? Spain, they believe, brought it on itself for supporting the ouster of Saddam. Why, they think, Spaniards ought to have expected it.

They fall just short of saying "well, you DESERVED it."

Morality shouldn't be a tricky thing. Murdering innocent civilians- targeting them- is immoral, amoral, wrong. That shouldn't be a debatable topic. Blaming something else- the government's position on Iraq, suffering in another country, someone's religion- is... natural, I suppose, to those so blinded by politics and hatred that they can't even bring themselves to blame the perpetrators.

This should be simple. If you see innocent people murdered, and the phrase "well, that's terrible, but, you know, you have to understand WHY the bombers felt so desperate that..." comes to mind, you have a problem. Murder- cold-blooded, deliberate murder- is wrong. There's no "but." Wrong.

If you still don't get that, I don't want to know you.


March 14, 2004


The terrorists won.

And now they know that, at least in Europe, all they have to do to get the government they prefer is to murder civilians.

Yeah, throw the bums out, all of them. Dump Blair, Bush, Howard, all of them. Replace them with leaders who understand that all you have to do to avoid trouble is to give the guys with bombs anything they want. It's simple, and it's proven effective- after all, that's how Neville Chamberlain saved the world, right?

The Spanish voters sent a clear message today. They stand with the murderers. And they'd prefer to capitulate to terrorism than fight to stop it.


March 15, 2004


Here's a story from Quebec, courtesy Daimnation!, that reminded me of something that happened to me a long time ago. First, the Canadian story, from the Montreal Gazette:

    A former Alliance Quebec president says the Office de la langue française is barking up the wrong tree by complaining about his use of the phrase "Call off your dogs." The Office has asked the Quebec Bar Association to censure Brent Tyler, who last month called on Premier Jean Charest to "call off your dogs" in connection with a case the OLF had taken to court. Tyler insisted he used the common English idiom in the sense of "back off" in reference to the OLF's prosecution of a western Quebec business owner....

    But the OLF board takes a more literal interpretation of news reports, including a Presse Canadienne story, about Tyler's remarks. The Journal de Montréal ran the story with the headline: "Brent Tyler calls OLF inspectors dogs"....

    OLF spokesman Gérald Paquette insisted the language police are not being oversensitive by isolating the word "dogs" in the metaphor. "In French, the term 'rappeler ces chiens' is very offensive," he said. The board refused to accept Tyler meant the expression in its English colloquial sense, Paquette said. "He may think it's colloquial English, but our board members thought it was offensive, in direct reference to our inspectors."

And now, my story.

I was in my brief law-practice phase and I was assigned to handle a committee meeting for a fairly large town. On that board was a gentleman whose day job was on Wall Street, and he was immediately skeptical of the new lawyer in the room. Throughout the meeting, he was condescending if not downright rude to me, but I kept my mouth shut. Finally, he suggested that the board do something that was, er, shall we say, of questionable propriety, and reasoned that if they got caught, they could always say that they didn't know the law.

"Sorry, you can't do that," I told them, "and even if you did, the court wouldn't accept that excuse. You know the saying. 'Ignorance of the law is no excuse.'"

The guy jumped to his feet. "Are you calling us ignorant?" he shouted. His face was bright red.

"Ah, no, that's the famous axiom. It just means..."

"YOU CALLED US IGNORANT!" He was sweating and red. The others in the room appeared to agree with him.

"I did not call you ignorant. I was explaining the law."

He was not mollified. "You want to fight, we'll fight."

"I don't want to fight, and I didn't call you ignorant."

This went on for a while, and I excused myself at the first opportunity. I quit the law shortly thereafter to go back into radio, and that was one of the reasons- I just didn't need that noise.

And I learned a valuable lesson that night- when someone "misunderstands" what you say, it's not always because they honestly misinterpret what you said. That guy knew what I was saying, and knew I was right. He was all about intimidation, just as the Quebec Francophone language Gestapo knows that "call off the dogs" is a common phrase and doesn't actually mean that they're being "called dogs." It's phony, it's all about taking control, and it works, because nobody seems to want to fight back. I shoulda fought back. I wish I had.

I did a little research on the guy who tried to bully me- I remembered his name- and I discovered that he'd moved to some college as a professor, where he reacted to a harmless online parody of himself by having the local police force confiscate the student's computer. And that wasn't the only incident I found about this guy. "Humorless" was one word used to describe him. I can think of others.

They'd apply to the French language police, too.


March 16, 2004


They blow up the Vet Sunday morning.

Actually, they'll be blowing up what's left of Veterans Stadium- my Philadelphia bureau chief (hi, Joe) says they've already dismantled and torn away so much that it's not really going to be like when they, say, implode old Vegas casinos on TV. Everything of note's been carted away, sold, reused, put in storage, dumped.

Dumped. That's a good word. The place WAS a dump. But it was OUR dump. Yes, it was a big concrete circle- actually, when it opened, they said it was an "octorad," not a circle, but that's the only time I've ever heard that term used in any context. It was grimy, and some of the corridors were dark and eerie. The seats were plastic, the grass was plastic, the back of the 300 level couldn't see fly balls, the 700 level was close to heaven- literally- and the overall ambiance was very 1971.

Still gonna miss it.

But only a little. The new place will surely be much nicer, the seats closer, the amenities finer. Besides, I moved- still a Phillies fan, but now I go to Dodger Stadium, Anaheim Edison International Angels Field Stadium at Anaheim, and the new place in San Diego. The Vet was past tense for me anyway.

But then there's this: watching Curt Schilling shut down Toronto and forcing a game 6 in the '93 series. Being there when Juan Samuel hit his first major league homer, on a Puerto Rico Day afternoon when the National Anthem singer forgot the words, keeping one eye on the upper deck for flying batteries the night J.D. Drew was supposed to be making his first appearance in Philadelphia, watching the Phillies sweep the Mets one October when the hated New Yorkers showed up needing to win only one at the Vet to clinch the dicision, watching Philadelphia's finest pound the hell out of some drunk New York fans in the 700 level that same weekend, seeing the Eagles pull one out against the Redskins (the only NFL game I've ever seen in person, believe it or not), watching someone dump an entire box of ticket flyers from the upper deck onto the field at a Stars USFL game...

...Aah, blow it up. We have our memories. They're better than the real thing now.


March 17, 2004


I'm on the road again tonight, another red eye. Vegas has the likelihood of my getting any sleep at all on the plane at 20 to 1.

In the meantime, one brief observation- there's a fundamental difference between the European and American reactions to terrorism, at least the Spanish/French/German reaction and the Bush reaction. You know what that is, but the new Spanish leader made it explicit:

    In the hourlong interview Wednesday on Onda Cero radio, Zapatero said that "fighting terrorism with bombs ... with Tomahawk missiles, isn't the way to defeat terrorism....

    "Terrorism is combatted by the state of law. ... That's what I think Europe and the international community have to debate,'' he said.

Someone walks up to you and punches you in the mouth. What do you do?

Spain surrenders. France surrenders. America hits back, hits everything in sight, pounds away and keeps pounding until there's no chance they'll hit back ever again.

I'll go with the American way on that one. You go ahead and treat terrorists the way you treat common burglars if you want. Bombs and missiles make a lot more sense to me. Anything else rewards the terrorists and emboldens them to do it again. And that's the gift Spain's given the world this week.


March 18, 2004


Made it across the country relatively unscathed. I was lucky- for the first time in ages, the middle seat was empty, meaning I could prop myself against the raised armrest and sleep a little. Unfortunately, the row behind me was occupied by a family- a young couple and their four brats- and there was constant screaming throughout the night.

"Dadddddeeeee! DADDDEEEE!" A complaint per minute, all night long, and daddddeeee and mommmmeeeee weren't interested in doing anything to shut their progeny up. I did complain, but the guy just kept saying "what?" and wouldn't respond otherwise. I gave up- I did get about two and a half hours' worth of sleep, which is two and a half hours more than I'd gotten in the last few red eyes I've taken.

On the way off the plane, I heard mommmmmeeeee tell the kids "you were VERY well behaved." I shot her a look. She scowled back. And at the rental van stop, I saw her commandeer an Alamo bus and make the driver wait- with a full bus of passengers- while daddddeeeeee and the kids got the bags from the carousel. As I left on another van, she was still holding the Alamo bus. Inconsiderate is an understatement. Let's hope they're not on the return flight.

But I made it here, I'm working away at a Starbucks, and it's sunny and warm. Complaint mode is off (if you want to be cute, ).



Jayson Blair's book is tanking. Nobody's buying it.

This appears to be surprising to many members of the press, but not to me. Media people find their industry endlessly fascinating; they'll spend hours on Romanesko, wading through countless letters about the latest controversy (The New York Post printed a picture of a suicide jumper! Gasp! Some TV stations stupidly aired a White House EPK as a real story! Eek!). And that's typical- after all, I write for a radio industry trade site, and we have our radio-centric audience. But the difference is this- radio people realize that nobody who's not in the business cares about our internal affairs. Newspaper people think everyone cares about theirs.

The Blair story's just not registering with the public beyond the general perception that the New York Times has lost its way and prints untruths. But ask most people who Jayson Blair is and what he did, and you get a blank, or maybe a guess that he used to play centerfield for the Orioles (wrong Blair) or is on trial for shotgunning a chauffeur (wrong Jayson). Bottom line: nobody cares, nobody wants to read about it, it's a non-topic for the general public. As much of a bodyblow as this may be to the collective ego of newspaperdom, you can't make people care, no matter how many "Today" show interviews you get.

"Burning Down My Master's House"? Burn away. Nobody will even bother to call the fire department.


March 19, 2004


A conservative in Berkeley.

A Jew in Riyadh.

A Cowboys fan in Philadelphia.

A fifth seed in the NCAA tournament.

Two for four this year. Providence just got upset by Pacific. And the less said about the Florida Gators, the better.

Could be worse- could be the NIT. But those 5-12 games are always bracket busters. Good thing I didn't join a pool this year.


March 20, 2004


You lose weight, you keep in shape. You run marathons, and when you find your energy flagging, you go out and invent an energy bar that makes you millions. You do everything right.

And then you suddenly drop dead of a heart attack at 51.

And Keith Richards lives.

Might as well crack open another Schlitz, Bubba.


March 21, 2004


If I hadn't read Kenneth Turan's think piece in the L.A. Times last week, I'd have called you a liar if you told me about it. In case you missed it, Turan managed to write an article decrying how Charlize Theron failed to thank Aileen Wuornos when accepting the Best Actress Oscar.

Let's go over that in slow motion, just to make sure you caught that. The movie critic of the Los Angeles Times believes it was a terrible thing that Charlize Theron- who won an Oscar for portraying real-life serial killer Aileen Wuornos- did not thank Wuornos, or... well, this is what he said:

    (N)ot mentioning Wuornos in some way, shape or form is insupportable. Without Aileen Wuornos and her savage life, there is no breakthrough part for Charlize Theron to play, no career-making film for Patty Jenkins to write and direct, no Oscar to bring home to South Africa.

    Without Aileen Wuornos there is nothing, which is exactly what her memory got out of the awards weekend. This absence was bothersome for several reasons, not the least of which is that it perpetuates after death the very attitudes toward Wuornos, the way she was marginalized and made invisible by a society that found it more convenient to forget that individuals like her existed.

Turan goes on to say that this is an example of how Hollywood is so self-centered, so self-absorbed, that it doesn't care about the public, about others. And the latter may be true, but can you really say that failing to thank a serial killer is an example of that?

I think it does say something about Hollywood that not one but three movies- "Monster" and Nick Broomfield's two documentary versions of the story- were made about this serial killer, and both essentially blamed her abusive upbringing and need for love (and a brutal rape and torture by the first victim that may or may not have happened) for her murder spree. But it's also another example of Hollywood's acceptance that nobody is to blame for his or her own actions. Way, way too many people are victims of abuse, of poverty, of sexual assault, of torture, of mental illness, but most of them DO NOT KILL ANYONE.

And nobody makes a movie about them, let alone three. And no actor will forget to thank them for the Oscar as a result.

In today's Times, there were three reader letters about the Turan piece. Two predictably joined him in criticizing how Wuornos was ignored for her inspiring work. One, however, noted that Turan compared Wuornos' situation with the omission of Ken Kesey's name in the Oscar celebration of "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" and said "to say that 'Aileen Wournos, executed for murder, was not around to have her heart broken by her Oscar and Spirit omissions' is ridiculous. You cannot compare talent with murder. This woman did not deserve a thanks, she deserved what she got."

But she did get ripped off by Hollywood. She could have been given a three-picture deal. Instead, they made the three movies without her. A new lawyer might have helped her, but she really needed a better agent.



UAB beats Kentucky and most everyone outside of Kentucky smiles.

Same for Stanford losing. And the Marlins beating the Yankees, and so on throughout history. Everyone loves the underdog.

I'm not sure why.

It's what America's feeling right now- most of the world, including a substantial number of Americans, want America to lose. They want al Qaeda or someone to beat the giant to its knees. Ask them why and it'll come down to a bunch of complaints that arise from the U.S. being the power, the one massive world presence, the big guy on the block, Goliath. They want to see the monster slain. It doesn't matter that Goliath is quite likely better for them than the David slinging the rock. David's little, Golaith's big, therefore root for David. But thinking this way can create the kind of thought process that justifies suicide bombing- Palestinians little, Jews... er, Israel big, so whatever Palestinians do is OK.

I've fallen into that trap. I've always hated the New York Yankees for being winners, smug, arrogant winners, big and getting bigger while everyone else has to play the patsy for them. Dallas Cowboys? Same thing. Rational basis for this? None. I can't even honestly claim geographical justification for it- I lived in the New York area before I lived in the Philadelphia area, so rejecting the Yankees wasn't a happenstance of where I was born, it was an active, conscious rejection. (My Dad hated, and still hates, the dreaded Bronx Bombers, too, so it could be genetic)

So maybe it's time to stop the knee-jerk hatred of anything and anyone that's become "too big." I'll try to keep that in mind. But no way in hell can I be a Yankees or Cowboys fan. Sometimes big IS evil.


March 22, 2004


It's late, and this was Busy Day #1 of what looks to be a busy week, plus it was Crisis Central here today. OK, they were other people's crises, but it was one after the other. Anyway, I could make some pithy, incisive commentary about the Hamas threat or the 9/11 hearings or broadcast indecency, but I saw this on Sky News' web site and it scrambled what was left of my mind:


    Police investigating the murder of a man whose genitals were cut off have ruled out the possibility that they were fed to his dog.

You can read the rest by clicking here. Me, that's enough for today.


March 23, 2004


With the removal of several posts from the front page of regularguys.com, the entry plugging this here site is back up top in a prominent position, so hello to everyone in Atlanta here seeking enlightenment.

Sorry, ain't got none. I know what you know. Sort of.


March 24, 2004


The Washington Post's Gene Weingarten, whose writing I like, has finally said what most media figures merely think. From his online chat this week:

    Actually, the reason most journalists are liberal -- conservatives HATE this position -- is that journalists tend to be better informed about public issues than most people.

I don't think Gene means to be condescending, but this statement is exactly that. It leaves no room for honest disagreement, and it assumes that the liberal agenda is the correct agenda, that the only reason anyone could possibly disagree is that they're just plain too ignorant of the facts.

There's also the matter of whether journalists are liberal before they become journalists, or whether journalism makes them that way. Gene votes for the latter: "journalists talk to a lot of real people, with real problems," as if conservatives or libertarians or Socialist Workers Party members aren't real people with real problems or don't talk to real people with real problems. Would talking to a small businessman who's been battered into submission by nonsensical regulation make someone a liberal? Or is that not a "real person with real problems"? I think most journalists are liberal because a) they come out of school that way, and b) when everyone else at work thinks one way, and everyone you talk to thinks the same way, and everything you read is from one side, that's how you think. And that works for both sides- I expect that a Washington Times or Fox News reporter would find the same to be true on the right wing. Hollywood works the same way, as does academia. When everyone's coming from the same side, there's little chance of even considering any other side. It's the Pauline Kael syndrome- nobody I know voted for Nixon, so how could McGovern have lost?

Journalists are not particularly better informed about public issues than other people. I know this because I'm watching the coverage of broadcast issues like indecency and satellite radio, and I see mistakes and unfounded assumptions and acceptance of wild-ass guesses as fact throughout the coverage. Howard Stern says Clear Channel banned the Dixie Chicks? Then it must be true, except for the fact that it isn't. That's how radio gets covered in the other news media. There's little critical thinking employed. You can scam journalists easier than you can scam a pensioner with a pyramid scheme. Ask Captain Janks.

But too many journalists think they're smarter than the general public, just like Gene Weingarten says. We're better informed, they think. You just don't understand things like WE do.

Fine. Maybe we don't. We're all just too stupid to understand the grand concepts you journalists know.

Hello, CNN? Yeah, I'm on the scene at that news story, put me on. Hello, Aaron? Baba booey. Baba booey baba booey baba booey.

I rest my case.


March 25, 2004


Here's a Knight-Ridder piece on the worldwide anger over the use of a hapless 16 year old as a suicide bomber by the Palestinians:

    The uncle of a Palestinian boy caught trying to cross an Israeli army checkpoint in a vest stuffed with explosives was hopping mad. If he finds out who sent his nephew on the aborted mission as a suicide bomber, said Khalil Abdo, he'd gladly kill the dispatcher himself.

    "I would serve a life sentence for it," Abdo told Israeli Army radio. "One must never do a thing like that."

    Abdo's anger was only part of the uproar across Israel and the Palestinian territories on Thursday at what many viewed as the exploitation of a troubled and vulnerable child.

And an uproar is appropriate, except for this:

People are upset because children are being used to blow up Israeli civilians.

Why aren't they upset when adults are used to blow up Israeli civilians?

Is that somehow okay? Where's the revulsion there?

Just asking.


March 26, 2004


Breaking news from somewhere in Western Pennsylvania:

    Authorities were seeing red after someone used spray paint to write "Seniors '04" on a gold-leafed dinosaur statue on loan to Fox Chapel Area High School.

Ah, yes, the "Class of 'XX" graffito. How quaint.

At my high school, the custom was to crudely paint the class year on the football bleachers, so that from out by Valley Road, you could see a squared-off, borderline illegible "76" or "79." This was important, because it signaled to drivers passing the school that... that... well, it wasn't important, but every class did it. Every class but mine, I believe- I'd like to think it was our superior intellect, but most of the kids in my class were morons and a-holes (hi, everyone!), so I think it was apathy.

But the custom of spraying your class year on things- water towers, statues, someone's beater '71 Plymouth Duster- endures, and for the kids who do it, it's the last breath of the good years, the last time they'll feel part of something bigger than themselves, unless they join the Navy or land in Rahway doing 30-to-life. The guys- it's usually guys- who do the painting are looking at the end of the last years that matter to them. High school's the peak, and everything else is, well, like that movie where Robin Williams and Kurt Russell replay their high school football rivalry game.

High school was not my favorite time. You know that already- I've written about the alumni directory thing- but I'm endlessly fascinated by the people whose lives hit the high point at the big game, or the prom, or just basking in the adulation of his or her classmates. Must be nice to be one of the popular kids, or the stoners, or the jocks. I wouldn't know, but then again I didn't spray paint my class year on anything.

And when you wonder what kind of loser paints his face the team colors and goes to a December football game without his shirt so he can get on TV, now you know. It's the guy in high school who spray-painted the dinosaur.


March 27, 2004


We saw "Mayor of the Sunset Strip" this afternoon. I don't know whether it's playing in any theaters outside of the L.A. area- it does have particularly local significance- but it was playing, naturally, on the Sunset Strip itself, which is where we went to catch it. The film is a documentary about KROQ weekend host Rodney Bingenheimer, whom too many newspaper writers have dubbed a rock 'n' roll Zelig, and it was a labor of love by his friends, one of whom, Chris Carter, worked with me and was working on the movie before, during, and after the time we worked together, so my enthusiastic recommendation for the result is, I suppose, tainted. But see it anyway, because it's fascinating, funny, and profoundly, deeply sad.

That last part comes from the lesson at the core of the movie, the reason to care at all about a guy who made a career out of being a scenester in Hollywood. When Carter asks Rodney if there were any things in his life he'd change if he could do it over, Rodney, with uncharacteristically little hesitation, says yes. It's not further explored, but it doesn't need to be explained. After a half-century of being a scene-maker, someone who knows everyone and is always backstage at every big show and can honestly claim to be instrumental in the success of countless rock stars, here's what he has to show for it:

1. A cramped apartment in what is not a "hot zip."
2. A radio show at midnight Sunday night-Monday morning, otherwise known as "transmitter maintenance."
3. Lots of assorted memorabilia.

What he doesn't have is a lot of money, and he doesn't have the love-of-his-life relationship he clearly craves. The movie refers often to his reputation of bedding countless nubile girls who slept with him because it was as close as they'd get to sleeping with the stars he'd befriended, but at the end he's unmarried, and his female "best friend" remains a friend, having procured herself a more proper boyfriend. He's alone, really, and all the celebrity stardust that rubbed off on him isn't doing him any good for what counts.

The movie's signature moment doesn't involve Rodney at all. It's when his father and stepmother, also celebrity-struck (chattering about seeing old-time stars at several pro-am golf tournaments), are asked why it's important to meet celebrities, and they're stuck dumb by the question. There's a long silence, then an embarrassed non-answer, then more silence.

But there are good reasons to be around celebrities, and most of them involve getting a taste of the celebrity treatment. The food is better, the drinks are on the house, and the girls will sleep with you. Nothing wrong with any of that, but as much as you'd think that's more than enough to sustain you, there has to be more at some point. Poor little Rodney helped countless bands make it, and didn't get paid for it. He befriended celebrities of all stripes, and is close to very few people. He experienced the glamour, then slogged back to his apartment in a rattletrap beater.

It's all very sad, but at the same time, in a weird way, triumphant, because no matter how disappointed he is at the way things turned out, no matter how wistfully he remembers how the girl he loved ran off and married David Bowie's manager instead, no matter how ratty his surroundings or how neglected his radio show has become, he was there backstage, in front of the stage, on stage when his heroes performed. He was there. He came to rock, and he rocked. No matter what else, if you're Rodney, that has to count for a lot.

Oh, and the movie features several mentions, and pictures, of Kato Kaelin. I don't know how you can beat that.


March 28, 2004


In the first half today, Xavier's Anthony Myles drove toward the basket, pulled up in the lane, and ducked under a Duke defender who'd committed to leave his feet. The Duke player came down and fouled him, he made the shot, and then came the celebration. Myles thumped his chest, yelled at the Duke players, acted as if he'd just proven his manhood many times over.

Just one thing remained: the free throw.

And when I saw his act, I thought "this guy's guaranteed to miss the free throw."

And then the announcer mentioned that Myles is 51% from the line.

And then he missed the free throw.

And then Duke grabbed the rebound, sped to the other end of the court, and scored.

And Myles, an important part of Xavier's success, ended up fouling out with about 12 minutes to go, sparking a Duke run.

Yeah, Anthony, you go celebrate. (As I write this, the game's far from over, so there may be some celebration yet, but as the game moved into the critical part of the second half, he sat on the bench)

So this is what we get- excessive celebration of relatively minor achievement, and a marked inability of players to perform the most simple of tasks. You can be a star player and shoot less than 50% from the line, and you get to jump and yell and point at yourself and taunt opposing players and rile up the crowd because you, um, drew a foul early in the first half.

I still love basketball. I just have to remind myself of that sometimes. It's easy to forget.


March 29, 2004


A few minutes ago, I was watching a few minutes of "On Air With Ryan Seacrest" when it struck me that the show is really "Entertainment Tonight" for the developmentally disabled.

OK, not really. It's "Entertainment Tonight" for teenage girls, only I'm not so sure that teenage girls even LIKE Ryan Seacrest. But I can't tell- I'm not a teenage girl. (And no, I'm not suggesting that teenage girls are developmentally disabled, so stop that right now)

The same disconnect hit me when we saw "Jersey Girl" this weekend. I like Kevin Smith movies- I even enjoyed the self-indulgent "Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back"- but this movie is a different animal. It's a schmaltz-fest, pure and simple. A chick flick. But I happen to be married to a chick, and SHE didn't care for it, either- she agreed with me that we'd give anything for Jay and Bob to wander into the movie for some drug-addled low comedy, or Dante and Randall to come on over from the Quickstop for some street hockey. Instead, we got a morose Ben Affleck and a lot of phony angst, "Chasing Amy" without the lesbian, the plot, and the humor but with a little girl. Chick flick. Not for me.

That's why it has to be hard to be a critic. You have to watch movies that aren't intended for you, and you have to be fair. If you're not in the target audience- that is, if you're not a farting 12 year old at an Adam Sandler movie, or a guy with hygiene issues who still lives with Mom at "Lord of the Rings"- it's difficult to put yourself in the mindset of the people who might appreciate the movie. You try, but you can't.

Well, actually, you can. I'll never be able to look at it like a teenage girl would, but I'm fairly certain "On Air with Ryan Seacrest" sucks.


March 30, 2004


    Democracy is a good thing.


    If the majority of people want something, that's the way things should go.


    Like when Californians wanted to stop massive tax hikes by passing Prop. 13.

    No, that's...

    And when they voted to recall Gov. Davis. That was good, too.

    No, no, that was...

    The will of the people?


They're having a vote in Inglewood next Tuesday. The measure is basically a referendum on Wal-Mart- the company wants to build a SuperCenter in the empty space between the Forum and Hollywood Park, and the unions don't want it. It's specifically a question on whether to remove some red tape in the permit process, but the bottom line is that it's all about Wal-Mart, yea or nay.

This morning in the L.A. Times, Patt "The Hatt" Morrison wrote a blistering column attacking Wal-Mart and its right to build in Inglewood or, really, anywhere. After describing Wal-Mart executives as sitting back in Bentonville laughing at the rubes in Inglewood "ready to sell their birthright," whatever that means, she goes on to question the very idea that people should have the right to even vote on this:

    But really, do you want initiatives on the ballot for technical matters? You hire city planners and zoning experts for the same reason you hire a doctor to take out your appendix or an electrician to wire your house — you can't do it yourself. Don't give a voter like me control over engineering and zoning considerations. A sufficiently slick ad campaign might persuade me that red licorice is as good a building material as steel.

Patt doesn't mean that. She knows SHE'S smart enough to understand a ballot initiative. Inglewood residents? Nah, way, WAY too stupid to understand the complexities of the situation.

It's a long initiative, to be sure. And it would let Wal-Mart have its way at the site. That would be worrisome, if not for this: the site's empty now. Nothing there but parking and dirt where a hotel used to be. It's not the nicest neighborhood in the area- in fact, it's pretty poor. And there are few uses for it as long as there's a racetrack on one side and an arena on the other. There's no environment there to protect, no traffic situation that needs deep examination- the intersection handled nightly crowds of 17,000 when the Forum was in use by the Lakers and Kings, so it can handle Wal-Mart. In short, the environmental and procedural questions are just background to the real question- Wal-Mart or not? Non-union or union? Jobs or no jobs? Cheap labor or no labor? Tax revenues or no tax revenues?

You know, I don't really care. I wouldn't shop in Inglewood anyway, I've been to Hollywood Park once in 5 years, I haven't been to the Forum since the teams moved, and although I have a little Wal-Mart stock- who doesn't?- whether they build in Inglewood is really immaterial to me. Besides, if they don't build there, they'll find another plot of land nearby to build on. They always do. But it does amuse me when people say that the people can't be trusted to vote on things. You might not always like the result, but that IS democracy. And if the people want their low, low prices or want to throw the bums out, well, maybe Patt the Hatt thinks she's different, but I'm not gonna be the one to tell them they can't have it their way.



Prompted by an entry on LGF, here's a map of where I've been, generated by a very cool page at World66.com:

create your own visited country map
or write about it on the open travel guide

OK, it's kinda pathetic, but how many of YOU fainted at the birthplace of Simon Bolivar, or got refused service at a Paris bistro? (There's also the matter of several of the countries being too small to see, mostly Caribbean islands like Antigua or Guadaloupe or Curacao) Anyway, it's cool, go try it.


March 31, 2004


John Kerry makes a bid for street cred:

    "I'm fascinated by Rap and Hip-Hop" said Democratic presidential candidate, John Kerry during an MTV Choose or Lose forum. Offering up a heavy dose of street credibility, Kerry defended gangsta rap, freedom of speech and the realities of street life....

    "I'm fascinated by rap and by hip-hop. I think there's a lot of poetry in it. There's a lot of anger, a lot of social energy in it. And I think you'd better listen to it pretty carefully, 'cause it's important."

Oh, yeah? Name some songs you like. Offer some recommendations. Go on, we'll wait.

Thought so.

    When questioned about offensive rap lyrics, Kerry said there is a line to be drawn, but defended freedom of speech.

    "I think that there is a line you draw between government intervention and the right of speech and the right for people to express themselves, but do I think there are standards of decency in that? Yes, I do. Do I think that sometimes some lyrics in some songs have stepped over what I consider to be a reasonable line? Yeah, I do. I think when you start talking about killing cops or something like that, it bothers me."

But bitches and hos and drugs and killing non-cops? Is that OK with you, Jo-Ker? Really, tell us where that "reasonable line" is. Give examples. It should be easy- after all, you're fascinated by rap and hip-hop.

Sorry, I couldn't hear that. Could you speak up?

It's embarrassing for a middle-aged rich guy to try to act like he has even the remotest idea of what's happening with youth culture, worse when it's hip-hop. If he's being honest, John Kerry would admit that he doesn't know Chingy from 50 Cent from Kanye West. And there would be NOTHING WRONG WITH THAT. Really, when politicians attempt to prove they're youth-culture-relevant, it's condescending in the extreme. Think about the president in recent years who was most beloved by young people when he was in office.

No, not Clinton. Think Reagan.

Ronald Reagan never once attempted to prove that he knew anything about rap, or rock, or MTV. He didn't have to. Most young people don't care whether the President knows who Fred Durst is. In fact, they don't WANT that. They want a father figure, someone who will be able to handle the finances and make them feel safe.

Think about it- remember when you were a kid and your father tried to "take an interest" in the stuff you liked? Remember the abject embarrassment you felt? I mean, when I was a kid, you wouldn't even see your parents in jeans, ever. You didn't want to.

There was a show on for a half-season a few years ago called "Undeclared." In it, Loudon Wainwright III played one of the main characters' fathers, a guy lost in the throes of a broken marriage and midlife crisis who started hanging around the kids on campus a little TOO much. When a presidential candidate starts to talk about his deep interest in rap and hip-hop, that's the dad who won't stop hanging around the kids. He thinks he's really making an impression. He is, but not the kind he wants to make.

He's your dad in baggies and bling, acting 15. Give it up, man.


About March 2004

This page contains all entries posted to PMSimon.com in March 2004. They are listed from oldest to newest.

February 2004 is the previous archive.

April 2004 is the next archive.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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