Drooling on the Pillow

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Da Jersey Blogmeet 

I'm trying to see if I can be the first one to get in a post on Da Jersey Blogmeet. You would have recognized me. I was the nitwit that forgot to bring a camera.

Well, thanks to Jim, at Parkway Rest Stop, Kate, Carol, and The Usual Suspects for putting together a hell of an evening. I had a much better time than I deserve, but you don't want to hear about my issues. A hell of an evening. Let's just leave it at that.

I met so many people I've wanted to meet and everybody I talked to was funny, informed, intelligent and nice. Tons of food, open bar, what else do you farookin' want? Oh, you wanted to hear a set of git-fiddle growling from Jimbo? Done. If you were wondering, he can play. Somebody should have had a tape recorder, we could have podcasted it. Next year.

Go visit TJ, Mr. Surly, Erin, Gregor, Lynne, Mary, Lizbeth, Roberto, Liz, Shabe, Tracy, Patrick, Jaynee, Suzette and Tigerhawk. All nice people, all have something to say. And a special shout-out to my man, Duncan.

At one point, Jim handed me his cell phone and I had a ten minute conversation with Dax Montana, a friend of Jim's, blogging from Georgia, at whose site I've commented in the past. It's a different world, I tell ya.

I had a ball.

I'll be There, My Arteries May be Late 

To honor Da Jersey Blogmeet this evening, I've lunched on a Taylor Porkroll, egg and cheese sandwich, washed down with a delicious Yoo-Hoo. Mmmm. Just as good as Roberto promised.

Friday, April 01, 2005

Whitman and Ali 

There's an article in today's New York Sun on the 150th anniversary of Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass that brings up a painful memory.

I love my older sister, but I love to rankle her. In the spirit of deliberate offensiveness I once declared to her that Walt Whitman was a fraud and Leaves of Grass was garbage. It was a kind of Whitmaneque remark, really, and obtained the desired result. Her look, usually one of outrage and horror upon my pronouncements deflated like one whose fingers have slipped off the life-saving branch as they plunge into the canyon. My brother, it said, not just a Republican, but a moron.

It was also made almost completely in ignorance. I may have read a few stanzas of Whitman in high school, but I don't remember doing so. What moved me that day was a few lines of from Song of Myself in the Sunday Times done in his most unlimbered grocery list style, pre-channeling Bob Dylan.

Since then I've done some reading. It's hard, because each time I dip into Leaves of Grass I'm reminded just what a moron I was that day. I've written poetry all my life, but I couldn't do this:

I depart as air ... I shake my white
locks at the runaway sun,
I effuse my flesh in eddies and drift
it in lacy jags.

I bequeath myself to the dirt to grow
from the grass I love,
If you want me again look for me
under your boot-soles.

You will hardly know who I am or
what I mean,
But I shall be good health to you
And filter and fibre your blood.

Failing to fetch me at first keep
Missing me one place search
I stop some where waiting for you.

Oddly enough, neither could he. There is almost nothing useful or interesting, much less beautiful in anything he ever did except this one book.

What Whitman did for poetry and American literature in 1855 was akin to what drugs did for American music and culture in the 1960s. He destroyed the concept of rules and set everything adrift. Far, far too frightening for most, a few talented individuals followed him and thrived and hoards of talentless layabouts became 'poets'. His legacy is one magnificent book, a new way of looking at poetry, a handful of brilliant disciples and 700 tons of bad lyrics.

Another way to play epater la soeur was to bad-mouth Mohammed Ali, her especial hero. That really made her nuts. Here, though, I think I'm on more solid ground.

Ali was unquestionably one of the very greatest boxers of all time. I can't think of anyone who combined such quickness, power, cleverness, courage and viciousness in a heavyweight frame. Culturally, he was also significant. Emerging directly from the civil rights era he snapped the nation's head back with his playful arrogance, directness and unyielding insistence on his rights. All delivered by as good looking and charming a guy as we had ever seen. He broke many rules and not only got away with it, but was celebrated for it.

He has a lot to answer for, though. Ali mainstreamed chest-thumping. He normalized humiliating your opponent. It was a good act, if it was an act, but it was culturally corrosive. If your self is Mohammed Ali, self regard may not be exceptionable, but if you're you or me, it's not nearly so amusing.

His legacy was a brilliant career, a few talented disciples and every asshole you meet on the subway and in the boardroom.

Sandy Baron for NSA 

So Sandy Berger is going to get off with a fine and a three year suspension of his security clearance for stealing and destroying classified documents. And lying to investigators (Martha, call your lawyers).

I am protected against a similar fate because I don't have a security clearance that would get me within a parsec of those documents. Highpockets Berger had the clearance because he was trusted. It's hard to imagine a way in which he could have more thoroughly betrayed that trust, but they're giving him, essentially, a time out. What in the world do you have to do to lose your clearance permanently? And where can I buy a pair of those Bill Clinton Magic Skates?

Bradley to Challenge Corzine for NJ Governor 

I have to admit, Steve Kornacki had me for half a paragraph.

I'm the kind of guy that, if you tell me my shoe's untied I'll look down before remembering I'm barefoot. I like to stay inside every year on this day.

Thursday, March 31, 2005

Dead Zone 

No hockey, three more college basketball games, couldn't care less about the pros, no football, baseball a week a way. Found myself talking to the wife the other day.

Gracie's sports life is just the opposite. Spring soccer two games old, little league starts up this weekend, skating, swimming, skateboarding.

Of course she has two good knees and no job. If I had a choice I'd take the knees, but, of course, my only choice is aspirin or tylenol.

Sorry. One last winter grump before the daffodils.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Bloody Arizona 

The American Dinosaur weighs in from the front lines of Arizona on what may be the sleeper issue of the 2006 and definitely the 2008 election cycles: illegal immigration.

Aside from the national security, drug enforcement, jobs, entitlement and fiscal issues relating to border security, both parties need to get out front on this issue before it is ripped from them by those immediately effected.

There's a lot of anger building up in the border states and we need leadership.

Sgt. Paul R. Smith 

I read in the Times today that the army is awarding the first Medal of Honor since the 'Black Hawk Down' battle in Somalia and the first of the Afghanistan and Iraq campaigns.

Sgt. First Class Paul R. Smith, a combat engineer in the Third Infantry Division was killed on April 4, 2001. The morning after seizing a section of Baghdad Airport his unit was building a compound for prisoners and came under attack by a vastly superior force of Republican Guards. Sgt. Smith organized the defense, exposed himself by throwing grenades and firing rockets at a tower commanding their position and reloaded his machine gun three times before being overrun. His actions were responsible for 20-50 enemy casualties and saving the lives of 100 Americans.

According to the Times there have been 3,440 recipients, but only 842 since World War II, when the requirements were tightened. There are 125 living recipients of the award.

At the Congressional Medal of Honor Society's website there is comprehensive information about the award as well as a link to the army's Medal of Honor page which lists every recipient along with the story of each award.

I always liked the fact that if a corporal with the MoH walks into a room the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs stands and salutes.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Endangered Species 

In December, after the death of Jack Newfield, I posted that admirable liberals were getting thin on the ground. I forgot about Nat Hentoff.

Paul Krugman -- Moderate 

Back in January I posted thusly:
[We] need one word [along the lines of 'fisking'] to
describe a vicious, scurrilous, dishonest, hysterical
accusation of another person's viciousness,
scurrilousness, dishonesty and hysteria. I propose
'knieveling' since the old guy [Evel Knievel] came out
of the courtroom after a judge dismissed his
defamation suit and called the judge a 'bimbo'. I can't
wait for the first post fisking someone for knieveling
Of course, the champeen knieveler is Paul Krugman who demonstrates today, why a lack of euphony is the only reason we don't just call the practice 'krugmaning'.

Let's just stipulate that there has been a notable lack of restraint, subtlety and calm reasoning on the part of both sides in the Terri Schaivo tragedy. Simply because I believed that a way could and should have been found to allow the poor woman to live without endangering the constitution or the separation of powers doesn't mean that anyone who disagrees with me is a moron, a communist or the tool of communist morons.

I admit, it's difficult for me to understand how one can believe the local judiciary should be deferred to in the case of Ms. Schiavo and ignored and subverted, in the case of Elian Gonzales and believe both with messianic zeal and perfect contempt for alternative points of view. I've struggled to understand what makes people like Krugman and even far cooler heads such as Jeff Jarvis so angry that people are trying to keep her alive. All this talk of theocrats and Mullahs to me is just an attempt to take the issue off the table. But of course, it's the Republicans who stifle dissent and use intimidation techniques. It's the Republicans who are furthering their agenda on the back of this unfortunate woman.

In the words of Paul Krugman:
America isn't yet a place where liberal politicians,
and even conservatives who aren't sufficiently
hard-line, fear assassination. But unless moderates take
a stand against the growing power of domestic
extremists, it can happen here.
Let's try to remember that this despicable blowhard is portraying the efforts of a diverse group of people to (you may well believe mistakenly) save a woman's life as foreshadowing of a domestic kristallnacht. More outrageously, he implies his position is the moderate one.

They're The New Air Jordans 

Even I thought I was being a little precious by using nondescript ear phones to hide the fact that I'm an iPodnik.

Turns out they've become the target of a rash of subway rip-offs and Sluggo has again stumbled blindly to the head of the curve.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Jersey City's Business Curfew 

Jersey City's response to a recent spike in violent crime is innovative. Instead of more intensive policing in the crime-ridden areas the City Council thought about the problem. "Why are these guys holding up all these bodegas and fast food places?" The answer was obvious. The criminals were looking for money and stuff. The solution was equally obvious. Close down the bodegas and fast food places. That's where all the money and stuff is. All over the city frustrated criminals returned home to work on household projects.

Over the weekend a business curfew went into effect over 135 blocks of the city where all businesses, except bars and pharmacies, have to shut down between 11pm and 5am. This shortens the shifts of thousands of minimum wage earners and slices off the margin for many struggling small businesses. It's so dumb it's breathtaking.

Thriving businesses are the single most critical element in the health of a neighborhood. I'm not saying these businesses are thriving, but I can say that they are thriving less today than they were on Friday.

It's not the job of the police to remove the low hanging fruit, but to defend it.

John Bolton 

I love Mark Steyn. While discussing the appointment of John Bolton to be Ambassador to the United Nations and the shrieking and hand wringing this caused overseas and among Americans inclined to think of themselves and 'nuanced' and 'internationalist', he tells this story:
Twenty years ago, the then Secretary of State George
Schultz used to welcome the Reagan administration's
ambassadorial appointments to his office and invite each
chap to identify his country on the map. The guy who'd
just landed the embassy in Chad would invariably point to
Chad. "No," Schultz would say, "this is your country" - and
point to the United States.
Bolton has two flaws. First, he understands his role as promoting, defending and articulating the policies of this Administration to the international community. Second, he actually believes in those policies. He has no presumption that the U.S. is at fault in any international disagreement. His priority is our interest and his enemies are those who would thwart our interests. It's not hard to see why some find him a very dangerous man.

On that we can agree.

How Do They Know Which Way is Backwards? 

Mick Hartley links to a BBC piece that claims that:
When faced with danger, the octopus can wrap six of
its legs around its head to disguise itself as a fallen
coconut shell and escape by walking backwards on the
other two legs, scientists have discovered.
And he provides a link to a web site that has video to prove it.

I wonder, though, why these clever fellows would choose to impersonate a walking coconut. That would certainly get my attention, hungry or no.

The octopus in the video looks more like Squidward than any fibrous drupe to me. Maybe that's off-putting enough.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Some Good NJ Basketball News, at Last 

Congratulations to the Rutgers woman's basketball team. They beat Ohio State this afternoon to make it into the E-Eight. The last time a Scarlet Knight roundball team made it into the F-Four? 1976.

I'll Get You For This, Stinky! Posted by Hello
I always thought Bo Ryan, the Wisconsin basketball coach looked like the small city crime boss in a Robert Ryan movie.

I'm sure he's a wonderful guy.
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