Drooling on the Pillow

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Da Carnival -- #12 

The lovely and talented Sharon at The Center of NJ Life is sending in the clowns for the Carnival of the New Jersey Bloggers in a blogoteria of tasty treats.

Go there!

Friday, August 05, 2005

Nitwits, Chowderheads, Arrogant A**H*L*S 

Okay, I'm submitting the NCAA to Shamrocketship for an Effin' Eejit Award. These geniuses announced today that any team with a Indian name cannot compete for a championship.
An NCAA policy adopted Friday bars schools from using
Native American nicknames, logos or mascots at any of
its national championships, beginning in February.
That could prompt name changes — or lawsuits —
nationwide, from the Utah Utes to the Illinois Fighting
Illini, the Central Michigan Chippewas to the
Southeastern Oklahoma State Savages.
The Florida State Seminoles have already announced their intention to file a suit. I've always hated the Seminoles, but starting today I'm a fan.

Real Indians have no problem with the names. They understand that you don't name your team after a figure of fun or an object of ridicule. All team names are an attempt to identify the team with icons of courage and honor. The fact that there are so many teams named after tribes and Indian heroes is a tribute, not a slur.

Let's leave aside for a moment that what a school names it's team is no freaking business of the NCAA. If a school wants to name its team the Wehrmacht or the MichaelMoores they will get what they deserve, but the notion that it's up to these bozos to instruct colleges and universities on the heritage of their areas and the ideals they want to personify is positively ludicrous.

With all the embarassments suffered by big time college atheletics over the past decade -- drugs, gangsterism, corruption and cheating -- this is what the jackasses see as the important issue heading into the season.

I believe and fervently hope that they have wandered into the land of hurt.

Go Seminoles!

My Bill Murray Moments 

Bill Murray (Buster Keaton on 'ludes) seems to be settling in to a career of portraying intelligent, disappointed men who, for one reason or another, have stopped dealing with the world. Some of them have lost the ability to connect, others have made a decision to withdraw. Rushmore, Lost in Translation, and now the new Jim Jarmusch movie, Broken Flowers.

The Bill Murray Moment is instantly recognizable, even if Mr. Murray isn't the actor performing it. A full face shot while, off camera, someone is saying or doing something so outrageous, so stupid, or so sad that you beg for that face to respond. It remains wearily attentive, but doesn't move, except for, occasionally, an almost imperceptible sagging. You can almost hear him thinking 'I'd love to respond appropriately, but I reached my limit years ago.'

It's a talent he has, for looking like there's always something going on behind the face, despite the immobility. The stiller he stays, the more tantilizing is the thought process in his head. I completely understand what you're saying and even the bizarre reasons you have for saying it. I'm sorry, I'm just maxed out on morons right now. Get back to me. Dazed, but not confused.

I've had a number of Bill Murray Moments lately. Corzine and the Half Mil Babe. Bush on Intelligent Design. The Times investigating Roberts' adoptions. Juan Cole. Paul Krugman. I want to be outraged. I want to jump up and down and break things. I might even feel better if I did. But more and more . . . I. Just. Stare.

Joe, The Seltzer Guy 

I've read with interest the accounts of Jim, at Parkway Rest Stop and also at Down The Shore about retail practices in the days of yore when the vegetable guy and and the fruit guy and the ice guy and the rag guy would drive around the neighborhood in a truck, bringing his wares to you.

While I can't claim to have dealt with horse-drawn vendors or traded sea shells for turnips, I do remember the death of another time-honored delivery service.

I was living in Washington Heights in the early '80s. It wasn't a very good time for me, but I did have a great apartment for a ridiculous rent. And I had Joe, my seltzer delivery guy. I was turned on to Joe by Joel, a friend whose family had been using Joe for decades. Joel later married a beautiful Irish girl who didn't like my lack of enthusiasm for the IRA and we lost touch years ago. Another story.

Every week Joe would leave a rack of twelve old time seltzer bottles at my door and pick up my empties. Joe was old and crabby and, though I lived on the second floor of an elevator building, would spend ten minutes trying to make me feel guilty about how tired he was if I happened to see him delivering. I think it was just his way of taking a break. He had an Dominican assistant on the truck who would sometimes make the delivery. I don't remember his name, but he was much more personable. Friendly, happy guy, but if I tried to make a joke about what a sourpuss Joe was he wouldn't have it. Joe was a great man to this guy. I tried to talk to Joe to find out what was so great about him, but he was only interested in complaining.

I believe the weekly delivery cost me about five bucks or so. Only once during the two or three years I took the delivery did I use the seltzer bottle to squirt someone.

One week they didn't show up. I called the office but the line was disconnected. Eventually, the cat lady across the hall, who also used Joe, told me they went out of business. I called around, but couldn't find anyone else and I even went to talk to a local rabbi who told me nobody provided that service anymore. I started to buy my seltzer in plastic bottles, but, of course, that's just not the same.

Turns out the rabbi was wrong. According to this NPR Radio Diary, there are still a handful left. I bet they'll set you back more than five bucks, though.

I have just one more entry into this particular trip down memory lane.

When I was a little guy I had two jobs. One was to clean out the coal furnace every Sunday after church and the other was to wait out front with a bag full of knives for the sharpening guy every Saturday morning.

He had a tiny little black truck that was loaded with steels and stones and grinders. A tall stool hung of the back and when he stopped he put the stool down in the street and folded down a little work bench with various clamps from the back of the truck, grabbed the bag and went to work. Two bits per knife, four for scissors and a buck for pinking shears or garden tools. He was a dark little guy with a Chico Marx hat and I have the impression that he was Turkish, but I can't be sure of that.

Come to think of it, he was pretty crabby, too. No wonder this form of retail died out.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

On Marxism 

From the New York Sun:

Marxism is the opium of the intellectuals.
Edmund Wilson (1895-1972)

Marxism has not only failed to promote human freedom, it has failed to produce food.
John Dos Passos (1896-1970)

Marxists are people whose insides are torn up day after day because they want to rule the world and no one will even publish their letter to the editor.
Mark Helprin (b. 1947)

Most people who read 'The Communist Manifesto' probably have no idea that it was written by a couple of young men who had never worked a day in their lives, and who nevertheless spoke bodly in the name of 'the workers.'
Thomas Sowell (b. 1930)

Three Kings 

There was apparently a pop-culture rapture recently as the three obituaries in the New York Sun this morning told the stories of James Aparo, a comic book artist who updated Batman in the '70s, Al Aronowitz, a rock 'n roll writer who famously put Bob Dylan and the Beatles in the same room, and Gary Belkin, one of the seemingly endless group of 1950s comedy writers who came out of The Bronx and cut their teeth at the Sid Ceaser funny factory.

Mr. Belkin's New York Time's obit relates how he was responsible for many, if not most of the poems accredited to Mohammed Ali during his prime.

In 1962, Columbia Records hired Mr. Belkin to work on an
album of poems said to be written by Ali. Mr. Belkin was
listed as producer but said several times that he had
actually written many of the poems, which were intended
to be part of the buildup to the fight with Sonny Liston
in 1964.

On the record, Ali told listeners to expect "a total eclipse of
Sonny" and wrote, "Here I predict Mr. Liston's total
dismemberment, I'll hit him so hard he'll wonder where
October and November went."

I'd love to hear his version of The Aristocrats.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

500 Pounds 

Via Samizdata, this is dedicated to Billy Budd at American Dinosaur, who likes to see stuff blow up. Especially bad guy stuff.

Sing along with Dale Amon at Samizdata:
500 Pounds
If you miss the plane I'm on,
I will know that you are gone.
Cause I've dropped 500 pounds upon your head.
Five hundred pounds, Five hundred pounds,
Five hundred pounds, Five hundred pounds,
Cause I've dropped 500
pounds upon your head.

Lord it's one, Lord it's two,
Lord it's three and Lord it's four,
Lord it's five hundred pounds upon your head.

Not a shirt on your back,
Not a penny left intact.
Oh, I will blow your arse to hell this-away
This-a way, this-a way,
This-a way, this-a way,
Oh, I will blow your arse to hell this-away.

If you miss the plane I'm on,
I will know that you are gone.
Cause I've dropped 500 pounds upon your head.
Five hundred pounds, Five hundred pounds,
Five hundred pounds, Five hundred pounds,
Cause I've dropped 500 pounds upon your head.

On Bureaucracy 

From the New York Sun:

"Bureaucracy, the rule of no one, has become the modern form of despotism."
Mary McCarthy (1912-89)

"The only thing that saves us from the bureaucracy is its inefficiency."
Eugene J. McCarthy (b. 1916)

"Any change is resisted because bureaucrats have a vested interest in the chaos in which they exist."
Richard M. Nixon (1913-94)

"Every revolution evaporates and leaves behind only the slime of a new bureaucracy."
Franz Kafka (1883-1924)

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

I Will Totally Pick Up The Dry Cleaning 

Just mention Zombies and, well, they start coming out of the woodwork. In a comment to the linked post, Gregor of What A Sad Old Goth dropped this little pearl:
[T]he Penn Jersey She Devils Roller Derby League has inked
a deal for our roller girls (and me and my partner, Ken!) to
be in a B-zombie movie that is starting production soon! It's
being produced by Bill Hinzman, the first zombie to appear
in the original "Night of the Living Dead".
That is so freaking cool. Gregor, if there's an opening, I would love to be in your entourage.

The Poet Laureate of Fort Lee 

I enjoyed reading the article on the poet August Kleinzahler in the New York Times today. Kleinzahler is a knuckly, aggressive, North Jersey guy, who "combines Allen Ginsberg's goofball charm and Norman Mailer's inveterate pugnacity." His poetry is jazzy and headlong, a jumble of high mindedness and low acts, with just enough brake to let you get between the lines. On a personal level, he's apparently something of a handfull.

The article quotes him on Jersey Man:
The New Jersey character - at least this part of
Jersey - is straightforward, plainspoken to the point
of bluntness, though not at all unfriendly. The
humor is deadpan, ironical, playfully depreciating.
Affectation is quickly and viscerally registered. It's a
beer-and-a-bump kind of place. There's a swagger,
a bluff air of menace that many of the males carry.
My favorite line, though, was this:
In San Francisco, Mr. Kleinzahler once gave a
panhandler a dollar.

"Thanks, Jersey," the man said.

"How did you know I was from Jersey?" Mr.
Kleinzahler asked.

"Are you kidding?" the man asked.

When Dogmas Collide 

A state university in New Jersey has reprimanded a
student-employee for describing homosexuality as a
"perversion" in a private e-mail that he sent a female
professor, after she sent him an unsolicited
announcement about a university event that promoted
lesbian relationships.

But Jihad Daniel, 63, who works for William Paterson
University repairing computer hardware and takes
graduate-level courses part time, said he was only
expressing his Muslim religious beliefs when he
responded to professor Arlene Holpp Scala, head of
the university's women's studies department.

From The Washington Times

First G.I. Joe, now Jihad Daniel. Can't wait to see how this one turns out.

Die, Zombie! 

Regular readers know that Sluggo is a fan of zombie movies, but this morning Roberto at DynamoBuzz and Steve Kornacki at PoliticsNJ each talk about a scenario even I might find unpalatable: The Undead Governor.

With the one year anniversary of the resignation of Jim McGreevey coming up, it is apparently time to open up the floor for discussion of the Lov Gov's rehabilitation and return to public life.
“The only way I’ll ever lose,” former Louisiana Governor
Edwin Edwards, perhaps the most successful rogue
politician since fellow Pelican Stater Huey Long, once
thundered, “is if they catch me in bed with either a dead
girl or a live boy.”
Mr. Kornacki notes that while, technically, Governor McGreevey was not caught in bed with Golan Cipel, a very live boy, he was caught playing fast and loose with the security of all New Jersey citizens by giving the young man a key security post for which he was manifestly unqualified. There's always been speculation as to whether McGreevey could have survived the revelation of his relationship with Cipel absent the nepotism charges. Just how far have we come?

I think you'd have to forget the Cipel charges and the fact that he was an incompetent and unpopular governor before you can gage how irrelevant sexual orientation has become for public servants. Mr. Kornacki points out that Corzine was sniffing around for a possible primary challenge and many party bosses were bailing on him at the time. The Cipel scandal may actually have seemed like a gift from the Gods to the Democratic leaders. However, Mr. Kornacki doesn't seem entirely convinced McGreevey couldn't have survived the scandal and won re-election this year.

Mr. Kornacki knows a lot more about New Jersey Politics than I do and I am, after all, a partisan Republican. I just want to point out that on the same page as his article at NJ Politics, there is this squib :

On the season premiere of the SciFi Network's Tripping the Rift (10PM), the crew visits a gay planet where "heterophobia" runs rampant, and where the closeted straight politician in charge is named Gov. McJersey.

Once popular culture identifies you as a joke, you tend to stay a joke.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Jersey City: Mysterious, Alluring 

The New York Sun's architecture columnist, James Gardner, writes today (The Mysterious Metropolis Across The Hudson - most of the article is behind a subscriber wall) that while, for the first time, one may speak of a Jersey City skyline, the developed areas along the river struck him as a vertical Potemkin village, lacking the complexity, intensity and density of a true urban landscape.
One thing that is missing from this equation, however,
is humans. On a recent visit around lunch hour, I saw
none of the frantic hordes of hungry office workers
clamoring for a hot dog or a slice of pizza. There were
some people about, but not many, and they did not seem
in any particular hurry.
This is all true, as far as it goes, and his calm and well-mannered criticism is mild compared to most of the commentary I've read, heard and made on this side of the Hudson.

The contrast between the vibrant, diverse, raucus, but mostly harmonious life on the streets of Chill Town and the sterility of the commercially and residentially successful developments along Washington Boulevard is pretty dramatic. But then, this area may be on this side of the river, but it's really a part of the World Financial Center, isn't it?

The question is, will the two Jersey Cities ever integrate? Will the real Jersey City ever acquire a more than marginal retail presence and will the Golden Mile or Platinum Kilometer or whatever they call it ever start to hum on the street level?

Interestingly, he thinks the Jersey City skyline, as well as it's city life, suffers in comparison to New York because it is the result of more or less centralized planning rather than the more disorganized over-reaching of competing developers.

My guess is the answer depends on the nature and success of the massive residential development taking place south of Grand Street and what happens to the areas west and north of Washington Boulevard, particularly north of the tunnel. Getting from the downtown area north of Newark Avenue to the river isn't easy as Newport Mall blocks most of it off. Unless some very clever thinking is being done to improve east/west access in the future, they might as well hack it off, float it across the river and save everyone the ferry toll.

Miranda Warning 

Manuel Miranda, in an article at Opinion Journal today, speculates that filibustering judges has hurt Democrats far more than helped them.
Back in 2002, the conventional Beltway wisdom was
that the American public simply did not take notice
of a president's judicial nominees (except, of course,
to the Supreme Court). As a result, Senate Democrats
calculated that they could stall several nominees
endlessly without having to pay a political price.

Republicans, however, saw it differently. After
Democrats used scurrilous allegations to block
federal District Judge Charles Pickering of
Mississippi from the appellate bench in March
2002, Republicans noticed something new in
their polls tracking the Democrats' "negatives":
obstruction of judges.
He sees the 2002 GOP senate victories of John Cornyn in Texas and Wayne Allard in Colorado as being, to some extent, the result of Democratic obstructionism on judicial nominations.

If only. I'd love to believe this, but my scepticism is based on the fact that opportunism and bad faith are more often rewarded than punished in the political arena.

Sunday, July 31, 2005

And That's All What I Yam 

Ken Adams, or SmadaNek, is the guy in the barrel today as The Carnival of the New Jersey Bloggers goes to sea. He does a great job and keeps up the tradition of innovative presentations. Check it out here.

Cookout today with old friends coming over. Chance of blogging, 20%.
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