Thursday, October 30, 2008

Mutton on the Sides, Marley on the Chin

This is a picture of Drew Gooden, aka The Big Drizzle (his words, not mine, and not anyone else's). He used to have a soul patch on the back of his neck. Now he's just going overboard with the sexy. You thought you knew how to grow a beard, but you've been doing it wrong.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Partlow for Postmaster General

Chris Partlow and Detective Greggs at an Obama rally in North Carolina yesterday. The vote of the one guy who's into The Wire but couldn't decide between McCain and Obama has now been secured. Also, Bill Ayers is a problem but the coldest psychopath in West Baltimore stumping for Obama the McCain people let slide?


I'm doing my best to post something everyday -- something substantive. It's the least I can do. I mean, you bring home the turkey, and these days, I'm not bringing home the bacon. But sometimes my mindgrapes hurt. So, let's just enjoy the best scenes from The Wicker Man instead.

Monday, October 27, 2008

The Old Dominion -- Part II

On Election Day, 2004, 'Pockets, some random tween-age boy, and I personed the Kerry table outside an Ann Arbor voting precinct. The air was cold and rife with hope. The exit polling leaked onto blogs early in the day and suggested wild possibilities -- notably, Virginia was tilting to Kerry. It is true -- as the aforementioned 'Pockets, blogger E, reader Owen and others will tell you-- that I had succumbed to the notion that Senator Kerry would dethrone the President that day. In fact I visited my feelings of hope on any and all and infected them duly. Of course, as we know, Virginia fell to the rogues that night --a full 8% margin eventually separated right from wrong -- and with it Ohio and anything that mattered. The taste of defeat, I have been told, was all the more bitter because of my evangelism. Kerry was a false prophet, and I spoke his gospel a bit too well. I had convinced even myself.

We now sally forth to a new election day, to a new dawn backlit by a supernova. The President is as marginal a lame duck as there has ever been. Prognosticators seem only interested in predicting how wide Senator Obama's margin of victory will be. I know I have been hesitant in these e-pages to embrace the New Testament that David Axelrod and the Obama Campaign have written in Obama's honor. I have resisted the notion that the obvious and remarkable symbolism of his potential victory is tantamount to substantive change. But I now publicly retreat from this position; While I believe Obama faces immense challenges in his first term and will have to make difficult choices that, at best, will serve to mitigate our national losses, not extend our gains, I can no longer deny the import of what he symbolizes. My former students, elementary school children in the Bush years, may just approach adulthood under the aegis of a man whose story and whose complexion are the same as theirs. This alone will not realign the systematic racism that impedes their progress, but it is a beginning.

I marvel at how this beginning came to be. When Senator Obama, and -- credit where credit is due -- Howard Dean spoke of a 50-state strategy, of abandoning the paradigm of post-Civil-Rights-era politics, I thought them neophytes in the tradition of the Democratic Party. But now, it would appear that New Mexico, Iowa, Nevada, Colorado, Florida, Ohio, Indiana, North Carolina, Montana, one of the Dakotas, and, undeniably, Virginia are ripe for the picking. Bravo to them.

But let's not get ahead of ourselves. There is time still for defeat to be snatched from the jaws, nay, the esophagus of victory. But whether or not the final results speak it, the electorate has changed already in myriad ways. We have rejected the glib and pointless Governor of Alaska; we have rejected the demented and desperate schizophrenic Senator from Arizona. They are the Rosencranz and Guildenstern of our unfolding Hamlet. They are bit players, but this is not to say they are necessarily losers.

You see, this election is not about them, or the Economy or Iraq. On November 4th we will take stock of only one thing: exactly how bigoted our country really is. This election will measure that and that alone. Should the polls reflect reality, we will have something to celebrate. However, should our fear of black male power, should our collective anti-Muslim hysteria, guide our choice, we will not. If Obama loses, none of what I have said above is undermined, but hope will be a hard sell down the road, and bigotry will rule the day and days to come.

So on Election Day, once again, I will turn to my home state, my beloved Old Dominion, and watch with bated breath. Virginia brought indentured servitude to colonial America, laying the foundation for the slave trade. Now it has an opportunity to atone for its sins -- and it will. I resist predicting an outright Obama win, but that much I am willing to say.

ps -- The fish pictured is a wahoo.

Up, Up, and Sideways

Things are looking up.

I went on some job interviews this past week. While a job interview is not the same as a job -- and while none of those interviews has yet to result in a job -- I know this is the Era of Hope and Change, and having job interviews means this week was better than last week, when I had nothing.

On Friday, I interviewed for a position, the details of which I will deny you because I live in fear that this blog will find a tenth reader and that reader will expose my sins to the world. So please, indulge the vagaries. I will note this though: it was a public interest position, and I had high hopes that it would represent the end to my corporate ennui. I arrived at the interview with maybe a minute to spare, and performed a reverse Clark Kent on the sidewalk as I jogged into the building. As I did I happened upon the bow-tied gentleman who was to interview me. His look informed me that in his view one dresses not only for the interview, but also for the trip out to the interview. Nonetheless, I put his raised eyebrow reaction out of my mind and marched straight into elevator small talk. Things proceeded pleasantly as we entered his office. He then picked up his mail, opened it, and stood silently as he became engrossed in something. I was a bit flummoxed, but stranger things have happened to me in job interviews, so I took a seat and waited to be addressed. Eventually, I was. With this question: Tell me about yourself, and start 100 years ago.

Now I like Tristram Shandy as much as the next guy, but what can you say to this? I began, haltingly, to talk of my immigrant roots, about my parents and about my grandparents, wondering the whole while if I was really meant to answer this question literally or if I had missed something. My interrogator interrupted me, opined here and there, and led me on several diversions. At one point, in response to a stimulus, I said this: Americans long for a monarchical system. This is why we returned a second Bush to the White House, almost elected another Clinton, and are obsessed with Princess Diana.

Whether or not my wild displays of intellectual plumage, all completely bullshit, all intended for a man who knew muck and mire and yearned for it, whether or not it did the trick is a moot point. About one and a half hours into my job interview, I was very suddenly asked the most straightforward question I could be: Why do you want this job?

I offered my canned answer, rather elegantly I thought, but was informed over the course of about half an hour of excoriation that I was wrong. Now I should say in the course of this job, I would be representing some very unseemly people, and according to my interrogator, I should want to serve them not because justice demands that I do so -- which I more or less said -- but because humanity is debased and nihilism is the answer. This is literally what he said to me: I am a nihilist.

Where do you go from there, but out the door and very far away?

I left the interview feeling quite strongly that I had been subjected to a very particular kind of psycological examination, and feeling also that I would never again return to the site of it. I would not be asked to of course, but even if by some miracle I were, I would decline.

The balance of Friday I was out of sorts, but that evening I went to a friend's house for poker night. Now I don't much about the game. I had to be taught, and I had to refer constantly to my cheat sheet listing the hierarchy of the hands, but my naivete, my genuine lack of a strategy, managed to confuse everyone at the table, and they nakedly tried to bluff and bully their way into my pot. I saw through them. I cleaned everybody's clock and went home with $100 in my pocket.

Things are looking up indeed.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Into the Sunset

But what is happiness except the simple harmony between a man and the life he leads?
--Albert Camus

As of Monday, October 20th, I will be gainlessly employed with

My Couch, a Bag of Cheetos & The Remote Control LLP

Please direct all client-related inquiries to that address.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Slow Descent

Tomorrow or the next day, I will addend this post with photographs, but for now I will try to say with words what corporate carnage mine eyes have beheld these last several days.

October 15, 2007 -- My first day of work.

October 15, 2008 -- I am now officially the senior ranking attorney on my floor. A law firm in dissolution may still be a law firm, but a law firm in dissolution without attorneys is something else altogether. Virtually everyone else has left for greener pastures -- all pastures are greener than the barren slate gray of capitalism's unvacuumed carpets. Some of us have no pastures to leave for.

On Monday, I returned from my trip back east to find that my neighbor no longer exists, at least, no longer exists in the form that I knew her to. We were friendly, but a post-it note attached to the boxes sitting outside her door and mine informs me that she has accepted a position at another law firm.

Today, the vendors in charge of coffee seized the coffee machines. They took with them the cups. The packets of sugar. Apparently, also the hand soap. The fridge remains stocked with unopen half-gallons of milk, but the expiration dates are marked for Friday. Perilously close, and I am lactose intolerant.

Yesterday, other vendors seized the printers. I sent documents to be printed, but the request dissipated into ether(net).

At noon today, our key cards stopped working, along with the elevators, and we were all seized with panic. When you've finally made peace with being locked out, it's a little funny to find yourself locked in. A few minutes later the cards started working again and so did the elevators. We noted the dark humor of all this.

I took a walk just now around the deserted landscape of the 32nd floor. Through the windows of the corner offices that were once everyone's envy the clouds burned amber over the Golden Gate Bridge, sailboats lolled in the Bay behind the TransAmerica Building. Things I thought to be immutable--furniture bolted to the walls, for instance--have been removed. In their wake are massive holes in the dry wall. Many offices are strewn with detritus. Many more are empty, save for an orphaned plant. Their leaves fulvous and forlorn. All were once occupied by people; in their place now are their identification cards, turned face up, beaming and full of hope, turned face up on curt letters of resignation, addressed to partners who also no longer work here.

I happened upon the office of one particulary malapert attorney. Her office decor, amusingly orientalist, replete with smiling Buddha, has given way to the hollow left behind by movers. On her desk, a resignation letter, her identification badge, and her business card, inverted with the following words inscribed in green, yes, but inscribed in a sad and unsteady hand:

"To whom much is given, much is expected." -- Luke, 12:48

Monday, October 13, 2008

guess who's a winner?

guess who won the nobel prize* for economics? everyone's favorite angry columnist and runner-up in the gawker hotties "men of the new york times" contest, paul krugman! (i said angry, not crazy.)

the wall street journal begrudgingly congratulated krugman in a lukewarm article that describes him as "a Princeton University scholar whose groundbreaking study on trade is less known to the public than his withering assessment of the Bush administration." the article reassures its readers that krugman wasn't being honored for his op-eds, citing not one, but two experts in the field as evidence. the journal also points out that the prize given to krugman "isn't technically a Nobel but the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel." ooooooooh take that krugman! so much for your groundbreaking research and analysis on trade patterns and location of economic activity!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Monday, October 6, 2008

See more funny videos at Funny or Die

Band Montaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaage.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

the rising

with some vaguely urgent sense of purpose i went to northeast illadelphia to canvass for obama. of course, the fact that volunteers would receive priority tickets to a free springsteen concert helped. over 100 volunteers from nyc came. most of those i spoke with came from the BK and despite appearances, were surprisingly lacking in cynicism. i guess that's to be expected from a crowd that probably got up at 6am to drive or take the train down.

the neighborhood we canvassed was white (maybe there was one potentially hispanic person) and working class. many were senior citizens living on social security and several homes were multi-generational. most of the people we tried weren't home, but those with whom we spoke were largely well-informed and thoughtful.

well, let me correct myself. the day begain inauspiciously as one elderly couple told us they were undecided. the woman said outright, "we're christians and we don't trust that obama because he is a muslim." ask las latinas, but apparently i blanched at her comment. my brain froze for a moment and i tried to recover with a weak "well you know he and his family go to church every week--" "no no, that church, you saw that church. i don't believe it." so i tried an alternate angle, "well, you know senator biden is a churchgoing catholic and has been for a long time." she seemed to soften a little at the mention of biden. i pressed further, "i just don't think senator biden would trust someone he didn't think was honest and jeopardize his country if he really thought senator obama was dangerous." she also told me that she thought we were worse off than we were 8 years ago, but president clinton was horrible and ruined this country with his moral failures.

the undecided voters we spoke with vehemently agreed that bush was horrible for this country and things needed to change. some were unemployed, some were employed but didn't have health insurance, and all were very angry at the bailout. they didn't see how either candidate could fulfill any of their promises considering the government would fall deeper into debt. several of those we spoke with had voted for hillary in the primaries. the logic went something like this: 1) yes, i voted for hillary. 2) yes, i see that obama and hillary's policies are virtually identical. 3) yes, i like joe biden. 4) i just don't know if i can vote for obama.

i didn't follow the logic between 3 and 4, but the fact that mccain is a "maverick," whatever the hell that means at this point, and that they couldn't trust a black man and possible secret muslim meant they were left in a quandry. most everyone expressed deep cynicism at all of the presidents they had seen over the years who had promised them everything and delivered virtually nothing of direct impact. yet everyone adamantly told us that they vote in every election and they were certainly going to vote in this one.

one 19-year-old guy who lived with his parents (according to our spy sheet) answered the door holding his very young daughter. we asked him what he thought about the election and he said, "well, both candidates have their faults. i don't like that mccain doesn't want to give universal healthcare because, y'know, my daughter doesn't have any health insurance right now. but i don't want obama to take away people's guns."

as if the two were of equal merit! what do i know. i'm just a quasi-socialist and possibly elitist canadian. we told him that senator obama wants smarter regulations on guns so they won't be so readily available to everyone, but he had no interest in banning them. that seemed to placate him a little, but we left without any definitive conclusions.

thankfully, we asked one obama supporter (finally!) what contributed to his decision and he said "well, i don't think this country can go on with two wars in afghanistan and iraq. and you know, john mccain is quite old and has health problems and this palin just isn't smart enough." his answer was much more nuanced than that, but i just appreciated that a middle-aged person openly admitted his misgivings about mccain's age and at least one person was suspicious about palin's qualifications.

las latinas and i wanted to hug him.

the day ended on a high note. bruce springsteen gave a free concert in support of obama and voter registration. thanks to my superior tickets, i was probably closer to him than i ever will be. he played an acoustic set of about 8 or 9 songs, including "thunder road," "the ghost of tom joad," and of course, "the rising." he gave a heartfelt speech in the middle of the set about how we tried this four years ago and failed, but we were still going to try again because the country was on a dangerous course. there is something very unironic about my appreciation for bruce. he manages to exude authenticity with his aviator shades, flannel shirt and torn jeans despite his fame and wealth.

ed rendell and bob casey spoke before the concert and rendell issued an ominous but probably accurate warning that this campaign was going to get extremely ugly. sure enough, palin is accusing obama outright of cavorting with terrorists, albeit domestic ones.

so what now? i am pretty worried. the "othering" of obama is easy to do because his background is so exotic. i gave my dad a translated copy of "dreams of my father" and he said to me, "you know, i read the whole thing and i appreciated what he was saying, but i think he should have talked about his mother more. this is not going to help people relate to him much."

las latinas and i repeatedly emphasized to everyone that the democrats have always supported the middle class and these swing voters must not forget history. i just hope that this small handful of people who are going to decide all of our fates make the right choice.

Friday, October 3, 2008

pens...glorious pens!!

isn't it a little unsettling how happy nancy pelosi looks considering (a) she's giving away all of our money and (b) her state is on the verge of bankruptcy? click on the photo if you want the full effect. anyway, if you're not totally bummed out yet, read this article about the little meeting that possibly ruined our financial system. voluntary oversight! we should all be so lucky.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008


the news is a huge downer nowadays--our toilet economy, our ineffective leadership, the fact that i can't vote in the canadian election because you have to have left canada with the intention of living elsewhere less than five years ago...

anyway, much to my surprise piracy beyond the interwebs still exists! not only that, they have a spokesman! i wonder if they too wear eyeliner.

Totally Awess

Watch CBS Videos Online

So, this afternoon the guy who sells framed prints of middling artwork and vintage posters outside my building shuttered his doors. I went out on a fro-yo run, and caught him muttering his frustrations about "the economy" after some post-fratty douche passed on a discounted photograph of a bunch of wine bottles on a ledge festooned with vines. Then, I walked over to WaMu to get some money and some guy behind me yelled, "Do those things still work? Did they put old J.P. Morgan's face on the receipts yet?" Then I went over to the dry cleaners to pick up my suit pants, and yeah, as suspected, there was nothing they could do about the color fading on the back pocket. These are very troubling times, people. So thank god for the video above. Apparently every mushroom cloud has a silver lining.