Archives for the month of: December, 2010

…further explanation from what i gather– received a few questions and seen more than a few raised eyebrows when the category presents itself.  this is not a blog about dudes gathering in a circle and jerking one another off.  i am sure connoisseurs of such activities can find what they’re looking for elsewhere on this world wide net of ours but this blog ain’t it.  “circle jerk” is utilized purely as an analogy.

the analogy is this: the way i see it, most discussions in the left/ liberal blogosphere  are akin to circle jerks.  it is as simple as that.

or the blabbers of teenage girls.  which, at the end of the day, is yet another circle jerk.

ashley, amy and meg are hanging out in meg’s room one tuesday after school.  they’re braiding each other’s hair, shuffling through the pages of meg’s mom’s cosmopolitan, painting smiley faces on their toenails, pumping justin bieber on the boombox and having this fine conversation:

-oh my god, isn’t justin so hot…

-oh…..my….god, he really is..  reminds me of josh johnson.  he is soo hot..

-oh my god, josh is like such a dork..

-no he so is not.  he is hot.  don’t be a bitch.

-he is alright i guess but he is not josh campbell.  oh my god, josh campbell, i would soo jump him. like right now.

-oh my god, you know josh is taking ashley johnson to the prom?

-no, the cheerleader?

-um, no, josh johnson’s sister ashley.  you know, like with all that henna..

-oh my god, she is such a slut.

-guys, have you like seen the thong she was wearing today.

-oh my god, that was soo lame.

-oh my god, you won’t believe this: i was sitting right behind pete strickland in ms. klein’s class.  pete was like staring at her thong for like 10 hours..

-eww, he is so gross..  but, um, what you think about the cashmere sweater ms. klein had on today?  it was like tight..

-i mean, bitch, you’re like large or at least like medium.  hide those boobs, gross..

continues like this with giggles, ewws, grosses, and oh my gods sprinkled carelessly for good measure until all are satiated and can go home and stomach their gross parents..  that, my friends, is a circle jerk…

now, for the sake of the argument, let’s change ashley, amy and meg into stefan, richard and helen:

stefan is an african history professor, a self proclaimed atheist and a card carrying trotskyist vegetarian; richard does outreach coordination for a civil liberties organization, is an extremely secular reform jew and a meditating locavore, he and his partner sam are founders of their neighborhood co-op;    helen is a research associate at a non-profit dedicated to latinos struggling with HIV, volunteers as a rehabilitative art teacher at an at-risk urban youth center, practices yoga and pilates, is known to wear a sari daily because she once dated an indian post-grad, is a practicing buddhist and a non-compromising vegan.   needless to say, all three have graduate degrees from prestigious institutions.   religious, political, etc affiliations were tweaked a little to protect the identities of the inspirations for stefan, richard and helen…

they’re in stefan’s virtual room.  he just posted a link to an article on, say, the teaparty from the nation on his blog or facebook wall.   here is how the essence of the conversation, without the polysyllable words and articulate language, would go:

-oh my god, did you read what palin said?

-oh my god, i can’t believe the words coming out of that woman’s mouth!

-gosh, she is such a ditz..

-they, like, act like they’re there for the people but, i mean, they’re all about themselves?

-check.  i don’t get it– um, like all the disenfranchised masses, i mean they believe in them, right?  despite their best interests?

-no shit.  all double standards.

-oh my god– like all those homophobic evangelist leaders getting caught with gay escorts, tweaking in hotel rooms.  i mean, like, what about them?

-eww, that’s gross…

-i’ll tell you who is not gross: julian

-assange?

-hell, yeah! he is hot.  i mean, wikileaks…

-yeah, but, that hair?

-too warhol for me…

… continues like this with tons of sardonic chuckles, ewws, “change”, “disenfranchised”, “chavez”, “neo-con”, “palin” and oh my gods sprinkled carelessly for good measure until all are satiated and can go out and stomach their gross capitalist regime..

compare this with bunch of nekkid boys circled around jerking each other off until they can all walk out of the locker room all satiated– i implore you, where is the difference?  liberal blogging and commenting, my friends, is a circle jerk…

i consider myself fairly liberal.  though i consider belonging to one and only one camp to be fatally stupid.  there is sense and wisdom, albeit occasional, on the other side too…  i wouldn’t deny, and would rather adopt those anomalies, instead of shrugging them off because i labeled myself a “liberal”.  that would be stupid.

where we fail, as liberals, is this circle jerk: instead of learning to communicate with the “masses” and getting our point across strongly, we preach to each other until each one of us creams their pants.  we think that, because we’re more “articulate” with larger lexicons, we’re making the strongest points and impact and people would be fools not to be convinced by our polemic.  that is bullshit– the way to get our message across is not through preaching to the choir.  it is through going to the lowest denominator and breaking it down the way he or she would understand.

that is what the other side is doing and that is why they’re getting stronger by the second.  yeah, it may not be noble or it may sound unethical but that is the ground rule of this fight.  it is a dirty fight… and wasting time, jerking each other off, will get us no where..

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…times just reported the virgin of wisconsin in a brilliantly captioned article: “Wisconsin on the Map to Pray With Mary” (caps are theirs, ain’t mine)….  “wisconsin on the map to pray with mary”?  times, really?

turns out it is another catholic roadside attraction.  vatican builds and validates ’em as often as broke countries print money…

with the currency of catholicism at an all time low, thanks to child molestation scandals, a shady, shady pope, technology and science it cannot keep up with- and no longer can deny, and a western hemisphere population getting smarter and better educated, therefore less believing by the second, vatican of course turned to the third world, especially africa and south america, where the population is still desperate, and unfortunately not educated enough to believe unconditionally and unquestionably…

the vatican, in addition to the third-world, also turned to the good old US of A– interestingly, ours is the only developed country in the world where the number of believers and the strength of religion is increasing.   it is not mind boggling at all– actually it makes perfect sense: religions’ breeding grounds are pain, suffering, desperation, isolation and depression.   no one turns to JC or any other super hero because of their happiness– they turn to them because of their misery.

of course the good ole US of A is a wonderful breeding ground for any religious virus– with our collective discontent, depression, meaningless & isolated lives, most americans hit the bible as often as they hit their prozac bottles, trying to make sense of it all.  pity, actually…

read the article– about the shrine, the hovering blonde, surrounded in light, above the trees, pilgrimages and group prayers, the love offerings and self-sacrifice: reads no different than pagan rituals.  of course there is no human sacrifice, etc, but is there much difference?  what makes nigerian voodoo priests boiling and eating severed penises for strength any different?  or sticking pins in a doll instead of lighting candles and building shrines?  or casting spells instead of reciting 25 hail mary’s..  the only difference is one is legitimate and widespread, hence accepted, the other is an exception and a rarity, hence shunned as occult.  if you look at its essence, it is the same shit…

if you read, in the times, about a sect in papua new guinea who is worshipping a tree and sacrificing animals for it, you would shrug them off as a cult of indigents who doesn’t know any better.  or as pagans.  or as whatever.  but what is the difference between them and hordes of catholics pilgrimaging up to wisconsin with the hopes of seeing a blonde circled in light hovering over a tree?

speaking about mary- actually kudos to the catholic church for recruiting and milking her like a hacked credit card.  they were eons away from the madison avenue and apple company in reaching a female demographic.  like apple making technology sexy and appealing for female consumers, catholic church made religion appealing to female consumers with mary.  long before the terms demographics and target audience entered our lexicon.

protestants tried (and still try) with a sexy and loving JC.  but mary– that was the mastercard’s priceless campaign for the middle ages.  all women can relate to mary.  all women would want to build shrines to mary.  instead of some dude.

granted, it was not an original idea of the catholic church– ancient religions had hera.  when gods became male, they had to recruit female audiences with strong female models– hence the mother goddess, kybele, sibelius, whatever you may call her, became the wife of zeus.  an old targeted marketing trick from way back.  but the catholics took it to a whole different level by pushing mary.  what can i say, congratulations…

december 25– happy birthday mithras! mithras, also known as mithra, was a pagan god, born on december 25th, to save the world from evil.  his teachings were based in duality– competing forces of good and evil.  the chess game of god and devil.  heaven and hell.  his was a “virgin birth”, he offered salvation through him to his followers and his day of celebration and worship was sunday.  sounds familiar?

because his was a hugely influential religion, when christianity was being written/ created, many of the mithraic traditions were appropriated and mithras’ name was changed into jesus of nazereth.  same guy, same myth, different name…  so happy birthday mithras– at least you’re the more ancient, hence senior, myth/ legend…

at the end of the day it is all myths, legends, and assorted bullshit…  but, it tickles me to follow the evolution of traditions and here is the tradition behind christmas folks.  of course there is a huge body of writing against this but that is only natural:  now we’re venturing into the circle jerk territory by iterating the obvious truth but it is absolutely necessary: only believers are, by their very definition, insecure in their beliefs.  the more diehard they’re in their beliefs, the more insecure they’ll be.  if you are not obsessed by a “belief”, you can discuss it rationally and revise or thrash it as necessary.  however, if you’re obsessed with a belief, like any “true believer”, then every word, may it be fact or opinion, is a threat to your belief and must be defended against rigorously, without any rhyme or reason.  that is what happened to mihtras and that is how the story behind this myth and his importance was marginalized and bastardized.

of course, the funny thing is, it was just a myth, just like JC, mosey moses, noah & his boys, the talking snake and the sparerib which begat eve…  but, when you build your entire life and justify your entire existence on a 1800 year old myth, which, any child can tear to pieces intellectually, of course any other competing myth, or any myth that may have begat your myth, is a serious threat and must be attacked viciously.

anyhow, all i wanted to say was “happy birthday mithras!”– december 25th and this silly tradition of christmas and worshipping on sundays and eternal salvation was your shtick but it was appropriated from you.   i would have said “sorry”, but, actually, i don’t give a flying fuck– it is the same tired story of salvation with different names and slightly different legends.  sorry mr. l. cohen but “let us compare mythologies” ain’t any different than let’s compare the size of our dicks…  same organ, same function, different colors and shapes– just like mythologies/ religions– same core beliefs, same function, different myths and rituals– that’s all…

…reminded me of the opening shot of “touch of evil“– this ain’t a rant– no point being made here– just a gratuitous link to probably the best and most influential opening shot ever.  along with “citizen kane” and “F for Fake”, proving what a cinematic genius welles was…

finally watched banksy’sexit through the gift shop”  last night.  won’t say much about it– would be preaching to the choir–hence yet another circle jerk.  all needs to be said is it is great.  a keen observation of the modern art world/ market.  where anything and everything will sell to a wall street knucklehead provided it comes with the right story and inflated praise…

it is one big con, really.  which brought me back to orson welles and i just had to re-watch “F for Fake” with the beautiful oja kodar.   “gift show” and “F” are really the same film.  at least they have the same message– the art market is nothing but a big con, a giant hoax.  especially when it comes to “modern art”.

of course when it comes to production value, originality and artistic merit, there really is no competition here: “F for Fake” was eons ahead of the “gift shop”– “gift shop” was a great story adequately executed.  kudos to banksy for a strong first film.  but, “F” is by the guy whose first film happens to be “citizen kane”…  “F” is a masterpiece of editing.  sorry for preaching to the choir here but it really is– its rapid pace and intercuts, seen in film for the first time in “F” in 1974, is what we know as TV reporting/ MTV style editing today.  what we take for granted today, and what feeds our short attention spans, was created by welles, all the way back in 1974, in “F for Fake”.  if you haven’t seen it, run to the video store…

here is a link to the first 10 minutes or so:

and here is another to the original trailer– the trailer’s quality is not even close to the film but gives a great glimpse into the film and welles’ genius:

…have always been an excellent accelerant to get my pissed offness on…  if you lift your head up a little while riding the 2, 3, N, D, whatever, you’re sure to see something stupid or revolting almost all the time.  it is as if ad agencies pool their resources together to come up with the stupidest ads and slogans they can come up with for us, the commuting drones…  i always wanted to steal tons of those ads and use them as wallpaper in a room– imagine a wall chuck full of subway ads– from impotence cures to “se hable inglez?” ads featuring assorted smug jackasses with shit-eating grins, giving a confident thumbs-up to us riders (will shoot and post that one soon).

well, MTA recently started their ad campaign and i thought it is best to start with their own jewels.  here is my favorite:

“if it is broke, fix it”…  genius, eh?  it took them decades to realize it but so what?  at least they did.  did they really believe in the maxim “if it is broke, don’t fix it” in the past?  yes they did, yes they did.  they waited for everything to be broken, and then they disrupted service at a line or a station for several years to fix it.  and now they’re plastering this ad all over the subway system like they’re proud of their past stupidity?  really, who is running the MTA?  “yeah, let’s put an ad that implies we were stupid and not fixing things when they needed fixing, but only getting off our asses to do something when all went to hell, disrupting the entire system in the meantime but now we know that we need to fix things when they break, instead of waiting for everything else to break with it”…  atta boys!

then they follow up with this jewel:

“well, we have no business writing apps so we go to whiz kids”…  well, that is good.  here is a suggestion mr. bloomberg: why don’t you get your MTA whiz kid certified too?  ask a couple of your industry whiz kid buddies to run the MTA.  give them 3 months to diagnose the bottlenecks and a 6 month carte blanche to fire and hire indiscriminately afterwards.  i’ll eat my hat if that doesn’t make this the best public transportation system of the US in two years…

what is wrong with december?  it’s like life is closing up the fiscal year by taking last minute lives to meet its quota. yesterday it was blake edwards and today i lost a personal hero of mine– don van vliet, aka captain beefheart.

mr. edwards, though your career actually died with peter sellers, and though i find it hard to excuse you for “blind date” and “son of the pink panther“, and though i find you fully responsible for unleashing dudley moore on us, with gross disregard to human dignity and pride, i still loved you for everything you did with peter sellers, breakfast at tiffany’s, and, as a former teenager, for all the bo derek scenes in “10”, rest in peace…

captain, you’re another story:  you were peter sellers, you were charlie chaplin.  everything you did was genius.  john peel once said “if there has ever been such a thing as a genius in the history of popular music, it’s beefheart… i heard echoes of his music in some of the records i listened to last week and i’ll hear more echoes in records that i listen to this week”.    if you don’t know him, start with reading his wikipedia entry and “safe as milk“…  i think he was one of the most influential musicians of the last 50 years, bar none.  up there with the best– from hendrix, dylan, and lennon to miles, coltrane and monk.

rest in peace captain, you deserved it…

what is up with the le samouraï madness raging on?  granted, it is one of my (and most everyone’s) favorite films.  i can easily rank it among my top 30 or so.  and many, many paid homage to it, from jarmusch to john woo.  but the last couple of years the melville dose has been increasing.  i can understand the appeal– the romantic notion of the lonesome soldier of fortune.  the hero who feels but can’t express.  loyalty sans any misgivings.  sacrifice without hesitation.  the character is as old as dirt but still appeals to the romantic hero in us.

this week, accidentally, i watched two films, almost back to back, with le samouraï influences.  first sólo quiero caminar, a noble spanish/ mexican attempt, and the the american, a clooney vehicle at first blush, but actually a fairly good film.

solo had good intentions but was executed poorly.  could have been a good film.  le samouraï homage was shameless– in one scene, behind the hero, there was a theater marquee with “le samouraï” on it.  in another there was a le samouraï poster.  and the hero was your quintessential brutal sentimental killer.   naturally he died in the end.   there was also a decent shout-out to the michael mann/ james caan jewel thief.  it was a decent film but not all it could be.

the american was better.  clooney actually did a very, very good job as the long-vacated shell of a mercenary.  after watching it, i read some of the reviews.  many didn’t like it.  i say they didn’t get it.  “the american to clooney was what legends of the fall was to pitt” i heard one say.  bullshit.  yes, the film was picture perfect.  yes, the pace was slow.  yes, some scenes looked like 70s soft-porn.  but it was all deliberate.

corbjin, a photographer foremost, of course had to make it picture perfect.  take a look at his joy division biopic control, probably one of the best rock biopics i’ve ever seen– despite all its grit and torment it was beautifully shot.

yes, the shots were not consistent in the american— it went from cold and distant, with some interesting tele and wide lens applications, to soft and touchy.  especially the shots with the beautiful italian prostitute clara naked: when she is frolicking naked in the chilly italian creek, bathing in the softest of the lights, it feels like an early 70s soft-porn or a retro nekkid photo spread like the hippie goddess with au naturel hippie chicks (i swear, i could smell the patchouli in that scene).  it created a great contradiction with clooney’s desolate soul and the pure and simple life he could have had if he just took that one step.  i thought those scenes fit the film perfectly and were great narrative tools.  overall, well done anton…

or simply “micmacs”… chaplin resurrected and cast in a modern day “yojimbo” with a max steiner score and borderline steampunk sensibility.. what is not to like? go watch and discuss it among yourselves…

okay, with the new blog, i should drop a note about the categories– they’re: pisses, pleases, tickles and preaching to the choir…

“pisses”, the namesake of the blog, is obviously the big one: i’m one of those dudes who sit around silently, smiling and relaxed, but boiling over with anger, to the background of an internal tirade, about something stupid i’ve seen, heard or read.  if you’re reading this, you’re probably one of them dudes or dudedesses as well..  this blog will predominantly be a megaphone for me to shout out those tirades and fuck with everything that grabs my attention and gets the cauldron boiling…

of course i am not all vinegar.  maybe i’ll end up like those old farts sitting in their balcony on the muppet show, but, at least as of now, there are still things that please me.  hence, “pleases”…

and i occasionally laugh.  out loud is rare but chuckles are still frequent.  that’s where the “tickles” get in.

final category is “preaching to the choir”– that is what most blogs do: they offer only what their readers will greet with a “hallelujah”, making them giggle like schoolgirls with self-affirmation.  a one giant circle-jerk, that is what it is.  like reading hitch’sgod is not great“– only atheists and agnostics read it, sighing with joy and creaming their pants in affirmation.  that is the fallacy of the intelligentsia and new left or liberal writing: preaching to the choir.  or, like i said, one big circle-jerk…

of course there is no harm in that.  but there is no utility either.  the other side does not read what they write.  or they only read to find gaps or mishaps to abuse.  but the intelligentsia ain’t blind– they devour what the rest puts out.  and gets pissed off and writes and preaches about their stupidity or ignorance.  but, again, to each other, in that big ole circle-jerk.  catch my drift?

that’s why i am not too keen on preaching to the choir– running the same tired polemics about the right, evangelicals, neo-cons, etc.  really, what is the fun and utility of climbing on your soapbox and going off about the tea party or palin?  that, my friends, is like shooting fish in a barrel.  it won’t achieve anything other than senseless self gratification…

the right knows how to communicate eons better than the liberals: they know how to dumb things down and get their message across to the masses.  that is where intelligentsia fails: they only know how to communicate with each other.

at the end of the day, i know i’ll need to resort to preaching– it is unavoidable.  but i’ll try to do it as little as i can.  and, when i do, as a warning to those of you who wouldn’t want to join the circle-jerk, i’ll use the category “preaching to the choir”.

and that is that…

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