Thursday, July 31, 2008


Chocolate Jesus

Tom Waits is touring the Deep South with songs about guns and Jesus. I picture a tent show revival with snake handlers and sweet tea, and preacher Tom speaking in tongues. I'd love to see this old geezer and his ramshackle music machine. Oh, yeah. Let's get real gone.

To hear a stunning two and a half show from Atlanta, Georgia, aired on NPR: click HERE.

Jockey Full of Bourbon

Tuesday, July 29, 2008


If you were into punk rock in Portland back in the day, you remember Billy Rancher. He started the Malchicks in the late 70s, and on weekends if you crowded into the cavern under the Long Goodbye with every weirdo and deviant who ever crawled out of Naked Lunch you could see them play. This was PDX punk. After the Malchicks fell apart, Rancher formed the Unreal Gods around 1980. They mixed punk and ska with a little sloppy Stones, and played what they called Boom Chuck Rock. You might have seen them at Louis La Bamba or maybe out at Lung Fung's Dragon Room on 82nd, a huge Chinese hangar where the drinks were strong.

Billy was cool, man. He was funny and charismatic and he really got the crowd rocking. He was all set to "make it big," and it was just a matter of time. The planets were aligned, it seemed. He was opening for a lot of big acts when they came to town. Sadly, in his mid-20s, Billy was diagnosed with lymphoma. He died in 1986 and is still missed.

I was surprised to come across this live clip from a Portland show. It's a souvenir. It reminds me of all those great nights. Try to imagine a time before blogs and're jammed into a small club with all the freaks, and you've had a few drinks, maybe you smoked a joint in the parking lot, and things are going weird, but the Unreal Gods kick into boom chuck rock and you are pulled in and you can't stop dancing. When you hit the streets afterward you're icey with sweat and you can't hear anymore, but it doesn't matter because you saw--experienced--this amazing show, and you'll still be talking about it nearly thirty years later!

Now that's something for the time capsule--another fly trapped in amber. I heard Billy's old Strat turned up a while ago on Craig's List.

So it goes.

Thanks, Billy. And thanks to Jack Bog for reminding me of some of those great shows.

Monday, July 28, 2008


His mother was Genovese and his father was Sicilian, but Giorgio de Chirico was actually born in Volos, Greece, in 1888. He studied in Athens and Florence, and returned to Florence to paint the first of his "Metaphysical Town Square" series, The Enigma of an Autumn Afternoon, after a vision he had in the Piazza Santa Croce.

De Chirico moved to Paris in 1911, and showed his work at the Salon des Independants in 1913, where it caught the eye (and approval) of Pablo Picasso and Guillaume Apollinaire. Here he sold his first painting. A pre-Surrealist who influenced a great many artists, the Italian painter founded the Scuola Metafisica art movement.

Piazza Santa Croce, Florence, was a revelation to de Chirico. In the Basilica di Santa Croce, the church on the piazza, there are frescoes by Giotto, and the tombs of illustrious dead Italians, including Michelangelo, Galileo, Rossini, and Machiavelli. Dante stands guard out front.

The Enigma of an Autumn Afternoon, by Giorgio di Chirico, 1910

Saturday, July 26, 2008


Cartoonist Jamie Hewlett and musician Damon Albarn, the creative duo that brought us Gorillaz, have produced this wonderful animated short for the BBC's sports marketing campaign on the Chinese Olympics.

We love the short, and the Gorillaz (I posted a song of theirs just last week) but have mixed feelings about the Chinese Olympics. It's all about money, isn't it? I mean sports?

The USA makes such a fuss about democracy--when it's convenient--but all the wonderful talk about "freedom" conveniently disappears when the big bucks are at stake. Compare how the US has defiantly blockaded Cuba, say, a tiny country 90 miles from Florida (for being communist and for violating human rights), and how it warmly welcomes China (read: communist, un-democratic, violator of human rights) because it's jammed with a billion and a half potential customers. That's a lot of Coke and cigarettes. I know, I'm cranky. It's just sports, after all. Get me a beer and a bowl of chips and I'll gladly shut up.

"The Chinese government should show the global Olympic audience it’s serious about human rights by releasing the Tiananmen detainees. Beijing’s use of Tiananmen Square as a macabre prop for China’s Olympic ‘coming-out-party’ adds insult to injury. "

--Sophie Richardson, Asia advocacy director at Human Rights Watch.

Along with freeing the imprisoned Tienanmen Square protesters, Human Rights Watch urges China to:

  • overturn the 1989 official pronouncement labeling the student movement a “counterrevolutionary rebellion;”

  • publicly recognize that the June 1989 massacre is a deeply divisive source of pain and frustration even within the ranks of the ruling Chinese Communist Party, by providing redress to the victims;
  • cease the harassment, arrest and imprisonment of survivors, family members, and scholars who demand state accountability for Tiananmen abuses; and

  • issue a complete list of those who died or were injured, and those who were imprisoned, as no such lists are publicly available.

Friday, July 25, 2008


Winter Soldier: Iraq and Afghanistan was the title of a conference held recently in Washington, DC, that allowed vets from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars to tell their stories. The conference hearkened back to the "Winter Soldier" testimonies held thirty years ago during the Vietnam War. Iraq War combat veteran Jon Michael Turner told his story.

"If at the end of a war story you feel uplifted, or if you feel that some small bit of rectitude has been salvaged from the larger waste, then you have been made the victim of a very old and terrible lie."

-Tim O'Brien, The Things They Carried

In related news, here is a list of the most vicious war profiteers. Click HERE for the story.

If you're still in denial, you're hopeless. Have a nice day.

Thursday, July 24, 2008


Summertime is music time.

The song of the summer. Santogold live on Jools. "L.E.S. Artistes"

"I can say I hope it will be worth what I give up..."

"Dig Yourself, Lazarus Dig!"

"...But what do we really know of the dead And who actually cares?"

He may look like a 1970s used car salesman in a highly flammable leisure suit, but Nick Cave writes some catchy songs. Here's one about sex, death, drug addiction, success, and resurrection.

"Poor Larry!"

Wednesday, July 23, 2008


Some writers write about nothing, huge airy clouds of nothing, shopworn romances and thrillers and fake memoirs with character types instead of characters who slog through meaningless, overly familiar plots. People love the stuff! This is the literary equivalent of fast food. These doorstops with the glossy covers sell well at airports and may comprise most summer reading, but when the vacation ends they're usually left behind on the plane or by the pool.

While some write airy nothings, others try to grapple with the times in which they live. These writers are generally crankier than the pop writers. They rodeo-ride the zeitgeist and try to hold on till the bell rings. They takes risks. Unfortunately, they write books you can't read lying in a hammock after six pina coladas.

Here are two from the latter camp, Martin Amis and Norman Mailer, chatting in 1991.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008


The latest agit-prop from the McCain campaign explains the oil crisis in simple terms: Barack Obama is responsible. That sure clears things up. It's not gouging oil companies after all, not a spiraling out of control economy, and it's certainly not those smirking Texas oilmen in the White House whom McCain emulates. It's all Obama's fault! Thanks, John, for clearing up such a complicated issue in this critical election year.


Sunday, July 20, 2008


Tin House ended last night with bleary-eyed writers smoking, drinking, dancing, nursing wounds, swapping email addresses, and planning cab rides to the airport. A DJ played soul music. One tired dancer swayed just fast enough to keep her hula hoop aloft, giving the impression of some sad Saturn gradually surrendering to entropy. After an intense week of readings, workshops, lectures, Q and A sessions, networking, interviews with agents, singalongs, meal tickets, and lack of sleep, the hula hoop dance was a metaphor. It mirrored our exhaustion and refusal to surrender. We would leave without a magic bullet, without an amulet, armed only with the knowledge that others like us were scattered across this weatherbeaten planet practicing the exacting art of storytelling. By midnight it was vague and blurry--something about truth and memory--but even when I said my goodbyes and staggered to my car fishing for my keys I could have told you one thing: there was work to do. Not right then, thank God. But soon, and forever. Fuckin' A!

Colson Whitehead guided our workshop of twelve writers. He is bright, clever, shy, direct, a good writer and teacher. Here he is, sans dreadlocks, on the second half of this Charlie Rose show. Read his opinion piece in the New York Times here.

Thursday, July 17, 2008


Wrtiting camp continues. Saw Charles D'Ambrosio today. He had a five o'clock shadow and a Crazy Guggenheim hat mashed on his head. He throttled the microphone like a strangler. Then he held on for dear life as if he were on a slippery deck in a storm. He writes wonderful stories. Here is an interview with Charley. Read his stories everywhere, or buy them in a book. see if I care.


Some writers are cosmos, some writers are boilermakers. Some writers are juice boxes. Some writers are extremely dry martinis, so dry they make you piss dust. Some writers are watered down well drinks, some are drops of poison. Some are apple cider, and some are sports drinks, and some are tap water masquerading as bottled water.

The risk is obvious. Still, we must drink.

Steve Almond is in this video. I heard him read yesterday.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008


Another day at writing camp. I'm still amazed at the caliber of writing not only in the faculty here at Tin House, which would be expected, but also in my fellow students. In my small workshop group most or all are published fiction writers, and many teach writing on the college level--but I won't hold that against them.

Some complain that the proliferation of MFA writing programs results in homogenized and lackluster work that is competent but takes no risks, and I tend to agree, but the academics have brought some amazing stories--and so have the civilians who haven't gone the conventional route. School doesn't seem to be the deciding factor here. I guess the caliber of work reflects the edgy, barn-storming intelligence of Tin House Magazine (and those drawn to it) more than it reflects the current state of conventional writing programs.

Some of us read in the amphitheater this evening, under the trees, by a duck pond. It felt good. Later, there were faculty readings. I was especially amazed by Charles D'Ambrosio. Go buy his work to see how it's done.

Denis Johnson, National Book Award Winner 2007

Todays writing advice comes from Denis Johnson, author of Jesus' Son and Tree of Smoke, and guest here at Tin House:

"Write naked, write in exile, write in blood."

In our ongoing writers' week, here is the master of footnotes and endnotes in MLA style, David Foster Wallace.

Sunday, July 13, 2008


I'm out of town, and today I start my first day of Tin House Summer Writing Workshop, an amazing weeklong intensive of workshops, readings, seminars and panel discussions. The writers attending are quite impressive.
Today, I meet some of my fellow students as well as writers, agents, editors, and the always present demons of doubt. I was admitted on the basis of my manuscript, and so were my fellow attendees, and I've read their stories in preparation, and they are good. My group leader is Colson Whitehead, the author of "The Intuitionist," "John Henry Days," and "Apex Hides the Hurt." I'll keep you posted on my progress this week.

In the meantime, Jacques Derrida, the famous French deconstructionist, will discuss the "Fear of Writing."

Saturday, July 12, 2008


"Tangled Up In Blue," 1975

After the great 1974 comeback tour with the Band, Bob Dylan wanted to create a traveling musical revue that was less a full-force stadium show and more an intimate cabaret built for smaller halls. He'd been hanging out in Greenwich Village like the old days, showing up unexpectedly in the tiny cafes, and he was dreaming of a touring gypsy circus, a commedia del'arte, with poets and troubadours in costume and face paint. Dylan was getting back.

Dylan with Patti Smith in the Village, 1975

That dream became the legendary Rolling Thunder Revue. The revue played in small Northeast venues in 1975 without much notice, just hit-and-run announcements the day of the show. A second leg of the tour was added in 1976, culminating in the "Hard Rain" film that aired on TV, believe it or not, that bi-centennial year. I saw the revue in Providence, Rhode Island, and it was probably the best concert I've ever seen. A year later, and a lifetime away, I saw the TV show in a huge, rambling hippie commune in Kettle Falls, Washington. The place was a 1970s hippie tableaux jammed with people, kids, dogs...there were tables full of food, an people passed wine bottles and joints, lots of laughter, but everyone froze and payed attention when Dylan strolled onstage that magical hour.

At the time of the tour, the brilliant "Blood on the Tracks" was his most recent album, and Dylan was in fine form. He breathed a fiery breath into old favorites as well as new music nobody had ever heard, strange mystical songs that would later appear on "Desire." These clips provide proof to the doubters, and were filmed of the tour for the movie, "Renaldo and Clara."

"And as the evidence piled up, as the rock was pushed back to reveal the worms, many retreated into that past that never was, the place of balcony dreams in Loew's Met, fair women and honorable men, where we browned ourselves in the Creamsicle summers, only faintly hearing the young men march to the troopships, while Jo Stafford gladly promised her fidelity. Poor America. Tossed on a pilgrim tide. Land where the poets died.

Except for Dylan.

He had remained, in front of us, or writing from the north country, and remained true. He was not the only one, of course; he is not the only one now. But of all the poets, Dylan is the one who has most clearly taken the rolled sea and put it in a glass."

Pete Hamill, New York 1974, from the original liner notes to Blood on the Tracks

"It Ain't Me, Babe," 1975

Friday, July 11, 2008


Matt Taibbi is a whipsmart political writer with a wonderfully nasty streak who is being hailed as the new Hunter S. Thompson -- meaning irreverent and beholden to no one, not addicted to booze and pills and handguns. He gleefully takes on the powerful and greedy Republicans with surgical precision, as well as the bloated old Democrats who don't keep their promises. His targets vary, and he focuses on the familiar flag-waving ogres of the military-industrial complex, but he doesn't stop there, and lately he has infiltrated conservative Christian fundamentalists, and angered the cottage industry of the so-called "9-11 Truth Movement." He writes regularly for Rolling Stone, where his stories have been accompanied by great illustrations by Victor Juhasz.
Taibbi's latest book is The Great Derangement: A Terrifying True Story Of War, Politics, & Religion At The Twilight Of The American Empire.

On the presidential election:

I think we're in a situation now where the Bush people have done so much damage to so many different aspects of our society that this is an important election just in that respect...Bush in particular has done a lot of damage to our ability to have a national discussion about things, because they have so frequently insisted upon having their own reality when it suited them. Remember that famous quote, 'We're in the reality-making business,' from one of his aides? When it suited them, they just changed the facts and told their supporters 'Stick with us,' and 'We want you to subscribe to this faith-based politics where what we say is true because we say it is.' That's an enormously damaging way of operating the White House.
You really need to have appeal and try to talk to the entire country, and not just your constituents. I think Barack Obama—as little faith as I have in his ability to actually change the system—he does at least have the opportunity to repair that aspect of things, and to talk to the whole country, and bring us back to reality. That would be a huge step. I think John McCain is a guy who's got his own psychological problems that would prompt him, for instance, to continue this war under very cloudy, illogical circumstances, and that would be very destructive."

On the 9-11 Truth Movement:

"I love when you ask them, 'Okay, so let's just say for instance that it wasn't collapsed by the fire. Why would you demolish Building 7? What would be the propaganda purpose of doing that?' They're like, 'Oh, you know, they're hiding the evidence.' I'm like, 'They need to blow up a whole building to hide the evidence?' It's just crazy. But whatever. I mean, once you jump on board that train, you're on it for life."

The A.V. Club just spoke with Taibbi about Christian fundamentalism, blowing up buildings, patriotism, change, Joseph Heller, and the death of Tim Russert. To read the interview, follow this LINK.

An archive of Taibbi's stories on AlterNet are located HERE.

Thursday, July 10, 2008


Can you feel that? This makes me feel good. The Gorillaz playing Dirty Harry with all their little friends. Don't be such a stick in the mud. Loosen up and shake your groove thang!


You're out gathering berries, and along comes a grizzly bear like a freight train. What do you do? This old Swede talks his way out of a bear attack.


Banksy is a street artist. Banksy is a gallery artist. Banksy is a vandal and undesirable who scoffs at the law. Banksy is an astute social critic who uses grafitti writing and stencils to make his statements. Banksy is absolutely brilliant. Banksy sucks.

Banksy is a British street artist, and that's about all we know. Banksy is policeman's nightmare, and a wall-text addict's wet dream. Banksy believes art should be out of the galleries and into the streets. Banksy believes art should be off the streets and into the galleries. No one knows the true identity of Banksy. Everyone knows who Banksy is. The films above were taken from Banksy's website. The films show Banksy's knack for sneaking art into artless places.

Grafitti can be art. Grafitti doesn't have to be stupid. Go Banksy.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008


On the special occasion of Ringo Starr's 68th birthday, we're screening the movie "Help!"

Ringo is in trouble again, this time being chased by a cabal of Indian mystics who are after his ring. Hilarity ensues as Ringo vows to liberate all sentient beings from samsara and deliver them into Nirvana. The Beatlesattva does not seek bodhi (Awakening) solely for himself, but chiefly for the sake of freeing all other beings and aiding them into bliss. East meets West in this zany romp, with catchy tunes from Ringo's old pop combo, The Fabs. There are many paths to enlightenment, grasshopper. Seriousness isn't one of them.

This week, Ringo celebrated his 68th (!) birthday with a "peace & love" street party in Chicago. The old geezer still has his priorities straight. People came from all over for tea and cake. Happy Birthday, Ringo!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008


You're mainlining mass culture, little junkie, with all that flashy cable TV infotainment entering your veins in a continuous and steady morphine drip. Even if you hate it, you can't help yourself, and your synapses are firing in time to the latest on Lindsay and Angelina and other daft celebutantes who are famous for being famous. You sense there is more to life...but what?

You know America's Most Idle, and it's various permutations, but do you know who won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction?

This guy. A thirty-nine year old Dominican named Junot Diaz. He wrote a slangy Spanglish novel, giving us an outsider's perspective on life from the point of view of a fat uber-nerd named Oscar Wao who's into comic books. Don't worry, you won't have to read it. Reading makes your brain hurt. But you can watch these clips pretty easily. I suggest you do. The book is "The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao."


The Wilbury's Story, Part 1

Here's the story a super group that almost didn't happen. Fortunately, it did. George Harrison, Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison, Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne formed a loose old-timey band. George suggested they call themselves "The Trembling Wilburys." That was vetoed.

It started as a meal between Harrison, Orbison, and Lynne, and the guys went to Dylan's home studio in Malibu. George had left his guitar at Tom Petty's place, so Tom got involved. The plan was to make a B-side to Harrison's upcoming single, but the group worked so well together they decided to make an album. It went on to become a huge success and was nominated for Album of the Year.

The Wilbury's Story, Part 2

Sadly, it lost to Faith, by George Michael. Another huge Grammy blunder. "Don't Worry Be Happy" was awarded Song of the Year, a perfect anthem for the Reagan Era. While the Gala of Greed continued, the Wilburys hung out at the edge of town like scruffy outlaws, ready to rob the bank when the revelers finally drank themselves to sleep.

More on the name: According to Professor "Bobby" Sinfield, the name originates "from the various Wilbury Fairs which traveled Europe in Medieval times, titillating the populace with contemporary ballads, or were they rather derived from, “YE TRAVELING WILBURYS”, who were popular locksmiths during the Crusades and used to pick or unlock the jammed chastity belts"

The Wilbury's Story, Part 3

Monday, July 7, 2008


My life is a mixtape. I pinpoint key events to hit songs on the radio. I've deejayed weddings and graduation parties, slept outside to score choice tickets, and stayed up hollow-eyed deciphering Dylan, so I guess I'm obsessed with music. Lately, I'm into Santogold, My Morning Jacket, Lil Wayne...but if I had to choose my favorite song of all time I'd have to crank up the time machine...

Dylan probably wrote it, but then again it could be the Beatles. It's hard to beat The Stones playing "Tumbling Dice " in Belgium in 1973 with Mick Taylor playing lead guitar. Janis Joplin singing "Ball and Chain." Sam Cooke singing "A Change is Gonna Come." Hank Williams on the Lost Highway. Billie Holiday. Howlin' Wolf. Tom Waits. Thelonius Monk alone at the piano playing "Ruby, My Dear." The Clash belting out"London Calling."

...But if a gun were put to my head I would have to choose this version of the Hoagy Carmichael standard "Stardust" performed by Louis Armstrong in 1931. This is what collectors call the "oh memory" version of the song. Listen to this, the syncopation, the scat-singing, and then a perfectly brilliant trumpet solo that will kill you if you have any sensitivity whatsoever. Here it is: The best song of all time. Sorry there is no live video recording of this, only audio, but please take a moment and listen and see why I love it.


This is one big ass wave.

Sunday, July 6, 2008


In case you missed the KOMO news broadcast on TV about the Friends of the Nib mural on Broadway, click on this link:

The TV broadcast:

The mural was vandalized further since the initial story here.

Public art has been debated since the time of the Greeks. The debate is alive and well in Seattle, with these latest acts of vandalism. Can the public handle "art" that is not under lock and key? Should all art be locked in museums and galleries, under the watchful eyes of gallery attendants and security guards?

With the mural in shreds, we're left with an ugly, boarded-up, abandoned building. Thieves have robbed us of a chance -- a chance, not a guarantee -- of seeing something beautiful...or at least original, or challenging, or creative.

We're left with a gray strip of blight on the sad end of Broadway.


Tom Cruise, rich Hollywood star and true believer

With all due respect, Scientology is a crazy, crackpot religion. Even if we get past the street corner hustle of people pimping charlatan L. Ron Hubbard's mystical gibberish, or the high-level Hollywood lunacy of Tom Cruise, we're left with a silly pseudo-religion that is virtually impossible to believe without Manchurian Candidate-style brainwashing. Of course, they will provide that sort of thing for a handsome fee. You, too, can be a zombie for El Ron.

L. Ron Hubbard, celebrated salesman of serpent unguents

Once in a while the secrets get out. During the 1986 trial of Lawrence Wollersheim v. the Church of Scientology of California, a judge decided during pretrial motions certain documents should be put in a file that was open to the public. 1,500 Scientologists flooded the court clerk's office to keep other people from requesting them, but the L.A, Times got a copy. The Times reported the documents showed that upper-echelon Scientologists, after paying for many pricey rituals for "the secrets," are taught that humans contain the souls of aliens banished to Earth 75 million years ago by a galactic overlord named Xenu.

I just saved you a fortune.


Lawrence Wollersheim had defected from Scientology after serving eleven years and paying about $50,000, and claimed that the expensive rituals had driven him to the brink of suicide. Wollersheim claimed that after he left Scientology in 1979 the organization retaliated by destroying his business and attempting to destroy him. The jury believed him, and awarded him $30,000. The trouble was collecting.

Lawrence Wollersheim

Former members say that today the typical Scientologist must spend several years and about $100,000 in "auditing" (something similar to a lie detector test, where an auditor can read the patient) before they find out on OT III that they are filled with alien souls that must be removed by further, even more expensive auditing. It's gonna cost you to find out these secrets.

"At OT III," says Wollersheim, "you find out that you’re really thousands of individual beings struggling for control of your body. Aliens left over from space wars that are giving you cancer or making you crazy or making you impotent. The reason for every bad thing in your life is these alien beings,” Wollersheim says. “I went psychotic on OT III. I lost a sense of who I was.”

Wollersheim has gotten a small portion of the money, but "a lot of it has gone to lawyers, it’s going to litigation, it’s going to taxes. I’m working a 40-hour job. It was never about the money."

Tom Cruise Scientology video the "church" tried to suppress

Research from "Scientology's Crushing Defeat" in the Village Voice, June 24, 2008

Saturday, July 5, 2008


Like fine port or habanero peppers, Richard Thompson isn't for everyone. The guitar boy genius of seminal British folk group Fairport Convention grew up to slay dragons with wife and vocalist Linda Thompson, and was then in turn slayed by them in a brilliantly dark solo career someone nicknamed "Tales of Gloom and Doom." The nickname stuck.

A guitar player's guitar player, deeply appreciated by a rabid few, Thompson has never enjoyed the notoriety of many less talented musicians. These clips are from a BBC documentary covering his career -- the first clip is near the beginning, covering the early days, and the second clip is playing with Fairport, and the last clip skips to the end of the doc, and covers the solo days, after the divorce, since the Londoner moved to sunny Southern California. Don't worry. Palm trees and sunny vistas didn't ruin his dark vision.

Young Richard, with Fairport Convention in 1970

If you haven't heard him before, this will be a treat. Click to hear Richard and Linda sing "When I Get to the Border."


Jesse Helms (1921-2008) lifelong bigot and segregationist, homophobe, anti-arts funding philistine, all -around racist, and five-term Senator from North Carolina, finally died on the 4th of July. And not a moment too soon. It's nice to leave this primitive, ignorant, fear-mongering, backwards good ol' boy behind as we attempt to move into a more enlightened age.

Here are some classic quotes from Jesse Helms:

"Your tax dollars are being used to pay for grade-school classes that teach our children that cannibalism, wife-swapping and murder of infants and the elderly are acceptable behavior."

When a caller to CNN's Larry King Live show praised Helms for "everything you've done to help keep down the niggers," Helms responded with a salute to the camera, and said "Well, thank you. I think." -Wilmington Star-News, 9/16/95

"The New York Times and Washington Post are both infested with homosexuals themselves. Just about every person down there is a homosexual or lesbian."

"The Negro cannot count forever on the kind of restraint that's thus far left him free to clog the streets, disrupt traffic, and interfere with other's men's rights."

"Homosexuals are weak, morally sick wretches."

"They should ask their parents if it would be all right for their son or daughter to marry a Negro."
-- in response to Duke University students holding a vigil after Martin Luther King was assassinated in 1968

A closing statement:

Just to make Jesse spin a little, let's give the last word to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, his arch-enemy. Dr. King is shown here in his first extensive TV interview in 1957.

Yes, maybe only the good die young.

For more, read this Washington Post article, Jesse Helms, White Racist, HERE.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Thursday, July 3, 2008


"Madam" Marie Costello, the fortune teller made famous in this song by Bruce Springsteen, just died at the age of 94. The psychic reader began telling fortunes on the Asbury Park Boardwalk in New Jersey in the 1930s.

In "4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)," Springsteen describes summertime on the Jersey shore, and tells us "the cops finally busted Madam Marie for telling fortunes better than they do."

In an interview in the Asbury Park Press, less than two months ago, Madam Marie remembered:

"Some kid named Springsteen used to come around a lot in those days. He'd sit on the railing across the boardwalk and play his guitar. He was 17.(( One time he came over and said 'All I've got is 50 cents,' she remembers. 'I told him, 'You don't have to give me your 50 cents.'( As the story goes, she told him he would be famous one day. She probably said that to all the boys, Springsteen once conceded. Still, he would immortalize her in song. He would make her the most famous fortuneteller ever to peer into a crystal ball. 'He always comes by to say hello,' she says now. 'He knows where he came from.'"

This performance is from March, 2008, and features the great Danny Federici on accordion. Federici also passed away this year.

Without these two, the boardwalk will never be the same.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008


...O and the sea the sea crimson sometimes like fire and the glorious sunsets and the figtrees in the Alameda gardens yes and all the queer little streets and the pink and blue and yellow houses and the rosegardens and the jessamine and geraniums and cactuses and Gibraltar as a girl where I was a Flower of the mountain yes when I put the rose in my hair like the Andalusian girls used or shall I wear a red yes and how he kissed me under the Moorish wall and I thought well as well him as another and then I asked him with my eyes to ask again yes and then he asked me would I yes to say yes my mountain flower and first I put my arms around him yes and drew him down to me so he could feel my breasts all perfume yes and his heart was going like mad and yes I said yes I will Yes.

James Joyce, Ulysses

A hypertextual, self- referential edition of the complete text of James Joyce's Ulysses is HERE.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008


One of the greatest cartoons of all time, Duck, Amuck (1952) was directed by screwball genius Chuck Jones. This surreal cartoon was deemed "culturally significant" by the Library of Congress, and selected for preservation by the National Film Registry. Two other cartoons by Jones received the honor: What's Opera, Doc (1957) and One Froggy Evening (1955). All three cartoons are absolutely brilliant, and high water marks in animation history.

Of the 50 Greatest Cartoons of All Time, as selected by 1000 animation professionals, Duck, Amuck was rated number two, losing to Jones' own What's Opera, Doc? for the top slot. One Froggy Evening came in at number 6. Good show, Jones.

Chuck Jones (1912-2002) American Artist, Cartoonist, Animator, Screenwriter, Producer, Director, and Honorary Academy Award Winner (1996)


"London Homesick Blues" by Gary P. Nunn and the Lost Gonzo Band. This great song about a homesick cowboy stuck in London is the bittersweet side of outlaw country music, Austin style. Performed here at Willie Nelson's second annual 4th of July Picnic, in Bryan/College Station, Texas, 1974.

The armadillo was the symbol of far-out, longhaired Texas -- as opposed to the longhorned shitkicker variety steer -- and was probably made popular by underground artist Jim Franklin, who had been drawing them since 1968.

Jim Franklin came from Galveston, and opened a psychedelic music hall in Austin, called the Vulcan Gas Company. He lived in the place, and provided a stage, and great posters for Texas hippie bands like Shiva's Headband, and 13th Floor Elevators. The legacy of the gas company was continued in 1970, with the opening of the Armadillo World Headquarters.

Armadillo World Headquarters, Austin, TX, in 1976