Archive for November, 2004

santa season

Tuesday, November 30th, 2004

This year I really am doing my shopping early (if you count “now” as early). Other than a wayward little brother who is, literally, impossible to shop for, I’m making good progress on everyone. And it feels good – trying to make the people you care about happy is a pretty effective way to soothe an election-battered soul.

What am I buying? Cozy things, happy things, and dozens and dozens of these. Maybe by the time the next election rolls around, that little ripple will become a tidal wave of change! I can dream, can’t I?

So Santa, if you’re listening, that’s what I want for Christmas: a better world.

And a pony.

happy thanksgiving

Thursday, November 25th, 2004

The world is definitely full of turkeys, but I’m still thankful. For New York, and silly fuzzy kitties, and the people who keep me sane, from Marc Jacobs and Jon Stewart to my family and friends. And I’m especially thankful for the wizard who manages, somehow, to make me happy through all the woeful tidings. Thank goodness for J.

Here’s wishing everyone a happy day, and more things to be thankful for.

or, nightmares

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2004

If he’s right, I may be needing that land around the fantasy bungalow.

To grow food.

Add, say, this, just for one example, and I mean, seriously, I think we can guess what W’s favorite movie is: The Road Warrior. His dream? To turn America into a primitive, postapocalyptic wasteland where he can play Mel Gibson.

I’m starting to think I’d better do some planning to deal with what I shall henceforth refer to as the Mad Max Plan for America. Will I have to start squeezing out babies to work my fields? Buy a gun to keep off the starving masses? Maybe it really is all about oil! Suddenly, his agenda makes so much sense! How could I have been so blind?

Now I know why they’re selling these. Because I definitely want to cry.

bungalow dreams

Monday, November 22nd, 2004

In the immortal masterpiece Joe Versus the Volcano, Tom Hanks sails off to find a place “away from the things of man.” And these days, I’ve got a serious hankering (yeah, I went there) to follow him. Though personally, I wouldn’t bring along 3 versions of Meg Ryan.

So this weekend, when we were driving to Binghamton, we did some imaginary shopping for a country house. The dream? A little house on a great big piece of land. Or rather, for starters, a great big piece of land that has a little house on it that we could live in right now but that’s not too nice to tear down once we built the house we really want.

Anyone who knows anything about the New York area real estate market knows that the first thing you do is figure out how far away from the city you could actually stand to be. Because the closer you are, the more obscenely expensive everything gets. So you start weighing: how many acres would you give up to be closer to town? How many hours would you drive to have a place that was yours as far as the eye can see? (On that one, if you answered less than “49,” you’re probably out of luck.) Can you find a way to pawn enough of your internal organs to cough up a truly Bush-Cheney deficit-spending sum? Or are you going to hope you can somehow get lucky, and find something that requires only your firstborn?

Honestly, it gets a little depressing when you think too hard about the financial/logistical realities. But oh, the bliss of taking a spontaneous detour off the highway, getting a little lost on a skein of back roads, and finding a perfect little spot for your perfect little house. Sometimes there’s even a built-in pony, right there waiting for you, eating grass on your field-to-be.

I need to find a way to master the icky parts. Because, wow. These days, I think the only place there could be some real peace is in a little house, tucked away in the woods, far away from the things of man.

kicking and screaming

Thursday, November 18th, 2004

I am going through a phase where it is all but impossible to get myself to work. You’d think my job was like “dental school practice patient” or something.

Every iota of labor is just excruciating.

I’m not sure what it’s about – I mean, I suspect it’s some combination of frustration with the tasks I should do versus feared futility of the tasks I want to do, maybe laced with some of that lingering post-election directionlessness, but I don’t really know.

I do know I need a dose of motivation. Stat.

Nurse!

turn, turn, turn

Wednesday, November 17th, 2004

Yep, life keeps on goin’ on. And since I haven’t heard from Barack Obama yet, I’ve been working on healing the old psyche. So I spent the weekend watching amazing dance, and horseback riding. I even got to have dinner with a seriously incredible person: Mary Rodgers Guettel. She’s an inspiration, I tell ya – so smart, so grounded, so funny. I mean, she responded to an effort to pick up the tab with, “Ah, no. When your father writes Oklahoma, you can pay.” And it’s quite a sensation, to feel like somehow you must be managing to be quite interesting, because she could be talking to, um, anyone (her own kids are more eminent than I’ll ever be), and yet she seems to like talking to you. Wow.

And today I went to Bergdorfs for the Marc Jacobs spring trunk show, and ordered the crazy pompom bag. Because it’s funny, and cheery, and soooooooooooo soooooooooooooft.

I think this little sabbatical from rage is healthy. So here’s my plan. I’m going to ignore the fact that the foul Condi Rice is going to be our Secretary of State. I’m going to pretend the putative new Attorney General isn’t just an ex-Enron lawyer who advocates torture and helps the President cover up his drunk driving. I’m going to stop thinking about all the people dying, day after day, in Iraq, and the scandalous lack of interest in that among the news media. Tom DeLay, minion of Beelzebub, keeping his leadership post despite getting indicted? Evolution getting ejected from the public schools? I’ll just ask Santa to bring me the Rapture for Christmas so we can get rid of these freaks once and for all. Otherwise, I’m done. No more politics, no more woe, until January. For now, it’s going to be pumpkin pie and Elf and shiny things.

If Paul Krugman can take a break from politics, so can I. I’m not sure I’ll actually make it till January, but I’m going to give it a shot. Because we’ll all need our strength for the next four years.

Initiate recharging sequence now.

non-cat friday

Friday, November 12th, 2004

Yeah, I know, that’s the tradition. But I talked about the cat yesterday, so today I’ll talk about something different, but still not politics-related: creative work.

Last night I saw “Mass,” the incredible new piece by John Mackey and Robert Battle, at Juilliard. There’s nothing like really amazing artistic work to soothe a troubled soul. (Even though the piece is far from soothing.) Knowing people are out there making things of substance and beauty that also happen to kick ass is a great balm. So, you should go. It runs through Sunday. It’s free. And it’s fantastic. Gorgeous and meaningful and quite thrillingly grippingly intensely alive. The perfect antidote to the end-of-the-world feelings we’ve been wallowing in.

Plus, I got to talk to Susan Marshall, who also had a piece on the program. Pestering her with my own personal dopey interpretation of her piece, I learned that not only is she a certified MacArthur genius, but she’s incredibly gracious to babbling fans.

(Fear my mad recursive linking skillz.)

Okay, so this does, in a way, lead me back to a political question. Is it better/smarter/right/wrong/whatever to try and make work that might, in that long-arc-of-the-moral-universe kind of way, “make a difference?” Or is direct action the only defensible road? I’m really wondering about this.

I mean, if you look at immediate next steps: take a hypothetical run for, I dunno, say City Council, and weigh it against, say writing a script that illuminates injustice and tries to spread that understanding into the world – it’s hard to say. Both could fail, and even if they succeeded, it’s hard to know how much of a difference either one would make. And even if you imagine a string of successes, leading all the way to ultimate success, where you balance an actual shot at, say, the Presidency or the Supreme Court or something against a career that somehow manages to produce Great Works of Art®, well, I still don’t know.

I mean, maybe if you managed one of the great political careers, you could make an relatively immediate difference in the world. But a body of great art can change things for generations.

And of course, this logical-conclusion stuff is useless, because that’s not the probable outcome. I, personally, will be neither Justice Abacus nor Shakespeare Part Deux, Revenge of the Solipsist. So what we should really be asking is whether a middling political/activism career could do more good than a middling artistic career. And who can say?

If you’re sitting there going, “Pick me! Pick me! I can say!” – please, comment. I’m really looking for insight on this.

It’s not terribly cool to ask, but I guess I am: At a macro level, how does one live a good life? I suspect it involves leaving things better than you found them. But what’s the best way to go about that? Or is that question a red herring – is this one of those times where the unachievably perfect is the enemy of the pretty darn good? Or maybe you’d say it’s an artifical choice – why not make the art and do the grassroots political stuff that sows the seeds of real change. And maybe a compromise like that is the right answer, but I just wonder if it just means doing several things poorly and thereby sacrificing the change to do one thing well enough to really matter. Because I do, somehow, think there’s a threshold to these things… How much effort/achievement/whatever is enough?

Beats me. I should’ve just written about the cat.

Did you know he likes to drink out of a glass?

Yeah, you’re right. Too late.

sorbet for the mind (watch that brain freeze!)

Thursday, November 11th, 2004

Today, I think it’s time for a mental palate cleanser. After venting my spleen all over the virtual place yesterday – and let me tell you, scrubbing bile off millions of pixels is hell – I shall now, um, mellow out a little. So. For today, no politics. Just a little evidence that the world has indeed kept turning.

Exhibit A: Pretty things continue to be manufactured. I believe this proves that not every single creative person has retired to a yurt in Toronto. Not only that, they are silly pretty things, which are really the best kind, inasmuch as they remind us not to take things so seriously. (Especially expensive things, which one should never take seriously unless one wants to be a Republican.) So, voila. The Angela bag, from Marc Jacobs’ spring line. ’70s Crayola green and blue, floppy, with pom poms. Yay.

Exhibit B: I have found a religion I can really get behind. Where did I find it, you ask? Why, right in my own home! I am going to join a faith pioneered by my cat. He is Chewish. His faith manifests itself in a devotion to gnawing on my fingers. I may skip this particular ritual, but I think I could really get into his main holiday, Pounceover. I mean, it’s a little hard to understand what the point of leaping around in pursuit of a balled-up sock is, but perhaps that is the point. It’s like a zen thing. I bet it could be very good for me. And when dirty politics or other taints invade his world, well, he just washes them right off with his scratchy tongue – it’s like he literally kisses them away. Now that’s serenity. If you still don’t believe the Chewish faith offers inner peace, well, gnaw on this: Loki sleeps the sleep of the angels some 16 hours a day. I rest my case.

Exhibit C: Christmas trees are going up all over town. And religion, schmeligion, that means just one thing: Santa is coming.

I’m going to go bust out the Gene Autry Christmas albums. (Yes, I have more than one.) Nothing cures a case of the Blues like a little “Where Did My Snowman Go?” Seriously. See for yourself.

yes, i said “morons”

Wednesday, November 10th, 2004

I used some rather inflammatory language in that last post.

So what? I’m mad. I’m tired of being called evil by people who actually are.

Also, I am tired of reading things like this. It’s not news, though this is a nice new expression of the ideas. And if Americans weren’t so fucking stupid, we might be able to use these insights to make a difference in this fucked up world. But since this analysis is long, not well suited to bumper sticker expression, and insufficiently Ramboesque, instead, the pack of dolts we generously call a citizenry have put my life in danger, again.

Because the one place I think this piece is way off is in suggesting that it will be a megachurch that gets hit. It will be New York, again. Or L.A. Or someplace else that doesn’t fucking deserve it.

Fuck you, morons.

justice ashcroft, and other post-halloween horrors

Wednesday, November 10th, 2004

Even though people have been picking up the voting irregularities story – MSNBC has it, CNN has it, it’s out there – and there’s definitely an ample supply of comfort-offering content, from the Red vs. Blue IQ chart to the population-adjusted maps (which do, definitely, help with the Red Sea problem), and there are even some very, um, vigorous expressions of Blue State frustration, including my personal pet peeve, the “Freeloading Red States” phenomenon, nothing helps. I can’t even laugh at the ones that are supposed to be funny anymore.

Yesterday, Howard Kurtz wondered why Democrats are so depressed. He concluded that we are suffering from “a sense that the red states are now running the country and they are totally left out. A sense that their values (or lack thereof) are under fire.”

I like Howard Kurtz, but he’s not getting it. What struck me about that is that it sounds an awful lot like the childish, petulant complaints the idiot Red Staters make – that the Liberal Elite is attacking them.

But here’s the thing. We’re upset because where the Democrats’ core value is liberty, the Republicans’ core value is oppression. And the oppressors are now in charge. Think about it. The Democrats are the party that’s about allowing people to live the way they choose. You want to believe the Rapture is coming? Knock yourself out. You want to marry your boyfriend? Fine with us, and whether you happen to be male or female is none of our business. The Republicans are the party that’s about making damn sure you live the way they choose. No marriage unless we approve of your union. No abortion. Heck, no birth control. Censorship of the airwaves. Proselytizing as a condition of drug treatment. I don’t really need to list these things. You know them.

Hell, it even extends to foreign policy: We don’t like a government? We’ll impose another one! Screw international law.

That’s why it always gets my goat when the footsoldiers of the Armies of Compassion complain about how Blue Staters “threaten” them. Gay marriage is the perfect example. I mean, the “Defense of Marriage Act?” As Jon Stewart put it, gay marriage isn’t mandatory, you morons. Is George Bush’s marriage to his “true love” Laura so fragile that having a couple of guys get married in San Francisco is going to cause him to get divorced? News flash to the Red States: other people’s relationships are not about you!

When the Red Staters complain about being subjected to “liberal values,” what they’re really complaining about is not being allowed to impose their values on other people. And, you know, boo fucking hoo. No one is telling them they can’t do what they want. All we’re saying is they don’t get to say what other people can do. Because, you know, the definition of a free country is “a place where one decides for oneself what to do, think, and be.”

When Blue Staters say we fear for our way of life under the Third Bush Reich, it’s because our way of life is actually in danger! Bush’s favorite judges, Scalia and Thomas, dissented in the case that said you can’t make homosexual sex between consenting adults in their own home a crime. And Scalia has said that the rights Americans currently enjoy “go far beyond what is required by the Constitution.” (Never mind the Ninth Amendment…) I mean, it doesn’t get much clearer than that. The agenda is plain: to take away our hard-won liberty. Yeah, they’re the Real Americans┬« all right. Freedom really is on the march. Right out of this country.

So when I hear that Ashcroft has resigned, and some people cheer and others say “I mean, they couldn’t find someone worse!” I just cringe. Because, for starters, there’s the Justice Ashcroft of the Thomas Court problem. And, second, they just might be able to find someone worse – why, it looks like they may have! Bush’s pick for Attorney General? Drumroll please: The guy who wrote the torture policy for Abu Ghraib! Who also, just for fun, used to be the lawyer for Enron. Seriously. I couldn’t make this stuff up.

So this is why we’re depressed. Because the nation we love, the one built on liberty, has fallen. R.I.P., Land of the Free. Tyranny rules.

Have you read the Declaration of Independence lately? It will make you cry.