Monday, September 29, 2008

MORE THAN WORDS

Remember when everything was extreme or x-treme? It was around the same time that everything was Max or Maxx or, look out: MAXXX! The x-tra Xs didn't mean hardcore thrusting -- they meant hardcore awesome. It wasn't just rollerblades that were x-treme to the MAXXX!; everything seemed to be awesome beyond belief, from razor blades to cola. I can't recall exxxactly when the world's products became so superior... probably around the time of Zubaz to a few years ago. Let's say the '90s. Well, we're far beyond the '90s and things are noticeably less x-treme nowadays. We're living with never-ending wars, innocent people being blown up every day, kids plotting their massacres on YouTube, economies imploding... It's a grim world and we're too anxious to be MAXXX!. Our world is post-awesome. We've lost our superlative spirit. Instead of watching XFL while drinking Pepsi Max, we're watching military funerals while drinking Diet Pepsi We Have An Oil Crisis Let's Tone Down Our Behaviour 355ml.

Friday, September 26, 2008

SHE'S GOTTA HAVE IT


She's Gotta Have It (1986)
Dir: Spike Lee
USA

YOU ARE WORTH IT.

I love the saying "Go make yourself useful." Because it implies that you are useless. And all you have to do to stop being useless is do something. Anything. Like put the cutlery away. Then you are no longer useless. You will be Somebody.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

I AM THINKING ABOUT EMBARRASSING MOMENTS

I often lie in bed thinking about how I've embarrassed myself over the years. Some memories make me cower under my covers, like when I [XXXXXXXXXXXXX]* when I was eighteen. And when I danced [XXXXXXXXXXXXX]** when I was twenty-five. Those embarrassments happened relatively recently so the aftershocks still shudder me. But when I peed in my terry-cloth yellow shorts while singing with my fellow kindergarteners as we stood in front of our moms, and my mom had to scoop me up in mid-song as the puddle grew, and she had to wipe me down in the boys' washroom and an older kid came in to pee in the urinal like an adult and he got weirded out 'cause why's-this-woman-in-the-boys'-washroom and ha-ha-lookit-this-twerp-kid-he's-got-piss-all-over-his-lower-body... I don't feel embarrassed about that any more. By the way, our teacher had treated the kids and moms to free orange-coloured water from McDonald's in a big red plastic cooler and I drank like thirty-three cuplets before singing. By the way, my shorts were yellow to begin with.

I don't mind telling you about that embarrassment. It happened the same year Duran Duran released Seven and the Ragged Tiger. It happened so long ago that I'm totally cool to confess. But I'm not gonna tell you about when I [XXXXXXXXXXXXX]*** in 2004. And I don't even want to think about when I [XXXXXXXXXXXXX]**** without asking her first in 2002. You see, the longer I wait the less embarrassed I'll be. I think. Maybe. Certainly temporal distance gives us emotional distance, but then again, some embarrassments might never be healed. After all, a kindergartener is supposed to piss his pants in front of two dozen moms. It's the thing. But an adult isn't supposed to give [XXXXXXXXXXXXX]***** like I did in 1999. The cause for embarrassment -- whether we had conscious control of the act or not -- must be considered. Embarrassment, like crime, must be judged with mens rea in mind. That must be why remembering my recent embarrassments makes me cover my face: I should have known better. I did know better. I shouldn't have done it. And yes, I'm not exaggerating when I say I cover my face.

BUT WHY? do I still get embarrassed about past embarrassments? Why do I still let those events bother me? I hadn't thought about [XXXXXXXXXXXXX]****** in years, so if my life has been okay in the interim, why let this renegade memory disturb me now while I try to fall asleep? After cowering, I compose myself with this mantra: "No one remembers... no one remembers... no one remembers...". That person and that person and that person and that person -- all who were there during the event -- have likely forgetten. They certainly weren't affected by that event as much as me (unless they were). And they certainly aren't thinking about that event at this moment so stop cowering! I'm the only one thinking about this embarrassment, and all I have to do to kill this embarrassment is stop thinking about it. Memory tends to exaggerate moments, so we overblow our shame. Embarrassment is subjective and feels like a disaster to one while a fleeting guffaw to another. If embarrassment can be both a disaster and guffaw at once, then just let it go. Fleet away.

No one remembers.
No one remembers.
No one remembers.

Unless everyone does remember, in which case keep cowering.


*Clearly I'm too embarrassed to tell you.
**Clearly I'm too embarrassed to tell you.
***Clearly I'm too embarrassed to tell you.
****Clearly I'm too embarrassed to tell you.
*****Clearly I'm too embarrassed to tell you.
******that time in 1996 when I was checking out a high school yearbook with [friend] and we were peeping all the girls' photos, saying "hot" or "nah". I pointed to one picture and said "nah". "That's my sister," said [friend].

Saturday, September 13, 2008

IT'S ALL GOOD

I love Stan Brakhage. But out of his almost 400 films, surely not every one of them can be as influential as Dog Star Man or as revelatory as The Act of Seeing with One's Own Eyes. After watching a handful of his films that did not move me or engage me, I asked myself the same naive questions that I hate hearing from others: "Anyone could've made that film. Why is it special? Why is it worth studying? Simply because it's Brakhage?"

I'm not the type to dismiss the merit of any artwork simply because it looks "easy to do". And as quickly as hundreds of people have looked at a Pollock and said, "I can do that," I'm even quicker to respond, "No you can't." But in the case of Brakhage, I've found some of his films to be not particularly special. And in the case of all artists I admire, I've wondered why some of their lesser known, less special works were worth our attention. Is everything that Picasso ever vomited or shat a groundbreaking piece of art, simply because they're by Picasso? No. Then why do we treat everything he's done as being relevant? Why are so many of Dali's scribbles and notes currently on exhibit at MoMA? I posed these questions -- with Brakhage as the framework -- to my pal Raymond P., a film festival programmer whose opinion of cinema is incredibly credible and trustworthy.

"Because all of his films, good and bad, help complete our understanding of Brakhage as a filmmaker," he said.

Raymond P. told me this a few years ago and I've heeded his words whenever I observed any artwork whose merit I might have debated. His advice pertains to accomplished and "important" artists in particular, whose inclusion in the canon necessitates study of all their works. Every artist is capable of producing stinkers; indeed they should, as they are living and developing human beings whose work evolves. Each individual work gives context for another. And in the case of important artists like Brakhage, in order to understand where The Dante Quartet comes from, we have to watch his unspecial films. In order to connect Underground Fantasy to Red, White and Brown, we should examine Rothko's doodles. In order to appreciate how Ulysses came to be, we should consider Joyce's grocery lists.


[In conclusion, if you feel like you are on a path to importance and would like to facilitate the study of your work, you should consider becoming a pack rat. Or if your friend is going to become important, start saving her scraps. If MoMA doesn't ask to exhibit the detritus, you could always eBay them away...]




Mark Rothko, Underground Fantasy (1940)



Mark Rothko, Red, White and Brown (1957)

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

LOOSE ENDS AND GOOD BYES

Friends come. Friends go. I place great faith in their return.

The first time I stopped doing rounds was when I was fifteen. I was underaged and experimenting with White Russians and Long Islands at the Starfish Room in Vancouver. It was a hip hop jam and it was packed. I had a lot of friends and acquaintances at that jam. Mostly acquaintances. In my adolescence my ability to socialise was blossoming and my circles of friends started radiating, growing as quickly as I was changing. That's what happens when you're fifteen and all of a sudden brave. You make a lot of acquaintances.

James and I were ready to jet. "Hold on," he shouted, "I'm gonna say 'bye..." As he disappeared into the crush of head-nodders and beats, I sipped the last of my latest alcoholic discovery. I scanned the crowd for cute girls that I didn't have the balls to talk to all night... there she is... there she is... there she is... there's another... I noticed new friends and newer acquaintances scattered throughout the mess of people, uprocking, nodding, rapping along, swigging, chatting up the cute girls that passed me by. Everyone was busy socialising and I was busy crunching my ice, watching them not noticing me. James returned after forever, said, "Yo, you're not gonna do your rounds?"
"Naw."
And we left.

I've tried to replicate that exit for the last fifteen years. It's happened sometimes. But usually I've succumbed to social grace and spent half-an-hour saying goodbye when my actual goodbye should've happened half-an-hour ago. One of my vices, my banes, is my feeling of social obligation. "What will my friends think if I don't say goodbye?" Or worse, "What will my acquaintances think if I don't say goodbye?" Acquaintances might think I'm snubbing them (such horror), but friends... the friendship will survive the lack of goodbye. Friendship, although rarely unconditional, is far more unconditional than acquaintanceship. Friends should remain friends with or without a proper and belaboured goodbye. But be them friends or acquaintances or enemies, no one actually cares whether or not I say goodbye. They are intelligent and will conclude one thing: I went home. Why flit around the room inflicting uncomfortable farewells when I'm gonna see you again soon anyways? I'm almost certainly going to interrupt your conversation with someone I don't know and we're going to hug and I'm going to meekly twinkle my fingers at the patiently awaiting stranger so he doesn't feel left out of the goodbye. Awkward.

I'm not an irrational cynic. It's smart and advisable to let someone know that you're leaving so they don't worry you've been kidnapped. Also, I'd appreciate it if a drunken friend checked in with me -- "Dude, I'm outta here, I don't wanna get towed, I'm so wasted" -- so I could say "Not so fast." And of course in some circumstances you sincerely want to hang on to that person for just one minute longer because they're leaving tomorrow forever for Peru and you want to make sure you have their e-mail, have their Facebook, give them your blessings. Proper goodbyes are thoughtful displays of kindness and appreciation. But in general, for the bulk of things I attend, I'm content to leave the evening pat. Tell a friend or two that I'm leaving. Not everyone. Clean exit. Quiet. It's gratifying to simply disappear.

"She didn't even say goodbye," some people complain like it's a crime. Is it?

I learned something from my father when we went to China in 2004. Over the last thirty years he's been able to see his dear old friends only sporadically, perhaps a decade or longer between some visits. Maybe even thirty years. Maybe more. On one occasion he and his old buddies gathered at the kitchen table to smoke cigarettes and eat lunch and eat dinner and drink tea and talk for twelve hours. No break. That is friendship. I don't know how they handled the first goodbye when my father left China in 1979, but I reckon the "goodbye" was more like "see you later". I now say "I'll see you later" with more sincerity because, indeed, I will.

One of my favourite non-goodbyes was doled out by my mother when I was home some years ago for the winter holiday. I was leaving early next morning back to Toronto and of course my mother wasn't going to the airport -- she never does, nor do I want her to; she taught me pragmatism -- and she shut her bedroom door to go to sleep.
"MOM! What're you doing!"
"Bedtime," she muffled behind the door.
"Aren't you going to say goodbye?"
"Why?"
"'Cause I'm leaving tomorrow! You won't see me for half a year! Can I at least hug you?"
"Why? It'll be summer before you know it. I'll see you later..."
She didn't say goodnight. She didn't say goodbye. She didn't even open the door. Her exits are so clean they're invisible.

It's that unconditional bond I have with my family that I transfer onto some friends. No, I don't take friendship for granted and I've had a few collapse, but I'm finding that the stronger the bond, the less need for goodbye. That's probably why I feel a need to say goodbye to acquaintances: a little prick to remind them to remember me because they've already started forgetting. But my friendships that are full of substance... I'd like to keep them loose, where no ends are tied because there are no ends. Keep things open because our relationship is unfinished business. Instead of chopping up our narrative into pieces of stop and start, I'd rather let it trail out like one long unbroken thread of friendship.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

ORDET


Ordet (1955)
Dir: Carl Theodor Dreyer
Denmark
"I switched my motto, instead of sayin' fuck tomorrow
That buck that bought a bottle could've struck the lotto..."

And that, Nas, is one of the many reasons why you're one of the greatest lyricists ever.

Oh wait, here comes Rakim:

"When I'm writin' I'm trapped in between the lines
I escape when I finish the rhyme
I got soul..."

Sunday, September 7, 2008

CRIMSON, MISSISSIPPI

The dinner gathering on Friday was lovely, with homegrown vegetables and warm company, a small and caring group celebrating her new job. And then my pee turned red. I stood frozen above the toilet, motionless except for my stream and my alarmed eyes rotating unto themselves probing for answers. I assessed my belly from within -- no lacerations. No pain whatsoever. No reason why the liquid in the bowl was a tepid pink like a gash to the face in the rain.

The next day, after every visit to the loo had been a flow of red or pink, I consulted Dr. Internet. It was the beets. I had beeturia. I have (or had) an issue metabolising betalaine. It affects 10-14% of people. But how can that be when I've been eating copious beets for years in both grated-salad and canned form, and my pee never looked like I had a urethra-swab-gone-tragic at the STD clinic? Because beeturia can come and go, sometimes indicating your level of iron intake at certain periods. Because different beets have different concentrations of pigment, and at the dinner gathering I was inhaling the fresh homegrown sliced beets so good so delicious stained my fingers. Besides the possible indication that one's iron intake should be considered, there's no health hazard to having beeturia, nor should one stop eating beets. Good. 'Cause I love beets. I guess I've just joined a club. For all of you who've suspected me before... you're right. I do belong to a certain 10% of the population.

Friday, September 5, 2008

I LIKE ANNE KILKENNY

The American election has me riveted. This has become the most exciting political race I've observed or experienced since I first voted eleven years ago. I'm not yet excited enough about the Canadian election to say anything interesting, but hopefully something will inspire me before long (a digression: during the U.S. primaries I was reminded -- I think by Rick Mercer on his show -- of the contrast between exhilarating American politics and pale Canadian politics. Americans were choosing between a half-black, half-white man who lived in Indonesia and Hawaii and has a Muslim and Kenyan name; a woman who is extremely experienced and powerful; a war veteran who survived years of torture and imprisonment. Canadians have a choice between an old white guy, an old white guy, an old white guy, or an old white guy. Oh, we do have one woman, though!).

"...[S]he has hated me since back in 1996," says Anne Kilkenny about Sarah Palin. And that is why I like Anne Kilkenny. I have a knee-jerk reaction towards Republicans and Conservatives that is often based on prejudice, but knee-jerk reactions are uncontrollable instant reflex responses, and I hope that response extends into my foot and right into the ass of those Right-wing candidates. Woops. Let me explain my prejudice: Whenever I hear the Right criticise or lambast ANYTHING, I immediately embrace that anything. Maybe I know little about the object of their criticism, and I should learn more about what exactly is the object of the Right's ire... but in due time. I'm talking about immediate, uncontrollable, instinctive response, and that is if the Right hates you then I love you.

One example is when I saw a clip of Bill O'Reilly saying The Globe and Mail might as well be called "The Havana Press". I immediately felt something like pride that I was a reader of The Globe and Mail. Yes, that newspaper's political bias is arguable, but the point is that Bill O'Reilly hated The Globe and Mail; therefore my response was to embrace it.

Similarly, as I expressed earlier, whenever I learn that an artist is Right-wing, I immediately turn my back on that artist. I am certainly able to look at an artist's work critically without interference from their politics, but sometimes the work and the politics are inseparable. In any case, learning about the artist's politics gives context to the work, and the politics cannot be dismissed if I am to understand the artist comprehensively. And I'm not saying I can't find value in a Right-wing artist's work, I'm saying that my knee-jerk reaction is to take a massive pee on their character.

I like Anne Kilkenny. I just learned about her on NPR (American National Public Radio). She wrote an open letter to some people that has gone viral. During the radio interview with her, in the span of two minutes her e-mail inbox exploded from around 700 messages to over 1000. She was getting calls from NBC and People Magazine and this n' that. I'm grateful for her personal and first-hand account on the question mark that is Sarah Palin. I like Anne's modesty and pro-active ethic. I'm presuming I like her politics. And if Sarah Palin hates her, then god bless us all, I like Anne Kilkenny.

I was kidding about the god part.

But I certainly don't appreciate Anne Kilkenny simply because Sarah Palin hates her; no, that's far too facile. I genuinely appreciate Anne Kilkenny for writing her letter. Here it is:

[NOTE: Please pardon any strange punctuations. When things go viral I guess HTML code and blah blah blah get messy]

***
Dear friends,

So many people have asked me about what I know about Sarah Palin in the
last 2 days that I decided to write something up . . .

Basically, Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton have only 2 things in
common: their gender and their good looks. :)

You have my permission to forward this to your friends/email contacts
with my name and email address attached, but please do not post it on
any websites, as there are too many kooks out there . . .

Thanks,
Anne


ABOUT SARAH PALIN

I am a resident of Wasilla, Alaska. I have known Sarah since 1992.
Everyone here knows Sarah, so it is nothing special to say we are on a
first-name basis. Our children have attended the same schools. Her
father was my child's favorite substitute teacher. I also am on a
first name basis with her parents and mother-in-law. I attended more
City Council meetings during her administration than about 99% of the
residents of the city.

She is enormously popular; in every way she�s like the most popular
girl in middle school. Even men who think she is a poor choice and
won't vote for her can't quit smiling when talking about her because
she is a "babe".

It is astonishing and almost scary how well she can keep a secret. She
kept her most recent pregnancy a secret from her children and parents
for seven months.

She is "pro-life". She recently gave birth to a Down's syndrome baby.
There is no cover-up involved, here; Trig is her baby.

She is energetic and hardworking. She regularly worked out at the gym.

She is savvy. She doesn't take positions; she just "puts things out
there" and if they prove to be popular, then she takes credit.

Her husband works a union job on the North Slope for BP and is a
champion snowmobile racer. Todd Palin�s kind of job is highly
sought-after because of the schedule and high pay. He arranges his
work schedule so he can fish for salmon in Bristol Bay for a month or
so in summer, but by no stretch of the imagination is fishing their
major source of income. Nor has her life-style ever been anything
like that of native Alaskans.

Sarah and her whole family are avid hunters.

She's smart.

Her experience is as mayor of a city with a population of about 5,000
(at the time), and less than 2 years as governor of a state with about
670,000 residents.

During her mayoral administration most of the actual work of running
this small city was turned over to an administrator. She had been
pushed to hire this administrator by party power-brokers after she had
gotten herself into some trouble over precipitous firings which had
given rise to a recall campaign.

Sarah campaigned in Wasilla as a �fiscal conservative�. During her 6
years as Mayor, she increased general government expenditures by over
33%. During those same 6 years the amount of taxes collected by the
City increased by 38%. This was during a period of low inflation
(1996-2002). She reduced progressive property taxes and increased a
regressive sales tax which taxed even food. The tax cuts that she
promoted benefited large corporate property owners way more than they
benefited residents.

The huge increases in tax revenues during her mayoral administration
weren�t enough to fund everything on her wish list though, borrowed
money was needed, too. She inherited a city with zero debt, but left it
with indebtedness of over $22 million. What did Mayor Palin encourage
the voters to borrow money for? Was it the infrastructure that she said
she supported? The sewage treatment plant that the city lacked? or a
new library? No. $1m for a park. $15m-plus for construction of a
multi-use sports complex which she rushed through to build on a piece
of property that the City didn�t even have clear title to, that was
still in litigation 7 yrs later--to the delight of the lawyers
involved! The sports complex itself is a nice addition to the
community but a huge money pit, not the profit-generator she claimed it
would be. She also supported bonds for $5.5m for road projects that
could have been done in 5-7 yrs without any borrowing.

While Mayor, City Hall was extensively remodeled and her office
redecorated more than once.

These are small numbers, but Wasilla is a very small city.

As an oil producer, the high price of oil has created a budget surplus
in Alaska. Rather than invest this surplus in technology that will
make us energy independent and increase efficiency, as Governor she
proposed distribution of this surplus to every individual in the state.

In this time of record state revenues and budget surpluses, she
recommended that the state borrow/bond for road projects, even while
she proposed distribution of surplus state revenues: spend today's
surplus, borrow for needs.

She�s not very tolerant of divergent opinions or open to outside ideas
or compromise. As Mayor, she fought ideas that weren�t generated by
her or her staff. Ideas weren�t evaluated on their merits, but on the
basis of who proposed them.

While Sarah was Mayor of Wasilla she tried to fire our highly respected
City Librarian because the Librarian refused to consider removing from
the library some books that Sarah wanted removed. City residents
rallied to the defense of the City Librarian and against Palin's
attempt at out-and-out censorship, so Palin backed down and withdrew
her termination letter. People who fought her attempt to oust the
Librarian are on her enemies list to this day.

Sarah complained about the �old boy�s club� when she first ran for
Mayor, so what did she bring Wasilla? A new set of "old boys". Palin
fired most of the experienced staff she inherited. At the City and as
Governor she hired or elevated new, inexperienced, obscure people,
creating a staff totally dependent on her for their jobs and eternally
grateful and fiercely loyal--loyal to the point of abusing their power
to further her personal agenda, as she has acknowledged happened in the
case of pressuring the State�s top cop (see below).

As Mayor, Sarah fired Wasilla�s Police Chief because he �intimidated�
her, she told the press. As Governor, her recent firing of Alaska's top
cop has the ring of familiarity about it. He served at her pleasure
and she had every legal right to fire him, but it's pretty clear that
an important factor in her decision to fire him was because he wouldn't
fire her sister's ex-husband, a State Trooper. Under investigation
for abuse of power, she has had to admit that more than 2 dozen
contacts were made between her staff and family to the person that she
later fired, pressuring him to fire her ex-brother-in-law. She tried to
replace the man she fired with a man who she knew had been reprimanded
for sexual harassment; when this caused a public furor, she withdrew
her support.

She has bitten the hand of every person who extended theirs to her in
help. The City Council person who personally escorted her around town
introducing her to voters when she first ran for Wasilla City Council
became one of her first targets when she was later elected Mayor. She
abruptly fired her loyal City Administrator; even people who didn�t
like the guy were stunned by this ruthlessness.

Fear of retribution has kept all of these people from saying anything
publicly about her.

When then-Governor Murkowski was handing out political plums, Sarah got
the best, Chair of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission: one
of the few jobs not in Juneau and one of the best paid. She had no
background in oil & gas issues. Within months of scoring this great
job which paid $122,400/yr, she was complaining in the press about the
high salary. I was told that she hated that job: the commute, the
structured hours, the work. Sarah became aware that a member of this
Commission (who was also the State Chair of the Republican Party)
engaged in unethical behavior on the job. In a gutsy move which some
undoubtedly cautioned her could be political suicide, Sarah solved all
her problems in one fell swoop: got out of the job she hated and
garnered gobs of media attention as the patron saint of ethics and as a
gutsy fighter against the �old boys� club� when she dramatically quit,
exposing this man�s ethics violations (for which he was fined).

As Mayor, she had her hand stuck out as far as anyone for pork from
Senator Ted Stevens. Lately, she has castigated his pork-barrel
politics and publicly humiliated him. She only opposed the �bridge to
nowhere� after it became clear that it would be unwise not to.

As Governor, she gave the Legislature no direction and budget
guidelines, then made a big grandstand display of line-item vetoing
projects, calling them pork. Public outcry and further legislative
action restored most of these projects--which had been vetoed simply
because she was not aware of their importance--but with the unobservant
she had gained a reputation as �anti-pork�.

She is solidly Republican: no political maverick. The State party
leaders hate her because she has bit them in the back and humiliated
them. Other members of the party object to her self-description as a
fiscal conservative.

Around Wasilla there are people who went to high school with Sarah.
They call her �Sarah Barracuda� because of her unbridled ambition and
predatory ruthlessness. Before she became so powerful, very ugly
stories circulated around town about shenanigans she pulled to be made
point guard on the high school basketball team. When Sarah's
mother-in-law, a highly respected member of the community and
experienced manager, ran for Mayor, Sarah refused to endorse her.

As Governor, she stepped outside of the box and put together of package
of legislation known as �AGIA� that forced the oil companies to march
to the beat of her drum.

Like most Alaskans, she favors drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife
Refuge. She has questioned if the loss of sea ice is linked to
global warming. She campaigned �as a private citizen� against a state
initiaitive that would have either a) protected salmon streams from
pollution from mines, or b) tied up in the courts all mining in the
state (depending on who you listen to). She has pushed the State�s
lawsuit against the Dept. of the Interior�s decision to list polar
bears as threatened species.

McCain is the oldest person to ever run for President; Sarah will be a
heartbeat away from being President.

There has to be literally millions of Americans who are more
knowledgeable and experienced than she.

However, there�s a lot of people who have underestimated her and are
regretting it.


CLAIM VS FACT
��Hockey mom�: true for a few years
��PTA mom�: true years ago when her first-born was in elementary
school, not since
��NRA supporter�: absolutely true
�social conservative: mixed. Opposes gay marriage, BUT vetoed a bill
that would have denied benefits to employees in same-sex relationships
(said she did this because it was unconsitutional).
�pro-creationism: mixed. Supports it, BUT did nothing as Governor to
promote it.
��Pro-life�: mixed. Knowingly gave birth to a Down�s syndrome baby
BUT declined to call a special legislative session on some pro-life
legislation
��Experienced�: Some high schools have more students than Wasilla has
residents. Many cities have more residents than the state of Alaska.
No legislative experience other than City Council. Little hands-on
supervisory or managerial experience; needed help of a city
administrator to run town of about 5,000.
�political maverick: not at all
�gutsy: absolutely!
�open & transparent: ??? Good at keeping secrets. Not good at
explaining actions.
�has a developed philosophy of public policy: no
��a Greenie�: no. Turned Wasilla into a wasteland of big box stores
and disconnected parking lots. Is pro-drilling off-shore and in ANWR.
�fiscal conservative: not by my definition!
�pro-infrastructure: No. Promoted a sports complex and park in a city
without a sewage treatment plant or storm drainage system. Built
streets to early 20th century standards.
�pro-tax relief: Lowered taxes for businesses, increased tax burden on
residents
�pro-small government: No. Oversaw greatest expansion of city
government in Wasilla�s history.
�pro-labor/pro-union. No. Just because her husband works union
doesn�t make her pro-labor. I have seen nothing to support any claim
that she is pro-labor/pro-union.

WHY AM I WRITING THIS?

First, I have long believed in the importance of being an informed
voter. I am a voter registrar. For 10 years I put on student voting
programs in the schools. If you google my name (Anne Kilkenny +
Alaska), you will find references to my participation in local
government, education, and PTA/parent organizations.

Secondly, I've always operated in the belief that "Bad things happen
when good people stay silent". Few people know as much as I do because
few have gone to as many City Council meetings.

Third, I am just a housewife. I don't have a job she can bump me out
of. I don't belong to any organization that she can hurt. But, I am no
fool; she is immensely popular here, and it is likely that this will
cost me somehow in the future: that�s life.

Fourth, she has hated me since back in 1996, when I was one of the 100
or so people who rallied to support the City Librarian against Sarah's
attempt at censorship.

Fifth, I looked around and realized that everybody else was afraid to
say anything because they were somehow vulnerable.

CAVEATS
I am not a statistician. I developed the numbers for the increase in
spending & taxation 2 years ago (when Palin was running for Governor)
from information supplied to me by the Finance Director of the City of
Wasilla, and I can't recall exactly what I adjusted for: did I adjust
for inflation? for population increases? Right now, it is impossible
for a private person to get any info out of City Hall--they are
swamped. So I can't verify my numbers.

You may have noticed that there are various numbers circulating for the
population of Wasilla, ranging from my "about 5,000", up to 9,000. The
day Palin�s selection was announced a city official told me that the
current population is about 7,000. The official 2000 census count was
5,460. I have used about 5,000 because Palin was Mayor from 1996 to
2002, and the city was growing rapidly in the mid-90�s.

Anne Kilkenny
August 31, 2008

***

I GUESS I PREFER DEMOCRAT ARTISTS (?)

Whenever I learn about a performer's politics, I either like them more or start despising them. I begin my personal boycott of a performer whenever I find out they're Republican*.

Sorry Kid Rock, Jessica Simpson, Britney Spears... you've lost a fan and you're gonna have to work real hard to win me back.

Brooks & Dunn, you're next.


* Coincidentally, I never seem to be a fan of Republican artists to begin with, whether or not I knew about their politics. How 'bout you?

Thursday, September 4, 2008

LOVE YOUR ENEMY

I was on Davie Street in Vancouver in 1996 making a dinky little Super 8 film with my high school friends as actors. I wanted a shot where the character walks by a storefront, and I decided upon a falafel joint. I can't remember why that falafel joint was ideal... probably because its big bay windows were open and I wouldn't get glare, and I could shoot into the space without obstruction of glass. Anyways, I needed a shot of the falafel joint. And quickly -- the sun was starting to set. There was a 30s-couple sitting at the open window eating falafels and I asked them if they wouldn't mind shifting over one seat so I could clear my frame.
"Yes, we do mind," said the guy.
"But it's only one seat over."
"We're eating."
"No no, keep eating. But is it okay if you scooch over just a bit?"
"We're eating. You can wait," he scowled, licked some hummus. His girlfriend munched on pickled beet.
"But I need the light and it'll just be a few minutes..."
"WE'RE EATING. You can wait until we're done." Hummus munch munch chick pea.
My shoulders drooped -- my right one lower from holding the camera. I looked over at the empty seats six inches away from the guy. He took a bite reeeal ssllooooow.

I sat on the sidewalk in front of the falafel joint with my six friends/actors watching the sun waving goodbye. I eavesdropped on the guy and girlfriend to guage their eating progress. They talked about ordinary things like rent, not the "goddamn this falafel is amazing I can't stop scarfing it down aaargh argh arg yum done!" that I was hoping. I tried to think about alternatives to the shot but nothing would work. Also, I was too distracted by my fuming over the guy's refusal. I hate it when people can't be reasonable can't compromise just a little so that everyone can be happy not just him and his falafel, well I'm just as stubborn as him and why can't he accommodate me that goddamn I hope you choke on your uncompromising hummus...

I was ugly. All this negativity was making me ill. I shouldn't be having a conniption so early in my life. This was gross. Only one way to solve it: I stood up, turned to the guy, and stuck out my hand. He stuck out his almost simultaneously.
"Hey man, sorry about that."
"No no, we understand," he said. "You've got work to do. What kind of video is that?"
"It's not. It's Super 8. It's film."
"Cool. Well, we're almost done..."
"No no, take your time."
"No no, just one more bite and we'll get out of your way..." They took their bite and got out of my way. "Good luck with your filming!" They waved and smiled as they left.
"Thanks! Take care!"

My shoulders perked up and I was standing three inches taller. What a delight.

I've kept reminding myself of that scene in recent years when maturity has given more cause for conniption. I'm surrounded by creative people with fragile egos; in our communities insecurity abounds. Envy and competition permeate. Reviews in the paper either crush or confirm one's talent. Whether or not we get a grant determines how many more months we'll serve appetizers. It's a masochistic world, but it's not just artists and musicians etc. who subject their confidence to battery. I've gained insight into the ruthless rivalry in the scientific community, the cutthroat competition of academia, the aggressive ambition of business types. No matter what your career or community, it all stems from sports. In elementary school. At least for me, and probably for most of you. Three of our biggest philosophical dilemmas were exacted upon us before we were seven:

1. Why was I not picked first?
2. Why is someone better than me?
3. Why do I suck so much?

The answer to all those questions is simple: Don't do sports. Stay away from that ball. But we can't stay away from our careers and communities. So what do we do when our application doesn't get accepted, or we get a stank review, or we don't get the teaching position, or our new restaurant gets two stars out of five? What do we do when our colleague gets accepted, or is glorified in the paper, or gets the position before they even finish their Masters, or their bistro gets Zagated all up in that ass? How do you deal with your rival who doesn't even know she's your rival 'cause she's actually a friend but the rivalry arises against your will 'cause you both work in the same field?

The answer is simple: Love your enemy. Be happy for them. Like my encounter with the falafel guy, just vanquish your ill feelings and you'll be refilled with good. Flip it like a switch. Even by wrestling that switch. Even artificially, against your will, and your goodwill might grow to become sincere. Tell yourself -- ideally sincerely -- that your rival/friend/colleague deserves that glowing review/university position/Michelin star because goddamnit, they do good work. They deserve that falafel. I mean good fortune.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

WORDS WORDS WORD

I love graffiti talk. It rules. It's not about exclusivity 'cause anyone can pick up a copy of Subway Art and start talking about going all city. But still, talking to other graffiti writers in our language is sanctifying, so familiar. Like being lost in Pyongyang and finding an English-speaker. There's comfort in jargon.

Graffiti talk closely resembles hip hop talk but lots of hip hop heads don't know where top-to-bottom begins or ends, or that preferring Germans to New Yorks isn't as bad as it sounds, or that cutting lines have nothing to do with snorting yeyo in queue. If hip hop talk is English English, then graffiti talk is Cockney.

My favourite words are "toy" (inexperienced or incompetent), "rack" (steal), and "kill" (destroy). There are some local ones like "one-shot" that I learned in San Francisco in 1997, which Vancouver writers knew as "force field". Now the jargon is more widespread and interchangeable -- international due to videos and magazines and internet.

I speak graffiti or hip hop as often as I can, which is regrettably less and less nowadays. But I still drop the phrases once in a while with company who have no idea what the hell I'm saying. That usually happens during moments of excitement when I am not minding my speech. But throw me in the mix with graf heads and hip hop heads and we'll start blowin' up the spot with lingo. I'm no longer as heavily immersed in a graffiti or hip hop environment like I was in 1993, so when I speak the talk there's an unmistakable air of nostalgia. I still use archaic words like "represent". I don't even know if heads still represent or keep shit real nowadays. But I don't care -- I'll keep saying those words 'cause they come from a cherished time in my youth.

"Yo son, I peeped the burner you rocked. Shit is sick."
"Hey there man, I saw the high-quality painting you painted. The painting is great."

"Did you bomb with tags or throws?"
"Did you apply paint illegally with your signature or bigger letter forms that are often bubble-like and two colours?"

"Dude, this paint's wack. Mad thin and transparent."
"Chum, this paint is not good. It is very thin and transparent."

1: YO YO YO! (out of breath) Shit son... (catches breath) How'd you get out?...
2: (out of breath) Dude... (catches breath) ...the hole...
1: In the fence?
2: Word. You?
1: Son, I booked it. The bull was chasin' me between two lines -- you know they both ran, right?
2: The BN too?
1: Yeah, and the SP. Peep this yo: I got two lines running on both sides of me and I'm runnin' down waitin' for the line to end, bull's chasin' me...
2: Shit.
1: ...finally the BN ends so I hopped over and took off by the ravine. You?
2: I was doin' an end-to-end, yo...
1: Represent.
2: I just had to finish my 3D, rock a shine, some shout-outs... I was almost done, dude...
1: Word.
2: ...then the SP starts pullin' out and I see the toy cop runnin' at me...
1: He was with the bull.
2: Yeah, so I jetted down the hill, toy cop gaining on me...
1: Oh shit.
2: I lifted up the fence and kept runnin'. He stopped at the fence.
1: Oh snap.
2: Word.
1: Represent.
2: Shit was real, yo.
1: Mad real.
2: I don't even got no flicks of the piece!
1: Me neither.
2: Burner for real.
1: Your hand's bleeding.

1: HEY HEY HEY! (out of breath) Wow man... (catches breath) How'd you get out?...
2: (out of breath) Chum... (catches breath) ...the hole...
1: In the fence?
2: Yes. You?
1: Man, I ran very fast. The train yard worker was chasing me between two lines of trains -- you know they both ran, right?
2: The Burlington Northern too?
1: Yeah, and the Southern Pacific. Imagine hey: I had two lines of trains running on both sides of me and I'm running down waiting for the train line to end, train yard worker's chasing me...
2: Damn.
1: ...finally the Burlington Northern ends so I hopped over and took off by the ravine. You?
2: I was painting from one end of the train car to the other, hey...
1: Good for you.
2: I just had to finish my elements that give the illusion of three dimensions, apply some elements that give the illusion of shine, some acknowledgments... I was almost done, chum...
1: Yes.
2: ...then the Southern Pacific starts moving and I see the security guard running at me...
1: He was with the train yard worker.
2: Yeah, so I ran quickly down the hill, security guard gaining on me...
1: Frightening.
2: I lifted up the fence and kept running. He stopped at the fence.
1: Oh wow.
2: Exactly.
1: Good for you.
2: The situation was not fantasy, hey.
1: Very not fantasy.
2: I don't have any photographs of the painting!
1: Me neither.
2: The painting was very good and I'm not lying.
1: Your hand's bleeding.

A: Yo B, whatchusayin' 'bout the background?
B: I'm sayin' we should rock mad doo-dads.
A: Explosion of doo-dads?
B: Word.
A: Naw, that's wack. Too busy.
B: Whatchusayin'?
A: I'm gonna rock a wildstyle so I want a clean background.
B: But I'm gonna kick some simple old school shit.
A: How we gonna make this production if our pieces don't match?
B: Shit.
A: Shit yo.
B: I can do some characters...
A: Hype.
B: ...between our letters and both sides...
A: Aight aight...
B: Keep our 3Ds in the same direction, bust a -- what -- pink one-shot...
A: Ruff.
B: Arrows in Jungle Green.
A: You don't got Jungle Green.
B: I'm playin' ...rock some white I racked for highlights --
A: Naw, baby blue.
B: My fill-in's gonna be baby blue.
A: This production ain't gonna work.

A: Hey friend, what are your thoughts about the background?
B: I think we should incorporate lots of bits and pieces.
A: Explosion of bits and pieces?
B: Yes.
A: Naw, that's a bad idea. Too much stimulation.
B: What are you saying?
A: I'm gonna paint a complex formation of interlocking letters so I want an uncomplicated background.
B: But I'm gonna attempt some simple letters reminiscent of the Bronx in 1979.
A: How are we going to make this large-scale, comprehensive, collaborative painting if our paintings don't match?
B: Damn.
A: I know. Damn.
B: I can paint some images representing humans or animals...
A: Wonderful.
B: ...between our letters and both sides...
A: Alright alright...
B: Keep our elements that give the illusion of three dimensions in the same direction, in a fit of inspiration execute a -- what -- pink line around the letters that make the letters stand out from the background...
A: Excellent.
B: Arrow-like elements in a fabled shade of green paint that Krylon discontinued decades ago.
A: You don't have any fabled shade of green paint that Krylon discontinued decades ago.
B: I am kidding you ...apply some white paint I stole for accents --
A: Naw, baby blue.
B: The areas within my letter forms that constitute the majority of the letters' colour are gonna be baby blue.
A: This large-scale, comprehensive, collaborative painting ain't gonna work.

C: Oh word.
D: F'real.
C: Knowhamsayin'?
D: Word.
C: Knowhamsayin', he blessed the mic.
D: Killed it.
C: Straight dope, knawmean?
D: Represent.
C: He's the God.
D: I feel you.
C: Let's barbecue.

C: Oh wow.
D: Yes.
C: Know what I'm saying?
D: Yes.
C: Know what I'm saying? He was very good on the microphone.
D: Extremely good.
C: Unadulterated high quality, know what I mean?
D: I agree that he is high quality.
C: Rakim.
D: I agree wholeheartedly.
C: Let's barbecue.




Monday, September 1, 2008

DUDE, CAN I BORROW YOUR GEL?

"WHOOO-EEEE!"

"YEEEOW!"

"AAAAOOWW!"

I hope I never hear those shouts again. But I will. It'll always happen. After all, weekends are inevitable.

I live not far from some big clubs. No, they aren't bars. They are clubs. VIP line-ups. Security. Biceps. Super boobs. I'm so self-conscious about this that I don't even wanna name some of those clubs or tell you intersections. Besides, that's all beside the point because I don't wanna talk about clubs -- I wanna talk about "WHOOO-EEEE!".

Douche bags. Frosted tips. Sun-In. Bridge and Tunnel Crossers... You know who I'm sayin' and what's funny is that even if we don't live in the same city, you know who I'm sayin'. This demographic exists seemingly everywhere in Canada and America, and surely in more countries. They're an international breed, I reckon. Why do they always live on the other side of the bridge and tunnel? ...Anyways...

Every Friday and Saturday around 3AM I can expect to be disturbed by "YEEEOW!" outside my window. I've become used to it, but that doesn't make the experience any less perplexing. If I got my club on at Frolic or Menage or Filthy McDirty's like them (I made those names up but I'm sure they exist somewhere), then I'd probably be AAAAOOWWing too, but my social preferences are decidedly more subdued. When I'm not being a misanthropic hermit at home I'm usually getting my crunk on at a bar where you don't VIP line up and people are discussing their upcoming shows or a film they saw at the Cinematheque or how cheap they got their new cardigan from Sally Ann or which Velvet Underground album rules the hardest. Occasionally an American Apparel lamé outfit will appear, but that's cool. Generally. The sometimes-bearded, sometimes-laméd people at these bars don't yell no matter how many Labatt 50s they've downed. (...as I am typing two club women outside my window just shrieked something at each other that sounded like two raccoons fighting over a hot dog. My argument is proving itself...) ...Anyways...

I'm not saying the company I feel most comfortable around is free from criticism -- actually, the people at "my bars" are subjected to the fiercest denigration for being snobby, pretentious, ironic, superficial, self-servingly wacky... But I'm not trying to deconstruct the Pitchfork/Williamsburg/Ossington/Main Street/party photo blog identity. I'm trying to figure out why some people go "WHOOO-EEEE!".

Whooo-eeee.

I had to consult Kathy M.. She replied with impressive speed. Instantaneously. Let it be known that she is incredibly intelligent and educated and proudly shows me her latest sweet finds from Value Village; I sense her explanation comes less from presumption and more from experience. She said that Pitchfork/Williamsburg/Ossington/Main Street/party photo blog people are nerds. They listen to weird music and enjoy libraries and wear used clothes. They often got shunned in high school 'cause they were odd. What kid listens to Pavement in Grade Nine? On vinyl? They also enjoy being called nerds, which is ironic, which is the whole point.

BUT THE REAL POINT IS that nerds keep to themselves in their maligned cliques, finding strength in their exclusive belonging, clandestinely obsessing over who produced which album. If you don't get it, then you don't belong (hence, the snobbery). Nerds are happy in their own fashionable little worlds being ignored by the mainstream, 'cause if you get accepted by the mainstream then you might no longer belong and you'd be fucked. Nerds are quiet. Nerds don't want to be noticed unless you're [name of influential music blog or label or Bowie]. Nerds just wanna slip on home after the bar so they can decide if they wanna get their Masters.

On the other hand, if you're gonna cross that bridge, if you're gonna bleach those tips, if you're gonna wear those little conch shells 'pon your neck, then you'd better be fucking loud. You'd better own that goddamn "WHOOO-EEEE!" and frighten those oddball nerds now, just like you did in Grade Nine. You'd better show us all that you're The Man and I'll believe you 'cause lord knows I'm not gonna fight you. You eat Creatine. I also sense that "YEEEOW!" is akin to a mating call, and when you're getting mad crunk on Smirnoff Ice while raising Libido Lounge's roof, of course your unbusted nut's gotta get busted somehow. I understand. I'd yelp too after a full night of grinding butt cheeks.

...Kathy M. didn't say all that. I kinda digressed. But she did make a sensible argument about nerds preferring to be quiet. I guess that makes me a nerd then, 'cause although I really have nothing against douche bags, I just wanna ask them all to please stop shouting. They're interrupting my Nietzsche.