Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Been There, Done That

Good post on DailyKos about the limitations of being poor. Not a single thing on here I couldn't relate to. We do okay now, but for about a decade there...oh, boy.

I could probably add a few things to the list about frustration and anger, but I'd just rather not go into the Dark Place today, kids.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Crazy Lady Speaks

Official Crazy Lady (OCL) Michele Bachmann (some kind of elected person from Minnesota, evidently), is urging her constituents to arm themselves and revolt against the federal government.

Yup. Can't make this frackin' crap up. What's she mad about, anyway? Well, the Crazy Lady is incensed at the President because he wants to try and do something to help the environment. That bastard! So she's callin' for armed insurrection.

Yippee! With Battlestar Galactica done and gone now, I was thinkin' there'd be no more entertainment left in the world.

How wrong I can be.

What's really funny to me about OCL is how Republicans have turned toward the "culture of victimization" so quickly now that they are out of power, after years of mocking and deriding the Democrats for supposedly doing so.

[Admittedly, OCL might be speaking metaphorically but I'm not willing to give her the benefit of the doubt. Because she's crazy.]

Friday, March 20, 2009

Volunteers for America

I'll admit it, I do things I'm ashamed of, that people laugh at me for doing, tell me I'm stupid and wasting my time to do. And I don't mean this blog.

I'm talkin' volunteering. While it may be a little hipper now post-Obama, the first time I got involved as a volunteer in my community (a literacy project teaching adults to read, in Missouri during the early 90s) I felt an outcast. Unless one was a God-fearin' Jeebus-lovin' church-goer, one didn't do such things. And then only at church. On Sundays. Only weirdos and crazy liberals and maybe communists "volunteered" their time. Idjits!

Maybe where you live the reaction would have been different, but I know that a few years after the literacy debacle (the program was demeaning toward its participants and I grew very disillusioned with its methodology) I was openly mocked in my new community by coworkers when they learned I was volunteering with CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate), helping to monitor, track, support and act as a voice for children in the court system for reasons of abuse and neglect. They couldn't believe I would waste my time running around from foster homes to child care services to lawyers to court itself on my days off. Hadn't I ever heard about a little thing called Tee-Vee? That's what one occupies one's free time with, mister!

I stayed for about three years with CASA, eventually getting burned out by it the grinding stupidity of the court system. I enjoyed working with the kids and I busted my butt to make sure they had a proper voice in court looking out for their needs and rights and I saw every one of my cases through from the beginning to the end. By the end, though, I was very tired, worn out by the lack of caring within the system, at all levels, as well as the bureaucratic nightmare of it all.

In addition, by the end of my days at CASA, I was teaching full-time rather than working in the more sheltered dales of academe as I had been for several years. So I was getting daily contact now and working with lots of at-risk youth, which job I'm still doing. Which job I love doing. But I couldn't stop volunteering. Once you get the bug, you can't shake it.

Being a volunteer can be an utterly thankless chore, under appreciated if appreciated at all, and sometimes the only joy to be had is in the work you do and the people you do it with or for. But that's usually enough, because being thanked for doing something for free is not why one does it, not why one volunteers (or it shouldn't be). For me, it's because I believe in giving back to my community, to the small world inside the big world that I live in and just trying to improve the quality of life for all.

These days, I do my thing working on our local film festival with about four or five other stoopid volunteers, reviewing dozens and dozens of crappy independent films over the spring and summer months, drinking many beers, trying to weed out enough gems and near-gems to fill out three or four days of programming for our fall festival. We work really hard for months on this, finding sponsors and guests and venues and trying to work cooperatively with other organizations and groups. Then we exhaust ourselves for about a week in September putting the actual festival on. It's great fun. Five years and counting now and every year we get bigger and the films get better and more people come out to enjoy the big, big show. We've worked hard to be as inclusive as possible, too, to make a film festival that everyone can enjoy, that appeals to the widest spectrum of the community and not just an intellectual/artistic or monied/cultural elite. I would have walked away from it years ago if we'd gone that direction. I also design the posters and t-shirts and fliers and the website for the fest (and for lots of other local events, arts-related and otherwise).

And as if I don't have enough on my plate, between the above and working and being a dad and a husband, I'm itching to find more to do, other directions to put my energy into. Because energy is what it's probably all about in the end. You give, you get. It's a cycle. Vrooom! (or other engine noise...)

In the spirit of giving energy, of volunteering, here's the Jefferson Airplane and my absolute favorite live boot of them. I've got dozens by JA, but I'd give a lot to go back in time for this one show only. Enjoy.

Jefferson Airplane - Live at Winterland, San Francisco, CA (10-4-70) 1 -2

And buy shit, too, please, sirs and madams.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Opening Shots -The War Against the American Worker

Republicans are all set to bring down government, tear the dome off the Capitol building, riot in the streets and "Kill, baby, kill!" - if the American workers get a choice about how they decide or don't decide to join a union.

If you haven't been following it, it's called the Employee Free Choice Act and the key word is "Choice." Despite what the wingnut American-haitors (my new word: haters + traitors = haitors!) will scream given any chance they get, it's about allowing employees to make a choice about unionizing. They can A) Choose to hold a secret ballot, or B) Sign cards to authorize a union by majority.

Heinous, ain't it? Anti-American! End of the World...according to these fools:

PS - Guess which side Chuck ("Tex-ass Ranger") Norris is on? Hint: Don't get in the way of his lazy-ass ancient spin-kick if you want a union, buddy!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Art Appreciation 101 - The Surrealists

Mahavishnu Orchestra - Live at Shibuya Hall, Tokyo, Japan (9-19-73) 1 - 2 - 3 - 4

I got into John McLaughlin and Mahavishnu before I got into Hendrix. In fact, I resisted Hendrix for many years (sorry, Larry, I know I made so much work for you!).

I didn't want to admit, from my punk-o-centric universal world view, that there were earlier, better guitar gods than those of my generation. Hendrix is better than Bob Mould? Fuck you! Eric Clapton is better than...anyone? Double-fuck you!!

I was stoopid. I started to learn though. I found John Fahey. I found Django Reinhardt. I found Steve Tibbets. I found James Blood Ulmer. I found Tisziji Munoz (who, you say?)

In other words, I grew my musical horizons. One early exploratory trip was picking up a cut-out cassette of Birds of Fire. Wowza! Them boys could play all over the place. And I liked it!

Still do like it. I hope you do too.

Don't forget: Buy shit!

"Through Birds Through Fire But Not Through Glass" by Yves Tanguy

Science, 1 - Religion, 0

The President gave us back science today. Thank you, sir. Now give us back Pluto!

And, in an unrelated story (cough, cough), fewer Americans claim to be religious now than in the last 20 years.

Yeah, science! Yeah, decline and fall of religion!


Friday, March 6, 2009

Rush to Judgement

One of the finest pieces of political satire I've ever seen. And I'm so, so, so mad that I didn't think of "mind corpse" myself.