Archive for April, 2009

The Cowboy In Us All

We are the farmers and the soldiers.  The teachers and the shop owners.  Butchers and bakers, and yes, even candlestick makers. 

We are the stay at home mothers and waitresses.  Bridge builders and rail workers.  The immigrants and the legacies.  Dreamers and artisans and athletes alike.   We are the body and the spirit of America.   Our fathers and grandfathers and many ancestors built this nation, not by the color of their skin or the shade of their collar, but by the sweat of their brow.

In the end, we’re just simple folk trying to carve out a life for us and our children in this world.  We can sense the shift in the world, the mighty quake that splits the ground and divides us all.  We know you’re out there.  We know that you wish us gone and silent.   You paint us in darkness and hate, hoping the fire of your lies will burn out the truth.

Suddenly we are Un-American for our dissent and disagreement.  As if our right to speak should not be and had never been but for some grievous error on the part of the Founders.   We are not the lunatic fringe this new regime paints us out to be.  We are many and we are strong.   We are not foolish ideologs.  We are believers; placing our faith in our fellow man and in the spirit of Democracy.

It is the duty of every man, woman and child to speak out and to question our nation’s leadership.  This is not the treason this administration details.  It is our heritage.  It is our right.  It is our duty in the face of poor leadership and the deaths of Democracy and Capitalism.   It is not us who have betrayed our nation.  It is our leaders who have betrayed us; betrayed the stone foundation that our world was built upon.  You claim Americans are arrogant?  The entire 20th century, from the Industrial Age to the Modern Age was made possible by the will of free men and women in this very nation, and the priviledge of a free market economy.  Where would the people of Earth be without Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Benjamin Franklin and Harry Truman and the women and men who came before and after them?

We are not arrogant.  

We are forgetful.  Our sin is not arrogance, but sloth.  We have sat idly by far too long, resting on the priviledges and conveniences provided by our parents.  We’ve forgotten the will and the dreams that made us special.   But no more.  You have spurned us to action.  You’ve envoked our benevolent wrath.  And soon this mighty wind will rise into a hurricane, and we will take back our nation.  We will restore all that is good and brilliant about the United States of America.   You cannot silence us all.  We’re not soldiers or gun fanatics or even freedom fighters.  

We are believers.  We are Americans. And very soon you will remember what that means.

 

“The price of liberty is eternal vigilance.” -Thomas Jefferson

“The first step in oppressing a people is to suppress their voices.  Stand up and be heard.” -Adam Relayson

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Janeane Garofalo is a Racist

Remember back when Janeane Garofolo was funny?

Me neither.  No, kidding.  I used to enjoy her years ago on movies such as The Truth About Cats and Dogs  and  Bye Bye Love.   Then one day this D-list actor/ C-list comedian (and yes, I’m being fair.  i can rattle off a list of female and male comedians at the time who were and are much funnier than her) decided that she was smarter than “experts”, people with “PHDs” and basically everyone else.  Fair enough. I mean, where would the world be without ignorant, ranting left wing nutjobs like her and Michael Moore.  Think about it…
Man that was a nice dream.
But I digress.   Recently Garofolo got a bug up her ass about the many people who joined in the nationwide Tea Parties on April 15th.  On the Kieth Obermann show she went off on a rant, referring to everyone who attended those parties as ignorant “racist tea-bagging rednecks” who know nothing about the Boston Tea Party, the current tax and spending habits of our leaders or anything else.  She directly states that people like me attended these things (for the record I would have but I was literally on a plane when my local party went down) because Barack Obama is black and we’re… I dunno… all skinheads and Klansmen.   But don’t take my word for it, here she is in her own words:



Okay, Janeane is welcome to her opinion, just like all of you are. But I would like to point 
out the facts, which she claims we are ignorant of.

First of all, most conservatives are up in arms (ignoring specifics) because:

1)The current administration has completely insulted the American people. He has called us 
arrogant and blamed us for the world’s financial problems.

FACT: The United States is a body of people. WE are not responsible for the current economic
recession. It is improperly run Corporations, irresponsible money-lenders and dishonest Politicians
who have created this dilemma, which the majority of American people do not number among.

2)His financial policies are both bogus, detrimental and completely socialist in nature. Don’t argue.
He plans to increase taxes, government social programs and spending (actually, plans indicates that
he hasn’t already done it) in order to steal from the rich and give to the poor. Theres a word for that.
It’s called Socialism. Furthermore, he just increased our national debt, not only beyond a sustainable
level, but more than any other President before him, in order to implement an Economic Stimulus plan
that no one believes will accomplish anything positive.

FACT: Obama himself has said that the stimulus probably won’t start to yield positive results until 2013.
Let me ask you, doesn’t it seem a little suspicious that he could come up with a number that would allow him
to ruin the economy for his entire term and still clain that his plan will work if you re-elect him. IT’S THE
YEAR AFTER THE ELECTION. How convenient.

3) The Obama administration has established itself as the weakest regime on foreign policy in American
history. He has openly stated that he plans to disarm our nuclear weapons in the hopes that our enemies
will follow suit. That statement completely jumps dangerously naive and lands on criminally incompetent.

FACT: Obama bowed before a Saudi prince. No American President has EVER bowed before a foreign dignitary.
Bowing is a sign of allegiance. It means I humble myself before you. For a President to bow before someone
it is considered a sign of weakness. Also, he has opened diplomatic relations with Cuba and has been praised by
Fidel Castro and his brother. HELLO! EVIL COMMUNIST NATION! Oppressive government!

4) This administration has established itself as being opposed to freedom of speech and the right to bear arms.

FACT: Right before the Tea Parties, Obama’s head of homeland security labeled all right wing attendees as the
biggest threat to the US. She called us radicals and extremists. That means your Grandmother may be higher on 
the public enemy list than Osama Bin Laden.

Now, the Tea Parties themselves were an homage to the original Boston Tea Party. The famous slogan back then
was No Taxation Without Representation. The people who organized and attended those parties (who by the way
WERE NOT ALL CONSERVATIVE OR EVEN WHITE) feel that we are not represented by our leadeship, in the Executive 
or Legislative branches. They are disgusted by the spending trends started by GW Bush and expanded on by Obama.
Nor do they agree with the tax policies, which historically have always increased debt and ruined the economy. Ask 
Jimmy Carter.

Despite Ms Garofolo’s ignorant and unfounded claims, many of the attendees were asked specifically not to mention Obama and to keep to the financial issues which they disagree with. It wasn’t a Klan rally (which I’m sure the black and minority participants appreciated).

We don’t want Barack Obama to fail. He is our President. We want his policies to fail and for him to grow
up and act like the Leader of the Free World rather than Karl Marx’s sock puppet.

Lastly, I would like to take exception to the Redneck comment.

While I consider myself a Redneck, technically I’m not.

Redneck refers to people who work in the sun, like farmers and mason workers and railroad builders. Their
necks are red from the sun. Basically it refers to blue collar workers. Nothing to do with racism.

Most of the people at those tea parties were probably not rednecks by definition or culture. But those who were…
well… its about as insulting as if she had called them all incredibly sexy and brilliant. But the fact that 
she TRIES to turn it into a racial epithet (and I would argue that rednecks are a race of people in many ways) not
only makes her ignorant, but an open hypocrit.  

This is what people like her do. They don’t like that people have an opinion opposed to theirs so they spread propaganda
and yell words like RACIST to try to discredit their opponents. They do this because they know they can’t win in an argument.

BUt hey, it’s her right. And as so many have said before me, I will defend her right to express it.

But I would like to leave you with one final thought.

The first step in oppressing a people is to suppress their voice. Don’t let them take yours. Stand up for what you believe.

The Kindness of Strangers

In August of 2005 I sat in a farm house owned by the aunt of a friend and his family.   The news as ablaze with images of my hometown drowned like a modern Atlantis.   Not long after, the violence started.  You might have thought you were watching images of insurgents in Iraq or Afghanistan, as people shot at American troops.  New Orleans had unofficially devolved into a third world nation within a week.

I wasn’t surprised.  I’m cynical, and I grew up in this city.  There are good people in the world.  Honest, hard working people.  But there are bad people as well.  And while I search for the former in everyone, I am well prepared for the latter. It was difficult to remain positive in those days.  It was 3 days of hell before I found out if my Mother and Brother had made it out okay.  I nearly burst into tears when I heard my brother’s static-clouded voice on the other side of a cell phone.  My father had remained in my childhood home.  Eventually I got in touch with him as well.  He’d stayed guarded in my room, surrounded by my hunting knife and my prized Samurai blade in case the violence spread in his direction.   He had no power and no one to turn to, but he was okay.

The worst part was the uncertainty. Most were like me; little in the way of savings and with no way of knoing when ewe could get back to work.  Would be able to return?  Would we even want to return to what was left?  I hadn’t even brought my car with me when I left. We seemed to be the last stragglers in Noah’s newest flood.   So it was at that time that I turned to the one thing that had carried me through all the toughest times in my life: comics.

Comic books had always been my greatest teacher.  Through the power of reading I’d learned all about literature, art, history and American values.   More importantly, I learned how to be a man.

Lafayette isn’t the sort of city you would know about unless you’re from here, but it’s one of the few big cities in Louisiana.    So fortunately I was able to find a local comic shop on Johnston Street.  I stepped into Acadiana Comics looking for a distraction. What I found was hope.

The owner, Ms Teresa, greeted me as I entered.  I recognized the place, though I’d never been there.  It smelled of books.  It felt like home.   Still, I suppose I stuck out.  She asked if I was one of the wretched displaced.  I nodded, and told her of my story.  I didn’t complain, but even someone a cynical as I can appreciate the dispair of moments like that.   When I was done with the search for sweet purchases, I presented her with my credit card.  I knew it was irresponisble, but it’s an indispensible part of my world and sanity.   Seeing the devil’s plastic in front of her, she pushed my hand away.   She said it was the least she could do.

I was genuinely stunned by her graciousness.  I was just another stranger on the street.  I could have been anyone.  Comic shops are modest businesses.  They are self-sustaining, but far from sustainably profitable.  

It may not seem like much to the casual observer.  Just a few comics. Just a little thing.   But that’s the point.  It wouldn’t have hurt her to charge me.  But it did hurt her financially, even in some small way.  But to me, it meant the world.  This is a person that wanted to help.  She did so in the only way she could.  And while I thanked her profusely on the two occasions this happened, I don’t know that I ever got a chance to repay her.

Today, as my job took my into the long haul to Lafayette, I passed her store in the waining hours of the day.   Surprisingly, she was there.  I asked if she remembered me, and she said that I looked vaguely familiar.  And I recounted her kindness.   And I told her how much her kindness had meant to me.   And we talked for a while.   I even bought a Trade from her.  It wasn’t much, but I wanted to pay her back in as much as I could, at least with money.   The truth is I’m not sure I could ever repay her.

She gave me a gift, and it wasn’t a book.   It was a renewed faith in humanity.  An understanding that there are still people who will reach out in kindness to others without reward or even sufficient thanks.

If you’re ever in Lafayette, Louisiana stop by Acadiana Comics and put down a few dollars for a good book.   You never know when some stranger might repay your generosity.

They Call Him GEEEEEE MMMMMONEYY!!!

When I was fifteen my Ma decided it was time for me to get a job.

Personally, I was against it.  I was perfectly content just sitting on my ass and watching television.  Mama disagreed.  A friend of hers had a sister in law who managed a restaurant.  Turns out they needed a busboy.  Kelsey’s Restaurant was host to a veritible cavalcade of characters, each with their own brilliance and hilarious backstory.

Perhaps my favorite was Dave the Porn Star.

They called him G Money because of their love of irony and hate of rap music. Dave was in his late forties/ early fifties.  An aging Jewish man who’d seen the road and lived the life of a drifter;  he waited tables in this place and that to save away for the house he was building in Hawaii.   At some point in his life, Dave was offered the opportunity to thrust his penis into a vagina on camera.  He took it.

Clearly this was the sort of porn that you find in bargain bins and dumpsters.   Modern porn stars look like gay male models.  G looked like he jerked off in mens rooms.  

I’ve never seen this legendary pornographic film, but every time I visit my local adult bookstore, I keep an eye out for G Money’s penis.

G never lost his love for showbusiness.  He took every opportunity to pull out his cock like there was a fire and only his genitals could extinguish it.   (I’m kidding.  Mostly.)   Many was the Saturday night when we would close up the restaurant, the beer flowing like wind on a mountain top,  when some poor drunken fool would yell out “G MONEY!!!”  Dave would smile shyly.  “Come on, guys, no. Not tonight.”  But he could not halt their cheers and chants.  They would beg Dave for a show. 

I was only 16 the first time Dave put on a show.  I didn’t know what I was in for.  What in God’s name was he about to do? He walked into the back room, where the darkness consumed him.  We all stood in a line around the bar, waiting for the Dave train to come on through.  Three men down from the door, I stood impatiently.   He called out from the blackness.  “Turn it up!”  I don’t remember what song they played on the radio.  I don’t remember who was around me or what they said before.  I don’t really even remember what color the waitresses’ thongs were.  But I remember the first time I saw a half naked male porn star.

He strutted out with his poofy chest hair and un-pedicured, smelly feet.  His tighty whitey Fruit of the Loom undies were stretched out and loose hanging.  Our laughter was instantaneous and grew exponentially as he walked past us.  One by one we fell like dominoes as he sauntered past us, falling into pure hysterics.  We were nearly dying as he jumped on top of the bar.  G’s pelvis thrusted back and forth lasciviously.  He shook his money maker like it was his last day on Earth.  Indeed, G hadn’t lost any of that old Jew penis magic.

Still, after a few minutes, he could tell something was wrong.

Sure, it was funny.  It always had been.  But it was never quite that funny.   So what were we all laughing at?  And suddenly, “lil G” stopped pumping.  The money maker stopped with the rump shaking.  And he asked us why we were crying.   Begrudgingly, we pointed to the mirror behind him.   His head turned and dropped down.  His eyes shuttered and his head shook as he noticed the giant brown skid mark dividing his butt like the Grand Canyon of poots.

Sure, he laughed despite himself.  But I think a little piece of Dave the Porn Star died that day.

 

 

Nah. I’m bullshitting.  He just got fucked up and kept dancing.

All FLASH, No Substance

flash-rebirth-promo-02

Ever since writer Mark Waid redefined the Flash in the early 90s, the fastest man alive has been one of DC Comics’ strongest franchises.   But ever since the departure of Waid’s spiritual successor on the series, Geoff Johns, DC has consistently stumbled in the handling of the Scarlet Speedster.   First they got rid of Wally West, replacing him with his younger cousin, Kid Flash, aka Bart Allen; giving a confusing new status quo and an ill-equiped writer.  Shortly thereafter they killed off Bart and brought back Wally as part of the JLA/JSA crossover, The Lightning Saga; a story so confusing, convoluted and just plain horrendous that I can’t even explain what happened.  Even the return of Mark Waid ended up much ado about nothing and only lasted a few issues.

It seems the latest incarnation of the Flash may be it’s last chance race for glory.  Enter Silver Age Flash Bary Allen to the rescue! (oh, and Geoff Johns and Ethan Van Sciver)

Since the announcement of Flash Rebirth, I was certain that along with Johns’ other big story, Blackest Night, it would be one of the two biggest events of 2009.  After reading the first issue… I’m less sure.

There’s nothing technically wrong with Rebirth #1.  On the surface, all the makings of greatness are in place.  Van Sciver’s artwork is outstanding.  There are plenty of interesting developments including the return and deaths of a few Runners.  Johns’ characterization work is strong as usual.  So why is it all so… underwhelming?

I think the problem is the subject himself, Barry Allen.

When Johns and Van Sciver reinvigorated Hal Jordan with Green Lantern Rebirth, they redefined and redesigned the entire concept, expertly weaving through the complex continuity while adding depth and new dimensions to both the Lanterns and Jordan himself.  Ultimately they made you care that Jordan and the GL Corps were back rather than just giving you another typical hero reborn story.

Unfortunately, in this case, it seems as though Johns expects you to care simply because Barry is back.  You’re never truly given a reason why.   As the story’s title expresses, DC simply expects lighning to strike twice.  But Allen isn’t Hal Jordan.  He’s portrayed here as a kind of boring, whiny old man whose rigid beliefs seem almost anachronistic despite his claims that the world is finally catching up with him.    In the 20 years Allen was absent from comics, the argument for keeping him that way is that Barry Allen has always been more interesting as an unseen mentor and motivation for Wally West to be a better hero.   Lightning Strikes Twice seems to prove the point.   Not only is Barry kind of boring, but the story only seems to shine when he’s not there (which is a large portion of the issue).  Johns’ artificial attempts to add weight to Allen’s personality don’t quite work.   For instance, when the original Flash, Jay Garrick tells some of the younger heroes that “Barry Allen made me the Flash.”    Stargirl says what we’re all thinking.  “That doesn’t make any sense Jay.  You were the Flash decades before him.”    Garrick’s explanation makes even less sense than the original statement.

“Yeah well… he … uhhh… I was retired… and… he called me Mister… and we raced, sooooo… look my writer really digs the guy.  Give me a break, okay?” 

Another problem, albeit a minor one, is the way Allen is reintroduced as part of Final Crisis.  The fact is that Final Crisis was the biggest failure of an event comic in recent memory.  And bringing Barry back during the event was just another layer of unnecessary subplot that only served to complicate the story instead of adding to it.  Furthermore at the end of Final Crisis the entire multiverse is destroyed only to be brought back by Superman by a magic wishing machine (hey, I’m just reporting it, I didn’t write it).  Rebirth seems to take place shortly thereafter, and yet, the story begins with the entire world celebrating Barry’s return.  Maybe it’s just me, but it seems like a REALLY bad time to be throwing a party.

“We all just died!”  “Who cares?! Barry Allen is back!  WOOOOOO!”

“Who?”

I think one of the biggest problems is the question at the crux of the series.  Why is Barry back?  

One of DC’s biggest advantages over their competition is the sense of Legacy.  Heroes die, and are replaced.   Yet now we have dozens of Batmen, Wonder Women and even a planet full of Supermen and women.  Currently there are four men named Flash: Jay, Wally, Bart (also back from the dead recently) and Barry.   All it does is weaken the brand.  And in the end, it proves that Barry is only back because of the creative team’s fond childhood memories of him.  All the other three incarnations are far more interesting and at least two of them are faster.

I really hope that Johns pulls this off.  I love the idea of Rebirth.  I love Johns’ work.  But so far, he’s off to a slow start.

No Eye In Team

My bro, Chris and I were discussing the people from our past whose asses we’d like to kick.

For him, most of those people were from his childhood.  Personally, I barely remember most of the people I grew up with.  All of the people from my list were high school acquaintances.   I was always a weird kid, but for the first 2/3’s of my education, no one seemed to bother me about it for the most part.  But in high school, people are expected to define themselves and pick sides.  Everyone is expected to be part of some sort of category or grouping and if you don’t fall into any of them, they automatically lump you into the freaks.

What’s most interesting about my list is that it actually includes a couple of teachers.  Sort of.  I’m not sure they really deserve the label.  They were football coaches who taught classes.  One of them ended up the school disciplinarian, which I personally find horrifying.  Coach Hines even managed to be a dick to my little brother who attended the same high school as me a few years after I graduated. I don’t know what happened to Lambert, but I hope it involved a prison and a guy named Bubba commenting on how pretty his mouth is.

Seem a little harsh?  Let’s get into the way-back machine.  When I was 15, my allergies were out of control.  My sinuses were constantly stuffed up.  My penchant for carrying around wads of kleenex in my pockets earned me the nickname Booger.

Yes. Like the guy from Revenge of the Nerds.  Although I doubt my tormentors ever picked up on the coincidence.

People loved to push the nickname at me.   Fuck love, High School is a battlefield.  But in the end, they were bunch of stupid fucking kids (they’re still going on the goddamn list, but anyway…).   Lambert was a grown man in his 20s.  And for some reason he enjoyed being a dick to me as well.  Though in his case, he called me Snot.  Nice. He loved calling me out in class in order to make fun of me.

Back then I just wanted to kneecap him.  Now as an adult I realize that his behavior was criminal, and I should have reported him.  Although I still want to kneecap him. 

The reality is that not every teacher liked me’ its not realistic to expect teachers to like all of their students.  But none of the others went out of their way to be a dick to me.  I realize now that the probability is that the reason they didn’t like me is because they’re football people.   I don’t want to make a generalization here, because it isn’t exactly a rule, but I have noticed that a large portion of guys who grow up playing football obsessively end up serious cockstains.  They’re never particularly open-minded, and always seem to think that anyone who doens’t like football is a freak of nature.

And yet for some reason, people lend football players respect.  Even in myown school, where our team is legendarily shitty.   I’ve never really understood it.  I’m not saying you shouldn’t like football, but really its just another activity.  Nothing special about it.  And yet so much of America has this blind devotion to it.

Recently I had a conversation with a female attorney in which she recounted a tale about her son.  At a job interview, the man doing the interviewing asked if he’d played any team sports in high school, like football.  He said yes.  When the interview was over, he asked what was with the sports question, and the interviewer told him that playing sports teaches you how to play as part of a team. 

That’s fucking retarded. 

Though the Attorney and many other people I’ve met would disagree, I have to say that playing sports and football doesn’t necessarily teach you jack shit about anything other than sports.  First of all, its the coach who teaches you about how to be part of a team, and thats assuming that he’s a good coach, or moreover, a good teacher.  Secondly, even if you do learn to be a team player from it, that doesn’t necessarily translate to the real world.  How do you know that this person is going to consider your business a team?  He might look at his friends that way, but what about the people he doesn’t like?  They’re more likely to be considered opponents.  Which isn’t to say he’s going to tackle or headbutt anyone…  but I’m not ruling out.

A team is a group of people dedicated to a singular goal, but not necessarily sacrificing their individuality. The fact is that sports like football teach uniformity and pack mentality.  And sure it teaches hand-eye coordination, but so do video games, and I don’t see anybody blowing a guy just because he beat Super Mario Brothers in 15 minutes.

But I’m not trying to vilify football players.  It just seems like there’s something there that we as a sport obsessed nation ought to consider.

If I ever have kids, I’d rather they didn’t play sports.  I’d prefer them to be artists.  Art teaches you to express yourself and fosters imagination and intelligence.  They’ll learn to think as individuals.  The rest I can teach them.  Being part of a team is about understanding that the needs of many outweigh the needs of the few. (Thank you Leonard Nimoy.)  So it really comes down to teaching sociological philosophy, not throwing a ball.

But if in the end, they choose to play football, I’ll be okay with it.  Because it’ll be an individual choice, not dictated by what other people expect of them.