Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Molly Ivins

AUSTIN, Texas - Best-selling author and columnist Molly Ivins, the sharp-witted liberal who skewered the political establishment and referred to President Bush as "Shrub," died Wednesday after a long battle with breast cancer. She was 62.
Molly was one of my few heroes among top tier "mainstream" newspaper columnists. No matter where she was based, she wrote like a journalist for an alternative newspaper. Many big name columnists are handicapped by privileged childhoods & elite educations. Molly did her best to overcome hers. She was a package of whup ass.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

96 Tears

In 1966, when I joined a rock & roll band, there were only two really popular songs that showcased the shaky technique of a teenage kid learning to play cheesy organ; "House of the Rising Sun" & "96 Tears." The latter was the easier of the two. Recorded by ? & The Mysterians for a small Michigan label, the record caught on & went #1 nationally. It was the band's only big hit. But "96 Tears" is now considered a classic proto-punk record & in a strange way it also presaged the more artsy minimalist new wave. ? & the Mysterians still exist & perform. Their hit song didn't make them rich, ? doesn't even own the rights to it.

Two weeks ago the uninsured home of ? (a.k.a. Rudy Martinez) burned down, killing his 4 beloved Yorkshire terriers & a cockatoo & destroying all his possessions, including his Gold Record for "96 Tears" & an organ reputed to have been used by Pink Floyd.

Benefits are being planned.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Bailterspace, Swervedriver, Archers of Loaf, & rrriot girls

I probably play the TV a bit too loud late at night When I realize it, I turn it down. Nobody's complained. But I don't play music loud. Don't even have the equipment to do it. I think playing music loud in an apartment building is really inconsiderate, especially since one can always wear headphones & wreck one's eardrums without bothering anybody else.

The landlord was in the building late one afternoon while the African guy next door had his African pop cranked up. The landlord went nuts, had to bang on the door for 5 minutes just to get the guy's attention. I appreciate that this neighbor loves his music, & the music he loves isn't all that bad as simple pop music goes, & I'm glad he's not a crackhead with a hip hop soundtrack. But his favorite African pop has mostly one underlying rhythm: boom boom boom boomboom / boom boom boom boomboom. Above a certain volume, this rhythm is transferred through the intervening wall into my apartment minus every other part of the music. I think it's even amplified in the process, a floor to ceiling subwoofer. It becomes impossible to read, to write, to listen to the radio, to nap, to do anything. It makes me jittery, then ornery. I give this man his boom boom music at whatever volume he chooses on Sunday afternoons. Actually, he can play it whenever he wants so long as it remains in background over on my side of the wall. Last week, he apparently got into a bottle & was singing along with his music through a karaoke mic. I let that go. Maybe he was homesick. Occasionally, his two little kids get all worked up & yowl & jump around until one of them crashes into the other they start wailing.

Today I finally lost it. I was just trying to listen to the news & I had to wham the wall twice with my 800+ page Trouser Press Guide to '90s Rock, a book by the way that recommends a lot of music I like, & which the guy next door would definitely not want me playing at extreme volume. That made him mad, he turned the music down, then came over & banged on my door, but I wouldn't answer it, because, although he's as small guy, he was once in a domestic altercation with his wife that resulted in severe damage to his front door & a visit from the police. So maybe I'm taking a risk. Fact is, he could get worse from me: an angry, brooding silence. Everytime the landlord sees me, he asks how it's going with those neighbors. Up to now, I've never complained, & I'd rather not.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Rahway NJ 1918
This stretch of river is still recognizable, & scenic if you frame your photo right.
Note steam locomotive on bridge. At the time, Rahway was a small port & manufacturing city, the railroad even busier & noisier than it is now
, & this tidal portion of the river pollutted with industrial waste & sewage.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Peace Rally

The feeling that I ought to be at the big peace rally in Washington D.C. today passed quickly. Wild horses couldn't have dragged me down there facing a pair of gigantic loudspeakers. Had I gotten that far I only would have wanted to add on another 70 miles & seen a friend in Virginia. . I feel the same way about all-day summer music concerts in the New York area - I'm offered free tix to some of them - where there's maybe 3 or 4 bands out of 20 I'd like to see & it's tempting, but the thought of being at the event, footsore, thirsty, coping with portosans, enveloped by mostly undesired noise, is a turn off. Not for me, joining a huge crowd for the purpose of making the crowd one unnoticable person larger. Bless everyone who made the trip.

This rally wasn't really directed at Bush anyway - he's a hopeless case, nor was it organized as a mega-march with a superstar podium. It was a gathering of activist anti-war liberals - the very people who booted Lieberman off the regular ticket, & was intended to send an unmistakable message to a Democratic congress (& to the absent presidential candidates). & to make sure the message gets through, the core activists are staying in town to deliver it to the senators & representatives. Don't be fooled by Hillary's happy Iowa rally today; if she doesn't do right by those folks gathered in D.C., they'll descend on Iowa & New Hampshire like angry hornets & she'll blow her campaign budget & remaining credibility fighting them off.


I'm glad I hit the alarm & went back to sleep for 1/2 an hour this morning, because I had a marvelous dream; compact, spare, mysterious, symbolic, nonthreatening, & featuring a dead relative. I don't know if my grandmother Nana had just attended a Buddhist funeral or wedding in the chapel of the defunct Upsala College - maybe it was dream world ecumenical - but she was dressed for the occasion in what looked like the same outfit she wears in an Easter snapshot from the 1950s. I was very glad to see her, & not surprised, she wasn't surprised to see me. I think we were going to Atlantic City together, although as the dream ended I was just starting to mull over how we would get there from East Orange NJ, but that didn't feel like it would be much of a problem. I dreamed about Nana years ago in which her more troubling purgatorial predicament moved me to light a candle for her whenever I was in a Catholic church.

Friday, January 26, 2007

"They're not supposed to know"

Teacher Reassigned for Anatomy Drawings

A teacher has been barred from classes after having his seventh-grade students draw male genitalia on the blackboard during health class, a school spokeswoman said Friday.The teacher, whose name was not made public, was assigned to administrative duties and Superintendent Bernard Pierorazio will ask trustees to fire him, said Yonkers school spokeswoman Jerilynne Fierstein."There was no way we were going to let him be in front of children," she said. Fierstein said the state's seventh-grade curriculum calls for lessons in human anatomy and sexuality, but "as a teacher you have to be sensitive and you have to look at the age-appropriateness of any activity that you ask a child to do. And this was just not appropriate." Pierorazio said the teacher had began his lesson by asking students to volunteer to come to the board to draw male anatomy.

Jon Klibonoff, a father of a student at the school, said he did not believe the material was inappropriate.

"This is biology, it's anatomy, it's human sexuality," he said. "They're in puberty. They're aware of it on one level or another."
For a knowledgable opinion on 7th grader health ed, who better for a reporter to ask, & quote by name, than a 4th grader?
Fourth-grader Noah Klibonoff disagreed.

"They're not supposed to know what it's supposed to look like at this age yet, so I think it's a little embarrassing and it's also a little inappropriate," he said.
Difference of opinion in the Klibonoff home.

Take that, Kim Jong-II

Along with lots of other "luxury items," we've banned the exportation of "personal watercraft" to North Korea. We're punishing the leaders & bureaucratic elite of that nation who drink cognac & listen to iPods even as they build nuclear weapons & starve & oppress their peasants. The next time you're at the shore or a lake & the obnoxious jet skiers & drunken drivers of WaveRunners are driving you so crazy you want to shoot at them with a rifle, remember these words from the Washington-based Personal Watercraft Industry Association: "The thousands of Americans and Canadians who build, ship and sell personal watercraft are patriots first," said Maureen Healey, head of the trade group. She said it endorsed the ban "because of the narrow nature of this ban and the genuine dangers that responsible world governments are trying to stave off." The PWIA sacrifices so that we're free to degrade & pollute the environment, & eventually bring freedom & democracy & personal watercraft to all the downtrodden peoples of the Earth. In the meantime, you may rest assured there will be no Communist armada of Sea-Doos attacking our shores.

Thursday, January 25, 2007


I'm done with fastidious Capricorn
women who make love on fur coats
they spread across cold basement floors
without taking off their watches.

Maybe done with idealistic
Pisceans who stay for years before
they swim away from a bad prospect.
I have a collection of their towels.

Done with that Libran who never wrote
letters, but sent snapshots from Paris,
where she posed with flowers & funny hats
for a lover who held the camera.

I'm through with hats. Please discern how
this poem is profoundly bare-headed.
Hats raise pimples on my poet's brow
& ought to be left to drunken novelists.

I'm finished with food metaphors.
No more smearing honey on the moon
or the sweet scent of ripened peaches
in the green picnic grove of paradise.

It's infested with bees & mosquitoes,
squirrels, ants, hornets, spiders & beetles.
Poet, believe no promise of paradise
the next time a goddess sees you naked.

© Bob Rixon


Wednesday, January 24, 2007

If Iraq is the 1000 pound gorilla of George The Second's administration, Katrina is the name of his 300 pound canary, & although he failed to mention it, the bird chirped away like a Gulf Coast foghorn throughout the domestic agenda portion of his speech. Never mind that his skimpy à la carte list of suggestions - healthcare, energy, immigration, education - all represent past failures of his six years in office, when he had a friendly, compliant congress sitting before him. Anyway, who could take their eyes off Speaker Nancy Pelosi? She was the one controlling the applause sign.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Tonight, Bush will attempt to distract us from Iraq by offering a domestic agenda. But after years of guns, calling for butter only reminds me of a famous scene from the x-rated version of Last Tango In Paris. Taxing "excessive" health insurance? He's so wealthy he could pay for brain surgery with a debit card. Cutting federal aid to urban public hospitals? These are his solutions to the health care crisis. Alternative fuels? He's been assuming Iraq's oil reserves are the alternative fuels. Leave the domestic agenda to the Democrats & a few relatively empathetic Repugs.

The Decider's problem, & our's, is that it's no longer possible to make this stinking war smell like an antiseptic enterprise. Show us the blood & misery, the mangled bodies. Show us the coffins coming off the cargo jets on conveyor belts, & the hidden wards of the military hospitals. Show us the morgues - & the funerals in the graveyards of Iraq & in the cemetaries at the edges of our own town & cities. The terrible truth will not be hidden or disguised. We cannot turn away from it.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Blue Monday

Almost lost in the sickening carnage of the past few days:
"Gunmen killed a teacher as she was on her way to work at a girls' school in the mainly Sunni area of Khadra in western Baghdad, police said, adding that the teacher's driver was wounded in the drive-by shooting.

"Two mortar shells also landed on a primary school in the Sunni stronghold neighborhood of Dora in southern Baghdad, killing a woman waiting for her child and wounding eight students, police said."
Police said. It's like living in the Shenandoah Valley & expecting the police to protect you from the ravages of Sheridan's arsonists by day & the predations of Mosby's Raiders by night.

Odd thread over at Kos about Titles. Began over the suggestion occasionally put forward that Hillary should be referred to as "Senator Clinton." Kos points out that Hillary encourages the use of her first name, despite the right wing villifiying her by that name. But then Kos goes on to to say that he expects to be able to call politicians by their first names & judges them unkindly if he cannot, & even disparages the use of "Mr." (& Ms. & Mrs. I suppose). Some politicians are first name types, they run their campaigns on that kind of informality & shouldn't be surprised then if people dispense with the titles or last names. Unpopular politicians are stuck with worse; just a last name at best. There's nothing wrong with showing a little respect. My parents taught their kids never to greet an older person by first name unless invited to do so, & they themselves rarely granted the privilege unless the younger person was deemed both fully adult & familiar enough. If dad offered you a beer, then you were good to go with "Joe." He never would have handed one to Kos. My dad enjoyed being called "Councilman" when he sat on that town body, he earned it. In all the years I lived in Rahway, I always greeted the mayor as "Mayor" even when everyone else was saying "Jim" or "Jimmy," even on couple of occasions while chatting with him in a bar, & even though he's a few years younger than me. The only time I was ever tempted to call him Jim was on a hot afternoon when he was in front of his house desultorily clipping the hedges, probably pushed outside by his wife - the only time I ever saw him out there - & really looked like he was hoping someone would stop & talk, & I would have except that I was coming back from the store with milk & a small container of ice cream in my backpack. So I just said "Hi Mayor" kept walking.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Denville NJ

I'll be on WFMU from 7 to 9 pm tonight, live on web then archived for your anytime pleasure. Expect mostly pop & jazz, but never can tell..

Saturday, January 20, 2007

"My family and I are taking the first steps on the yellow brick road to the White House." That's how Senator Sam Brownback announced his presidential candidacy. He's from Kansas, but it still strikes me as a peculiar thing to say given how it summons up fantastical images of The Emerald City, flying monkeys, witches good & bad, munchkins, fields of poppies, "the man behind the curtain," plus the importance of both Judy Garland & the movie in gay iconography. It was silly to believe Jack Kennedy would be in thrall to the Vatican. Can we be so sure about party line convert Senator Sam? When he defends the sanctity of marriage between a man & a woman, he adds "for life." Like ducks.

Thanks to Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton had to advance her official declaration of intentions by a few months. She said, "After nearly $70 million spent against my campaigns in New York and two landslide wins, I can say I know how Washington Republicans think, how they operate, and how to beat them." But Washington Republicans think - & know - they only win big races in New York with candidates who sound like Democrats everywhere else in America. She herself raised 50 million for her 2006 campaign, & had 13 mil left over. Hillary doesn't have quite the air of entitlement she had in 2005. I think she & her supporters were shocked by the 2006 midterms. The election brought many new faces & strong voices, gave some old pros greater prominence, showed the party base it needn't genuflect to Hillary's Democratic Leadership Council, & turned Nancy Pelosi into a second Queen Bee. Until last November, I doubt if Hillary thought she could lose the nomination.

Hillary's voice is like Cheney's sneer; they're permanent physical qualities. If she wished you a Happy Birthday there would be an unintended tone of reproach in the sentiment, just as Cheney would say it & look sarcastic. There's nothing she can do about it.

Friday, January 19, 2007

The bathtub

Feeling depressed today. But this story cheered me up:
Divorcing couple's house divided by wall
"The wall separates the living room from the staircase on the bottom floor of the Taubs' richly decorated, wood-paneled home, a three-story brown-brick rowhouse whose market value has been put at $923,000 by the city.

She gets the top floor, where the bedrooms are situated, along with the kitchen on the second floor. He gets the living room on the first floor and the dining room on the second floor. So that they don't run into each other on the second floor, the door between the dining room and the kitchen is barricaded on both sides."

One of the couple's children is staying with Dad; three others are staying with Mom.
Over 20 years together & it comes to this. Even a dummy like meeself can see that they are still married, & will stay married as long they they reside under the same roof. Divorce won't change anything. The wall is merely a physical manifestation of the relationship they had before it was constructed. They just divided the prison into two cells.

I was in a relationship that separated into territories a long time before we actually broke up. We cared least about the areas of mutual, intimate accomodation - the kitchen, bathroom & bedroom. I kept our apartment for awhile after we split, & the most remarkable incident during that time happened when a new girlfriend, without my even suggesting it, joined me in the large, old clawfoot bathtub. That had never occurred with my ex-cohabitant in the previous 12 years we'd lived there, & I think of it whenever I'm inclined to feel nostalgic about those years.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Turiyasangitananda (Alice Coltrane)

Alice Coltrane died last Friday. A brilliant composer, pianist, organist & harpist, she recorded a series of albums in the 60s & 70s for Impulse & Warner so stylistically transcendent that, hearing them for the first time now, one might have difficulty guessing when they were made. She didn't record for 25 years, instead devoting herself to family, growing a Vedantic community, & managing the estate of her late husband, John, who died in 1967, but returned to performing & recording a few years ago, & had a new album ready for release.

Harp & organ pieces. Alice Coltrane plays a Wurlitzer organ (nearly all jazz musicians prefer a Hammond). Couldn't find one of her live recordings with John Coltrane. All RealAudio streams.

Through a Glass, Darkly
How the Christian right is reimagining U.S. history

by Jeff Sharlet
A chilling essay in Harper's if you have a few minutes & are wearing your thinking cap.
"The old theories have failed. The new Christ, fifty years ago no more than a corollary to American power, twenty-five years ago at its vanguard, is now at the very center. His followers are not anxiously awaiting his return at the Rapture; he’s here right now. They’re not envious of the middle class; they are the middle class. They’re not looking for a hero to lead them; they’re building biblical households, every man endowed with “headship” over his own family. They don’t silence sex; they promise sacred sex to those who couple properly—orgasms more intense for young Christians who wait than those experienced by secular lovers."

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

the Eenie-Weenie

I began writing short reviews for Amazon in 1999. Many of them are very brief. For awhile, before Amazon exploded into the monster it is now, I was ranked in the Top 50, then dropped into Top 100, then 500, now I'm hovering around 800 in the Top 1000 despite having contributed little for the past three years. Most of the books & CDs I have reviewed are hardly "popular." Like many writers without much original insight but possessing a knack for grasping key characteristics of style, I'm good at parody & light satire; eventually I headed in that direction for some of the reviews. But most readers don't get the humor unless there's a flashing neon sign that says,"It's a joke, folks!" & then they probably won't understand the intent. They assume the humor is an insult to the artist & to the seriousness of their own regard for the artist.
"Life seems to resolve itself down to a tiny germ or nipple of sensitivity. I call it the Eenie-Weenie—a squiggling little nucleus that is trying to make love to itself and can never quite get there."
Alan Watts, The Joyous Cosmology
For years, WFMU ran the Alan Watts Lecture Series. Watts, a great off-the-cuff speaker, pop philospher, & a very smart man - he helped create the "New Age" - frequently laughed at himself. Watts was an FM radio pioneer at KPFA in Berkeley CA. We called him "The Late, Great Alan Watts," joked about his drinking & unfiltered cigarettes, & referred to him as if he were an active member of the WFMU staff - Watts did believe in reincarnation. Yet, every fund-raising Marathon, the Alan Watts listeners demonstrated in many small ways that they were the most humorless demographic in the WFMU audience. They were seeking Enlightenment, & by all the major & minor gods of the north south east & west they were going to become enlightened if they had to memorize every word of every Alan Watts tape.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

View from Plum Island

Midway through January & winter arrives in New Jersey & the National Weather Service issues an advisory for parts of the state:
Better stock up on milk? Even so, the longer range forecast for the next week predicts temps about average. Blizzards on the high plains, ice storms in the midwest, California's orange crop turned into frozen citrus-on-a-stick. View from Plum Island, Sandy Hook NJHere it's the mildest winter to this point I can recall, even including a previous remarkable El Niño season in the late 90s when I planted my beach chair beside Raritan Bay on a January 1 & watched sandpipers that saw no reason to fly any farther south. This winter on the day after Christmas a friend & I startled a pair of Great Blue Herons on Sandy Hook's Plum Island where solstice tides had flooded a usually stagnant small pond into wetlands. They rose up, flapping their magnificent wings toward some more private sanctuary. "Wow," I exclaimed. "If we had been expecting that we wouldn't have been stomping around here & talking loudly about James Brown." He agreed.

Monday, January 15, 2007

bombs & bombast

At Vietnam era anti-war marches & rallies one had the choice of demonstrating for peace or congregating with the people chanting "Ho Ho Ho Chi Minh, Viet Cong are gonna win!" I didn't like the latter. It went without saying that Ho's side would win when we exited Vietnam. They were winning anyway just by not losing, & we weren't going to defeat them. I wanted the killing to stop.

Over the past few days, in the comment sections of some blogs, I hear echoes of that "Ho Ho" chant in apologists for the Chavez / Ahmadinejad alliance. The coming together of those two demogogues is nothing more than a demonstration of "The enemy of my enemy is my friend," for they have little in common except their oil reserves, their hatred of the United States, & their inability to govern competently. Ahmadinejad is an urban conservative - we have them here, too - elected with the support of Iran's middle class with a mandate to clean up corruption & improve the economy. He's hasn't made much headway on either task, & suffered for it in Iran's most recent local elections. But his failures aren't his fault. It's those damned Americans, & those Zionists, & those Americans. He's the Iranian version of George W. Bush, another mental weenie using a world stage pulpit to preach a vile mix of theocracy & nationalism, trying to distract his nation with bombs & bombast. Except the Bush family consults with Wahabi mullahs, while Ahmadinejad takes his cues from the radical Shi'ites who will be running Iraq whether we approve or not. & Bush got our soldiers are trapped between these two fundamentalist visions of Islam.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Saturday, January 13, 2007

In honor of William Blake's 250th birthday this year, the British Library has an interactive online exhibit of his incomparable art & poem notebooks.

Speaking of William Blake, tomorrow is the 40th anniversary of the first "Human Be-In." Held at Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, it initiated the brief Hippie Era. At the time, it didn't seem like a big deal, strange things were happening out there. In retrospect, the event forever ended my dream of becoming a beat poet, as the effusive, colorful, psychedelicized flower people swept away the remaining remnants of the cool, bop-speaking, monochrome hipsters.

Friday, January 12, 2007


In this urban working class neighborhood of old, generally well-maintained frame houses, the two adjacent to my building are in poor shape & stick out. Either one would be torn down if sold. Both are rentals. One is occupied by a couple of New York cabbies & their families. The other is a real mess; dirt front yard, beat up couch on the porch. I'm not exactly sure who lives in it except there are several adults, several children; & a drug dealer in residence on & off. He's a short, sullen young man, with dreadlocks. I've never seen him smile, much less banter with his acquaintances. I'm sure he's a sociopath. He doesn't deal his dope openly on this corner - presumably he heads up a street crew somewhere else in the area. One night he apparently had some unsold product & when I was coming home from 7-11 he was standing in front of the house & whispered "Crack? Boo?" to me as I walked by. I wanted to ask, "Hey man, are you in lower management yet or still just a sales associate?"

First, his clothing & accessories improved, evidence he could afford to buy them at the mall rather than downtown. Then he rode up on a racy red Japanese motorcycle of the type preferred by up-&-coming gang-affiliated entrepreneurs. Soon after, a large black gas guzzler SUV with tinted windows - late model not brand new - was parked next to the house. An older woman, perhaps his mom or grandmom, always drives it. On Christmas Eve I saw him leaving the house followed by a small, rail thin young woman wearing skin tight gold lame pants. She was talking at him - not nagging but chattering nonstop in a high-pitched cartoonish voice, like he had taken the place of her cell phone. He said nothing. They walked down the street, probably to some party, she stayed a few steps behind him, yappying away. I watched them for an entire block; she never stopped talking, he never looked back at her. I thought, "You got yourself the clothes, the jewelry, the bike, the SUV, & now you've gone & bought yourself a ho. Too bad she's also a person. Enjoy your bling."

Jack Whittaker won over 100 million dollars in a 2002 Powerball Lottery. It's not simple trying to figure out exactly how Jack managed to lose it all in only four years. But I think one could manage a sum like that & live well if one learned from Jack's experiences & followed some simple don'ts: 1. Don't take up casino gambling as a hobby. 2. Don't booze. 3. Don't carry enormous amounts of cash in your car or on your person. 4. Don't stash the loot in regular bank accounts. 5. Don't support family drug addicts. 6. Don't invest in risky vanity business ventures, like saloons & restaurants. 7. Don't be the big shot around the old neighborhood.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Battle of the old buttons

On the left, Gerald Ford's Whip Inflation Now, changed to Whip Iraq-Islamo-terrorism Now. Or some other "new strategy" acronym. On the right, Nancy Reagan's anti-drug slogan, which inspired a generation of adolescents to Just Say Yes. Bush's military advisors say no, the American people say no, even the Iraqi government says no. Unfortunately, the Army regular, Reserve & Guard units headed for 3rd deployments in Iraq have to say yes. After his speech, The Decider flew to Fort Benning for sound bites & photo ops before an audience constrained by military courtesy from booing him off the podium. The billion dollars he pledged for Iraq reconstruction are more bonanza for his favored corporate charities to pocket or piss away.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

In Memory of Yvonne De Carlo

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Surge this

From Online Etymology Dictionary:
surge (n.) 1490, "fountain, stream," probably from M.Fr. sourge-, stem of sourdre "to rise, swell," from L. surgere "to rise," contraction of surrigere "to rise," from sub "up from below" + regere "to keep straight, guide" (see right). Meaning "high, rolling swell of water" is from 1530; figurative sense of "excited rising up" (as of feelings) is from 1520. The verb is first recorded 1511.
From the Free Dictionary:
surge (sûrj)
v. surged, surg·ing, surg·es
1. To rise and move in a billowing or swelling manner.
2. To roll or be tossed about on waves, as a boat.
3. To move like advancing waves: The fans surged forward to see the movie star.
4. To increase suddenly: As favorable reviews came out, interest in the software surged.
5. To improve one's performance suddenly, especially in bettering one's standing in a competition.
6. Nautical To slip around a windlass. Used of a rope.
Just doing what the asshole civilian writers in the White House & Defense Dept. did when they were ordered to find some bloodless, non-military "power" word that would function as both a noun & a verb to replace tired words such as "escalation" "build-up," "reinforcements." A word implying forceful motion without attributes of violence; neutral yet active.

You won't find surge in the current Dept. of Defense Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms. But you will find escalation: "A deliberate or unpremeditated increase in scope or violence of a conflict."

Monday, January 08, 2007

Wanderers headed nowhere

"Am I a man who just dreamt about being a butterfly, or am I a butterfly who now dreams about being a man?"
Dreams provide us with physical & mental experiences that happen in the waking world. Most of us are fortunate to get around on a functional pair of legs, but we have all experienced forms of paralysis in dreams.

Last night, I was walking down Mitchell Ave. a dead end street in Linden NJ where I resided for 12 years. I liked the apt. on Mitchell Ave. & the neighborhood, a lot happened while I lived there, so no surprise I occasionally revisit it in dreams. But as I was walking another more lucid & observant part of my mind remembered I didn't live there anymore. That was alright, except I couldn't remember where I did live. I turned around, confused, wondering if this was senility. My lucid mind told me to get out my wallet & look at the address on the driver's license. My photo was clearly on the license, but the print would not come into focus. In a panic, my imagination sought a way out, & WFMU Manager Ken Freedman - who I met nearly 25 years ago while I was still living in Linden - pulled up in an old car, with other people in it I vaguely recognized, & drove us to a house in an old suburban area that resembled but wasn't quite one I'd ever seen. We all got out & went up to a second floor apt, & it was all very friendly, but I still wasn't home, & now had no idea at all where I actually was.

Over the past few years I've had dreams where I found myself in towns like Kenilworth & Union & walked all the back to Rahway - exhausting ten mile epic journeys through Roselle Park (where I grew up). Roselle, Cranford, Clark - only to realize I had no specific destination. I'm not angry in these dreams, I understand my situation & the immediate surroundings are often familiar, I'm just befuddled by the blank spaces in my mind. & I am not always inclined in the dream to reject the dream state even after I become aware that it is a dream.

(After having these dreams, I often turn to the poetry of Jim Cohn, who advised me to talk to dream people, which I forgot to do last night.)


Sunday, January 07, 2007

Leave the gun. Save the cannolis.

Had the peculiar sensory experience on Friday of smelling barbecue briquette smoke while looking at outdoor Christmas lights.
During a brief lull at the swearing-in of Sen. Robert Menendez, Vice President Dick Cheney leaned in toward the Democrat and made reference to his campaign against state Sen. Tom Kean Jr.

"We thought we had a shot at you up in New Jersey," Cheney said, as related by Menendez spokesman Matt Miller.

"You came at me hard, but I'm sorry to disappoint you," answered Menendez.
Steve at The Opinion Mill notes the lameness of the Menendez riposte & asks for suggestions. After mulling over several possibilities from The Godfather, I thought the best would be the zen-like:
"Leave the gun. Save the cannolis."

Snapshots of last night's WFMU Holiday party are here. The current generation of WFMU kids has reached the age where they not only still play tag, but stay late & take over the disco room, too. That's fine by me, I enjoy kids. In past years, when they were smaller, you risked serious injury if you tried negotiating the stairwells while not even legally inebriated, as they tended to withdraw from adult company & get literally underfoot. I appropriated a nearly-full bottle of champagne early on for my personal use (deciding against the Grand Marnier or Southern Comfort), & when that ran out, Chris T showed up in a celebratory mood with a bottle of his own. The journey home was tricky, had to stay away from the edge of the train platforms as I assumed Wesley Autrey wouldn't be around to save me if I tottered over. By the time I reached Elizabeth I could walk in a straight line with a bit of concentration.

Wayne NJ

Hot Dogs of Wayne


Saturday, January 06, 2007

Día de los Reyes: The Chartmakers

Botticelli: Adoration of the Magi
"Adoration of the Magi" by Respighi (Realaudio stream)

The meaning of their gifts was
the tenderness with which they gave.
They gave their sadness also,
knowing his short life, yet they traveled.
Their hearts were filled in return
with wonder, love, astonishment!
They were more than satisfied.
So they led their camels over the hills
& back to the stars.

Friday, January 05, 2007

If Nominated I Will Not Run

Oddly, The Rix Mix was nominated for the Screaming Carrot Best NJ Blog Award at Blue Jersey. It's kind of embarassing: I won't get many votes; & I don't deserve any because this blog pays little attention to Jersey politics, current events, & culture. But six of the nominated blogs are listed in my sidebar, I visit them nearly every day, admire them all, & you ought to go to the above link, register, & vote for one of them.

An "undo" congress

I'm amused by the chatter of cooperation & bipartisanship coming out the new Democratic majority congress. Maybe time for that later. But Democrats were elected to undo the gawdawful actions & attitudes of the Republicans, it would be crazy to expect their help when we know they'll only hinder the effort. The task at hand is comparable to the one Heracles faced when he cleaned out the Augean Stables. The Repugs are hardly going to shovel up their own shit. They know when the investigations begin there's no way to avoid having their noses rubbed in it. There are so many dirty secrets to expose, you can just pick what most interests you. I want to know how our military services were privatized, who got rich from it, & why there's secretive, paramilitary blackshirted mercenaries running loose in Iraq, Afghanistan, & the United States, paid by our government but operating outside our military command structure. Scary stuff. But the sort of ugliness that Jim Webb in the Senate & Charlie Rangel & John Murtha in the House, are eminently qualified to examine.

My favorite new senator is Bernie Sanders, Independent from Vermont. Generally considered ultra-liberal in this country, my distant, suburbanite & liberal British cousin Jan would recognize Bernie as a sensible, mainstream Labourite. (Bernie's brother Larry emigrated to England in the 60s, lives in Oxfordshire County & is active in the Green Party. )

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Caveat Emptor

Possible meteorite hits NJ home
Authorities were investigating on Thursday if a metallic rock that smashed through the roof of a home in New Jersey was a meteorite. The small, oblong rock, weighing 13 ounces (377 grams), crashed into a home in Freehold Township, 50 miles south of New York, on Tuesday evening and was embedded in the wall on the top floor of the two-story house.
By law it belongs to the homeowner. Got me wondering how much it might be worth if it is a meteorite. Just on its value as a rock from outer space, probably not as much as one might think, unless it's a unique material. But it has a great deal of novelty value because it fell through a roof, didn't fragment, & the event made the news. So it could generate a lot of interest on eBay from wealthy people who collect weird things. In Day of the Triffids, a meteor shower made everyone on Earth who looked at it blind, & the meteorites sowed the planet with walking, carnivorous weeds. The Blob oozed out of a smoking meteorite, promptly climbed the stick of an old man poking at it & ate the guy. So let the buyer beware.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Pat Robertson, God's own Human Magic 8 Ball, has delivered his major prediction for 2007. I suggest this procedure for examining Pat's head.

Terry Bradshaw concluded at end of the Sugar Bowl that New Orleans is now "back to normal." I know what he was trying to say, but he's still a knucklehead. If the game had been played in a Death Valley sandpit surrounded with bleachers, LSU & Notre Dame fans would've made it a sell-out. Does LSU win the Sluttiest Looking Cheerleaders Award? I loved them. Most college cheerleaders are assembly line model wannabes who look like they're auditioning as extras for a CSI: Miami disco club murder scene.

I watch very little college football. But I know the Boise State vs. Oklahoma game was one of the greatest ever. & so enjoyable watching the Sooners (or any godzillian jockorama midwest or southern state university) taken to the edge of the abyss, made to believe they were at last securely on safe ground, & then pushed off. When the Okies intercepted a pass to go ahead with about minute left in regulation, I didn't believe Boise State had another touchdown in 'em & was about to say,"nice try, guys." & reach for the TV remote. Good thing I didn't.

By contrast, the Louisville - Wake Forest Orange Bowl was a tedious game. Wake Forest wasn't the team that could have given some indication of how good Rutgers really was, since Rutgers beat Louisville in a titanic regular season game. But on-field nastiness provided the interest. Pile up pummeling, post-whistle shoving, insulting gestures, players jawing at each other, lots of "unsportsmanlike conduct" the refs consistantly overlooked - if they had called this stuff the game would have ground to a complete halt. It reminded me of the best/worst Big East basketball. The announcers were awful, recyling every John Madden cliche; there were graphics crowding in from both sides of the screen, it was worse than Fox baseball.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

He belongs to history

Gerald Ford said of Richard Nixon that a man who can't keep all his enemies in his mind has too many enemies. Maybe the problem with Ford was that he wasn't willing to risk the enemies during his years in congress. He did risk them with the Nixon pardon. The thought of Nixon serving time in a federal penitentiary was not disturbing to me, what he had done was that bad. But since that time I've passed from youth to middle age. I now feel that the war, violence, criminal politics , & insane cultural climate of the years following my high school graduation deprived me & many in my generation of a chance to sort things out for ourselves. We were pressured into early life-defining choices, but they weren't the clear ones our parents faced in 1941. During high school, the great questions of the day were about civil rights, poverty, economic justice, & yeah, "world peace." There was optimism even after Kennedy's death. By 1974, everyone was worn out, the optimism broken by assassinations, Vietnam, urban riots & rebellions, drugs, & Nixon's "Imperial Presidency." When Ford became president, rightly or wrongly he decided it was enough. He let Nixon off the legal hook. Saigon fell. When Jimmy Carter took office, he immediately did what Ford had failed to do, which was to issue the same kind of a blanket pardon to civilian draft resisters. & the Sixties finally ended. It's history now.

The Ford family showed a good sense of proportion about this state funeral. The nation needed brief history lesson in the moderate-conservativism of Gerald Ford - the sort of politics George W. promised in 2000 but had no intention of delivering (can't say Texan Molly Ivins didn't warn us). The funeral was dull Episcopalian - granite monument religion; the four eulogies were like four middle school oral reports on the same famous man, but the strange organ recessional music was worthy of Vincent Price in "The Abominable Dr. Phibes."

It's amusing to think now that First Lady Betty Ford might have been so outspoken in part because she was stoned. But she was for the Equal Rights Amendment & for reproductive rights, & for being open about women's health issues. She was a sophisticated, middle class, middle-aged, middle-American woman of her time. It was sad to see her so old & grief-stricken, & sad to be reminded that Betty Ford's sensible views & values are still under attack.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Happy New Year

"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be." Thomas Jefferson

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