Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Humor - Three Presidents Try To Tell The Truth

Bill Clinton, Al Gore, and George W. Bush went to a fitness spa for some fun and relaxation.

After a stimulating, healthy lunch, all three decided to visit the men's room, where they found a strange-looking gent sitting at the entrance.

He said, "Welcome to the men's room. Be sure to check out our newest feature, The Magic Mirror. If you look into it and say something truthful, you will be rewarded with a gift. But, be warned: if you say something false, you will be sucked into the mirror to live in a void of nothingness for all eternity!"

The three men quickly entered and upon finding the mirror, Bill Clinton stepped up and said, "I think I'm the most intelligent of us three." Suddenly the keys to a brand new Bentley are in his hands.

Al Gore stepped up and said, "I think I'm the most aware of environmental problems," and in an instant, he was surrounded by a pile of money to fund his next Campaign.

Excited over the possibility of finally having a wish come true, George W Bush looked into the mirror and said, "I think . . . " and was promptly sucked into the void.

Thanks to Dave for sending this along!

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Obituary - Rev. Robert Drinan (1920 - 2007)

When I was a teenager, Fr. Robert Drinan became a Representative from Massachusetts. He opposed the war, fought for workers' rights, and spoke openly about the benefits of birth control.

Fr. Drinan was a remarkable man: smart, hard-working, generous of time and spirit, charitable, and catholic (yes, with a small 'c').

When the Vatican took its reactionary turn to the Right under Pope John Paul II, and the Pope realized that most activist Catholic clergy in the United States were liberals, he put an end to their activism, to their community work, and certainly to their public positions outside the Church. Fr. Drinan was forced to leave his position as an elected official, or stop being a priest. He chose the former, and probably for all the right reasons.

The Pope's underhanded victory was America's loss.

Fr. Drinan died yesterday.

May he rest in peace.

>Priest who served in Congress dies at 86 Mon Jan 29, 8:52 AM ET

WASHINGTON, D.C. (AP) - The Rev. Robert Drinan, a Jesuit priest elected to Congress on an anti-war platform during the height of the Vietnam War, has died. A staunch human rights advocate, he also worked for desegregation, impeachment of a president and abolishment of the draft.

"He was a profile in courage in every sense of the word, and the nation has lost one of the finest persons ever to serve in Congress," said Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass.

Drinan, 86, had suffered from pneumonia and congestive heart failure, according to a statement by Georgetown University, which said he died Sunday at Sibley Memorial Hospital.

Drinan represented Massachusetts in the U.S. House for 10 years during the turbulent 1970s. He stepped down only after a worldwide directive from Pope John Paul II barring priests from holding public office.

During his congressional tenure, Drinan continued to dress in the robes of his clerical order and lived in a simple room in the Jesuit community at Georgetown.

But he wore his liberal views more prominently. He opposed the draft, worked to abolish mandatory retirement and raised eyebrows with his more moderate views on abortion and birth control.

"Father Drinan's commitment to human rights and justice will have a lasting legacy here at Georgetown University and across the globe," said Georgetown President John J. Degioia.

"All of us who knew him and served with him admired him for his deep faith, his profound commitment to public service, and the bold actions he constantly urged us to take to live up to our principles, especially in ending the Vietnam War," Kennedy said.

Drinan, dean of the Boston College Law School from 1956 to 1970, called for the desegregation of Boston public schools during the 1960s and challenged Boston College students to become involved in civil rights issues.

Rep. Edward Markey (news, bio, voting record), D-Mass., who attended the law school under Drinan and later served with him in Congress, said Drinan became "the conscience of the House of Representatives with every vote he cast."

"It was an honor to serve with him and to seek his guidance and advice on issues such as halting the spread of nuclear weapons, mitigating the plight of Soviet Jews and protecting the rights of political prisoners," Markey said in a statement. "He was a man of faith who never stopped searching for truth, and he was a committed educator who stayed true to his faith."

Drinan was elected in 1970, after he beat longtime Democratic Rep. Philip J. Philbin in a primary — and again in the November election, when Philbin was a write-in candidate.

Although a poll at the time showed that 30 percent of the voters in his district thought it was improper for a priest to run for office, Drinan considered politics a natural extension of his work in public affairs and human rights.

His run for office came a year after he returned from a trip to Vietnam, where he said he discovered that the number of political prisoners being held in South Vietnam was rapidly increasing, contrary to State Department reports. In a book the next year, he urged the Catholic Church to condemn the war as "morally objectionable."

He became the first member of Congress to call for the impeachment of Richard Nixon — although the call wasn't related to the Watergate scandal, but rather what Drinan viewed as the administration's undeclared war against Cambodia.

"Can we be silent about this flagrant violation of the Constitution?" Drinan demanded angrily back then. "Can we impeach a president for concealing a burglary but not for concealing a massive bombing?"

Decades later, at the invitation of Congress, he testified against the impeachment of another president: Bill Clinton. Drinan said Clinton's misdeeds were not in the same league as Nixon's, and that impeachment should be for an official act, not a private one.

After leaving office in 1980 — "with regret and pain" — Drinan continued to be active in political causes. He served as president of the Americans for Democratic Action, crisscrossing the country giving speeches on hunger, civil liberties, and the perils of the arms race.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Impeachment is off the table?

The one political party ruining America (commonly referred to as the Democrats and the Republicans) has announced that any impeachment of the president is 'off the table' and no action will be taken to highlight the crimes of George W Bush and his administration.

Bush has lied, stolen, misappropriated, defamed, and endangered; he is complicit in the death of tens of thousands of people. His supporters in the Democratic Party (Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, Barack Obama, and the rest) have no problem with this. In their infinite wisdom, they have decided to give the President carte blanche. (Watch how shocked and appalled they will all be when he pulls his next stunt: the invasion of Cuba or Iraq). Although the spineless war-mongers of the Democratic Party will act as though they are trying to stop Bush, they will just let him bulldoze along, destroying what is left of America's reputation within its borders and around the world.

NeoConLib poster girl, Hillary Clinton said on Sunday: "We expect him to extricate our country from this before he leaves office" in January 2009, the former first lady said.

No sweeter lie has ever come from this woman's lips. You will never convince me that she cares if the War in Iraq ever ends. Imagine! This is a leader of the Democratic wing of the one-party system who took control of Congress on the notion of ending the War. She is perfectly comfortable supporting the President (who hails from the other wing of the one-party system) and his plan to drag this war out until the bitter end, and leave it in the lap of whatever idiot succeeds him.

Happily, there are other voices in America that have yet to be silenced.

Tim Robbins is an actor, a parent, an anti-war activist, and an upright citizen of the United States. Here he is speaking at the Anti-War Rally in Washington, D.C., on January 27, 2007:

Or at this link.

We do not have to let Bush and his buddies get away with this stuff. All you have to do is call your congressional delegation and tell them you want Bush impeached and the war ended NOW.

How many of you have ever contacted your senator or representative?

That's what I thought.

Get your Representative's contact information here.

Get your Senator's contact information here.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Afghani Poppies

In the mid-1980s, the price of heroin plummeted to new lows. This was a boon for heroin addicts and casual opiate users (if there is such a thing as casual opium use).

The drop in price was connected to the increase in poppy production in Afghanistan, which was the final theater of the Cold War, where American taxpayers unknowingly handed over gazillions of dollars to religious terrorists who were doing the bidding of the Reagan Administration.

American tax dollars poured to warlords and imams (including the now infamous Osama binLaden) who took control of Afghanistan and turned it into a theocratic state that would, with the fall of the Soviet Union, be bullied into submission by the Taliban.

The USSR and the USA were using, empowering, and enriching a tiny number of people in Afghanistan, which threw the populace into a spiralling poverty that left few options for earning a living. Opium production became a primary income for almost half the population.

Afghanistan is a nation of 30 million people.

They have been devastated over the past 25-years by all the major players in the are. First they were conquered by the Soviets, then liberated by the US-funded Taliban, then stabilized by religious fundamentalists money funnelled in from Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. The best part of this phase of recent Afghan history is that the economy began to stabilize. It was a cultural and political nightmare, but the economy was stable, which prevents civil war.

Sadly, the stabilization provided by the Taliban included the rise to power of religious fundamentalists who planned and carried out heinous attacks on civilians of the Western world.

The United States was now obliged to destabilized the theocratic regime we had empowered.

In 2002, we began our war against Afghanistan, and chased the Taliban out of power. We pretended that we wanted to catch the bad guys, but since the bad guys are the children of powerful world leaders and businessmen, we let them escape into the hills and find succor in the bosom of Pakistan (another of our not-very-nice client states).

We have empowered a new regime. Things aren't going well. Some of the people we failed to empower this time around have been empowered by theocrats who see the re-destabilized Afghanistan as a new market for their own profiteering.

The lack of stability has forced many Afghanis back into opium production, and into the embrace of theocrats who do not like the United States.

It is estimated that opium and heroin production account for half the current GDP in Afghanistan. The other half of the economy is supported by a combination of small markets and foreign aid (mostly foreign aid). But, when a farmer who is now growing opium goes to the market to buy a shovel, pail, and dry goods for his home, it means that opium production is supporting that market. So, if half the economy is based on growing opium and processing heroin, then some percentage of the remaining 50% is thriving because those poppy growers and heroin producers are buying equipment, clothes and food. I think this would probably mean that closer to 60-70% of Afghanistan's GDP is based on poppy farming and heroin production. The remaining 30-40% is foreign aid.

How does this war on terror in Afghanistan which has led to the highest production of heroin in history work with our war on drugs here at home?

Since the United States is the only nation funding a War on Drugs (one of our most ludicrous campaigns), and the rest of the world wants to actually control drug production and the drug-distribution industry, we are at odds with even our closest allies on this issue. Our draconian drug laws, which often cause mothers to be imprisoned for life whilte businessmen who steal billions walk free, prevent us from taking a morally feasible position on a global platform.

It seems to me that our reasons for fighting wars are misguided and our methods for fighting wars have never worked in the modern world.

It seems to me that we are not winning any wars anywhere. Not abroad, not at home, nowhere. Maybe we need to regroup.

Here's some interesting reading from a variety of sources:

Taliban Rising, The Nation, October 30, 2006

Afghan Poppy Trade, Trade Environment Database

Afghanistan, Opium and the Taliban, Paradise Engineering

Canadians not keen on U.S. poppy eradication plan,'s National Post

Thursday, January 25, 2007

True Friendship

True Friendship

Are you tired of those sissy-ass "friendship" poems that always sound good, but never actually come close to reality? Well, here is a series of promises that actually speak of true friendship:

1. When you are sad -- I will help you get drunk and plot revenge against the sorry bastard who made you sad!

2. When you are blue -- I will try to dislodge whatever is choking you!

3 When you smile -- I will know you finally got some!

4. When you are scared -- I will rag on you about it every chance I get.

5. When you are worried -- I will tell you horrible stories about how much worse it could be until you quit whining.

6. When you are confused -- I will use little words.

7. When you are sick -- Stay the hell away from me until you are well again. I don't want whatever you have.

8. When you fall -- I will point and laugh at your clumsy ass! (I thought you were dancing!)

9. This is my oath . . . I pledge it to the end. "Why?" you may ask; "because you are my friend."

Remember . . . A good friend will help you move . . . a REALLY good friend will help you move a body. Just let me know if you ever need me to bring a shovel.

Friendship is like peeing in your pants, everyone can see it, but only you can feel the true warmth!

Send this to 10 of your closest friends, then get depressed because you can only think of 4.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

101 Dumbest Moments Follow-Up . . . Andrew Young - Wal-Mart

I got some angry emails from readers about my post below where I use the words "niggers," "kikes," "gooks," and "rag-heads."

One person said that I put words in Mr. Young's mouth, that he didn't use those words. I confess: those are my words. This is my blog and I write all of it, and I sometimes forget to display quoted material properly, but I never intend to deliberately deceive and confuse about who wrote what.

Young used the words: "Jews, Koreans, and Arabs" to describe the people who had been ripping-off poor blacks. I used the epithets in my response to his idiocy.

Here's an ABC news story about the incident:

My point in using the epithets was to highlight Mr. Young's racist remarks. No, he didn't use my words, but is there a difference? Is there really a difference between using his set or words or my set of words? They make the same statement: people do these things because they are Jews, or Koreans, or Arabs. And that conculsion is wrong. People rip-off poor communities because they are immoral bastards, not because they are of a certain ethnic group. The people who run urban bodegas and sell bad products at high prices don't do it because they are Korean, they do it because they are crooks!

I will not pretend to defend my sarcastic use of such bad words. I should not have used those words.

I hope it makes you think, though, about the implications of Andrew Young's remarks.

101 Dumbest Moments - from

The year's biggest boors, buffoons, and blunderers
By Adam Horowitz, David Jacobson, Tom McNichol, and Owen Thomas

These were my fave:

5. Kazakhstan: Currency. Yup! The Kazakhs what to defend themselves against the Borat movie, but they spell the word bank incorrectly on their money! Tee-hee! (Still, they have the cleanest prostitutes in all of the former Soviet republics!)

10. Comcast: Cable repairman (CMCSK). This is the famous one I blogged previously. Even Comcast can't get service from Comcast!

15. Wal-Mart: Andrew Young (WMT). Yeah, Andy! It's not the union-busting that's destroyed the black working-class: it's the kikes and gooks and rag-heads! Wal-Mart is a friend of all working niggers, it's just the other friggin' coloreds we have to watch out for!

32. TradingMarkets: Playboy stock contest. Miss June can earn you better returns than Smith Barney! And she waxes, and shows you her boobs!

56. AOL: Cancellation call (TWX). Oh, man! This is a beautiful thing. Try to cancel your AOL account. Go ahead! For the heck of it, just open an AOL account. Then call them back and cancel it. It's fun. Really!

69. Great Britain's Royal Mail: Santa stamp. Santa poos in your chimney and the Archbishop of Canterbury is upset that Royal Mail didn't include more Christian imagery on the stamp! Like Jesus poo-ing in your chimney?

101. Hasbro: Pussycat Dolls (HAS). Gotta love the band Pussycat Dolls. At night. When my daughter is fast asleep. I don't want her to actually aspire to be a stripper/slut/hooker. Shit happens, OK, girls become erotic dancers and prostitutes, but I don't think I want to actually promote those professions as goals for girls or boys.

In the Unfair Department:

18. Kindergarten teacher turned stripper

19. PBS Kids Sprout network

Two women who are not allowed to teach or speak to our children because they have second jobs. These communities obviously think women working in children's industries are making real money. Ever seen the paystub of a pre-school teacher or a Sprout spokesmodel? These girls are not raking in the cash! Let 'em strip and sell sex! We let our elected officials do it, we let our priests and ministers do it, we let actresses and athletes do it!

Anyway . . . here's the whole list:

101 Dumbest Moments
The year's biggest boors, buffoons, and blunderers

1 Wal-Mart: PR campaign (WMT)
2 Northwest Airlines: '101 Ways to Save Money' guide
3 McDonald's: MP3 player giveaway (MCD)
4 GM: User-generated ad campaign (GM)
5 Kazakhstan: Currency
6 Steve Wynn: Picasso
7 New York Times Co.: Customer data (NYT)
8 Spirit Airlines: Hoffa ad campaign
9 Porter County, Ind.: Home values
10 Comcast: Cable repairman (CMCSK)
11 Starbucks: E-mail offer (SBUX)
12 Sony: Flaming computers (SNE)
13 Consumer Safety Products Commission: Laptop advisory
14 Vonage: IPO (VG)
15 Wal-Mart: Andrew Young (WMT)
16 Rising Sun Anger Release Bar: Co-workers
17 Alarm One: Team building
18 Kindergarten teacher turned stripper
19 PBS Kids Sprout network
20 Fiji Water vs. Cleveland
21 FCC in Details Magazine
22 Business Week cover
23 Microsoft: Two products - same name (MSFT)
24 B2/Raytheon: CEO's book (RTN)
25 BBC: Goma interview
26 Greyhound: Dumping incident
27 RadioShack: Layoffs (RSH)
28 National Semiconductor: Gifts (NSM)
29 Hyundai-Kia: Chairman's abject apology
30 Lone Star: Mea culpa
31 Goldman Sachs: Web site (GS)
32 TradingMarkets: Playboy stock contest
33 Heart Attack Grill: Triple bypass burger
34 Antwerp museum: Meat apparel
35 Wal-Mart: Thomas Coughlin (WMT)
36 Catawba County: Google suit
37 Thomsonfly: Lost cellphone
38 Imelda Marcos: Jewelry line
39 Greece: GDP
40 Natural Selection Foods: E.coli
41 Home Depot: Investor conference (HD)
42 MBA candidates: Cheating
43 Paris Hilton: DUI
44 New Lenox mayor: Strip-club tab
45 Cryogenics pioneers: Freezer malfunction
46 UnitedHealth: CEO options (UNH)
47 Comverse: CEO options
48 Cablevision Systems: Options
49 EnBW: Nuclear plant keys
50 H.R. Hargreaves & Son: Ham ingredients
51 Honda: Owner's manuals
52 Oracle: Larry Ellison donation (ORCL)
53 Disney: Winnie the Pooh (DIS)
54 Wal-Mart: Blog (WMT)
55 Richard Hatch: Sentenced
56 AOL: Cancellation call (TWX)
57 AOL: Search queries (TWX)
58 YouTube: Copyright infringement
59 Golden State Warriors: "Ghetto Prom"
60 Belt buckle
61 Microsoft: Google search (MSFT)
62 DDS Media: Typo
63 TextTrust: Typo
64 Welsh Dragon Sausages: Name change
65 CIA: Comedy Central ad
66 Jessica Simpson: Jeans endorsement
67 Sony PlayStation: Billboard campaign (SNE)
68 Hewlett-Packard: Pretexting (HPQ)
69 Great Britain's Royal Mail: Santa stamp
70 KRON 4: Address change
71 Bausch & Lomb: ReNu recall (BOL)
72 UCLA e-mail (AMZN)
73 Wal-Mart: Ad agency (WMT)
74 Pearson: SAT scores
75 Time Warner: Wayne Pace (TWX)
76 AirTran: Stranded passengers
77 Bank of America: Training replacements (BAC)
78 McCain Foods: Potatoes
79 Mercedes-Benz: $1.7 million lemon
80 News Corp.: "If I did it" (NWS)
81 McDonald's:"Hummer of a Summer" (MCD)
82 Online video fans:
83 TacoBell: Tainted vegetables
84 Shai: Porn star clothing
85 U.S. Mint: Metal prices
86 Wal-Mart:DVD titles (WMT)
87 AussieBum: Men's underwear
88 Mars: M&M menorahs
89 Hoboken, N.J.: Garage operator
90 Bristol-Myers Squibb: Generics deal (BMY)
91 New York: Crackheadz Gone Wild
92 Michael Eisner: Debut show
93 Stefan Eriksson: String of discoveries
94 Greenville Drive: Mascot
95 NTT: Hackers
96 UCLA: Social Security numbers
97 Home Depot: Drugs (HD)
98 Imagination 69: Treasure hunt
99 Tesco: Peekaboo Pole Dancing Kit
100 Toymaker Spin Master: Kid tattoos
101 Hasbro: Pussycat Dolls (HAS)

Monday, January 22, 2007

Blog for Choice

Blog for Choice Day - January 22, 2007

Today is the thirty-fourth anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the ruling that sent home rule regarding abortion rights back to the States.

It was a very important decision in the fight for women's equality in America.

I have fought that battle over the years: I have worked security at a clinic, I have marched in the streets, I have sent money to Planned Parenthood and NARAL, and I am happy to speak aloud about my unwavering support of the rights of women to make all decisions regarding their reproductive health.

Abortion, and all issues of reproductive rights, are important to women. All women. What Americans are allowed to do with their bodies is a very important conversation.

Abortion is a terrible thing. If I was a women, I do not know that I could choose it; but, I believe each woman has to make that choice herself.

There are many choices I don't like.

Are you tired of lovely twenty-somethings with their bodies ripped into muscular hulks, pierced through the face, and decorated with "tribal" tattoos? Yeah! Me, too! The Bible forbids us to tattoo ourselves. Still, I think everyone should have the right, as adults, to do that to their bodies if they so choose. It is a matter of choice and it is freedom of expression.

Hey guys: how many of you have really made love to a woman with a boob job? Boob jobs look great inside clothes, from a distance. And when you get a bra off, they can look spectacular, until the woman moves around on the bed, and they don't move like real boobs . . . they look kinda . . . I dunno . . . fake! Then you get around to touching them. I mean . . . you're making love, and you're a guy, you're gonna touch her boobs. It's what guys do! They don't feel real, do they? They're kinda hard (or firm, as the owner would like you to think) and they are a bit of a disappointment. I don't really like boob jobs. The Bible can certainly be interpreted to say that boob jobs are a sin. Should they be illegal? No! A woman should have the right to augment the size of her breasts, if she so chooses. It is a choice.

Birth control and reproductive rights should be a choice, too! As soon as a boy can ejaculate and a girl menstruates, birth control should be available to them. Boys and girls, or more accurately, young men and women in this stage of their development are more likely to have unprotected sex than any other group. Yet, we do not really offer birth control as a choice for these people. We think that because they are of a certain age, they should not be having sex, therefore we force them to wait until they reach the arbitrary age of 18 (will it be 21 soon?) before they have the right to seek-out birth control or be counselled about sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and birth control. We should be giving them the choice. We should not be hindering their access to birth control or information about STDs. This information that we hide from teenagers can prevent death, unwanted pregnancy, and (potentially) abortion.

However, there are Americans who think that blindness and silent acquiescence are the only path to higher living. They are wrong.

Women need to be taught about sex at a young age. They need to told about condoms and birth control. They need to be told about abortion. And all of these things must be made, and remain available, to all women at all times.

In the early 1970s, the local community health center displayed posters about drugs, alcohol, and pregnancy. One was a picture of a man with a swollen, pregnant stomach belly and was inscribed: "If men could get pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament."

I was fifteen or 16 when I saw that, and it changed my life.

If men were the ones expected to carry, give birth to, nurture, raise and support children, the laws of America would be very different. Roe v Wade would not be in jeopardy of being overturned.

I have never met a woman who was happy about having had an abortion. I have discussed it at length with some women. They talk about varying degrees of shame, regret and acceptance. They almost always feel as though they need to be forgiven. They need to be loved and accepted; but, they are shunned by the media, church and themselves. Their secret must remain not just private, but a secret. It can never be exposed, because our society, in its dramatic shift to the right, is making it more shameful to have had an abortion or to seek an abortion, than ever before.


Why is the simple medical procedure known as abortion being made into such an ordeal?

It's really simple, folks.

People get pregnant when they have intercourse. Intercourse is usually coupled with passion, which makes our copulation different than other animals' copulation. Passion sometimes clouds reason. Clouded reason sometimes leads to poor choices. A poor choice can lead to an unwanted pregnancy. A child born of an unwanted pregnancy can lead a very unhappy life. Very unhappy people make worse choices than those they see made around them. And the cycle continues down into a morass of moral sadness.

Terminating an unwanted pregnancy is one of the worst decisions anyone would ever have to make. If they choose it, we should let them do it with dignity and love.

We should not be picketing in front of clinics that provide reproductive services.

We should not be passing laws that criminalize motherhood or its failings.

Support Roe v Wade!

Support NARAL
Support Planned Parenthood

Friday, January 19, 2007

Ronaldo To AC Milan?

Media owned by Italian mogul Silvio Berlusconi, are reporting that Brazilian soccer star Ronaldo will join AC Milan (also owned by Berlusconi), and will abandon los galacticos of Real Madrid.

See a article here.

January is the month in which soccer players transfer from team to team, midway through the season. There is always speculation and sometimes, as in the case of David Beckham, there are fantastic changes in the air!

I have clung to the fantasy that Ronaldo would come to New York for piles of cash provided by the Red Bull beverage company, owners of the Red Bull New York MLS franchise.

I do hope that Red Bull New York makes a big signing of a European star, maybe not His Chubbiness Ronaldo, but someone who can have a major impact.

I will publish a transfer list before the end of the month.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Shortbus Censorship

The adorable Jay Brannan has a song in the critically-acclaimed movie Shortbus, from John Cameron Mitchell (who gave us "Hedwig And The Angry Inch").

Brannan also makes regular appearances on from Toilet Studios, in New York City. I assume it is his own toilet in which he records his videos. He wears appropriate toilet attire.

His video for Soda Shop (below) at YouTube, opens with a monologue discussing the film "Shortbus" and its censorship by Internet Movie Database (IMDb).

It seems that IMDb placed an "adult content" tag on Shortbus, so it will not appear in general searches at the site. My friend, The Rabbi, followed-up the story yesterday at his blog The Rabbi Report; and created a bit of a stir in the blogsphere. Be sure to read the two articles that follow that link to get updates.

IMDb's tagging of an independent release as "adult" is censorship in its most insidious form: secret censorship. Pretending that you are not censoring, when you actually are censoring.

IMDb has relented and removed the tag; but, the question remains: how many other films are tagged this way, and who is the arbiter of adult content at IMDb? The Rabbi articulates the issue more succinctly, and implore you to visit The Rabbi Report for the full story.

So I leave you with Brannan's music video:

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Sweet Thing - Video

"Sweet Thing," is the song most David Bowie fans dream of seeing him perform in concert one more time.

Bad quality, good edits, historically significant footage.

Sweet Thing/Candidate/Sweet Thing (Reprise)

It's safe in the city, to love in a doorway
To wrangle some screams from the door
And isn't it me, putting pain in a stranger?
Like a portrait in flesh, who trails on a leash
Will you see that I'm scared and I'm lonely?
So I'll break up my room, and yawn and I
Run to the centre of things
Where the knowing one says

Boys, boys, its a sweet thing
Boys, boys, its a sweet thing, sweet thing
If you want it, boys, get it here, thing
'Cause hope, boys, is a cheap thing, cheap thing

I'm glad that you're older than me
Makes me feel important and free
Does that make you smile, isn't that me?
I'm in your way, and I'll steal every moment
If this trade is a curse, then I'll bless you
And turn to the crossroads and hamburgers and


I'll make you a deal, like any other candidate
We'll pretend we're walking home 'cause your future's at stake
My set is amazing, it even smells like a street
There's a bar at the end where I can meet you and your friend
Someone scrawled on the wall "I smell the blood of les tricoteuses"
Who wrote up scandals in other bars

I'm having so much fun with the poisonous people
Spreading rumours and lies and stories they made up
Some make you sing and some make you scream
One makes you wish that you'd never been seen
But there's a shop on the corner that's selling papier mache
Making bullet-proof faces, Charlie Manson, Cassius Clay
If you want it, boys, get it here, thing

So you scream out of line
"I want you! I need you! Anyone out there? Any time?"
Tres butch little number whines "Hey dirty, I want you
When it's good, it's really good, and when it's bad I go to pieces"
If you want it, boys, get it here, thing

Well, on the street where you live I could not hold up my head
For I put all I have in another bed
On another floor, in the back of a car
In the cellar of a church with the door ajar
Well, I guess we must be looking for a different kind
But we can't stop trying 'til we break up our minds
'Til the sun drips blood on the seedy young knight
Who presses you on the ground while shaking in fright
I guess we could cruise down one more time
With you by my side, it should be fine
We'll buy some drugs and watch a band
Then jump into the river holding hands

If you want it, boys, get it here thing
'Cause hope, boys, is a cheap thing, cheap thing

Is it nice in your snow storm, freezing your brain?
Do you think that your face looks the same?
Then let it be, it's all I ever wanted
It's a street with a deal, and a taste
It's got claws, it's got me, it's got you

Thanks to Evan Torrie's excellent Teenage Wildlife site for the lyrics

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Do The Strand - Lyrics

There's a new sensation
A fabulous creation
A danceable solution
To teenage revolution

Do the Strand love
When you feel love
It's the new way
That's why we say
Do the Strand

Do it on the tables
Quaglino's Place or Mabel's

Slow and gentle
All styles served here
Louis says he prefer
Laissez-faire le Strand

Tired of the tango
Fed up with fandango

Dance on moonbeams
Slide on rainbows
In furs or blue jeans
You know what I mean
Do the Strand

Had your fill of quadrilles
The Madison and Cheap Thrills
Bored with the Beguine
The Samba isn't your scene

They're playing our tune
By the pale moon
We're incognito
Down the Lido
And we like the Strand

Arabs at oasis
Eskimos and Chinese

If you feel blue
Look through "Who's Who"
See La Goulue
And Nijinsky
Do the Strand-ski

Weary of the waltz
And mashed potato schmaltz

Is a nice flower
It lasts forever
But it can't beat Strand power

The Sphynx and "Mona Lisa"
"Lolita" and "Guernica"
Did the Strand

Monday, January 15, 2007

Beckham to Los Angeles

I have seen David Beckham play. Up close. It was wonderful. He is a good player. He is not the greatest player who ever played the game, but he is a huge star and his presence exudes that stardom. His enthusiasm is infectious and his good looks are appealing. (See my article of March 18, 2005.)

In 2002 I started talking about David Beckham signing with the MetroStars, then the Major League Soccer (MLS) franchise in metro-New York.

Beckham and his wife, Victoria, are huge fans of New York City, and they are more New York than any other Europeans I can think of, including John Lennon and David Bowie.

The rumor I had heard those many years ago was that Becks was being offered an ownership percentage of the team, in lieu of salary, to keep the team under the league-imposed salary cap.

The Beckhams in New York. It has the sound of cash registers. It rings ka-ching over and over again. It sounds like music to a talent agent's ears. From New York, the Beckhams would conquer America, gracing the covers of GQ, Parenting, Architectural Digest, Teen Vogue;she with a TV show, or as a panelist on American Idol. Him on every sports show, charming and friendly in the face of unkind questions.

I'd heard that Beckham was searching for a town in Northern New Jersey or on Long island in which he could open the US branch of his soccer academy; but that he was unable to find a municipality interested in his venture. (See my article of April 15, 2005.)

When his search took him to Los Angeles, I knew he would never sign in New York, and the Bekhams would become Hollywood icons.

Then MLS re-wrote its rules to allow teams to spend beyond the salary cap. It was dubbed the "Beckham Rule" and it paved the way for the obvious.

Last week, it happened. David Beckham, currently a midfielder for Real Madrid of La Liga, signed with the L.A. Galaxy and will receive fifty-something million dollars a year for five years.

How does a team that sells twenty-something thousand tickets at twenty-something bucks a seat pay that salary?

Not with ticket sales, or their meager a television contract. It is likely that shirt sales will cover that salary. The number of Beckham shirts sold on Earth each year is astronomical, and those shirts will be sold irrespective of the team branded on the front: England, Manchester United, Real Madrid, or L.A. Galaxy. There are probably five million fans around the world with the word "Beckham" on their backs. Give Beckham five bucks a shirt, and you've covered most of the contract right there!

The Galaxy reported 2,000 season tickets sold in the week following the Beckham signing. That's excellent. I am hoping to re-subscribe to my New York season ticket this year.

This article from Associated Press, courtesy of the San Mateo Daily Journal, discusses the numbers in relation to merchandising American sports stars, but seems focused on just the United States and seems to miss the power of the international market (which for Americans doesn't really exist):

The new $250 million man?
The Associated Press

LOS ANGELES — David Beckham is big. But is he $250 million large? Bigger at the bank than Shaq or Kobe or A-Rod?

The world’s most recognizable soccer player agreed Thursday to a five-year contract with the Los Angeles Galaxy that Anschutz Entertainment Group, the company that runs the team, touted as being worth $250 million over its five-year term.

The deal will make him the highest paid player in Major League Soccer, but reaching the total headline-making figure will hinge a lot more on Beckham’s prowess as pitchman than his play-making ability.

His contract with a team in a lower-profile league is a small slice of the deal — the really big money comes in expected commercial opportunities. Translation: There’s no guarantee he’ll get the $50-million-a-year average described in the announcement.

Marketing experts agree that though the 31-year-old tabloid darling isn’t a household name in the U.S., he’s better positioned than most superstar athletes to cash in off the field. Still, some doubt he’ll lure such a windfall in just five years.

"It’s overinflated," said Ryan Schinman of Platinum Rye Entertainment, an entertainment consulting company. "I just don’t see it."

Consider that, according to Forbes Magazine, in the year ending June 2006 the only active athlete in the U.S. to earn more than $50 million in salary and endorsements was Tiger Woods. Next in line: Phil Mickelson ($47 million); Kobe Bryant ($31 million); Shaquille O’Neal ($30 million); Alex Rodriguez and Tom Brady (each $29 million).

Beckham was estimated to have earned $27 million between his salary at Spain’s Real Madrid and his deals with Adidas, Gillette and others, according to Forbes.

Neither the Galaxy nor Denver-based Anschutz Entertainment Group replied Friday to requests for details on how the deal was structured. David Carter, executive director of the University of Southern California Sports Business Institute, was skeptical about the financial estimates.

"It sounds like a great number to use in the media — one likely that is both cumulative, based on many of his relationships, as well one that includes incentives for milestones reached," Carter said.

There’s no question the signing created a buzz. The Galaxy said that within hours of the announcement the team sold 2,000 new season tickets. Their season begins April 8.

The team averages 22,000 to 24,000 fans in its 27,000-seat stadium in suburban Carson, although attendance was down last season when the Galaxy missed the playoffs.

"He’s one of the most marketable and highly identifiable sports figures in the world," said Kathleen Hessert, president of sports marketing consultant Sports Media Challenge.

Hessert saw evidence of Beckham’s appeal all over the Internet — the agency has tracked heavy interest in the soccer star, particularly among women, in blogs and chatrooms.

"If his signing with the Galaxy gets more women to buy tickets, that’s going to create a huge surge because where women go, they usually bring their families as well," Hessert said.

That could easily make Beckham a sought-after pitchman for companies marketing to soccer moms and their daughters, Carter said.

"He can be used to sell traditional consumer goods linked to sports such as footwear and apparel, as well as be compelling force to sell Happy Meals to families on their way (to) an MLS game," Carter said.

Beckham should also be able to parlay his celebrity status into a showbiz career. It doesn’t hurt that his wife, Victoria Beckham, became a celebrity in her own right as pop star Posh Spice.

Beckham is represented by arguably the most powerful Hollywood talent agency — Creative Artists Agency — and has ties to "American Idol" creator Simon Fuller, who managed the Spice Girls. AEG owner Philip Anschutz also owns Walden Media, a film production unit specializing in family-oriented fare such as the "The Chronicles of Narnia" films.

"There could be a lot of interesting crossover opportunities that might get him closer to that ($50 million) number that you might not see typically with other athletes," said Derek Aframe, vice president with the Octagon sports marketing agency based in Norwalk, Conn. "Time will tell."

Toss in Beckham’s established Hollywood connections, such as actor Tom Cruise, and his prospects brighten — especially given that endorsement dollars tagged to a film can reach into the tens of millions of dollars.

Still, it’s unlikely any film or television deals would fetch Beckham seven figures or supplant his primary source of income as a soccer player, Schinman suggests.

"He’s not Denzel Washington making $25 million a movie," Schinman said. "He’s not even going to make $7 million in a film."

Associated Press Writer Jacob Adelman contributed to this report.

David Beckham is huge.

Beckham is bigger than Shaq and Tiger Woods and Barry Bonds. There is no comparison.

Beckham's market base includes Japanese teenage girls, homosexual men which make up five to ten percent of the world's population, boys of every nation except the USA, adults throughout the world, television viewers, movie makers and their audiences, pop music fans, other sports stars, the wives and children of other sports stars, everywhere there is Beckham.

Beckham is bigger than any sports star, and maybe even any movie star, that has ever graced our magazine covers.

When John Lennon said The Beatles were bigger than Jesus, he was correct. And Beckham might be bigger than The Beatles and Jesus combined!

With Beckham in America, it might become impossible to count his legions, but the numbers are astronomical.

Will other international soccer stars follow?

Of course! That is why MLS passed the Beckham Rule.

MLS has been very careful, so far, to avoid the mistake of the old North America Soccer League (NASL), which went bankrupt in the mid-1980s by signing washed-up Europrans for very high prices. The New York Cosmos managed to fill Giants Stadium with Pele, and George Best built a retirement nest-egg playing for Fort Lauderdale.

MLS has grown itself inorganically, in a test-tube, as a single-entity league. And the experiment has been a success. Sure, MLS does not enjoy the viewership of the NHL, which makes it almost invisible; but there seems to be a plan in place that can succeed. And if the players cooperate, everyone might get rich from soccer in the United States.

Bloomberg discusses it:

Beckham Galaxy Move May Spur European Exodus to U.S.
By Ryan Mills

Jan. 15 (Bloomberg) -- David Beckham's switch to the Los Angeles Galaxy may tempt other ageing European players to the U.S., offering an alternative to Middle Eastern leagues.

Beckham will definitely stir things up," Mick McGuire, deputy chief executive of England's Professional Footballers' Association, said in a telephone interview. "Players will go for the remuneration, the lifestyle and the opportunities on offer after they've finished playing."

Beckham, the 31-year-old former captain of the England national team, will join Major League Soccer in August, at the end of his contract with Real Madrid. His five-year agreement, MLS said, may be worth more than $250 million -- the biggest deal in team sports.

The move was eased by the league's decision to let each team pay one marquee player an unlimited salary from this year. While Beckham said three days ago his switch wasn't designed to hasten the flow of older talent from Europe's richest leagues, some players are considering their futures.

World Cup winners from Brazil's Pele to Germany's Franz Beckenbauer spent the tail end of their careers in North America in the 1970s and '80s. In the past decade, the Middle East has been the destination of choice for thirty-somethings.

Gabriel Batistuta, Argentina's record scorer, and French World Cup-winner Frank Leboeuf sought a final paycheck in Qatar. Portugal's 34-year-old Luis Figo, voted the world's best player in 2001, last week agreed to join Saudi Arabia's al-Ittihad from July in a contract that Agence France-Presse said may have been worth 4.5 million euros ($5.6 million).

Davids and Dallas

"There will still be interest from the Middle East, but western European players are definitely interested in the U.S.," Humphrey Nijman, who represents Dutch striker Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, said in a telephone interview. "You'll definitely see more going out there."

Edgar Davids, 33, who's played 74 games for the Dutch national team, is in talks to join FC Dallas when his contract with London's Tottenham expires in June, coach Steve Morrow said. Dallas is prepared to double his pay of 50,000 pounds ($98,000) a week, the U.K.'s Mirror newspaper reported.

Ronaldo, Brazil's 30-year-old three-time world player of the year, is also considering a switch to the U.S., Spain's El Mundo newspaper reported. France's Michel Platini, a former three-time European player of the year, said he had fewer options when he quit in 1987.

"I'd have been tempted to do the same thing, but there was no soccer in America when I retired," he said in an interview.

Pele and Crowds

Pele, who helped his country win three World Cups, came out of retirement in 1975 aged 34 to sign for New York Cosmos, helping the team draw crowds of 75,000 to Giants stadium. While Morrow expects Beckham will lure more fans, McGuire of the players' union said U.S. soccer has a way to go.

"Players won't be going for the quality of the league; that won't change overnight," said McGuire, who spent three months with the Tampa Bay Rowdies in the late 1970s. "You're unlikely to play for your country again."

The MLS operates a system of centralized contracts and pays salaries up to a maximum $400,000. It would exceed that for anyone deemed worthy of a premium. Franchises will now pay that portion of a new player's salary above the cap.

Teams will initially be allotted one "designated player" slot, and they will be able to trade in one more. Teams that take on a second star will receive $325,000 toward his salary. The average wage in England's elite Premiership is 676,000 pounds, a sum that can double with bonuses, the Independent newspaper reported.


Not all MLS players approve of the change. Colorado Rapids' Terry Cooke, who was a trainee with Beckham at Manchester United, is concerned wage inflation may threaten the league. The North American Soccer League collapsed in 1985.

"Any player will get what he can get, fair play to him, but the way the league is structured is a disgrace," Cooke told the BBC Web site.

While the MLS is counting on Beckham to raise soccer's profile, foreign players can benefit from the relative anonymity of a sport that trails in television ratings. Top-ranked golfer Tiger Woods ranks 14th on Davie Brown Talent's list of celebrities that offer most value to advertisers in the U.S. Beckham, before his move, was 875th.

"America is a nice retirement home," Mel Goldberg, a lawyer who represents players including Liverpool's Craig Bellamy, said in a telephone interview.

The MLS doesn't want to be seen as a league where players come to top up their pensions and will use Beckham to attract youth to the sport, MLS deputy commissioner Ivan Gazidis said. The U.S. exited last year's World Cup without winning any of its three matches.

"This league is littered with players thinking it's just a vacation," said Galaxy General Manager Alexi Lalas. "That doesn't help the league or the teams and we soon get them shipped out."

To contact the reporter on this story: Ryan Mills in London at at

Last Updated: January 15, 2007 05:53 EST

Last year I'd heard that Ronaldo, athletic chubbiness personified, would leave Real Madrid and sign with New York, because he can barely play at the level of professionals in Spain, and he (like so many nouveau riche) loves New York.

Today's press insists that Beckham wants to leave Madrid today. Now! Wants to move to Los Angeles to start promoting his new team. This from the Independent Online in New Zealand:

Beckham wants to leave Madrid ASAP

Madrid - David Beckham is keen to leave Real Madrid immediately, according to reports in the Spanish and US media.

Sports daily Marca claims on Monday that Beckham and his representatives are looking for a way to rescind his contract with Real Madrid in order to move out to Los Angeles as soon as possible.

Initially, Beckham was going to see out his Real contract until June and move out to California in August.

However, most signs now point to Beckham leaving Madrid quickly.

Real would be keen to see the back of him
On the one hand, his new club, Los Angeles Galaxy, and the Major Soccer League want him in California as soon as possible.

On the other hand, Real would be keen to see the back of him, now that coach Fabio Capello has made it clear he will not pick him again.

Marca quoted MLS chief Don Garber as saying that "I am given to understand that David's lawyers are working to find a friendly exit from Madrid... We want to have him over here as soon as possible."

In addition, LA Galaxy head coach Frank Yallop wants Beckham in his squad for the start of the new Major League Soccer season in April.

Yallop's side start their season on April 8 when LA Galaxy visit MLS champions Houston Dynamo.

'Neither do I like the way that Beckham has behaved'
The former England captain shocked the footballing world last week by agreeing a five-year contract with the Galaxy.

The way in which Beckham announced the deal last Thursday has not gone down well in Madrid.

Capello said on Saturday that he had decided not to pick Beckham again "since he has announced that he is joining another club".

The Italian coach also stated that forwards Ronaldo and Antonio Cassano would neither be considered for selection, and that he was
going to build a new team in Madrid without most of the club's veterans.

On Sunday Capello's new-look team beat Zaragoza 1-0 at home, with Beckham looking on from the stands.

The tight win vindicates Capello's decision to get rid of Beckham and several other ageing "galacticos".

On Sunday, Real president Ramon Calderon backed up Capello, and made it clear that he also did not like the way that Beckham had announced his Galaxy deal.

"Neither do I like the way that Beckham has behaved," Calderon told radio station Onda Cero, "announcing a deal with another club by video conference".

On Monday television channel TeleMadrid claimed that Calderon "would not be opposed" to a deal whereby Beckham's Madrid contract was rescinded quickly.

Beckham has been of massive help to Real's global merchandising strategy, though his on-field contribution has been more modest.

Real's last success was the Spanish league title in June 2003, secured just days before Beckham's arrival.

Since then - despite Beckham's deadball skills and fighting spirit - the Spanish giants have won nothing, their most barren spell for more than 50 years. - Sapa-dpa

Published on the Web by IOL on 2007-01-15 12:09:18

©Independent Online 2005. All rights reserved. IOL publishes this article in good faith but is not liable for any loss or damage caused by reliance on the information it contains.

His wife is already house-hunting, and I'm sure there is something in Malibu that will suit her needs. There should be no trouble affording a respectable home for the family of five. And if they choose a gated-community, I think they will meet any socio-economic or racial qualifications required.

It's really happening.

David Beckham is coming to play in the United States.

Friday, January 12, 2007

That's When She Shot Him

On their wedding night, a young bride approached her new husband and asked for $20.00 for their first lovemaking encounter. In his highly aroused state, her husband readily agreed.

This scenario was repeated each time they made love, for more than 30 years, with him thinking that it was a cute way for her to afford new clothes and other incidentals that she needed.

Arriving home around noon one day, she was surprised to find her husband in a very drunken state. During the next few minutes, he explained that his employer was going through a process of corporate downsizing, and he had been let go. It was unlikely that, at the age of 59, he'd be able to find another position that paid anywhere near what he'd been earning, and therefore, they were financially ruined.

Calmly, his wife handed him a bank book which showed more than thirty years of steady deposits and interest totaling nearly $1 million. Then she showed him certificates of deposits issued by the bank which were worth over $2 million, and informed him that they were one of the largest depositors in the bank.

She explained that for the more than three decades she had "charged" him for sex, these holdings had multiplied and these were the results of her savings and investments.

Faced with evidence of cash and investments worth over $3 million, her husband was so astounded he could barely speak, but finally he found his voice and blurted out, "If I'd had any idea what you were doing, I would have given you all my business!"

That's when she shot him.

You know, sometimes, men just don't know when to keep their mouths shut.

Thanks to Elaine for sending this

Thursday, January 11, 2007

36 Years Ago: The Death of Coco Chanel - Obituary

January 11, 1971


Chanel, the Couturier, Dead in Paris


PARIS, Jan. 10--Gabrielle (Coco) Chanel, one of the greatest couturiers of the 20th century, died tonight in her apartment at the Ritz Hotel. She was 87 years old.

The death of Coco, as she was known the world over, was announced by close friends. They said that her death came peacefully and that nothing in recent days had indicated she was in bad health. The cause of death was not immediately known.

Her friends said that a chambermaid discovered that Coco was ill and called a physician.

Coco's death occurred as she was working on her collection to be presented in the spring fashion shows this month.

Her life story was turned into a musical, "Coco," which ran on Broadway last year starring Katherine Hepburn in her first singing and dancing role. Miss Hepburn, 60 at the time the show opened, was termed "too old" for the part by the tart-tongued Coco, who was 86.

In addition to Chanel philosophy, the show featured many models parading in the popular fashions Chanel designed through her long career.

Chanel dominated the Paris fashion world in the nineteen-twenties and at the height of her career was running four business enterprises--a fashion house, a textile business, perfume laboratories and a workshop for costume jewelry--that altogether employed 3,500 workers.

It was perhaps her perfume more than her fashions that made the name Chanel famous around the world. Called simply "Chanel No. 5"--she had been told by a fortune-teller that five was her lucky number--it made Coco a millionaire.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Lawrence Welk Meets Velvet Underground - Video

According to shawshawshaw, a contributor:

In 1968, The Velvet Underground finally found a large, mainstream audience during a performance on the Lawrence Welk Show.

This is wonderful, and it seems to have taken only a modicum of editing.

You can go directly to shawshawshaw's posting on by clicking here.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

I ♥ NY - P.U.

I never smelled it.

The first indication I had that something was amiss in Manhattan was when a colleague explained that her 10-minute commute from Chelsea had taken an hour!

Come to find out, the West Side of Manhattan smelled like natural gas was leaking everywhere. Buildings, subways and department stores were evacuated. People wandered in the streets asking: "What's that smell?"

I had taken the F train, the Sixth Avenue Local, from Kensington Brooklyn to Rockefeller Center.

Usually, I exit the subway onto Sixth Avenue at Radio City Music Hall, read the marquee, and people-watch for the few blocks to my building. Tourists and camera crews on those blocks of Sixth Avenue make for wonderful morning entertainment. I can also get off the F train, stay underground by walking through the Rockefeller Center Concourse and wind my way to the building lobby where elevators will take me to my desk.

Yesterday, I chose the latter, because it was raining pretty hard.

Eventually I heard about the smell.

People were understandably concerned that this smell was part of a terrorist plot.

I reminisced with friends about building fire alarms in late-2001 (post-9/11) that we had ignored in previous years, but which now drove some to the street in fear of bombings.

Those months after the crimes at the World Trade Center were wrought with suspicion and newly-warranted fear. I didn't know how to respond in those days. Giddiness and tears generally accompanied any technological glitch that affected the city, and that remained true the following year when the East Coast was struck by a blackout.

New Yorkers, always a suspicious lot to begin with, have had to assimilate terrorism into the process of public crisis. Most other Americans have still been spared the notion that large-scale crime will be committed against the general population. New Yorkers are reminded of 9/11 whenever any public anomaly strikes.

The day moved along: meetings followed by tasks, followed by the occasional glimpse at personal email and the news. Nothing new. No news. Same old story: New York Smells.

Then we learned that our Austin, Texas, office was closed because sixty birds fell dead from the sky in that city. It wasn't all the sparrows, the birds were not all larks, or starlings, or any particular type of bird where you could say, "Gee whizz, what's wrong with all the pigeons?" It was many kinds of birds, just randomly dropped from the sky overnight.

I was confused. An odd aroma was spreading across New York City, and something in the air in the Capital of Texas was killing birds.

I stayed in the office yesterday until six o'clock, and when I left, the smell was gone. So . . . I never smelled what Charles Sturcken of the New York Department of Environmental Protection said was a nasty smell, and he was "pretty sure it came from New Jersey."

Was the smelly stuff from New Jersey killing the birds in Texas, too?

I ♥ NY

This from the New York Daily News:
'It came from New Jersey'
Tuesday, January 9th, 2007

Blame the big stink on New Jersey.

The mighty stench that blanketed swaths of the city, forced building and school evacuations, disrupted commuter train service - and even stoked fears of a terrorist attack - appears to have come from the other side of the Hudson River.

While the exact source and cause of the odor is still not clear, Charles Sturcken of the city Department of Environmental Protection said the agency was "pretty sure it came from New Jersey."

Specifically, the heavily industrialized Hudson County waterfront with its chemical plants and port terminals as well as the Secaucus area, Sturcken said. Seven people in the Garden State were briefly hospitalized as a result of exposure to the stench.

"I know it was detected in Bayonne," conceded Bayonne Deputy Fire Chief Gregory Rogers. "We had calls all morning; we came up with nothing."

The big stink didn't cause any injuries in New York and was mostly gone by midday, but it put a scare into a city that lives with constant reminders of the Sept. 11 attacks.

On average, the city's 911 system gets about 2,000 calls on Mondays between 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. - the period during which the city lay beneath a mantle of malodorousness. But yesterday, there were 6,500 calls during that same period, NYPD Assistant Chief Michael Collins said.

Mayor Bloomberg said there was no reason to worry.

"It may just be an unpleasant smell," he said, adding that the cause may have been a chemical leak, not a gas leak.

He noted that natural gas has no odor; its distinctively unpleasant smell comes from the chemical methyl mercaptan, which is added to the odorless gas so a leak can be more easily detected.

While Con Ed workers responding to complaints detected a small gas leak at Bleecker St. and Sixth Ave., "the concentrations of the gas aren't strong enough to be harmful," Bloomberg said.

Also, a federal Homeland Security Department spokesman said "there is no indication at this time of a terrorism connection."

Still, the scare left 24-year-old Marcia Mendez jittery and reluctant to leave her Chelsea apartment. "These days you never know what's going on, or how serious it could be," she said.

Low clouds covered the city on a gray and drizzly morning when New Yorkers noticed a foul stench wafting through town. The first call to 311 came at 8:21 a.m. from Staten Island, Collins said.

While Con Ed crews fanned out to check gas lines, the NYPD dispatched counterterrorism cops to check out all possible leads - and even stopped a petroleum barge floating down the East River.

Other officers armed with monitors were sent out to take air samples from Battery Park north to midtown. All came out negative for toxins.

Meanwhile, PATH trains between Manhattan and Jersey City were stopped briefly starting about 9:52 a.m., and the 23rd St. subway station on the F line was shut down for about 40 minutes.

Outside Public School 11 on W. 21st St., one of the four schools in the affected area that was evacuated, worried parents collected their children.

"I heard it was real bad down here and I wanted to pick her up," said Edib Mansour, as he claimed his seventh-grade daughter, Chloe. "The smell was really strong on the train. They even made me feel dizzy and nauseous."

Danielle Alves, 41, raced down from the Bronx to fetch her 12-year-old daughter, Brianna.

"I heard the PATH trains were closed and was worried they might close other trains," she said. "After 9/11, I'm not taking any chances."

But when Alves got there, she found Brianna and the rest of her sixth-grade class still inside the school.

"I smelled gas in my math class, but they didn't evacuate the fifth floor," Brianna said.

New York is no stranger to strange smells. Last summer, five people on Staten Island were hospitalized for nausea and headaches after a mysterious odor wafted through the borough.

A year earlier, a smell that many likened to maple syrup confounded Manhattanites.

In both cases, the sources of the stench were never discovered.

With Austin Fenner, Noah Fowle, Tamer El-Ghobashy and Joe Mahoney

This from the Chicago Tribue:
Downtown Austin shut after 63 birds die off

Associated Press
Published January 9, 2007

AUSTIN, Texas -- Police shut down 10 blocks in downtown Austin for several hours Monday after 63 birds were found dead in the street, but officials said preliminary tests found no threat to people.

Workers in yellow hazardous-materials suits tested for contaminants in a cordoned-off section near the state Capitol and the governor's mansion before authorities finally gave the all-clear in the afternoon.

Although officials could not immediately determine whether poison or something else killed the birds, "there's no threat to humans at this point," said Assistant City Manager Michael McDonald.

The dead grackles, sparrows and pigeons will be tested.

Grackles are crowlike birds regarded as major pests in Texas, with Austin sidewalks sometimes covered in their droppings.

The dead birds were found overnight along Congress Avenue, a major downtown thoroughfare. Police closed the route through downtown and two side streets, and a staging area was set up near the Capitol, with dozens of firetrucks, police cars and ambulances.

The Capitol opened on schedule, however, and the governor was not asked to leave the mansion.

Dr. Adolfo Valadez, medical director for the Austin and Travis County Health and Human Services Division, said officials do not believe bird flu is involved.

Friday, January 05, 2007

True Heroes: Julio Gonzalez and Pedro Nevarez

In these times when our government has abandoned their moral authority, and the ruling parties have turned us against each other. These times when so-called conservatives blame intellectuals, and religion blames science, and the rich blame the poor for all that ails the planet, we must turn to each other for inspiration.

America has a rich history of ordinary citizens doing extraordinary things.

Two days after Wesley Autrey saved a man in the New York City subway, Julio Gonzalez and Pedro Nevarez, both New Yorkers, saved a three-year old from falling to his death.

The boy was falling from the third-floor and the men caught him.

This was not a miracle! This was two brave men reaching-out to save the life of another.

Julio Gonzalez and Pedro Nevarez saved a stranger's life.

Julio Gonzalez and Pedro Nevarez are what make New Yorkers great.

Julio Gonzalez and Pedro Nevarez deserve a medal and a new home and a trip around the world and a gazillion dollars.

These are men who deserves all the best in life!

They are heroes!

Two NYC men save falling toddler
Fri Jan 5, 7:53 AM ET

Two passers-by rescued a toddler who fell four stories, scrambling to catch him as he tumbled from a fire escape, police said.

Julio Gonzalez, 43, and Pedro Nevarez, 40, saw 3-year-old Timothy Addo dangling from a Bronx building on Thursday, police said. The boy had crawled out of a window when his baby sitter briefly took her eyes off of him, police said.

"He was hanging on for dear life," Gonzalez said.

Hearing people in the building scream for help as the boy's grip weakened, the men rushed over to position themselves under the fire escape to catch him.

"No one came," Nevarez said. "We knew it was up to us."

The boy tumbled and hit Nevarez in the chest so hard he knocked him off balance, but he bounced into Gonzalez' arms.

Timothy was treated at the hospital for a cut on his forehead.

"He's fine. He's happy. He's smiling," said his mother, 26-year-old Katrina Cosme, who was working at the time of the accident.

Police talked to the baby sitter, and an investigation was continuing Friday, Detective John Sweeney said.

The crucial catch came two days after a bystander threw himself onto a Manhattan subway track to save a man who had fallen, and a day after three police officers delivered a baby on a Brooklyn subway platform.

"This is the week of heroes in New York," Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said.

Now is the time for all Americans to return to the harmony that was sought by all of us in the seventies. When we accepted the civil rights of others and reached for more ways to make the world more equitable.

We must return to the days before the televangelists turned us against each other.

We must return to the days of economic justice, and encourage opportunity.

The men who have recently become heroes in New York City are all regular guys, just like you and me. They are changing the world. We need to remember that a noble goal is the preservation of our society for all people.

Thank God for heroes!

John Lennon - Yer Blues Video

Is That Keef? Yes it is! And Eric Clapton and Mitch Mitchell joining John Lennon in a performance of "Yer Blues":

If you can't see it on this page, go here.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

A True Hero: Wesley Autrey

Another New York hero!

In New York City, everybody is a star. Rock stars and movie stars like New York City because they can walk down the street and blend in; because in New York City, everybody is a star. If New Yorkers see a star in the coffee shop, they ignore them. Stars have to live somewhere and many of the interesting stars keep homes in New York City. If you live in New York City, you see them. No big deal.

New York City also has its heroes. New York City has a lot of heroes. Some are more special than others.

Wesley Autrey was standing on a subway platform when a young man fell ill and tumbled onto the tracks below. Autrey jumped into the tracks to help, and then noticed a train approaching the station.

He had to think quickly.

He threw the ill stranger into the drainage trough that runs between the tracks, fell on top of him, and let the train pass over them.

They lived. Wesley Autrey saved a stranger's life.

Wesley Autrey is what makes New Yorkers great.

Wesley Autrey deserves a medal and a new home and a trip around the world and a gazillion dollars.

Here is a man who deserves all the best in life!

He's a hero!

Man who fell on NYC subway tracks saved
By DEEPTI HAJELA, Associated Press Writer
Tue Jan 2, 10:31 PM ET

A quick-thinking commuter saved a teenager who fell on the subway tracks by pushing him down into a trough between the rails, allowing an approaching train to pass right over them, police said.

An 18-year-old man had some kind of medical problem Tuesday and fell onto the tracks, which are a few feet below platform level, police said. Wesley Autrey, of Manhattan, saw him fall, jumped down onto the tracks after him and rolled with him into the rut between the rails as a southbound train was coming in.

Autrey said he initially tried to pull the man up to the platform but had to decide whether he could get him up in time to avoid both of them getting hit.

"I just chose to dive on top of him and pin him down and pin myself down," he said.

The train's operator saw someone on the tracks and put the emergency brakes on. Two cars of the train passed over the men — with about 2 inches to spare, Autrey said — before it came to a stop.

The subway trough, which is used for drainage, is typically about 12 inches deep but can be as shallow as 8 or as deep as 24, a New York City Transit spokesman said.

Neither man was hit by the train, police said, and Autrey, who had his two young daughters traveling with him, refused medical attention. The rescued man, whose name had not been released, was taken to a hospital, where he was in stable condition.

Onlooker Patricia Brown said Autrey, a Vietnam War veteran, "needs to be recognized as a hero." Others cheered him and hugged him outside the train station.

The incident took place around 12:45 p.m. Service on the line, which runs between the southern tip of Manhattan and the Bronx, was suspended for about 45 minutes.

I wrote about another hero, Jose LeGrand. Read about him here.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007


The United States is the only first-world, the one developed nation to use the death penalty.

Our inability to legislate crime properly has burdened the American taxpayer with an enormous tax bill to house our prisoners.

This financial strain on individual citizens, and the ridiculous expense of a privatized penal system, has created a fury against the prison class.

The prison class in the United States is, primarily, under-educated, under-privileged, poverty-stricken, non-white drug users.

The prisons are not full of the people destroying American homes, families, jobs, or the very fabric of decency. No! The prisons are over-flowing with drug addicts.

The generals who ensure that cocaine makes its way across the border while confirming that bananas and rubber is being stopped, are not in prison. Jeffrey Skilling, a man responsible for destroying the lives of millions, is not in prison. Owners of under-maintained mines, where workers suffer and die, are not imprisoned. Congressmen who break every law of ethics, aren't in prison. Some of these powerful men might spend a week, month or year at a federal detention center where they are protected by guards; but none of them are sent to hell-holes like Ossining, Cedar Junction, Starke, Rahway, San Quentin, or any of the thousands of state prisons funded by taxpayers. Places where brutal rape, assault and battery, extortion, and enslavement are ignored.

No, rich white guys who destroy America are never sent anywhere they might get hurt. In fact, most of them are free to continue running their business and develop their career while imprisoned.

A single mother of two who caries an ounce of cocaine from Jersey to Harlem, in hopes of earning an extra seventy-five bucks to maintain her household is serving life in one of these joints! A guy who robs an entire community of its pension money is slapped on the wrist.

America's sense of justice is so out-of-whack that we are totally unqualified to work for justice offshore. We actually are not only unqualified, we are unable to do it. Our justice policies and our foreign policies are so draconian and immoral that even when we want to help we are doomed to failure. Why? The people to whom we have abdicated our government since 1980 are interested only in using government policy for personal profiteering. Reagan, Bush I, Clinton, and Bush II have now so deeply embedded a liberalized economy that we can't even have a conversation in the media about the ideas behind a liberalized economy and its impact on our moral fabric, lest we be called names.

We cannot get involved in a war without a profit motive, which makes it impossible for us to help those who most need our military intervention. Our only successful military actions of the last 25 years have been in conjunction with other nations under the auspices of the United Nations. Any other actions we have taken have been bared naked as immoral aggression against people unable to defend themselves against us: Panama, Grenada, Iraq. All unmitigated foolishness rooted in a need to control the flow of resources that are not rightfully ours.

When will the American people begin to speak-up about the disaster our nation has become?

Let's hope the election of a Democratic congress is the beginning of Americans really wanting change.

Let's see if Americans will vote third-party in two years when they realize that the Dems are no more capable of helping than the GOP.

Perhaps they will.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

A Letter to Senator Schumer: End the War!

On January 1, 2007, I learned that the three thousandth American was killed in the War against Iraq. I wrote to my senior senator, Chuck Schumer, to ask when he would start working to end the war.

(My junior senator is the slightly more useless Hillary Clinton, and there is no point in writing to her.)

The citizens of the United States have spoken loud and clear that they are done with war-mongering. The mid-term elections made it clear that a plurality are done with the war. It is up to the Democrats to end the war, now.

The Democrats, in all their divine uselessness, will take no action to end the war. They are too busy considering future elections to take any action that might be helpful to anyone today.

The Democrats should be stopping government until the war is done. Every bill should have an amendment that requires total withdrawal of all troops. No new law should be passed until all our soldiers are out of Iraq. Period.

Nothing. No budget. No gay marriage. No amendments to oppose gay marriage. No laws repealing Roe v. Wade. Nothing! Every time a bill comes up, a Democrat should insist that an anti-war amendment be attached to it and when it passes, all soldiers should be withdrawn from Iraq, now.

If the Democrats really wanted peace, they would work for it.

I ask you to challenge all elected Democrats and insist they withdraw the troops now.

Dear Senator Schumer:

Happy New Year!

Yes, a new year has begun. The end of 2006 brought us a potentially complete Democratic majority in the legislature. The Senate majority is threatened, but that does not discount the importance of the American people summarily dismissing the purveyors of war-mongering in the GOP.

Sadly, the voters have not yet dismissed the war-mongers in the Democratic Party. As a life-long Democrat, that is my next order of business.

It is January 1, 2007. You have done nothing, and you have said nothing about withdrawing our troops from Iraq.

Now is the time, Senator!

Today the 3,000th American death was announced.

Can you please reply to me and let me know what number of Americans must die in Iraq before my senior senator will take a stance against the war and will commit his resources to ending this disaster?

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Best regards,
[Dick Mac]
Brooklyn, NY

How man Americans will have to die before guys like Schumer actually do something? Anything! You can write to Senator Schumer, too! Let's all do it!

I then received this:

Subject: Thanks
To: dickmac
Date: Mon, 1 Jan 2007 10:35:41 -0500

Thank you for your e-mail. Each and every piece of correspondence I receive is important because it allows me to better understand the New Yorkers I serve in the United States Senate.
      As you can imagine, my office receives a great number of messages every day regarding a variety of issues – this is particularly true of e-mails. It makes me proud to know that my constituents take an active role in our government by corresponding with me, and I look forward to responding to your concerns in greater detail. In the meantime, I just wanted to let you know that your e-mail has been received, and to ask for your patience until I send you a more detailed response.
      Again, thank you for writing. Please feel free to visit my website to follow my work in the Senate and to learn more about the services my office can provide to you.
     Warmest regards

Please note, that like the senator's position on the war, this email is almost unreadable!

Monday, January 01, 2007

Should auld acquaintance be forgot . . . (2006)

As I learned this year, there are a lot of people who died. In fact, the estimate is 55,490,538. That's a lot of people!

Some of those people were better-known than others.

Here is a list of famous people who died in 2006, courtesy of

Saddam Hussein, former Iraqi dictator, 69
Gerald R. Ford, former President of the United States,93
Frank Stanton, television pioneer, 98
Carl Blaze, DJ, 30
Dennis Linde, songwriter, 63
James Brown, musician, 73
Denis Payton, musician, 63
Mike Evans, actor, 57
Joe Barbera, animator, 95
Chris Hayward, cartoon and TV writer, 81
Georgia Gibbs, singer, 87
Martin Nodell, Creator of Green Lantern, 91
Van Smith, costume designer, 61
Peter Boyle, actor, 71
Elizabeth "Lizzie" Bolden, world's oldest person, 116
Augusto Pinochet, Former Chilean dictator, 91
Jose Uribe, athlete, 47
Dirk Dirksen, 'godfather' of punk rock scene, 69
Tim Rooney, Actor, 59
Jeane Kirkpatrick, ex-ambassador, 80
Dave Cockrum, Comic Book Artist, 63
William Diehl, author, 81
Betty Comden, songwriter and actress, 89
John Allan Cameron, musician, 67
Gerald M. Boyd, former New York Times managing editor, 56
Pat Dobson, baseball player, 64
Anita O'Day, jazz singer, 87
Philippe Noiret, French film star, 76
Robert Altman, film director, 81
William Styron, author, 81
Ernestine Gilbreth Carey, author, 98
Ruth Brown, R&B singer, 78
Bo Schembechler, Michigan coaching legend, 77
Milton Friedman, Nobel prize-winning economist, 94
Belinda Emmett, actress, 32
Jack Williamson, writer, 98
Gerald Levert, singer, 40
Ed Bradley, journalist, 65
Jack Palance, actor, 87
Sven Nykvist, filmmaker, 83
Ann Richards, former Texas Governor, 73
Steve Irwin, Naturalist and TV personality, 44
Robert K. Hoffman, National Lampoon co-founder, 59
James Van Allen, space pioneer, 91
Susan Butcher, Iditarod champion, 51
Esther Snyder, In-N-Out Burger Founder, 86
Mike Douglas, talk show host, 81
Bob Thaves, comic strip author, 81
Bruno Kirby, character actor, 57
Gerard Oury, director, 87
Howard "Howdy" Groskloss, athlete, 100
Kurt Kreuger, actor, 89
Jack Warden, actor, 85
June Allyson, actress, 88
Barnard Hughes, actor, 90
Syd Barrett, "Pink Floyd" founder, 60
Kasey Rogers, actress, 80
Red Buttons, comedian, 87
Sam Myers, musician, 70
Mickey Spillane, writer, 88
Win Rockefeller, Arkansas Lt. Gov., 57
Keith LeClair, baseball coach, 40
Fabian Bielinsky, director, 47
Aaron Spelling, Television producer, 83
Billy Preston, musician/'Fifth Beatle', 59
Robert Sterling, TV 'Topper' actor, 88
Desmond Dekker, Reggae star, 64
Henry Bumstead, movie set designer, 91
Steve Mizerak, billiards legend, 61
Ian Copeland, Founder of Frontier Booking International, 57
Billy Walker, Grand Ole Opry singer, 77
Cy Feuer, producer, 95
Jorge Porcel, comedian and actor, 69
Joyce B. Brand, Commercial Artist, 88
Stanley Kunitz, Poet Laureate, 100
Lew Anderson, actor, 84
Grant McLennan, musician, 48
Scott Crossfield, first man to fly at twice the speed of sound, 84
Tele Santana, World Cup Soccer Coach, 74
Amanda Duff Dunne, actress, 92
Phil Walden, rock music mogul, 66
Alida Valli, actress, 84
Martin Gilks , drummer / band manager, 41
Gene Pitney, singer, 65
Eugene Landy, celebrity therapist, 71
Richard Fleischer, filmmaker, 89
Caspar Weinberger, former U.S defense secretary, 88
Nikki Sudden, musician, 49
Sarah Caldwell, 'First lady of opera', 82
Buck Owens, 'Hee Haw' country star, 76
Jimmy Johnstone, athlete, 61
Maureen Stapleton, actress, 80
John Profumo, British politician, 91
Slobodan Milosevic, Former Yugoslav President, 64
Ivor Cutler, Cult poet and musician, 83
Gordon Parks, photographer/director, 93
Dana Reeve, spinal cord research advocate, 44
Kirby Puckett, Baseball Hall of Famer, 44
Jack Wild, Actor, 53
Octavia E. Butler, sci-fi author, 58
Linda Smith , comedian, 48
Dennis Weaver, actor, 81
Robert L Scott, WWII fighter pilot / Brig. General / author, 97
Darren McGavin, actor, 83
Don Knotts, actor, 81
Lou Gish, actress, 35
Anthony Burger, pianist, 44
William Cowsill, singer, 58
Richard Bright, character actor, 68
Curt Gowdy, sports broadcaster, 86
John Belluso, playwright, 36
Pedro Gonzalez Gonzalez, comedic actor, 80
Lynden David Hall, musician, 31
Edna Lewis, "First lady of Southern cooking", 89
Phil Brown, actor, 89
Franklin Cover, actor, 77
Peter Benchley, 'Jaws' author, 65
Betty Friedan, leading feminist, 85
Al Lewis, 'Munsters' actor, 83
Moira Shearer, 'Red Shoes' ballerina, 80
Nam June Paik, video artist, 74
Coretta Scott King, civil rights leader, 78
Wendy Wasserstein, playwright, 55
Arthur Bloom, television news director, 63
Fayard Nicholas, dancer, 91
Chris Penn, actor, 40
Bob Weinstock, jazz entrepreneur, 77
Anthony Franciosa, actor, 77
Wilson Pickett, musician, 64
Birgit Nilsson, opera singer, 87
Shelley Winters, actress, 85
John Sinibaldi, athlete (cycling), 92
Jack Snow, athlete and broadcaster, 62
Comandante Ramona, Female Mexican Zapatista Leader, 47
Yao Wenyuan, "Gang of Four" member, 74
Irving Layton, poet, 93
Heinrich Harrer, Austrian mountaineer, 93
Emmett Leith, holography pioneer, 78
Owain "Oz" Wright, musician and comedian, 35
Bud Blake, 'Tiger' cartoonist, 87
Barry Cowsill, musician, 51
Lou Rawls, soul singer, 72
Richard De Angelis, actor, 73
Patrick Cranshaw, character actor, 86

May they rest in peace!