Wednesday, February 28, 2007

The 79th Academy Awards - Politics

"Al Gore has won twice in America and gotten nothing," said Jimmy Kimmell on his show following the Academy Awards. An excellent observation.

I believe the nods to Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth" are a statement by the members' of the Academy that Hollywood's move to the right over the past twenty-five years is no longer acceptable.

Although the right-wing says that global warming is not an issue of left vs right, it is clear that policies of the right-wing have had a devastating impact on the world. It is the job of everyone on the left to ignore the right-wing's apologism, and push, push, push for changes.

Global warming IS a political issue and it is the job of the left-wing to force the issue.

If we let the right-wing say it is not a left vs right issue, then nothing will be done. The left must continue to force the issue. It is a life-long trick of the right-wing to say "this isn't a battle that needs to be fought" and then they promptly sweep everything under the carpet. Ignore the right-wing.

Hollywood can force the right-wing to take action.

I am proud of Al Gore, Melissa Etheridge, and all who made "An Inconvenient Truth."

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

The 79th Academy Awards - Style

Very Stylish:

Jennifer Lopez

Reese Witherspoon

Penelope Cruz

Sherry Lansing

Ellen Degeneres

Helen Mirren

Leonardo Dicaprio

Not Very Stylish:

Cameron Diaz

Jodie Foster

Celine Dion

Gwenyth Paltrow

See tons of pix at Yahoo!

Monday, February 26, 2007

The 79th Academy Awards

I want to have a lot to say about The Academy Awards, but the impression I am left with goes little further than: "Wow! That's a lot of commercials." Can't anything be broadcast anymore without an overwhelming inundation of advertisements. Television is so dull!

Because I dislike attending the cinema, I have only seen two of the films that won any awards. I look forward to seeing others.

The Al Gore-starring and -inspired "An Inconvenient Truth" received a lot of attention, and that is a good thing.

The list of last night's award presentations, from

Performance by an actor in a leading role
Forest Whitaker in "The Last King of Scotland" (Fox Searchlight)

Performance by an actor in a supporting role
Alan Arkin in "Little Miss Sunshine" (Fox Searchlight)

Performance by an actress in a leading role
Helen Mirren in "The Queen" (Miramax, Pathé and Granada)

Performance by an actress in a supporting role
Jennifer Hudson in "Dreamgirls" (DreamWorks and Paramount)

Best animated feature film of the year
"Happy Feet" (Warner Bros.) George Miller

Achievement in art direction
"Pan’s Labyrinth" (Picturehouse)
Art Direction: Eugenio Caballero
Set Decoration: Pilar Revuelta

Achievement in cinematography
"Pan’s Labyrinth" (Picturehouse) Guillermo Navarro

Achievement in costume design
"Marie Antoinette" (Sony Pictures Releasing) Milena Canonero

Achievement in directing
"The Departed" Martin Scorsese (Warner Bros.)

Best documentary feature
"An Inconvenient Truth" (Paramount Classics and Participant Productions)
A Lawrence Bender/Laurie David Production
Davis Guggenheim

Best documentary short subject
"The Blood of Yingzhou District"
A Thomas Lennon Films Production
Ruby Yang and Thomas Lennon

Achievement in film editing
"The Departed" (Warner Bros.)
Thelma Schoonmaker

Best foreign language film of the year
"The Lives of Others" A Wiedemann & Berg Production

Achievement in makeup
"Pan’s Labyrinth" (Picturehouse) David Martí and Montse Ribé

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original score)
"Babel" (Paramount and Paramount Vantage) Gustavo Santaolalla

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original song)
"I Need to Wake Up" from "An Inconvenient Truth"
(Paramount Classics and Participant Productions)
Music and Lyric by Melissa Etheridge

Best motion picture of the year
"The Departed" (Warner Bros.)
A Warner Bros. Pictures Production
Graham King, Producer

Best animated short film
"The Danish Poet" (National Film Board of Canada)
A Mikrofilm and National Film Board of Canada Production
Torill Kove

Best live action short film
"West Bank Story"
An Ari Sandel, Pascal Vaguelsy, Amy Kim, Ravi Malhotra and Ashley Jordan Production
Ari Sandel

Achievement in sound editing
"Letters from Iwo Jima" (Warner Bros.)
Alan Robert Murray and Bub Asman

Achievement in sound mixing
"Dreamgirls" (DreamWorks and Paramount)
Michael Minkler, Bob Beemer and Willie Burton

Achievement in visual effects
"Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest" (Buena Vista)
John Knoll, Hal Hickel, Charles Gibson and Allen Hall

Adapted screenplay
"The Departed" (Warner Bros.)
Screenplay by William Monahan

Original screenplay
"Little Miss Sunshine" (Fox Searchlight)
Written by Michael Arndt

Read The Rabbi Report. I do. He's the most knowledgeable film-oriented friend I have.

On another note: my Arsenal lost the Carling Cup final to Chelsea. Congratulations to my friends who support the Blue Russians.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Dennis Johnson

I've spent most of my life as a baseball fan, but have always been a fan of most spectator sports. My preferences have changed over the years, but I still enjoy watching sports, live or televised.

I was lucky to grow-up in Boston. The Red Sox broke my heart perpetually and the Patriots were good only for hosting teams from out of town, until they abandoned Boston and then weren't really good for much of anything. But, we had Bill Russell and the Boston Celtics who remain the greatest basketball dynasty in history, the Bobby Orr-led Bruins who dominated the NHL, then the Larry Bird-era Celtics who were the last truly great basketball team (OK - the Magic Johnson-led Lakers were fantastic, too!)

The NBA quickly went downhill when Michael Jordan began his cheating ways and the league, instead of enforcing its own rules of play, called his cheating an innovation. We are left with a league of ungraceful, ungrateful criminal athletes, playing a game that is more circus-like than athletic. I can't even watch the NBA anymore -- it's boring!

As a young man following the Celtics, I was lucky to have a friend with season tickets! The seats were high in the Boston Garden, but you could still smoke and drink in the place and the atmosphere was electric! Seeing the Celtics play in the Boston Garden was an honor that few enjoyed. I was lucky!

The Celtics were loaded with almost as much pure talent as the Los Angeles Lakers, and were driven hugely by heart and soul. Larry Bird, Robert Parish, Cedric Maxwell, Gerald Henderson, and Dennis Johnson, were men with a mission. Part of that mission seemed a mission to please their supporters and deliver the goods. Along with Danny Ainge, Kevin McHale, M.L. Carr, coach K.C. Jones and others, the 1980s Celtics delivered over and over again.

In 1984, Dennis Johnson joined the Celtics. He was a great addition. At first, the departure of Tiny Archibald overshadowed the good fortune of Johnson's arrival. DJ's enthusiasm and hard work were infectious; he had an immediate impact on the club. Often compared to Jo Jo White, of the earlier Celtics dynasty, he eventually climbed into the pantheonic seats Boston reserved for Celtics players.

Playing in 80 games while helping lead the Celtics to a championship in 1984, DJ averaged 34 minutes per game, with 16 points and five assists. An excellent first season with the club. (See

The news stories can tell you about his troubled Compton youth, and single year at Pepperdine, and his less-than-stellar attitude as a young player in Seattle. I want to tell you how much fun it was to watch this freckle-faced guy play the last seven years of his career as a Celtic. He was a terrific player, with a great attitude. He seamed to laugh more than complain, he seemed to always be hustling. He was intense and athletic. He was a joy to watch.

He was most recently the coach of the Austin Toros, an NBA developmental team.

DJ died yesterday.

He collapsed outside the Austin Convention Center after a practice and died of cardiac arrest.

He was 52 years old.

Too young.

Farewell, DJ! May you rest in peace.
Former NBA star Dennis Johnson dies
By JIM VERTUNO, AP Sports Writer
February 23, 2007

Dennis Johnson was a favorite in Boston where he played on two NBA championship teams. He was respected in Texas as coach and mentor to players aspiring to reach the levels he did. Former teammates and opponents remembered him as someone who gave everything to the game he loved. Johnson died Thursday, collapsing after his developmental team's practice. He was 52.

"Dennis was just an awesome player," his former Celtics coach K.C. Jones said. "He played hard and he took the big shots."

Johnson, coach of the Austin Toros, was talking with a team staff member when he collapsed outside the Austin Convention Center. He was unconscious and in cardiac arrest when paramedics arrived, said Warren Hassinger, spokesman for Austin-Travis County Emergency Medical Services.

Paramedics tried to resuscitate him for 23 minutes before he was taken to a hospital and pronounced dead, Hassinger added. Mayra Freeman, a spokeswoman for the medical examiner's office, said there will be an autopsy.

The Toros postponed home games Friday and Saturday nights, the NBA Development League said.

A five-time All-Star and one of the NBA's top defensive guards, Johnson was part of the last Boston dynasty. He spent 14 seasons in the league and retired after the 1989-90 season. He played on title teams with the Celtics in 1984 and 1986 and with the Seattle SuperSonics in 1979, when he was the NBA finals MVP.

"Dennis was a great player, one of the best teammates I ever had, and a wonderful person," said former Celtics teammate Larry Bird, now president of the Indiana Pacers. "My thoughts and condolences are with his family at this difficult time."

Toros owner David Khan said Johnson was a great role model for young players.

"He instantly commanded respect based on his past accomplishments in the NBA, but earned far more from us with his unpretentious demeanor, his dedication to the job, and his community service in Austin," Khan said. "He was a delight to be around, with a one-of-a-kind laugh that, like him, deserves a spot in the Hall of Fame."

Toros player Anthony Fuqua said teammate Jamar Smith played Johnson in a game of one-on-one after practice and Johnson appeared normal.

"He was being Coach Johnson out there talking trash, playing basketball, dribbling around and shooting," Fuqua said. "Everything seemed fine. We're all in shock."

Toros spokeswoman Perri Travillion said she and Johnson were outside on the sidewalk when he collapsed. He was joking about getting a parking ticket.

"We were laughing," she said. "He just collapsed."

Travillion said she called 911 and that Johnson never regained consciousness. She said Johnson did not appear to have overexerted himself at practice and didn't complain of any discomfort before he collapsed.

Johnson and Bird teamed up for one of the most memorable plays in Celtics history.

During the final seconds of the fifth game of the 1987 Eastern Conference finals against Detroit, Bird stole Isiah Thomas' inbounds pass under Boston's basket and fed Johnson, who drove in for the winning layup. Boston won the series in seven games but lost to the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA finals.

Bill Laimbeer, the center on that Pistons team, remembered Johnson as a "great player on a great ballclub."

"He played with passion and grit," Laimbeer said. "It was fun to play games like that. You always enjoyed it. It made for not only great games, but great entertainment."

In the 1984 finals, Johnson guarded Magic Johnson effectively in the last four games. In 1985, he hit a last-second jumper against Los Angeles that won the fourth game. In 1986, he was part of a team that featured four Hall of Famers — Bird, Kevin McHale, Robert Parish and Bill Walton.

"He was truly one of the good guys to play in the NBA, and he was a great teammate who was fun to be around," McHale said.

Johnson had a reputation for delivering in big games.

"I hate to lose," he once said. "I accept it when it comes, but I still hate it. That's the way I am."

He averaged 14.1 points and 5.0 assists for his career. When he retired, he was the 11th player in NBA history to total 15,000 points and 5,000 assists. Johnson made one all-NBA first team and one second team. Six times he made the all-defensive first team, including five consecutive seasons (1979-83).

"As far as a person, he was a great competitor," Sonics teammate Jack Sikma said. "He wouldn't let things pass. He would cause some friction if he felt strongly about something, but with our team that was a good thing."

Former Boston teammate Danny Ainge, now the Celtics' executive director of basketball operations, called Johnson "one of the most underrated players in the history of the game, in my opinion, and one of the greatest Celtic acquisitions of all time."

He said Johnson recently told him how much fun he was having coaching the Toros.

"D.J. was a free spirit and a fun personality who loved to laugh and play the game," Ainge said.

Johnson also was the Los Angeles Clippers' interim coach at the end of the 2002-03 season, going 8-16.

Johnson was born Sept. 18, 1954, in Compton, Calif. He played at Pepperdine and was drafted by Seattle in 1976. Johnson was traded to Phoenix in 1980 and Boston in 1983.

He is survived by his wife, Donna, sons Dwayne and Daniel, and a daughter, Denise.

Copyright © 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. The information contained in the AP News report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without the prior written authority of The Associated Press.

Copyright © 2007 Yahoo! Inc. All rights reserved.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Walk On The Wild Side - Lou Reed

A rock anthem from Lou's Transformer album:

Or view it at

Walk On The Wild Side

Holly came from Miami F-L-A
Hitch-hiked her way across the USA.
Plucked her eyebrows on the way
Shaved her legs and then he was a she
She said, hey babe, take a walk on the wild side,
Said, hey honey, take a walk on the wild side.

Candy came from out on the Island,
In the backroom she was everybody's darling,
But she never lost her head
Even when she was giving head
She said, hey baby, take a walk on the wild side
She said, hey babe, take a walk on the wild side

And the coloured girls go, doo doo doo, doo . . .

Little Joe never once gave it away
Everybody had to pay and pay
A hustle here and a hustle there
New York City is the place where they say:
Hey babe, take a walk on the wild side
I said hey Joe, take a walk on the wild side

Sugar Plum Fairy came and hit the street
Lookin' for soul food and a place to eat
Went to the Apollo
You should have seen him go-go-go
They said, hey Sugar, take a walk on the wild side
I said, hey honey, take a walk on the wild side

Jackie is just speeding away
Thought she was James Dean for a day
Then I guess she had to crash
Valium would have helped that bash
She said, hey babe, take a walk on the wild side
I said, hey honey, take a walk on the wild side

And the coloured girls say doo doo doo, doo . . .

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

George Bush Isn't Running For President!

Sometimes it's a remark of the obvious that is the most powerful statement a person can make:

Click image to enlarge; or right-click and save image to your local drive for a larger, more legible version.
Click image to enlarge; or right-click and save image to your local drive for a larger, more legible version.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Tate Modern

The Tate Museum, in London outgrew its space along the Thames many years ago. The museum acquired an abandoned power plant in Southwark, on the South Bank of the Thames, and began a renovation that would more than double the square-footage of its modest plant at Millbank.

When the new space was complete, the museum christened it Tate Modern, and moved its entire, impressive modern art collection there. The space in Millbank was renamed Tate Britain, renovated to maximize the gallery space and houses the museum's collection of British art dating back to 1500.

The redesigned/renamed Tate Britain galleries in Millbank are a huge success.

On the other hand, the Tate Modern is a huge waste of space. The small, but well-organized galleries are crammed against one wall of the massive structure, while the majority of the interior is used for a multi-story atrium that houses sculpture that belongs outdoors.

The tiny Tate Britain boasts nearly the same square footage of gallery space as does the massive Tate Modern.

For me, a visit to the Tate Modern is a disappointment. A fantastic collection crammed into unnecessarily modest galleries, while a huge empty hole assumes the majority of the building's square footage.

My criticisms aside, the Tate Modern's cavernous hole has become the center of an unexpected story: death.

A young lawyer fell to his death while attending a reception.

Lawyer falls to his death at Tate Modern
By Paul Stokes
1:44am GMT 15/02/2007

A promising young corporate lawyer plunged to his death from an art gallery stairwell on Friday after he and colleagues raised concerns over heavy workloads and long hours.

Matthew Courtney on holiday in the Gambia before Christmas

Matthew Courtney, 27, the son of a World Cup soccer referee, had gone to London's Tate Modern alone where he fell from between the sixth and seven floors. He died instantly from head and chest injuries.

Oxford-educated Mr Courtney qualified as a £55,000 a year associate with Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer in August after two years training with the company in Fleet Street.

He was one of only 100 trainee lawyers a year selected by the company and had been appointed an associate specialising in intellectual property rights.

On occasions he may have been called on to work extra hours when transactions were closing on deals worth billions of pounds.

After up to eight years working as an associate the reward for success at this level could be a partnership and earnings of up to £1 milion a year.

Detectives have described his death, just before midnight on Friday, as "unexplained but not suspicious" and examination of security camera footage has been inconclusive.

His father George Courtney, 65, who refereed at the World Cups in 1986 and 1990, said his only son's workload had increased in the fortnight before his death.

Mr Courtney senior said: "There might have been an issue with his workload; they had recently taken some of that workload off him. Freshfields were very happy with the quality of his work.

"He had a good crowd of people around him at Freshfield and enjoyed his time there. He was like all of the associates there; he worked fairly long hours, but there was a very good social side.

Matthew set very high goals for himself and achieved great goals. He was a credit to himself and his family."

He and his wife Margaret have been visited by his manager and colleagues at their £350,000 detached home in Spennymoor, Durham.

The couple said today that their son had given no indication that he planned to commit suicide. He appeared in a clear and normal state of mind when they spoke to him before his death.

Mr Courtney, a retired head teacher, said: "Margaret and I spoke to him the night before he died and he was fine. If I had known that Matthew had a problem I would have driven through the night to be with him and bring him home.

Witnesses saw him take a call on his Blackberry mobile phone in a room where a social event was being held on the seventh floor of the Tate.

He was then seen to leave the room and step into a foyer area to escape the noise and died moments later.

Investigators have studied his mobile phone calls and text messages, as well as his work computer and desk, and have found nothing to suggest he planned to kill himself.

"There was nothing to indicate that he was planning to take his own life. We are not saying that he didn't do that because the police haven't been able to say for sure yet, but there was certainly nothing that suggested he would.

"We have been told that the stairwells at the Tate can be a little unsafe because of their design but we simply don't know what happened and we may never know.

"When we last spoke to him it was all just mundane stuff. He wasn't working 16 hours shifts, that's nonsense. He didn't start work until about 9.30am.

"Over the past couple of weeks he may have done more hours because I think a project was being finished. He worked some long hours, but was certainly not working long hours every day."

Mrs Courtney, 59, a headteacher, said: "We have a lot of questions. We don't know how he fell, or if he fell backwards, that kind of thing. The police have been very good and I believe we will have answers.

"Matthew had a great love and enjoyment of life. I will always remember how he jumped up and flung off his baseball cap when he passed his driving test. He had so much enthusiasm and a big presence."

The couple had planned to visit him at the flat in Pimlico, Central London, which he shared with a friend and to meet his girlfriend of four months, who works in marketing. Matthew had also been making plans for a skiing holiday.

Matthew, who lived in Pimlico, central London, attended Durham School before studying law on an open scholarship to Christ Church, Oxford followed by a year spent at law school in London.

A spokesman for Freshfields, which has 2,400 lawyers in 28 offices worldwide, said today that the partners and staff were deeply saddened by the tragedy.

He said: "Matt was a terrific person and a very promising lawyer. His death is a shock to us all and he will be sadly missed. Our thoughts are with his family and friends."

The company declined to comment on suggestions that he had been required to work up to 16 hours a day, seven days a week.

Junior associates are able to raise the subject of their work levels at twice weekly reviews and Matthew's were in keeping with his job description.

There were said to be "peaks and troughs" with long hours required when a transaction was closing, but the average for an associate is around 50 hours a week.

Who wants to die for art? (An interlude from Divine!)

Friday, February 16, 2007

The Senator From Minnesota

Since the death of Paul Wellstone, Minnesota has pretty much been represented by idiots. Minnesota is also the state that elected Jesse "The Body" Ventura as Governor. Which is only slightly more insane than all of the United States electing B-Movie actor Ronald Reagan as President. Twice.

Reagan and Ventura, peas in a pod if ever I've seen them, were messengers of God, er . . . messengers of the corporate fundamentalist movement that has destroyed America.

Now, the idiots in Minnesota have a chance to make a difference: elect a comedian/pundit from the slightly left-ish side of the political spectrum. Al Franken has announced his candidacy for the US Senate from the idiot State of Minnesota.

Oddly, this will be the first time two comedians have faced each other in an election . . . wait . . . Norm Coleman isn't a comedian . . . he's a joke. I stand corrected.

Franken refers to himself as a hawk when it comes to the budget. Yawn. Who knew it would be liberals who save the country from fiscal ruin, because the fundamentalists have driven us into the ground!

Be that as it may . . . Al Franken is running for Senate, and this could be a good thing.

Al Franken enters Minnesota Senate race
By PATRICK CONDON, Associated Press Writer
Wed Feb 14, 9:30 PM ET

Al Franken announced Wednesday that he will run for the Senate in 2008, making it clear that the comedian and author of "Rush Limbaugh Is A Big Fat Idiot" wants to be taken seriously as a political figure.

Franken said he would seek the Democratic nomination to challenge Republican incumbent Norm Coleman and immediately acknowledged the doubts voters may have about electing a former "Saturday Night Live" performer.

"Minnesotans have a right to be skeptical about whether I'm ready for this challenge, and to wonder how seriously I would take the responsibility that I'm asking you to give me," Franken said in a video on his Web site.

"I want you to know: Nothing means more to me than making government work better for the working families of this state, and over the next 20 months, I look forward to proving to you that I take these issues seriously," he said.

Franken's announcement came on the final day of his show on the liberal radio network Air America. His decision instantly makes him a serious contender and brings national attention to the race. He said he supports universal health care, greater efforts to find alternative energy sources and stronger congressional oversight of the executive branch.

Franken had been considering a run since 2003. He said several weeks ago that he would leave Air America and privately told prominent Democrats about his plans to seek office.

His name is well-known, and Franken is likely to be well-funded, but he's expected to be challenged by several other Democrats, including wealthy trial attorney Mike Ciresi. Franken said he would abandon his campaign if Democratic activists decide to support another candidate in the primary.

The race will be important to Democratic efforts to retain the slim Senate majority they secured last year.

His candidacy will also test whether Minnesotans are in the mood for another celebrity-turned-politician, after the 1999-2003 governorship of former pro wrestler Jesse Ventura. Ventura's fame and occasionally outrageous behavior regularly brought national attention to the state but wore on the patience of many Minnesotans.

Stephen Hess, a professor of political science at George Washington University, said Franken's bid is serious. "He's not doing this as some folks have done it to give them better gigs on the Borscht circuit."

Coleman is viewed as vulnerable because of a Democratic resurgence in Minnesota and President Bush's unpopularity. But his proven skills as a campaigner and fundraiser make him a formidable opponent.

State GOP Chairman Ron Carey suggested Franken moved back to Minnesota when he smelled opportunity and will have a tough time connecting with voters.

Franken is "going to have to explain to Minnesota how he represents his values when he spent pretty much all of his adult life in New York and Hollywood," Carey said.

Franken, 55, was born in New York City but grew up in the Minneapolis suburb of St. Louis Park. He graduated from Harvard University in 1973, and in 1975 joined the writing staff of "Saturday Night Live" during its first season. He soon began appearing in sketches and remained a fixture on the show well into the 1990s.

In 1996, Franken took his career in a political direction when he wrote "Rush Limbaugh Is A Big Fat Idiot and Other Observations," a broadside against the conservative radio host and other figures on the right. He's since published several other books critical of Republicans.

In his latest book, "The Truth (with jokes)," Franken criticized Coleman for his leadership of the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, saying Coleman had not held a single hearing on Iraq war corruption.

Franken planned to make his first public appearance as a candidate Thursday at a Minneapolis clinic.

On the Net:

Al Franken's Web site:

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Mastectomy Hospital Bill in Congress

If you know anyone who has had a mastectomy, you may know that there is a lot of discomfort and pain afterwards. Insurance companies are trying to make mastectomies an outpatient procedure. Let's give women the chance to recover properly in the hospital for 2 days after surgery.

It takes 2 seconds to do this and is very important . . . please take the time and do it really quick!

Breast Cancer Hospitalization Bill - Important legislation for all women.

Please send this to everyone in your address book. If there was ever a time when our voices and choices should be heard, this is one of those times. If you're receiving this, it's because I think you will take the 30 seconds to go to vote on this issue and send it on to others you know who will do the same.

There 's a bill called the Breast Cancer Patient Protection Act which will require insurance companies to cover a minimum 48-hour hospital stay for patients undergoing a mastectomy. It's about eliminating the "drive-through mastectomy" where women are forced to go home just a few hours after surgery, still groggy from anesthesia and sometimes with drainage tubes still attached.

Lifetime Television has put this bill on their web page with a petition drive to show your support. Last year over half the House signed on.

PLEASE!! Sign the petition by clicking on the web site below. You need not give more than your name and zip code number.

This takes about 2 seconds. PLEASE PASS THIS ON to your friends and family, and on behalf of all women, THANKS.

Thank you to Leslie for sending this along!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Please Risk Your Life For Us, But Don't Age Or Get Sick

George W Bush, who lies through his teeth perpetually and with impunity, constantly talks about the importance of the military and the brave men and women who are attacking Iraq and besmirching America's standing in the world.

Bush acts like he's their friend.

What's the truth?

We are in an unwinnable war and the only hope for an outcome is that we can get our hands on the oil after the chaos ends. There will be no democracy, it is a Muslim Arab nation! They have no interest in democracy!

What's the truth?

George Bush has taken every opportunity to cut the pay and benefits of servicemen and -women.

So, as we are asking more young people to sacrifice their youth and health and lives, we are gutting the nominal health care safety-net available to them.

What a bunch of friggin' idiots we've turned into!

How can Americans be so stupid?

Veterans face consecutive budget cuts
By ANDREW TAYLOR, Associated Press Writer

The Bush administration's budget assumes cuts to funding for veterans' health care two years from now — even as badly wounded troops returning from Iraq could overwhelm the system.

Bush is using the cuts, critics say, to help fulfill his pledge to balance the budget by 2012. But even administration allies say the numbers are not real and are being used to make the overall budget picture look better.

After an increase sought for next year, the Bush budget would turn current trends on their head. Even though the cost of providing medical care to veterans has been growing rapidly — by more than 10 percent in many years — White House budget documents assume consecutive cutbacks in 2009 and 2010 and a freeze thereafter.

The proposed cuts are unrealistic in light of recent VA budget trends — its medical care budget has risen every year for two decades and 83 percent in the six years since Bush took office — sowing suspicion that the White House is simply making them up to make its long-term deficit figures look better.

"Either the administration is willingly proposing massive cuts in VA health care," said Rep. Chet Edwards (news, bio, voting record) of Texas, chairman of the panel overseeing the VA's budget. "Or its promise of a balanced budget by 2012 is based on completely unrealistic assumptions."

A spokesman for Larry Craig (news, bio, voting record), R-Idaho, the top Republican on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, called the White House moves another step in a longtime "budgeting game."

"No one who is knowledgeable about VA budgeting issues anticipates any cuts to VA funding. None. Zero. Zip," said Craig spokesman Jeff Schrade.

Edwards said that a more realistic estimate of veterans costs is $16 billion higher than the Bush estimate for 2012.

In fact, even the White House doesn't seem serious about the numbers. It says the long-term budget numbers don't represent actual administration policies. Similar cuts assumed in earlier budgets have been reversed.

The veterans cuts, said White House budget office spokesman Sean Kevelighan, "don't reflect any policy decisions. We'll revisit them when we do the (future) budgets."

The number of veterans coming into the VA health care system has been rising by about 5 percent a year as the number of people returning from Iraq with illnesses or injuries keep rising. Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans represent almost 5 percent of the VA's patient caseload, and many are returning from battle with grievous injuries requiring costly care, such as traumatic brain injuries.

All told, the VA expects to treat about 5.8 million patients next year, including 263,000 veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan.

The White House budget office, however, assumes that the veterans' medical services budget — up 83 percent since Bush took office and winning a big increase in Bush's proposed 2008 budget — can absorb a 2 percent cut the following year and remain essentially frozen for three years in a row after that.

"It's implausible," Sen. Patty Murray (news, bio, voting record), D-Wash., said of the budget projections.

The White House made virtually identical assumptions last year — a big increase in the first year of the budget and cuts for every year thereafter to veterans medical care. Now, the White House estimate for 2008 is more than $4 billion higher than Bush figured last year.

And the VA has been known to get short-term estimates wrong as well. Two years ago, Congress had to pass an emergency $1.5 billion infusion for veterans health programs for 2005 and added $2.7 billion to Bush's request for 2006. The VA underestimated the number of veterans, including those from Iraq and Afghanistan, who were seeking care, as well as the cost of treatment and long-term care.

The budget for hospital and medical care for veterans is funded for the current year at $35.6 billion, and would rise to $39.6 billion in 2008 under Bush's budget. That's about 9 percent. But the budget faces a cut to $38.8 billion in 2009 and would hover around that level through 2012.

The cuts come even as the number of veterans from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars is expected to increase 26 percent next year.

In Bush's proposal to balance the budget by 2012, he's assuming that spending on domestic agency operating budgets will increase by about 1 percent each year.

Copyright © 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. The information contained in the AP News report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without the prior written authority of The Associated Press.
Copyright © 2007 Yahoo! Inc. All rights reserved.

Reprinted from Yahoo! without permission.

When will Americans wake-up and smell the coffee?

Sunday, February 11, 2007

2007 Record of the Year and Album of the Year

When the Dixie Chicks spoke-out about the hideousness and embarrassment of the George W Bush presidency, they were villified. Their careers suffered, their sales plummetted, and they lost a lot of fans. Or did they?

They began a rebuilding effort immediately, and found that not all their fans abandoned them, and that the New York Post, News Corporation, and Fox News don't buy many records anyhow.

In 2006, they released the album Taking The Long Way which includes the great song "Not Ready To Make Nice"

Not Ready To Make Nice won Record of the Year and Taking The Long Way won Album of the Year at The 49th Grammy Awards last night. Good for the music industry. The Dixie Chicks have stood-up to bullying and attempted black-listing and come out the other side stronger and better than ever (well, except for those dresses they wore during the performance of their song). It was wise for the industry to acknowledge them with this award.

The best performance during the broadcast was the Red Hot Chili Peppers whose stage presence included a spray-painted banner proclaiming: "Love To Ornette Coleman"!

The Police reunion was as exciting as it could possibly have been. Sting and the boys sang "Roxanne." Yawn.

Lifetime achievement awards to Ornette Coleman (who was disgracefully required to present an award to the tedious Carrie Underwood), Joan Baez, Booker T. & The MG's, The Doors, The Grateful Dead, Maria Callas, and Bob Willis were well-deserved and rather exciting to hear about and watch.

I would tell you to go to the web site, but it is a hideously-designed, impoosible-to-navigate embarrassment to web development.

You can find a list of winners by searching Google!

Friday, February 09, 2007

Zizou! Zizou! Zizou!

I had always hoped that David Beckham would play soccer for Red Bull New York, but he signed with L.A. Past rumor had Brazilian Ronaldo playing in New York -- logic was that he loved New York and would wrap-up his career here. He signed with AC Milan.


Word now is that Zinedine Zidane will come to New York and finish his career toro rojo!

The rumor is courtesy of Fox Soccer Channel:

Is Zizou Bullish on the Big Apple?
Jamie Trecker / Fox Soccer Channel

Former France national team star and Real Madrid "galactico" Zinedine Zidane is in New York this week fueling speculation that he is discussing an offer which would bring him to MLS' New York Red Bulls.

French superstar Zinedine Zidane enjoys the New York scene at a Knicks game in Madison Square Garden with director Spike Lee. (Nathaniel S. Butler / Getty Images)
Zidane attended a New York Knicks game at Madison Square Garden and was spotted Wednesday evening at fashion week event promoting adidas' Y3 fashion line.

MLS has long coveted the midfielder, rightly hailed as one of the best players of all-time. The linchpin of the "golden generation" of French talent, Zidane gained infamy this year after being ejected for headbutting Italian defender Marco Materazzi in the World Cup final in Berlin. France went on to lose the game on penalty kicks. . . . Read more . . .

Here's to hoping this rumor is true!

Will somebody please buy me a season ticket?

Tres bien.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

The Basketball Player And The Reverend

On the heels of yesterday's article about an astronaut's love life and mental health being front page news (see Why Is This Such Big News), another piece of "news" hit the press. The following tidbit appeared in the New York Times (All The News That Fits).

February 6, 2007
Haggard Pronounced 'Completely Heterosexual'
Filed at 9:59 a.m. ET

DENVER (AP) -- One of four ministers who oversaw three weeks of intensive counseling for the Rev. Ted Haggard said the disgraced minister emerged convinced that he is "completely heterosexual."

Haggard also said his sexual contact with men was limited to the former male prostitute who came forward with sexual allegations, the Rev. Tim Ralph of Larkspur told The Denver Post for a story in Tuesday's edition.

"He is completely heterosexual," Ralph said. "That is something he discovered. It was the acting-out situations where things took place. It wasn't a constant thing."

Ralph said the board spoke with people close to Haggard while investigating his claim that his only extramarital sexual contact happened with Mike Jones. The board found no evidence to the contrary.

"If we're going to be proved wrong, somebody else is going to come forward, and that usually happens really quickly," he said. "We're into this thing over 90 days and it hasn't happened."

Haggard resigned as president of the National Association of Evangelicals last year after allegations of sexual misconduct surfaced. He was also forced out from the 14,000 New Life Church that he founded years ago in his basement after Jones alleged Haggard paid him for sex and sometimes used methamphetamine when they were together. Haggard, who is married, has publicly admitted to "sexual immorality."

Haggard said in an e-mail Sunday, his first communication in three months to church members, that he and his wife, Gayle, plan to pursue master's degrees in psychology. The e-mail said the family hasn't decided where to move but that they were considering Missouri and Iowa.

Another oversight board member, the Rev. Mike Ware of Westminster, said the group recommended the move out of town and the Haggards agreed.

"This is a good place for Ted," Ware said. "It's hard to heal in Colorado Springs right now. It's like an open wound. He needs to get somewhere he can get the wound healed."

It was also the oversight board that strongly urged Haggard to go into secular work.

I guess that getting loaded on meth and having hot sex with a man now qualifies you as being "completely heterosexual"!

I thought that you had to be at least somewhat bisexual if you had sex with a member of the same sex.

I mean, even a little.

This wasn't a pubescent dalliance, this was a grown man enjoying multiple encounters with his male lover. Sure, they have added the cash value of prostitution to the story, which sort of changes it from "I'm bisexual" to "I'm a john"; but there is no way this can qualify as "completely heterosexual"!

A man having sex with another man is not what heterosexual men do! It is what perfectly normal, well-adjusted homosexual and bisexual men do.

I think this story should be change from "completely heterosexual" to "completely bisexual" (which is sort of oxymoronic, or redundant, I can't decide which). Or, "Reverend Haggard is a total john"! But, there is no way this guy is completely heterosexual!

Unless of course, you believe God created the world in six days, then took a one day rest before he got back to work. Or that every living thing on the planet exists because Noah managed to squeeze two of each of them onto an ark.

Actually, no matter what you believe religiously, you can't really believe that this guy is completely heterosexual. Or can you?


Thanks to Richard for sending this along!

And now, on the other hand . . . A role model.

When adults, especially adults in the public eye, come-out, they serve as a role model for the young people who are most isolated: gay men and lesbian women.

Ex-NBA player Amaechi comes out publicly
Wed Feb 7, 6:27 PM ET

The small, exclusive club of openly gay professional male athletes has a new member. Former NBA center John Amaechi, who spent five seasons with four teams, on Wednesday became the first NBA player to publicly come out.

Amaechi will appear on ESPN's Outside the Lines on Sunday, and his autobiography "Man in the Middle," will be released Feb. 14.

"He is coming out of the closet as a gay man," Amaechi's publicist Howard Bragman said.

Martina Navratilova, perhaps the most famous openly gay athlete in the world, praised Amaechi's decision and said it's imperative for athletes to come out because of what she called an epidemic of suicides among young lesbians and gays.

"It's hugely important for the kids so they don't feel alone in the world. We're role models. We're adults, and we know we're not alone but kids don't know that," she said. "He will definitely help a lot of kids growing up to feel better about themselves."

Three years after his playing career ended, Amaechi become the sixth professional male athlete from one of the four major American sports (NBA, MLB, NFL, NHL) to publicly discuss his homosexuality.

Former NFL running back David Kopay came out in 1977; offensive lineman Roy Simmons and defensive lineman Esera Tuaolo came out more recently. Glenn Burke, an outfielder for the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Oakland A's in the 1970s, and Billy Bean, a utility player in the 1980s and 1990s, also have come out.

Each did so after retiring.

Burke died of complications due to AIDS in 1995.

"What John did is amazing," said Tuaolo, who came out in 2002. "He does not know how many lives he's saved by speaking the truth."

Tuaolo said coming out would be a relief to Amaechi.

"Living with all that stress and that depression, all you deal with as a closeted person, when you come out you really truly free yourself," Tuaolo said. "When I came out it felt like I was getting out of prison."

NBA commissioner David Stern said a player's sexuality is not important.

"We have a very diverse league. The question at the NBA is always 'have you got game?' That's it, end of inquiry," he said.

In his book, Amaechi describes the challenge of being gay in a league where it's assumed that all players are heterosexual. He describes the blatant anti-gay language and attitudes he experienced in NBA locker rooms, and writes that while playing in Utah, coach Jerry Sloan used anti-gay innuendo to describe him.

Sloan said Wednesday that although his relationship with Amaechi was "shaky" because of the player's attitude, he didn't know Amaechi was gay. Sloan had no comment about Amaechi's contention that Sloan used anti-gay innuendo when referring to him. Amaechi said he found out about it in e-mails from friends in the Jazz front office.

When asked if knowing Amaechi was gay would have mattered, Sloan said: "Oh yeah, it would have probably mattered. I don't know exactly, but I always have peoples' feelings at heart. People do what they want to do. I don't have a problem with that."

Amaechi, 36, who was raised in England, writes in the book that he never touched a basketball before the age of 17. A quick study despite being a "terrible athlete," he found his confidence in the game and made it his goal to play in the NBA.

He competed for Penn State, then played in 301 NBA games over five seasons. The 6-foot-10 center averaged 6.2 points and 2.6 rebounds. He began his career with the Cleveland Cavaliers in 1995-96, then spent a few years playing in Europe. He rejoined the NBA to play for the Orlando Magic from 1999-01, then played two seasons for the Utah Jazz.

The Jazz traded him to Houston, which traded him to the New York Knicks. When the Knicks waived him in January 2004, he retired.

Amaechi came out of retirement to help England's men's basketball team to the silver medal in the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, Australia.

AP Basketball Writer Brian Mahoney and AP Sports Writer Doug Alden contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. The information contained in the AP News report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without the prior written authority of The Associated Press.

Copyright © 2007 Yahoo! Inc. All rights reserved.

People like Amaechi are good people, honest people. People like Haggard are horrible, dishonest people.

Still, I have to ask: what kind of culture do we live in that one's pronouncement of sexual orientation can be a saving grace or devastating disgrace?

I am happy to say that this basketball player is a man of grace, and the reverend is a man of disgrace. Neither of them find their states of gracefulness because of their actual orientation, but because of the reasons that propel them to be public about it. The basketball player is helping others, the reverend is hurting others. The basketball player might make some money if his story sells more books, the reverend will only make money if his constituents believe his lies.

Thank God for men like John Amaechi!

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Why Is This Such Big News?

Afghanistan is being reclaimed day-to-day by Taliban. Taliban includes the promotion of al-Qaeda in its world mission. What the press and illiterate White House has named al-Qaeda is our greatest enemy. We have taken our military resources away from fighting al-Qaeda and sent them to procure oil in Iraq. Iraq is a mess, Afghanistan is a mess, we are spending hundreds of billions of dollars on these actions and our leaders continue to lie to us about all of it.

This is news.

Fossil-fuel emissions are altering our planet in ways deemed fallacy ten years ago. Today, we are actually seeing the dissolution of the polar ice caps. Our planet is in peril.

This is news.

In 1980, when Ronald Reagan rose to power, the United States was the largest lending nation in the world. We loaned money to countries desperate to stay afloat. At the end of Reagan's presidency (eight short years) we were the largest debtor nation; we owe more money to the rest of the world than even Brazil. A lot more. We desperately need foreign money to stay afloat.

This is news.

A woman is pissed that her affections are not being properly requited, decides to confront not the man, but the other woman she suspects of being intimate with the man. The woman gets a bit wacky about it, she makes some bad choices that involve potentially dangerous weapons, and she attacks her "adversary" with pepper spray.

This is not news.

In the scheme of things, this is a rather petty event. I'm sure the pepper spray hurt, and I am sure the entire incident was frightening to the victim. I do not mean to diminish the victim's suffering. When compared, however, to what is going on in the world, this is pretty small potatoes.

If the police paid half this much attention to women battered by their husbands in America, there would be little time to spend on this soap opera.

Read with bemusement:

Astronaut charged with attempted murder
by Barbara Liston
February 6, 2997 2:30 P.M.

A married U.S. astronaut was accused on Tuesday of trying to kidnap and kill a rival for the affections of a fellow astronaut after a bizarre 950-mile drive wearing diapers to confront the woman.

U.S. Navy Capt. Lisa Nowak, who has three children, was initially arrested on attempted kidnapping charges on Monday in Orlando after assaulting Colleen Shipman, a U.S. Air Force captain she considered competition for the affections of a male astronaut, police said.

Nowak was then granted release on $15,500 bail Tuesday morning on the kidnapping charge. But her release was halted at the last minute when police filed a new charge of attempted first-degree murder -- rocking the elite world of NASA astronauts.

Police said Nowak, 43, a flight engineer who made her first space flight in July to the International Space Station aboard shuttle Discovery, sped 950 miles from Houston to Orlando, wearing diapers so she wouldn't have to stop at a bathroom.

She disguised herself in a dark wig, glasses and trench coat to confront Shipman at Orlando International Airport but "only wanted to scare" the woman into talking to her, she told police.

Appearing in court wearing a jail uniform, shackled at the waist and with head bowed, Nowak said little on charges of attempted kidnapping, attempted burglary of a vehicle and battery.

"We are here for Lisa's health and well being and safety and taking care of her like we would any NASA employee in her situation," Steve Lindsey, her commander on the shuttle flight last July, said outside the courtroom.

Orange County Circuit Judge Mike Murphy at first granted Nowak bail of $15,500 and ordered her to wear a satellite-tracking device so authorities could monitor her whereabouts. But her release was put on hold because of the new charge.

A conviction for attempted murder can mean a life sentence.

NASA's astronaut corps, featured in Tom Wolfe's 1979 book "The Right Stuff," is considered the elite of aerospace and science, populated by top pilots and space researchers from the United States and other nations.


Arguing against her detention, Nowak's attorney, Donald Lykkebak, said his client's commitment to her career and her service to the United States should be taken into account.

"At times like this, judge, one's good works must count for something," he said.

Nowak drove to Orlando airport around midnight on Sunday night, waited for Shipman's flight from Houston to arrive and then followed Shipman to the parking garage armed with pepper spray, a steel mallet and a BB gun, police said.

She also carried black gloves, a folding knife with a 4-inch (10-cm) blade, rubber tubing and trash bags, they said.

In a search of Nowak's car, police later found diapers that Nowak told them she wore so she wouldn't have to stop to urinate during her drive from Houston. Astronauts wear diapers during shuttle launches and landings.

Nowak tried to get into Shipman's car and sprayed what may have been pepper spray through the window when Shipman refused to open the door, police said.

Nowak told police she did not intend to physically harm Shipman.

In her statement, Nowak described her connection to male astronaut Bill Oefelein as "more than a working relationship but less than a romantic relationship."

Nowak, who grew up in Rockville, Maryland, and attended the U.S. Naval Academy, became an astronaut in 1996 and waited 10 years for her first space flight. She was scheduled to be a lead commentator on the next shuttle flight, a key role for an astronaut on the ground.

Copyright © 2007 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of Reuters content is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Reuters. Reuters shall not be liable for any errors or delays in the content, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon.

Copyright © 2007 Yahoo! Inc. All rights reserved.

This sounds like a soap opera!

Is there no news about Iraq, or Afghanisatn, or oild prices, or the American economy that might be of interest?

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

A Return Trip to a Faraway Place Called Underground - Reprinting a New York Times Art Review

From the NY Times

Reprinted without permission.

January 26, 2007
Art Review

A Return Trip to a Faraway Place Called Underground

Time is forever. Love is the goal. Art is what you are, not what you do. Many young artists and poets in California in the 1950s and ’60s felt and lived this way. And a traveling band of them, trailing a cloud of marijuana-fragrant air, has arrived at the Grey Art Gallery in "Semina Culture: Wallace Berman & His Circle."

The mostly dense paintings, drawings and collages in the show make visual sense in New York today. Updated versions of their type have flooded galleries in the last few years. Yet the throwaway, amateur-proud spirit that propelled the older work is largely absent in the new. It belongs to another time and place, with a different set of possibilities and necessities, to a small imploded star, now far, far away, called Underground.

The artist Wallace Berman (1926-76) lived on that star. His name still rings only a faint bell. Actually, he was something of a mystery even to his friends, who were legion and seem to have loved him deeply. And as the show, a kind of scrapbook of art and ephemera, makes clear, three decades after his death he is well worth getting to know.

Born in Staten Island, a child of Russian Jews, he moved to Los Angeles with his family when he was 9 and turned into a classic California oddball. He loved sports, jazz, mind-altering substances, Dada, inside jokes and esoteric spiritual systems, notably the kabbalah. A spiritually minded secularist, he was intensely sociable and intensely quiet, a family man whose house was open to all.

He was also a collagist, painter, photographer and poet; his immersion in art was complete. He not only made it but also inspired others to make it, sparking hidden aptitude in startling places. After meeting him, drifters, movie stars, ex-marines and petty criminals found themselves starting to paint and write.

By temperament a collaborator, he was also, in his nonentrepreneurial way, a promoter. With other artists, he briefly opened a gallery in a roofless houseboat and gave one-day shows to people he admired. Shy of showing his own work, he had few exhibitions; one, at Ferus Gallery in Los Angeles in 1957, was particularly memorable. It led to his arrest for exhibiting lewd material.

The offending piece, a drawing of a copulating couple, was not by him but by a friend, Marjorie Cameron Parsons Kimmel (1922-95), an artist, performer and occult practitioner who went by the single name Cameron. (She is currently the subject of a solo show at Nicole Klagsbrun in Chelsea.) The image appeared in the first issue of Mr. Berman’s loose-leaf journal, Semina, copies of which he had scattered around the gallery floor.

It was Semina that carried Mr. Berman, and the artists and poets he championed, beyond a local audience. He produced the journal from 1955 to 1964 on a mail-order hand press with the help of two friends, the artist and poet Robert Alexander and the photographer Charles Brittin. There were only nine issues. The print run was minute. The contents were mind-boggling.

The magazine, its pages randomly compiled, mixed Berman heroes like Antonin Artaud and Jean Cocteau with established American poets like Robert Duncan and Allen Ginsberg, then added a slew of younger writers and artists — Philip Lamantia, Jack Anderson, Patricia Jordan, Kirby Doyle, Bob Kaufman, Aya Tarlow, Ruth Weiss, Michael McClure, the great gay poet John Wieners — all barely out of the starting gate. Sent, copy by copy, through the mail, Semina defined a distinctively trippy, sardonic West Coast surrealism. New York had hard, cold Pop; the West Coast had a woozy Peyote-Funk that prefigured the hippie era.

If the journal put Wallace Berman’s name on the national countercultural grapevine, his personal influence was still transmitted through artists and poets who met him. And four dozen of them take brief, individual bows in a show — organized for the Santa Monica Museum of Art by two independent curators and critics, Michael Duncan and Kristine McKenna — that feels like both a slice of still-warm history and a reliquary.

Several of the artists are now far better known than Mr. Berman himself. Joan Brown (1938-90), Bruce Conner and Jay De Feo (1929-89) are textbook figures. Ms. Brown’s fetishistic "Man on Horseback," a 1957 sculpture of rolled and tied cloth, is an eye-catcher. So are two sumptuously abject assemblages by Mr. Conner, who also has an outstanding show of early work at Susan Inglett Gallery in Chelsea.

And for relics, there’s the pigment-caked footstool that Ms. De Feo used while creating "The Rose," a painting that grew so heavy with applied matter that, at 2,000 pounds, it had to be forklifted from her tenement studio.

More famous at the time were Hollywood actors like Dean Stockwell and Russ Tamblyn, who met Mr. Berman and started making art. Another was Dennis Hopper, who picked up photography and film directing. (He cast Mr. Berman in a small role in "Easy Rider.") And there was Billy Gray. A teenage heartthrob as Bud Anderson on "Father Knows Best," he started making stained-glass sculptures after a drug arrest in 1962 crippled his show business career.

Chemicals of all descriptions gradually pulled the Berman circle down. It comes as a dawning shock to walk through the show and see so many young faces accompanied by so many curtailed dates.

The Pop assemblagist Ben Talbert and the abstract painter Arthur Richer died of drug overdoses in their early 40s. The Hollywood child actor Bobby Driscoll, the voice of Peter Pan in the Disney film and the creator of four glorious little collages in the show, was taken out by heroin at 31. By the end of the 1960s, methamphetamines had ruined John Reed, another wonderful artist and poet; he died homeless, almost all his work lost.

Three of these four, Richer being the exception, had little if any formal art training. They could be called outsider artists, except — well, except what? They weren’t crazy enough, or poor enough, or "ethnic" enough, or in some other way picturesque enough to qualify for that exaltedly abject name?

Their work is interesting in large part exactly because it muddies market-driven aesthetic divisions instituted since their day: artist versus outsider artist, trained versus self-taught, professional versus amateur. Most of the artists in the show fall on the alternative side of the equations.

In fact, one of the things that made them a "circle," if they can really be called that, was their shared lack of traditional bona fides. They were artists because they said they were, and acted as if they were, and because someone — Wallace Berman — said, "You are." Where would they have stood in relation to today’s standardized, professionalized art industry? Where do such artists stand today, since there are surely many out there, living artists’ lives?

Anyway, for the purposes of the exhibition, the Berman connection is the crucial link, the bond that makes outsiders insiders. They are held within his orbit, which Mr. Duncan and Ms. McKenna, in their charismatic catalog, depict as an accepting, protective space.

Acceptance, and the psychological protection it affords, are rare and invaluable. Are they extended to artists today, to all artists, equally? They should be. They must have felt especially necessary as the cold war 1950s turned into the Vietnam War 1960s, as modern art moved into its radically disruptive postmodern phase.

And as casualties among the artists and poets gathered in the show began to grow, no high in the world could have hidden the truth that time is very short, and that love is only as trustworthy as its object. People trusted Mr. Berman; that was the bottom line. They found him steady and there. I don’t believe in gurus, and especially not in art gurus, even those like Wallace Berman who didn’t want to be one. But I can understand why, when he died after being hit by a drunken driver on the eve of his 50th birthday, there was much grief.

"Semina Culture: Wallace Berman & His Circle" continues through March 31 at the Grey Art Gallery, New York University, 100 Washington Square East, Greenwich Village, (212) 998-6780,

Monday, February 05, 2007

Super Bowl XLI

Indianapolis 29 - 17 Chicago

The game was not as close as the score makes it sound.

It rained in Miami. And it rained. And it rained. And it rained. And it rained.

Winter in the northern hemisphere brings unpredictable weather, and Winter in Florida is no different. It may not snow or freeze in Miami; but the climate is volatile.

I don't know the face value of Super Bowl tickets. I assume they cost anywhere from $300-$500 if you were able to purchase them through the NFL; but that is just a guess. Tickets were selling for as low as $3,000, and as high as $6,000 for lower level midfield seats through scalpers . . . er, touts . . . er, ticket brokers. And it rained. And it rained. And it rained. People payed $6,000 to sit in the rain.

It was the NFL who pioneered the domed stadium. It makes sense: you play a sport in North America in the Winter, you should try to do it indoors. However, domed stadium technology came decades after the sport was developed.

The sport was developed in the regions where civilization and capitalism had taken hold in North America: the North. So, football has been played in bad weather for a long time.

In August, 1971, the City of New Orleans began construction on a domed stadium that opened in September of 1975. It was named The Superdome, holds seventy thousand people, and has hosted six Super Bowls.

The Superdome is a great place for the Super Bowl. It seems like a natural: located in a tourist town famous for partying, big domed client-controlled stadium with the word Super in its name. All Super Bowls should be played there.

The only time it might seem inappropriate that it be held there is if the New Orleans Saints should make it to the championship game. I think 2007 might have been that year, but the Saints fell short, and I suspect it will be a long, long time before it becomes an issue again. So, we'll just ignore that.

It is smart to play the Super Bowl indoors at a neutral venue. You eliminate the weather as a factor (except in the case of earth-shattering hurricanes). This is important. The Super Bowl is filled with gazillionaires, dignitaries and celebrities who do not want to get wet. The audience is shipped-in from all over the world, guaranteeing a huge payday for the host city.

And if there is not to be a permanent home for the Super Bowl, then why play it in random locations? Why host it in rainy Miami, Florida, or blustery Green Bay, Wisconsin? Why pretend to be neutral about it?

During half-time, my friend James suggested it be rotated around the league. One year at an NFC field, next year at an AFC field. Seems fair. Then you get a Super Bowl one year in sunny San Diego, followed the next year in snowy New York. I take it a step further, I think the game should be played in the stadium of one of the participating teams. Have it in the NFC city in even years (2008, 2010, etc.) and the AFC city in odd years (2009, 2011, etc.). If a team succeeds at getting to the Super Bowl, their team should have the 50-50 chance of earning a huge payday at the stadium.

I know the arguments about logistics and planning, etc., and I accept the arguments about playing in a neutral, planned venue. But why outdoors? There are enough domed stadia that it can rotate to plenty of neutral sites.

If we are playing at a neutral site, then the Super Bowl should never be played outdoors.

The Superdome has hosted six Super Bowls:

Super Bowl XII - Dallas vs. Denver
Super Bowl XV - Oakland vs. Philadelphia
Super Bowl XX - Chicago vs. New England
Super Bowl XXIV - San Francisco vs. Denver
Super Bowl XXXI - Dallas vs. Pittsburgh
Super Bowl XXXVI - New England vs. St. Louis

I say we play the Super Bowl in the Superdome.

Every year.

Congratulations Colts!

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Italian Soccer Suspended After Officer Killed

Soccer fans at a match between top-flight clubs fifth-place Catania and third-place Palermo rioted outside Stadio Massimino in Sicily last night. The disturbance began when visiting Palermo fans were told they would not be allowed to enter the stadium until the second half.

Tear gas used by police wafted onto the playing field inside the stadium and play was halted for thirty minutes.

When a small explosive device was tossed int the melee outside the stadium, it exploded in the face of a police officer. He was rushed to a hospital where he died of his wounds.

The Italian soccer federation has suspended all matches for at least one week, and possibly longer.

Story from BBC SPORT:

Italian league halted by violence
The Italian Football Federation (FIGC) has suspended all matches indefinitely after a policeman was killed at a Serie A match between Catania and Palermo.
Officer Filippo Raciti died as violence flared during the Sicilian derby.

The FIGC has called off all this weekend's professional and amateur games, and also cancelled Italy's friendly with Romania on Wednesday.

Commissioner Luca Pancalli said: "What we're witnessing has nothing to do with soccer, so Italian soccer is stopping."

According to reports, 38-year-old Raciti was struck in the face by a small explosive while attempting to deal with fighting outside the stadium.

He was taken to hospital but died from his injuries.

Pancalli had warned earlier this week that more violence would bring a halt to league matches after clashes between supporters and police in several cities last Sunday.

"One day is not sufficient," Pancalli added after proceeding with his threat. "Without drastic measures, we cannot play again.

"We will immediately set up a commission to discuss the situation between sport and politics. It's not possible to carry on like this."

Catania, fifth in Serie A, against Palermo, who are third, was given an early kick-off time on Friday because of fears over public safety.

We need a strong and clear signal to avoid the degeneration of this sport
Italian prime minister Romano Prodi

Prior to the start, a minute's silence had been held following the death of a club official from lower league club Sammartinese last weekend.
But the match was suspended after an hour when tear gas, used by police to break up the fighting outside the ground, drifted onto the field.

The fighting, reported ANSA news agency, was because Palermo fans could not get into Catania's Stadio Massimino until the second half.

The two teams fled the pitch for the dressing-room, with the game suspended for 30 minutes.

After the match, fans continued to fight running battles with police on the streets outside the stadium and around a hundred people were treated for injuries, while dozens with lesser injuries were taken to local hospitals.

Another police officer is also believed to be in a critical condition.

Catania club executive Pietro Lo Monaco reacted to news of the officer's death by announcing he would leave football.

"I've heard that a policeman has died," he said. "To speak of football right now seems useless. For me this is the end. I will leave the football world.

"I don't recognise myself in this world anymore. I have loved football intensely but after this right now it seems absurd."

Palermo coach Francesco Guidolin was quick to blame Catania fans for the violence.

"We won the match, but we cannot enjoy this victory," said Guidolin. "Football cannot last for much longer like this. There will be no joy in it."

The Catania prosecutor's office has announced an investigation into the incident.

England head coach Steve McClaren reacted to the news by insisting the FIGC must now make the same harsh decisions made in Britain 20 years ago to eradicate football violence.

"They have got to learn a lot about the English game, how it has come on over the years," McClaren told BBC Radio Five Live.

"The safety at most grounds has improved. It is all very, very well controlled and is a great environment in which to take families, and we have to encourage that.

"A lot of other countries are looking at the way we built stadiums, our security, seating and ticketing arrangements and maybe after the drastic events in Italy something has to be done."

Italian prime minister Romano Prodi also issued a statement.

"After the serious incidents that occurred tonight in Catania, my first thought is for the people that have been affected and for their families," he said.

"I feel a duty to say that we need a strong and clear signal to avoid the degeneration of this sport which we are seeing more dramatically and more often."

Palermo had taken the lead through Andrea Caracciolo, but Catania equalised within 60 seconds of the teams coming back out thanks to Fabio Caserta.

Palermo won the game with a controversial David di Michele goal in the 83rd minute.

Published: 2007/02/02 21:55:27 GMT


And this from the Fox Soccer Network:

Serie A suspended after officer killed
Associated Press

CATANIA, Sicily (AP) - A police officer was killed Friday when fans rioted at a Serie A game between Sicilian sides Catania and Palermo, prompting the Italian soccer federation to postpone all league matches this weekend and cancel next week's friendlies involving the national teams.

Fans rioted outside Catania's Angelo Massimino stadium during the second half. Police fired tear gas, which wafted into the stadium and forced the match to be temporarily suspended in the 58th minute with Palermo leading 1-0. Television footage from Sky TG24 News showed players struggling to breathe and pouring bottled water on their faces.

Police said the officer died after an explosive device was thrown inside his vehicle.

The violence continued after the game, in which Palermo beat Catania 2-1, trapping hundreds of fans inside the stadium as authorities sought to avoid further violence and stop people from leaving.

The ANSA news agency reported that nine Catania fans had been detained, but none was suspected of killing the officer. Police in Catania could not confirm the report early Saturday as all top officials were in a meeting or out of their offices.

Federation (FIGC) commissioner Luca Pancalli called an emergency meeting in Rome late Friday, and announced he was canceling all games, the federation said.

"The decision to block the championships was immediate," Pancalli told a news conference after the meeting. "We cannot continue like this. What we're witnessing has nothing to do with soccer, therefore Italian soccer is stopping."

Italy's premier, president and other top officials quickly condemned the violence.

"I feel it is my duty to say that we unfortunately need a loud and clear signal to avoid the degeneration of the sport that we, unfortunately and dramatically, are witnessing," Prime Minister Romano Prodi was quoted as saying by Italian news agencies.

Prodi and President Giorgio Napolitano also said their thoughts were with the family of the officer, who was identified as Chief Inspector Filippo Raciti.

Napolitano released a statement urging authorities to take a firm stand "against degenerations that demean the values of the sport and offend the country's civic conscience."

Pancalli added that the decision to postpone the weekend's remaining games was not enough, and said there would be more meetings Monday "to identify those drastic measures that will allow us to restart. Otherwise, we're not restarting the games."

The FIGC also canceled Wednesday's friendly between Italy and Romania and an under-21 friendly scheduled for Tuesday against Belgium.

The federation said that another police officer was in critical condition, and police said dozens of people with lesser injuries had been taken to local hospitals.

Police defended security measures at the game.

"We're talking about incidents that happened outside the stadium and after the game had already started," police Cmdr. Piero Gambuzza told Sky TG24 News. "Police did not allow anyone with explosives to enter the stadium."

The violence follows last month's death of a fourth-division team manager from injuries he received when he tried to stop a brawl during a game.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Senate Votes To Incresae Minimum Wage -- Well, Chuck Schumer Didn't

Tom Coburn (R-OK), Jim DeMint (R-SC), and Jon Kyl (R-AZ), are the only three Senators to vote against the Minimum Wage Increase that passed on February 1, 2007.

When executive salaries are at a level so vulgar that even George W Bush speaks-out against them, how can these Senators vote against raising the minimum wage for America's poorest workers?

They are Republicans, of course, so they know that all the problems of America are the fault of the poor. Every good Republican must believe that. They are all Republicans, so they know that corporations need to be protected from workers who just want to cut into the profits. And every good Republican knows that profits are what is important to God and Country.

But, even if they really believed those absurdities, how can they sleep at night?

Three Senators James Inhofe (R-OK), Tim Johnson (D-ND), and Chuck Schumer (D-NY), failed to cast a vote. Johnson can be forgiven his dereliction of duty, since he is in the middle of brain surgery. I assume that Inhofe, as a Republican needed to be able to look at himself in the mirror, so he couldn't vote against the first increase to minimum wages in 10 years. Chuck Schumer? Why didn't Chuck Schumer vote to increase the minimum wage? Where is Chuck Schumer?