Friday, June 29, 2012

America, Simon & Garfunkel

by Dick Mac

As we gear-up to celebrate Independence Day in the United States, I thought I'd post one of my favorite America songs: "America," by Simon & Garfunkel.

It originally appeared on the "Bookends" LP in 1968; but the song was not released as a single until 1972, when it reached #97 on the Billboard Hot 100.

In 2001, David Bowie opened the Concert For New York with a dramatic version of the song.

When I searched for photos of Bowie, Paul Simon, and Art Garfunkel, this gem of a photo, this piece of pop history, appeared.  I remember this night clearly.  Aretha Franklin said she was so happy about winning she'd even kiss David Bowie.

The real reason I remember this Grammy Awards ceremony is that I watched it with my mother.  She was a pop music fan and liked David Bowie enough.  She didn't buy his records, but she knew enough to sing along some of his hits.  When Bowie appeared on stage, my mother gasped and said:  "What's wrong with Him?  Is he sick?  He looks like he's going to die!"

Well, I guess sick is a good way to put it, in the spiritual sense of the word.  This was during his amazing bender with John Lennon and Harry Nilsson that took them around the world in a blackout.  Bowie was so strung-out on cocaine, for such a long period of time, that he was a walking skeleton.  Well-dressed, of course, but a mess.

One legend about this night (and it might be true) is that Yoko was furious that Lennon was going to appear on the show with Bowie and not her.  She flew to LA immediately and was present for the ceremonies.

A typical New York City point about the photograph above (which is reprinted here without permission):  Roberta Flack (far right), John & Yoko, and Paul Simon all lived in The Dakota, on Central Park West.  Only in New York!  Ono and Flack still live there; but, Simon moved his family down the street after the murder of John Lennon, at the entrance to the building.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Oooops! Don't Fall!

by Dick Mac

Junior high was the place I cut my teeth in the art of bullying and the survival techniques of being bullied.  For me, it was just one more rite of passage.

It seemed to be a phase for the bullies, in general; and I am certain I saw more boys apologize for their bullying than bragging about it.  Not that there weren't some guys who were growing-up to be bullies and would remain bullies throughout their lives.  Some guys were friggin' psycho.  Most of them died young or went to prison (where some of them died young).

The bully-tactic that I remember most was to stick your foot in front of another, shout "don't trip," and make it look like you were trying to hold him up him when you pushed him over your foot.  The victim falls to the ground, and everyone laughs.  It was so common in my schoolyard that we all knew it would happen to us eventually, and even the big bullies would fall victim and then laugh about it.  That we all did this with regularity does not discount the fact that there were bullies and there were those who they bullied.

The bullied grew-up to be lawyers and teachers and engineers, and they are often people who bully their subordinates.   You can always tell when an adult was the victim of bullying:  it's the person in the company's power structure who is mean to subordinates, and bullies people.  She or he has transformed years of being bullied into being a top-notch bully.  It's almost an art-form when done by an adult.

Initially, I was not tuned-in to the anti-bullying movement.  I thought it was just another in the long string of ways we ensure our children's feelings aren't hurt.  We give them all a trophy at the end of the season so nobody feels bad, even if they totally sucked at the sport.  We promote games that have no winner or loser, and we denigrate those who celebrate their victories enthusiastically (because we don't want to hurt the other kids' feelings).  I have not been a fan of this.  You win some, you lose some.  You pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and start all over again (as the song goes).

As the media continued to highlight bullying, and the number of teen suicides became public in this process, I became sensitized and open-minded about the anti-bullying movement.  I knew that kids attempted suicide, but I didn't know that bullied kids committed suicide at such an alarming rate.  Of course, ONE is too many.

I now believe that it is possible to eradicate bullying without eliminating childhood experiences that include adversity and failure.  Adversity and failure are reality and it's silly to shield our children from those experiences.  My challenge as a parent is not to eliminate adversity and failure from my daughter's experience, but to teach her how to handle it effectively and gracefully, in a dignified manner.  I think I do a pretty good job, but I am just a parent, I haven't a clue what the results will be and I make a lot of mistakes.

Back to the bullies.

Yes, some bullies grow-up to be bullies and perhaps the anti-bullying movement will allow some youthful bullies to become adults who are not bullies, and perhaps some of the kids tormented by bullies will grow-up to eschew bullying themselves.  It's possible.  It's certainly worth the effort we make as a society.

Recently, a Canadian youth hockey coach watched his team lose.  I hate watching my team lose.  I hate watching my daughter lose.  It happens.  We buck-up and become the losers' supporters, so they do not feel too alone in that sadness.  It's called "comforting" someone and has no relation to bullying or pandering.

There is this great thing in hockey where the teams line-up at the end of the game and shake hands.  It's so friggin' civilized!  In soccer, it happens at the beginning of the game, and the end of the game is reserved for swapping jerseys.  It is true sportsmanship. But, I digress.

Martin Tremblay, the 40-year-old coach of a youth hockey team, lined-up with the kids to shake hands and . . . well . . . you watch what happens:

He clearly trips the kid intentionally.

Holy crap!

It's a kid - somebody's child.

If that were my child, Mr. Tremblay would be answering to more than the police who arrested him.  And I would any means necessary to beat the ever-loving crap out of him.  What the fuck does this guy think?

He's white, so he probably won't be convicted of anything; but I hope he is kicked-out of organized sports and required to stay away from children.

This man is a bully and a menace.

Don't be a bully!


Hockey coach investigated over accusations he tripped teenage player

Youth hockey coach investigated for tripping player in handshake line

Very cool anti-bullying t-shirts from Kaci Taylor Inspirational Shirts

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Orca v Flipper

by Dick Mac

I'm not certain there is anything further to say about this video; except maybe, "wow!"

Pacific white-sided dolphins take flight to evade killer whales

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Fox Promotes AND Disparages The Arizona Immigration Laws

by Dick Mac

News Corporation owns a number of broadcast outlets in the United States.  They might be the biggest beneficiaries of the disaster of media deregulation.

During the "Fox Nation" program, a discussion of the Supreme Court's decision on the Arizona immigration law (a law that targets Latinos more than any other group) concluded that the United States Supreme Court upheld part of the Arizona's tough anti-immigration laws, in a defeat for Obama.  A glorious day for America.

Not wanting to miss the opportunity to push a right-wing agenda, even if it means contradicting itself, Fox News Latino broadcast the same story and concluded, for its Spanish-speaking watchers, that the Supreme Court struck down three of 4 provisions of the Arizona Immigration Law.  A glorious day for America.

I love how the right-wing gets to have it both ways:  "yay, we defeated Obama by affirming some provisions of the wonderful Arizona immigration laws," and "yay, the Supreme Court defeated the evil-doers by striking down huge sections of Arizona's horrible immigration laws."

From the Teabonics Facebook page

Monday, June 25, 2012

Tifo -- RBNY v DCS

by Dick Mac

From wikipedia:

Tifo, originally the Italian word for the phenomenon of supporting a sport team, is mostly used as a name for any choreography displayed by fans in the stands of an arena or stadium in connection with a sport event, mostly a football match. 
Tifos are most commonly seen in important matches, local derbies and rivalries and although the tradition originated at club teams, some national teams also have fans that organize tifos on a regular basis. Tifos are primarily arranged by Ultras or a supporter club to show their love to the club, but are sometimes sponsored or arranged by the club itself. 
See, Tifo at
The Major League Soccer team I follow is Red Bull New York.  It is owned by the hard drink company, Red Bull.  They also own a football team and a hockey team in Salzburg, Austria (their home base).

Once known as the Metrostars, Red Bull New York has a group of hard core supporters that attend every home match, travel to away matches, and provide unimpeded vocal support during the entire 90+ minutes of play.
The South Ward behind the goal and the smoke.

Soccer teams throughout the world have supporters clubs.  In other sports and other forms of entertainment, these groups are generally known as Fan Clubs.  The fan club is sometimes owned by the team or promotional agency hired to maintain the business' presence in the media.

In soccer, supporters clubs are independent organizations.  The fans themselves form these groups, write their rules, organize their events, and make decision based solely on what's best for the group itself, and by extension, the team.

Red Bull New York enjoys three supporters clubs:  
Empire Supporters Club is the oldest group and original supporters group.
Garden State Supporters is a smaller group of fans and the name acknowledges the state of New Jersey, the place in which Red Bull New York plays all its home matches.  (Yes, Red Bull New York plays all its home matches in New Jersey, so technically there is no New York team in MLS).
Viking Army is the newest supporters group, and has grown quickly.  The name is based on the heritage of the current manager, Hans Backe, who hails from Sweden.  My daughter and I are Vikings.
All three supporters clubs sit in the three sections at one end of the stadium behind a goal.  These three sections are collectively known as The South Ward.  Nobody sits in the South Ward during a match.  There is constant singing, chanting, jumping and swaying.  If you want to sit to watch a match, then the South Ward is a very bad place for your seat.

So you are forewarned, never purchase a ticket in sections 101, 102, or 133, if you want to sit while you watch the match.  First, nobody sits, second, nobody pays any attention to the row and seat number on their ticket, and third, you will make fast enemies if your method of fitting-in a place you do not understand is to contact security.  The team should not have sold you a ticket in this section without first explaining all of this to you, which is the deal the supporters groups have with the box office.  If you bought your ticket from a scalper (a tout, a ticket agency, or a thieving web site like StubHub), and they did not tell you the deal with seating in that section, then you should look-up the concept caveat emptor.  Too often I hear the story of the lovely suburban couple (with or without their lovely brood of lovely children) arriving in the South Ward with their lovely tickets expecting to watch a lovely match from the lovely second row seats they bought for a lovely (ridiculous) sum of money.  When they realize they are seated in the fourth circle of hell, they panic.  What ensues should be hilarity, but is usually drama.  

Don't be lovely.  Don't purchase tickets in the South Ward unless you plan to stand the entire match.

Anyway . . . one of the activities of the supporters clubs is creating visual support for the club.  This is often in the form of massive banners that are displayed when the teams march onto the field.  The South Ward has done some impressive tifos and I will start to share some of them here.

Last night, we hosted our oldest rival, D.C. United.  "D.C." is the abbreviation for District of Columbia, the city closest to the team's stadium.  "United" is a moniker used in England when two (or more) teams merge together to form a new team.  Nobody knows what was united to form D.C. United.   So, we just refer to them as DC Scum; because we know the meaning of scum and we know our rival is scum.

Tifos sometimes take the form of taunting the opposition with chants and banners.  And it is a mutual enterprise.  Sometimes, a visiting supporters club manages to get a large banner into the stadium that derides the home team and/or its supporters.  When this happens, hats are tipped.  To pull-off a tifo in the opposition's house is impressive

Last night, the South Ward acknowledged the 17-season rivalry with D.C. Scum with a massive banner stating:  "We are the D.C. Haters.  Since 1996." along with a character representing Empire Supporters Club pissing on the D.C. Scum badge.

I love my team and it supporters:

Friday, June 22, 2012

A Lover's Concerto - The Toys

by Dick Mac

I don't remember if it was during the the Summer of 1965 or 1966 that this song seemed to be playing all day, every day, from a radio in the window of an apartment in the projects where I lived. The song was popular with the adults, too (even the adults who didn't otherwise approve of"colored" music).

The melody is an interpretation (OK, a nearly direct lift) of Bach's "Minuet in G major."


Thanks to the amazing NN Maddox for the memory.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Why can't we say . . .

by Dick Mac

And the questions is:  "Why can't we say vagina in a room full of douche bags?

Nicked from the Teabonics Facebook page at

Monday, June 18, 2012

Is Capitalism a Constitutional Right?

by Dick Mac

The Supreme Court of the United States is, more or less, a respected institution committed to jurisprudence and Constitutional interpretation.

Constitutional interpretation has changed over the decades,as you might expect (if you have a brain used for something other than remembering the route to McDonalds).  Two areas of United States law that have been changed by the Supreme Court that come immediately to mind are:  the definition of personhood ( post-slavery concept attempting to define the rights of brown-skinned people in America), and (2) capital punishment (our collective right to put to death someone we don't like).

In its current and most recent terms, SCOTUS has been discussing a lot of economic issues, including those associated with personhood.

The justices have, historically, dealt with many economic issues; but it hasn't been until the Roberts court that SCOTUS seems to be defining capitalism as a constitutional freedom, as opposed to commerce being protected by the Constitution.  Today's SCOTUS is a bit of an embarrassment, as one of the associate justices is totally unqualified to sit as a judge in any court and has not posed a question in a case for over six years.  Sadly, he is one of the younger Justices and will be present on the bench for a long time to come.

Justice Clarence Thomas sits on the bench for one reason alone, to vote the right-wing stance on every case that comes before him.  Thomas is key to helping the right-wing define capitalism as a constitutional right, as opposed to free commerce being a constitutional right.  Not only is he trying to help define capitalism as a right, it is an insidious form of capitalism that Gore Vidal, in the end of the last century, said creates " . . . socialism for the rich and free-enterprise for everybody else."

It's not really capitalism at all, but a hybrid economic plan guaranteed to eliminate constitutional freedom and protection of actual people (human beings) in order to advance this economic theory known popularly as "reaganomics."

One issue of this insidious economic system is the notion that the People (using their government - which is our government of, by, and for the people) have no right to regulate business, that regulation impedes commerce.

That's a ridiculous notion, but a right-winger is unable to see the facts that the half-century era of regulation in the United States is the era in which economic growth was the most amazing and led to American ingenuity unparalleled anywhere history.

The current right-leaning SCOTUS will ensure this continues.  The justices will make every effort to reverse any case based on findings that supported regulation.

While we gut regulation, I hope we will remember which Justices were in favor of regulation in the first place.  One of them was Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, who, in the 1905 case, Lochner v New York,  said: "A Constitution is not intended to embody a particular economic theory."

It's sad to see that brilliant statement ignored.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Who Isn't Perfect?

by Dick Mac

I have always been a critic of elective plastic surgery.

Yes, I know that all plastic surgery is technically 'elective' -- that we choose to have reconstructive surgery to address deformities and injuries.  There is no law or scientific model that proves that we must choose reconstructive surgery.

That is totally not my point and I am so tired of the tedium that is the semantic blather about the word "elective."

What I mean by elective plastic surgery, and what the vast majority of English-speaking people capable of making a sentence mean, is decorative plastic surgery.  Changing the shape of my nose or my tits or my chin.  You know, elective plastic surgery driven solely by vanity with no actual deformity or medical issue to be addressed.

So, let's not have a dialog that is about a man with a hideous scar on his face choosing plastic surgery.  Of course he is choosing it; but, that is exactly the proper reason for plastic surgery:  to address a deformity (an actual deformity) that has occurred naturally or by way of a trauma.

Today I am talking about Joan Rivers, not conjoined twins.

The notion of elective reconstructive plastic surgery has always disturbed me.

What is in the soul (OK, the mind, for those uncomfortable with discussing the soul) of a man who looks at himself in the mirror and concludes that changing the shape of his chin is the next right thing to do in his life, even though his chin looks exactly like his grandfather's and is a perfectly perfect chin.  It is his chin.  What is it in the soul, or the mind, or the human condition that leads someone to that inner dialog?

In simple terms it is vanity, of course; but, that hardly sheds light on the entire issue.

How much of it is based on messages we've gotten from television/Hollywood, and how much of it is rooted in good thinking?

When a person who condemns a woman for choosing abortion then chooses elective plastic surgery, which of those people is spiritually sick?

Of course, none of this is black and white; but I rarely hear any discussion about the negative dynamics of plastic surgery.   What kind of person chooses to change their face?  Or tits?  Although few of us are so spiritually and mentally fit that we can look at our reflection and say:  I love everything about the way I look; there is something frightening about the person who concludes that they should change those things.

When a woman chooses abortion, she is usually a person in crisis.

When a woman chooses plastic surgery, she is usually not in a crisis.

A woman who chooses to terminate a pregnancy is making a very difficult decision, that usually includes thoughts of financial security (housing, food, clothes), future possibilities for security, the quality of her relationship with the father, etc.  The choice has to be painful and difficult.  A woman in that crisis needs love and support.  She needs to be comforted and supported, not condemned.

Although there is spiritual pain for this woman, there is not necessarily spiritual sickness.

What is the spiritual (OK, mental, psychological, emotional) condition of a person who is seeking to look different?  I would say this is a person who needs help.  And by that I mean that a person who chooses to alter their looks for vanity is a much sicker person thatn a person who chooses to terminate a pregnancy.

I would like the "christians" to start harping-on-and-on about plastic surgery, because I've had it up to HERE with their fucking blather-on about abortion

If you don't believe in abortion then don't have one; just leave everyone else alone.  And go get a boob job, you shallow slut!

You're Not Perfect And That's Okay

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Damn Truants!

by Dick Mac

Texas is a place that prides itself on the number of, and the way in which, people are imprisoned.

There must a lot of bad people in Texas, as you can tell by their prison population.  Of course, most of them are people with beige or brown skin.  Everyone knows that those people commit most of the crimes.


Well, the right-wing has this phony "toughness" thing they go on and on about, even though they are a bunch of pantywaists.

I've never met a right-winger who could hold-up in jail.  They would be somebody's battered bitch in a matter of minutes.  They talk about being tough guys, but that's only in relation to what they do to those unable to defend themselves, like the poor, the sick, the elderly and the infirm.

Going to jail is traumatic.  Even overnight.  It is disruptive and frightening as well as being inconvenient and generally expensive.  I certainly hope sentencing judges think long and hard about imprisoning any first-time offender for a non-violent crime.  Of course, if you are white it is unlikely you will ever go to jail for a non-violent first-offense (or second- or third).  At your arraignment, you will be let go on your own recognizance and before you return for your court date, your lawyer would have bargained your crime down to a misdemeanor and you'll be free to leave court "without a finding," and if you keep your nose clean for some proscribed amount of time, it all goes away.  If you are not white, it is unlikely you will get that same deal.

When you arrive in jail it is important to figure out the lay of the land.  Pinpoint the leg-breakers, the enforcers, and more-importantly, pinpoint the quiet guys who are issuing the orders.

Then the game of cat and mouse begins.  Smart people can navigate this complicated line of politics; but, stupid people often fall prey to insidious traps that find them covered in their own blood, promising to do whatever they are told.

The prison system is brutal.

In order to be tough on crime, slime-bucket right-winger judge Lanny Moriarty, sent 17-year-old honor student Diane Tran to jail for truancy because she had missed x number of days of school.  The number is irrelevant.  Ms. Tran is a 17-year-old who supports herself with multiple jobs and attends high school and is an honor student.  She missed some days.  Is this really the truant he should be chasing?

But, if you're a conservative, this is exactly the kind of person you want in jail:  a hard-working, successful, non-white person.  Let the bankers rape us and run free, but get those damn truants off the streets!

Judge Lanny Moriarty (what kind of name is Lanny anyhow?):  you are an ass and an embarrassment to American justice and jurisprudence.

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Give Me Just A Little More Time

by Dick Mac

With the changes in management, I am still trying to get a system and format together that I like.

Please be patient. I promise to be all decent again by 12 JUN 12 (perhaps sooner).

Until that time, please enjoy these pictures of Neymar and Gina Lollobrigida: