Feb 29, 2012
commented on Get Your FBI File!
Ok - I'll bite. Just printed, filled out, and mailed.
Can't wait to see what it says.
Jan 30, 2012
commented on The Problem with "Marriage Equality"
entirely apart from the merits of the actual argument (or lack thereof), I just have to say: that is one inept piece of writing.
it doesn't just fail as a work of "Stranger-style street language", as one commenter put it, but *also* as academic writing. words are misused, syntax is needlessly garbled, and the actual flow of the argument is so clumsy that it becomes downright incoherent in places (paragraph 1 is especially awful).
Rahul - for the love of god, please sign up for a 100 level comp course immediately.
Jan 24, 2012
commented on Who Is This Radical Anti-American Saul Alinksy Person?
I happened to read Rules for Radicals back in early 2008, before the campaign season even started and
way before I ever heard Alinsky mentioned in the same breath as Obama. I'd never heard of Alinsky before
at all - I just happened to spot the book at the Seattle Public Library book sale and thought it looked interesting. what I was struck by in reading it was how totally non-fucking-radical it was. it was basically a manual for how to join the establishment and try to gradually change it in non-confrontational, incremental ways from within. in
other words - it was rules for white (or white-ish), privileged do-gooders to put themselves in a position to
be co-opted by the oligarchy while managing to still feel good (and radical) about themselves. it seemed to
me that, as a guide for how to turn a Yippie into a Yuppie, a better title might have been Mystification for Dummies.
and although I'm sounding scornful here, my outlook is actually a lot more ambivalent. I think that method
isn't entirely worthless. slow, gradual change from within can happen and is certainly a lot safer, easier (on everybody) and less polarizing than big, sweeping, radical changes. if hundreds or thousands of people had read Alinsky in 1971 and actually applied his methods, the slow, safe, easy method might have turned the ship slowly such that we would now be sailing in a good direction. I should more properly say "if hundreds or thousands of leftists had read Alinsky in the early 70s" because what actually ended
up happening of course was that hundreds or thousands of people *did* read Alinsky, but it was in the early 80s and they were people like Grover Norquist, Bill Kristol, Newt Gingrich, Karl Rove, and other conservatives of that generation. and they *did* bring about gradual, fairly non-confrontational, incremental change from within. and sure enough, they turned the ship - straight toward the ice berg.
so here we are now with Obama and a few others who are trying to use the same methods to turn the ship around, and that would be great if the iceberg was 20 or 30 years away, but at this point, it's not...it's 5 or 10 years away *tops* and turning the ship slowly at this point means we're going to hit it broadside amidships, which might actually be even *worse* than hitting it head-on.
add to that the fact that the radical right has his number and realizes what he's doing (or trying to do) and,
now that momentum and inertia are on their side, have apparently decided to take off the gloves and switch
from Alinsky methods to Trotsky methods (because at this point, they can) and it becomes evident how much is at stake right now and how out of place Alinsky is in any serious conversation.
Dec 23, 2011
commented on Add-a-Ball!!!
I went by that place not long after they opened and they had this really cool kitty who likes to sit on top of the pinball glass while you're playing and try to bat at the balls through the glass. I hope that kitty is still around - he was quite charming.
Dec 23, 2011
commented on Only Four Republicans Are Really in the Race
one legit possibility is that he's in it as a stalking horse for obama, but I honestly think he's in it to win it.
I think he's taking a rope-a-dope kind of approach and letting the other candidates beat the shit out of each other and completely discredit themselves, then he's going to really pour on the media blitz and step in looking like the sane, smart, reasonable one. the timing is crucial - he'll have to start hitting it hard a few days before iowa, then really pour it on in new hampshire. if he can pull off a top 2 showing there, he's suddenly a viable candidate through the rest of the primaries and without all the negative baggage all the others are accumulating.
he seems like an excellent bet when it comes to the big business and realpolitik portions of the republican party - he has an incredibly pro-big-business agenda and has a conservative but smart agenda on foreign affairs. and the fact that non-republicans somehow seem to think he's some kind of moderate, despite a lot of evidence to the contrary, is just icing on the cake. he would probably beat the living shit out of obama in the general election. in any sane election cycle (or what passes for sane in US politics), he'd already be the clear, anointed front-runner. but with the lunatics trying to take over the asylum in the republican party (and having some success at it), it's anybody's guess what could happen. in any event, I think he has a plan.
none of this explains why he wouldn't file in virginia, unless he has people who have done some delegate number crunching and they've decided they can clinch the nomination (or come close enough) without virginia. I guess if he's still in the race by Groundhog Day, we'll have a better idea of what his plans are. my prediction is that by Super Tuesday, it'll be down to a three way dogfight between Paul, Romney, and Huntsman and Huntsman will be holding his own.
Dec 1, 2011
commented on Slam Poet Andrea Gibson: Friday at 8pm
@3 - was Stuarts the reading you were involved with in Bellingham? if so - nice one. that place had hands down the best open mic I've ever been to in my 20 or so years of going to open mics. it's not that everyone there was great, but even the crappy ones were crappy in more fresh, interesting, charming ways than similarly crappy readers at other venues.
re: slam -
there are some bright spots - some of the bigger fish in the community at the national level are decent writers and great performers, and once in a while one will see a newcomer do something really fresh and exciting.
unfortunately, the scene seems to be stagnating rather than improving. it's mostly a big circle jerk of crappy writers (and more often than not, crappy performers as well) applauding the crappy efforts of other crappy writers. they self-publish their chapbooks, 90% of which are crap, and then sell them to each other as if they were signing each other's yearbooks. and the more time someone spends doing it, they more they start to sound just like everyone else doing it.
I'm not just saying this as an outsider - I've been an occasional (and sometimes a regular) spectator at the Seattle Slam since 1996 and have watched it get progressively more generic, unimaginative, and circle-jerky every year. it's not that it was great to begin with, but it used to at least be interesting. you'll still see something good occasionally, but it's gotten a lot more rare.
probably the best thing that could happen to the slam community is if it stopped being, or thinking of itself as, a community. people praise each other's shit writing because they don't want to hurt a friend's feelings or because the author is a popular local figure and they don't want to call them out or take an unpopular critical position. but with no one being willing to stand up and say when something is bad, there's no incentive to try and improve (and no way to even know whether one has done so).
which brings me to the second best thing that could happen to the slam community and that is if some of the so-called poets started spending their spare time reading some actual poetry once in a while. ask any random five poets at the slam who their favorite poets are and the list will almost always consist almost entirely of people they know personally and two or three names from the set of the dozen or so most popular page poets. reading new work by people outside their incestuous scene would go a long way toward opening up new stylistic avenues, and reading lots of work by somewhat-less-than-super-famous dead people would also help with that, in addition to maybe providing some sense of continuity, history, and underlying theory of poetics.
and finally, there's the third best thing that could happen to the slam community and that is the immediate demise of most of the "schools" and "classes" and "workshops" that are set up by slam people for slam people to teach slam poetry to other slam people. they perpetuate the generic quality of the work by putting students through the same sorts of exercises and holding up the same types of things as examples to which to aspire. the Bent Institute is a great example - I've seen probably two or three dozen alumni of their program perform over the last decade or so and with two exceptions, they all sounded exactly like Tara Hardy...only not as good usually. Tara herself is a half decent writer and a really outstanding performer, and so it's understandable why someone would want to sound like her. but Bent is failing as an institution by not pushing its participants to seek out a different, less derivative style. and it's only a local example of something that happens all over.
(and in case any of the slam crowd jump all over this, as I've seen them do with other critiques over the years, no - I am not an embittered person who failed to win and now hates the slam. I am not a poet myself, and have only competed once as a joke. I am crazy about good reading, good performance, and original ideas though, which is why I actually give enough of a shit to have an opinion, and why I still drop in from time to time to see what's going on. I also happen to be friends with a bunch of slam and former-slam people, have bought a bunch of product over the years, and have been to slams in several other cities and to nationals. so whatever rebuttal you were about to make, you're probably wrong.)