Monday, May 25, 2009

In memoriam

Fuck the sales and opening weekends of movies, if you want to honor a soldier check out this website for the Arlington West project, which is put together by Veterans for Peace. Arlington West Santa Monica is erected every weekend just north of the Santa Monica Pier. One cross is planted in the beach for every service member who has been killed in the war on terror.


Hooray Newspapers!

This is an essay that appeared in yesterday's NYT magazine. It's adapted from a book that is about to come out called “Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry Into the Value of Work,” by Matthew Crawford, which Michael Agger at essentially said is the best self-help book like ever. Agger said that b/c it's much more about the self than the help. It's a first-person personal story rather than page-after-page of lists of shitty, quippy, clich├ęd advice that reads like stereo instructions with steps and journaling pages. (The worst book I ever bought was There's a Hole in My Sidewalk. Crappy self-help that had a cool blue-and-yellow color scheme and playful art direction that attracted me.)

Crawford has a Ph.D. in political philosophy from the University of Chicago, but has found that true human value has come from his work as a motorcycle mechanic. I cannot recommend this essay enough and I am so ready to read this book. Not because I have the empty spot in my soul and have uncalloused hands (though I do have the latter), but because from what I've read, he's a damned good rider telling a great story that just happens to share something. (I'm actually beyond lucky and I have a job with tangible accomplishments.)

It's honestly everything that I'd hope my students would aspire to when they write for L.A. Youth. It's using the personal to impart just a bit of what one has learned and perhaps hoping that the reader interprets what was learned as wisdom?

In the, yes it's 2009 department ... Here's an amazing audio/photo essay on about a high school in rural Georgia that has separate proms for the black and white students. The white students interviewed say that "it's tradition" and "no one really minds, b/c we're all friends in school" while the black students interviewed see the obvious inequality and regret and lament that they cannot spend such a significant night with their best friends.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Don't stop believing

My high school band director, Jack Wade, once cited some study that said gymastics, ballet and playing music were the three toughest disciplines that combined the physical and the mental. Sadly, only two of these three are offered at public schools in this country and those two (gymnastics and instrumental music) are seemingly constantly under the siege of the budgeting axe. As a musical non-athlete, I'll be the first to admit my bias when I complain about how this country wears a jockstrap on its head and grossly over-celebrates athletics and often at the expense of the fine arts.

Sadly, I think this can also be reflected even in our art. Note how many generationally transcendent sports movies there are (The Natural, Field of Dreams, Miracle, Rocky, Karate Kid, Major League, Remember the Titans) and how many are constantly getting released, while movies about the arts, musicians and singers (non pop-star variety) are far more rare (Mr. Holland's Opus, Camp). That's one of the things that appealed to me about the first High School Musical movie; it was a musical about high school musicals! And the musical theater geeks weren't geeks either! Hooray Disney on that one.

But now we're getting what I hope will be a far edgier and more realistic portrayal, Glee. Well, given that Glee, which debuts on Fox after American Idol tomorrow, is created by Ryan Murphy or Nip/Tuck fame perhaps "realistic" wasn't the best word. But at least in this show the female characters might have belly buttons.

Sadly, though I was a band geek, I didn't have a good relationship with the throats at school and never once went to see the school musical. I think I saw the throats and bandies more as rivals for what seemed like our school's very limited fine arts budget. Honestly, looking back we supported the arts a lot compared to some schools. We had band rehearsal every day, two bands and a jazz band plus several choirs all of which met every day. Unfortunately, it wasn't until I moved to Los Angeles that I really figured out who I am and found my inner fine arts camp geek; the kid who realizes that all the marginalized arts kids whose creativity threatens some narrow-minded, insecure asshole's sexuality need to band together.

Anyway, honestly superexcited by it. I'd kinda half-ignored the ads until Amy (who actually attended the band camp in American Pie 2) sent me the extended trailer. I'm sooooo glad that she did.

NOTE: Yes, I now after just posting this remember Fame (which was great) and am fully aware that there's going to be a new Fame movie due out this fall. I love that performing arts are getting a shout. Hooray, but something tells me that Fame isn't going to have the apparent humor and hopefully cleverness of Glee. I wanna be so wrong though.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Collected stuff

• I've gotta pass along this fabulous NYTimes story about doing Portland, Oregon on a budget. The coolest thing for me with this story is that pretty much every restaurant noted in it was new to me. I've blogged before about drinking and eating and in general enjoying all that my second-favorite city has to offer and traveled around the Rose city several times with my old college roommate, Bill. After reading the Frugal Traveler's piece I want so badly to head back this summer. Perhaps I can squeeze a few dollars out of my bank account and fund a four-day trip in June?

• Also, speaking of things progressive and green, I have to again recommend my coworkers blog about her efforts to be verdant. In her latest entries she writes about the perils of paperless billing, saving water through shorter showers and de-cataloging herself. [I really like this blog because it's written by someone who is a professional writer and has a goal/theme/point, unlike mine, not that I don't like mine, but ... nevermind.]

• And lastly, I can't get enough of the new Metric album, Fantasies. You can listen to the entire thing at and also watch some videos and hear an acoustic version of "Help, I'm Alive." Right now, Fantasies and Middle Cyclone are my two fave albums of 2009. I haven't acquired the latest Decemberists CD or Lily Allen's or Camera Obscura's but I don't see how I could like them more.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Hooray Maine!

Same-sex couples can now get married in Maine. When Gov. John E. Baldacci (D) signed the law, he made Maine the fifth state overall to legalize marriage for same-sex couples. What's really cool is that Maine is the first state to allow marriage for same-sex couples without a court order (Massachusetts, Connecticut and Iowa) or without the state legislature having to overturn a governor's veto (Vermont).

Come on New York! Gov. David "My approval rating is seriously almost negative" Paterson has publicly said he would like to see this happen. Just because he seems to have fucked up everything else, doesn't mean that you should not vote to extend basic civil rights to state taxpayers.

And the countdown continues for California. *fingers crossed*

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Why the GOP rebound might take longer than anticipated

This image, "borrowed" from's Ticker political blog and from Getty Images, I think does the best job of illustrating the GOP's problems connecting to Americans. One woman and zero ZERO apparent non-white people. And nice job looking youthful.

It's a good time to be a Democrat, too bad I'm not one. :(

Btw, Barck, WTF?

*Isn't that type of empty symbolism masquerading as patriotism what you were trying to get rid of.