Jane Smiley: Goodbye, Cruel World

Writer Jane Smiley sums up our choice in one week. This paragraph is worth quoting in full:

In a week, we have a chance to leave this world behind. If we look at our two candidates, the differences between them are stark. John McCain, who was raised by and accepts the authoritarian model, is evidently never at peace. He is hot-headed, erratic, and has been remarkably cruel. He claims to have principles, but his principles change every time he loses his cool. The more he is pushed, the more it becomes evident that he lives by his own selfish desires — for money, for power, for women. He’s is a classic avoider, who can’t even answer the simplest question — if something “unpleasant” comes up, he changes the subject. Barack Obama rarely changes the subject, because he is fully capable of looking at an issue and considering it. He seems to have been reared in a non-authoritarian household, by a loving mother and loving grandparents. He thinks that the world is a rational place that can be understood and modified. His own family seems happy and loving. Right wingers think he is shallow, but he isn’t shallow — he’s well-adjusted. And we’ve had two whole years to poke him and prod him and discover this. Obama has grown through campaigning because he has learned from it. McCain gets ever smaller and more weird as he campaigns because he doesn’t understand what is happening to him. When we choose between these two men, we are choosing between two worlds — the world of ignorance, fear, manipulation, and cruelty, and the world of rational investigation, weighing of options, and planning. This world is a world where sexual preference is not such a big deal, salvation is not an eternal mystery, and life goes on. It’s a world where bad things happen, but there is no malign Godly intention behind them. It is world that understands the temptations of human nature and attempts to deal with them rationally and systematically. Some of these attempts will fail, but on balance, not as many as have failed in the last twenty-five years.

McCain is the unaware self. Obama understands ambiguity and doubt. Can we please stop voting for people who have unfinished issues with their dads? Thanks.

Early 1980 Electronic Weirdness


Gotsdamn, I love the Internet sometimes! Case in point: music blog Mutant Sounds. For a month or so now, the owner of this blog has been posting rips of extremely rare electronic music from the early ’80s that only saw release on obscure, home-made cassette labels like Adventures In Reality, Roding Recordings, Integrated Circuit Recordings, and plenty others. Some I have downloaded have been a bit too gnarly and amateurish for my ears, but others are just gems.

Two I recommend are Rick Crane’s A Long Week in Houston from 1982 (maybe) and Robert Lawrence & Mark Phillips’s The Dadacomputer (1981). “Houston” is two side-long analog synth space noodlings, one with taped voices, the other without, but both transport me back to the times when you could pick up weird music on the radio, late night. Or maybe that’s just my memory. “Dadacomputer” is more rough and ready cut-up style, but bits remind me of Tuxedomoon. There’s more to choose from, but I don’t have the time to grab ’em all.

Interview wtih 74 year old porn star


Continuing our senior theme for the day, here’s an interview you won’t see in AARP magazine. VICE interviews Shigero Tokuda, who has found a strange niche being one of the oldest porn stars. Sure his films aren’t mainstream, but there is an audience out there for them, and it sounds like he does rather well. Also, his thoughts and outlook are quite progressive.

What are your views on the sex climate in Japan?
I first learned about sex in the postwar period, when we didn’t have anything. Everybody was so focused on living, studying, graduating, and working that neither my classmates nor myself were all that interested in sex. So for my generation, it’s all about getting back those lost dreams of our youth. Society is more open about porn now, which I guess is a good thing. But personally, I think that sex should be regarded as something more austere. I mean, it’s the physical communion of two people. I know it sounds rich from somebody doing the work I do, but I sincerely believe that. I would like to make a deeper human-to-human connection with the people that I sleep with.

Sweet Gene Tierney


Posts like this one by David Cairns remind me why I subscribe to his Shadowplay blog. Here he is rhapsodizing about 1940’s starlet Gene Tierney:

I now list the features, and excuse me if I get overcome and have to go lie down:
The eyes: large, long, and very wide apart. I have a vision of walking up to Gene and putting my hand over the centre of her face, and of her looking back at me from around either side of my palm. THOSE EYES IS WIDE APART.
The big pale moonlike forehead. I am a man who likes a forehead. (Paulette Goddard, what a forehead that is! An eighthead, in fact.)
The nose, apparently hand-shaped from some soft, wonderful material — butter, perhaps – by tiny master craftsmen.
The cheekbones, beautifully defined, as if constructed especially to receive Von Sternberg’s light.
The mouth, completely redesigned by ambitious lipstick in these images, but in reality a wide, full and elaborately flared labial sculpture, balancing the eyes, and containing slightly erratic teeth which add charm to what could otherwise be chilly perfection.

Thank You, William Kristol!

A few interesting revelations on the poli-blogs today after the third and final trouncing of John McCrankypants in the debates. One is this Glenn Greenwald interview with Scott Horton, lawyer, professor, and writer for Harper’s.

Ever wondered who came up with the now stizoopid choice to push Sarah Palin as the VP? Turns out it was William “The Bloody” Kristol.

And the interesting thing is of course, if we look across the whole horizon of conservative columnists, prominent conservative columnists, pretty much all of them are expressing reservations or concerns or they’re outright opposing Palin as a pick, with one really striking exception, and that’s Bill Kristol. And Bill Kristol, in none of his columns has acknowledged that he in a sense is the author of Sarah Palin. He discovered her, he promoted her, and he pushed her through to the vice-presidential nomination.

Because, when you are looking for important advice, you want to turn to a political hack and insider who’s been consistently wrong for eight years on almost everything. And now look where they are! Bwaaahahaha!!

The other news
is the unraveling of “uncommitted voter Joe the Plumber” from the debate. It didn’t take too long to find out lots of interesting things, like his unpaid tax problems, but this is the best nugget so far:

Turns out that Joe Wurzelbacher from the Toledo event is a close relative of Robert Wurzelbacher of Milford, Ohio. Who’s Robert Wurzelbacher? Only Charles Keating’s son-in-law and the former senior vice president of American Continental, the parent company of the infamous Lincoln Savings and Loan. The now retired elder Wurzelbacher is also a major contributor to Republican causes giving well over $10,000 in the last few years.

Bwaaaahahahaha!! Can the Republicans do one single thing that isn’t cynical and transparently false?

Our Lips Are Sealed

Has there ever been a pop song like “Our Lips Are Sealed”? Check the facts: Terry Hall (Specials, Fun Boy Three) was in a relationship with Jane Wiedlin of the Go-Gos. They co-write this song about their love affair. Weidlin takes it back to her group and the Go-Gos have a huge hit with it. Wiedlin sings the bridge. Terry Hall then brings out his own version with Fun Boy Three and he also has a hit with it, just on the other side of the Atlantic. Compare and contrast the sunny California pop of the Go-Gos version with the pop-Goth Fun Boy Three version and you hear the two personalities behind the songwriting talking about the other.

So, in the annals of pop, is there a song that is written by two lovers about their own relationship that then goes on to be a hit for both parties in their respective groups? I doubt it. But if there is, let me know.
P.S. Whoever shot the bridge section of the GoGos video has complete FAIL in showing the person singing it. Jane, what happened??