Friday, January 30, 2009

Pico Iyer: Japan Explained

Travel writer Pico Iyer tells Studio 360 that Zen practice is hard work, talking is overrated and that Japan is the weirdest place in the world.

More Japanese goodies at Studio 360

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Shakespeare was a Big George Jones Fan

It may come as a shock but sometimes cool stuff IS on the internets. These home movies of Johnny Cash & Cowboy Jack Clement are so fucking great they will blow your mind. If you don't believe me, and the video doesn't convince you, then there's really no point in suggesting you read the great Roy Blount's, COWBOY STYLE: Jack, Johnny, and something only pigs can do in the Oxford American. But you know what? You should.

I met John Cash a couple of times in my life and I can say he was a much bigger man in person. Because your mine I walk the line.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Updike's Perfection Wasted

Perfection Wasted

And another regrettable thing about death
is the ceasing of your own brand of magic,
which took a whole life to develop and market --
the quips, the witticisms, the slant
adjusted to a few, those loved ones nearest
the lip of the stage, their soft faces blanched
in the footlight glow, their laughter close to tears,
their tears confused with their diamond earrings,
their warm pooled breath in and out with your heartbeat,
their response and your performance twinned.
The jokes over the phone. The memories
packed in the rapid-access file. The whole act.
Who will do it again? That's it: no one;
imitators and descendants aren't the same.

~ John Updike

John Hoyer Updike (March 18, 1932 – January 27, 2009)

Monday, January 26, 2009

Ken Russell's Mind Furor

Ten years ago, while working on The South Bank Show, Melvyn Bragg and I had a heated discussion on the pros and cons of film censorship. Broadly speaking, Melvyn was against it, while I, much to his surprise, was absolutely for it. He then dared me to write a script that I thought should be banned. I accepted the challenge and a month or so later sent him a short subject entitled A Kitten for Hitler. “Ken,” he said, “if ever you make this film and it is shown, you will be lynched.”

Well Ken Russell made it and you can watch it at Comedy Box.
This is fucked up. Haha

Friday, January 23, 2009

A Drug For Every Age

Thanks to the FOIA addicted drug sleuths at The Smoking Gun there can be no denying the importance of celebrity branding in the illicit drug world. These merry pranksters are not only masters of subterfuge but are unparalleled in their creative efforts to hustle black market goodies. I suppose it was only a matter of time until the President's name turned up adorning NYC back alley bindles but ladies and gentlemen, Obama heroin? Mercy. This brown sugar joins a long line of concoctions using celebrity endorsement to lure recreational drug users into really getting their freaks on.

There was the paper LSD marked with Disney's Goofy, ecstasy bearing Harry Potter's stamp of approval, bricks of Teletubbies cocaine, and green-tinted crack in recognition of St. Patrick's Day. The audacity of dope indeed. Oh, and I almost forgot the lovable Taliban's all time best seller, Bin Ladin heroin.

Related Posts
Another Reason To Hate The Taliban
Taliban Update

Thursday, January 22, 2009

This Song Kills Fascists

I dare you not to get a little misty eyed at this version of Woody Guthrie's This Land is Your Land performed at the Inauguration. It's the American song because it so honestly captures the authenticity of our collective spirit. Pete Seeger and Bruce Springsteen nail it by including the rarely heard original protest verses like “Nobody living can ever stop me" and the crowd goes wild. Goosebumps!

Perhaps it's just my moral smugness but Toby Keith couldn't carry Woody Guthrie or Pete Seeger's guitar pick. How do you like me now?

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Spy Who Came In For The Gold

The Russians are coming... the Russians are coming... To England that is. Alexander Lebedev one of the new breed of overnight oligarchs has layed claim to a British cultural institution. The billionaire and former KGB spy bought the 200 year old London Evening Standard today.

In the aftermath of the mysterious 2006 murder of Russian dissident Alexander Litvinenko in London, England and Russia have not been getting along so well. So people are quite nervous about a former Russian disinformation specialist taking over a British tabloid. It's a situation that would have seemed unimaginable 20 years ago. But the word is that Lebedev doesn't really dig his old KGB comrade Vladimir Putin. So maybe no worry for us. Yet denouncing Putin has a proven risky opinion so wagering how long Lebedev will be able to enjoy the fruits of his plunder might make for a nice Vegas bet. On the other hand, Mr Lebedev says he has no intention of interfering in British politics but then can you really take a master of espionage at his word?

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Inauguration Day Punk Show

In the new Mr President's inaugural address today, he laid the wood to the Bushies' wild transgressions in a call for Direct Action to reclaim our cultural legitimacy. Here is bit what he said:
As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our Founding Fathers, faced with perils we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience's sake. And so to all other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born: know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman, and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and that we are ready to lead once more.

Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.

Alright, the fervor is not exactly revolutionary and it remains a constant that Talk minus Action equals Zero, Mr. President. So what can you, dear reader do for your country? Don't ask -- just continue the diatribe and rouse the rabble a bit tonight. If in New York City take your dazzle to the show at The Market Hotel. Some of our favs, Fucked Up and 80's Hardcore will be pushing buttons and throwing sticks in cages and since we've turned the corner to a new era of inclusiveness Pissed Jeans and Vivian Girls will surely be lovely as well.

It's a punk show and politics should be favored over trendy tattoos (fingers crossed) but regardless come out and Make This Scene Mean Something - it's the American Way.

Tuesday January 20th @ MARKET HOTEL
:::::: Pissed Jeans
:::::::: Vivian Girls
:::::::::: 80’s Hardcore

Related Posts -
Political Life Imitating Art
God Damn I Love the 80's

Monday, January 19, 2009

Friday, January 16, 2009

Drug Crazed Boy

Not even the mystical magic of Jewish Kaballah could save the Boy George from going to jail for 15 months. Boy, whose head is tattooed with a large Star of David even though his name is O'Dowd was found guilty last Decemeber of handcuffing and beating a male escort in a drug fueled sexcapade.

Because Kaballah is basically numerology, it's hardly surprising that the scene of the sensational crime included a ritual specific 13 bags of coke. Other mystical instances of 13? Alex Rodriguez's jersey and the number of original colonies in the United States.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

It's Sue

Watch the premiere of How's Your News?
February 8th at 10:30pm on MTV

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Gods vs The Money Lenders

The choir of world financial advice is hitting on all religious cylinders. The Dalai Lama blames the financial crisis on a decline in spirituality. Hindus blame it on greed. Saudi Grand Mufti, Abdul Aziz al-Sheikh, blames the crisis on ignoring God's rules. Jewish scholars say we could have avoided a crisis by following Talmudic traditions. Pope Benedict sees the global financial system as "self-centred, short-sighted and lacking in concern for the destitute." If none of these gurus are ticking the god part of your brain forget them and roll dice with the mule.

Related post
I'm All Lost In This SuperMarket

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Sir Charles

Charles Barkley has always been one of my favorites. I think it's just in the way he says Alabama that melts me. Or that he was called the Crisco Kid in college. Anyway, him getting in trouble on New Year's Eve is kind of an old story at this point but his excuse exemplifies why he's known to legions of fans as Sir Charles. Only a gentleman would risk his livelihood by racing to the aid of a young girl stranded and waiting on a street corner. A chivalrous act without question. He shouldn't be denied a livelihood just because he ran a stop sign and was drunk. Mind you, it was no ordinary situation. Circumstances were extenuating. The damsel in distress had "given him a 'blow job' one week earlier," which the former NBA star described as "the best one he had ever had in his life."

I'm tired of TNT and T-Mobile dissin' on Sir Charles. This man has committed no crime other than driving drunk, which I am sure some community service can take care of, but his reputation has been unduly sullied by a pleasant memory and a poorly placed stop sign. Sir Charles for Governor!

Related Posts~
Every Day is Like Sunday
The League of Ceiling Starers: Dopes on Bikes
America's Funniest Team: The Dallas Cowboys
Better Hitting Through Chemistry
Smokin' Joe Has His Say
Good Ol' Daze
Super Bowl Shanghai
Skateboarding Is A Crime
Roger Goodell Won't Stop Dogin' Michael Vick
Mr. Best, Where Did It All Go Wrong?
The Legendary Satchel Page
The VICE of Golf

Bonus: A great piece on Charles from his time at Auburn

Monday, January 12, 2009

LOST Season Premiere

LOST is back and just as 'god help us' crazy as ever. On January 21st, Season 5 will begins with two episodes Because You Left and The Lie served back to back. The dream weaving of a story line literally bouncing along the space-time continuum played out here is still working its magic on me. Here is some intrigue I discerned from having watched but no real spoliers.

The terrific opening of Ep1 hints at two themes that dominate the Island side of the story: the long history of hostilities between competing groups on the island and the mysterious source of the Island's power. The first five minutes are jammed with tricks and treats, hems and haws but I suggest you look closely at the guy mowing the lawn at the Barracks and the construction worker in the Orchid station. Plus, the new Dr. Martha.

Because time has cut the Island Losties free, they're bouncing uncontrollably through the history of the island, making the range of possible encounters with previous islanders endless. The conceit echoes the sketchiness of moving through history outlined in Philip José Farmer's Riverworld series. But it also plays heavy with the idea that interfering in the past -- like the hunter in Ray Bradbury's "A Sound of Thunder" -- can have unimaginable consequences. The key to navigating these complexities seems squarely in the hands of Daniel Faraday. Spoiled newsflash: the story of the Island is already written in the journal Desmond helped Faraday start at Oxford in 1996. Holy time-warp, Transylvanians!

Ep 2's action is provoked as a consequences of lying. The lives back home of the Oceanic Six or City Losties are falling apart because they have fibbed. Uncertainty turn after turn is pitting them mistakenly (or not) in opposition to each other. Sun seems particularly at odds with Jack's plan and Hugo throws a real monkey wrench at Ben. Characters even appear from the great beyond with contradictory yet sage advice, and it's all just confusing as hell who to trust. Everyone's decisions seem flawed from the viewer's perspective. It's fun TV 'cause all you can think about is what the fuck would I do?

A few mystical notes. We learn why Richard sought out young Locke to administer the Tibetan Buddhist test for identifying a reincarnated lama/savior; plus, Ben appears surprisingly reliant on his own soothsayer, a familiar "druid" who's hoping to right the course of the story with devotional candles and an ancient astrolabe pendulum gizmo.

There's more but I don't want to ruin it for you with a monsoon of hoodwinks and half-truths. I'm starting to feel a little bit like Benjamin Linus myself, but then that's just the kind of spoiler I am.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

When A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words and One Million Glorious Calories

The best thing about winter weekends is the free pass given by spouses for unmitigated indulgence. And during the American football playoffs, dietary boundries get even blurrier. When the games are in play, the booze flows like Fat Tuesday in New Orleans and the immensity of caloric laden delectables is as ridiculous as it is debaucherous.

Now, I've eaten a lot of wild halftime dishes in my day including chicken skin sandwiches and stewed human placenta but this featured weave of pork and dairy, baked off, stuffed, rolled, sliced and served should ensure NFL backed arteriosclerosis research funding well into the next century.

There's a reason Orthodox Jews will wait 6 hours after eating meat or dairy before switching to the opposite. Wrapping it up in one fried bundle can stop in your tracks before you can say predator drone. Combined with the psychotic levels of "homerism" displayed by both football and religious fanatics these pork and diary weaves can't be an easy circulatory ride for blood already thickened like gumbo. But since neither Jews nor Muslims partake of swine, it is up to you American Sportsman to throw caution to the wind for the sake of your local hog farmer as well as your favorite footballing team. Be a good neighbor, take this heart fluttering bacon & cheese roll over to a buddy's bash just make sure the batteries for defibrillator are charged.

Related posts from the the Running Mule archive
Every Day is Like Sunday
America's Funniest Team: The Dallas Cowboys

Friday, January 09, 2009

The News Story That Changed My Life

I cried the night the Sex Pistols played the Longhorn Ballroom in Dallas. At 15 years old, my Dad wasn't about to let me make the long drive to the show though I pleaded my case with all manner of teenage exaggeration. The old man wasn't moved by my tears and he wouldn't have been moved by the Pistols. But as note to parents: not seeing the show may have turned out to be an even more powerful influence as I shoved my first safety pin through my ear the next day.

Years later I would see the Cro Mags with Motorhead at the Longhorn but was more most interested in asking people about the night the Sex Pistols were in town than sparing with skinheads. Over the years, I've met quite of few people and heard some funny tales from those who were in attendance but this unearthed bit of historic rock-n-roll gold makes me shiver with glee anew.

To revisit the tale of when I finally did met up with the band go to the Running Mule archive.
Johnny Rotten, You Fat Old Irish Fuck

Thursday, January 08, 2009

The Loco Gringos

When Tom Foote of the Loco Gringos passed away in 1990, it marked a point when the devil may care innocence of american punk seemed to slip away. The first ten years of the hardcore music scene were characterized by a sort of collectivist lifestyle, people/bands were too poor and the scenes too small to go it alone. There was no money in the music, no factory t-shirts or tattoo parlors in malls. It was just for fun cause there was little glory. Known to many as simply Pepe, Tom was a guiding light of punk merriment in America. The Loco Gringos were the demented poster boys for hard drinking, music playing fun. The music, the props, the hearse and the sheer gap-toothed grinning lunacy was enough to make everything else seem unimportant.

Til then punk scenes were really just underground words of mouth. You had to know someone if you wanted to get in. Shows were invariably in peoples back yards and parties turned into weekend long sleepovers. Gringo Manor in Dallas was one of the wildest no holds barred good humored booze-a-toriums of all time. DC9 At Night has a terrific write up about The Gringos and Tom. And though times have changed the bands rage on. So if you have some spare time this Saturday and you happen to be in Texas go play tribute to the old days. The Hickoids will be there and that just can't be beat. Tip a Schaeffer to Pepe for me and kiss Jeff Smith on the lips.

Saturday, January 10 at Lakewood Bar & Grill
6340 Gaston

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

"Totally For Teens" Screening Party Tonight

TV Carnage's Derrick Beckles just finished making a best selling TV show titled “Totally for Teens" for Adult Swim. It features the multi-talented multi-culturalist, Mr. Beckles forcing teens to not only look into the future but hate on themselves and eat cream filled pickles. Don't fret parents he's a role model of the first order. Tonight's screening of the Pilot Episode at Monster Island will undoubtedly be a star-studded gala, wickedly funny and overrun with both children and the usual Type A Williamsburg B-listers. Go to our sister's site SBTVC for more dazzle and specifics of how you can attend!

Be there or be squared.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Twenty Thousand Keys Under the Sea

Once upon a bender ago, I went to Bolivia on a coca quest after seeing Evo Morales at the United Nations. President Morales would later tell me in person that the coca plant was sacred to his people and they didn't give one whiff about it in the powdered form. Cocaine he said was American's problem and without our demand there would be no market and therefore no production. Whatever. Though it's no secret how coca leaves are turned into cocaine, the mysteries of distribution are a bit more elusive.

I'd been wondering how the cartels were transporting this "devil's dandruff" to the US ever since the CIA shuttered their Mena, Arkansas cocaine importation and supply hub. Cuz unlike oil, there is no drug shortage in sight. You can rest assured that powdered baggies are still lining the watch key pockets of hipsters from sea to shining sea and in these trying economic times the bathroom stall installation biz is probably a good investment opportunity if you don't want to risk becoming a dealer straight up.

But I digress. Coke is good for daydreaming and when you have money and minions you can make some wacky shit happen. So taking a page straight from Jules Verne, the hustlers started building submarines in the jungles of Colombia and launching them from the Pacific coastline where muddy rivers loop into the ocean. It's a smugglers' paradise.

The Captain Nemo of Coke, Enrique Portocarrero built a cocaine armada of 20 smuggling semi-submersibles. These ocean going jalopies are the pinnacle of rural sci-fi design. So take heart in knowing that your hard earned drug money is not merely wasted on a cheap buzz but also going to a good cause: the support of 3rd World industrial arts. And people hate the NEA!

My Bolivian Marching Powder adventure can be sniffed out here

Monday, January 05, 2009

Nothing Is Sacred, Thank God

Readers of The Running Mule have often discerned a biased and admiring bent towards the rabble rousing of Christopher Hitchens. For reasons more than just the fact that he smokes in the shower, I find his dialectic and demeanor engaging but then I drink lot. What you probably don't know is that one my favorite books is The Satanic Verses. I received a copy for X-Mas 1988 after traveling for some months in the Middle East and was been blown away by Salman Rushdie's mastery of language. It reminded me of my father's favorite tale of power run amok, Bulgakov's The Master and the Margarita and made me curious about Islam in a positive way. I even began reading the Koran. But just then the Ayatollah Khomeini issued the fatwa that commanded the world's Muslims to kill Rushdie for the blasphemous crime of having written The Satanic Verses. I was dumbfounded. Khomeini must be crazy and I thought, 'fuck him,' no one will go along with this medieval hypocrisy. But now I see (more clearly) that I must have been the one who was crazy. Crazy to believe people were free of the fear organized religion preys upon. What an asshole I am. Haha.

Anyway, I was overjoyed to see Hitchens had written of Rushdie in the most recent Vanity Fair. It reinvigorated my affinity for his work but also reminded me of the horrible loss the world has suffered because of this islamic demagoguery. Please read Assassins of the Mind. It's got all the markings of a best seller: perverse religiosity, murdered innocents, armies of zombies at the ready, state-sponsored terrorism and a very real threat to cultural freedom of expression. I am gonna dig out a copy of The Satantic Verses tuck it under my arm a parade up and down Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn cuz blasphemy can go to goddamn hell.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Every Wonder How This Shit Gets Started

Politics, racism, and religious prejudice play a big part in the magic that is the Holy Land, a place where any morning can be the 3rd Century BCE complete with rocks flying at your head and prophets at the ready to steal your soul.

According to the NYTs, this latest violence between Hamas and the State of Israel appears to have been timed to coincide with the final days of a complicit Bush Presidency. And with the new intel about competitive reading in the White House it seems certain the coast is clear as Bush and the Turd-Blossom busy themselves with a good book.

and tragically for the innocents there is no place to fucking hide

Friday, January 02, 2009

The Asshole at Sundance

But he's our asshole. See him at Sundance.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

If a 90 Year-Old Falls in the Woods...

... and no one is there to blow out the birthday candles would he really be a year older?

If the birthday boy in question is JD Salinger then the answer is.... I have no idea. As the NYT's rightly notes the reclusive Salinger makes Thomas Pynchon seem like a gadabout. Easily America's most famous living author, the cloistered old kook has been seen by virtually no one since he bolted the doors on his New Hampshire hideaway. That he values his anonymity-obscurity is not curious but the unanswerable question about what he is doing vexes the literary world. Has be been working, and does he continue to write ? Is there more of the Glass family for greedy fans to enjoy? And if perchance there is more, will anyone ever be able to read what he has been working on these long 40 years? No one seems to have any answers and no one knows what JD Salinger is doing for his birthday today though most would agree it's "A Perfect Day for Bananafish"

So keep on coming through the rye on this birthday Mr Salinger and please don't fall cause no one is gonna be there to catch you.

the running mule

the running mule