Friday, July 31, 2009

Kill The Messenger

Most Americans have never heard of Sibel Edmonds, and if the U.S. government has its way, they never will. A Turkish-American, Edmonds was hired as a translator by the FBI shortly after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 because of her knowledge of Middle Eastern languages. She was fired less than a year later in March 2002 for reporting shoddy work and security breaches to her supervisors that she felt could have prevented the attacks. An interesting analysis by former CIA Officer Philip Giraldican be found at The American Conservative.

The bombshell Edmonds keeps dropping is that the US maintained 'intimate relations' with Bin Laden, and the Taliban, all the way until that day of September 11. These included using Bin Laden for operations in Central Asia, including Xinjiang, China. These operations involved using al Qaeda and the Taliban in the same manner as we had during the Afghan and Soviet conflict, that is, fighting enemies via proxies. Not really so surprising but there is more to the story, I'm not sure what it all means, but you should give it a read at today's Daily Kos if you like talking shop.

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Thursday, July 30, 2009

Stockbauer: Sui Generis

James Stockbauer is a genius. Trust me. His light just shines a little brighter and his dazzle runs a little deeper than your typical hipster. You can probably spot him in the picture.

But what specifically makes him so special, you ask? Well, David Cross hates him, he's a messiah to hundreds, and he single handedly invented modern Tourist-Businessmanship. After a contentious period between us, involving a drunken cab ride from NYC to Philadelphia, a slew of litigious mexican mall-lawyers and the oh so problematic Operation Condor prank, he's back sharing his wisdom with The Running Mule. Enjoy him on Twitter @stockbauer as well.

Travel Tips - Lesson #1: The Airport
Repetitive, obvious tips from flunky Yahoo sites and newsreels abound. Apply sunscreen and pump gas after 6pm? That's the predictable drivel keeping lame brains like Rick Steves and Tony Bourdain in business. Here's some real world advice accumulated by a successful Tourist-Businessman on the make. Don't leave home without it.

10. Skip Cinabun, prezzel shops and fatty eateries at the airport. They slow the heart and mind. Grab an apple and some flying V's (Vivarin) at the gift shop and hit the water fountain. You will be real-time streaming through the airport with ease; Don't risk your trip or a felony by trying to sneak in BC powders or other lame disco danders onto planes or fleet vehicles.

9. Pre-navigate your next gate departure in two simple ways. Tear your destination airport plan out of the back of airline courtesy magazine. Once off the plane ask tons of questions of the airline employee with the clipboard. Confirm future gate is correct. Time permitting, plot by hand your course, noting time and airport bars along the way. Stop for a spell and have one drink at each of a few drinking holes. Don't seem hurried, lounge like you are really staying awhile so you get better service. Have a fat money clip out on the bar at all times. Fat Cats do this and get fine service all the time. Bartenders salivate over cash and can't wait to get off the JOB and burn a few so they will notice this at once. Don't look rotund and lame with your tie undone and shirt pulled out of trousers. These are looser businessman that have failed deals and lives.

8. Spend $400 a year fee on a decent credit card and don't travel with cheap reward gift cards or lame debit cards that show you are ghetto. AMEX Platnum or Plum are best since you get to use the executive lounge for free! And the luxuries just start to unfold. No more having to look at unkept Puerto Ricans or low- jean wearing numbsculls struggling to travel. You will have a polite smile and "Mr. Right, right this way" and off to the bar. Take your iPhone off airplane mode and set to Wi-Fi and start to suck up bandwidth. Play porn in one of many private executive covies, or Twitter till your hearts delight. Drinks are free and you may not have much time so go with drinks that contain multiple top shelf hooches. Grand Marnier, Stoli, and Dramboui,? Why the hell not! You are getting drunk, not trying to hold a stylish drink. Hit the bathrooms where you will be lathered by well dress attendants to your every desire. Fresh towels, mists, fragrances, and toiletries abound. Hit the snack counter for Swiss baby cow cheeses, exotic table crackers, cattered cookies and the like. Grab a banana for the road they don't care. Airport lounge employees have the best job in the world. They pool tips on free drinks and their customer have class and appreciate their services.

7. Smile widely at all cute women they will remember you; Who knows if you are single you may get real lucky and sit next to one on your other leg;

6. Carry multiple business cards for every conceivable business angle. Industrial sales, financial consulting, retail associate, rolphing specialist, and misc services. Pop these on prospects you may believe to have some future chance of bringing you wealth. Your are not lying, you are just flexible. Rich people like to talk to other rich people and notice even the smallest details. Set your self apart by investing in really nice shoes that are well shinned. Don't buy cheap mall shoes they will cost your more than you have saved believe me. People size you up from the bottom up so don't be a dump in this department. Also that smartly placed lapel pin or studded cuff link can be the sparkle in the eye of a future rich buddy:

5. Always join "Gold this" and "Gold that" memberships especially at rental car agencies. Once again you will skip stupid lines where stupid people wait. They will always drop "you" off first on the shuttle while other lame - o's sit there and watch them fetch your expensive and important luggage, and then take you straight to your luxury car that is already running with the keys in it and a mint on the dash; Enough to make OJ blush.

4. Don't be shy of Airport Hotels. They are right there and are the same damn hotel you might use in another ugly and useless part of the connecting city. Besides you can get a 30 minute wake up call prior to departure and get every hangover minute of sleep you can. Set ice bucket, small airplane bottles of booze and a mixer right by the phone ready to be made quickly on your way out. No one ever suspects an 8 am drinker with a orange colored beverage.

3. Cut hair very short or go bald and have no hair at all. Hair has cost many a delayed flight, careers and /or business deals. People don't care about other peoples' hair, just their own. The ones that fiddle with it are loosing money every second and are vain ninnies.

2. Walk fast on moving floor trams and stay left. Always bark ahead at the assholes on the wrong side blocking your way. People are paranoid at airports and will rarely put up a fuss or try to wrangle with you. Take advantage of this and alway be very aggressive. Time is money and some people just burn it. Don't even let handicap people break the rules. We are all human and have places to go.

1. Save our water resources. Don't waste more time and Never worry about washing hands after using the Jon. You already have your handsanitizer and that's what it's for. Sans Swine flu boyz!

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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Have Beer We'll Talk

Former President Lyndon Baines Johnson loved to take reporters on "speed and beer" drives around his Texas ranch. Talking politics while drinking Lone Star beer and flying across the countryside in a Cadillac convertible was the way he brought disparate points of view together. The cadgy old bastard liked a captive audience. When a reporter once complained about how fast the President was driving he simply covered up the speedometer with his hat. President Obama could do the same tomorrow at the Gates-Crowley Pow-Wow but without a proper "Open Road" Stetson for coverage, Crowley would probably have to arrest him.

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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Death By Misadventure: Malcolm Lowery

If you've read Under the Volcano, this documentary will trip you further fucking out. If you've ever been blind drunk on mezcal, you'll empathize with the boozy excesses and if, per chance, you're a muscle-bound, chronically constipated lad with a laughably tiny penis, Volcano: An Inquiry into the Life and Death of Malcolm Lowry, may very well spiral you down the very same nightmarish path below Popocatepetl. It's that crazy a flick.

Called by some the "Ulysses for Alcoholics," Under the Volcano is a monster of a book. I think it true Lowry was a more profligate drunkard than even the boozehound Joyce but to my mind his might just be the better book and therefore deserves it's own headlines. Give Under the Volcano a whirl with plenty of gin and ice and xanex and if you make it through the night, call me in the morning. We'll get some more gin.

Malcolm Lowry
Late of the Bowery
His prose was flowery
And often glowery
He lived, nightly, and drank, daily,
And died playing the ukelele.

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Monday, July 27, 2009

The Sway of the City

Friday, July 24, 2009

Gathering Of The Juggalos

I am not sure what Rockville, IL has done to deserve this but clear your schedules losers. The location of The 10th Annual Gathering of the Juggalos has been announced and it's just a few weeks off. Over the years, the Juggalos have had to secret The Gatherings' location, so no one gets wind in advance. People can't stand these guys and until the date and location is announced, it's like Heisenberg's Principle of Uncertainty waiting to be flash mobbed. Obama's election may have cooled the nation's hate jets a bit but it's still perfectly acceptable to discriminate against a weekends worth of Juggalos.

When Violet J of the Insane Clown Posse describes the experience of attending the Gathering of the Juggalos for the first time, it makes me sad, I'm not into it
It sort of like, what I imagine it's like, for Muslims to visit the holy land of Mecca, that's what I'd imagine it would feel like, for a Juggalo to visit the gathering.
That sounds cool but I don't think I could even fake it. One of my all-time heroes, Richard Francis Burton, was a great faker. He was the first white man to cage his way into Mecca. Thomas Morton, on the other hand, was the first journalist crazy enough to immerse himself in Juggalo culture. Read about his experience at the Gathering 2007, let it inspire you, then grow some balls and get there, ninja. You'll be welcome to as many free cheeseburgers and hot dogs as your fat ass can handle.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Pub Man

Of all English institutions, the one to count on would surely be the pub. Shelter to Chaucer’s pilgrims, home to Falstaff and Hal, throne of felicity to Dr. Johnson, the pub — that smoky, yeasty den of jollity — is the womb of Englishness, if anywhere is. Yet in the midst of this national identity crisis, the pub, the mainstay of English life, a staff driven down into the sump of history, old as the Saxons, is suddenly dying and evolving at equal rates. Closing at something like a rate of more than three a day, pubs have become scarce enough that for the first time since the Domesday Book, more than half the villages in England no longer have one. It’s a rare pub that still thrives, or even limps on, by being what it was meant to be: a drinking establishment. The old idea of a pub as a place for a “session,” a lengthy, restful, increasingly tipsy evening of swigging, is all but defunct.

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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Does A Bear Drink Alone in Woods?

When said bear is on the property of Gavin,
the answer is undoubtedly no.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Giant Steps Are What You Take

Forty years ago today, I was in Houston with my mom and pop watching footage of Apollo 11 on a B&W broadcast tv. It was heady stuff for a 1st grader. Neil Armstrong's words to Mission Control from the lunar surface, "Houston, The Eagle has landed," have been hardwired into my vernacular ever since. Doubts are also hardwired in my thinking so if the moon landing was faked, I'll be damned.

In that vein, I find Richard Hoagland's moon talk a-go-go endlessly entertaining and sometimes pretty smart. I'm not offended that he thinks I didn't see what I saw. Though Buzz Aldrin might be. Here's Hoagland talking dark missions.

While his insane double speak is beguiling, ultimately it remains a flawed, however fervent, fraud. If you're watching the video be patient, he'll get there, just be prepared to embrace your inner Moon Unit Zapata. Giant steps are what you take, walking on the moon. Happy Anniversary to all.

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Friday, July 17, 2009

The Brink Of Apocalypse

On November 8, 1983 World War III almost erupted by accident. That evening, Ronnie Raygun's cowboy schtick convinced the old ass bastards in Moscow an imminent nuclear attack by the West was in the cards. Soviet fingers hovered over the nuclear button as their mammoth fucking arsenal of missiles, bombers and submarines were put on maximum alert in anticipation of a full-scale retaliatory attack. Demented authoritarian cocksuckers on high alert are not a laughing matter. (see Kim Jong Il) Thankfully cool heads and a couple of double agents combined to avert the war games about to go mad scenario. This amazing flick set to a jaunty 80's soundtrack brings to life the very real moment when everything nearly went up in radioactive smoke.

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Thursday, July 16, 2009

Pie Of Life

Rob Patronite and Robin Raisfeld have unleashed their long-in-the-works survey of the new wave of pizza parlors in The Great New York Neoclassical Neapolitan Pizza Revolution. Check the Top 20 pies and read the tweaked out yet fascinating profile of the latest and greatest pizza savant, Anthony Mangieri of Una Pizza Napoletana. Then give baking Jim Lahey’s No-Knead Pizza Margherita a whirl cuz pizza this good fucking rules.

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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

We Chose the Moon

The JFK Library and Museum has just launched an interactive web experience using archival audio, video, photos, and recorded transmissions to re-create, in real time, the July 16, 1969, Apollo 11 mission to the moon. Houston, We Chose the Moon is damn nifty.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The League of Ceiling Starers: Dopes on Bikes

Bike racing in Europe is what boxing is in the States -- a poor kid's way out. A chimney sweep won the first Tour de France, and since then honors have gone to carpenters, plumbers, bricklayers, welders, baker's apprentices and metalworking trainees. (One of the greatest, Italy's Fausto Coppi, wasn't even a butcher, but an errand boy for a butcher, which is how he learned his way with a bike.) The European peloton is a clan with a code, a sweatshop on wheels that doubles as a testing lab for designer doping products. Fans make the biggest heroes of those who suffer most; the founder of the Tour, Henri Desgranges, believed that the ideal race would be one survived by a single rider. If these hero-sufferers take drugs, goes the continental line of thinking, it's because no one can be expected to survive such an ordeal without palliatives, and besides, cheating has been woven into the Tour since its second staging in 1904, when the winner of the first, that chimney sweep, hopped a train for part of the route.

Why are Americans outraged by riders doping to gain edge when European fans expect it and I love it? Read Alexander Wolff. Liberte. Egalite. Fraternite.

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Monday, July 13, 2009

Good Ol' Daze

The reason the good old days are referred to as good, is cuz they killed! Thirty years ago yesterday, Steve Dahl’s Disco Army, which was dedicated to the eradication and elimination of disco joined forces with baseball wiseacre Bill Veeck to promote the infamous Disco Demolition Night at Chicago's Comiskey Park. The plan:
All fans bringing a disco record to the stadium would be charged 98 cents admission (as in 98.3 FM, The Loop’s radio frequency) for the doubleheader against the Detroit Tigers. The records would be collected in a large trash dumpster by the main gate, and the dumpster would be relocated to center field after the first game of the doubleheader, to be blown into smithereens by the commander himself, Steve Dahl. “Stayin’ Alive” and “I Will Survive” would do neither-this was to be the death of disco. On July 11th, Disco Demolition Eve, the White Sox drew just over 15,000 fans to Comiskey Park, filling less than a third of the roughly 52,000 seats in Comiskey Park. By all accounts, the hope was that the promotion the next day would draw an additional 5,000 to 10,000 fans. Three hours before the first game, it became astonishingly clear that all expectations would be exceeded. Read more >>>

The 70s were filled with good old days, in part, because people were less concerned with lawyers and insurance underwriters. Take Ten Cent Beer Night" at Cleveland Municipal Stadium in '74. It ended when "a large number of intoxicated fans – some armed with knives, chains, and portions of stadium seats that they had torn apart – surged onto the field, and others hurled bottles from the stands." Party!

In stark contrast to today, sporting events of yore were fun. Veeck once said, "you can draw more people with a losing team, plus bread and circuses, than with a losing team and a long, still silence." Bravo for circus. Today, everything in sports is too well managed, branded and spun for anything promotionally 'off-point' to occur. The era of flamboyance in sports ownership is gone. Al Davis is finished and should soon be going the way of Teddy Baseball and Mark Cuban couldn't carry Bill Veeck's jock. I still love the soap opera of athletics but professional sporting events suck. Blowing up disco records and having cheap beer brouhahas is more my jelly-roll, and if that ain't American, I'll kiss your ass.

Listen to Steve Greenberg, CEO of S-Curve Records and a former president of Columbia Records, trace the impact of that night.

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Thursday, July 09, 2009

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

123, ABC, I'm On LSD

I watch a lot of Sesame Street this days with Bratzo.
The welcome escape from the world of morning
political baby talk (see Joe Scarborough) has had
the added benefit of shining a lapsed light on the
profound mysteries of numbers and the alphabet.

Letters have a kind of genius for showing the sounds
of speech and its seems to me the alphabet is the
supreme human creation. The ability to represent
even the smallest nuggets of sound allows for written
words. And words are magical. They're the alchemical
sleight of hand creating gold from nothing. Like God
did in the beginning.

Numbers are also quite mystical if you have time
to consider them. Bertrand Russell famously said
Mathematics, rightly viewed, possesses not only truth,
but supreme beauty – a beauty cold and austere,
like that of sculpture, without appeal to any part
of our weaker nature, without the gorgeous trappings of
painting or music, yet sublimely pure, and capable of a
stern perfection such as only the greatest art can show.

So the next time you're bored cuz their aren't
any cool bands playing or no one's invited you
a hip party remember that it was Pythagoras,
the "Father of Numbers," who said "the power
of the number 10 lies in the number 4."
that in your pipe and smoke it. Or come fucking

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Can You Dig It?

I've been dreaming all night about the crazed loons who'll be crashing Michael Jackson's Memorial at the Staples Center in a few hours. LA is already nuts and if you've never been to Downtown LA, spare yourself. It's like a cliched skid row/tent city that changes into a zombie town of homeless junkies when the sun goes down. Throw in say 250,000 Jackson worshippers, 50,000 crooks, plus at least 10,000 pornographers, all converging on the world's epicenter of grief at once, and you've got the makings of a helluva party. With only a 2000 cops to manage this, I am reminded of the classic film The Warriors, and not just for the multitude of nutty and impeccably dressed characters. But rather the moment, when Cyrus, the leader of the most powerful NYC gang, rallys the city's factions pointing out how they now outnumber the police. It's a heady moment for those in attendance, yet brief, as the infighting commences almost immediately. Odds are against this happening but kids do love to take inspiration from the silver screen and there's an opportunity here to make a very big splash mediawise.

At the same time, the City of Angels IS the thuggish burnt-out place, skewed note perfect by the music of NWA. Bullshit cops and gangstas are the first things that come to mind when I think of LA, besides the weird Christianity of In & Out Burger. The confluence of insanity will be mesmerizing. It's approaching the magnitude of a papal event though assuredly the only latin likely spoken will be by Latin Kings. Because Michael, The Warriors and NWA are all classic Americana, this get together should turn out to be the thing of legends. Can you dig it?

Monday, July 06, 2009

Conquerors of the Useless

When I was kid, my dad used to contend that one could learn as much traveling the world as you could in college. It was a bug that has come back to bite me, time and time again. 180° SOUTH by Jeff Johnson promises to be exactly what the old man was talking about. So as I pass on the idea that the world is a place you should begin exploring asap, let me drop these two starter notions on you-- Books to master: Rick Berg's out of print classic, The Art and Adventure of Traveling Cheaply; idols worth emulating: Yvon Chouinard. Innocents abroad now!

Friday, July 03, 2009

Time Wastes Too Fast

Maira Kalman's fantastic illustrated blog, And The Pursuit of Happiness offers a whimsical, yet profound, look at Thomas Jefferson, easily the most intricate character of the American Revolution. It's an easy history primer to set your course to an authentic Independence Day celebration. Gifted as writer, architect, farmer, and inventor of the Baked Alaska (sorry Sarah), Jefferson was a noted deist and responsible for what I consider to be one of the defining American public utterances "I have never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as a cause for withdrawing from a friendship." Fuck art, lets dance.

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Thursday, July 02, 2009

The Man in Our Mirror

The flood of eulogies for the King of Pop let us resurrect his own best self. Greg Tate's smartly crafted article on Michael Jackson and America over at Black Power is well worth the investment of your intellectual time. Here's a taste:

Real Soul Men eat self-destruction, chased by catastrophic forces from birth and then set upon by the hounds of hell the moment someone pays them cash-money for using the voice of God to sing about secular adult passion. If you can find a more freakish litany of figures who have suffered more freakishly disastrous demises and career denouements than the Black American Soul Man, I’ll pay you cash-money.

Go down the line: Robert Johnson, Louis Jordan, Johnny Ace, Little Willie John, Frankie Lymon, Sam Cooke, James Carr, Otis Redding, Jimi Hendrix, Al Green, Teddy Pendergrass, Marvin Gaye, Curtis Mayfield. You name it, they have been smacked down by it: guns, planes, cars, drugs, grits, lighting rigs, shoe polish, asphyxiation by vomit, electrocution, enervation, incarceration, their own death-dealing preacher-daddy. A few, like Isaac Hayes, get to slowly rust before they grow old. A select few, like Sly, prove too slick and elusive for the tide of the River Styx, despite giddy years mocking death with self-sabotage and self-abuse.

Michael’s death was probably the most shocking celebrity curtain call of our time because he had stopped being vaguely mortal or human for us quite a while ago, had become such an implacably bizarre and abstracted tabloid creation, worlds removed from the various Michaels we had once loved so much. The unfortunate blessing of his departure is that we can now all go back to loving him as we first found him, without shame, despair, or complication.

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Wednesday, July 01, 2009

In Rainbows

The symbolism found in the US Capitol Building suggests it's both the center of our federal government and an esoteric temple. A temple built to deify George Washington. The similarities between the image of Washington sitting in a rainbow and traditional depictions of Jesus are uncanny. Painted in true fresco on the ceiling of the Capitol dome, by former Vatican painter Constantino Brumidi, it’s called The Apotheosis of George Washington. The message is clear, George Washington is the American Christ ... and the US Capitol is his temple. Historical meaning is a wild goose chase so why not embrace a story with cool pictures and underground entrances?
Me, I've always preferred cherry trees to gallows-crosses.

واشنطن كبيرة

Read the full tilt imaginings of William Henry in The US Capitol and the Temple In Man

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the running mule