Monday, February 27, 2006

Unforgotten? Eh, Not So Much

Amazing what you'll stumble across when you clean out your closet.
In November 2004, Cohn went through an equipment closet at the newspaper in search of a lens and saw a cardboard box full of negatives marked, "Keep. Do Not Sell."

The Birmingham News is publishing photographs taken during the tumultuous years of 1950-1965 with the unintentionally ironic yet patronizing headline "Unseen. Unforgotten."

Unforgotten? It's 2006. An intern found them in a storage closet. I'd say that qualifies as "forgotten". Points, though, for having the foresight to mark the cardboard box, "Do Not Sell". Way to archive historical documents, guys.

The photos are great. There's also a PDF version that reproduces their layout in the paper.

That's Some Crazy Shit, Quonsar

I liked this image so I totally stole it from Quonsar's website (which contains the kind of vitriolic Dubyuh-bashing that warms the cockles of my heart). There's also a funny MetaFilter parody page. I'd mark it as NSFW, but I couldn't care less if your boss catches you.

Wow. It's much easier to point to other people being clever than to actually concoct clever shit from scratch.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Virtual Clutter

I'm not sure if Google Desktop is a blessing or a curse. It's certainly distracting. Of course, I'm using its Scratch Pad panel to type this right now, but I don't see how this is any more convenient than firing up Notepad from the Start menu. And the Weather panel: why do I need this? I can go look out the damn window, or get a more comprehensive forecast at I have already disabled the QuickView, Email, and What's Hot panels; the first because it replicates the browser history, which seems redundant, the second because I really don't need to know about my email the millisecond it arrives, and the third because I'd rather decide for myself "what's hot" on teh intraweb. I downloaded the "Calendar" panel before realizing that Microsoft has already solved the problem of having a calendar cluttering up your desktop by allowing one to doubleclick the Start menu clock. Duh. And the News panel is just a constant temptation to surf away from whatever I'm trying to work on.

Now I find that for some reason I can't paste into the "Blog This" window, so I have to go back to Blogger, log in, and get to the main posting page. That's even less useful.

Google Desktop is starting to remind me of Alexa, back in the day. It sounds like a cool idea, but it turns out to be a distracting annoyance. It promises functionality, and delivers clutter. Meh. Uninstall.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Terrell Owens Tips Well, Earth Keeps Spinning

It was the middle of the dinner rush tonight (I use the term "rush" loosely, it wasn't all that busy) and I was busy in the well making way too many frozen margaritas when I heard a server say, "Isn't that Terrell Owens at table 40?" I looked, and sure enough, it was. The NFL's favorite million-dollar brat was enjoying a plate of ribs and a glass of iced tea with a female companion. He seemed to be relaxed and enjoying himself. No one asked him for an autograph or interrupted his meal to offer either praise or condemnation. In fact, nothing exciting happened. I had heard that he's the money behind some downtown bar; perhaps he was here to check in on his investment. His server said his tab was $35 bucks, and he left her a $15 tip. Good for him. My opinion of him has risen incrementally -- as long as he doesn't sign with the Falcons. They have enough problems already.

I never intended to blog about celebrity sports gossip, but it's not every day that T.O. walks into your restaurant. At least not if your restaurant is in Birmingham, Alabama.

Friday, February 24, 2006

On The Minutemen

You don’t know what you don’t know. That’s obvious, but usually only in retrospect.

What I thought would be judged to be one of the greatest records of all time, a real high-water mark in American rock’n’roll, turns out to be seen as a nothing more than a feel-good footnote, a pointer to what might have been. Most kids (the people who could most benefit from the record’s spiky wisdom) haven’t heard it, much less heard of it, and that’s sad beyond belief.

I’m talking about The Minutemen record Double Nickels on the Dime. A Christmas car crash killed guitarist and singer d. boone, leaving the bereft bassist Mike Watt to spend his career alone, trying to do the job of two men, extolling the virtues that punk rock jettisoned well before the bullet exited the back of Kurt Cobain’s skull.

What could be more uncool than honesty and hard work? What could be less hip than admitting that you are flawed and scared and incomplete? What could be more devastating to your carefully-constructed image than openly acknowledging that you love your friends and care about your country and its place in the world?

Double Nickels on the Dime championed all these awkward things with a furious grace that still sounds fresh twenty-some-odd years later. Jagged, angular guitar riffs soar over propulsive drumming, all of the swirling chaos anchored by sinuous bass lines that leap and plummet like a love-struck teenager’s heart. The songs are short: each musical and lyrical idea is worked to its conclusion, and not a second more. The record (what was then known as a “double album”) is crammed with music, but it cannot be described as “sprawling”. It is intensely focused; rather than a flash bulb that blindingly illuminates a crowded space before plunging the viewer back into the gloom, it is a flashlight, playing across details in the dark, tying things together song by song.

Unlike the Ramones, whose simplicity and directness made everyone who heard them think, “I can do that!”, the Minutemen made us marvel; “Wow, they can DO that?” But the message was clear: you CAN do this, all it takes it time and effort, like anything good. Unlike so much punk rock, it wasn’t disposable, it wasn’t ephemeral, it wasn’t just a joke set to a hammering three-chord riff. It was real music, guts and balls and brains intact.

Even the choices of cover songs made a statement: CCR? Steely Dan? The band was deliberately flipping off the doctrinaire punks who were the self-appointed enforcers of the Punk Purity Code. The Minutemen even made it OK to like Blue Oyster Cult again, no small feat.

But it was in their original compositions that the band left their mark on American rock’n’roll. No one has ever sounded like this, before or since. Their sound is instantly recognizable, uniquely their own. It’s the sound of three people reading each others’ minds.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Free Cory Maye

After reading this story at BoingBoing, I realized my situation vis a vis the Shelby County Goon Squad could have been much, much worse. Sign the petition. This guy does not deserve to be in jail at all, much less on Death Row. Looks like the War On Drugs has claimed two more victims. There's much more information on this case here. Or read the article at Wikipedia.

Rachel Ray Can Kiss My Ass

There's this show on the Food Network where uberperky gastropornstar Rachel Ray stuffs herself with food and drink from restaurants and bars in various upscale locales across the US. The kicker is, she can only spend $40 a day. The show is called...let's see...what is it...oh, yeah: $40 A Day. She usually ends up spending less, and eating like a starving hyena. She always asks her server or bartender for more bread, more butter, more this, more that. I wouldn't be surprised if they've edited out the scenes that show her stuffing packets of Equal into her purse, along with the linen and flatware. Then they flash an on-screen tally of the cost of her meal. Well, damn, now I know how she sticks to that budget: she SHAFTS her server! She'll spend $18 bucks for a meal and then tip two dollars! After running her server to death and asking for a slice of the moon on a platinum platter garnished with the skulls of virgins. The sheer gall of this woman, who, according to her Food Network bio, has never been more than seven feet from a restaurant in her whole blessed life. You should know better, Rachel Ray. Shame on you. I hope you find a pubic hair in your next bowl of lentil soup.

On the other hand, Alton Brown rocks.

Brainwashing, Peeing On Demand, and Other Indignities

Some time ago I got crosswise with a couple of musclebound asshats with badges from the Shelby County Sheriff's Office, No Fun Allowed Division. I was charged with possession of a whopping three grams of that deadliest of drugs, marijuana, and I spent thirty days in an orange jumpsuit at the Columbiana Spa and Resort. During this time I annoyed my fellow inmates with my snoring, developed a taste for beans, and was frequently forced to defend my Jell-O (unless it was lime -- then I traded it for Snickers bars). In addition, I paid a hefty fine. You'd think that would be it, right?


Part of my sentence was to undergo counseling and drug testing. I was also mandated to attend 36 AA/NA meetings. "Counseling" consists of sitting around in an uncomfortable circle with a group of men and women whose lives have fallen into various states of disrepair. Each session is an exercise in futility, as we try and repeatedly fail to convince the group moderator that we're all better now, having found Jeebus and admitted we were powerless over [insert something fun here].

Being neither powerless, nor addicted, nor enamored of Jeebus, I am not proving to be the most compliant group member. From what I've gathered so far, the line for expressing one's feelings honestly and openly (which we are repeatedly encouraged to do by our Care Bear Inquisitors) ends well before "this is Kafkaesque bullshit" and "how can the state legally make me attend quasi-Christian cult meetings?"

Of course, I am simply in denial, because I wouldn't be there if I didn't have a drug problem, right? Actually, I wouldn't be there if Alabama's drug laws weren't so draconian and the Shelby County Narcotics Division hadn't needed to justify their existence that week. I wouldn't be there if I hadn't treated the narcs as human beings, instead of the soulless tools of state oppression that they really are. In a county AWASH in OxyContin, methamphetamine, child abuse, alcoholism, and property crime, it was considered a valid use of resources to send two agents to my house to bust me with three grams of weed. Christ on a fucking crutch.

Yes, I broke the law. I did my time, I paid my fine, I learned my lesson. But that's not enough. Now I have to suffer through this Orwellian nightmare twice a week, attend cult meetings with booze-addled losers, and check in once a month with the county referral officer to make sure I'm not out peddling smack to the local middle school.

Enough for now. It's almost morning and I haven't slept yet, and I have to be fresh as a daisy at ten-thirty when the next brainwashing session starts. Oh, and I must remember to bring twenty bucks for the privilege of having my privacy violated and my personhood demeaned so they can watch me pee. If you're reading this, guys, I'm telling you now -- it's clean. I'm a good little monkey. Can I go home now?

A New Blog

The last attempt aborted after about three entries.