Friday, September 29, 2006

Stop the Corruption

October is the month of Change. This October leads us right up to the election of 2006. Isn't it ironic that some of the Republicans' most powerful names on the 2006 ballot are those they want removed? From Tom Delay to Joe Foley, these disgraced leaders epitomize the corruption and the arrogance that have grown like a disease in our government. Truth and goodness have been replaced with lies and greed of the worst sort. Republican fundraiser Abramoff's crimes are but a symptom of this governmental power run amok. Our nation needs us all to remove the Corrupticans from office and restore integrity to Congress.

Foley, like Governor McGreevy of New Jersey, is the latest victim of his own closet. Only in Foley's case, his repression has led to his preying on teenage pages of the House of Representatives. At least Jim McGreevy has seen the light and emerged from his cave a wiser man. Foley seems more like an abusing priest, preying (pun intended) on the most vulnerable.

What is the antidote to all the corruption and greed?

If nothing else, I'd suggest art. This month we shall enjoy a show in Chattanooga at the Tivoli by Leslie Jordan, traditional art from the Louvre at the High Museum, and some excellent films, including an Almodovar retrospective and the new film Shortbus.

Here's how this particular film addresses the problems of the day:

Sex film "Shortbus" finds distributors world-wide

By Rachelle Younglai

TORONTO (Reuters) - Hard core sex in a mainstream movie? No problem.

Three months after John Cameron Mitchell showed his sexually explicit film "Shortbus" out of competition at the Cannes film festival, he said it had attracted distributors in dozens of countries, including the United States, Canada, Japan, France and Singapore.

"People are ready for change. There is a thirst for something different," Mitchell told reporters on Friday at the Toronto International Film Festival, where "Shortbus" was set for its North American premiere before an October opening in the United States.

Mitchell aims to use sex as a metaphor to tell a story about people looking for solace and searching for something more in their lives in a post-September 11 world.

"What pissed me off was that it was ... generically identified of as porn," Mitchell said of his film. "We are not trying to do anything salacious here. That is just the language which we speak."

The film is graphic: Scenes include a man being whipped by a dominatrix as he masturbates and a straight couple having sex in a variety of positions.

But pornographic? Mitchell argues not.

"Porn is really to arouse. This film explores the other areas of sex," he said.

The story revolves around two couples, one straight and one gay, accompanied by a few other lonely souls.

One couple seeks counselling from a sex therapist, played by Sook-Yin Lee, who works for the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. as on-air host of a show about popular culture.

It turns out Lee's character has never experienced an orgasm, which leads the couple to invite her to a salon called Shortbus, where everything goes -- from group sex and voyeurism to cabarets.

Lee said there were initial reservations at the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. about her being in the film.

"Once they were re-educated, they allowed me to do this movie," she said at a press conferen

"I don't know if I would have been able to do this if I was working at CNN."

Happy changes...


Thursday, September 21, 2006

The R word

"Bush is the Devil."

"Saddam is evil."

"The Pope is the Anti-Christ."

Whatever the charge, it is all Pure


Superstition, otherwise known as the R- word: Religion, is the true root of all evil.
The Pope's quotation from a Byzantine Emperor could easily be expanded to include all religions:

"Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached."

The man Benedict quoted was Manuel II. He was one of the last emperors of Constantinople. The Byzantine Empire finally fell to the Turks 28 years after his death. Manual II failed to convince the West to save Byzantium. He was himself, at times, a prisoner of the Ottoman Turks and was involved in various failed intrigues with them.

Emperor Manuel II Palaiologos

Met Home

The ultimate irony is that Manuel II-- and Benedict by referring to him-- argued for the use of reason. Reason over blind faith. Reason over irrational and violent zealotry. It is just such reason that should have inhibited Bush. What the Christian Fundamentalists say about Islam is just as true of themselves: Use of the sword (and bombs) to spread ideology and religion is wrong, no matter the religion and no matter the ideology (We can't force freedom).

And so, let's take the Pope at his word:
Let's use our reason, use our heads.
We are all Hamlet's Yorick.
We are all this daughter of Lucy --
half ape, half human,
far from being angels.

Reread Sailing to Byzantium.


Sunday, September 17, 2006

Public Privates

The happy couple - Photo EFE

Happiness triumphs in Seville, Spain as the first military wedding between men takes place on September 15.

Here's the scoop from


First gay military wedding in Spain
By h.b.
Sun, 17 Sep 2006

Spain’s Air Force has seen it’s first gay wedding. 27 year old Alberto Linero from Seville married 24 year old Alberto Sánchez from Madrid at a ceremony in Seville carried out by the city’s mayor, Alfredo Sánchez Monteseirín. He described the day as a dream made true and an answer to a demand from society at large for equality in diversity.

Congratulations to the grooms.


PS More details from the Baltimore Sun:

SEVILLE, Spain -- The Spanish military - once a remnant of a right-wing government closely linked to the Roman Catholic Church - got its first public taste of gay marriage last week as two male air force privates wed, sealing their union with gold rings and a long kiss.

Alberto Linero, 27, and Alberto Sanchez, 24, wore dark blue dress uniforms with red and gold epaulets as they exchanged vows in a reception room at Seville's town hall, the first known wedding among same-sex members of the military since Spain legalized gay marriage last year.

The men declined to say whether f they are being harassed by commanders or colleagues, but the Defense Ministry has said it considers the wedding a personal matter and that the men will be allowed to continue with their careers. It had no comment on the wedding.

Spain has no law against gays in the military, and other service members have acknowledged their homosexuality in the past.

In the United States, the Pentagon's "don't ask, don't tell" policy prohibits the military from inquiring about the sex lives of service members but requires those who openly acknowledge being gay to be discharged.

The men were married by Seville Mayor Alfredo Sanchez Monteseirin, who said their wedding marked a victory for gay people everywhere who have suffered from discrimination.

"This is not just your wedding. You symbolize millions of people who are not here and suffer from homophobia," Sanchez Monteseirin said. "The city will protect your rights."

After they were pronounced spouses, Linero and Sanchez placed gold rings on each other's fingers and kissed. The 100 people in attendance clapped wildly. Sanchez later wept as he hugged his younger brother Sergio.

The mayor is a member of the Socialist Party, which oversees a government that legalized gay marriage last year and has pushed through laws including fast-track divorce and easier terms for medically assisted fertilization.

The laws have irked the church and the country's conservative establishment, which has accused the government of eroding the nation's traditional values.

Addressing reporters after the ceremony, Linero said the wedding was a small step toward equality for homosexuals.

"We've done our little bit. We hope society realizes this," he said.

About 4,500 same-sex couples have wed under the gay marriage legislation, which took effect in July 2005, according to the Justice Ministry.

The wedding is believed to be the first marriage between two same-sex members of the Spanish armed forces, said Beatriz Gimeno, president of Spain's Federation of Gays and Lesbians.

She welcomed the wedding as something the military and Spaniards in general must get used to.

"I don't think the army in a democratic society has to be conservative," Gimeno said.

Besides Spain, the Netherlands, Canada and Belgium have legalized same-sex marriage. Britain and other European countries have laws that give same-sex couples the right to form legally binding partnerships.

In the United States, Massachusetts is the only state that allows gay marriage. Vermont and Connecticut permit civil unions.

Copyright © 2006, The Baltimore Sun |,0,5443148.story?coll=bal-nationworld-headlines

Monday, September 11, 2006

911, Savannah, and the Collective (Un)Conscious

Today, as the Multimedia news world attempts to gag us with platitudes about the horrors of 911 in New York, many of us are switching off the televised photo ops and political posturing that seems to be necessary for those in the public eye to maintain their status in the Collective Conscience of the nation. Maybe we should get more in touch with the Unconscious, the groundwork of far more than one catastrophe.

Bridge to New York
photo by Jameson

This blog contains plenty of images that ought to give us pathways-- the clay tablet from Uruk depicting tortured prisoners in Mesopotamia, the image of Saladin, defending Moslems from the horrors of the Christian zealots, Delphi, the Oracle of which should remind us of the irony of misleading predictions, Munch's Scream which transcends time and place... Or San Martin, horseback, the image of a leader virtually unimaginable among the world's puppet masters today.

Bridge to Savannah

photo by Jameson

In Savannah, over Labor Day, Dar and I read Haruki Murakami's Kafka on the Shore (click). That novel spoke to the Jungian Soul, and portrayed a rich reality deeper than the holes left in New York. Read another review (click).

It is as tragic that those holes have become cliches as the lie that has linked them to Iraq. To the extent that we have given in to fear and yielded our freedoms and our common sense, the terrorists have won.

Thousands of people tossing tiny packets of shampoo into the bottomless trash of our airports-- that is the archetypal symbol of our defeat.

Flying With Scissors,


P.S. here's the whole review of

Kafka on the Shore
from the Washington Post:

As the Crow Flies

Reviewed by Steven Moore


By Haruki Murakami.

Translated from the Japanese. By Philip Gabriel

Knopf. 436 pp. $25.95

If bizarre things are happening in Japan, then there must be a new novel by Haruki Murakami. America's favorite Japanese novelist could publish this anonymously, and his fans would instantly recognize it as his. And for first-time readers, Kafka on the Shore is an excellent demonstration of why he's deservedly famous, both here and in his native land. He writes uncanny, philosophical, postmodern fiction that's actually fun to read; he's a more serious Tom Robbins, a less dense Thomas Pynchon. Like those two, he mixes high and low culture, especially ours: Two of his novels are named after Western pop songs ("Dance Dance Dance" and "Norwegian Wood"), and his characters are more likely to see a film by Truffaut than one by Kurosawa. In this new novel, characters may occasionally discuss The Tale of Genji and the novels of Natsume Soseki, but the presiding influences are Plato, Sophocles and, as the title indicates, Franz Kafka.

It would be easy to make this novel sound goofy: There are talking cats, sudden downpours of fish and leeches, a ghost that takes the form of Col. Sanders pimping in a back alley of Takamatsu, another character who dresses up as the Johnnie Walker whiskey icon and collects the souls of cats for a magic flute, a gorgeous prostitute who quotes Henri Bergson and Hegel, and an "entrance stone" to another dimension. It would be just as easy to make the novel sound ponderous: There are many discussions of Greek tragedy, Plato's myth about the origin of the sexes, predestination, various metaphysical systems, musicology, the nature of symbolism and metaphor, the ways of Buddha and the Tao, and grim memories of atrocities committed during World War II. The wonderful thing is the mash-up Murakami creates from this disparate material, resulting in a novel that is intellectually profound but feels "like an Indiana Jones movie or something," as one character aptly notes.

Or something. The novel consists of two parallel narratives told in alternating chapters. One features a bright but unhappy 15-year-old boy named "Kafka" Tamura -- he adopted the name partly because he likes his fiction but also because "Kafka" is Czech for "crow," with whose solitary nature he identifies -- who runs away from home because of an Oedipal foreboding that he will murder his father and sleep with his mother. (His mother abandoned him at age 4, and he hasn't seen her or his older sister since.) He leaves Tokyo for the southern island of Shikoku and spends most of his time at a private library run by a 21-year-old "hemophiliac of undetermined sex" named Oshima and a mysterious, elegant woman named Miss Saeki, old enough to be his mother. Both of them play key roles in helping the runaway find himself and come to terms with his dark destiny.

The other narrative deals with a retarded, illiterate man in his sixties named Satoru Nakata, who as a child underwent an inexplicable experience during World War II that erased his memory and stunted his intellectual growth. In recompense for that loss, however, he has the ability to communicate with cats and control the weather. (He's the one responsible for those downpours.) He gets involved with the cat-soul collector and commits an act that forces him to flee Tokyo. He hooks up with a truck driver named Hoshino -- just a regular guy who favors aloha shirts, Ray-Bans and a Chunichi Dragons baseball cap -- who agrees to help the old guy. They too make their way to Shikoku on a kind of metaphysical quest for an "entrance stone" that Nakata must open and close. As another character says (this is a very self-conscious text, frequently commenting on itself), it's "like some film noir science-fiction flick."

On one level, the novel is about a 15-year-old boy's rite of passage into the adult world, but on a larger level it's a meditation on Plato's notion (voiced in the "Symposium," as Oshima explains to both Kafka and the reader) that each of us is looking for a soul mate to complete us. Hoshino finds one in Nakata, who reminds him of a dim-witted but devoted disciple of the Buddha, but who also fills in for a beloved grandfather. Kafka finds one in Miss Saeki, who appears to him in dreams both as the 15-year-old girl she once was and at her present age. And though Kafka and Nakata never meet, their parallel actions complement each other on a metaphysical plane. Hermaphroditic Oshima -- the most self-possessed and knowledgeable character in the novel -- exemplifies the original state that Plato said the soul enjoyed before it was split into halves.

Murakami's spin on this theme and the Oedipus myth is daringly original and compulsively readable, enabled by Philip Gabriel's wonderfully fluent translation. Kafka on the Shore is warmly recommended; read it to your cat. •

Steven Moore, the author of several books and essays on contemporary fiction, is writing a history of the novel.

© 2005 The Washington Post Company

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Gay Daddy and Naked Teens

What a day for news. First, we learn that Karl Rove's stepfather, whom he thought of as his only father, came out years ago as gay.

Book: Rove was close to gay stepfather

He hung with the Palm Springs crowd and was proud of his Republican son. Not only did Karl not mind his Dad's being gay, rumor has it that Karl is also an agnostic. Tell that to the Fundamentalists Rove has been so good at rounding up for Bush by promoting a Constitutional Amendment forbidding same-sex marriage. Who expected that amendment to pass? Not Cheney, not Karl Rove (or his Dad) and not Bush.

Later today we learned that the city council of Brattleboro, Vermont (one of our very favorite towns --where we celebrated our civil union in 2000) absolutely, positively refused to ban public nudity. See the local news: SunJournal (click)

Here's what the Washington Post had to say:

Nature Vs. Nudity

Following up on the delightful tale of Brattleboro VT, where summer heat and naked teens aroused the ire of certain prim residents and caused one reader of this blog to insinuate that I thought civil unions were to blame: On Tuesday, the town's Select Board decided to take no action on an anti-nudity ordinance, hoping the upcoming Vermont winter would put the issue on ice. The Green Mountain State has no laws against public nakedness and Brattleboro has long been a birthday suit friendly town, with clothing optional swimming ponds and the annual Breast Fest. Still this summer's heated escalation of nudity (which in my opinion was caused more by global warming than civil unions) brought unwanted global attention to a vibrant New England town, where most of the 12,000 citizens prefer seeing teens naked than wearing gang colors.

Source: Vt. Town to Let Nature Deal With Nudity

The naked teens in the parking lot cheered their enlightened decision. Autumn and Winter will clothe the kids soon enough. Leave it to Nature.

Lets hear it for Brattleboro!



Friday, September 01, 2006


fter two long years, we have our Scream back.

Not only were the Stolen Munch paintings found safe,

as the BBC reports, but now our collective psyche can scream again in horror over the

Ecological destruction
and Inhumanity

All of which come from Ignorance, Religious Superstition, Capitalism, Ego and Power struggles, and Bigotry.

Munch: The Scream

Sometimes a scream is better than a thesis.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Perhaps when distant people on other planets pick up some wavelength of ours all they hear is a continuous scream.
Iris Murdoch

Be Loud.