Alcoholic backseat trinkets

Act 4: If anyone wants to tell me what's going on here, I'll be in the lounge


Cleaning up the friends list...
blackiestark
If I removed you, it's because you weren't listed as a friend. If you want to be added to my friends list, just comment here and I will. :)

THE DEFINITION OF ELECTRICITY
blackiestark
THE DEFINITION OF ELECTRICITY

One of the newer gods,
Yet distressingly similar to the rest:
It flickers and gutters during turmoil
And none can identify its source.
It returns when it returns.
We speak of Power and Light
As if everyone can afford it.

And yet, in the cold darkness
You find yourself acutely aware
Of what is Important.
You do not jump at shadows, like children;
It is surprisingly easy to move around.
The voice of your actual self
Speaks very close.

:D
blackiestark
So I woke up this morning with this, and I just wanted to let you know....

If you're reading this, anybody, anywhere in the world, wherever you are, if you think I'm upset or angry or downright pissed off, or that I'm holding any kind of grudge against you for things that might have happened in the past... I'm not and I don't. I'm officially letting go of all my hate, trying not to act like a stupid, petulant, selfish child, trying to get my calm back.

And it's already working.

I want to let go of all the anger at the world that's holding me down, and be that person you used to know, the one who gave off (or tried to give off) love and acceptance wherever he went. I used to think I needed a support group to do that, but I don't. I do, however, need to be a part of the world. It's the only one I have. And hopefully that includes you.

And part of this is also me apologizing for any pain or embarrassment I've ever caused YOU. I know I'm not easy to understand most of the time, but I did make a pact with myself long, long ago not to inflict any more pain on the world whenever possible, and I've been mostly successful at that, but God knows I've made some stupid mistakes, too. If I hurt you, I'm sorry. But remember, no matter what's gone down between us, if you're on this Earth, I ain't even mad. You are forgiven; please forgive me.

I think I'm back. I don't quite know what that means, but I think I'm back again.

(NOTE: This is no way affects my snark. This... is personal.)

Poetry slam. (Jam. slam.)
blackiestark
WHINE

For Carl LOL

I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by
pop culture, pampered hysterical paranoid,
calling 911 for getting the wrong burger, being stuck
in traffic, or being unable to get McNuggets,
robbing banks with bb guns and attempting to get away
on a moped, in order to build street cred for
a rap career they didn't have yet,
retarded assholes thinking that Patton fought for
their right to not get yelled at when they
voice an unpopular opinion in a beauty
pageant,
who rioted whenever their favorite talk-show host
gave out coupons for free chicken, even though
they had plenty of money to buy chicken,
who thought that apostrophe's were what you put in
front of all word's and sentence's that ended
in ''s"',
who decided to actually become superheroes, dressing
up in capes and masks to save the festering
megalopolis that is... Cincinnati,
who thought it might be a good idea to cast Ice-T as
a magical, farting hip-hop mule,
who cut off people's heads and then took pictures of
it with their cell phone, then drove around
with it on them even though they were an
illegal immigrant with an expired license and
a SUV full of cocaine,
who let their babies get up and preach in church,
even though it was far too young to understand
what it was doing there, and far too young to
say anything about a God it can't even
comprehend yet,
who, instead of protesting to put an end to war and
giving their lives in the process, decided
to just get drunk and cried when rubber
bullets made them go home,
who decided to get artificially injected with eight
kids they couldn't care for even though they
already had six, thinking they'd get a
reality show,
who ran over people with cars while drunk driving
and then went to jail, asking their family if
they could maybe get a reality show,
who attempted to extort hospitals and schools and
then blithely lied about it, even though he
was caught on tape, knowing that if he didn't
get a reality show, his wife would,
who seriously considered getting a mustache tattooed
permanently on their finger so that they could
stick it up under their nose and pretend they
had a mustache, instead of just growing a
stash they could easily shave off,
who ate burgers that were really big donuts with
burgers inside them, and who fried coke syrup
and then put fake whipped cream on THAT, and
who had so little respect for hunger that they
made a bra out of enough bacon to feed a
starving African for a week,
who finally got to hold a gun to their teacher's head
and couldn't think of anything to do than make
her say, "Hail Marilyn Manson," and she didn't,
and shot and missed anyway, then decided maybe
their rage wasn't that awesome anyway and went
into a bathroom stall and killed themselves
except they didn't.

You gave me something I understand. You gave me loving in the palm of my hand.
blackiestark
Poll #1395514 The Loaded Question

Jesus Christ, what next?!

O.J. escapes from prison, kills Susan Boyle at Disneyland
2(7.4%)
Starbucks found to made of cancer and AIDS; enlists nude Carrot Top as new spokesman
9(33.3%)
Hitler thawed out, steals nuclear weapon, starts army in Alabama
5(18.5%)
American Idol "Radiohead Night." Mentor: Fergie
5(18.5%)
God finally dies, falls out of sky, obliterates Amsterdam
6(22.2%)

(no subject)
blackiestark

The other day marked the 27th anniversary of the death of the world's greatest-ever rock critic, Lester Bangs.

In memoriam, I present his essay on Van Morrison's Astral Weeks. Although I had the exact same experience with the album as he did, it is not necessary to know or care about either Van or the work in question, because, as with all of Bangs' best work, this is about emotion, not music. Specifically, the emotion behind the music, which is what all music criticism (and all music) should be about.   


Van Morrison's Astral Weeks was released ten years, almost to the day, before this was written. It was particularly important to me because the fall of 1968 was such a terrible time: I was a physical and mental wreck, nerves shredded and ghosts and spiders looming and squatting across the mind. My social contacts had dwindled to almost none; the presence of other people made me nervous and paranoid. I spent endless days and nights sunk in an armchair in my bedroom, reading magazines, watching TV, listening to records, staring into space. I had no idea how to improve the situation and probably wouldn't have done anything about it if I had.

Astral Weeks would be the subject of this piece - i.e., the rock record with the most significance in my life so far - no matter how I'd been feeling when it came out. But in the condition I was in, it assumed at the time the quality of a beacon, a light on the far shores of the murk; what's more, it was proof that there was something left to express artistically besides nihilism and destruction. (My other big record of the day was White Light/White Heat.) It sounded like the man who made Astral Weeks was in terrible pain, pain most of Van Morrison's previous works had only suggested; but like the later albums by the Velvet Underground, there was a redemptive element in the blackness, ultimate compassion for the suffering of others, and a swath of pure beauty and mystical awe that cut right through the heart of the work

I don't really know how significant it might be that many others have reported variants on my initial encounter with Astral Weeks. I don't think there's anything guiding it to people enduring dark periods. It did come out at a time when a lot of things that a lot of people cared about passionately were beginning to disintegrate, and when the self-destructive undertow that always accompanied the great sixties party had an awful lot of ankles firmly in it's maw and was pulling straight down. so, as timeless as it finally is, perhaps Astral Weeks was also the product of an era. Better think that than ask just what sort of Irish churchwebbed haints Van Morrison might be product of.

Three television shows: A 1970 NET broadcast of a big all-star multiple bill at the Fillmore East. The Byrds, Sha Na Na, and Elvin Bishop have all done their respective things. Now we get to see three of four songs from a set by Van Morrison. He climaxes, as he always did in those days, with "Cyprus Avenue" from Astral Weeks. After going through all the verses, he drives the song, the band, and himself to a finish which has since become one of his trademarks and one of the all-time classic rock 'n' roll set-closers. With consummate dynamics that allow him to snap from indescribably eccentric throwaway phrasing to sheer passion in the very next breath he brings the music surging up through crescendo after crescendo, stopping and starting and stopping and starting the song again and again, imposing long maniacal silences like giant question marks between the stops and starts and ruling the room through sheer tension, building to a shout of "It's too late to stop now!," and just when you think it's all going to surge over the top, he cuts it off stone cold dead, the hollow of a murdered explosion, throws the microphone down and stalks off the stage. It is truly one of the most perverse things I have ever seen a performer do in my life. And, of course, it's sensational: our guts are knotted up, we're crazed and clawing for more, but we damn well know we've seen and felt something.

1974, a late night network TV rock concert: Van and his band come out, strike a few shimmering chords, and for about ten minutes he lingers over the words "Way over yonder in the clear blue sky / Where flamingos fly." No other lyrics. I don't think any instrumental solos. Just those words, repeated slowly again and again, distended, permutated, turned into scat, suspended in space and then scattered to the winds, muttered like a mantra till they turn into nonsense syllables, then back into the same soaring image as time seems to stop entirely. He stands there with eyes closed, singing, transported, while the band poises quivering over great open-tuned deep blue gulfs of their own.

 1977, spring-summer, same kind of show: he sings "Cold Wind in August", a song off his recently released album A Period of Transition, which also contains a considerably altered version of the flamingos song. "Cold Wind in August" is a ballad and Van gives it a fine, standard reading. The only trouble is that the whole time he's singing it he paces back and forth in a line on the stage, his eyes tightly shut, his little fireplug body kicking its way upstream against what must be a purgatorial nervousness that perhaps is being transferred to the cameraman.

 What this is about is a whole set of verbal tics - although many are bodily as well - which are there for reason enough to go a long way toward defining his style. They're all over Astral Weeks: four rushed repeats of the phrases "you breathe in, you breath out" and "you turn around" in "Beside You"; in "Cyprus Avenue," twelve "way up on"s, "baby" sung out thirteen times in a row sounding like someone running ecstatically downhill toward one's love, and the heartbreaking way he stretches "one by one" in the third verse; most of all in "Madame George" where he sings the word "dry" and then "your eye" twenty times in a twirling melodic arc so beautiful it steals your own breath, and then this occurs: "And the love that loves the love that loves the love that loves the love that loves to love the love that loves to love the love that loves."

 Van Morrison is interested, obsessed with how much musical or verbal information he can compress into a small space, and, almost, conversely, how far he can spread one note, word, sound, or picture. To capture one moment, be it a caress or a twitch. He repeats certain phrases to extremes that from anybody else would seem ridiculous, because he's waiting for a vision to unfold, trying as unobtrusively as possible to nudge it along. Sometimes he gives it to you through silence, by choking off the song in midflight: "It's too late to stop now!"

 It's the great search, fueled by the belief that through these musical and mental processes illumination is attainable. Or may at least be glimpsed.

 When he tries for this he usually gets it more in the feeling than in the Revealed Word - perhaps much of the feeling comes from the reaching - but there is also, always, the sense of WHAT if he DID apprehend that Word; there are times when the Word seems to hover very near. And then there are times when we realize the Word was right next to us, when the most mundane overused phrases are transformed: I give you "love," from "Madame George." Out of relative silence, the Word: "Snow in San Anselmo." "That's where it's at," Van will say, and he means it (aren't his interviews fascinating?). What he doesn't say is that he is inside the snowflake, isolated by the song: "And it's almost Independence Day."

You're probably wondering when I'm going to get around to telling you about Astral Weeks. As a matter of fact, there's a whole lot of Astral Weeks I don't even want to tell you about. Both because whether you've heard it or not it wouldn't be fair for me to impose my interpretation of such lapidarily subjective imagery on you, and because in many cases I don't really know what he's talking about. he doesn't either: "I'm not surprised that people get different meanings out of my songs," he told a Rolling Stone interviewer. "But I don't wanna give the impression that I know what everything means 'cause I don't. . . . There are times when I'm mystified. I look at some of the stuff that comes out, y'know. And like, there it is and it feels right, but I can't say for sure what it means."
 
There you go
Starin' with a look of avarice
Talking to Huddie Leadbetter
Showin' pictures on the walls
And whisperin' in the halls
And pointin' a finger at me

I haven't got the slightest idea what that "means," though on one level I'd like to approach it in a manner as indirect and evocative as the lyrics themselves. Because you're in trouble anyway when you sit yourself down to explicate just exactly what a mystical document, which is exactly what Astral Weeks is, means. For one thing, what it means is Richard Davis's bass playing, which complements the songs and singing all the way with a lyricism that's something more than just great musicianship: there is something about it that more than inspired, something that has been touched, that's in the realm of the miraculous. The whole ensemble - Larry Fallon's string section, Jay Berliner's guitar (he played on Mingus's Black Saint and the Sinner Lady), Connie Kay's drumming - is like that: they and Van sound like they're not just reading but dwelling inside of each other's minds. The facts may be far different. John Cale was making an album of his own in the adjacent studio at the time, and he has said that "Morrison couldn't work with anybody, so finally they just shut him in the studio by himself. He did all the songs with just an acoustic guitar, and later they overdubbed the rest of it around his tapes."

Cale's story might or might not be true - but facts are not going to be of much use here in any case. Fact: Van Morrison was twenty-two - or twenty-three - years old when he made this record; there are lifetimes behind it. What Astral Weeks deals in are not facts but truths. Astral Weeks, insofar as it can be pinned down, is a record about people stunned by life, completely overwhelmed, stalled in their skins, their ages and selves, paralyzed by the enormity of what in one moment of vision they can comprehend. It is a precious and terrible gift, born of a terrible truth, because what they see is both infinitely beautiful and terminally horrifying: the unlimited human ability to create or destroy, according to whim. It's no Eastern mystic or psychedelic vision of the emerald beyond, nor is it some Baudelairean perception of the beauty of sleaze and grotesquerie. Maybe what it boiled down to is one moment's knowledge of the miracle of life, with its inevitable concomitant, a vertiginous glimpse of the capacity to be hurt, and the capacity to inflict that hurt.

 Transfixed between pure rapture and anguish. Wondering if they may not be the same thing, or at least possessed of an intimate relationship. In "T.B. Sheets", his last extended narrative before making this record, Van Morrison watched a girl he loved die of tuberculosis. the song was claustrophobic, suffocating, monstrously powerful: "innuendos, inadequacies, foreign bodies." A lot of people couldn't take it; the editor of this book has said that it's garbage, but I think it made him squeamish. Anyway, the point is that certain parts of Astral Weeks - "Madame George," "Cyprus Avenue" - take the pain in "T.B. Sheets" and root the world in it. Because the pain of watching a loved one die of however dread a disease may be awful, but it is at least something known, in a way understood, in a way measureable and even leading somewhere, because there is a process: sickness, decay, death, mourning, some emotional recovery. But the beautiful horror of "Madame George" and "Cyprus Avenue" is precisely that the people in these songs are not dying: we are looking at life, in its fullest, and what these people are suffering from is not disease but nature, unless nature is a disease.

A man sits in a car on a tree-lined street, watching a fourteen-year-old girl walking home from school, hopelessly in love with her. I've almost come to blows with friends because of my insistence that much of Van Morrison's early work had an obsessively reiterated theme of pedophilia, but here is something that at once may be taken as that and something far beyond it. He loves her. Because of that, he is helpless. Shaking. Paralyzed. Maddened. Hopeless. Nature mocks him. As only nature can mock nature. Or is love natural in the first place? No Matter. By the end of the song he has entered a kind of hallucinatory ecstasy; the music aches and yearns as it rolls on out. This is one supreme pain, that of being imprisoned a spectator. And perhaps no so very far from "T.B. Sheets," except that it must be far more romantically easy to sit and watch someone you love die than to watch them in the bloom of youth and health and know that you can never, ever have them, can never speak to them.

"Madame George" is the album's whirlpool. Possibly one of the most compassionate pieces of music ever made, it asks us, no, arranges that we see the plight of what I'll be brutal and call a lovelorn drag queen with such intense empathy that when the singer hurts him, we do too. (Morrison has said in at least one interview that the song has nothing to do with any kind of transvestite - at least as far as he knows, he is quick to add - but that's bullshit.) The beauty, sensitivity, holiness of the song is that there's nothing at all sensationalistic, exploitative, or tawdry about it; in a way Van is right when he insists it's not about a drag queen, as my friends were right and I was wrong about the "pedophilia" - it's about a person, like all the best songs, all the greatest literature.

 The setting is that same as that of the previous song - "Cyprus Avenue," apparently a place where people drift, impelled by desire, into moments of flesh-wracking, sight-curdling confrontation with their destinies. It's an elemental place of pitiless judgment - wind and rain figure in both songs - and, interestingly enough, it's a place of the even crueler judgment of adults by children, in both cases love objects absolutely indifferent to their would-be adult lovers. Madame George's little boys are downright contemptuous - like the street urchins who end up cannibalizing the homosexual cousin in Tennessee Williams's Suddenly Last Summer, they're only too happy to come around as long as there's music, party times, free drinks and smokes, and only too gleefully spit on George's affections when all the other stuff runs out, the entombing winter settling in with not only wind and rain but hail, sleet, and snow.

 What might seem strangest of all but really isn't is that it's exactly those characteristics which supposedly should make George most pathetic - age, drunkenness, the way the boys take his money and trash his love - that awakens something for George in the heart of the kid whose song this is. Obviously the kid hasn't simply "fallen in love with love," or something like that, but rather - what? Why just exactly that only sunk in the foulest perversions could one human being love another for anything other than their humanness: love him for his weakness, his flaws, finally perhaps his decay. Decay is human - that's one of the ultimate messages here, and I don't by any stretch of the lexicon mean decadence. I mean that in this song or whatever inspired it Van Morrison saw the absolute possibility of loving human beings at the farthest extreme of wretchedness, and that the implications of that are terrible indeed, far more terrible than the mere sight of bodies made ugly by age or the seeming absurdity of a man devoting his life to the wobbly artifice of trying to look like a woman.

 You can say to love the questions you have to love the answers which quicken the end of love that's loved to love the awful inequality of human experience that loves to say we tower over these the lost that love to love the love that freedom could have been, the train to freedom, but we never get on, we'd rather wave generously walking away from those who are victims of themselves. But who is to say that someone who victimizes himself or herself is not as worthy of total compassion as the most down and out Third World orphan in a New Yorker magazine ad? Nah, better to step over the bodies, at least that gives them the respect they might have once deserved. Where I live, in New York (not to make it more than it is, which is hard), everyone I know often steps over bodies which might well be dead or dying as a matter of course, without pain. and I wonder in what scheme it was originally conceived that such an action is showing human refuse the ultimate respect it deserves.

There is of course a rationale - what else are you going to do - but it holds no more than our fear of our own helplessness in the face of the plain of life as it truly is: a plain which extends into an infinity beyond the horizons we have only invented. Come on, die it. As I write this, I can read in the Village Voice the blurbs of people opening heterosexual S&M clubs in Manhattan, saying things like, "S&M is just another equally valid form of love. Why people can't accept that we'll never know." Makes you want to jump out a fifth floor window rather than even read about it, but it's hardly the end of the world; it's not nearly as bad as the hurts that go on everywhere everyday that are taken to casually by all of us as facts of life. Maybe it boiled down to how much you actually want to subject yourself to. If you accept for even a moment the idea that each human life is as precious and delicate as a snowflake and then you look at a wino in a doorway, you've got to hurt until you feel like a sponge for all those other assholes' problems, until you feel like an asshole yourself, so you draw all the appropriate lines. You stop feeling. But you know that then you begin to die. So you tussle with yourself. how much of this horror can I actually allow myself to think about? Perhaps the numbest mannekin is wiser than somebody who only allows their sensitivity to drive them to destroy everything they touch - but then again, to tilt Madame George's hat a hair, just to recognize that that person exists, just to touch his cheek and then probably expire because the realization that you must share the world with him is ultimately unbearable is to only go the first mile. The realization of living is just about that low and that exalted and that unbearable and that sought-after. Please come back and leave me alone. But when we're along together we can talk all we want about the universality of this abyss: it doesn't make any difference, the highest only meets the lowest for some lying succor, UNICEF to relatives, so you scratch and spit and curse in violent resignation at the strict fact that there is absolutely nothing you can do but finally reject anyone in greater pain than you. At such a moment, another breath is treason. that's why you leave your liberal causes, leave suffering humanity to die in worse squalor than they knew before you happened along. You got their hopes up. Which makes you viler than the most scrofulous carrion. viler than the ignorant boys who would take Madame George for a couple of cigarettes. because you have committed the crime of knowledge, and thereby not only walked past or over someone you knew to be suffering, but also violated their privacy, the last possession of the dispossessed.

Such knowledge is possibly the worst thing that can happen to a person (a lucky person), so it's no wonder that Morrison's protagonist turned away from Madame George, fled to the train station, trying to run as far away from what he'd seen as a lifetime could get him. And no wonder, too, that Van Morrison never came this close to looking life square in the face again, no wonder he turned to Tupelo Honey and even Hard Nose the Highway with it's entire side of songs about falling leaves. In Astral Weeks and "T.B. Sheets" he confronted enough for any man's lifetime. Of course, having been offered this immeasurably stirring and equally frightening gift from Morrison, one can hardly be blamed for not caring terribly much about Old, Old Woodstock and little homilies like "You've Got To Make It Through This World On Your Own" and "Take It Where You Find It."

 On the other hand, it might also be pointed out that desolation, hurt, and anguish are hardly the only things in life, or in Astral Weeks. They're just the things, perhaps, that we can most easily grasp and explicate, which I suppose shows about what level our souls have evolved to. I said I wouldn't reduce the other songs on this album by trying to explain them, and I won't. But that doesn't mean that, all things considered, a juxtaposition of poets might not be in order.

If I ventured in the slipstream
Between the viaducts of your dreams
Where the mobile steel rims crack
And the ditch and the backroads stop
Could you find me
Would you kiss my eyes
And lay me down
In silence easy
To be born again

-- Van Morrison

My heart of silk
is filled with lights,
with lost bells,
with lilies and bees.
I will go very far,
farther than those hills,
farther than the seas,
close to the stars,
to beg Christ the Lord
to give back the soul I had
of old, when I was a child,
ripened with legends,
with a feathered cap
and a wooden sword.

-- Federico Garcia Lorca

 

You gotta drive all night just to feel like you're okay.
blackiestark
When I was at the checkout counter, there was a guy who was twitching like he had the DTs because he couldn't find facemasks and the store wasn't getting a new shipment until next week. Bonus quote from him: "I already have a whole box at home, but I want to be sure." -- RATMM's Chris Gleason*

Ah, yes. The Great Pandemic.

When I was in J-school (or as close as my student loans would get me to one), I had a prof, an old newspaperman who'd spent something like a half-century in the biz, printer's ink in his veins, the whole bit. And he gave us a very important -- and, for me, instructive -- assignment: pick your favorite movie of all time, and then write a glowing review of it. 

Then, write a scathing review of it.

It was probably the most useful such exercise I've ever undertaken, because while most college courses gave me little more than a refresher in Western culture, history, and thought, this one, in the grand old liberal arts tradition, taught me HOW to think. Not what; how. It also taught me that truth, while not subjective, could be made to appear so very easily. It was like a glimpse into the dark side, and yet, it also taught me to see the world through eyes other than my own.

Now, let's take a look at this paragraph, which I just pulled out of my arse.
 
   The swine flu epidemic of 2009 has become a nationwide pandemic, a global health crisis, with over 150 reported deaths in Mexico, its country of origin. The World Health Organization has raised their alert to its second-highest level, reporting outbreaks in Canada, England, Spain, israel, and New Zealand, while in the US, the virus has been reported to have spread to Arizona, California, Indiana, Kansas, Massachusetts, Michigan, Maine, Nevada, New York, Ohio and Texas. Hundreds of students are thought to have been infected in New York City, while hundreds of schools across a dozen states have been shut down. In Egypt, 300,000 pigs were ordered to the slaughter in anticipation of the swine flu.
   There is no vaccine for this mutated flu virus. President Obama yesterday asked Congress for an emergency appropraition of $1.5 billion, stating, "we are continuing to closely monitor the emergency cases of the H1N1 flu virus throughout the United States... this is obviously a very serious situation." Global pandemics have killed millions in the 20th century, with the most famous, the 1918 "Spanish Flu," estimated as having caused 100 million deaths worldwide. 

And now, a second paragraph about the same story, from the same unfortunate location.

   The H1N1 virus, a mixture of bird, pig and human flu strains often erroneously referred to as the "swine flu," is on track to become the world's first pandemic outbreak since 1968, a distinction that refers to the widespread outbreak of a disease and not its deadliness. In fact, only seven deaths have been confirmed worldwide to this new mutation, all occurring in Mexico City, where the first outbreaks occurred a few weeks ago. 
   Though there is no vaccine for the new virus, which is passed from human to human and not by eating pork, symptoms have so far been mild in developed countries, so much so, in fact, that hospitals often have trouble determining if a patient is suffering from the new strain or a traditional flu virus. The drugs Tamiflu and Relenza have both been proven to alleviate symptoms, and 73 million doses have been stockpiled by the US government and individual states, but most of the patients infected with the strain do not, in fact, require hospitalization -- only five of the 109 confirmed cases in the US have been hospitalized. Indeed, most patients recover at home within days, including Patient Zero, five-year-old Edgar Hernandez of La Gloria, Mexico. And while many have resorted to wearing masks to avoid infection, World Health Organization spokesperson Vivienne Allan says that's not necessary. "This virus is not airborne, it's caused by droplets ... so it's not a time for worry. It's a time to be prepared," said Allan.
   The Centers for Disease Control also estimates that in a normal year, 36,000 patients in the US die from flu and flu-related symptoms.

Now. Which one of these is true?

Answer: they both are. Every statement in both passages is true, at least as we now know the facts to be in the great Swine Flu outbreak of 2009.
  
The difference is that the first one talks about possibilities. Not even probablities. It is an exercise in "what if." And if you want to move papers, or commercial time, or whatever, this is your product. Fear. It always sells, because people are always afraid.

The key words in the first one: suspected. reported. thought.

AP barfed up an article recently, very ironically entitled Many In Media Strive For Calm With Flu Story, where the MSM pats itself on the back (at least) for being so wonderfully reserved. Such reservation coming in the form of headlines that tell you not to panic. 

Question: If I, as a friend, come up to you and say, "Listen, don't panic," how does that make you feel? Calm?

The same article, to save you the trouble of reading it,  offers up this little gem:
 
The New York Daily News sent a reporter walking through the city in a face mask to gauge reaction, and he was stopped by a British TV crew wanting to film him.

That Daily News article also laid bare the horrors of the disease, as recounted by high school senior Sophia Goumokas: "I couldn't text."

Coming up next: my five-part series Millions Dead! Can You Sext?

*RATMM stands for rec.arts.tv.mst3k.misc, once the funniest place on the internet

Communication, a telephonic invasion. I'm planning my escape.
blackiestark
From the President's speech, delivered at 9 P.m., EST, not seen in many areas.

"...a great nation such as this must do. We cannot afford to jump at shadows like small children in a dark room; but neither can we afford to take this serious outbreak of influenza lightly. My fellow Americans, I urge you to stay at home. If you feel ill, stay in bed, take aspirin, and drink plenty of clear liquids. Be confident that you will feel better in a week at AT MOST. Let me repeat what I said at the beginning of my talk to you this evening: There is no truth -- no truth -- to the rumor that this strain of flu is fatal. In the greatest majority of cases, the person afflicted can expect to be up and around and feeling fine within a week. Further -- [a spasm of coughing] Further, there has been a vicious rumor promulgated by certain radical anti establishment groups that this strain of influenza has been somehow bred by this government for some possible military use. Fellow Americans, this is a flatout falsehood, and I want to brand it as such right here and now. This country signed the revised Geneva Accords on poison gas, nerve gas, and germ warfare in good conscience and in good faith. We have not now nor have we ever -- [a spasm of sneezes] -- have we ever been a party to the clandestine manufacture of substances outlawed by the Geneva Convention. This is a moderately serious outbreak of influenza, no more and no less. We have reports tonight of outbreaks in a score of other countries, including Russia and Red China. Therefore we -- [a spasm of coughs and sneezes] -- we ask you to remain calm and secure in the knowledge that late this week or early next, a flu vaccine will be available for those not already on the mend. National Guardsmen have been called out in some areas to protect the populace against hooligans, vandals, and scare-mongers, but there is absolutely no truth to the rumors that some cities have been 'occupied' by regular army forces or that the news has been managed. My fellow Americans, this is a flat out falsehood, and I want to brand it as such right here and..."

(Heh heh heh.)

No lyrics. Irony.
blackiestark
I suck.

There was a person on my flist (I wanna say wordweaverlynn, but I'm just not sure who it is) who made an excellent post about their favorite lyricists, with examples of their work.

Anyway, from whoever, for whoever, here's my list. Click on links for the lyrics.

Bob Dylan
Yeah, he's the gold standard. But there's a reason for that.
sample:
It's Alright Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)Collapse )
Beck

He's probably to blame for the common perception of him as a pop-culture junkyard. But that doesn't make him any less deserving of re-examination.
sample: Lazy FliesCollapse )
Paul Simon

A songwriter who truly knows how to be enigmatic. You don't know what the hell is going on, except for his most personal moments. But you get the feeling clearly.
sample: Me And Julio Down By The SchoolyardCollapse )
Aesop Rock
I love hip-hop, but all the mainstream stuff is egocentric, meaning it's hard for me to care that much about 50 Cent's lyrics, because I'm not him. The party people of the Eighties and the street poetry of the Nineties are gone. Underground hip-hop, however...
sample: The Yes And The Y'allCollapse )
John Fogerty (Creedence Clearwater Revival)
No one, and I mean no one, does more with less.
sample: It Came Out Of The SkyCollapse )
Edward Ka-Spel (The Legendary Pink Dots)

One of the strangest cult figures of all time.
sample: Soma BathCollapse )
Billy Joel

Underrated. Vastly underrated. Mainly because he's an arrogant trend-chaser. Still, he carries on the Tin Pan Alley tradition for the modern age.
sample: Only The Good Die YoungCollapse )
Roger Waters (Pink Floyd)
One of rock's great misanthropists, but also one of its clearest thinkers and deepest philosophers.
sample: The Gunner's DreamCollapse )
Mike Watt / D. Boon (The Minutemen)
These two are interchangeable: their brands of notebook socialism are indistinguishable from each other.  But no one does the leftist poetry as well.
sample:
My Heart And The Real WorldCollapse )
Randy Newman
The world's greatest living musical satirist.
sample: Political ScienceCollapse )

*weirdness*
blackiestark
I get a lot of weird spam from working at About.com, but this one actually interested me. I pass it along to you now. Discuss!

Chris Brown and Rihanna: What do girls REALLY think?

New Survey Uncovers Interesting Results


New York: A new survey commissioned by GIRL SCOUTS OF THE USA through the BUZZ MARKETING GROUP has uncovered some interesting news regarding the reactions of girls to the highly publicized Chris Brown and Rihanna incident: 95 percent of girls surveyed say Chris Brown’s alleged actions are not acceptable or justifiable for any reason, and 48 percent believe that low self-esteem will be the primary reason for Rihanna getting back with Chris Brown.

Girl Scouts of the USA commissioned the study to ensure girl’s voices were accurately represented and to stress the importance of self-esteem among girls. The incident reportedly left young singer Rihanna battered and bruised at the hands of her singer boyfriend Chris Brown. Shortly after, it was widely reported by the Boston Public Health Commission that teens were believed to put Rihanna at fault for the alleged attack.

However, it seems Boston teens do not reflect the nationwide view among girls. The Girls Scouts of the USA uncovered that a majority of girls – nearly 59 percent - hold Chris Brown responsible for what happened, followed by 33 percent who place the blame on both Rihanna and Chris Brown.

“Girls are now telling us loud and clear- it is not OK to hit a woman,” says Tina Wells, CEO of Buzz Marketing Group. “That doesn’t mean they don’t sympathize with both parties. The girls are looking at the situation from all angles and understand that no one knows what really happened. They like Chris Brown- he is an idol for younger girls- and it was hard for them to believe at first.”

The findings did contain one disturbing trend among girls- it was the younger ones under the age of 13- who were more likely to blame Rihanna. Self-esteem is at the center of discussion for girls; as the study uncovered almost half of the respondents - 48 percent - believe that low self-esteem will be the primary reason for Rihanna getting back with Chris Brown. This reinforces the importance for parents to speak to daughters early and often.

“Overall, today’s girls are more savvy than often assumed,” says Leanne Gluck, Manager of uniquely ME!, the national Girl Scouts / Dove Self-Esteem Program. “The media attention surrounding this unfortunate incident presents an opportunity for parents and daughters to engage in open dialogue on the importance of self-esteem and healthy relationships.”

In addition to being the voice of girls, Girl Scouts of the USA recently launched a new Girl Scouts Leadership Experience which aims to empower girls with a strong sense of self and critical thinking skills to tackle issues such as low self-esteem. This learning model engages girls in a fun, experiential way to discover themselves, connect with others and take action to make the world a better place.

Survey results from Girl Scouts of the USA / Buzz Marketing Group:

* 95 percent believe Chris Brown’s alleged actions are not acceptable or justifiable for any reason
* 59 percent hold Chris Brown responsible for what happened
* 33 percent blame both Rihanna and Chris Brown for what happened
* 45 percent believe Rihanna could have provoked Chris Brown
* Girls 13-17 were more likely to think Rihanna provoked him in some way


The nationwide survey of 420 girls, not necessarily Girl Scouts, ages 8-17 was conducted in March by the Buzz Marketing Group and included questions on demographics and familiarity with both singers.

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