damn it feels good to be a gangster

Or, look what I found on the Internets today!

Someone with lots of time, and a fondness for graphs does interpretations of rap jamz. Theses are a few of my favorites, more here, for your enjoyment.

In additon, the NY Center for Independent publishing holds its 20th anniversary book fair this weekend. Check out the sweet shit here, and join me in wishing you lived in the Big Apple.


print the news and raise hell

Today, http://www.journalism.org/ , released this study about coverage of the war in Iraq. The survey was conducted by the Project for Excellence in Journalism, and the results are bizarre and extremely troublesome to an idealistic journalist still in college.

To note:

Even the basics of getting the story are remarkably difficult. Outside of the heavily-fortified Green Zone, most U.S. journalists must rely on local staff to do the necessary face-to-face reporting. Yet nearly nine out of ten journalists say their local staff cannot carry any equipment—not even a notebook—that might identify them as working for the western media for fear of being killed. Some local staffers do not even tell their own families.

If American journalists are not doing the reporting, but relying on a third party to bring them information, how can media audiences in the United States think they are getting anything close to what is actually going on in Iraq?

Nine out of ten of the journalists surveyed said that at least half of Baghdad is too dangerous to visit. Too dangerous to visit! The news I read every day about this war-- where does it come from? Iraqi journalists undercover for the Western media? The truth about what is going on in that country is not being reported, long story short, and it's more than just adverse conditions. The embedding program sucks, and the fact that Western journalists can't go anywhere without body armor, guards and armored trucks should say more about the validity of this war than their reporting could.

Above all, the journalists—most of them veteran war correspondents—describe conditions in Iraq as the most perilous they have ever encountered, and this above everything else is influencing the reporting. A majority of journalists surveyed (57%) report that at least one of their Iraqi staff had been killed or kidnapped in the last year alone—and many more are continually threatened. “Seven staffers killed since 2003, including three last July,” one bureau chief wrote with chilling brevity. “At least three have been kidnapped. All were freed.”

Eight out of ten journalists felt that conditions for storytelling in Iraq have gotten worse, not better, much like the situation in the country.

And yet, we go on, placating ourselves with platitudes.

Whatever the problems, a magazine reporter offered, “The press….have carried out the classic journalistic mission of bearing witness.”

Lady (this sounds like a female sentence, so whatever), you are nuts. We are not here to bear witness. We are here to print the news and raise hell. Ask tough questions, tell tough stories and inform the public.

Which media outlet has run a story about the dangers faced by its reporters, the terribly unstable and unsafe conditions, even in Baghdad? What media outlets have called for our withdrawal from this insanity? Who is pushing the politicians to be accountable for civilian deaths and government secrecy?

Tell the story of how bad it is there. Let us know it's getting worse, not better. You are there. We are not. Be a journalist, not an objective, impassive channel for facts.

Facts are not news, and accuracy doesn't necessarily equate truth. These are the realities of journalism in the 21st century, and if somebody doesn't get up and realize that our passion is our greatest tool and our greatest weapon, we're all going to be replaced by robots who can make phone calls.


"I'll ask my question, thank you very much"

Hokay, so, there's this.

This morning, all CNN played was the portion of this clip where the UF student was being tazed. After watching the full thing, this guy wasn't doing anything wrong. Not. a. single. thing. The UP police attempted to arrest this man, for speaking. For speech that was inflammatory, for speech that was controversial, but not for anything that isn't covered under that little thing we like to call the First Amendment. He wasn't inciting riot, or panic, not was he speaking in a manner than could be considered "fighting words." Was anyone in that audience getting up to riot, or fight? He was taken off the mike because the university police, trumped up, as they always are, with a sense of their own power, felt he was behaving in a manner that was inappropriate.
Then, as he was being taken out and arrested (love to see what those charges are going to be. Resisting arrest? The question is what was he being arrested for in the first place? Also, I'm pretty sure I didn't catch any Miranda rights on that video.) and was subdued by at least three, and what appeared to be more like five police officers, he was tazed, for trying to stand up. I'm going to say that again. For trying to stand up, and be arrested, like a dignified and decent human being. As he pled, and begged these men not to taze him, they did it anyway. And did anyone catch the hapless look of bemusement on big whitey's face before he realized he was on camera and told the camera operator to get back? (it's at about 3:17, for those of you playing along at home)
Which leaves me wondering-what in the hell has it come to when freedom of speech is so restricted, even on college campuses, the traditional home base of radical thought? Lest you think I have no respect for law enforcement, I absolutely do. What I don't have respect for is 1) unwarranted and baseless arrests 2) the fact that campus police feel that college students are less than animals and should be treated as such. I've seen it with my own eyes. The teargassing of hundreds of students, guilty of nothing more than being on the streets en masse. The nightsticking of those who've fallen from the gas. Cops, amped up on adrenaline and testosterone, firing tear gas wantonly into groups of less than ten people.
Why, on large college campuses, do college students suddenly lose their rights when they don't toe the line exactly? Last time I checked, we are the reason you have a job, and the reason the university exists. That's not to say that we are above the law, but we should be allowed basic constitutional freedoms, such as speech and assembly.
The fascist-izing of America is disgusting. And I'm as guilty as anyone of sitting by and letting it happen. If college students were serious about regaining their place as the innovators and conscience of this country, we would all protest this audacious abuse of power. We would stand up and say "We hate this war, we hate this president, and we hate the way you rich, old white fucks are running this country."

You know. Kind of the way this kid tried to.

(P.S. I love, love, love how John Kerry droned on through the poor soul getting tazered. Nice compassion, asshole.)


it's britney, bitch

Ah, the VMAs.

The end-of-summer, end all, be all of irrelevant awards shows. Last night's awards were, in a word, epic. Britney was back, old rock stars got punched, and everyone was drunk and in Vegas.

Which, was the best part about the show, to be honest. For a generation with an increasingly shorter attention span, MTV did the smart thing and axed an hour from the show, incorporated snippets of performances from everyone from T.I. to the Foo Fighters (featuring Cee-lo) and Fall Out Boy (featuring Rihanna) in between presenter nonsense, shameless self promotion— and maybe an award or two, and claimed they were only going to broadcast the show once [although it re-aired immediately after it ended.] MTV promoted its "remixed" version of the show, as well as web videos of the suite concerts all night— proving that the broadcast media is in as much danger of being replaced by the Internets as the print media.

The best part about the revamp of the VMAs was that the viewer felt like they were just hanging with the rockstars giving concerts for their own pleasure in Vegas suites. Kanye had a huge grin on his face while he dueted with Common in an incredibly up close and personal performance. The Foo Fighters called in everyone— the aforementioned Cee-lo, System of Down's Serj Tankian, Mastadon, and Queen of the Stone Age's Josh Homme for the most rock 'n roll of all the "intimate" performances. JT got drunk, accepted awards and yelled at MTV to play more videos—admirable.

Basically, the Vegas VMAs made us (bored twenty-something college students) feel like we were at a house party (something we can relate to) with the coolest kids in school (something we all want) Their decision to go host-free and employ a house "band," led by DJ/buzzkid/wunderkind Mark Ronson, was definitely an upgrade, as Ronson's arrangements of Top 40 hits like "Smack That" and "Wake Up Call" were 100% better than the real thing.

Who cares who won anything? At an awards show where Fall Out Boy wins "Best Group" three years in a row, does the Moon Man even attempt to claim a slice of creditability any more? I got to see Justin Timberlake shake his ass, Jaimie Foxx be a drunkass fool and Alicia Keys bring down the ceiling with a gospel choir. What else is there to ask for?

MTV: Pandering to short attention spans, youth culture and technology trends since 1985.


In a word, duh

I suck at blogging.

Sorry, but with everything that happened this summer, I just can't seem to muster up the energy to be witty, indignant, snarky and introspective in this space that the internet has provided for me on a consistent basis.

Hopefully, with school back in session and my news consumption up 200%, I'll be here more often.

This little ditty from the Times says what I could have told you after a week of working at the Writing Center— the real world is not a text message, forum or chat room. Learn to write, or me or one of my students is going to be taking your job.



Yesterday, I said the following:

"Hey Kris, you wanted that nut graph about the East Village to stay high up, right?"

I am a nerd.


ann coulter always has been and always will be a diseased cunt

Like Christ ministering to prostitutes, Falwell regularly left the safe confines of his church to show up in such benighted venues as CNN.

Yes, Ann. CNN is exactly the direct equivalent of pre-Christian prostitutes. I think she must have a minion whack her in the skull with a bat every morning, just so she can keep churning this shit out.

Horse-faced bride of the devil with delusions about her "good-looks" and "morality" and "righteous indignation." God, I hate that cunt.


Not the sun

Everyone is a masochist.
I have to take control of something.
No more.

That doesn't matter, so here's a poem that's appropriate.

The Blackbirds are Rough Today
by Charles Bukowski

lonely as a dry and used orchard
spread over the earth
for use and surrender.

shot down like an ex-pug selling
dailies on the corner.

taken by tears like
an aging chorus girl
who has gotten her last check.

a hanky is in order your lord your

the blackbirds are rough today
ingrown toenails
in an overnight
wine wine whine,
the blackbirds run around and
fly around
harping about
Spanish melodies and bones.

and everywhere is
the dream is as bad as
flapjacks and flat tires:

why do we go on
with our minds and
pockets full of
like a bad boy just out of
you tell
you who were a hero in some

you who teach children
you who drink with calmness
you who own large homes
and walk in gardens
you who have killed a man and own a
beautiful wife
you tell me
why I am on fire like old dry

we might surely have some interesting
it will keep the mailman busy.
and the butterflies and ants and bridges and
the rocket-makers and dogs and garage mechanics
will still go on a
until we run out of stamps

don't be ashamed of
anything; I guess God meant it all
locks on


Open letter

Dear MySpace,

With all you're supposed to be doing for my internets, would it kill you to incorporate a login bar at the top of your page (like livejournal)? If I have to sign in to look at someone's pictures, put it on the same damn page. I don't use MySpace for anything else; I don't even have a real profile. Interface. Look into it.

(Also, if you could maybe figure out something where I didn't have to look at flashing neon backgrounds, listen to bad country/hip-hop or watch stupid videos, I'd be cool with it. Oh, and if my browser didn't crash one out of five times when I visit your site. That would be awesome too.




Things you should read

In Michigan, Not Even the Dead are Safe
The Abstinence-Only Delusion
Squeezing Money from Iron
Still Can't Find Stupid Pretty White Girl; Still No One Cares
Bones of prehistoric camel found at Wal-Mart site

Pittsburghers are the best complainers...in song

Also, don't miss George Tenet ripping Cheney on 60 Minutes tonight, or Brady's Quinn's smug, smarmy mug looking pissed and bitchy all over ESPN. Cleveland is the best place for you, Brady.



obligatory "the white stripes' new single is awesome" post.

The aptly-named "icky thump" (there is, indeed a lot of thump, in typical white stripes style. and it is, in fact icky, in that big-heavy-chords/a-little-bit-funky way) is all over the internets, and in a matter of time, it will be all over my mtv and radio too. The album, also called icky thump, comes out on june 19, but until then, you can download the single here (an XFM radio rip) or get it in much higher quality from iTunes for a measley 99 cents.

Detroit, represent. Will Jack White ever do something that I don't love? Signs point to no.

(also, apparently I can't figure out if I want to use capital letters or not. With any luck, that will resolve itself soon.)

Please note the renovations

New title, new look, news start on this here blog (uar? can I call it that? I might anyway.) Leave a comment if you're having issues viewing anything. Gray on black isn't hard for me to read, but I have eyes like a goddamn hawk.

Also, there's a nifty little article about pre-Iraq disinformation and its subsequent consequences over on Daily Kos. An excerpt:

So, the Office of Special Plans was whipped up in the Pentagon as an alternative branch of intelligence sure to generate the damn the facts, full speed ahead documents Bush and Cheney needed to get their war on. Feith, who had previously written an open letter to Bill Clinton calling for immediate war in Iraq, was only too happy to comply. He pulled out his editing pencil and struck down every point of evidence that contradicted the goal of going into Iraq.


see you later, innovator

arctic monkeys-brianstorm, as promised. this isn't them on jimmy kimmel, it's just the video. the dancers are pretty sweet.

the british are my favourite spellers

the arctic monkeys were just on jimmy kimmel, playing a song from their new album. favourite worst nightmare (note the british "u"). it was very cool and as soon as i find a youtube clip, i'll post it. it was very different from their first album, which i kind of liked but didn't rave about.

when a band releases a decent album or two, that are pretty generally well accepted, critically favored and moderately successful, there are two routes they can take. a band can: a) release a more poppy, palatable album that will probably make them more money or b) do something just a little weirder, a little cooler, a littler more evolutionary, that will make them a better band, but less successful. Please see: Weezer, Brand New, Radiohead, TV On the Radio, Jimmy Eat World (although I guess Clarity was their third album, and Radiohead didn't really hit their stride until Ok Computer either.)

back to the point. I suppose there is another route a band can take, which is to try to duplicate their first album and not really do anything. boring, but ok, i guess.

um, so this has been sarah's indie rock corner. we'll be back next week with how gun metaphors should be unilaterally banned for anyone wearing guy liner. (pete wentz, i am looking at you.)


I took all that I could, it was free

God damn it.

God damn it Hempfield.

This is what happens when a school board, drunk with power, commits to a $6 million dollar renovation and construction of a "field house" which I'm pretty sure we didn't need. Plus building a new stadium and instalilng astrotuff, all within the last ten years. For a football team that never wins.

That board isn't there any more, for the most part. They got ousted last year after firing a popular football coach. Again, football.

Now administrators want to cut funding for the arts and foreign language. Fewer classes, fewer teachers, less art.

I wouldn't give a damn, but I still have a small brother who has to survive his requisite four years in that suburban steel-and-razorwire shithole without losing his mind. If he's anything like me (and let's be honest, he is) he's going to need some way of coping with the bullshit that is high school. I could understand a modest arts cut, if the cut was unilateral— but no. No one is proposing cutting any funding or staff anywhere else, just arts and foreign language. That's stupid. Why single out the arts, just because educators are too narrow-minded to view them as anything but frivolity? I just wrote an outraged letter-I'm mailing it to the administration, the school board and the superintendent tonight.

Kids learn just as much in pottery class as they do in bio. Probably more, because they won't be sleeping through half of it.


seriously? a shrewdness?

something I wish I was in on: the naming of groups of animals.

I'm sure whoever came up with that was just all like "here's some random words. "pride" ok, that's what we're going to call lions now." some other pretty awesome ones.

tiger-swift/ambush (this one is kind of scary)

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go feed a mischief of mice to my rhumba of rattlesnakes.


web comics

I like them.

Here are some things you may be interested in.

This is my favorite.
This one has lots of exclamation points.
and this are pretty good too.
This one is kind of sad.
I periodically enjoy this, too.

Apparently, my fight song is based on a hymn called "Stand Up, Stand up for Jesus." Good call on that one.


Pretty please?

Dear Al,

Please run for President in '08. Give them the rope-a-dope. Let Hilary and Obama swing until they've got nothing left, and the enter the race. Please. You've been nominated for an Oscar and a Nobel Peace Prize. Your have become distinguished rather than creepy. You have always been against the war, ahead of the curve on the environment...and well, everything else. You've already WON a presidential election for God's sake. Also, you are tossing around an Earth beach ball with Richard Branson. You might even be (dare I say it?) cool.

Finally-we thought you were stiff and unrelateable in 2000. Then, we saw John Kerry. No one has ever botched a campaign so thoroughly. Please Al. Please. You can wait six months and raise mad bank over the Internets (you did invent them, after all) in like, a week.

And make Hilary your running mate. Gore/Clinton '08? Yes, please.