Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Coincidence? You be the judge

December 28, 2010

The S.F. Chronicle’s marquee columnist, Jon Carroll, once wrote that the fact that his little finger perfectly fit his nostril seemed somehow indicative of some general, all-encompassing order of things.  Or maybe that was Schopenhauer.  In any case, the end of the year is nigh, which always brings me to brief thoughts of my three favorite coincidences.  With the last two, you do sort of wonder if there might be some Stanley Kubrickesque larger celestial force yanking our strings, but the first is just a curio.  Here they are.

Coincidence:  A lot of people are deeply grateful when we pass the winter solstice and the sun begins setting later each day.  If you are one of them, and like to keep track of the sunset’s progress into ever later time, it’s this easy:  starting on January 1, and for about six weeks, the sun sets one minute later each day on average, and since it happens to set just around 5:00 PM on December 32, that means that on most days, the numerical day of the year is also the number of minutes past 5 that the sun rises. For example, January 15 = sunset 5:15.  The numbers begin diverging around mid-February, but it’s a fairly cool little curiosity when you’re making bar talk.

Coincidence:  The moon revolves at precisely the same rate that it orbits the earth, which is why for ever and ever only one side of it has faced the earth.  What are the odds?  Actually, I heard an astronomer on a talk show say they’re not, ironically, that astronomical, but still: if you wanted to provoke an earthbound species into undertaking space travel, a good start would be to drive them nuts with curiosity about the other side of that damn nighttime smiley face.

Coincidence:  More moon stuff.  Specifically, it is exactly the right size, or distance, or both, so that when there is a solar eclipse (a fairly extraordinary thing in itself, requiring as it does the precise intersections of several celestial bodies) it just exactly blocks out the sun, by which I mean not just most of the sun, and not just completely obliterating it  the sun, but matching the sun in diameter so neatly that you’d think a high school astronomy teacher had rigged it, just to depict the solar flares.  I can imagine some kind of astrophysical phenomenon that might cause a moon’s rotation to coordinate with its orbit, but this seems uncannily unlikely.

Then again, how many of our galaxy’s several billion solar systems have I actually visited, eh?  Right: fewer than four.  Never mind.


For Alan. And belatedly, Liz. And ultimately, a bunch of us.

October 12, 2010

 (A much earlier version of this appeared in Oui magazine not long after the events depicted herein more-or-less took place.  It is quite possible that this post is in violation of certain Oui copyrights, which I only mention because Alan would especially like that aspect.)

The month was right about now, and the year was 1972, and I had recently moved into a self-described anarchist collective, into one of two neighboring, and doddering, two-story houses on Parker Street below Shattuck in Berkeley. 

Previously, the houses had been occupied by a clutch of diehard, left-of-left political radicals devoted to the principles embodied by Ukrainian anarchist Nestor Makhno, a widely unrecognized agitator who stirred up the  Eastern European masses circa 1919.  But now, however, the Parker St. collectives were inhabited by residually committed anarchists who increasingly found that more and more of their waking hours were devoted not so much to smashing the state as to an appreciation for and the distribution of coca-based stimulants.  

The previous occupants and the current crowd were in fact the same people, mind you, just with pharmacologically and economically altered agendas.  Why I had recently moved there is neither particularly material to this anecdote, nor any of your business.

Notwithstanding their blatant sociopathology — an actual electric sign in the front yard of one house did actually flash the message Smash The State over and over  — the houses were never raided by any law enforcement agency, thanks largely to the fact that at that time in Berkeley, anarchist collectives were both more at home and more numerous than gas stations.  When the anarchists at the Parker St. collective were not churning out leaflets urging that all the  banks be burned, or that people write in Daffy Duck for President, or that everyone loot the nearest Tower Records, they played poker and music.  Specifically, Harlem Globetrotter poker and Rolling Stones music.  

They played the Stones about nine hours during your average day, and if the amplifier was set below eight, it was only because someone was trying to sleep off a hangover in the next room.  They played “Street Fighting Man” so loudly that the Berkeley police decided that, especially in light of the flashing Smash The State sign, it was probably more prudent to just shine them on than to stir them up.  When they jacked up “Hip Shake” from Exile on Main Street all the way, older patients at the hospital two blocks away thought they were having cardiac spasms and put new batteries in their pacemakers.  

The anarchists were to the Stones what Norman Mailer was to Norman Mailer.  That was partly due to the de facto head Parker St. anarchist, who in fact believed in his heart that he seriously resembled Mick Jagger.  In reality, he more closely resembled a stocky white Jimi Hendrix, or perhaps three or four Jaggers all pressed together.

In any case–one day a young man we will call Howie Kaplan came to the anarchists’ door.  This door was seldom closed and hardly ever locked.  Such is the way of anarchists.  Howie Kaplan stuck his head in the door.  He said that a friend had sent him.  He asked if the anarchists wanted to make a fast $250 and a quarter ounce of cocaine.

“Come right on in, Howie Kaplan,” said the anarchists.

Howie Kaplan said that he could spell out the plan with more clarity if he were stoned.  The anarchists rolled up a whole lunchpail of joints and everyone smoked dope until their crab lice dropped off.  Howie Kaplan spelled out the plan.  The plan involved the anarchists fronting him a car, $900, and free telephone use.

“It was nice to know you, Howie Kaplan,” said the anarchists.

Howie Kaplan left, but he was to return.  Frequently.  And each time with plans whereby the anarchists would make a lot of money and acquire some soft narcotics by giving Howie Kaplan a whole lot of money and getting him off on their dope.  Howie Kaplan told the anarchists a number of tales, concerning Howie Kaplan working for NBC, Howie Kaplan working for the Kennedys, Howie Kaplan working for Phil Spector, Howie Kaplan discovering penicillin.

Things grew edgy around the anarchist collective.  Somebody would happen to mention the name Howie Kaplan and the anarchists would begin breaking the furniture, for example.

Now–on another day, it was announced that the Rolling Stones were coming to play four concerts in San Francisco.  The anarchists went absolutely boing.  They ran right out, enthusiastically loopy with hedonistic, anticapitalist vim, and stole 800 blank Ticketron ticket forms.  Ticketron was the official agency used by Bill Graham, who booked the Stones in San Francisco and elsewhere around the hemisphere.

The Parker St. anarchists had a printing press in their basement.  Naturally.  In those days, the printing press could best be described as the anarchist’s electric train.  They borrowed a legitimate Stones ticket from a friend.  They studied and analyzed it.  They set up a typeface identical to that used by Ticketron, set it up for both evening performance dates.  Then they subjected their sample ticket to an entire promenade of tests, for hidden validity checks, the subtle little tricks Graham would pull with the tickets to weed out counterfeits.  They found the trick: the word STONES stamped in large letters on the back of the ticket, in invisible ink.  They carved a stamp, stole some invisible ink, and stamped the back of their tickets.

They ran off 500 bogus Stones tickets.

Some of these they used themselves or gave to friends.  Others were given away in the line outside the concert to aimless, whey-colored narcotonics, the more disheveled-looking the better, who wandered around smiling moronically and mumbling, “Spare Stones ticket?”  

The rest of the tickets they sold to people roving around trying to buy Rolling Stones tickets.  They priced the tickets based on individual buyer’s appearance, sincerity, deportment, and sexual potential.  As far as anyone knows, every one of the tickets worked perfectly, even when the guards flashed the backs with the garish ultraviolet light.

And oh yeah.  They also gave a ticket to Howie Kaplan.  But it was not quite like the other tickets in every respect.  For example, on the back, where the other tickets said STONES, Howie’s ticket said:


Nobody knows whether or not Howie’s ticket worked, because nobody saw any more of Howie Kaplan after the line began moving in.

Planning to vote Republican? Wise Up, Moron! is just for you

September 23, 2010

Hey, you.

Hey…over here!




Yes, you.

Over here.  Yes, here.  Jesus.

Now listen —


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A)  Trying to write out the amount in longhand?

B)  Remembering how to make your signature?

C)  Drooling and smearing the ink?

D)  Using the wrong end of the pen?

2. The last time you paid cash for something, were you:

A)  Not given a receipt?

B)  Not given anything in return for your money?

C)  Unaware of it at the time?

D)  There?

3. Are your consumer buying patterns:

A)  Putting a local gypsy family’s kids through college?

B)  A source of great amusement to members of your county’s anti-fraud taskforce?

C)  An entire chapter in Bankruptcy For Dummies?

D)  News to you?

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The Buyer’s Guide For Imbeciles


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NAME  (What people call you)

ADDRESS  (The place you live)


September 7, 2010


It was “the R-word” that pushed me over the edge.  

Admittedly, I was pretty close to that edge already, given the accelerated rate at which verbal sensitivity was devouring the various letters of the alphabet.  But let’s begin at the beginning, which was with:

“The F-word” was, of course, the first and the granddaddy of the whole “X-word” tribe.  Just to be clear, the X in “X-word” doesn’t actually stand for any actual word beginning with X, unless xenophobia starts getting a lot more press and sociological leverage than it has now, so allow me to substitute for “X-word” a term that I just now made up, and hope to Trademark:   Capdashing.  

Capdashing, as I define it (and who better to do so), is the taking of an offensive word and replacing it with its initial letter, Capitalized, followed by a dash and the word “word.”

The reasoning behind capdashing “fuck” into “the F-word” was, presumably, that innocent little children would not see, and would thus be shielded from, the crudity in question.  Rather comically, this reasoning basically assumed that the same innocent little children would be perfectly satisfied with hearing and reading “F-word” and never even think to wonder what the F might stand for — children being, as we all know, just about the least curious creatures on the planet.

It is fitting that a the capdashing phenomenon, given such a moronic genesis, would promptly proceed to make a thorough ass of itself, following up the success of its F-word with a mad rush of other capdashes.  Given the initial emphasis on obscenity, the “F-word” was followed in kind, by the “C-word”, the C standing for a singularly vulgar slang term for either (a) the female genitalia or (b) one’s ex-wife, or (c) one’s ex-wife’s divorce lawyer, even if the lawyer in question was male.  In fact, especially.  

There was a halfhearted attempt to keep the momentum going in this vein, with the “B-word,” but it was just impossible to make a case for the capdashing of a word which, however sexist it might be, was not only used as an epithet with equal vim and frequency by both genders, but a word whose prohibition would make life nearly impossible for dog breeders and show judges.

Then, of course, capdashing moved to a whole new level: that of the personal affront.  Unlike the C- and F- words, which were capdashed largely out of deference to obscenity laws, “the N-word” was born of political, sociological and ideological considerations, along with a desire to avoid physical harm.  Or even worse, career harm.  

Consider the example of Ms. Laura Schlesinger (if you can’t write me a prescription, don’t expect me to call you Doctor), who is up to her stretchmarks in hot water, and deserves to be, having gone on the air and said not just “Nigger” but “Nigger nigger nigger,” and not just once, but several times, rather like the chorus of some deliriously vile Klan Anthem. 

Nonetheless, this entire sordid little episode brought back to me the words of the immortal Lenny Bruce, who did a whole bit on exactly this subject circa 1963, opening it with, “Are there any niggers here tonight?  Let’s see, yes, two niggers, over there.  And at this table, some spics.  Are there any kikes?  I’ll call your spics and raise you two kikes.  And there are six micks, and two chinks…”  

I’m paraphrasing by memory, and very raggedly, but I recall with icy clarity his point: That by prohibiting such racial slurs, you mystify and empower them, you sharpen their teeth and juice up their mojo, you enhance their ability to cause pain and rage, you effectively energize them.  Make any particular X-word commonplace, banal, a cliche, he insisted, and you neutralize it.  I like to think that he was right, but looking around, would hate to have to argue the point.  

In any case, the capdash phenomenon has now, as I noted in my opening line, also given us the R-word, which is not exactly a breakthrough neologism, given that there was a period a few years back when “R-word” was commonly used in the media in place of Recession.  But that’s not its primary designation today.  The word so offensive and insensitive that it must now be reduced to “R-word” status is:  Retard.

And that’s where I get off the politically correct bus.  Mind you, I can sympathize with those who consider “retard” to be demeaning when used with reference to someone with a clinical condition that renders them cognitively constrained compared to the general population, blah blah blah.  But it doesn’t rise to the level of obscenity or vicious slur or racist invective.  It may be impolitic, or insensitive, or tasteless, but it doesn’t really merit capdash treatment.

Plus, if you eliminate retard from the lexicon, how can historians even begin to discuss George W. Bush?

More to the point, if you knuckle under to the “R-word” purists, where does it end?  There are legions of minorities out there who believe themselves to be discriminated against simply by virtue of the words used to describe them.  How soon before “obese” is, in deference to the feelings of those who are, reduced to “the O-word?”  And what about Gays, for whom there are so many crude and capdash-worthy terms that you could wipe out a fifth of the alphabet?  Certainly they’ll have first claim on “the Q-word,” if they want it.

You could probably work your way right through the entire alphabet, coming up with a word for each letter that some thin-skinned and emotionally involved group would find offensive.  A-word?  Well, we all know what that one is, don’t we, even those of us who are A-‘s.  B and C we’ve accounted for.  D-word?  Think Rosie O’Donnell.  E-word?  Okay, we’ve got our crack researchers working on that one.  Stay tuned.  

Anyway, I think the point is well made.  All we’re doing is coming up with sanitized, socially acceptable ways in which to essentially say fuck and cunt and nigger and retard and evangelist and…

Hey!  There’s my e-word!

Well, I guess my work here is done.

Later, folks.

God Blast Us, Everyone

September 2, 2010


What follows, below, is a comment that was originally posted by somebody who signs himself Archie D., on the West Kentucky Star website, regarding an article in that paper about the town of Mayfield, KY refusing local Somalis permission to establish a mosque in an unoccupied strip mall building.  I found it enlightening and ultimately more than mildly amusing, and the handful of persons who visit my little blog might also find it so.  Here it is…

Islam is dangerous! Look at this intolerance in the Quran:

“He that sacrificeth unto any god, save unto ALLAH only, he shall be utterly destroyed.”

“When ALLAH shall bring thee into the land whither thou goest to possess it, and hath cast out many nations before thee… And when ALLAH shall deliver them before thee; thou shalt smite them, and utterly destroy them; thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor shew mercy unto them… Neither shalt thou make marriages with them; thy daughter thou shalt not give unto his son, nor his daughter shalt thou take unto thy son… ye shall destroy their altars, and break down their images, and cut down their groves, and burn their graven images with fire. For thou art an holy people unto ALLAH: ALLAH hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth.”

“Thou shalt fear ALLAH, and serve him, and shalt swear by his name… Ye shall not go after other gods, of the gods of the people which are round about you… (For ALLAH is a jealous God among you) lest the anger of ALLAH be kindled against thee, and destroy thee from off the face of the earth.”

“…whosoever would not seek ALLAH should be put to death, whether small or great, whether man or woman.”

Can anyone deny that such a religion is bent on violent world domination?

Actually all of them are quotes from the Old Testament of the Bible, which is also the Torah. I just replaced the Lord and God references with Allah. There are plenty more where they came from.


June 9, 2010


I voted for Orly Taitz yesterday, and could not be more proud.  Orly Taitz is, almost certainly, a borderline delusional who has hitched her “Political Stardom or Bust” wagon to the hypothesis that Obama was not born in Hawaii and is not therefore blah blah blah.  

She is seriously unhinged, and has been running as a Republican candidate (a possible redundancy) for, um, I think attorney general, but frankly I didn’t pay that much attention to the elective office in question because the whole point was to get this incredible nutcake onto the ballot on behalf of the GOP.  

Now right at about this point, I imagine that many of my scads of blog followers are wondering, with dubious looks on their face(s), “How would a notoriously unapologetic lefty like yourself be in a position to vote the Republican ballot in a state primary?”  

Well, now that you ask, that’s because when I moved to my current home some 34 years ago, I was fresh from a residence in an anarchist collective in Berkeley.  As a sort of ideological penance or counterbalance to my having moved to placid, apolitical, uninvolved El Cerrito, I had it in mind to form an organization, existing only in my mind, called Republicans For Communism.  Oh boy would real Republicans (of which, officially and legitimately, I was one) go absolutely ape!

But then other things happened and I never got around to organizing or even giving serious thought (as opposed to satirical thought) to the notion again.

  Note:  This was an entire generation before the age of the Internet, of course, and today setting up such an organization, with its own website and cybernetic legitimacy, wouldn’t take a computer pro more than the time to fry an egg.  Such was not the case back then, alas.   Nevertheless, I’m still registered GOP, mostly for the theatrical possibilities, although the sheer volume of automated political calls over the past few days makes it very tempting to re-register as something on the order of Rosicrucian or Whig, just to avoid the onslaught of rightwing drivel that cascades over me at such times as this.

But I digress.  The point is that now and then my GOP reg enables me to have at least a minuscule influence on the party of wealth and anger and xenophobia.  Just a bit of snotty symbolism, of course, but you play the hand you’re dealt.  In any case, the very notion of the Taitzer on the ticket with Meg and The Other Broad gave the Republicans the absolute lightning shits, and although Orly, being almost flagrantly out of her mind, was soundly whipped by her opponent, at least I’ve done what I can.  I voted.  I am a citizen.

I think George Carlin already used the title “Brain Droppings,” but that’s what we’re talking about here

May 24, 2010

You want to know why I don’t post more often?  No, of course you don’t.  You’re not even there.  Nobody actually reads these feeble scrawlings.  But I’ll tell you anyway, because like all blogs this is for the blogger and not the bloggees:  It’s because the routine output of my mind, if entered into the public record, could possibly be used as evidence in  some future competency hearing.  In a way that I’m sure would not be to my benefit.  

Consider today’s output of little inspiration flashes, the two notations I found worth notating:

1.  (In the voice of Woody Allen, mind you)   I am so depressed, I can’t believe it.  My reincarnation therapist revealed that in my last life I was a locust. 

 2.  My scenario for the definitive “tragicomedy”:  Sixteen orphans killed in a pie fight.  

Readers of this blog, be glad, glad, glad that you don’t exist.


May 6, 2010

Right from the start, I knew I probably wouldn’t agree with OR much like OR want to vote for Meg Whitman no matter how much money she spent.  Well, that is, assuming that she would be pissing the money away on political TV ad campaigns and not, say, placing it directly into a CD in my name in the sum of, oh, $40,000.  She would certainly have my vote then.  I am that classic nexus between Democracy and Capitalism:  my vote is always for sale, and when bought, I stay bought, at least until a higher bidder comes along.  To date, my mercantile approach to the ballot has netted me overall…let’s see…ah yes:  not a sou.  

But back to the subject, which is Ms. Whitman.  To review: The Megster made so very VERY much money when they brought her in to run this little fledgling outfit called eBay that she is now looking to use a heap of it to move up from yachts and mansions to actual entire states.  And that’s her sole claim to credibility: she ran eBay and made a breathtaking sum of money in the process.  Frankly, the argument just falls flat for me.  

Point number one:  a chimpanzee could have made a fortune if somebody had granted Cheetah a shitload of stock options at rock bottom price and then let economic nature take its course as the Net’s fait accompli official want ad website went platinum.  

Point number two:  there isn’t a political cartoonist in the country who hasn’t done some take on California’s financial situation that didn’t involve a depiction of the Titanic.

I don’t know, folks.  Frankly, taking a person who succeeded at a job almost no one could have failed at, and expecting her to now succeed at a job that almost anyone would fail at just doesn’t strike me as a winning strategy.

Then there are the numerous millions of dollars she evidently made by being made privy to stupendously profitable information which was provided to her by persons who sought her vote on the board of directors when it came to choosing between gambits that were (a) breathtakingly lucrative but resoundingly illegal, or (b) obscenely profitable but shamelessly felonious.  

Also, I just don’t care for the woman.  Based on her TV persona, I would say she has all the winning charm and engaging personality of a chronically cross Pekingese.  The fact is, she and her infuriatingly endless and repetitious TV attack spots assailing Steve Poizner have got me to the point of wanting to campaign not just for his nomination but for his canonization.


April 24, 2010


Gingrich can run as an outsider, having not held public office since, what, 1934?  Okay, it was 1999, but that’s eleven years, in politics an epoch.  And he was blissfully out of power for 9/11, Iraq, the meltdown, all that ghastliness.  He’s well outside the Beltway.  And yet…

He can run as someone who’s familiar with the feel of the helm on our ship of state.  After all, as House Speaker (1995-99), he was second in line to the Oval Office had Clinton bit the dust.

He will play to the GOP’s red meat frothy screaming rightists better than anybody but the baked Alaskan.  He will have the advantage over her, of course, of being able to make sense and having a higher IQ than a bird feeder.  Oh sure, even he is outflanked to starboard by Ron Paul, but the Paulistas are no longer really on the political grid.

He has often displayed an ability to casually, easily, convincingly and unashamedly lie like a guy caught with the dictator’s daughter, a facility that GOP voters seem not just to forgive, but applaud and reward, as long as it is exercised in the process of vilifying libs.

Who can beat him?  Mitt?  Be serious. The man’s not a POTUS, he’s a GQ model, for Chrissake.  The GOP base has never liked nor trusted him and never will, which may be the high water mark of the base’s political acumen.  The Mittster would and will — not to put too fine a point on it  —  fuck the Pope’s cat in the ass on YouTube if it would get him elected.  

Gingrich, despite his self-portrayal as a man marinated in principles, is a gut fighter who can be utterly unprincipled, ruthless, vicious and vile in attacking anything he perceives as not in his best interest, and who will happily eviscerate any Republican standing between him and the brass ring.

He can come off as extremely professorial and intellectual when it serves his purpose; in contrast, almost nobody else with serious rightwing appeal can go on the Sunday Morning TV talkies without sounding like Chicken Little.  

He’s the domestic pol version of the Middle-east leader who says one thing in Arabic/Hebrew and another thing in English figuring, usually correctly, that both sides will buy it. 

And finally, who else, really, do they have in the Presidential pipeline?  Beyond the Newtinator, I crane my neck, and yet in all directions, naught do I espy.

Then again, I didn’t see Barak coming for at least two years after his 2004 convention speech, whereas Gloria was ready to start a campaign fund drive before the applause had even died down.

Nevertheless, if I were a betting man (and given my track record, surely a much poorer one), my money would be on Newt and Obama locking horns two years hence.  Certainly in a theatrical sense — which is increasingly indistinguishable from the political sense — it would be the bout of choice.


April 22, 2010

There was another item in the press today about “angry gun owners demonstrating in front of the White House,” which caused me, as such headlines have been doing since late in the Clinton Administration, to ask myself, “What the hell are they so fucking angry about?  What’s their gripe?”  

Their gripe, as usual and of course, is the endless and ongoing assault on their rights as gun owners.  Which should confirm for even the most resolute doubters that these people are either delusional or homicidal or both.  

Reality:  The tide, both in public opinion and case law, has been running so strong in favor of gun ownership by anyone, wherever and whenever and under whatever conditions, that you’d think the entire country had morphed into Tombstone or Dodge City or Richmond.  

Gun owners have not enjoyed this much political clout or freedom to bear arms since Andrew Jackson was president.  And yet they gather, furious, waving their fists, which increasingly are clenched around high-caliber assault rifles, and rage about their lack of freedom.  Are you kidding?  Freedom to do what?  

And I think that that question right there is the key to something.  They are now free to possess all the guns they want, of almost any kind they want, at any time and in any place and with few if any restrictions or qualifications, and yet they are not satisfied.  What are they so pissed about?  Just this, I suspect:  They’ve got the guns, but they’re not using the guns.  They’re still not getting to actually shoot at anyone!  

I mean, come on.  What’s the good of freedom to bear arms if you can’t discharge those arms at somebody?  Certainly the Founding Fathers wouldn’t have devoted an entire goddam Amendment to the Constitution guaranteeing our right to pack heat if they didn’t intend for us to exercise it.  And how else does one do such exercising?  Obviously, by shooting whatever one perceives to be a threat to whatever one perceives to be America.  

I tell you, these freaking gun nuts are just waiting for the first opportunity to break out their firearms and slaughter the rest of us to the last soul.  Thank God it became clear to me in time.  Naturally, thus enlightened, I have armed myself to the teeth.  Let these Second Amendment fanatics do their worst.  Bring it on, gun nuts!  Can you say “bazooka”?  Habla war surplus?  I’m tanned, rested, locked and loaded!!