Sunday, January 21, 2018

Make America 'Bate Again

Here's a little bit of awfulness for you, which... uhhh... went down on the night of the Women's March, via Ken Vogel of the NY Times:

Who said the Trump wasn't bringing jobs back to America? Well, gigs at least...

The whole Stormy Daniels thing manages to be hilarious, with some gross notes added in to 'spice' things up:

Yup. He bragged about his daughter quite a bit though. He was very proud of her, which is nice. He told me once that I was someone to be reckoned with, beautiful and smart just like his daughter. She is smart and beautiful, so I guess that’s a compliment. But as far as family, that’s all he ever said. He definitely is very proud of her, as he should be.

Well, that's pretty damn creepy, especially in context. My favorite passage from the InTouch interview concerned Vulgarmort's fear of sharks:

You could see the television from the little dining room table and he was watching Shark Week and he was watching a special about the U.S.S. something and it sank and it was like the worst shark attack in history. He is obsessed with sharks. Terrified of sharks. He was like, “I donate to all these charities and I would never donate to any charity that helps sharks. I hope all the sharks die.” He was like riveted. He was like obsessed. It’s so strange, I know.

The worst shark attack in history occurred after the sinking of the U.S.S. Indianapolis- in the grand scheme of things, the sharks were a lot less dangerous than good old H. sapiens. I like sharks, even the mutant ones, and I am concerned that Trump would interfere with NOAA's efforts at conservation of endangered shark populations. I'd also like to point out the Trump that sharks are the least of his problems:

Getting back to the topic of Stormy Daniels, the really weird thing is that I remembered her name from her short-lived Republican primary campaign against Davd 'Diaper' Vitter:

I guess that Trump won't be putting her on his staff, well, not in the future.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

A Year of Trump, a Day of Pushback

Wow, a mere year after Vulgarmort's inauguration, the U.S. Government has entered shutdown mode. Working the graveyard shift, I pretty much listened to coverage of the shutdown in real time. Asked by a Nederlander in a comment section about my feelings of being without a government, I replied 'without this government?'

I left work around 8AM and headed down to my volunteer coaching gig in Manhattan. As I typically do, I drove to 238th St and Broadway in the Bronx to take the 1 Train down to 59th St. At 225th St, a contingent of women in pink hats boarded the train, headed down for today's Women's March. I struck up a conversation with them about the awfulness of 'little gloves', and it turned out that they were from Westchester County, from a couple of towns not far from where I work... a couple of them actually had friends in common with me, and we whiled away the train ride swapping scuttlebutt about various individuals we knew. As they exited the train, I exhorted them to kick ass and take names.

We had four classes, going from 9:30 to 11:45, and we decided that the kids knew enough so that we could let them play randori, which is fighting without scorekeeping. The kids are trustworthy, they played hard against each other, but they played clean... they are a great bunch, very supportive of each other.

After class had ended, I headed out into streets packed with marchers. The mood was exuberant, though there was a sense of righteous anger at the depths to which the current maladministration had sunk. I decided that I really wasn't going to join the marchers because I was carrying a really large gym bag laden with a sweaty double-weave judogi that is heavy as hell... I really didn't need to get probed by NYPD for carrying a suspicious duffel. Also, I had to return to work at 5PM, my coworker who was originally scheduled to work Saturday afternoons had a training session for another job. I entered the 59th St station and the train that pulled into it was so packed that I had to run four car lengths before finding a car that I could squeeze into. There were a lot of passengers in pink hats. Standing next to me were three twentysomething year old women, and I joked that Trump would rue the day that he was inaugurated. One of the women laughed and said, "He pissed off the girls!" The train practically cleared out at 72nd St, near one of the staging areas of the ongoing rally. As they exited, I cheered on the girls, "Give him hell!"

From what I could see, the march, which was attended by tens of thousands of protestors (one traffic reporter estimated a crowd of over 100,000), was multigenerational and multiracial. One of the common themes I saw on signs was a demand for intersectionality. Another common theme was the need for voter turnout- wave imagery was common. Perhaps the funniest thing I saw was a young kid in a shark hat.

Now that I've been at work for a few hours, I've had some time to check out coverage of the marches across the country, and it is truly amazing. People are even more fired up than they were last year, and if this momentum can be sustained until November, the GOP is in deep, deep doodoo.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Betrayals Most Foul

In a week of repugnant news stories, the harrowing tale of Larry Nassar's sexual abuse of multiple girls is perhaps the worst. The fact that Nassar cloaked his depredations in the guise of medical treatment is a horrific betrayal of a medical doctor's duties, generally held to be sacred. He betrayed the trust of his victims, and their parents, some of whom were convinced that their daughters were mistaken concerning Nassar's conduct. Michigan State University and USA Gymnastics failed to protect their charges against Nassar, eerily echoing Penn State's failure to protect children from a sexual predator... Nassar was able to abuse scores of girls over the course of decades, leading some victims to commit suicide or to seek solace in drugs.

I've long held a repugnance for high level competitive gymnastics, as detailed in Little Girls in Pretty Boxes... I look at Kerri Strug's perfect landing with an injured ankle as a more of a horror story than a triumph:

Don't get me wrong, that was a display of guts, but it points to a disregard for the well-being of girls, an attitude conducive to a predatory culture. Nassar had a one-man reign of terror, but it's hard to see any good guys involved in the sport.

Part of the reason which I find this especially repugnant is my volunteering as a coach for a children's athletic program. After the Penn State scandal became public, all of the adults involved in the program had to undergo background checks. I'm a judo player, and our sport had a sexual abuse scandal- Kayla Harrison, the most accomplished American judoka ever, was abused by a coach and fought depression and suicidal ideation. She is now a tireless crusader against child abuse.

Besides screening adults who are involved in children's activities and making sure that there is no unsupervised contact between kids and adults, it is crucial to believe children when they reveal that they have been abused (I was enraged by the tale of the woman whose parents didn't believe her tale of Nassar's abuse), and it is crucial to instill in them a healthy skepticism of authority figures. For all the characterization of 'stranger danger' being the major threat to children, the tragic fact is that abuse is usually perpetrated by trusted adults- clergy, coaches, teachers... it's often the stranger who notices that something is wrong and puts an end to the abuse.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

A Shocking Death

Here's a tragic companion to yesterday's post- Dolores O'Riordan, the lead singer of the Cranberries, has died at the all-too-young age of forty-six. I don't recall the 1990s as being a banner decade for music, but the standout bands for me were rock bands that were fronted by charismatic female vocalists. Among these standout bands was The Cranberries from Limerick, Ireland. Their first album, released in 1993, happened to coincide with an Irish Renaissance in the New York metro area- a poor economy in Éire drove a wave of immigration to NYC and much of the Irish immigrant community migrated from the Norwood section of the Bronx to the Woodlawn/McLean neighborhood which straddles the Bronx/Yonkers border (my neighborhood). Locally, the storied Rory Dolan's pub opened in 1994, and internationally, Riverdance swelled into a cultural juggernaut (for the record, I still chuckle at Michael Flatley jokes). The decade was perfect for the release of a debut album by a Very Irish band, and the Cranberries fit the bill.

The band immediately made an impression on me with the ethereal single Dreams, a perfect showcase of Ms O'Riordan's vocal range, from breathy to belting:

It's here where I confess that, if I can be said to have a 'type', it's gaminesque Black Irish heartbreakers like Ms O'Riordan, which is a factor in my fanboi status and my current melancholy.

The band's 1994 second album opened up with the political song Zombie, written to protest a 1993 bombing by the provisional IRA, a splinter group of which committed the horrific Omagh bombing. The song charted throughout the world, having resonance wherever bitter dead-enders cling to their hatred and violence:

In 1994, I went with a bunch of friends to see the band play the Beacon Theatre, a really amazing music venue on Manhattan's West Side.

After a run of albums throughout the 90s, the band seemed to fizzle out, but they recently mounted somewhat of a comeback:

The best way to remember Ms O'Riordan is to blast her music, so here's a 1999 concert video by The Cranberries:

News of her death came as a dreadful surprise, but the, forgive the expression, lingering melancholy is knowing that a voice which formed a big part of the soundtrack to a fantastic time of my life has been stilled.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

An Unlikely Survival

Today, something which I never would have believed thirty years ago happened... Shane MacGowan turned sixty years of age. My love for Shane has been documented over the years, I just didn't think that this hard-drinking, hard-drugging, hard-living rapscallion would live to be eligible for a senior citizens' discount. Here's a guy who's public debut was a journalist-documented earlobe biting at a Clash show:

Who would have thought that that bloody kid would survive decades of self-abuse to become a beloved elder statesman? While I am a huge Pogues fan, I figure it would be fun to post a video of a song by Shane's first band, The Nipple Erectors- here's King of the Bop:

A cute number, but perhaps not indicative of the man's glorious songwriting skills. A few years later, the guy was writing epics such as The Sickbed of Cuchulainn:

It looks like Shane had a blast on his birthday, but I'd be remiss if I didn't add (as everyone does) that I'll always be shocked that he outlived Kirsty.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Racists and Reactionaries

On this Martin Luther King Day, in the year of the fiftieth anniversary of his assassination, the individual who holds the highest office in the land is fresh off of a scandal in which he was heard to malign immigrants from developing nations which are still contending with the aftereffects of colonization and post-colonial exploitation. The general consensus among Trump watchers is that Trump was motivated by racial animus, though the cretin won't own up to his racism.

Back in the happier times of the Obama presidency, there were murmurs that the United States had entered a post-racial stage, though anyone who could decipher the 'dogwhistles' of the racist reactionaries could tell a contrary tale, a tale of a backlash against an African-American president seen as a sinister 'other'. Now, the White House is occupied by one of the chief proponents of this racist conspiracy theory.

The racist reactionaries now seem more emboldened than every, feeling no qualms about repeating the basest racist calumnies. The rank-and-file righties aren't shy about expressing racist views, often cloaking their racism in psuedoscientific bafflegab. Outside of this core of unabashed racists, there is the so-called ironic racism exhibited by people who would never consider themselves to be bigots, an 'ironic' racism indistinguishable from other forms of racism.

I'd like to think that this new reactionary culture is merely a societal 'hiccup', a last gasp of a reactionary white culture that blames its lessening fortunes on people of color, rather than on the corporate culture that has been driving the race to the bottom. Among all of the pieties and platitudes that will be expressed today, though, there's a nagging suspicion that America's congenital birth defect will continue to haunt the body politic for the foreseeable future.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

This Is Not a Charade

The latest, and most worrisome, outrageous news story has got to be the false ballistic missile alarm which had Hawaiians freaked out for over half an hour. Apparently, a single individual was able to mistakenly confirm an initial false alert. What the hell ever happened to the 'buddy system', whereby one person cannot make such a momentous decision as calling for a ballistic missile alert? Shouldn't there be fail-safe systems so that one dumbass or psycho can't cause an entire state to shit a collective brick? In my estimation, false nuclear alerts are a mark of shithole countries.

The post title is taken from Fishbone's Party at Ground Zero, perhaps the most fun song ever written about Mutually Assured Destruction:

Thankfully, there wasn't a missile attack on Hawaii, and thankfully the guy with the big nuclear button was too preoccupied with golfing to launch a 'retaliatory' nuclear strike against North Korea.