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Thursday, November 30, 2006

Cell-ing my Soul

I am the kind of person who has a very hard time getting over things. My sense of nostolgia is strong. For instance, it pains me to throw out a receipt from a great meal out with friends, or the ticket stub from an exceptional concert. They're mementos of fun times, and just by looking at them I am brought back to the moment. I like that feeling. However, said receipts and ticket stubs pile up, and really, they're just trash. So, eventually and with a heavy heart, I drop them into the wastebasket (and then, usually, immediately bring the garbage out to the bins so as not to tempt myself to pick them out of the wastebasket). I'm also pretty sure my mother is going to sell the house I grew up in. While dinner receipts are petty, this will be monumental. I may flip out. It won't be pretty. And I don't want to expound on this any more. I'm not quite ready to fully face the inevitable.

But somewhere in the middle of these two extremes lies my current situation. It comes in the form of a new cell phone. I resisted getting a cell phone for the longest time. I laughed at the cliche of a guy pacing the sidewalk in front of his apartment or office building as he chatted to whoever on the other end of the line. I kept up the notion that cell phones were for slick richy-rich folks WAY past the time this was actually the case. But, eventually, I saw their practicality. I'd need to ask someone a quick question, or tell someone where to meet me, and to do so I'd be forced to borrow someone else's phone. And since I didn't know how they worked, I'd need said phone owner to place the call for me. It was a really bizarre modern-day operator type experience. "Hello, operator? I need help placing a long-distance call to 212, please." So finally, in 2002, I cracked and I bought a cell phone. Two days later it was my birthday, and I was doing the "guy-pacing-in-front-of-his-apartmen" move, talking to a friend who had called and left a message on my home phone answering machine, when another man walked up to me, pointed a gun at my chest, and proceeded to take the $3 in my wallet and my brand new cell phone.

A couple of days later, my replacement phone arrived. This is the phone I've been using ever since. It's almost like I'm a widowed father, and my phone -- my constant companion -- is my only child... we were left alone when her mother, my original phone, was taken away from us so violently and tragically. I remember my cell phone's first scratch. The first bit of rubber bumber that stripped off. The first time I dropped it and the battery broke off. I know exactly where she'll lose reception, and exactly where she'll stop digitally roaming. We've been cross-country numerous times, and she works everywhere. Her address book holds ex-friends' numbers I can't bring myself to erase, and the names and numbers of girls I've gone on dates with. It's heard me wish Happy Birthday, get in arguments, console friends in times of need, and call the police after my second mugging at gunpoint. She's transmitted brief snippets of concerts to friends half a world away, and she's cut out during heated debates at just the right time -- when I was losing. That phone has pretty much been the instrumen that has, in some form or another, documented my entire Los Angeles life.

And now it's time to let her go. She's a black-and-white throwback in a color-screen world. She doesn't take pictures, and she's unable to text message. The battery stamina is getting very poor, and she's been forgetting to tell me some messages lately. She's beaten and battered. And she's tired.

So today I'm going to the store to look for her replacement. It's a cold-hearted act, but it's necessary. I suppose the good news is she won't be totally absent. She'll pass her number on to the next generation.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Hey, It's Election Day!!!

Which people who don't care about me at all do I force myself to, for five minutes, pretend really does care? Do I fool myself into thinking the venomous snake won't bite me, or that the rabid dog won't snap at me?

I'd sell your heart to the junkman baby
For a buck, for a buck
If you're looking for someone
To pull you out of that ditch
You're out of luck, you're out of luck

The ship is sinking
The ship is sinking
The ship is sinking
There's leak, there's leak,
In the boiler room
The poor, the lame, the blind
Who are the ones that we kept in charge?
Killers, thieves, and lawyers

God's away, God's away,
God's away on business. Business.
God's away, God's away,
God's away on business. Business.

Digging up the dead with
A shovel and a pick
It's a job, it's a job
Bloody moon rising with
A plague and a flood
Join the mob, join the mob
It's all over, it's all over, it's all over
There's a lick, there's a lick,
In the boiler room
The poor, the lame, the blind
Who are the ones that we kept in charge?
Killers, thieves, and lawyers
God's away, God's away, God's away
On business. Business.
God's away, God's away,
On business. Business.

Goddamn ther's always such
A big temptation
To be good, to be good
Tere's always free cheddar in
A mousetrap, baby
It's a deal, it's a deal
God's away, God's away, God's away
On business. Business.
God's away, God's away, God's away
On business. Business.
I narrow my eyes like a coin slot baby,
Let her ring, let her ring
God's away, God's away,
God's away on business.

--"God's Away on Business", Tom Waits

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Seen, In No Specific Order

There's a lot of crap in here, but also some unbelievable stuff...

Flaming Lips (twice)
Bob Dylan
Kings of Leon (only 1 song)
Blues Traveller
Sonic Youth (twice)
Yo La Tengo
Cat Power
Simon Dawes
Smashing Pumpkins
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
The Goo Goo Dolls (shut up...)
Bush (seriously, shut up...)
Jackson Browne
The Pogues
Son Volt
Lenny Kravitz
Rusted Root
Modest Mouse (twice)
Hot Hot Heat
The White Stripes
The Walkmen
Liz Phair
No Doubt
Coldplay (NOT my idea...)
Fiona Apple
Pearl Jam
Wyclef Jean (worst performance I have ever seen)
Beastie Boys (w/ Biz Markie)
The Secret Machines
The 88s (suck...)
The Films

plus a whole bunch of randoms.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

I've briefly mentioned in past posts that I listen to, watch on television, and read message boards/websites/blogs from numerous right-wing convervative sources. It's also probably not too difficult to infer from some of my posts that, politically and socially, I'm pretty left-leaning. I'd like to think I'm open to a lot of different points of view; while I may not agree with their positions, I can actually understand a lot of the arguements made by right-wingers. I try to not dismiss them out of hand (not to digress too much, but one example includes abortion: I don't know where I stand on the issue "morally" but I KNOW it's not as cut-and-dry simple as a lot of people would like to believe. But anyways...)

I read one prominant Fox News personality's web site and message board frequently. A lot of the discussions there obviously deal with the war in Iraq, 9/11, terrorism, etc. Quite a few -- I would guess a majority, certainly a majority I read, at least -- of these discussions quickly devolve into "Islam is bad." As I mentioned earlier, I can understand a lot of the right-wing arguments even if I don't agree with them. The war, for example. I'm not really "for" it but at the same time I don't think war in and of itself is a completely ridiculous notion. But I just don't understand how one can equate all of Islam, and therefore lump any of its followers, as being inherently "evil."

The most common tactic these people use is to quote the Qu'ran. There are a lot of passages recommending war, killing of infidels, etc. But I can quote a lot of bloody, gorey, horrific passages from the Bible as well. There's quite a bit of wholesale slaughter of innocents in there. I've argued with my parents before, and you know what the OT prescribes for that? That I be put to death!!! Talk about barbaric! But, these people who quote the Qu'ran with such anger defend their own holy book by trying to explain away these brutally violent passages. "Well, we don't really mean that..." or, "that's taken out of context..." Yet anytime a Muslim poster raises the same defense of the Qu'ran, the Bible-thumpers counter with "but it says so right there in the Qu'ran!!! Obviously you are lying."

The second common tactic used to unfairly characterize Islam is to disparage Mohammed himself. They constantly refer to his war-like ways, and especially the alleged "fact" that he married Aisha, his wife, when she was still a child. They refer to Mohammed as a pedophile. It seems to me this is taking the book and it's stories out of any historical context whatsoever. When the Jews were heading to the Promised Land they sure kicked some serious ass in Canaan. They did not fuck around. And you know why? The OT says God helped them, but also they were a fairly small group of people in a dog-eat-dog world. If they didn't win, they would have been wiped out. Why do we not hold them to the same standards? And regarding the circumstances surrounding Aisha: it was common for women to be married the moment they had their period. How can we use today's standards to judge the actions of someone in a totally different time and place? I know most tribal cultures -- of all religious affiliations -- had marriages at extremely young ages. The Bible advocates slavery, yet we don't condemn Moses for being a slaveowner. Why disparage Mohammed as a pedophile? It was a culturally acceptable and understandable behavior at that time.

I have no dog in this fight. I could care less what prophets one follows or what god one worships. I just find the hypocricy and double-standard to be a little absurd. Are beheadings barbaric and savage? Yes. Are the people who do them barbaric and savage? Yes. Are the people who quietly smile when they happen barbaric and savage? Yes. Does this mean the entire religion is barbaric and savage? That's quite a leap to make. Desperate people do desperate things; look at Chechnya and Ireland and even America during the Civil Rights movement -- and this is not to excuse any terrorist at all, but rather to point out how when people's backs are up against the wall, they react badly. And it has nothing to do with a specific religion. It has to do with people.