Archive for October, 2004

Rehearsing The Kids

Friday, October 29th, 2004

It’s nice to walk in to a junior high school and know that, no matter how shitty any of these kids are, I can just beat them to death with my bare hands. I won’t do it, but it’s nice to know I have the option.

I went in to the rehearsal hall, a really nice old auditorium with about five hundred seats and four hundred coats of paint on the walls. I love auditoriums, I love standing on the stage and seeing the seats. It could be that the stage was the only place I ever felt safe as a kid, but whatever the reason, it is the only place I go where I am reverent.

The kids can tell. As they come in, they know they can still goof off, they can still hassle each other and do their 7th and 8th grade pecking order ruthlessness, but they also know not to come up on to the stage where I am. They all showed up at about 3:25, all but one of them, and they didn’t come up on the stage until 3:29. They know, I’ve told them, that 3:29 is their time and 3:30 is my time.

It’s hard to imagine. I’m sure, but I am an effective disciplinarian when I need to be, and a very natural one. I am panicked about wasting other people’s time, and I am driven to use every single second I have toward the artistic goal, and my own drive translates into inspiration.

These are great kids, really talented. I’ve been told a thousand times that I should teach full time, and maybe I should, but if I did, I’d end up with a worse group than I get by teaching ocassionally. Give me a choir of a hundred kids and I’d be great, but select the best 12 out of that group and let me inspire them twice a year and I’m the best choral director in the country. That’s really my secret, I never stay anywhere long enough for contempt to breed. Also, I’d get sued for language and emotional abuse.

Because I treat them like adults. And they aren’t. When you are directing a group of kids, the energy coming off them is like a group of pidgeons fighting over discarded bread, they seem to have a common goal but they just keep wandering and pecking, side to side, a disjointed whole made from distracted parts, methodically and spastically lurching toward their ideal.

So, you have to know that you’ll have to say everything a thousand times. There are things I say all the time, “Breath from here, sing from here” kind of stuff, but there is also “what key are we in?” and “why is this note going flat?” and “where are you going to breathe?” kind of things, hurled at them as quickly as possible. It takes months. One girl will answer “is it the third of the chord?” and I won’t let her answer again until even the 13 year old boy who is using his butt to run laps in his seat figures it out.

By 3:35, one girl still isn’t there and I say, “I am going to single you out when you make mistakes. That is simply going to happen, so prop each other up when you feel bad. Tess is five minutes late. If we were in the studio, the studio would be getting paid, the producer would be getting paid, the AD and the PA are getting paid, I’m getting paid, there is money pouring out of this project, all waiting for *one* of you to show up. We can’t start ’till the whole group is there, and five minutes is hundreds and hundreds of dollars…”

They know. But if I don’t reinforce it, they won’t. I fire kids, I’ve done it a lot. If you are late once, you are told not to do it again. If you are late twice, you’re fired.

Because, despite how talented these kids are, despite the magic of music and theater, despite how much I want to be involved in the creation of the next group of artists, you should *never* be late to rehearsal or a performance, and if you are the kind of person who is, you need to quit and do something else. Be a lawyer, be a typist, be a writer or a publicist or… Jesus, I don’t even know what most people do for a living, but go do that. Be late once a month to your job.

But if you are only as diligent as the average person, you will suffer and fail as an artist. If you are more diligent than the average person, you will suffer and fail as an artist. If you are the 99th percentile in terms of dilligence and hard work, if you turn over every stone, if you have stop gaps for every scenario, if your work ethic is unimpeachable, you will suffer as an artist, but you’ve given yourself a chance to not fail. You probably will still fail, this is s terrible life full of incredible odds, but yoou at least have a chance.

It gets to be 4:30 and these kids have been working for a solid hour with no breaks. They won’t get a break. I need them to be able to focus and concentrate for an hour and a half, take a ten minute break and then do another hour and a half. It isn’t fun, it’s work. But these recordings will be here, still, when their grandchildren have grandchildren and they will be able to play the digital recordings on water molecules or whatever and I want those grandchildren of grandchildren to say “He sounded amazing…”

At 4:46, we are making the sound, the sound that I have worked with kids all over the country for the last 15 years trying to get them to make. Before I knew how to make it, I knew what I wanted, now I know and these kids have worked with me for a year now and I can get them within striking distance after an hour or so. So, I tell one of the girls to take the solo. I play the opening pitch and start counting off.

This is totally unfair, I know the girl will freeze up. You don’t ask college kids to sight-read a solo in front of all their peers, I know she is going to fail. I count off and she squeeks out a note or two and then stops. “What happened?” I ask.

“I don’t know if I can do this solo,” she says.

“How are you gonna find out?”

She doesn’t say anything. I don’t either and the group is staring at the two of us.

“Look where you are,” I say. “Look out there” I point to the rows and rows of empty seats. We’re on the stage, half inch of cloudy laquer on a half foot of wood, literally “the boards”.

“Out there,” I say, “is full of people who don’t know if they can do this solo. For the rest of your life, every single seat will be filled with people staring up here, saying to themselves, ‘I don’t know if I could do that solo’, and you’re going to be up here staring back at them. The only thing that separates the two of you is what?”

“I’m doing the solo?”

“Are you?”

“I’m doing the solo.”

“Exactly.” I give her the pitch again and count off. Of course she sings it fantastically and the rest of the group sings along. It’s a kids song, a really basic little song, almost a nursery rhyme. There is no way that any one of the kids couldn’t have sung it, sight-read it in fact. They could each have done it, and this girl was the teaching sacrificial lamb.

There is still one boy that isn’t making the sound right, and I singled him out at 4:53 and make him sing it alone. The rest of the kids have taken up their pidgeon ways, nudging each other, writing little notes on their music, generally feeling like they are getting away with something, but they are actually just being allowed a little space while I work with this boy.

They are respectful and silent, but unfocused. The boy is locked on my eyes as we sing back and forth. I give him clues and secrets, different things. I finally say “half that loud” and he sings it a little bit better. I say, “half that loud again” and it’s better still. I say, “as quiet as you can” and this voice, this gorgeous perfect bell tone comes out of the top of his head, and every single kid on stage stops what they are doing and whips their heads at me, huge smiles on their faces. No-one says anything.

“That was great, but it was too soft, right?” I ask. The boy, smiling, nods sorta dismissively. “You really need to make more noise than that, don’t you?” The kid sorta laughs and nods. I lean in as if to whisper to him, and all the other kids lean in.

“Look, what’s happening,” I say in a whisper. “if I whisper just to you, using the smallest voice I have, every single person in this room is trying to hear me. In ten years, you are going to be standing in the middle of a stage exactly like this and you are gonna pause” and I say nothing for about five seconds, “and every single butt in every single chair is gonna lean forward, dying to know what you will say next.”

I leave about five seconds of silence.

“Okay,” I holler. “Next Thursday, exactly same time.” and the group leaves with choruses of “Thank you Mister Williams” and the girl smiles and says to me “Thanks, Sean.”

Hey, you won’t be thanking me in seven years when you’re part of the Fraudience at an Ashlee Simpson concert, but, yeah, for now, at this moment you are making music. And, I guess, this moment is all we got.

On Words, A Play

Thursday, October 28th, 2004

I have received more than a little encouragement from friends when it comes to seeing plays. It turns out, they really want me to see plays I don’t like because it leads to wonderful blogs. I hate to disappoint, but the play I saw last night isn’t going to fit into that.

Now, if I were to go to most of my friends and family and say “I saw a play last night, lasted about 2 hours and 45 minutes, and, despite the fact that it contained horrible domestic violence and rape, it was actually a comedy that ends in a passionate realization of the destruction of the self in order to create a sense of purpose” they would all say to me, “Yeah, isn’t that the play you produced in 2000?’

It turns out, it isn’t. But the similarities are striking. Sakharim Binder is a play by an Indian playwright, set in basically modern day India (although, who can tell, it could have been India from the 1600s except for the language) in a small house owned by the eponymous subject. Women in this culture are thrown out by their husbands and left to wander the streets, untouchable, until predators like Binder can collect them and make them servants, slaves and whores in exchange for a roof and some food.

I know, it doesn’t sound funny, but it is actually. The sheer charm of the main character, as played by Bernard White , is the engine behind the show, and the entire evening would be worthwhile if only to get a chance to see this wonderful actor work. But he is not the only reason to see this show.

It is written in three acts but presented in two, which is a small problem only because, in terms of the drama, it reads in three acts. Binder brings home one woman, abuses the hell out of her and then kicks her out. I laughed the whole time. He then brings home a second woman, a “sexy” woman, and Binder can’t quite make his abuses stick. He starts missing work, doing the chores, forgetting his place, just to please this woman. The third act, the first woman shows up and manages to stay, and the whole thing becomes a mess.

******(There are three theatrical conventions that drive me mad that I will throw in as asides. In almost every play or movie where one woman is presented as meek and homely and the other is presented as a sexual dynamo I, *WITHOUT FAIL*, find the homely one more attractive in every way. It’s like they find the most beautiful woman in the world, and then fit her with a pair of glasses or a baggy sweatshirt and I’m supposed to be convinced. The first woman in the play, Sanjiv Jhaveri is certainly less famous than Sarita Choudhury but she’s actually more attractive and, to me, a better actress.)

The play is long, but I’m not sure that’s bad. It’s so long that you forget you are in a play for most of it, you find yourself transported to the world being presented. Within the first 45 minutes, I had completely accepted Binder’s worldview, and I found myself annoyed at the many people who were fighting against it by acting like human beings. I was frustrated with the second woman for being independent and not putting up with Binder’s abuse. By the end of the play, when the real dramatic push happens, I remembered I was in a theater just in time to start applauding.

That being said, it felt like, at times, the writer was including a lot of stuff in the play that could have been left out. There are several scenes with extra characters that certainly flesh out the rest of the play, but by the end, I had wished the play was maybe shorter and had focused on our main three characters a little more. I’m always glad when a professional company includes more actors, particularly ethnic actors who can’t always find good roles, but at nearly three hours it did end up being a price to pay. If you keep your audience in the theater for an hour longer than they expect, you kinda have to justify it.

*******( Theatrical Convention Annoyance #2- Blackouts. I don’t know if Mac has convinced me of this, or if we both thought it was true and it became a rallying point for working together, but I really hate it when the stage goes dark and the actors move stuff around while we pretend we aren’t in the theater for a minute. It’s the weirdest ten to thirty seconds of my life. Okay, the lights are out, the actors are stumbling around, I can *hear* them, but I’m really not supposed to be paying attention to them… but I’m also not supposed to make any noise myself.

It’s like all the people involved in the play are saying “Okay, this little bit here? This isn’t the play. Don’t pay any attention for the next few seconds… wait, except pay *close* attention because you never know when the lights might come back up and we’ll start the play again. Pay attention, but pretend that you aren’t here… You know what it is, it’s like we’re *hiding*. Pretend that we are small children playing hide and seek, and you know *exactly* where we are, but you aren’t going to catch us *quite yet*. In fact we can make as much noise as we want… up to a point. We can make noise, but we have to sound like we’re trying *not* to make noise. So, when we leave through the functioning door on stage, it will make a noise when it closes, but it will make the quietest possible noise and then *BOOM* the lights come on and NOW THIS IS THE PLAY! WE’RE BACK! MORE PLAY!”

Even worse are the black box plays where they do “dark, dark grey-outs”. Not blackouts, mind you. The actors on stage have almost enough light to change the set, which is, of course, just enough light for the audience to see every single thing you are doing, but is also little enough light to ensure that an actor will break his foot moving a desk.

What’s a director supposed to do? I don’t blame the director, I blame the writer. If you are writing stuff where scenes change instantly, you are writing a TV show or movie. Plays happen in one or two total spaces. And a director can always “Children Of A Lesser God” the whole thing and bring out a bench that indicates every single playing space. My friend Dan Kois did every single play with four chairs.)

Full disclosure, I know the guy who runs the company and if I had *hated* this show, I would still try to write something nice. But you can tell when I’m bullshitting, the truth is, this is a magical amazing piece of theater, powerful and rhapsodic.

And I wouldn’t say it was good just because of my friend. The truth is, the play company has been producing the most consistently good theater of any company I’ve regularly seen in the past three years. Sure, when you go see one of their shows, you can be sure you are seeing a great internationally themed script with great actors. And that alone is enough to separate them from most other companies.

But more than that, the world of the play is perfectly created by their team of designers. The set, lighting and sound design are so *articulate* so focused and exact in this production, as they have been for all of the past productions as well. Names like “Antje Ellerman” (who’s set design for this show is fantastic) and “Nicole Pearce” (who’s understanding and understated light design propelled the show) and “Bart Fasbender” (who showed, in his brilliant work both in this show and in “Trust” that sound design is the most overlooked and undervalued aspect of theater) are names that won’t mean much to most of you, but without them this play would not have been the incredible evening it was.

*******(Yeah, you knew I wasn’t gonna leave it at that. #3- Stage combat. I’ve seen shows where people actually hauled off and hit each other, and believe me, it’s worse than the staged combat. When people hit each other, you just get worried all to hell that the *actor* is hurt. But stage combat is just terrible. There are many ways that television and movies have ruined theater, the jump cuts, the “natural” dialogue covering up brilliant “stage” dialogue, the fact that every moderately talented actor goes straight to method acting without ever learning how to articulate or speak loudly, etc… But stage combat is the one area where these glaring problems are met head on with the flaw of using film sensibilities on stage.

See, back in the day, we always knew we were watching people pretend. Aristophanes didn’t pray that he would find the perfect actors to embody his characters, no-one was watching a play and thought “Hey, that’s *actually* one of the neighboring lords that we are sworn to kill!” When people got killed, the characters lay on the ground dead and, yes, breathing. The combat was in bold strokes, obviously theatrical.

But now, we have “naps”, the small noises that accompany the crappy looking balletic fighting that happens in plays. Every time someone is slapped, someone else claps his or her hands together. There’s nothing wrong with this, but when the actors have spent an hour *embodying* the characters, then they take a swing at a spot some five inches away from the other person’s face, and someone frickin’ *claps* at the same time, it just looks ridiculous.

I have never, in the history of my play going and my play, um, being-in, I have never felt like stage combat looked good. Wrestling is fine. Choking someone to death is fine. But anything that has to have an accompanying sound is *ridiculous*. I saw a woman slap a man at a 1400 seat auditorium and I had bad seats, I distinctly *SAW* the man clap his hands together as he brought his hand up to his face.

In summation: If you have a part for an ugly girl, cast an ugly girl, if you have to have combat, make it wrestling, and avoid black outs at all costs. I have spoken.)


Tuesday, October 26th, 2004

This site is designed specifically for me to talk about things that piss me off in a way that cracks me up about them. My family has, over the years, lost their tolerance for my full fledged deep breath rants, mostly because I like to say the *exact* same thing in about thirteen different ways. I like to extend a metaphor. I like to take things to their absurd conclusion. I started this blog so that I could spare my family and friends the bullshit, and it has done it quite a bit. My family email list and my best friends email list are both somewhat down in traffic since I started this blog, and I’m sure that, even though most of them come read this, they are happy with that.

But, time to time, I find that something I’ve written has hurt someone’s feelings, and I’m not sure how to feel about that. I have a knee jerk reaction to finding out I’ve hurt someone, and it isn’t pretty. When someone says, “this was hurtful to me” I actually become ruthless. “Well, what the fuck is wrong with you, then?” I say. “Buck the fuck up. If what I say hurts your feelings, you’re pretty goddam fragile and you really should, y’know, exercise your emotional muscles a little more.”

I don’t know why this happens. When people are hurt by me, I have learned to feign compassion, but I am honestly faking it, waiting for the bullshit whining to stop. (In case it isn’t apparent, when I dig a hole I like to dig nice and deep and make sure the walls are good and slick. I don’t want me climbing out of this later.) I wish I knew why I have such hostility to people claiming I’ve hurt them, but I feel like the expression of your pain is a waste of time.

Let me be clear, I absolutely *hate* hurting people, I just can’t stand being told that I have. It isn’t that I feel the other person is weak, it’s that I want something other than admission of damage. I want debate. If I say something that hurts your feelings, then I want to know why, I don’t want to know that you’re hurt. “You are wrong, and here’s why” is something that means something to me, but “You’ve hurt me and… nothing, you’ve just hurt me” fills me with rage, and that rage leads to more pain. For you.

I feel like I can defend almost anything I’ve written on this blog, but really quickly, some of what I’ve written about God and religion has upset some people, so let me make a couple of things really clear.

1. I do believe that, as political movements, Christians and Muslims are trying to take over the world, I also believe that Jews are not. Christians and Muslims, as non-political entities, are praying and looking to God and doing whatever it is that religious people do, and, it’s my suspicion that they would be happy with their religions taking over the world, but I’ve never tried to argue that.

2. I have no knowledge of God, and I have done what I could to distinguish this from a lack of belief. Agnosticism leaves open the possibility of God, and to me, that isn’t true. If I say to you, “there is no connection between Saddam and 9/11” and you respond with, “There might be, and I believe there is. There is no way for you to have all the facts concerning the matter, and I honestly think there is a connection,” then I think, with every fiber of my being, that you are wrong.

My wife is agnostic. She worries about Kharmic retribution, about tempting the fates. To her, there is something more at work in the universe than simply stimulus/response. If we are about the get in a car for a drive, I can say, “I bet you a thousand dollars we don’t get in an accident!” and she’ll say, “Jesus, Sean, I wish you wouldn’t say that.” We haven’t talked about it too much, maybe she believes in God even more than that, but she definitely believes that you can make bad things stay away and good things come your way by thinking and speaking like a decent person.

3. I have tried praying and it’s never worked. I have tried to ask God for guidance, and I’ve gotten nothing, Horrible things have happened to me that I didn’t deserve and wonderful things have happened to me that I didn’t deserve. I’ve worked really hard for something and then it came to pass, and I’ve completely bailed on other things and they have not panned out. I live in a universe where work and luck have given me everything I have, and where apathy or delusion or bad luck have led to every failure.

4. I firmly believe that my lack of ability to find any kind of higher power is a shortcoming on my behalf. Sure, I declare all of this stuff boldly here on the blog, but, as I said before, I like saying the same thing thirteen different ways and this gives me a forum to do that. If my declaration that I have never felt God makes you feel bad then either I’m hitting a little close to home for you or you should quit reading my blog.

5. If you have ever tried to convince anyone else that your religion was the right one, then you are, at the very least, a passionate believer. If you have ever tried to convince someone else to *join* your religion, then you are very zealous indeed.

If your religion is the fastest growing religion in the world, and every single male member of your church spends two years, on their own dime, going door to door across every single nation in the country trying desperately to convince anyone and everyone you bump in to that not only is your religion the true religion, but that everyone should *join* your religion, then you are a zealot. It’s pretty easy math.

I don’t see that there is anything wrong with being a zealot. Every single day I try to make people laugh because I’m always trying to convince myself that I’m funny. You want to baptize people because it helps you convince yourself that your view on God is the right one.

We’re all a little nervous.

But there is a difference between praying alone in your closet, and banging on people’s front doors. I’m not trying to hurt anyone, but if you think I’m wrong then tell me *why*, don’t tell me my words hurt. I can’t apologize for saying what I meant and what is hard to argue is wrong. I don’t want to hurt people, but, really, these are just words and if they mean something to you, tell me what it is and I’ll modify my language or we’ll agree to disagree.

The Other Story

Monday, October 25th, 2004

Yeah, let me tell you the story you aren’t going to read when you go to Salon’s piece about the poor Ashlee Simpson’s debacle at Saturday Night Live.

Y’see, the world is full of little-girl-lost stories, the Red Riding Hoods that set out on an unwise but well intentioned course through the dark woods just so we can gasp when the obvious happens, she is eaten by a wolf disguised as someone she can trust. Yes, it’ a tough world for Ashlee Simpson, no doubt.

But look at the language in the story, and you’ll see a real horror show. In talking about her lack of skill, they admit that “MTV captured her first performance ever at The Knitting Factory in L.A., replete with promotional fraudience swooning enthusiastically for the cameras.”

Never mind that a person who had never performed ever in front of a crowd was losing her onstage virginity on MTV, and never mind that the article made that seem unfair to *Ashlee Simpson* instead of unfair to thousands and thousands of performers every day who sing for passionate crowds of people and are ignored (or, say, *EVERY SINGLE ORCHESTRA IN THE WORLD*, *NONE* of which will ever play on any of the “music” channels), never mind the obvious, let me tell you a real horror story.

Six years ago, a girl got up and sang at her junior high school cabaret. She sang “Wind Beneath My Wings”, and her mother cried. Weirdly, it wasn’t just her mother. Everyone was knocked out. She was incredible, somehow she sang with the maturity and clarity that escaped the other kids. It wasn’t showey, it wasn’t perfect, and the girl isn’t gorgeous, so how was anyone to know that when she stood up and sang it would melt the hearts and knees of every person sitting in folding chairs in the junior high school gym.

For the first time in her short life, this awkward little girl did something that garnered her positive attention. Not only did the thing that she sang celebrate her talent, but it also celebrated the history of music. She had discovered her voice, literally and figuratively, and from that moment on she had walked into the world of those-who-give-us-that-which-we-cannot-express-on-our-own. She became an Artist, in league with Mozart and Moliere and McCartney and French Cavemen Who Drew Hunting On Walls. There is an ineffable something that she has. She becomes something completely *other* when she stands in front of a crowd, the notes become a song, the melody has meaning, a single note she sings, wordlessly transports you.

She got leads in the school musicals, she was senior soloist at graduation, she went to college… but somehow her voice was never enough. She was a little bit heavy lidded in the eye, her skin was flawed and she never could figure out make-up, she was a little thin in the bust and a tiny bit heavy in the thighs… she just couldn’t get people to *listen* anymore because now that she was 19, her voice wasn’t the focal point of her performance. Music has become pornography, the audience isn’t listening, they want to fuck someone.

People needed to want to fuck her, and they just didn’t want to fuck her *that much*.

She moved to Los Angeles, believing she could do more for her career if she lost weight, wore a wonder bra, got into the Screen Actor’s Guild. She tried out for American Idol and made the first four cuts but, in the end, her mouth was a little too pouty, her eyes weren’t matched in shape, there was something just not *beautiful* about her. And she wasn’t getting in the unions.

She lost her baby fat in six months in LA, she now had no breasts at all and a small butt and thighs, and she still wasn’t getting work. She made money waiting tables and then spent it all on a voice over audition class that promised her a demo, which she got. She didn’t realize that voice overs are done by only 150 people in the country. She waited tables more and blew her money on headshots with a creepy photographer, who’s portfolio contained fantastic artistic nudes.

She started drinking, gained a little weight, started smoking to lose the weight, but her voice survived. She did open mic nights and afterwards every woman in the place told her she was amazing. Because she wasn’t that beautiful, and women can support other women who aren’t that beautiful. The men liked her performance, but didn’t want to fuck her. So they described her as “talented”, “gifted”, “musical”, the kind of words you use for a child, but never “soulful” or “stunning” or “heart-breaking”, the words you use for a woman. And no A&R; people ever sought her out.

Her headshot photographer calls her with an industry gig. They’re looking for musical types to go to a rock concert and cheer on a young performer. It’s non-union, you get $40 for the gig and you support an up and coming musician. Our girl thinks it’s a pretty good idea. Spread the love. She honestly believes that if she goes and screams for this young girl, it will get paid back to her when her chance comes. She doesn’t know that, at 21, she’s already too old, her chance was never going to come.

She goes and she screams her head off for Ashlee Simpson, and the MTV cameras glimpse her. She’s part of the “fraudience”. Out photographer gets some pictures. In a sweaty tee-shirt, braless and jumping, he sees something of her can actually take pictures of.

Our girl thinks the photographer will be able to help her career. In six months, she’ll have moved from smoking to crystal meth, and she’ll be taking pictures to support the habit. The drugs will ruin her skin, the lifestyle will ruin her voice and the pregnancy she will get at 23 will be easier for her to get rid of than the STD she’ll get at 26. At 28 she’ll stop drugs entirely, find God and a husband. When she’s thirty, she’ll stop even auditioning for community theater, depressed that she is always light years ahead of the ingenue and still always playing the character role. She’ll play Adelaide out in the Valley one last time and she’ll get a rave review, but no-one sees it, no-one ever will. No follow up phone calls, no casting agents.

She’ll retire without telling anyone, even herself.

She will still sing, in church, in her kitchen. And her girlfriends will still tell her she’s amazing, and they will say so knowing that she will never succeed so they can do it with a clear conscience.

And you are telling me that Ashlee Simpson, millionaire, #1 album seller, has it hard? You’re telling me that we should feel bad for little girl lost? She’s Red Riding Hood if Red Riding Hood was *carried* through the woods in a rickshaw, arrived at grandma’s to find a palace where the wolves wait on her hand and foot and as she’s eating dinner she realizes that her 1999 Château Le Pin Pomerol is a little *too* chilled.

This business is not full of girls you’ve heard of that have fallen apart. The Olson Twin in rehab, the Courtney Loves and Sean Youngs. One, maybe two new basket cases a year, that isn’t this business. This business is thousands and thousands of broken dreams every single month. Every famous woman is standing on the corpses of thousands of women they don’t deserve to be in the audience of.

And if you bought Ashlee Simpson’s album, you are the problem.


Saturday, October 23rd, 2004

It’s ten thirty and Ian is supposed to be here any minute, which means I have an hour to kill, so I’ll give you a list of my five favorite kitchen tools, the things I use more than anything else.

1. Zwilling J.A.Henckels 8″ Santoku knife. Obviously, anyone who has ever spent enough time in a kitchen to make a sandwich will tell you the benefits of a good knife, but what you should know is that a great knife is the knife you use. I have several knives, and this is the one that, for some reason, sits in my hand the best. I have a Wustof 8″ Cook’s Knife, or as it says on the sleeve “Kochmesser”, that I use a lot as well, but there’s something about the way the Santoku sits in my index finger that feels like a violin bow.

Knives are basically like tennis rackets anymore. Spend around 200 dollars and get one the seriously improves your game. But, understand that you can spend 500 dollars on a knife you never use, and a 30 dollar knife will just feel right in your hand.

2. Spring Loaded Tongs. I have three sets of these, one regular straight up stainless, one with plastic coated tong ends and one super long ones for grilling. I don’t grill, I don’t know what the hell I’m still doing with the six foot long tongs, but the other ones I use all the time. They have a scalloped end and both pairs open when you bump the butt of the tongs against your hip.

Any time I’m frying something, any time I’m making soup, any time I’m braising meat or chicken… I mean, I don’t know how people cook without these. Up at the farm one weekend, I realized that if I couldn’t find the tongs I would simply be unable to make dinner. I think most people think they can’t cook because most people haven’t realized how useful tongs are.

3. Williams-Sonoma Heat Resistant Non Stick Spatula. My dad has given me great advice over the course of my life. He’s the one who told me that, even as a freelance artist, you should get out of bed nice and early every morning and start working. He also told me to put on my socks before my pants, a habit I have never broken. Better than all of that, he told me about these spatulas. You can submerge them in frying oil, you can leave them sitting in a saute pan, you could put them in a baker’s oven and they won’t warp or fall apart. And, I use mine to scrape the inside of the bowl when I’m making everything from soup to bread to cookie dough.

Spatulas are magic. I don’t know how people cooked when all they had was spoons. I suppose you had to make enough food to feed everyone, plus the food you weren’t going to get out of the bowl. When I’m making bread or pasta or any baked goods, and I’m adding the wet to the dry ingredients, I wonder if the recipe is altered for the amount of egg and milk left in the bowl if you don’t use a spatula.

4. Kitchenaid Bowl Mixer- This instrument means I make bread. I would not make bread without it, I just wouldn’t. And I wouldn’t make cookies quite as much, but that’s not nearly as important.

I make my own bread, and I try not to eat too much bread that I haven’t made, and here’s why. I can control the healthiness of the bread I make. A lot of bread is marked as “low carb” or whatever, but mostly that’s because they cover the loaf in nuts and fiberous crap that supposedly cancels out the carbs and adds to the vitamins. But I don’t like crust very much, and my wife and mom don’t eat the crusts, which means they miss out on the vitamins and carb-cancelling fiber.

I make bread using high protein whole weat flour. It’s hard to make a good loaf out of this stuff, but since it costs almost *nothing* to make bread, and since my bread hook cuts down on the amount of time I have to knead the dough from an hour to about three minutes, I can keep trying until I get it right.

For some reason, when I make bread, it stays good for about five days. I’m not lying. Five days later, it’s still moist, it still tastes great. I make a hunkin’ loaf and it lasts forever. For *nothin’*. And I couldn’t do it without the Kitchenaid.

5. Large Ceramic and Metal Bowls. I have several, and I really wish I had more. I mix giant salads and then eat them. I let dough rest and rise. I hold mis-en-place and mirpoix. I whip eggs and milk. These big-ass bowls are the other thing that most would-be cooks are missing, and they are always the thing that they take for granted on cooking shows. They throw together omelet makings into a huge tuscan cermic beautiful bowl and then look at the camera and talk about wisk technique. Meanwhile, we’re sitting at home with a wisk, all the right ingredients, and a cereal bowl trying to get air into the eggs.

I have three glass, three ceramic and two metal bowls, and I use some combination of them every single time I cook.

Honorable mention-

My wisks- I have three and yes, they are used for different things at different times. A big wide balloon wisk, a skinny long wisk and a regular egg whipping wisk.

Pastry Cutter- This is just a large flat piece of metal, slightly sharp on one end and rolled over on the other. I use it to move ingredients, cut bread dough in half and cleaning the counter. Sure. I clean the counter before I roll out dough or knead bread, and then I use the pastry cutter to clean up all the extra flour.

Stick Blender- Now that I have this I never use a blender. I also use a piece of cardboard with a small hole cut in the center as a lid over whatever I’m cooking.

Thermometers- I have two. One is an oil/candy thermometer, the other is a remote with a long wire. Both are digital. Bread? Done at 185. Chicken? Breast meat 160. (I know, I know, I don’t think it’ll kill me). Stew meat? 165, Turkey Thigh? 180.

I mean, yeast blooms best at 110 degrees, so if I’m making, say, sandwich bread, I heat the milk and honey until they are about 120, I pour in a third of a cup of water (it drops to about 113) and then I stir in the yeast. Stirring cools things, and the last of the yeast slips into a perfect warm sugar bath. Mo more “use warm water” instructions for me.

Things I still want-

1. Viking Stove. My current stove is about 12 pounds. I need a stove I can’t lift.

2. Counter Space. My kitchen is ridiculous.

3. Small stock pot. For some reason, I have soup pots and one 64 gallon bememoth.

4. Dishwasher. I don’t mind doing dishes, but our water isn’t very hot and I worry.

5. New Microwave. Ours is full of food crud, and no-one wants to clean it.

6. A full size refrigerator. We bought an “apartment sized” fridge because it was 300 dollars less and, well, we live in an apartment. Huge mistake. It holds about three days worth of food. We end up throwing stuff out just to make room.

7. A Rich and Rewarding Career as An Actor. I mean, as long as I’m asking…

Not Totally Wrong

Thursday, October 21st, 2004

Yeah, but I was apparently sort of wrong nonetheless. I’ve assumed this whole time that Bush supporters overall knew what they were talking about and just disagreed. Check out It looks like most of them don’t know a lot of Bush’s positions.

And yeah, that does surprise me.

Stage One

Wednesday, October 20th, 2004

I’ve taken a tiny bit of flack for my last few posts, and I promised to talk about my bowel movements, so I hate to disappoint you. Trust me, when I actually get to it, it will have been worth the wait.

But not today. I gotta tell you about the *FUNNIEST* play I saw last night. It was during an evening of one acts, and it was the smartest premise. You see, a supernatural character named “Snafu” is looking for a job, and she goes to a bar to interview with a man named “Mr. Mephisto”. And right away, I know what you’re thinking. Mr. Mephisto, unless I misremember my Greek lessons, sounds like he could be THE DEVIL!

Turns out you’re right, and “Snafu” is looking for some work. It is established that it’s the year 2000, and that’s done by the hanging of a sign at the back of the room that has the number “2000” on it. Does the devil have work for Snafu? You bet he does. In FLORIDA!

Wait a minute, you say. Florida? 2000? If I’m putting two and nothing together, they’re talking about the election!

But it gets even more fiendishly clever. The first part, where Snafu gets the job, takes about five minutes, although nothing more than the above actually happens. After a moment of black out, the sign is changed on the back wall to read “2004” and Snafu is back to talk to the Devil. Turns out, after “Enron, the Stock Market, the Middle East” her guilt is getting the best of her, and she can’t work for the devil any more. The devil says she has to, something else happens, and the play ends.

When I say “something else happens” I’m not protecting the ending, I just don’t know what it was.

Now, this is merely a shitty ass piece of theater. It’s so bad that I’m announcing how bad it is in this blog without making any attempt to hide it, and normally I switch genders or dates of plot points to throw off potential future employers. But this was a profoundly stupid piece of theater that all the people I agree with politically laughed their asses off at.

Here’s the kicker. My in-laws and my grandfather-in-law drove in from Long Island to watch the evening with me. Sitting next to me were two Republicans and one undecided voter. And they heard that leftists believe that the worst thing that has happened since 2000 was Enron. The devil was behind Enron and the Stock Market. Since 2000.

I wanted to die. Not because it gave them fuel for their Foxnews lives, not because they drove an hour each way to watch a play, on the insistence of their kids, and ended up being served up a turd and not because this is all the leverage that they need in disregarding the left. I wanted to die because it might have helped make up the mind of our grandfather, a life-long democrat. I don’t know if it did, but it might have.

So, when I desperately cling to the possibility of civility in political discussion, it goes double for the fire breathing choir preaching rhetoric. Preach to the choir as if there were unsaved souls at the window, that’s all I’m asking. Maybe downtown Manhattan is the wrong place to find rational discourse, but if that’s true then why do any of us go there?

Skip the next bit, it’s ranting. The above is the end of the official blog.


(((((I’m sorry, but did you understand that? The DEVIL is one of the CHARACTERS of this play, the time span is 2000-2004, and he says he’s behind *ENRON*. Fine, don’t mention the world trade center attacks, fine, but Jesus Christ, you aren’t gonna talk about any of the other global disasters? I don’t believe in the devil, I don’t believe in evil, but I understand what it is from a dramaturgical point of view. *ENRON*? That’s run of the mill greedy business guy stuff. What about Darfur? What about the starving millions in North Korea? Fucking ENRON?

And Snafu? The character? She had her shirt MISBUTTONED. That’s right. That’s how she embodied “Situation Normal, All Fucked Up.” She midbuttoned her shirt. The devil…

Oh my God. The devil. He had a goatie, right? Sure, of course he did. He’s the devil. Fine. But then, for some reason, when the time changed to 2004, he was wearing a ridiculous faux-punk leather jacket, with Purple Rain studs all over it and graffiti. What is better than this? What is better than him wearing a ridiculous leather jacket that is expressly *not* indicative of the time indicated by a sign on the back wall?

You’re gonna have to wait, because I’ll tell you what’s worse. What’s even worse is that they were blocked to wander, to “use the space” they would, during their own lines, pace back and forth, aimlessly, nervously, like neurotic tigers, across the small playing space. And then, during their own lines, they would stand stock still. They were like dancers, staring at their feet, lips moving as they count…

And, despite the fact that they had thirty seconds to load in and load out their set, they chose to bring out *multiple bottles* to indicate where the bar was, and then they made the bartender face *UPSTAGE*. When Mephisto comes in with his 1980s leather jacket on to indicate that it’s 2004, he orders a drink from behind the bar, where he and the bartender must talk over their shoulders in order for the audience to hear.

But what’s worse? What’s worse? Oh God, it’s almost precious. When the play was over and we went out in the lobby, the guy who played the devil WAS WEARING THE LEATHER JACKET IN HIS HEADSHOT. Sure, his face is also blurred because he’s blowing out a lungful of smoke, but the leather jacket that just made no sense in the play suddenly made sense.

When I was seven, I had a suede “country” vest with down on the inside and snaps. I wore it all the time. I loved it. My mom took it away from me to launder it once a month of so, and then I’d go back to wearing it. Little fat kid in short shorts, an OP shirt and a suede vest with snaps and I thought I was awesome.

I was ***SEVEN***!!!!!!!

I can just imagine this guy putting on this jacket and saying, “I… look… GREAT!” and then going to the director, “I have the best jacket for the second scene. Seriously, it looks so amazing. Perfect for the devil.”

I wished I was dead for about twenty eight reasons. It was the longest fifteen minutes of my life.)))))


Tuesday, October 19th, 2004

I’m sorry for saying that Bush voters aren’t dumb. It turns out, almost all voters are dumb. this is actually kind of shocking. Here are the money quotes

A close look at five key domestic agenda items suggests that Tennesseans as a group hardly qualify as well-informed and ideologically consistent policy wonks. On four of the five issues, only about half of a given candidate’s supporters hold opinions consistent with those of the candidate.

Many favor positions inconsistent with their candidate. Perhaps even more interestingly, sizable chunks of each candidate’s supporters favor positions held by the opposing camp.   And when quizzed about which candidates hold which positions on the five issues, Tennesseans score an average of only two right answers – about the same result one could get by merely guessing

Of course, the problem is that a lot of people are voting for Bush because they believe he will be better on the war. They might think that because they understand it’s a war he made up, and I can dig that. But the real war on terrorism obviously requires a better nuts and bolts man than Bush, and Kerry is nothing if not a nuts and bolts guy.

My brother Steve pointed out to me that Islam the religion has nothing to do with Islamic governments acting in their name. I disagree, strongly, but it is a point that needs to be made. We’re living in a Christian world, and it should be made clear that I do understand that Islam has basically the same inscrutable message of peace, forgiveness, miracle and wonder that all your major retarded world religions do, and I hold it in as much esteem as I hold Christianity, Judaism, Confuscionism, Tarot Card reading and Native American polytheism. Y’all are all retarded, just the same, in your love of God.

From now on, to make sure there is a distinction, I will refer not to Islam, but to the geoplotical islamic movement.

However, I think the next post will be about my love of adult moist ass-wipes, so it probably won’t come up any more.

That Was Long Enough

Saturday, October 16th, 2004

I wanted to leave the last blog up for a couple days, but I think we’re pretty much done with it.

Here is what I wrote to a conservative friend who, after reading my last blog, began a discussion with me about *why*, after articulating the pro-Bush position so well, I would want to vote for Kerry. We’ve gone back and forth for a while, and here’s where we are. I have removed his writing because I didn’t ask his permission to use it, but I have included in parenthesis his ideas.

By the way, I’m voting for Kerry because I think everything I wrote in my last blog can be defeated with really basic logic and little free thinking. But I also know that taking that step is really scary when you feel the lives of your children and family are on the line.


You wrote (The comparison between radical Islam and Koresh, McVeigh doesn’t hold up).

I’m going point by point, so bear with me.

I agree that these two ideas. radical Islam and radical (for lack of a better word) Christianity, are manifested in two different ways. Radical Islam has given itself over to militaristic goals, to violence, and only the most disenfranchised radical Christians have.

But, the ideas are similar, chiefly, a belief that you specifically have been targeted by the rich and powerful people in the world to be disenfranchised. Most of the liturgical stuff is similar as well.

You wrote: (a claim that I avoid the logical conclusions that would lead to this war because they don’t fit my fancy.)

It’s hardly my fancy. There is a very long explanation as to why I think the way I do, and we can go into that if you press me on it, but trust me, it is not my fancy. The truth is, the hierarchical thinking that leads me where I am is lonely, painful, shitty stuff.

You wrote: (The war on terror should be called either World War III, or The War On Islam)

Ah. Well, now. This is a departure point, isn’t it? Because Bush has made it clear that this is *not* a war against Islam. And if you are going to say to me, “He has to say that, he’s the president.” then you’re assuming he is acting in your best interest even though he says he isn’t. I’m not saying that it’s a deal breaker, I’m just saying that puts you on pretty shaky ground.

I also need to point out that, while Saddam was an Arab and a Muslim, he never embraced his religion until shit started going south with the US, and most Arab Muslims think his embrace of the religion was entirely political. So, with no ties to Al Qaeda and with tenuous ties to Islam, isn’t this actually a war against Arabs?

You wrote: (the goal of the enemy is to reclaim a significant place on the world stage for classical Islam.)

I believe that they believe that that is their goal. I think their actual goal is to live with freedom and dignity.

I think when a Muslim man looks at his child, he wants a better life for that child than he had, but when he looks up from his child and he sees burkas and starvation and palaces and oil barons and dirt and thirst, and he feels like his life is a fucking structured ass-fest where nothing ever gets any better and where his life avoids natural law like the plague, he tries to find solace. He turns to God. And the spokespeople of God are telling him, “Your misery is caused by the US and the Jews. Israel hates you. The US hates you. Your desperation, your thirst and squalor, are because of a fight between two brother six thousand years ago. Blah, blah, blah, I’m crazy…” And the man thinks, “Man, I’m so fucking miserable, at least this will give me a sense of greater things in the world.” and he sends his child into a restaurant with a bomb so that his other children will live better lives.

People aren’t motivated by the destruction of another country. People want a frapuccino and a pretty girl to smile at them. And these guys will live their entire lives without that happening.

You blame Islam. I blame the administrative structures built by the Arab leaders in the Middle East. Change the civil rights and the distribution of wealth, and these people wouldn’t hate us.

You wrote: (Islam has turned into a shitty excuse for a religion, and then dared me to disagree.)


You’re so contentious, sweetie.

I have absolutely no argument with what you wrote here. I could rhapsodize with no end describing the horrible human rights records of Arab countries. I think it denies human law, and I spoke yesterday about my disregard for multi-culturalism when it defies human law.

You wrote: (We should be oppposed to the ascendency of this savage mind-set and our survival depends on it.)

I disagree only with the last half of this. It is important for us to fight against unnatural governments, but more important is to fight it in a way that does away with the mind-set that gives rise to terrorist acts against this country.

However, if you truly do believe this, why are you not screaming for intervention in Darfur? The Muslim government there is killing non-muslims to the tune of about 6,000 a week. If 6,000 Jews were being killed a week, would you be more upset?

You wrote: “This war is to destroy the mindest that gave rise to 9/11)

(Iraq? The only country in the middle east that *isn’t* a Muslim state? We supported Hussein when he came to power. He was our ally. Donald Rumsfeld himself went to Iraq and met with him. You’ve read 1984, how absurd that Hussein was fighting us *with our own weapons* in 1991. We funneled billions of dollars into his coffers, money that we now claim he was using to fund terrorists, although there is no proof of that. Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia is in bed with the Bush family, Iran developed nuclear weapons *while we were next door* and Lybia turned over its weapons programs *without being invaded*…)

Sorry. I’ll stop that. Let me get to the quote above.

I agree with you 100% that this is should be a war to destroy the civilization that gave rise to 9/11. But, it just doesn’t add up for me. I could have understood an invasion of Afghanistan, or Saudi Arabia. These countries had close ties, they created the mind-set that gave rise to 9/11. The only thing Saddam shares with Al Qaeda is the color of his skin.

We also have to look at our own culpability. Boy, right wingers really hate it when you say that. But we should.

You wrote: (a great comparison of the Japanese mindset before and after WW II.)

The comparison to Japan is great but it breaks down really quickly. Both wars began with attacks on America without warning. The attacks of September 11th are much more inhuman, in that they *targeted* civilians. Retaliation was necessary.

Pearl Harbor-

Japanese soldiers attacked the US on orders from their Japanese leaders, and they attacked in the name of Japan. We met this attack by attacking Japan with the full force of our military, eventually dropping bombs on their cities that wiped out hundreds of thousands of their people, finally cowing them into submission.

World Trade Center-

Predominantly Saudi citizens attacked the US on orders from Osama Bin Laden, who was a guest of the ruling government of Afghanistan, and they attacked in the name of Islam. We met this attack by launching a military strike on the secular government of Iraq with the smallest number of ground troops possible killing very few of the enemy (by comparison) and risking very few of our own soldiers. Peace in the country is impossible at this point, and the insurgency is now being joined by the very people we thought would welcome us with open arms.

Either we should kill these people, as you suggest, or we were liberating them. The latter doesn’t seem to be true. If Saddam was allowed to run in the election in Iraq, would he win?

You wrote: (Kerry thinks that the threat of a strong response to future crimes and bringing justice only to the guilty individuals is enough.)

He believes this because it is natural law. I believe it as well.

We believe, in our government, than man is basically a moral and natural animal, that, unless circumstances push a person, we will behave according to natural law. This means that a person can not be arrested until they have committed a crime, a person cannot be punished for expressing a view or for wanting something. A person has to commit a crime before they can be punished.

You wrote: (Bush, on the other hand, is a revolutionary thinker.)

I hope you will forgive what will feel like intimacy here, but I think you are the revolutionary thinker. Bush’s actions at this point might match yours, but his agenda is being set by the neo-cons who got him to run for president. I don’t buy this shit about him being ADD or dyslexic. I didn’t graduate from high school and you and I can have a conversation about this.

And everything I’ve written up to this point is less important than what I am about to say. Bush has supported your agenda so far, but what makes you think he will continue? If he is in a situation where he has to make a decision for himself on the safety of our country, don’t you worry that he might launch a missile at Saudi Arabia? You have read between the lines of his mistakes and found a foreign policy that supports your deepest fears about the world, but he’s never addressed this out loud and he doesn’t seem to be able to articulate any kind of strategy at all.

My feeling is that he wanted to attack Iraq because of his dad. After 9/11, he wanted to attack an Arab country, but not one that was actually Muslim. It’s possible that the neo-cons who are whispering in his earpiece are thinking exactly what you are saying, but they aren’t telling the American people that, and they aren’t telling you that.

You wrote: (Your thinking is too small in scale).

It’s really not. I think that you are splitting this conflict into “World War III” or “The War Against Islam”, as if it has nothing to do with the war everyone has been fighting since the beginning of last century. And that’s too small in scale. You refer to the cold war as a different time, and it isn’t. All of this started in the 80s, which was based on shit that happened in the 60s, which can be traced back and back and back.

As a Jew, watching a war against Arabs, you’ve got to see that this conflict isn’t nearly as small as Bush thinks it is. It’s global. And fighting the middle east ignores the Arab kids that live on my block, who think their president is killing Arabs because Christians hate Arabs. It’s easier to make that leap in logic than it is to connect Hussein to 9/11.

I’ll say this. The cost of thinking that fighting “Islam” is an answer is too great. I agree with you that we have to fight the conditions that fundamentalist Islam brings about, which are the same conditions that Hassidic women suffer through, that fundamentalist Christian women suffer through. We can fight for human rights , and we can fight poverty and desperation, but you can’t fight a religion. It’s never worked, it never will.

You wrote: (The war will escalate, not because of Bush, but because this is merely the beginning of an enormous war that we will win if people like Bush stay in power.)

And this will be a matter for history to decide. There is no way we can argue, you and I, today, that things will get worse or better depending on who does what. I believe they will sway back and forth, worse to better, but we will never not be a target until the fight is for freedom and equality for everyone.

I’m thankful that, for today, you and I are safe. And I am thankful to America for providing that safety.

Steve’ll be proud

Thursday, October 14th, 2004

My brother Steve has let us know his displeasure at the use of our blogs as public airing stations for the minutiae that fill our lives. He thinks they should be used only for the occasional fustian, mostly as a response to other people’s blogs.

So, instead of using his comments section, let me respond to Ian’s blog from today.

Senator Kerry is going to be my choice for President in the upcoming election, because he is a social liberal and he will fight to nominate a Supreme Court Justice who will put the rights of the individual in front of the rights of the nation, the church or corporate entities. Sure, it’s a narrow reason, but that’s why I’m voting for him.


In 1991, months after Saddam Hussein annexed Kuwait, Senator Kerry not only voted against using the already assembled coalition to fight Saddam, but he was the vocal detractor trying to persuade his countrymen to “allow sanctions a chance to work”. Hussein had already marched into a neighboring country, after using chemical weapons on the Kurds in the north, he had been in Kuwait for months, and Kerry was fighting military action. He was a soldier in Vietnam and his number one priority is to make sure that each and every soldier is protected.

If you are worried about further attacks on US soil, and you should be, the knowledge that Kerry now says he would have built a vast global coalition to march in to Iraq, when he fought against that very same coalition when it was formed in 1991, should give you pause. He has been against every military action our country has taken since he limped out of Vietnam with shrapnel in his thigh.

All right, calm down, let me finish.

Neither candidate can prove that they can pay for some or even any of their domestic promises. So, for a lot of people that’s a wash. For me, Bush has already proven he doesn’t know how to run an economy and Kerry seems smarter, so the edge for me goes to Kerry. But if you think the economy is actually doing okay, considering we were attacked in America’s economic center, then maybe for you, the edge goes to Bush.

I would vote for Kerry, but I understand that these arguments are secondary to some people.

The issue to me is the fight for civil rights, always has been. Bush is pro-death penalty and anti-choice. But the problem is, Kerry now says he is in favor of the death penalty in certain situations, and he keeps talking about being Catholic, although he would never deny the right to choose. Also, there is no guarantee that any of the Supremes are going to retire or die in the next four years.

I would vote for Kerry, but I understand that this issue is secondary to some people.

The environment is going to hell, and Bush is firmly to be blamed for this. But in some people’s minds, air quality might give more inner city kids asthma, but terrorists are going to give them nuclear flu. I understand that Bush opened up Yellowstone to snowmobiles, and yes, I agree that this is bad. But if you don’t care about that, I can’t really blame you. I mean, honestly, I care only in the abstract, I’m never going to camp in fucking Yellowstone.

I would vote for Kerry, but I understand that this issue is secondary to some people.

I’m not going to cover every issue, but there are people who are intelligent conservatives that are worried because of their single issue, the defense of our nation. And although you can make an argument that Kerry will keep us safe, he doesn’t have the president’s record. Here’s Bush’s record: We were attacked at the beginning of his administration. So we attacked Afghanistan, kicked out the Taliban, then we attacked Iraq, kicked out Hussein, then Afghanistan had elections in October and Iraq will have elections in January.

And since Septmeber 11, we have not been attacked. Since we started the Bush Doctrine, we have not been attacked.

John Kerry says he would have built a multi-national coalition to bring down Iraq. The same one he voted against in 1991.

You simply cannot say that people with different priorities are stupid. I mean, you can say it, but it’s a stupid thing to say.

In the history of my political life I have never had a candidate that I wanted less to win office than Bush. Maybe Jesse Helms in North Carolina. Bush is the stupidest man I have ever seen hold public office, his southern anti-intellectualism, his hard-core Christianity, his inability to consider every option and his willingness to try war as a first resort make him one of the most dangerous men to hold the reins of this country.

I not only am voting against George Bush, but I argue against all the points I have made in this blog several times a day. I call my family and friends and talk to them about the candidates, I force them to admit that they don’t believe that the environment is in trouble, that they are willing to curtail their civil liberties in order to fight this new kind of war.

But these are not bad people making dumb decisions. You know who loves talk like that? Bush. He would *love* to read that people voting for him are dumb. It fits in to his “evil-doers” “with us or against us” talk. The fact is, the Bush administration is dividing the country, and the left is frickin’ *psyched* about it. compares Bush to Hitler and all the Lefties snap at the computer and holla “oh no he DI’INT”. And smart people who are worried about their children living in fear and dread, who feel like Bush has done what he needed to in order to keep us safe, turn from the comparison, turn from leftists telling them that their fear is “stupidity” and resolve themselves to go to the polls.

Public discourse has been lowered. Yes, it’s been lowered by Drudge and Fox. But we have a responsibility to remember that civility is the only path to civil rights, and that people’s minds can be changed. And we also have to remember that this struggle has been going on for over two hundred years, America has made enormous mistakes that have taken work to correct, but our country was founded on principles that will withstand abuse.

Unlike Spain and France and the U.K., our country is not an accident of location, unlike Pakistan and Israel, our country was not founded on ethnic or religious lines, unlike the USSR, our country was not founded on doctrines that we *hoped* were true. Our country was founded on ideals that are SELF-EVIDENT, the cornerstone of which is the idea that we all should vote and whoever gets the most votes gets to have their office for a little while. Smart people are voting for Bush, and they are making an educated decision, they just have different priorities than I, or my brother, have.

And, we’re making great hip-hop albums.





Grab your right nut, make your left one jealous!