Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Against Sanitizing Lou Reed

Culture in our day has become so degraded that there's almost nothing left that would shock us. This is conceding the point that the purpose of culture is, first of all, to shock us. Nothing could be further from the truth but I'm not optimistic in these times. Culture should last, should obtain, should be above the temporary, Banksy. It's not the latest unwashed hip hop tattooed freak who will be on welfare in their later years because the "interest" or the "scene" died out, only to be written up in his later years by an equally unaccomplished journalist.

It's not the rubbish that fills most of our modern museums.

Lou Reed died Sunday at 71. Pretty much no one saw it coming, which is to his and his wife's Laurie Anderson's credit. Reed had a liver transplant in May. Sic transit gloria mundi. 

What I saw on Twitter and elsewhere was a repulsive blend of nostalgia and treacle. It's as though the people who "remembered" Lou Reed had no idea of how original he was; how, to use a word I genuinely hate but in this instance is warranted: transgressive. In Lou's lexicon: fuck you, eat shit and die. Seriously, that was him.

That was Lou, but at the time of his death he been tamed, writer of some wankish song "Perfect Day," which was hardly a signature of his. It was covered endlessly and approved of by the mind numbed in suburbs around the world on the day of his death. Another kind of death, I would think. But I'm with Christopher Hitchens & Richard Dawkins: we really only do die once. Apologies to my Hindu friends.

Pablum is universal. Reed never embraced all those variations of "Perfect Day" but surely appreciated the royalties and no one would begrudge him that. Was that song really Lou Reed?


What was real was the faux (?) but shocking, for the time, homoeroticism, the genuine drug addiction, the brilliant musician, the rare survivor of that terrible, terrible man Andy Warhol (seen above left taking a picture of Reed and some hustler who doubtless didn't live long after). Besides William S. Burroughs, there's no one I wish more to be in the hell I don't believe in than Warhol, the Piped Piper of Lost Souls. He liked to watch.

If you don't know the sad tale of Edie Sedgwick, you should. I recommend the book "Edie" by Jean Stein & George Plimpton. Lou Reed refused to cooperate in the book. Once you've outgrown that which kills many of your peers, you're too busy staying alive to look back in detail, especially if you're not exceptionally proud of your own conduct. If you want to understand the aging mentality of those who currently govern Minnesota, you can't go wrong reading the book. Just keep in mind they haven't grown out of it. You can buy the book by clicking here. 

The worst aspect of Reed's death is his transmutation into something innocuous. That's the last thing he was and the last thing for which he should be remembered.

Try thinking of a white singer in our age singing anything like this:

"I wanna be black, have natural rhythm
Shoot twenty feet of jism too
and fuck up the jews

I wanna be black, I wanna be a panther
Have a girlfriend named Samantha
and have a stable of foxy whores.
Oh, oh I wanna be black

I don't wanna be a fucked up
middle class college student anymore"

. . . . .

Those very same fucked up middle class college students went on to define a great deal of so called American modern culture. In the process, they remade in their own mind's eye Lou Reed. The emasculated men tried to lessen the one with serious balls. You could see them with their withered genitals all over Twitter Sunday as they pretended to speak to his death. The academics speaking to the original street hustler. Patti Smith must have been laughing all that time.

No. No thanks.

His post-Velvet Underground masterpiece album and title song was "Street Hassle." The lyrics below only hint at the music. If you mourn his death, buy it.

A) Waltzing Matilda

Waltzing Matilda whipped out her wallet
The sexy boy smiled in dismay
She took out four twenties 'cause she liked round figures
Everybody's queen for a day
Oh, babe, I'm on fire and you know I admire your
body why don't we slip away
Although I'm sure you're certain, it's a rarity me flirtin'
Sha-la-la-la, this way

Oh, sha-la-la-la-la, sha-la-la-la-la
Hey, baby, come on, let's slip away

Luscious and gorgeous, oh what a humpin' muscle
Call out the national guard
She creamed in her jeans as he picked up her knees
From off of the formica topped bar
And cascading slowly, he lifted her wholly
And boldly out of this world
And despite people's derision
Proved to be more than diversion
Sha-la-la-la, later on

And then sha-la-la-la-la, he entered her slowly
And showed her where he was coming from
And then sha-la-la-la-la, he made love to her gently
It was like she'd never ever come
And then sha-la-la-la-la, sha-la-la-la-la
When the sun rose and he made to leave
You know, sha-la-la-la-la, sha-la-la-la-la
Neither one regretted a thing

B) Street Hassle

Hey, that cunt's not breathing
I think she's had too much
Of something or other, hey, man, you know what I mean?
I don't mean to scare you
But you're the one who came here
And you're the one who's gotta take her when you leave
I'm not being smart
Or trying to be cold on my part
And I'm not gonna wear my heart on my sleeve
But you know people get all emotional
And sometimes, man, they just don't act rational you know,
They think they're just on TV

Sha-la-la-la, man
Why don't you just slip her away

You know, I'm glad that we met man
It really was nice talking
And I really wish that there was a little more time to speak
But you know it could be a hassle
Trying to explain this all to a police officer
About how it was that your old lady got herself stiffed
And it's not like we could help her
But there wasn't nothing no one could do
And if there was, man, you know I would have been the first
But when someone turns that blue
Well, it's a universal truth
And then you just know that bitch will never fuck again
By the way, that's really some bad shit
That you came to our place with
But you ought to be more careful around the little girls
It's either the best or it's the worst
And since I don't have to choose
I guess I won't and I know this ain't no way to treat a guest
But why don't you grab your old lady by the feet
And just lay her out in the darkest street
And by morning, she's just another hit and run.
You know, some people got no choice
And they can never find a voice
To talk with that they can even call their own
So the first thing that they see
That allows them the right to be
Why they follow it, you know, it's called bad luck.

C) Slipaway

Well hey man, that's just a lie,
It's a lie she tells her friends.
'cause the real song, the real song
Where she won't even admit to herself
The beatin' in her heart.
It's a song lots of people know.
It's a painful song
A little sad truth
But life's full of sad songs
Penny for a wish
But wishin' won't make you a soldier.
With a pretty kiss for a pretty face
Can't have it's way
Y'know tramps like us, we were born to pay.

Love has gone away
And there's no one here now
And there's nothing left to say
But, oh, how I miss him, baby
Oh, baby, come on and slip away
Come on, baby, why don't you slip away

Love is gone away
Took the rings off my fingers
And there's nothing left to say
But, oh how, oh how I need him, baby
Come on, baby, I need you baby
Oh, please don't slip away
I need your loving so bad, babe
Please don't slip away

Lou Reed 1942-2013

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Progressives' Institutional Slavery

A week ago today, I had a random conversation on Twitter with Tom Lyden, a well-known television reporter for FOX 9 News in the Twin Cities. I don't know Tom much but I like what I do: he's refreshingly himself on and off air and his Twitter presence is not to be missed. He tweeted that his friend, FOX 9 anchor Robyne Robinson, had gotten a new job as "arts and culture director" at the Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport. Who knew? I scoffed at the make-work-for-liberals-nature of the position. Airports are hell and they'd all be better off piping in Brian Eno and delivering luggage faster.

Lyden was prompt in insisting on its value because "institutions make us." Apparently anything qualifies as an institution because this position is a bureaucratic slot paid for by users of the airport, most of whom would fail to notice, let alone appreciate, some absurd "cultural" focus on tater tot hot dish. Yet I realized Lyden had given me an insight into the progressive mind-set. This post isn't about Tom; our Twitter interaction is only its point of departure. In direct messages, Tom & I talked about this; they remain private. What follows isn't directed toward him per se but to the larger progressive understanding of institutions as I see it.

That institutions have effect is but a truism. Progressives seem never to have advanced much beyond that in their thinking, however. Which institutions, with what effects? Strip away policy fights, as important as they are, and this is the bedrock issue, the bedrock question progressives and conservatives not only don't agree over, but whose views are so diametrically opposed that they might each be said to be considering a question wholly separate from the other one.

Which is odd. Because with enough discussion between them, instead of talking past each other, some actual progress might be achieved between progressives and conservatives.

The idea of man as perfectible animates most progressive ideology and, hence, legislation. Indeed, knowing better in this regard than the unwashed largely gives progressives a pass from themselves for being heavy handed and wrong. They are congenitally unable to see themselves as such, of course. Good intentions: that's all there is to liberalism. It's the easiest, laziest political mindset to adopt. No wonder the uneducated and dependent flock to it, encouraged by the Chicago mindset of politics. That mindset is governmental dependency masquerading as concern. What's in it for you?

Liberals persecuted Daniel Patrick Moynihan for showing actual results, for showing the actual results of their policies, ie, destroying the black family in the midst of that government institution known as The Great Society. This was in the 1960's, if you can believe it. They haven't changed.

"Institutions make us" however, is a key insight. It represents, yes, hope. Who's against hope? The question, however, is always whether a particular hope is warranted. My sister Karen Gilmore
Egan, dead ten years this past September 2 of metastatic melanoma, hoped to the end, beyond the point the rest of us non-dying knew to be futile. Shockingly, she taught me how not to die; her hope was unwarranted. Hollywood usually doesn't option those kinds of stories.

I raise this otherwise very personal anecdote because that's exactly what moves most liberals: some sad sack tale of what the rest of us would otherwise consider the human condition. Their ability to transcend is nonexistent; their penchant for politicizing every aspect of human experience according to their policy lights is endless. This is poverty by another name.

For as smart as liberals, unconvincingly, try to tell us they are, some emotional one-off story will do for them going forward with unsound public policy. Results don't matter; when was the last time one of them told you to look to outcomes to prove their point?

Simone Weil once wrote that "love has no direct connection with rights."

Liberals, thinking ever so well of themselves, want to love through enforcing "rights," usually ones never thought of as rights before. Enforcing them through state power on others. This contradiction is beyond their Kenwood attentiveness to those with whom they never socialize. Doesn't everyone write a check? See you at the next Headwaters event. Or maybe encampment?

By abandoning the human and trusting in the institutional, liberals fail themselves and the "others" they purportedly seek to help. Liberals trust the wrong institutions and disdain authentic ones.

Heterosexual family is the most authentic and successful institution known to mankind across all cultures bar none throughout recorded human history.

In a departure from some of my more conservative friends, I'll take same sex married men and women as adoptive families in a heart beat. Why? Because "love has no direct connection with rights."

Yet my liberal friends would not see traditional family, in that sense, as authentic but "socially constructed." The three year old boy who wants to be a girl? Authentic! Right.

Few of us know how to think clearly without presupposing the worst in our opponents. This is regrettable. For me as a conservative, that is hard to do, given the ugly track record of liberals. Get back to me when my side produces a movie "The Death of a President" like the Left did about W. Liberals are wonderful people though, just ask them. Yet on a personal level, the ones I know really are. The disconnect between liberals as people and liberalism as a destructive ideology is substantial. Shop Kingfield Market while ignoring exploding poverty rates under Obama.

I also recently had an interesting interaction on Twitter with a progressive I follow, Geri Katz @gkatz. She had tweeted something in connection with Betsy Hodges, her preferred candidate for mayor of Minneapolis, that dealt with "gaps" involving race or income. I replied, suggesting that the true metric which should concern progressives and conservatives aren't those old, easily-manipulated benchmarks but that of married versus unmarried, regardless of income or race. She asked for more.

I provided it but didn't realize one of my sources, journalist Jonathan Rauch, had the politically correct sexual bona fides as a gay married man but whatever. I went to his analytical point which, to my way of thinking, is the only thing that should interest anyone:

"Marriage is displacing both income and race as the great class divide of the new century."

Single motherhood is the surest route to poverty for mothers and their children yet discovered.

To state this truth is not to show indifference. That's the lazy liberal retort, the kind of response that make thoughtful conservatives think "why should I bother?"

But we must bother, despite sometimes hackish responses from the other side. Honest liberals, truly caring ones, will move past the fund raising monikers of race and income to look thoughtfully at the source of our problem. The unmarried contain all ethnicities but certainly the poorer ones. What now?

Perhaps we'll have to wait while bien pensant liberals are finished congratulating themselves about same sex marriage before they buckle down to address the truth of our socio-economic troubles. But if someone like Jonathan Rauch, and many others, can see the problem, why can't others on the Left?

Liberals want to invent new institutions while ignoring or misshaping the oldest, most successful ones. They are eager to create institutions, traditionally thought of in their-oh-so care-free-minds as that which enslaves. But no, they want to create more in the hopes of perfecting human nature. The magical thinking that a "job" as "arts & culture director" at a medium United States airport is one such route displays this mindset to a fare thee well.

Welcome to progressive institutional slavery whose jailers will never understand themselves to be.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Thinking Thoughtfully: Sixth District Fundraising

Fundraising numbers for the quarter ending September 30th were released today for those republicans vying for the chance to succeed Michele Bachmann in Minnesota's Sixth Congressional District next November. Most reporting, and tweeting, has been of the lazy "here's a number" sort of thing. In fact, total numbers tell only a part of the story of what is going on in this race.

Establishment candidate, failed gubernatorial candidate and George Soros lobbyist Tom Emmer raised the most money for the third quarter of 2013 but his numbers plunged dramatically nonetheless. In the first three weeks of the race he raised $225,000. In the next three months he raised only $150,000, not coming close to keeping up the pace. Withering this early is a deeply troubling sign.

But let's go further into the numbers because readers of this blog are not low information anything. Of the $225,000 raised, about $76,000 cannot be used in the primary, only the general election. This is because a limited number of donors "double maxed-out," meaning they gave a total of $5,200, half of which can be used now and the other half in the general election. That leaves Emmer with about $150,000 from the prior reporting period.

It's reasonable to assume a significant portion of Emmer's most recent numbers, $150,000, likewise contains dollars not available until the general election, leaving him with less cash on hand than might at first appear to be the case. Whether that proportion is the same with respect to third quarter numbers as it was to the second quarter we don't know just yet.

Emmer did, apparently, spend $75,000 in the second quarter. That's quite a burn rate and one which it's fair to ask if his donors are aware of. He has four paid staffers and office space resulting in an estimated monthly burn rate of approximately $25,000. For a shoe-in, that's enormous. One fundraiser expressed her surprise to me that, given Emmer's competitors show every sign of going the distance, he would spend this profligately. Then again, judgment has never been Tom's strong suit. The political barnacles who attach themselves to his ship aren't especially astute either.

Another way (they're legion) of seeing Emmer's unimpressiveness is to look at Rep. Erik Paulsen's experience. His first quarter haul (in the 4th quarter of 2007) of fundraising for the Third Congressional District was $390,000. That was six years ago and Paulsen raised more in his first three months than Emmer has in four months and he was a statewide candidate! If you find Emmer impressive, my guess is you are not.

The Emmer Borg also preened that it had 1,400 individual donors. This means the lists Emmer has bought, rented or previously owned have been beaten to death. The five, ten and twenty dollar donors are spent. To see this as an example of some grand, organized campaign is simply to be an unpaid cheerleader. The more informed of us don't take such puffery seriously.

Finally, the current federal shutdown has many Americans distrustful of politicians. Many members of the Senate and House of Representatives are not taking paychecks during this time. If the past is any experience, Emmer would have his snout in the federal trough.

When Emmer was in the Minnesota legislature he continued to draw his salary during the state government shutdown of 2005.

Phil Krinkie, also running to replace Bachmann, reported approximately $340,000 of which $300,000 was a personal loan to the campaign. Emmer supporters snicker because of this fact but money is money and Emmer remains a lousy candidate who has overstayed his modest welcome in Minnesota republican politics.

What those sycophants don't say, of course, is that Krinkie now has $100,000 more cash on hand than Emmer. This is because all of that money can be spent in the primary. Phil Krinkie has quietly served notice that he isn't going anywhere and that a lazy coronation of someone who thinks he deserves public office won't be happening in the Sixth.

State Sen. John Pederson raised approximately $52,000 in the third quarter of the year with about $40,000 cash on hand. To date Pederson has raised around $87,000.

Finally, Anoka County Commissioner Chair, and my preferred candidate, Rhonda Sivarajah raised approximately $180,000 of which $150,000 was loaned to the campaign by her and her husband Ran. The same Emmer dullards denigrate her own self-funding but, weirdly, are quick to call it good news when other republican candidates can self-fund against DFL incumbents.

It's especially important that Sivarajah voted with her pocketbook for herself this early in the campaign. The lazy media and ur-republican pundit narrative was that Emmer was a field clearer. This is as laughable as saying he has a record of accomplishment. He'll be as inconsequential and as much a tedious show horse as the retiring Michele Bachmann if elected to Congress.

Voters in the Sixth District deserve the time to get to know Rhonda and her sterling record of genuine accomplishment. Time favors her, disfavors the retread. I'm disappointed some well known republican women haven't publicly supported her; it makes me rather disinclined to listen to their complaints about the position of women in the Minnesota Republican Party. Or is what is operating here that old Anatole France maxim: "Friendship among women is only a suspension of hostilities?"

At any rate, Rhonda Sivarajah clearly has the most electoral room to grow. By investing in her own campaign she has roughly equal the money to what Tom Emmer has on hand for the primary. You wouldn't get this realization from reading the superficial coverage of today's fundraising numbers.

It's not that there isn't anything new to learn about Emmer: it's that there is. He became a national, instead of state, laughing stock when his doltish endorsement of Integrity Exteriors & Remodelers was riotously mocked by Stephen Colbert on The Colbert Report.  The original reporting on this was done by progressive blogger Sally Jo Sorensen although WCCO's Pat Kessler brazenly lied about finding it on his own and, disappointingly, was given credit for that demonstrable falsehood by Blois Olson in his widely read "Morning Take." When both the left and the right think local media suck, they have a problem.

As of this writing, The Drudge Report is highlighting a bill that has been introduced in Alabama to castrate sex offenders. Tom Emmer introduced a similar bill in the Minnesota legislature. Nothing says Minnesota like Alabama. Voters of any and all parties in Minnesota's Sixth deserve much, much better.

Unfortunately for Emmer, the low information donors have given most of what they can. That his numbers dropped precipitously this quarter shows that wiser, wealthier donors are wary of him at best, repulsed at worst. They haven't migrated to Sivarajah yet because she's not as well known as she needs to be. But she will get there. Phil Krinkie is a fine candidate but here, too, Sivarajah simply has the best record. Everything that turns off people is embodied in the serial failures masquerading as Emmer's political career; the very best, the things that give people some optimism that the system might possibly work, is embodied in Sivirajah's.

Emmer and his small band of supporters can content themselves, for now, that he's the frontrunner. But being the frontrunner isn't all it's cracked up to be. Just ask Marty Seifert.

Correction: This post first identified Rep. Jim Ramstad as raising $390,000 in his first reported quarter of fundraising for the Third Congressional District. In fact, it was Erik Paulsen running to replace Ramstad after he retired from Congress representing the Third.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Local Media Don't Report Obama's War On Them

"The Bush administration’s war on leaks and other efforts to control information are the most aggressive I’ve seen since the Nixon administration, when I was one of the editors involved in The Washington Post’s investigation of Watergate. The 30 experienced Washington journalists at a variety of news organizations whom I interviewed for this report could not remember any precedent."

The quote above, from The Committee To Protect Journalists Special Report: The Obama Adminstration and the Press, is accurate except for the one word that I added: Bush. The administration it actually references is President Obama's. Big news, wouldn't you think? Except that as of this writing the only Minnesota news outlet that reported it was the Duluth Tribune, running an AP story (AP!).

The Report details how fascist Obama has been toward the free press, how thuggish and vile his tactics to the free flow of information that keeps a democracy alive and vibrant. The Report quotes nothing but liberal journalists, which is another word for democrat flaks. Their sense of betrayal is delicious.

Read the report that Twin Cities media won't report on by clicking here.

What to make of local media who think so much of themselves and yet remain silent in the face of a report by their peers, by their watch dog? I'd suggest it tells you all you need to know about them. Had it actually been the Bush administration that triggered this report, they'd be all over it, howling in self-absorbed sanctimonious rage. That's a shtick they have down cold.

We've been here before, of course. Tom Scheck of MPR famously lied on Twitter last year claiming his account had been hacked when in actuality his DM expressing outrage that Clint Eastwood would mock the incompetent Obama was sent as a regular tweet. Minnesota Public Radio is a joke and shouldn't receive a dime of taxpayers' money, even before we bring up Kerri Miller, who brings new meaning to the word hack. It's like they think we aren't watching. We are though: my friend and radio partner Bill Glahn has written devastatingly about it. Click here to read.

MPR solemnly declared "social media editors" had been deployed to help Scheck but hacked accounts don't need anything save a new password, let alone "social media"editors. This happened only on Twitter, of course. The omerta code amongst the lazy local media obtained. Most readers of this blog probably have never heard of this incident before.

Pat Kessler, who I call Ted Baxter for a reason, is another case study in dishonesty. In 2011, he reported online anonymously what Todd Rapp had fed Ron Rosenbaum about the Amy Koch/Michael Brodkorb matter. Kessler pretended to gum shoe efforts in reporting this rather than admitting he was a sap used by politicos. Such wankery is what Pulitzers were invented for. Rapp is a commentator on, surprise!, MPR and talked about the Koch/Brodkorb matter. Disgusted yet by your tax dollars going to liberal propaganda? Rapp was given this information by uber-sleaze Geoff Michele. Who did Michele give his first interview about this matter to? Ron Rosenbaum. More lube?

More recently, Pat Kessler blatantly ripped off the original reporting of progressive blogger Sally Jo Sorensen about the pathetic and by now national joke of Tom Emmer's campaign video endorsement of Integrity Exteriors. I'm surprised he wasn't outraged when Stephen Colbert gave, appropriately, an on air acknowledgement to her last night instead of him. Pathetic. You can view that clip by clicking here.

Of course MPR, the Star Tribune, the Pioneer Press and the AP all rallied around DFL Rep. Ryan Winkler in June when he called Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas an "Uncle Tom" on Twitter. His comment made Drudge, no small feat. Yet these democrats simply took that democrat's statement of ersatz apology and reprinted it wholesale. No questions, no outrage. Yes, they think you're that stupid. Yes, they think they're swell. Just ask them. Had a republican said something comparable the outrage would have been loud and tedious. Bob Collins would have another breakdown on Twitter. Dave Brauer and Erik Black would have tried to outdo each other's white liberal guilt, achievement gap be damned. Star Tribune editor patchouli Susan Hogan (this is what you do with a philosophy degree, she says) would have waxed tearful and female. We know the faux outrage from hypocritical liberals by heart by now. For a liberal of their own like Winkler though? Nothing. As I say, they're hypocrites.

Even I, however, am amazed at the silence of these eunuchs in the face of reporting by their own concerning the devastating effects of the Obama administration on press freedom. That local media keep from telling you about the report speaks loudly about their utter lack of integrity, their service to ideology instead of the facts.

Freedom of the press is too important to be left to what is called the press.