Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Let's pack up and get the Hell out of here!

(to quote my inelegant step-grandfather)

Anyway ... how's the weather where you are? For me, outstanding, at least over the next five days. The Malcontent is taking an undeserved (working) vacation to the Dominican Republic, where the long-range forecast calls for nothing but warm, sunny days.

My one and only correspondent, Candice Dyer, will be holding down the fort (assuming she can make out my rudimentary blogging directions) in the interim, and you're sure to be entertained.

I'll be back Tuesday. Until then, enjoy your cold winter.

Now where the hell is my sangria?!?

She said it

Think you've heard the classic faux pas?

The scene: New Year's Eve. A good friend and I were drinking on the porch, during which time she spotted someone being carried up the front steps. She took umbrage, loudly.

"How rude to come to a party so drunk you can't even walk up the stairs."

Turns out the guy was in a wheelchair. To said friend's credit, she barely blushed when informed of the details.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

What Would Jerry Do?

"Dude, Jerry shat in that toilet!"

Yes, Jerry Garcia's dishwasher and toilets are for sale.

An appraiser has valued the items at about $75,000, but the head of the nonprofit that will benefit from the sale said he expects people will end up spending more.

"There's a lot of Deadheads out there with money, and they want a piece of Jerry somehow."

(You can always count on gulliable Deadheads).

I wish I could find millions of dupes willing to pay to to hear me issue the same complaints, over and over again.

Anyone need a slightly used toilet?

Monday, November 28, 2005

Presenting: Satanica!

I came of age during one of the more regrettable fads associated with Christian fundamentalism:
backwards masking.

It seems every band back in the early 1980s had a pact with the devil, from witchy woman Stevie Nicks to the Electric Light Orchestra. And you thought AC/DC had something to do with sound? Naive fool ... it's Antichrist/Devil's Children. Fellow soldiers in the Army of Darkness included KISS (Kids in Satan's Service) and Styx (that's a river in Hades, people. You know, HELL!)

And don't let the name fool you: Christopher Cross (of "Sailing" fame) was every bit as loyal as Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page was to the lord of the underground.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

The New South

The Associated Press gets it right in this article chronicling the disappearing South. While glad to be escaping our backwards past, the South seems headed to a future devoid of any character or difference.

I blame the "Orlando" factor, the Disney-ization of America. Our states may be alternately red and blue, but our cities and neighborhoods increasingly look the same. And they're all watching "American Idol."

Riding his own melt

While attending USC's film school, one of my favorite instructors was veteran character actress Nina Foch ("Tales of the City" fans will remember her as the original Frannie Halcyon), who thrived in the classroom despite employing questionable learning material.

The class was "Writing for Actors" and our textbook was the cliche-ridden script for the slacker comedy, "Reality Bites." I would still hold that against Nina (once married to the unctuous host of "Inside the Actors Studio") if not for the best compliment I've ever received: "Has anyone told you that you look like a young Steve McQueen?" she once asked me. Unfortunately, no one had, and hasn't since. Still, she won me over.

Anyway, we would often have to act out scenes from the film; being male, that meant, more often than not, I got to be Ethan Hawke.

If I were straight, I could see some advantages to being The Annoying One. Uma Thurman is an impressive catch, though she lost points with me for her bad judgment. Following up The Annoying One with Quentin Tarantino didn't help.

All that is to say I've never been much of an Ethan Hawke fan. When he became a published author, the antipathy swelled. Seeing a copy of one of his books on a date's shelf ended that relationship, promptly. "Have you even read it?" my date asked. "Don't need to," I smugly replied.

Eventually, I did read some excerpts, and I've rarely felt more vindicated. Check out the opening paragraph from the wannabe beat's latest collection of overbaked prose, Ash Wednesday:

"I was driving a '69 Chevy Nova four-barrel with mag wheels and a dual exhaust. It's a kick-ass car. I took the muffler out so it sounds like a Harley. People love it. I was staring at myself through the window into the driver's-side mirror; I do that all the time. I'll stare into anything that reflects. That's not a flattering quality, and I wish I didn't do it, but I do. I'm vain as hell. It's revolting. Most of the time when I'm looking in the mirror, I'm checking to see if I'm still here or else I'm wishing I was somebody else, a Mexican bandito or somebody like that. I have a mustache. Most guys with mustaches look like fags, but I don't. I touch mine too much, though. I touch it all the time. I don't even know why I'm telling you about it now. I just stare at myself constantly and wish I didn't. It brings me absolutely no pleasure at all."

To sum up: He likes to look at himself, but wishes he didn't.

Is marijuana a gateway drug?

In my case, it was. Or was it alcohol? Or cigarettes? Or those candy cigarettes we used to puff back in the "good old days?"

I have only anecdotal experience to offer, which is about all the evidence that exists in this particular quandry. As is the case with everyone I know who's sampled "the hard stuff," the road to powder was similar, preceeded by alcohol and weed. For us, apparently, pot was one of several gateways (along with various other hallucinogens). Certainly, I know of no one who took the opposite approach, sampling heroin, for instance, before "graduating" to ganja.

So, obviously, the answer to the question posed above is a resounding "yes." Or is it? I've also known many whose experimentation stopped with the green. Are we supposed to believe every pot smoker will develop into a needle fiend?

It's different for everyone, and, besides, the argument is false since a legal product (alochol) almost always precedes illegal intoxicants. Perhaps if the pot lobby had a more substantive face than, say, Woody Harrelson, things would be different. Not to mention more money, the life blood of every influential special interest.

I would've been better off as a teetotaler, but not everyone is as weak as me. Why should they be punished by our increasingly bipartisan nanny state? Leagalizing marijunana may increase the temptation for the undisciplined among us, but has government approval ever mattered in this regard?

Why not take the greater good into account? We continue to waste resources (and jail space) pursuing Deadheads, and we don't have enough of either to waste. Good government requires a nod to Darwinism, cold though that may sound.

I may not be among the fittest, but that was my mistake, one I would've likely repeated no matter the governmental restrictions.

Now, about those Draconian non-smoking ordinances ...

Innovators, not ideologues

While on the road Friday, I thought I'd check in with the world's least accountable drug addict. Oxy-con Rush Limbaugh was in the middle of a familiar rant, blasting critics "who are trying to bring down this great country of ours." In this case, the targets were those who favor more fuel efficient cars, which is somehow vice to the big guy.

When did great big cars become symbolic of the American way, and how did those who favor hybrid technology become automatically tagged as liberal haters of democracy?

I'm not sure how this dynamic came to be (and it certainly exists outside of the world of Rush), but it's doing plenty to hurt America. Witness the recent announcement by General Motors that they'll be cutting 25,000 jobs by 2008. The reason: GM was slow in recognizing the future (less big cars, more hybrid technology), continuing to pump out behemouth SUV's even as the market was evolving.

Meanwhile, Toyota has become the top seller in the U.S., partly because they're making more fuel efficient cars. Even (shudder) "hybrids." America used to be ahead of such manufaturing curves, but no longer. As a working member of the lower middle class, I've bought nothing but imports over the years, with no apologies. I'd prefer to "buy American" but haven't been given much of a choice.

For ideologues like Limbaugh, it's apparently better to be "right" than viable. Besides, when did conservation become a left wing value?

Saturday, November 26, 2005

The eight most informed readers on the net ...

are those who check out the Malcontent. The Jessica Simpson-Nick Lachey marriage may only now be officially over, but I reported it, after reading it somewhere else, on Oct. 7. Take that, Pat O'Brien.

And now, the Malcontent's very first re-post:

In a huge blow to the abstinence movement (Christians sure are lax in selecting their role models), alleged actress and songstress Jessica Simpson has left her pop tart husband for dear old Dad. If history has taught us anything, it's this: don't underestimate the bedroom eyes of a Baptist preacher. No word on how Jessica's even less talented sister is taking the snub.

You may commence with the Southern inbred stereotyping.

Friday, November 25, 2005

I was a star when your mother was your age

Outside of the National Anthem, no song is played more at sporting arenas than Gary Glitter's "Rock and Roll (Part II)."

Lately, Brit pop stalwarts Blur have made some inroads with "Song 2" (wooo-hooooo). Queen always maintains a presence, with "We Will Rock You." Gay, femme, predator ... not exactly part of the family values code so many sports fans hold true.

Child porn fan Glitter is in trouble again, held in a Vietnamese prison after allegedly having sex, at his vacation home, with two underage girls (one 12-years-old).

Assuming Glitter gets residuals from his 1972 hit, doesn't it follow that sports fans have helped fund his pederast lifestyle? As someone who attends about 15-20 baseball games a year, I'm as guilty as the next guy, so why not play some Sly and the Family Stone once in awhile?

In other news, Bill Clinton to head pro-abstinence group

And Donald Rumsfeld is headed, post-White House, to a career as a diplomacy consultant. Without any nod to the ridiculousness of it all, Michael Brown, the hapless former FEMA chief, is starting his own disaster preparedness firm.

Why do I get the feeling he'll succeed? (His corporate slogan: It takes a disaster to know one).

More urgently, Brown informed the Rocky Mountain News that “my wife, children and my grandchild still love me. My parents are still proud of me.”

Perhaps I'll become a sensitivity instructor, focusing on issues pertaining to the GLBT (is that a sandwich or a demographic?) community.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

I'd rather be locked in the bathroom, for two hours, with nothing to read

Can I adequately convey how strongly I'll resist the big screen adaptation of "Rent?"

I know this is supposed to the cinematic event of the year for my people, but, God help me, I'd rather endure Kevin Costner's Cajuan drawl in "JFK" a second time than re-live that magical era when AIDS was but a lad.

Admittedly, I've never seen the stage version of "Rent." But I've done my time. I briefly dated an aspiring actor (in, of all places, Los Angeles) who had just lost out on a major role in the L.A. production of "Fame: 1996" (too harsh?). One of the leads. He was certain the role was his, but star power can be an overwhelming force.

To hear him tell it, Doogie Howser stole the part. Mr. Big Shot Neil Patrick Harris. He would bitch about it constantly, even during "private" moments. Nothing's more attractive than persistent whining.

When he wasn't ranting over Doogie, he would play the "Rent" soundtrack, singing along to every song. Every line mimicked. With feeling. Each selection followed the theme: I may be broke, I may have AIDS, but, dammit, I still have my dreams!

So I'd sit there, trying to maintain that Stepford smile, which just happens to be my least convincing face. Mr. X was beginning to discover my secret, and he was obviously taken aback: "This freak is gay and he hates musicals. Even 'Rent'!"

Fortunately, I endured the theatrics long enough to land in Kate Jackson's bed. When not getting screwed by Neil Patrick Harris, my poorly matched mate worked as Ms. Jackson's assistant. One night, while housesitting, Mr. X invited me over for a late night swim in the boss' pool.

Now there some's gay cred. I've slept in the bed of an orignal Charlie's Angel. I won't ever see "Rent," but I'll always be Scarecrow to Mrs. King.

You rock, Brangelina!

Apologies in advance if "played out" has become played out. But I've got some phrases that are well past played out, the rhetorical equivalents of Courtney Love.

"Bennifer." "Vinnifer" (that's Vince Vaughn and the ubiquitous Jennifer Aniston). And now, "Brangelina" (Jon Voight's daughter and the former Mr. Aniston).

Must all celebrity couples be given the Cher and Madonna treatment? Are two names that hard to say? Will the likes of the evil one, Pat O'Brien (the sycophant's sychophant), ever cede control over pop catchphrases?

I know something that could stop this mundane madness. Maybe if Viggo Mortensen and Gwyneth Paltrow shack up ...?

Then again, "Gwiggo" is kind of catchy.

Excuse me, I ordered a Zima, not emphysema

In a story you'll probably read about tomorrow in the local organ, Kennesaw, a small town about 30 miles west of Atlanta, is considering banning smoking in public parks. This is the same city that, in 1982, passed an ordinance requiring heads of households to own a gun.

Kennesaw is a one of the more conservative hamlets in one of the country's most conservative counties (home to Newt Gingrich), yet the local government is as invasive as the Berkeley City Council.

I wonder: will it be legal to shoot someone in Kennesaw if they smoke on your property?

When Rodak came to Frogtown

Another mountain dispatch from Malcontent correspondent Candice Dyer:

Evidently some people do not even make the "coolness" cut for Dragon.con and Trekkie conventions. A militant contingent of "Space Giants" fans is agitating to get the show back on the air. For those who are not familiar with the "Space Giants" -- a majority of you, no doubt -- it is a crude, peculiar, Japanese sci-fi adventure program about Manichean battles fought among characters in tin-foil costumes. It aired on Ted Turner's fledgling network during after-school hours in the late-'70s.

Consequently, it gained a cultlike following among moppets whose parents evidently were not that strict about enforcing a diet of PBS. My folks were such a family. I gave up my baton-twirling classes in order to rush home, watch the show, and moon over the exotic, sloe-eyed hero named "Miko."

My excuse is that I was seven years old.

When I see images from the show, I feel a rush of campy nostalgia, but that is all. I am not moved to activism. However, thanks to the mischief of your “Malcontent” host (who also was an early fan of the show, possibly because of the unmistakable homoerotic undercurrents of the Miko-Gam friendship), I am now on the mailing list for a rabid, wild-eyed advocacy group for “The Space Giants.”

With their intra-mural squabbles, these fans are very contentious in their methods, but they are united in their goal: to resurrect and reinstate re-runs of the show.

I can’t help wondering if signing me up for this group was a retaliatory move on the part of the Malcontent, whom I enrolled in the Jessica Simpson fan club. I think we’re even, now, Malcontent. Don’t make me blow my whistle and sic “Silvar” on you.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

It still wasn't as funny as "Battlefield Earth"

That would be asking too much of anyone, even the fertile comedic minds of "South Park" creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone, who continue to prove nothing's more humorous than the truth.

Their latest target: Scientology, whose fictional followers come to Colorado in search of the reincarnated L. Ron Hubbard (whom they believe has inhabited the body of South Park grade schooler, Stan).

Parker and Stone alloted about five minutes of screen time to detail the nonsensical dogma of this alleged "religion" (stealing the words directly from its con man founder). So as not to blur the lines of fiction, an accompanying scroll asserted: "This is what Scientologists actually believe."

No need to attempt to explain the unexplainable. The media has rarely bothered to try since Scientology's lawyers nearly bankrupted Time magazine after the weekly published a scathing cover story in 1991. The libel suit was dismissed, but the attorneys successfully scared off other would-be critics.

Scientology may not yet be mainstream, but it certainly doesn't merit its current tax-free status. (In one of his more feckless moves, former president Bill Clinton successfully carried big donor water by lobbying the German government to remove a ban on Scientology).

I say religions should be required to pass a 1,000 year rule rule before meriting offical recognition. If Scientology's still around in 2960, then I'll relent.

In the meantime, seekers of truth should again toast Misters Parker and Stone, who, as a bonus, managed to throw some biting jabs Tom Cruise's way (the future Mr. Katie Holmes spends much of the episode locked in a closet, where he's later joined by Mr. Kelly Preston, er, John Travolta). It should be noted that Scientology is not gay-friendly, despite the alleged sexual orientations of some of its more famous members.

In the words of young Stan, "Scientology is nothing but a big global scam."

"How dare you mock our faith, you little punk," retorted the fictional Scientologists (though their reply was anything but fictional). "You'll be hearing from our lawyers tomorrow."

"I'm not scared of you. Sue me." Way to throw down the gauntlet, Trey and Matt. Hopefully, Scientology (and/or Tom Cruise) won't take the bait. God forbid one of those notorious L.A. juries rules in their favor, turning Comedy Central into Scientology Central.

Rest assured that network would find a place for devoted follower Kirstie Alley. Scared yet?

***Interestingly enough, Issac Hayes, the voice of Chef on "South Park," is an L.R.H. follower. Chef wasn't in this episode, and if Hayes is truly devoted to his faith/dementia, you may see a parting of ways. My wish: Ike comes to his senses and returns to Planet Earth. The man's much too cool to be a Scientologist.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Quote of the day

"It's always heartwarming to see a prejudice defeated by a deeper prejudice."

---from the movie "Lone
(highly recommended)

Back to form

Although I was raised in a strict Southern Baptist household, I owe a good bit of my development to a couple of Jews.

I was introduced to Woody Allen when our youth group leader took me and a few others to see "Zelig," which remains one of my favorites. It was there I first heard the term "masturbation" (I was young and naive. Mostly naive). For you dirty minds, this wasn't demonstrated to me by the youth group leader --- granted, I've always enjoyed the incongruity of being exposed to Woody Allen by a Sunday school teacher --- although he did answer my question when I asked what Leonard Zelig's character was referring to when he says: "I teach a course in masturbation. Advanced. If I don't get there on time they start without me."

No need to heap additional praise (or scorn) on Woody. Regardless, he takes a back seat to Albert Brooks, the man behind such comedic classics as "Real Life" and "Lost in America." Unfortunately, like Allen, his latest work has been, shall we say, disappointing. Strike that: "The Muse" was one of the worst movies of the past five years. Andie McDowell and Sharon Stone, in the same movie? What could possibly be gained from such a frightful collaboration?

Fortunately, it appears Brooks has decided to be funny again with his next release (due in January), "Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World." The plot: Brooks, playing himself, is sent by the U.S. government to the Middle East in an effort to find out what makes Muslims laugh. Hard to imagine this one misfiring.

Sample dialogue: "What could you possibly know about comedy anyway? There are no comedians in Iran?" ... "I was the funniest one in school. And in explosives training."

Welcome back, Albert Einstein (his real name, fitting for a comedic genius). And please, stay away from Andie McDowell in the future.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Heavens to murgatroid!

Just so you'll know, this was originally my pointless observation.

By now most have heard the speculation that Snagglepuss, the pink, lisping (panther?), is gay.

I was on to this years ago ... 1997, to be exact. I was celebrating my birthday in L.A. with some friends visiting from up the coast. Their present: a bag of "mushrooms." When their last night in town rolled around, the mushrooms remained unconsumed and, with a long drive ahead of them, my pals decided to nix any potential "experience." I descended on the leftovers.

A few hours later, I was visited, while in the lavatory, by Huckleberry Hound, who proceeded to dish about the sexual orientation of his cartoon peers.

You can guess what he said about Snagglepuss. But, as if there were some divine gossip interceding to prove Huck's point, I was presented further evidence within a late-night repeat of "The Laff-a-Lympics" (which, as I'm sure everyone recalls, featured Snagglepuss as host). In this particualr episode, the "Scooby Doobies" were challenging the "Yogi Yahoo-ies" in a race up the side of Big Ben, about which Snagglepuss wondered: "Who will be the first to mount Big Ben?"

And then I knew. I couldn't reflect on my awakening, however. I had the history of women's tennis to share.

Exit, stage right.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Manufactured indignation

So Bush and Cheney are on the offensive, fighting back after repeated charges questioning their honesty.

"And the suggestion that's been made by some US senators that the president of the United States or any member of this administration purposely misled the American people on pre-war intelligence is one of the most dishonest and reprehensible charges ever aired in this city," said Cheney, who's looking a lot like British actor Alistair Sim (the original Scrooge) these days.

Ignoring the validity of such charges, I'm struck by the timing of the administration's response. Democrats, mostly, have been making these accusations for much of the year. This is nothing new.

Why, then, the sudden outrage from Bush and Cheney? Were they just sitting on their anger all these many months? Certainly their reticence wasn't a mistake (considering they're above such human failings).

Might this have something to do with falling poll numbers? Maybe a lesson should be learned, that he who patronizes the American public (by refusing to engage in an honest discussion separating expectations and optimism from reality) will suffer the residual fallout, even if it is generated, in part, from hypocritical flip-floppers.


Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Only liberals shop at Target!

This is where rank partisanship leads. Now, where you shop seems to define for whom you vote. There's nothing to prove it, but anecdotal evidence tells me Target has become the favored store of liberals, while Wal-Mart is home to the conservative shopper.

Wenesday's AJC had an article about two competing propoganda films, one pro-Wal-Mart, the other against. My guess is both documentaries make predictable observations about the free enterprise system and the decline of the Mom-and-Pop store (forgetting that even free enterprise has its limits, and Mom-and-Pop stores have been vacant from the consumer landscape since the fifties).

I usually stake the middle ground, but I've been opposed to Wal-Mart ever since they introduced the "greeter," usually exploiting some good-natured old veteran for barely more than minimum wage. Thanks for serving our country: now get out there and dance around for all the rednecks! Don't forget to sing the jingle:

"We're shoppin' the Wal-Mart way!" 'Nah, too crowded.

Pet peeve of the day

I'm one of those people who can't believe what they see. Like when I'm watching a movie and someone gets slapped ... I need audio. I need to hear the accompanying "thwack." Then I know pain was inflicted. And I should laugh.

Ashton Kutcher owes his career to that "thwack" noise. That, and a washed-up "actress." And a con man's religious cult.

I wear the red string for you all.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Pet peeve of the week

Molly Ivins can't say that, can she? I remember hearing about that book as a teen, and it got on my nerves even then. What the hell was she saying that was sooo controversial?

If she had published the book in Saudi Arabia, maybe I would've bought the rhetorical bravado. Standard liberal dogma is not all that daring, but still Ivins' self-importance has caught on among other medicore columnists, critics and comics.

"Yeah, I said it." "You heard me." Everyone likes to think they're the only people bold enough to make an off-color assertion, or a particularly sharp putdown. As if there's some bravery involved in being David Spade. Honesty shouldn't be that big a deal.

More often than not, people who start their sentences with the above proclamations go on to say nothing particularly insightful. Crude and predictable, perhaps, but nothing you haven't heard before.

Yes, ATL Macontent said it. That's right, I went there. And I'll go there tomorrow, and the next day ...

Monday, November 14, 2005

Keep greed alive!

Whether they come from the left or the right, our country's religious "leaders" have emerged as such buffoons that they're almost too easy to criticize. But I'll persevere.

Last week, we had the Rev. Pat Robertson warn the voters of Dover, PA that God has some wrath saved for them (because they voted out school board members who advocated teaching faith as science). Now, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, needing to meet his on-camera quota, has decided to stand up for disgraced pro baller Terrell Owens.

Who needs civil rights protection more than millionaire athletes? Jackson says Owens' suspension for the rest of the year was "too severe," overlooking the fact T.O. will still get paid. I'm not sure how Jackson will inject race into this, but I don't doubt that he will, despite the fact Owens' forced hiatus was due in large part to a riff with his quarterback (who's also black). He also got in a fight with an injured teammate (also African-American).

Glad to see the disenfranchised still have a voice.

They write poems in Frogtown

The Malcontent don't do poetry, but fortunately our North Georgia correspondent, Candice Dyer, does. And the metaphors abound ...

I am the Samsonite

You threw me in that gorilla’s cage, where I took another beating

That felt like the softest caress

Compared to your cruel blows.

You thought TWA surely would lose me in

the shuffle, dropped through the hatch over Omaha, maybe,

All of our dirty laundry fluttering in the Gulf Stream,

Or maybe you plotted to leave me on the luggage carousel

In some abandoned airport.

Where I would spin ’round, making those sad, methodical laps for eternity,

jostling with a faded Louis Vuitton.

Far away from your anxious grasp on my handle.

But, no, you little carpet-bagger, you can not shed

Me so easily.

I am stowed in the bedroom of every new affair,

Just waiting to be opened like your own private Pandora’s box.

Like one of those old-fashioned steamer trunks covered

In stickers from strange lands, the kind that shows off the

Wanderings of its carrier, I let you stamp me

With each new attempt at love,

But you never stay in that place.

You always end up packing your bags,

By now, I am so full that you cannot snap me

Shut without sitting on me.

I am the Samsonite.

Propaganda fodder

There are good reasons to hate us (Americans), and I haven't found a better one than the VH-1 show, "The Fabulous Life of ...," which seems to relish its role as cheerleader for the narcissistic.

Juiced by the most unctous narration ever recorded (think Robin Leach on meth), this paean to the rich and ridiculous treats its celebrity subjects as if they were nobility: "When she's not fighting for the environment, Cameron Diaz relaxes in a bed of luxury that would make the pharohs blush ... When Cameron uses the loo, she doesn't use just any toilet paper to keep herself sanitary and gorgeous. Oh no, Cameron wipes her ass with only the finest silks, imported from the furthest corners of outer Mangolia and crafted by the most skilled slave artisans the Far East has to offer."

And she met her boyfriend at a burping contest. Take that, you Justin Timberlake critics. This white boy's got skillz.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

If a tree falls in the forest ...

This is dedicated to the nature vs. nurture crowd. A good friend of mine recently commented on a group of deaf homosexuals that had congregated at the gay Starbucks (yes, we're ghettoized, and damn proud of it!) in midtown Atlanta. There was no malice on his part, just an observation.

Which led me to wonder ... since most of us gays seem to enthusiastically embrace the stereotype of shallow, melodramatic drama queens, are gay deaf people naturally fey? Do they gesticulate flamboyantly, roll their eyes liberally and purse their lips with abandon?

Unfortunately, my friend didn't hang around long enough to make such sociological deductions. I'm actually curious as to what the answer would've been. Since I refuse, perhaps conciously, to avoid cliche (being a native Southerner and a fag), I'm not big on the nature argument. To quote myself, rather shamelessly: I was born gay ... I wasn't born addicted to the E! Channel.

That's learned behavior, just like rampant use of the word, "bitch," a stereotypical sin for which I must admit some guilt. Otherwise, I always relished the idea of being different, but individuality doesn't get you far these days, and it certainly won't win you any GLAAD awards. Maybe it's the same for those few gay, deaf malcontents.

Ross Perot: Tanned, rested and still crazy

We can do better than H. Ross, though admittedly we would've all benefitted from his mandated 6 a.m. calisthenics. But after perusing the Sunday morning public affairs programming, I remain convinced that America's political savior will have to come from beyond the two parties.

We heard, and will continue to hear, the following from Republican National Committee Chariman Ken Mehlman: "Everything's going great. George W. Bush is a bold, decisive leader. We stand for American values." From the Democratic National Committee Chairman, Howard Dean: "Everything's going lousy. George W. Bush is a lying facist. We stand for American values."

When asked, based on an approval rating that would make Jimmy Carter blush, what Bush needs to do differently to win back defecting voters, the RNC chair said: "America trusts George W. Bush and they respect his bold, decisive leadership."

When asked, based on an ideology that seems to be based solely on opposition to Bush, what the Democrats would do differently, the DNC chair assures they'll have a plan ready in 2006. After all, it's not like there's any urgent issues in the world that need addressing. Take your time. Assemble your focus groups ...

Are we really this ineffectual, swayed by repeated bullshit skillfully phrased? Are we all just a bunch of partisan hacks, less independent with our allegiances than your average collge football fanatic?

Spreading democracy around the globe is a noble venture, one that's impeded by a democracy that ain't working right. Hard to imagine De tocqueville penning a ringing endorsement of this political system. Of course, it must be noted (particularly for those trendoids in the Che Guevara T-shirts), that free expression and representative government aren't the problems. It's American malaise, within our political system and among the electorate, that is.

Friday, November 11, 2005

I'm back

Sorry for the hiatus. Never underestimate the demands of posting for an audience of 8.

Start Spreadin' the News

Atlanta has a new theme song, and catchphrase. Never being a fan of theme songs --- save for "Good Times," "What's Happening?" and, the gold standard, "Sanford and Son" --- or slogans, I'm naturally inclined to badmouth the endeavor.

The song, "The ATL" (written by Dallas Austin), has stirred resentment among those who pine for the days when downtown was ruled by Lester Maddox and his ax handle. It's, gasp, hip hop, and features such dangerous lyrics as "I love the A T L ... More than any other place I've been around the world." In other words, it sounds like something Will Smith would write.

The slogan, meanwhile, borrows a baseball metaphor: "Atlanta: Every Day is an Opening Day." Take out the "an" and you might have something. The baseball reference is just coincidence, of course, but that won't stop me from greeting every visitor I meet with a hearty: "Welcome to the ATL, where every day is an opening day." "Opening day for what?" they may ask. "Well, for instance, today is the one month anniversary of IKEA's opening day."

It's impossible to be anything but cynical about such in-your-face boosterism. City leaders figured the ATL needed a theme song because, well, New York, Chicago and San Francisco have one (none of which were commissioned by the local chambers of commerce). Has anyone ever decided to visit a city based on the quality of their theme song? If that's the case, then New York, Chicago and San Francisco have nothing to worry about.

Besides, couldn't this money have been used to satisfy one of the mayor's campaign promises (from four years back)? Still plenty of potholes on my street, Mayor Franklin. Hey, there's something:

"Atlanta: The City with No Potholes." Now that piques my interest, but then again, "They say Atlanta is where you go to become your dreams."

Pictured: Atlanta's 1996 Olympic mascot, Whatizit