Think for your fucking selves

A commandment that should be inscribed over the door of every library. It’s Banned Books Week. Read one.


King of Spain

In light of today’s news:

Rundown, evil cackle edition

* I found out today that someone recently called me power-hungry. I’ll take that as a compliment, especially in this city.

* I have a craving for steak.

* Kathleen Sebelius is coming to Asheville

* While I’m on the topic of this fair town, what it really needs is a fetish/latex fashion place with some decently affordable stuff for us proles too. Combined with Genesis P-Orridge moving here, that could herald a new subcultural dawn: hippie bullshit out, shiny, driven occultists in! Bring the jubilee!

* You know what’s fascinating? Memory Palaces. Immensely so. Giordano Bruno had one. Much as I find technology and the change it can bring compelling, a lot of non-techne based talents and skills deserve far more exploration than they currently get.

* “Every great cause begins as a movement, becomes a business, and eventually degenerates into a racket.”
-Eric Hoffer

Thought for the Day

The painting is an allegory of the evils of power, how they pass down the chain from the greater to the lesser. Human beings were clutched at, and clutched at others in their turn. If power was a cry, then human lives were lived in the echo of the cry of others. The echo of the mighty deafened the ears of the helpless. But there was a fine detail to be observed: Dashwanth had completed the chain of hands. The Mirror, the slave girl, her left wrist captured in her young mistress’s firm grasp, with her free right hand had seized hold of Khanzada Begum’s left wrist. They stood in a circle, the three lost creatures, and by closing that circle the painter suggested that the clutch or echo of power could also be reversed. The slave girl could sometimes imprison the royal lady. History could claw upward as well as down. The powerful could be deafened by the cries of the poor.
-Salman Rushdie, The Enchantress of Florence, an utterly magnificent novel

How to survive an assassination

Courtesy of Albert Finney and the Coen Bros. Happy Saturday.

Wanted to sleep in this morning, but for some reason the fire alarm for the entire building went off. Urgh.

It’s not there

I wrote a rough draft of the following in 2005 after a visit to Ground Zero — looking at it over three years later, I find that it sums up my thoughts on this day.

My first visit to New York was years ago. I went as a gangly kid, smack dab in the middle of high school. It was a United Methodist Church trip. I was awkward, with that seething discomfort in one’s own skin that’s the hallmark of any adolescence. Many of the things I have become now were just seeds then, waiting to come into form.

While there, we visited the World Trade Center. I remember the elevator ride first. Long. On one side of me were two well dressed, burly Hasidic gentlemen, laughing. To the other a group of Asian businessmen, speaking in their own language. What they thought of the young group of wide-eyed Southern teenagers behind them, I do not know.

The view from the top was magnificent. It was before dusk, the lights had just started to come on. Spread out almost into infinity, the buildings were so vast and beautiful. I could see everything: the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building — everything.

It hit me right then: this was a miracle. Here spread before me were thousands upon thousands of peoples, ambitions, cultures, thoughts, foods, languages. All of it. And it worked.

It was chaotic, dirty and sprawling, occasionally violent even, but it worked. Despite all the critiques of the venal nature of humanity all this managed to exist without rending itself apart.

Waves of immigrants, political turmoil, a civil war and the weight of three centuries had pushed onto it. New York was still standing there, strong as ever.

When I returned, it wasn’t what was there that struck me, it was what wasn’t. Just a space. Even if I had been an alien visitor, I still would have known that something just wasn’t right, that there should be something there instead of a massive, gaping hole and some twisted metal.

It was too quiet. It is still hard for me to comprehend it, just on a personal level. The old view I remembered so fondly, the one that made me realize how breathtakingly huge the world was, is gone. Those Hasidic gentlemen beside me in the elevator may well be ash by now. The steel I trod on? Torn into nothing.

The world has heard about 9/11 nearly non-stop for the last few years. The event still leaves marks, pulls up old, raw emotions. I knew what was coming when I decided the visit Ground Zero and its still hard for me to take in.

All the memories are tinged with a sadness, not just for the event itself, but for what has come after. How such an tragedy, almost so vast and terrible it defies comprehension, has become something for fat cowards to invoke to justify torture, lies, greed and fanaticism.

In a better world, we would have the leaders we deserve. In a better world Osama bin Laden’s head would be on a pike and George W. Bush would be a washed-up political failure. In a better world the nation that miraculously came to be would have taken an awful tragedy as a reason to rise from the ashes, not a fear to cower from. In a better world we would not have forgotten who our true enemies were.

But we live in this one. Bin Laden still lives and we have thrown fuel on his fires instead of snuffing them out. George W. Bush is President. Some days it seems that the same country that survived through so much is intent on undoing everything it has gained.

But New York still survives and so can we. What was torn down can be rebuilt, and one human can undo what another has done. There is a new age and a new generation in the workings.

The miracle I witnessed from atop the world trade center has gone nowhere and it waits to spring forth again, today or tomorrow.

The Satanic Record Mogul Cometh

My article on these bastards (and their real-life equivalents), is up on Coilhouse.

They’re powerful, immensely so, and rich beyond a mere prole’s wildest dreams. They tread the earth as megalomania-driven gods. If you’re a musician (or anyone, really) they want your talent, your creativity, your voice — above all, they want your name on the dotted line.

That’s the archetype of the Satanic Record Mogul, a creature that’s now receded into the shadows. But these scoundrels are at the center (or hovering over it, puppeteer-like) of such cult masterworks as Derek Jarman’s Jubilee (which deserves its own post in the future) and Brian De Palma’s Phantom of the Paradise. Even Mr. Boogalow of The Apple fits the mold.

But he is an imitator, a poseur, and The Apple is simply too damned bad for him to hold his own with the heavyweights. No, for the real better-to-rule-in-hell types, we’ll look in on two classic villains: Jubilee’s Borgia Ginz and Phantom’s Swan. Hoary old ghosts they may be, but beneath the cackling mad, gaudy exterior lurk the very real fears that still plague the music world, if with much less flair. Everyone signs up in the end.