Sunday, August 31, 2008

So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish

[Sad News] Geoffrey Perkins, who produced Douglas Adams' BBC Radio series Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and Channel 4's Father Ted, died Friday after injuries sustained in a London car accident.

Today, Britain is to comedy what France is to cooking, or Italy to shoes. But things weren't always that way, as evidenced every time KUED has a bad fund-raising year and is forced to fill its evening British-comedy slot with cheaply purchased, dreary, 40-year-old sitcoms.

The post-1970s British explosion of bizarre, incisive and compelling humor can be attributed to a generation of irreverent and forward-thinking men and women--among whom Perkins served as something of a visionary. Without Perkins, who produced the offbeat sketch series The Fast Show it's doubtful there could have been a Little Britain. Without Perkins, who advocated for Ben Elton The Man From Auntie, could there ever have been a Blackadder?

Perkins was 55 at his death.

Some Little Britain:

(Brandon Burt)

Friday, August 29, 2008

Sarah & Me

[Veep Encounter] In a far distant universe, I once lived and worked in Alaska. My job was to promote tourism in and around a little town called Wasilla, known for being the headquarters of the Iditarod Trail race. One of my board members was John Stein, a popular three-term mayor of Wasilla who seemed destined to keep his job as long as he wanted it.

But one election year—1996 to be exact—change was in the air, change in the form of plucky brunette 32-year-old Sarah Palin. Once a co-captain of her high school basketball team, Palin in 1982 led the Wasilla Warriors to win an astonishing state championship. For that, she’ll always be a local hero. At a young 28, she’d been elected to the city council and soon took issue with Stein’s “stale” leadership and “tax-and-spend mentality.”

It became apparent Stein was in for a fight of his political life.

Upon learning she’d won the hotly contested race, Palin and her supporters huddled together and prayed to Jesus Christ in gratitude. I began to wonder what was up with our local politicos. I’d watched as Palin aligned herself—in a city mayor’s race—with our newly minted Republican state lawmakers, all tripping over themselves to claim conservative Christian cred. I noticed how positions on abortion and gun rights bubbled up in a municipal race. After her win, a local cable TV show proclaimed Palin as the town’s first “Christian” mayor, much to the surprise of the town’s previous mayors who hadn’t been told their faith was revoked.

Even with all that prayer behind her, Palin’s first years as mayor were bumpy. She had to clean house and eliminate John Stein supporters among her staff. The local media and organizations around town questioned her ability to run a city without experienced people. She rather famously proclaimed: "It's not rocket science. It's $6 million and 53 employees."

That gutsy attitude along with her love of the Alaskan outdoors and her beauty-contestant good looks made her instantly popular and easy to re-elect.

About that time, I up and split Alaska, disillusioned by the conservative political sweep of my community. The Republican Party was seemingly intent on hijacking just about every nonprofit board and political office in the valley, filling them with smug, holier-than-thou operatives (I should point out that this is now changing. One Wasilla lawmaker from that era, Rep. Vic Kohring, for example, is serving time for accepting oil-industry bribes, and more are getting their comeuppance every day).

But keeping tabs from a distance, even I came to respect Palin’s subsequent moves: Being easily recognized by the Republican Party as a comer, she ran for, and lost, a bid for lieutenant governor in 2002. As a consolation prize, then-Gov. Frank Murkowski rewarded her with a chairmanship of the state’s powerful oil and gas commission. She then discovered and audaciously ratted out the commission’s good old boys on their ethical lapses. When the Republican Party turned its back on her, she ran her own campaign against incumbent Frank Murkowki, beating him in the 2006 primary. From there, it was a cakewalk against Democrat Tony Knowles to the governor’s mansion.

Bottom line: This woman is true to herself. She disarms you with her perkiness and off-the-cuff conversation style, and it is easy to mistake that quality for innocence and underestimate her. But don’t. I’m betting John Stein and Frank Murkowski are somewhere in Alaska today pounding shots in a dive bar. Nobody seems to own her. At least up until now. It remains to be seen if one maverick (McCain) can control another.

And, despite her legendary fresh face and ethical high road, she can still lay claim to hatahs. There is a little scandal brewing right now in Alaska about how she canned her public safety commissioner because he would not fire her sister’s ex-husband—a cop behaving badly. Some say she’s in over her head running Alaska, but she would likely fire right back: Hey, it’s not rocket science.

I guess I can say I knew Sarah when. But oddly enough, Dick and me go way back, too. Prior to my stint in Wasilla, I grew up in Casper, Wyo., hometown of another infamous VP maverick ... emphasis on the “ick.” [Jerre Wroble]

Friday Letters Round-Up

(Brandon Burt)

Radioactive Women!

Tonight, I'll join SLUG's queen bee Angela Brown and gig poster/screenprinting goddess Leia Bell to chat about the local music and arts scene on KRCL's Radioactive. Tamrika Khvtisiashvili, co-owner of Blue Plate Diner and recent subject on the topic of Russia's Georgia invasion, will conduct the interview/roundtable discussion. I have no idea what will develop, but chances are it will be pretty much the opposite of anything you've ever seen on Good Things Utah.
Tune in to 90.9 FM, 6-7 p.m.
(Jamie Gadette)

Romney Out: Day of Mourning In Order

[McCain's Pick] Who cares about this Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin? The Deseret News nailed the real story--with this pithy lede: It's not Mitt.

OK Utah: Let's all cut our wrists together, wail and gnash our teeth. Then we can move on.

(Holly Mullen)

Their Hype vs. Obama's Hope

[Democratic National Convention] This is what it came down to the final night of the DNC, before a crowd of 80,000-plus in Denver's Mile High Stadium: Barack Obama had a few things to nail in his acceptance speech. He had to show substance to his rhetoric, grit to his glitter. He also had to retell his story as a healer while at the same time standing up to John McCain.

“The record is clear: John McCain has voted with George W. Bush 90 percent of the time. Senator McCain likes to talk about judgment, but really what does it say about your judgment when you think George W. Bush has been right more than 90 percent of the time?” Obama asked the roaring crowd.

Obama kept his McCain attacks in reference to George W. Bush and his party, not stooping to such potshots as McCain's anmesia for the number of homes he owns.

“For over two decades he’s subscribed to the discredited Republican philosophy to give more and more to those with the most and hope that prosperity trickles down to everyone else,” Obama said. “In Washington they call this the ownership society, but what it really means--you’re on your own. Out of work? Tough luck. No health care? The market will fix it...
"... Well it is time for them to own their failure. And it’s time for us to change America.”

After remininiscing about his time as a community activist on Chicago's South Side and how he learned a work ethic from his scrappy grandmother, Obama ended on what he promises will be the key to the next 68 days: “That’s the promise of America. The idea that we are responsible for ourselves but that we also rise or fall as one nation.”

And finally, a few of Obama's plans, as outlined in his speech:

*Cutting tax breaks to corporations that shift jobs overseas; rewarding companies that keep jobs in the U.S.

*A tax cut for 95 percent of all working class families.

*Eliminating capital gains taxes for small businesses and high-tech startup companies.

*Affordable health care for all.

*Pledging to end foreign oil dependence in 10 years.

*In foreign policy, the focus will return to Afghanistan rather than Iraq. “John McCain likes to say that he’ll follow bin Laden to the gates of hell—but he won’t even go to the cave where he lives,” Obama said.

Then in a magnanimous conclusion, Obama recalled his experience and reflected on the good of all Americans.

“It is that American spirit that pushes us forward even when the path is uncertain; that binds us together in spite of our differences; that makes us fix our eyes not on what is seen, but what is unseen—that better place around the bend.”

It was a place called hope hat seemed at long last to subdue the week-long hype surrounding Obama. (Eric S. Peterson)

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Well, Owl Be (Part II)

[OwlWatch] A second Laverne sighting has renewed the hopes of those in the Bountiful community who have been fasting and praying for her safe return.

Fran B., a reader from Northern California, snapped this photo of Laverne frolicking with two other bathing beauties at a Santa Cruz beach. It appears the wayward owl is taking a late-summer vacation!

More details on this breaking story as they emerge.

(Brandon Burt)

The Last to Know ...

[Media] Now that the Buzz has been swatted (its final issue comes out tomorrow), its yellow-jacketed distributors are going to be looking for work.

The worker bees, who aggressively hand out the Trib's "commuter daily" near TRAX platforms, seem, typically, to have been forgotten by management. According to one yellowjacket, they were "notified" of their impending job-loss at the same time the rest of us found out about it--when they read the story in the paper.

I don't suppose they'll qualify for a parachute--even a yellow one.

(Brandon Burt)

DNC Protester Profile: Rockslide and the Anti-Green Capitalists

[Democratic National Convention] "I'm not giving out my name today," said the young man with the straw hat and bullhorn leading the Anti-Green Capitalism march throughout Denver yesterday. "But you can call me Rockslide."

Rockslide led the way along with a small army of more than 100 protesters. The group of well-meaning and ripe-smelling kid anarchists took to the streets to call out the hypocrisy of the "green" convention.

Decked out in battle colors of dirty camo green and black bandanas, the group moved peacefully but passionately, shouting chants and drumming on plastic buckets. When a reporter asked Rockslide if they had a permit, he tapped his hand over his heart, saying "This is our permit."

Which might explain the surprise many motorists had as they turned a corner only to find hundreds of green revolutionaries clogging the street. But if the march seemed impromptu, that's not to say it wasn't well-orchestrated. The group stopped outside numerous office buildings and relayed information about the polluters inside and also about how they were supporting the DNC convention financially. Citing Oxfam studies, the group called out Denver-based Newmont Gold, which protesters said had displaced 20,000 of the rural poor in Ghana with a mine. Newmont donated $250,000 to the Democratic National Convention, much like Xcel Energy, responsible for half of Colorado's mercury emissions -- and $1 million contributed to the convention. (Check this out for a more complete of corporate DNC sponsors.)

Police watched the march closely, but were far from confrontational. Several riot police just smiled and took photos as keepsakes. At one tense moment, as the marchers were pushing down a crowded downtown sidewalk chanting anti-capitalist slogans, a street vendor seeing the crowd come up anxiously hollered "Yo! Get your Obama pins, only $3!"

After the march had finished its circuit downtown businesses and made corporate chieftans uncomfortable by shouting outside their offices -- "For the earth we will fight, we know where you sleep at night!" -- I asked Rockslide what the next step was.

"We're just going to keep putting pressure on politicians to come up with real energy solutions," he said, catching his breath. "We want to stop land exploitation like mining in western Colorado and Utah, the uranium mines in Paradox [Colorado] near the Utah border. We need to keep these areas wild.

"We also wanted to break the spell of greenness of this convention," Rockslide says. "It's been touted as the greenest convention, but they've just done some recycling and offered a few free bikes. While people are flying in from all over, going to lavish parties and advocating policies that aren't sustainable." (Eric S. Peterson)

DNC Protester Profile: A Pro-Hillary Puma Attacks!

[Democratic National Convention] While many in the party can't fathom how a Hillary supporter could be sore enough to actually cast a spite-vote for McCain just for their candidate being dissed on the presidential and vice-presidential nomination, one 74-year-old PUMA (standing for Party Unity My Ass) believes there's a very good reason to vote for McCain over Obama.

"[McCain] will be a lame duck president," says Carol Anderson, who has set up her small PUMA camp in Denver's Civic Station Park. Anderson, a lifelong Democrat, believes a Democratic-controlled congress will buffer any damaging conservative policies McCain might unleash. While she supported Clinton, she doesn't believe in the change Obama offers, especially with energy policy.

"Obama voted for the [2005] Cheney-Bush energy bill to set up liquefied gas terminals and 42 nuclear power plants in Washington and Oregon. Cheney hatched this bill in his office with Ken Lay and other big energy moguls, secretly. John McCain didn't vote for it, Hillary didn't vote for it, Obama did."

The issue will resurface, seeing as how the 2005 bill Obama supported included sizable tax breaks for big oil companies-- an issue Obama is working hard in his campaign to say differentiates him from his opponent. Obama has said he supported the bill "reluctantly" because it also diverted ethanol funds to his state of Illinois.

Anderson says the natural gas stations the legislation earmarked for her state of Washington are volatile and dangerous. "If one of them blows up, it will be worse than any nuclear holocaust in 100 miles," she says.

Anderson also doesn't feel the connection to Obama -- especially since his appearance at a Washington town hall meeting, where he was asked about Hanford, the site of one of the nation's oldest nuclear waste dump sites, retaining waste from the original Manhattan Project of the 1940s. Activists worry the clean-up has been stymied for too long.

"When he was asked 'What are you going to do about Hanford?' " Anderson says, "he said 'What's Hanford?' " (You can check that video moment out here.)

"I can't have this know-nothing guy as president," Anderson says. (Eric S. Peterson)

Kittens & Keith

[Locals on Reality TV] SLC's Slippery Kittens are still on America's Got Talent; Filthy Gorgeous' Keith Bryce has been voted off Project Runway. The judges on both reality-competition shows had little nice to say about either--"Are you Pamela Anderson's mom?" (That was directed to a Slippery Kitten, not Keith).

The respective vids:

(Bill Frost)

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

DNC Nights: Biden Veep-a-looza

[Democratic National Convention] It's getting hard to write about speeches. It's fatiguing. It's hard to write something new when everybody keeps saying the same things.

Don't get me wrong, I've been a Democrat all my life. But after three nights of convention stumping I've developed a strange wincing stomach twinge every time I hear "change we need."

I finally landed in the convention media filing center and discovered this "change-itis" was common among journalists. One journalist, who will remain anonymous (we hacks are thick as thieves, you know), was covering the convention for a major publication that serves an Asian demographic in the U.S. and in a certain Asian country. She left before v.p. candidate Joe Biden spoke. "Don't you want to hear Biden speak?" I asked. "Oh, I got the text," she said, referring to an embargoed copy of Biden's speech DNC convention staff members hand out moments before a candidate begins speaking. "But," I said, "they haven't handed out the Biden notes yet" She, having already packed her laptop up, said "Well ...we can figure out what he will say."

I guess I couldn't blame her. The message has become pretty formulaic. That is, after all, part of the strategy: hammer voters over the head with a call for change.

But for more honed criticism, the night offered a few notable surprises. The first came from the man who would be president-- John Kerry. Kerry aptly presented the knife to McCain that had been stuck in his back since 2004: flip-flopper. "To those who still believe in the myth of a maverick instead of the reality of a politician, I say, let's compare Senator McCain to candidate McCain." Kerry pointed out McCain's backpedaling on climate change, wartime tax cuts and immigration."Candidate McCain says he would now vote against the immigration bill that Senator McCain wrote. Let me tell you, before he ever debates Barack Obama, John McCain should finish the debate with himself."

The point was stuck deeper on foreign policy, where Kerry rightly observed that the multilateral foreign diplomacy Bush had once called "dangerous" and a diplomacy "of appeasement" is now the type of diplomacy Bush's own administration is pursuing. (For a thorough analysis on this policy reversal check out this article on Bush's foreign policy achievements by Newsweek's Fareed Zakaria.)

Biden did score in his speech by repeating this attack in reference to Afghanistan: "Should we trust John McCain's judgment when he said only three years ago, 'Afghanistan--we don't read about it anymore because it's succeeded?' Or should we trust Barack Obama who more than a year ago called for sending two additional combat brigades to Afghanistan?" Biden asked as he noted that the current Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff had agreed with Barack on the point.

Besides that, Biden reiterated much of the same message, swinging it a little harder with the weight of his 35 years in the Senate and his stature as chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. His biggest points came not from him, but from his family. Giving heartfelt props to his ailing mother and to his son Beau, Biden showed a little Everyman characteristic that helped make up for his sometimes stumbling speech. Hell, after all, it's no sin if he can fall short on speech giving when he's Obama's number 2.

Oh, and Bill Clinton spoke. He was a rock star--wowed the crowd with a shot of the good ol' Clinton charisma southern comfort, got them on their feet and pumped up for Biden to speak ... and didn't add anything else to the conversation. (Eric S. Peterson)

DNC Protester Profiles: Denver Food Not Bombs

[Democratic National Convention] "It's been a unique experience," says Denver Food Not Bombs organizer Mackenzy Lauren, of the convention in town. "I just hope it never, ever happens again."

Lauren's group normally just distributes simple meals that otherwise would have been thrown away, usually bagels and bananas, twice a week to low-income and homeless in Denver (Salt Lake City has its own Food Not Bombs group, as well). But the Denver FNB chapter has kicked into overdrive since the convention started routing the homeless elsewhere in preparation for the convention--some critics charging they have been swept out of downtown areas.

For Lauren its no allegation. "The homeless have totally been fucked by all of this," she says, of the homeless population's routines and squalid homes destroyed by the city's convention makeover. That's why since the convention started, they've made their operation daily--distributing about 2,000 meals a day since Sunday. "It's really sad that our city has been invaded. I guess its good that the city gets all these tax breaks but its not good for the residents."

Well at least Lauren can relax and know that after the convention quits championing the working class and the poor, Denver's homeless might get back what little normalcy they had before the DNC rolled in. (Eric S. Peterson)

DNC Protester Profiles: Homo-Haters vs. Hippies

[Democratic National Convention] Wandering over to the Denver Civic Center Park it was apparent there was a bit of a showdown going on. One of those great megaphone dialogues where you only really make out staticy retorts like "Jesus hates you" and "hate-preaching asshole!" Yes, my favorite flavor of democracy--pissed off protesters.

While waiting for the anti-green capitalist march to get going, a whole mob of well meaning greasy haired kids were in a pissing match with surly, overwieght homophobes wearing shirts that said "Ask me why you deserve to burn in hell." Makes me grateful that Utah missionaries at least wear a nice shirt and tie, don't carry megaphones and recognize that winning converts probably works best when you don't come right out and say they're going to hell at the first encounter.

Well, the pissing match seemed to be getting nowhere when in a moment of pure hilarity one of the long haired activists took off his shirt, walked over and proclaimed himself as Jesus. Soon the hippie kids were bowing at his feet and asking him to save them from gayness.

Hi-damn-larious. Though in the end I had to agree with the sentiment of one of the 24 cops who had to stand in front of the homophobes to make sure they didn't get their self -righteous asses kicked. "I'm all for expressing yourself," the cop told me. "I just wish they could do it civilly so we don't have to babysit." (Eric S. Peterson)

DNC Nights: Stand and be Counted, Unless You came After NY

[Democratic National Convention] The roll call is the chance for all state delegates who have made the great democratic journey from small town caucus to the convention in the big house to pitch their vote in the selection of a candidate for the leader of the free world.

Tough luck for Utah though, that coming alphabetically after New York they didn't get a chance to proudly declare their 19 Obama and 10 Clinton votes. In a move for unity Hillary stopped the roll call at New York and moved that the counted delegate votes sustain Obama as the nominee.

Oh well, that's not going to put a damper on the experience for Utah delegates like Rep. Phil Riesen, D-Salt Lake City. Throwing in the vote is one thing but not everything. "What I'll take back is the tremendous sense of unity, we came in here with diverse opinions, we all leave here unified as a democratic party, determined to elect a democrat president," Riesen says. "Something desperately needed in this country." Riesen also plans on taking away some of the ideas workshopped about alternative enery policy, including possible tax credits for fuel efficient vehicles, an idea he and other Utah reps are thinking of running for the 2009 session.

Riesen who helped get Obama on the Utah primary ballot in February as his state point person, believes his time as president is coming. While Utah might be a small voice in electing him, Riesen recognizes the growing voice of a democratic western region that Utah is a part of. "As a group we hold some clout, as we should."

Riesen is not the only one with Obama fever. Kathy Snyder from Mendon, Utah has enjoyed the perks of being a delegate. "Where we're at here for some reason, all these dignitaries have to walk right by," jokes Snyder of the convention floor exit right in front of the Utah delegation's seats tucked in the corner of the Pepsi Center floor. Besides spotting celebrities of the political world like Madeline Albright and George McGovern, Snyder got to take part in a panel discussion on progressive democrats in America moderated by John Nichols of The Nation magazine, who happened to swing by and console Kathy for not getting the limelight to cast the Utah delegation's votes.

Snyder, a "born democrat" thinks the party will get the message across about Obama. "We will once again have a president who respects American, and also restore the US position in the world." Snyder is sold, but will the rest of the nation catch the fever? "Oh yes," says Snyder. "It's contagious." (Eric S. Peterson)

Symphonic Shinedown

[Live Music] Their Wednesday concerts across the street from the City Weekly office at the Gallivan Center have been doing just fine with no assist from us or anyone else, but The Blaze 97.5's show tonight is headlined by Florida rockers Shinedown with a little help from ... the Utah Symphony? The Blaze's Big Rog explains:

"This should be a one-of-a-kind performance from Shinedown ... We were able to scrape together a 10-piece string orchestra, featuring members of the Utah Symphony, to play some songs with them. They’ve never done this live before and I’ve never really seen anything like it except on award shows. If we can pull it off, it should be pretty special."

The Blaze 97.5's big turnouts for these shows is somewhat special, too, considering that the station had its longtime frequency 94.9 (what's there now ain't The Blaze, not matter what they imply) yanked from under it and had to scramble to a new number recently--judging by last week's crowd, the switch didn't make a dent.

A little Shinedown, doing a fine cover of Skynyrd's "Simple Man":

(Bill Frost)

Big, Scary Drug Bust!

[The War on Some Drugs] We can all breathe a sigh of relief since the defenders of public order were brave enough to stand up to a "drug operation" in southern Utah.

No, it wasn't a bunch of crazy rednecks manufacturing crank or armed gangsters smuggling heroin across the border. It was a few pot farms.

Still, the D-News breathlessly reported that it "may be one of the largest drug busts in state history" and, predictably, failed to offer a single quote from a grower or legalization advocate.

(Brandon Burt)

Things That Make My Day

... Seeing the Diamond parking lot behind the old Zephyr building (300 South and West Temple) only half full. Used to be jam-packed with City Weekly employees' cars until they raised their rates and sent us packing. Now, we have to walk a half a block farther every day to get to work but it does give us a chance to savor the schadenfreude of Diamond's often vacant lot. [Jerre Wroble]

Dead, uh--air? UPDATE

[Media] Looks like the site is back up again. Swift response!

(Brandon Burt)

Gum Flapping on CNN

[Media and DNC] Raised by a political junkie mother, I have fond memories of watching the Democratic National Convention on TV as a wee one, all in black and white with frequent static, commentator gaffes, and true drama. It was pretty much continuous coverage from 6 p.m. to closing in the '60s and '70s. So you got to hear every rambling speech, arguments over the party platform and even witness some of the histrionics--like delegates yelling at each other and bashing each other over the heads with placards. People smoked cigarettes on the convention floor. Great live stuff--Mad Men with a political agenda.

So here's where we stand today. In spite of 24/7 cable, endless online access and even a full hour or so prime time coverage from the conventional networks, we still get only a sliver of the coverage. Why? Because we have to listen to endless "analysis" by talking heads Wolf Blitzer, Chris Matthews, Campbell Brown and the gang. I was switching last night for three hours from Fox, to MSNBC to CNN and it never ended: The Dems needed to serve up the "red meat" to show McCain they are serious. Hillary had to hit one out of the park. Oh, and we were told--many times--what a kickass speaker the Mountain West's own Brian Schweitzer (Montana's Democratic governor) is. But how would we know for ourselves? Not once did the cameras cut away to let us see/hear him.

So here's the text of Schweitzer's speech. And I wasn't surprised to hear the guy brought the house down last night--I've heard him speak several times. He's a stemwinder speaker, but he's wrong about clean coal being the answer to our energy and environmental woes. Mostly because what he champions would take a shitload of water to accomplish, and we don't have it to spare in the West.

Anyway, it was frustrating for a convention geek like me to see Schweitzer's image on the video screen behind the CNN Gang of Five desk (or whatever the pithy name of their convention team is) and not to hear a word of it.

And yes, I know I could have had it all online in real time, and it's all over YouTube. But I prefer my convention and all the trimmings on the big flat screen in my living room, not on a laptop screen, thanks ever so much.

We have all this great technology but I'd take the old 1964 coverage in a heartbeat. At least it was raw and true and nicely unfiltered. (Holly Mullen)


Dead, uh--air?

[Local Media] Apparently, KRCL has allowed its web domain to lapse. At the moment, is occupied by a generic link farm.

(Brandon Burt)

Hillary and Biggie

[DNC on TV] The best coverage of the Democratic National Convention can be found right here where City Weekly’s man in Denver, Eric Peterson, continues to file thoughtful updates on the goings on. (His dispatch on the Obama camp’s “faith advisor” is a must read: Democrats sitting around thumping a Bible and shouting down pro-choice delegates.)

However, if you feel the urge to tune in and watch the show (it’s made for TV, after all), I highly recommend catching your convention coverage on BET. Last night BET commentators on the convention floor discussed why two days were being turned over to talks from Hillary and Bill Clinton. (“This is Obama’s time. It’s not about Hillary being dissed.”)

The best line of the night: “Obama and Clinton is destroying anything that Biggie and Tupac ever had.” (Ted McDonough)

DNC Hillary Night: Crushing Unity!

[Democratic National Convention] Last night Democrats delivered on Unity…in the party.

In a display of deft politics the Democrats united through spite, against McCain. They were whole once again as speaker after speaker lined up to pound on McCain. Governors, senators and representatives tapped in and out to pummel the presumptive Republican candidate up until Hillary herself made the stage. By the time Hillary entered the ring the straw man effigy of McCain was dazed and stunned after some six hours of punishment. Throughout the madness of the crowd it was almost as if the voice of Mortal Kombat’s Shang Tsung pronounced from on high: “Finish him!”

But before that moment you have to appreciate the blows that rained down upon McCain. Really these blogs are long enough and there would be just no way to repeat all the put-downs. Needless to say, McCain was getting be-bopped and scatted on so many times the whole affair was beginning to resemble a furious barrage of political yo-mama jokes.

“They say the George Bush came into office on third base [after the Clinton years]. Well if that’s the case he then stole 2nd, and McCain cheered him on every step of the way.” –Ohio Governor, Ted Strickland.

Oh snap!

“Well being from Kansas we’re familiar with the term there’s no place like home. But John McCain’s version seems to be ‘there’s no place like home or home or home or home…”-- Kathleen Sebelius, Kansas Governor.

Oh no she didn’t!

“McCain says he’s a maverick. But when you vote 95 percent with Bush this year, that’s not being a maverick, that’s called being a sidekick.”-- Sen. Robert Casey Jr., P.A.


“No way, no how, no McCain,” Clinton said warming her up speech. Moving in a way that was both grateful and sympathetic to her supporters, the party and Obama. Clinton graciously recalled meeting young veterans, a mother without health insurance battling cancer, the pleas of a family one paycheck away from poverty. Invoking these figures Hillary spoke directly to her loyal soldiers.

“Were you in this campaign just for me or were you in it for the young Marine and others like him? Or the mom struggling with cancer? Or that young boy and his mother surviving on minimum wage? Or for all the people in this country who feel invisible?” Clinton asked in complete sincerity and authority.

The Democrats clearly have taken to a classic good cop/ bad cop routine to win over the public and especially disenchanted Clinton voters. On the one hand, distanced from the punchier attacks, Obama will appeal to unity among Americans, highlighting “post-partisan” working class values. On the other, Clinton and others will beseech their wayward party members through an unrelenting attack on the McCain camp as the greater evil to a not-Clinton presidency.

And so after historical comparisons to the women’s suffrage movement Clinton called upon supporters to recognize the historical import of the present.

“Think about your children and grandchildren come Election Day,” Clinton said. “We’ve got to ensure the choice we make this election honors the sacrifices of those who came before us.”

With a speech punctuated by yells of ‘We love you!’ and roaring applause, Clinton beckoned with open arms her followers back into the fold and with a kick to the gut of the McCain campaign.

“It makes sense that George Bush and John McCain will be together next week in the Twin Cities, because these days they’re awfully hard to tell apart,” Hillary said, pulling the head and spine from the metaphorical McCain, to a standing ovation. (Eric S. Peterson)

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Abomination called The Obama Nation

[Politics] Is Barack fighting for us yet?

Frankly, considering the state in which the neocon-infested GOP has left the economy on which we depend--and the nation that I love--there's no goddamn reason any presidential poll should be even close to tied. Surveys should favor Democrats, hands down, in every contest.

There's a great article in the New Yorker (it's brief and highly recommended) describing the opposition Obama is facing from The Borg--particularly that from Jerome Corsi, author of many trashy, ethically void pseudobiographies, including one called The Obama Nation. Apparently for the same reason Corsi's past bullshit books have garnered lots of airtime, his newest smear against Barack Obama seems to be getting some play.

Now, regarding the weird evenness in the polls, anybody who cares to look closely into my wardrobe knows that I do own a tinfoil hat. And, from the standpoint of accessorizing, it goes with everything during years that are divisible by 4. (Political polls are, after all, controlled by corporate overlords adept at employing weird shock-doctrine tactics. And they always freak us out.)

Still, this year is slightly different in that it's easy to locate a concrete, non-paranoid rationale for the Democratic candidate's sudden popularity lapse. It's Obama's Senate vote in support of the unconscionable FISA Amendments Act (FAA), which not only provides immunity for bootlicking telecoms that agreed to spy on American citizens during this protofascist George W. Bush era, but also seriously undermines the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) of 1978.

Now, FISA is a good thing. Surveillance of citizens by despotic U.S. presidents is nothing new. FISA was enacted in response to Richard Nixon's freaky domestic-spying program. It limited government wiretapping and the arbitrary abrogation of citizens' Fourth Amendment rights.

The evil FAA crippled FISA. It said that the phone company is not required to abide by the U.S. Constitution. It made it easier for the government to spy on us for whatever whimsical reason it chooses, therefore normalizing the nosy, un-American policies of the George W. Bush administration. In case you've been wondering why everybody's so afraid these days, it's because of the FAA.

Barack Obama, our agent of change, voted for the FAA--to our surprise--and therefore voted for the continuation of nanny-government Bush policies. That made me a lot less excited about his candidacy. It also brought his poll numbers down to dreary McCain levels.

There's still time for Obama to renew all that hope he's been running on. But time is running out. Obama needs to take a strong stand against these creepy neocon policies which, suddenly, have made our lives a lot less private and much more subject to government intrusion.

Any forceful, symbolic stand will do. He can pick one of Bush's most chilling executive orders, and vow to repeal it once elected. That's what's going to convince me of "change." Yes, I am desperate enough that I'm willing to get back on the bandwagon for a token gesture, as long as it sounds sincere.

Will he make such a gesture? The DNC would be an awfully good time for it.

(Brandon Burt)

DNC Days: The Nuts and Bolts of Obama's Faith Based Initiative

[Democratic National Convention] "Now a lot of you aren't going to want to hear this," warned John Dilulio, the former Director of the Bush administration's Faith Based Initiative "But President Bush deserves enormous credit for getting [faith based initiatives] on the agenda and for keeping them there," Dilulio told the crowd of democrats at the convention's forum on Obama's proposed faith based initiatives.

Dilulio saluted the success of Bush's multi-year, multi-billion dollar faith based successes in providing aid to communities in sub-Saharan African countries. Dilulio while defensive of the previous administration for getting the program going, was one of the original refugees of the Bush administration and was adamantly behind the Obama take on faith based initiatives.

Citing Obama's criteria that his program would not give federal dollars to programs that proselytized, that federal dollars had to support secular programs and that the programs must work Dilulio commented: "All I can say to that is, amen, amen and amen."

Diluli0 thought the Obama initiative could be more broadly applied and with a strong "fiscal reality" principle could make sure programs were effective and that the money would not be crowding out other financial programs that would be more effective.

Dilulio also agreed with other panelists that the most constitutionally sound way to broker this unique kind of private/public partnership was for faith groups to create nonprofit 501c3's with secular purposes, or for that matter interfaith 501c3 groups where common ground amongst religious groups, informed by separate faiths would drive their mission.

The importance and potential of such partnerships was for Dilulio and others a no-brainer.

"You cannot go to north central Philadelphia, south central Los Angeles or New Orleans and not find that faith communities are the ones that are driving and leading the human recovery process," Dilulio said.

Rev. Otis Moss, a black church icon, who was an integral part of the civil rights struggles of the '60s and a potentially strong voice on religion in the Obama administraion, concurred and hoped that faith based initiatives would flourish and expand under Obama. "I think we need to look at how can we engage, interact and access all the departments. of government," Moss said of an exchange that would help educate faith groups about the workings of government, but with a warning.

Moss reminded the crowd that martin Luther King Jr. has described faith groups as being neither the master nor the slave to the state, but the conscience. That standing he warned could be jeopardized if faith based initiatives only drive faith groups to bow to the government for financial support.

"Getting a grant should not be the front side or at the head of the agenda," Moss said. "If getting the grant is the number one agenda, how can you then be the conscience of the state?" (Eric S. Peterson)

DNC Days: The Obama Camp Gets Down and Dirty on that Good ol' time Religion

[Democratic National Convention] I guess it must just have been fate but today was an unusually religious day. It started with hanging around with some evangelical missionaries on a street corner along with about twenty cops armed to the teeth who were escorting some delegates somewhere. Then later on I had rambled to the convention center where an obligatory protester was waving a banner that said a "vote for Obama is a vote for dead babies." With a picture of Obama on one side and an aborted fetus on the other. One of those protests where the plan is to change people's minds by pissing them off. I'm sure it went well.

The image stuck with me though as I sat down for some panel discussion crafted by Josh Dubois a young up and comer in the Obama team who sits as Barack's chief Religious adviser and point person on his faith based initiative program.

The first panel was called "Common Ground on Common Good" sounds nice enough but I always wonder about more progressive faith paradigms. I believe in them but I just don't understand how they'll win over those so upset about the abortion issue.

Well the event started off with moderator Rev. Jim Wallis, evangelical activist and CEO of Sojourners, declaring that value issues were not confined to abortion and gay marriage but include Darfur, immigration, the environment and especially poverty. "My Bible has 2000 verses about [poverty] and that is at the heart of God's heart and that is at the heart of the common good," Wallis said.

So the panelists started going through how poverty, the minimum wage, immigration were all moral issues with scirptural referents. Then a speaker, former congressman and current faith advisor to the Obama campaign Tim Roemer (pictured) spoke about abortion. He spoke calmly and he even started with a wholesome joke about his daughter flubbing the Lord's prayer by finishing it saying "deliver us some eagles" instead of "deliver us from evil." And then he spoke about how Obama would break the gridlock of the abortion issue by a 95:10 program. Use education and prevention resources to prevent 95 percent of abortions in ten years. He was applauded warmly and sat down. Then Dr. Susan Brooks Thistlewaite got up and also started talking about abortion.

The amazing thing is that while Brooks shared the same opinion of Roemer that prevention and strengthening programs like Wic and other resources was the way to go, Brooks came up to the podium with her claws out. It wasn't that she said anything so controversial except "I'm proud to be pro-choice" and "I believe women need lots of choices" but her defiant tone finally set someone off.

A few older men in frustration started shouting from the crowd "What choice did the child have?" And "So it's a convenience to murder a child?" Thistlewaite shot back saying "See this is what's called lacking a common ground." She also said as the men were hustled out of the room, "After we say goodbye to these gentleman I'll continue..."

And the old timers were bounced out of there. When Thistlewaite finished speaking the moderator Wallis said how frustrated he was by a dialogue of shouting. Most everyone there agreed, though to be fair the hecklers weren't the only shouters.

Somehow the whole scene encapsulated the democrats trouble on the issue. They were right, many issues should be considered values or religious issues, including the environment and poverty. But those issues get put on mute when the abortion vitriol starts making people's blood boil. The speaker immeditaly following the incident tried to talk about his church's role in helping ease prisoner's transition back into society. An important topic but one obscured by the tension leftover from the hecklers being kicked out.

I caught up with Roemer after the panel to ask what happened? Why did the same message from two people cause polite applause on the one hand and people getting kicked out on the other?

"What we have seen over the last thirty years is not just a couple people standing up to yell-- the entire political system has been gridlocked and frozen and unable to deal with this issue," Roemer says. "Republicans make this an issue where they win seats instead of reduce abortions.

Obama is talking about how do we break the gridlock and reduce the number of abortions? What conditions in society can be impacted to prevent number of abortions?" says Roemer mentioning better adoption tax breaks and strengthening the Women and Infant Childrens program.

"How do we get beyond the definition republicans have that life begins at conception and ends at birth?" Roemer asks.

Its a position that may have traction and have some oomph to it. But while the message may be effective the Obama camp better make sure they got the right messenger for it. (Eric S. Peterson)

Mad Interview Skillz

[Former Local TV Folk] Anybody remember Fox 13 fluff reporter (fluffer?) Shauna Thomas? She did mornings, pre-Big Buddha, post-Allie MacKay. She moved on to other markets years ago and, apparently, once scored a fascinating interview with actor Peter Gallagher, who was starting work on a little TV show called The O.C.

Behold this hysterical YouTube bastardization ... or was it edited at all?

(Bill Frost)

Local Band Tour Diary: Update 6

[Chaz Prymek Tour] After Chico we headed up for Arcata, we got so close and it turned out the forest was alive and on fire, so we had to turn around and take a 5 hour detour. Thank goodness our schedule isn't as grueling as some bands tend to organize. I say day off every other day. So we took our detour and plowed throught the beautiful and smokey mountains till we hit the coast again. It always feels good to "hit" the coast. Refreshing air, your lungs love you, your eyes love you, your spirit always soars. All good things come from the coast.

We drove through Eureka and finally made it to Arcata. Garrick used to live here, so he was my tour guide, and what a wonderful place it is. A small port-esque town with hippies, super chillers, and bros running amuck. We wandered the town quietly and eventually made our way to the beach to find a good spot to crash, made a small fire and did our best to avoid the local law enforcement.
The morning was a delight to wake up covered in sand next to your best friend on a beach in a town you've never been to, only to be invited in for breakfast from some fellow travelers, Cosmo and Love. We took our sweet time and headed up to the Redwoods. I'd never seen anything like it, I finally truly understood why all those people tie themselves to these things, they are some of the most pure, beautiful, enormously wonderous things I've ever seen. I felt like I was on Endor. It really put me in check as to how insignificant I am as a single being. I'm nothing compared to these trees and the lush life around them. These trees know a wisdom that no human will ever know, but if you listen close enough and are open, they will share it with you.

We got back to town and played at Big Pete's Pizza. It was cool and we got some free pizza. Everyone in Arcata that we ran into was super generous and into the best music. Thanks Arcata. After the show we drove to this spot where we had learned was free camping, met some groovy couple (the parents of Justin Gordon, who is currently on tour with The Avett Bros....woah) and they were so kind. We crashed under a tree to keep us as dry as we could get. With the sounds of the ocean below us, seals around us, the redwoods right behind us, the eclipse just over head, we slept like gods.

We headed up towards Eugene, Or where our next show was. The night was long and we had alot of trouble finding a legit camping spot that wasn't near a creek a creek with names like JumpOff Joe Creek, or Butcher's Knife River, Slathe Lake, I mean, who thought it was a good idea to name it those things. That whole area had the biggest "Deliverance" vibe going on, so we headed further away. We found a spot and were met with the two kindest ex addicts there ever was. They gave us fresh fish, firewood, home-grown veggies, coffee in the morning, and bought a few CDs. What Luck.

Off to Eugene! (Chaz Prymek)

Well, Owl Be

[OwlWatch] Our hearts go out to City Weekly's receptionist Chelsie during this difficult time. According to Chelsie's blog, Laverne the owl has been abducted from her Bountiful roost!

Still, we must keep hope alive: A local photographer spotted Laverne, alive and well, sunning herself at Salt Lake Temple Square. Laverne flew off soon afterward, so everybody please be on the lookout. If you have any Laverne sightings, post them here.

(Brandon Burt)

Dead Zephyr: Week 250

(Bill Frost)

DNC Opening Night Part II: Michelle Obama Knocks it out of the Park

[Democratic National Convention] Michelle Obama owned the Pepsi Convention center last night. She brought personality, power and message with only one crack in the speech to speak of, when it came to tipping the hat to ol' Hillary.

Michelle Obama opened the speech by making it personal, drawing the audience in with the example of her father. A blue collar man who worked hard all his life in a Chicago water filtration plant to put his brother through college. An everyday example of courage who struggled in the last years of his life with multiple sclerosis. “He was our champion. If he was in pain he never let on. Even while struggling to button his own shirt. He would just wake up a littler earlier and work a little harder," Michelle said. "Even struggling with two canes just to cross the room to kiss our mother."

Michelle emphasized that her tradition and Barack’s were working class. It was an important point and worth mentioning that while both she and Barack had educations and opportunities to work in high paying law firms they rededicated themselves to working in low income neighborhoods. for Michelle it meant giving back to her community. For Barack it meant community activism in Chicago neighborhoods devastated by the loss of Steel manufacturing plants.

Their backgrounds may be different to some but their goals and their dreams were common. "All of us driven by the belief that the world as it is just won't do."

This message they hoped to relate to all Americans.

“My piece of the American dream, is made from the same conviction that drives men and women all across this country,” Michelle said. From parents struggling with two jobs to “the military families who say grace each night with an empty seat at the table,” Michelle made the case that her and her husband were part of a larger American family. “Barrack doesn’t care where you’re from, he knows the thread that connects all of us.”

The speech was killer. With only one really tense moment. Some might say it was where she said “that’s why I love this country.” I don’t. You could tell she meant it. The only awkward moment was when speaking of heroes Michelle said, “like Hillary Clinton.”

The moment received immediate, roaring applause. But there was something wrong. Almost imperceptible. It wasn’t insincerity, it was a moment of just tense almost over-focused poise. Michelle knew what was at stake and knew it had to be natural the way she delivered this simple praise. Unfortunately the white knuckle grip she had on trying to confidently and assuredly deliver this praise, effectively choked out any natural delivery.

This moment however was but one crack in a speech that I think should connect with many blue-collar and disenchanted democrats. That is, if they were listening. (Eric S. Peterson)

DNC Opening Night Part I: The Undercard Speakers

[Democratic National Convention] Part of the advantage to not being at the Democratic National Convention here in Denver, is that if you're at home watching, you pretty much just get to see the heavy hitters. Ted Kennedy and Michelle Obama had the Pepsi Convention Center on their feet and chanting. And another speech by 30 year Iowa Republican House member Jim Leach raised the flag for bipartisan support of Obama past being just a cliche in the speeches of others.

Oh and there were others, in reality the three stellar speeches mentioned above were good but in whole barely made up for like the bajillion crappy speeches that opened the convention since it started at 3 in the afternoon.

Most were well meaning, people who used to work with Obama or were followers cured of their political apathy by the influence of Obama. But most speeches were formulaic regurgitations of the same platitude. Slight (and I mean slight) variations on the same message. No politics as usual, change we can believe in, change we need, change we deserve, not four more years of the same.

(New prediction: Guest appearance of David Bowie in all denim singing "Changes")

Then Ted Kennedy spoke. Man I feel like an asshole for my earlier fun poking at the guy. The ailing Kennedy after a touching (and I mean touching, sorry its hard turning off my sarcasm sometimes) video roused the convention with a call for pushing for universal health care. Kennedy's style, even in his fragile state still hearkens the mind to the oratory one imagines you would hear from a classic Roman senator throwing heart and soul into defense of the Republic.

"This is not about just victory, but about renewal of our nation," Kennedy said.

Leach soon after echoed a similar thought. While being a proud conservative, Leach had no qualms in his ringing endorsement of Obama. Calling his campaign a "clarient call for renewal" in the country.

Leach pointed out that the previous administration had not only done under the country but had demolished classic conservative standards. "The party of military responsibility has taken us to war with a country that never attacked us. And the party historically anchored in fiscal restraint has nearly doubled the national debt, squandering our precious resources in an undisciplined and unprecedented effort to finance a war with tax cuts."

Leach was the real deal and made from a conservative standpoint a strong case for Obama, a "transcendant" leader to heal the partisan divide. Noting that historically liberals and conservatives all recognize that "in troubled times, country comes before party."

For the full text of his speech check it out here.

The main act of course was Michelle Obama's speech (see next blog) but for major points Kennedy and Leach made a strong bi-partisan case for Obama to deliver on change without making it a cliche. Their one-two combination should be one the party should work to deliver again and again for a November knockout.

One thing they should definitely not rely on is, the oratory of House Speaker nancy Pelosi. She came in trying to get the crowd into doing a big chanting thing about "McCain is wrong!" Which seemed tacky and ineffectual. Not to mention the fact that the all white (one piece?) suit she wore made her look like she should be the captain of Star Trek Voyager. Oh well, I suppose she could be considered the future of the party. (Eric S. Peterson)

Democratic National Convention: Showdown at the Denver Pepsi Center

[Democratic National Convention] I was trying to figure out what would be the theme of my first ever national convention while riding out in the taxi to downtown Denver. Party unity was apparently the rallying cry for convention organizers, and if it was a meant to be a battle cry for November that’s because party captains knew, that at the moment, it was a cry of pain. McCain had quickly mobilized to capitalize on Hillary supporters who felt jilted by Obama passing her up for veep. A recent gallup poll released yesterday found that almost 30 percent of former Hillary supporters were now supporting McCain, or at least, not Obama. Oh yes, the GOP and the McCain camp had their thumb in the cut and the democrats were indeed crying ‘Unity!” They were shrieking it for godsakes.

But if the GOP has capitalized on the division nationally, here in Denver the showdown is not between democrats calling on republicans everywhere. It is between coastal liberals and the western purple state cowboys. And in the case of my cab driver Anne, cowgirls.

“I had a friend who’s been a democrat for thirty years,” says Anne as we cruise out towards downtown Denver. “He was a Spanish fella, and a big Hillary supporter. Since she lost he’s voting McCain and he’s actively campaigning for McCain.”

The first thing I noticed about Anne was the bizarre assortment of bobble head frog figurines cluttering the dash of her cab. The second thing I noticed about Anne was a good rocky mountain liberal attitude, blue-collar and straight talking. When I told her about the Hillary defectors she figured it was probably closer to fifty percent.

Either way the western democratic showdown was on. The town was readying for a party of unity. To try and get a little healing done and press a united front into November. The party has a candidate with a revolution of “change” hoping to ride him into an historic election victory. But first the party has to show that they understand the soul of blue collar folks.

I couldn’t help but notice tucked in the back of the cab a flyer that read “Obama talks Shop,’ depicting Barack getting his hair cut in a black barber shop. I wondered how many black barber shops there were in Colorado. Certainly some, hell there’s at least a couple in Salt Lake, but still it’s clear that now is the time for the democratic party to start fine tuning the message--its not necessarily a racial thing, but thinking more Western is something the party should be mindful of, especially if they want to keep more of those blue collar Hill-raisers from jumping ship.

So predictions… Things are gonna get folksy real fast. Western and southern democrats are going to get the podium, a lot. The conference opened with a video montage of various Western democrats giving their support in various western backdrops: Colorado Governor Bill Ritter in fly-fishing gear in front of a river, Nevada’s Sen. Majority leader Harry Reid in a ten gallon hat. The message was good, like Colorado congressman Ken Salazar: “We’re mainstream westerners that just want to get the job done.” But the props were a little much.

Still the message can resound especially on class lines. And the class card should be played, and played smartly.

Cue Party treasurer Andrew Tobias at the opening night: “In the last eight years the only kinds of people who have done better off are those with private jets, who can’t even remember how many houses they own.”


My other prediction for democrats going country-- actually my hope is, that god willing, I might spy Ted Kennedy in all denim. Call me a dreamer…

But if I don’t see that I can at least count on Obama cheer leaders like the girls pictured above. Who drove up from Santa Cruz, California bringing their so-cal sex appeal in a station wagon covered in Obama stickers. Five to ten says your not gonna find legs like that at the Republican National Convention. (Eric S. Peterson)

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Immortal Technique: Up Close Review

“Without economic sovereignty there is no political sovereignty”

That was the crux of Immortal Technique’s closing spiel at the emcee’s Thursday afternoon Slowtrain performance and signing. Not your typical hip-hop commentary, but Tech is not your typical hip-hop artist.
A liberal-arts understanding of econ and poli-sci isn’t necessary to appreciate this rabidly independent artist out of Harlem, but it definitely helps. On his most recent release, The Third World, he and his crew, including Rebel Armz, (on hand for opening duties and back-up), tackle geo-political issues like war, famine, and poverty with driving, antagonistic rhymes and martial beats by DJ Green Lantern.
Tech is a left-wing militant, a true-believer armed with a microphone instead of an AK only because of circumstances. If he’d grown up in rural Columbia instead of Manhattan, we’d probably be seeing him on the evening news, masked and brandishing an assault rifle next to a French journalist hostage. I mean that in the best possible way.
The show itself was in concentrated form, with a song each from the afore-mentioned duo Rebel Armz and Diabolic, self-described soldiers in Immortal Technique’s rebel army.
Tech himself took the stage, or rather, the corner of the store, with intense delivery to laptop canned beats, opening with an old favorite, but quickly segueing into a too-small handful of tracks off the new record. The reconstituted nature of the performance was excusable considering the rumors that the crew thought they were just coming in for a signing, with the performance getting slapped together at the last minute. Prepared or not, the entire entourage brought their best once they had their mics, spitting with conviction to the enraptured sub-cultural hodge-podge with the good sense to show up.
Tech is the kind of guy who can actually get away with wearing one of those Che Guevara shirts. He’s not only a performer, but also a self-styled educator and rabble-rouser, so the crowd got a few well-rehearsed but impassioned lessons along with their music on Thursday. I, for one, was convinced. The revolution may not be televised, but I will be able to bob my head to it.
(Rob Tennant)

Friday, August 22, 2008

Bramble vs. Big Pizza

[Blogs] She's an LDS Sunday School teacher who likes board games, pizza and wool socks. She also listens to R.E.M., a Gen-X-era band whose fan base is frankly now on the shady side of 40. But, at 24, she frets that she looks young for her age.

Anna Eagar has become my newest heroine. Her well-written blog Cartoon Brick Wall caused a stir earlier in the week when she published an account of an on-the-job run-in with Sen. Curtis Bramble, R-Provo. Seems that, when Eagar attempted to deliver a pizza to the home of the Senate majority leader, there was some mix-up over preferred methods of payment--upon which Bramble became bizarrely combative, even going so far as to pull a "Don't you know who I am?" diva fit with the bemused pizza-delivery woman.

Until this, Eagar says her blog was read mainly by a few friends and family members. But the Bramble entry proved to be a sensation: The story got some blog action, was picked up in the Daily Herald, discussed by Nightside's Ethan and Alex, and sparked a report on KSL-5.

Now, Eagar's no political operative. There's no way she wrote the blog entry as some kind of anti-Bramble hit piece. She wrote about her feelings, and even tried to withhold Bramble's identity at first. She was bullied by a typically hyper-aggressive Utah legislator, and, understandably, got hurt.

As it turns out, our policy of keeping our state senabots carefully segregated from actual human beings means that, after a few years, the Brambles of the world forget how to simulate human emotions--or even recognize emotions in others. Eagar's story reads as a perceptive account of a really strange encounter. And, I dunno--now that I've read her blog, I just really like her.

Prior to the Bramble incident, Eagar's blog is that of an acutely introspective, intellectually gifted young person. She seems either unaware of or unconcerned with the fact that, outwardly, she is by any standard a striking beauty. But she wastes no time obsessing about fashion or other superficial concerns.

Instead, Eagar prefers to chronicle a rich interior life: her dreams, emotional catharses and spiritual insights. At times, she even achieves the truly revelatory transcendence of a mystic. At other times, she contemplates that sense of profound despair which, by rights, belongs only to exceptionally sensitive young people.

There may have been something transformative about the experience, though. After the incident, Eagar seems to have found a new kind of internal strength and self-awareness: Recognizing an opportunity for personal development, she triumphs upon summoning the assertiveness to kill a spider--or to write a polite letter instructing Bramble how to accomplish his goals like a human being--without humiliating and demoralizing other people.

Eagar's letter contains a lesson that, by now, the senator might do very well to heed.

(Brandon Burt)

Friday Letters Round-Up

(Brandon Burt)

Sore Spot

[Legislature] Leaders of Utah’s Senate are balking at suggestions they want to make it harder for citizens to change laws passed by the Legislature. (The subject of a recent snarky City Weekly commentary.

Recent posts on the The Senate Site the “unofficial voice of the Utah Senate majority”
finds the unofficial voce steamed about the idea GOP leaders would ever consider changing the citizens referendum process--even if citizens did use the law to overturn school vouchers last year.

“We're not inclined to change the law. We feel the current balance is about right -- referendums and initiatives are tough, but doable,” writes the voice. “Any push on our part to change the process is news to us.”

Rep. Steve Urquhart, R-St. George, goes further on his own blog, writing the Deseret News, which reported GOP moves afoot to monkey with citizens referendums, “fabricates more news” and “made up a story.”

We’ll put that down as decided then: No changes to Utah’s referendum law. (Unless, of course, someone wants change the referendum law by referendum.) (Ted McDonough)

An Oddfellows Preview?

[Landmarks on the Move] This is what happened to New York's Peekskill Centennial Firehouse, built in 1890, when workers attempted to move it this week. Crumbled like a cheap cupcake. SLC's Odd Fellows Hall will be on the move soon. Just sayin': Look out below ...

(Bill Frost)

Earthquake Benefit Concert

[Charity] The University of Utah's School of Music and the Utah Symphony are teaming up to put together a unique blend of Eastern and Western traditions in a concert to help benefit victims of the devastating Sichuan earthquake in China.

The concert to be held tomorrow, Saturday August 30 at the Libby Gardner Hall, School of Music from 7:30 -9 pm will help out the Sichuan University's relief fund. The Sichuan university is a sister school with the U through its Confucius Institute and could use the all the help it can get.

The night's performance will vary from Chinese traditional music to Western classic's like "Butterfly Lovers," Mozart's Sonata in D Major. Tickets are only $10 and will go towards a relief fund for the earthquake victims. So go get some culture and do it for a good cause! (Eric S. Peterson)

Drama at the Trib: No "Easy Button"

[Nervous Media Moguls] Over the past five years, MediaNews Group owner and Salt Lake Tribune publisher Dean Singleton has snapped up newspapers like a brown trout leaping for a nymph hatch. Unfortunately, the economy is tanking in tandem with dramatic drops in daily newspaper readership.

So, the guy owns a chain of newspapers and a boatload of debt. And Singleton is nervous.

The following two-page memo (click images for full size) to MediaNews staffs around the country dated Aug. 8, recently found its way to the City Weekly newsroom. But no way is anyone in Denver pushing the panic button. Or the Easy Button. (Holly Mullen)

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Old Polygamists (and the Many, Many Women Who Love Them)

[Science!] Turns out those embattled plygs may be onto a good thing after all: A British study suggests that men with multiple wives live longer than monogamists.

The article suggests a behavioral explanation--they stay alive longer because they have to, with so many children to support. I imagine the kids and wives simply won't let the poor old dude enter senescence and kick off like a normal person.

Still, as we've learned from TV ads about spry octogenarians endlessly waterskiing and canoodling, men are biologically capable of fathering children well past the age when they should probably stop. So, in cultures that have practiced monogamy since prehistoric times, it seems there could be some natural selection at work here, as well: Over the millenia, men who carry genes contributing to longevity have more time to create greater numbers of offspring--but only if they are given access throughout their long, long lives to women of childbearing age.

A man in a monogamous culture, of course, loses that evolutionary opportunity since, once the mother of his children advances past childbearing age, his only opportunities for reproduction are illicit (and, come to think of it, probably life-shortening, if his wife finds out about it).

(Brandon Burt)

Obligatory Drag Queen Pun Here

[Locals on Reality TV] SLC's Keith Bryce was up last week; Wednesday night, he nearly got himself cut from Bravo's Project Runway by sorta-designing a goth pinata outfit for a drag queen. Fortunately, Heidi Klum & Co. kissed off the emotional rollercoaster known as Daniel. Super double-recap action:

(Bill Frost)