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Archives for 11/20/2005 - 11/26/2005

Saturday, November 26, 2005

The Kiss of Death

posted by on November 26 at 1:06 PM

A kiss is just a kiss—unless you have a peanut allergy and your boyfriend just ate a PBJ.

Friday, November 25, 2005

War of the Worlds

posted by on November 25 at 7:47 PM

With our terrestrial war in Iraq going so well, perhaps we can spare a moment to stress out about extraterrestrial war?

Dear Brendan and Annie

posted by on November 25 at 6:04 PM

If you left it up to the public, “Ambrose Bierce” would be spelled “Ambro’s Beers (sp?),” and you’d both be called pointy-headed snobs for either taking exception, or, indeed, for knowing who he was.

Re: Literally Everywhere

posted by on November 25 at 5:01 PM

Dear Annie:

As much as I resent being told whether or not I can ask readers for their opinions, I won’t hog the Slog with my response, but conclude with this definition of grammar, courtesy of Ambrose Bierce:

“A system of pitfalls thoughtfully prepared for the feet for the self-made man, along the path by which he advances to distinction.”

As for you, Ms. Wagner, I will be over to your cubicle shortly with a rolled-up New Yorker and a handful of rubber bands. Choose your weapons.

Re: Literally Everywhere

posted by on November 25 at 4:36 PM

Dear Brendan,

You’re asking the wrong question. According to your formula (which is, of course, academically correct but no use whatsoever in creating or maintaining a style book), we shouldn’t apply to the polis for a verdict; we should merely observe behavior. It is not a question of “What do you prefer?”, but “What do you do?”

This is, as you may have guessed, an argument for s’s. Say a writer had the last name Polis. People would say Polis’s books. This pronunciation conveys information, which people like to do when speaking. Better to be clear, and better to follow usage.

It’s “s’s.” The people have no say, except insofar as they speak.

Because the Pope wears Prada

posted by on November 25 at 4:34 PM

Available at McSweeney’s, just in time for the gift-giving season ($9, includes more than 9 Pope tips!). Believer subscriptions make great gifts, too (hint, hint, my love).

Absurd Questions Heard While Running

posted by on November 25 at 4:32 PM

Most distance runners receive their share of inane and absurd comments and questions while trying to get their endorphin rush on. Some of the more memorable ones hurled at me:

Why are you running? You’re already skinny.
Who’s chasing you?
Spare any change?
Are you a registered Seattle voter?
How’d you like me to suck your dick?

Okay, maybe that last one isn’t so inane or absurd… unfortunately, he wasn’t my type.

But all of those utterances were usurped today. While on my run this morning, I heard a male voice emerge from a crumpled pile of blankets nestled in an entranceway on Harvard near Pike. “Hey, man, gotta cigarette?” it asked. I just kept running, in stunned disbelief.

Re: Literally Everywhere

posted by on November 25 at 3:59 PM

Ah, the contentious s’s construction. It’s been a subject of fierce debate in the Stranger offices lately, with two armies hurling pages of newsprint and invective at one another: “Traditionalist!” “Innovator!” “Illiterate!” “Snob!” It’s literally impossible to get any work done around here.

My interest in grammar is less prescriptive than descriptive. I care more about how people actually talk and write than how they “should” talk and write. Say what you will about Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker (lots of folks hate him), but he summed up the position nicely in his 1994 pop-linguistics book The Language Instinct:

There is no contradiction in saying that every normal person can speak grammatically (in the sense of systematically) and ungrammatically (in the sense of nonprescriptively), just as there is no contradiction in saying that a taxi obeys the laws of physics but breaks the laws of Massachusetts. But this raises a question. Someone, somewhere, must be making decisions about “correct English” for the rest of us. Who? There is no English Language Academy, and this is just as well; the purpose of the French Academy is to amuse journalists from other countries with bitterly argued decisions that the French gaily ignore… The legislators of “correct English,” in fact, are an informal network of copy-editors, dictionary usage panelists, style manual and handbook writers, English teachers, essayists, columnists, and pundits.

Theirs is an assumed authority, dear readers—you, the people, are the true grammarians. No matter how desperately the mavens wish to push back the ocean with a squeegee, they cannot fight the eternal morphological truth: rules, stylebooks, and dictionaries are merely photographs of the ever-shifting linguistic tide.

You are the moon that pushes and pulls our grammatical ocean.

With that purple, populist prologue out of the way, I put the question to each and every one of you:

Do you prefer s’s for singular possessives ending in s? Compare:

Eli Sanders’s bicycle is made of tapioca.
Eli Sanders’ bicycle is made of tapioca.

What do you say, dear polis?

Strangercrombie 2005!

posted by on November 25 at 3:32 PM

So here we are, the day after Thanksgiving, the much-hyped “Black Friday” and “the biggest shopping day of the year”. Whatever you call it, today’s the day American humanity as a whole starts to freak out hard about what to get each other for holiday gifts. Maybe you’re among this freaked-out populace, and are at this very minute considering throwing yourself at some overcrowded mall to battle it out with your frenzied fellow citizens.

Don’t be stupid.

On December 8, all your shopping questions will be answered by the arrival of the 2005 Strangercrombie Gift Catalog, hitting the streets in that week’s issue of The Stranger. Once the catalog has landed, we’ll commence the Strangercrombie Gift Auction, where in you’ll be able to bid on each and every one of the amazing Strangercrombie gift packages through the Stranger website.

For those unfamiliar with Strangercrombie: It started in 2002, when we were obsessed with the soft-porn allure of Abercrombie & Fitch catalogs. Anxious for a reason to photograph hot folks in their underpants, we invented the first Strangercrombie Gift Catalog, featuring the aforementioned hot folks posing with a bevy of thrown-together gift packages, which we decided to auction over eBay and give the profits to local hunger-fighting do-gooders Northwest Harvest. To our great surprise, we raised $6000, and Strangercrombie’s been a growing institution ever since, netting $15K in 2003, and $30K in 2004.

And now we come to 2005, which is sure to bring the biggest Strangercrombie yet. As the stature of the event has grown, so has the quality of the auctioned gifts—where we once auctioned off a videotape of Brad Steinbacher eating a sandwich, we were soon offering such ass-kicking treats as a listening party for your band’s demo with Sub Pop executives and shopping sprees at Butch Blum, not to mention all the ridiculous and hilarious shit without which Strangercrombie wouldn’t be Strangercrombie.

Like I said, this year will bring a feast of amazing auction items (among the already-present highlights: SIFF passes, X Boxes, and chartered rock-star bus trip to the Northwest’s “Sin City”—Portland.) For a full run-down of items, check the Dec. 8 issue, and get ready to start your bidding….

Strangercrombie 2005: Because people don’t shoot you when you shop on your computer.ℱ

Re: Literally Everywhere

posted by on November 25 at 2:45 PM

I’ve been meaning to post a link to this Slate article, written by an editor of the Oxford English Dictionary who defends, in a way, the misuse of the term “literally.”

It turns out there are tons of well-regarded authors who have misused “literally,” and to great effect. That should give some pause to those who would have us all literally bound to the word’s technical definition. More importantly, there are good linguistic arguments for laying off the scorn of those who from time to time use “literally” in a manner that is not precisely consistent with the word’s primary meaning. Some of those reasons in the jump….

(Once this raging debate is settled, maybe we can move on to the more important matter of s’s, a truly wretched construction if there ever was one.)

Continue reading "Re: Literally Everywhere" »

I Love A Wigless Woman

posted by on November 25 at 12:54 PM

I just received this sighting from Hot Tipper Tracy:

I just saw some news footage of a crowd in Florida rushing into the local Walmart to purchase a limited amount of $400 laptop Dell computers. Several people were smooshed, a few guys were beaten up, and my favorite? The large African-American lady who fell to the ground with a few others in the rush—she lost her wig and remained prone her belly on the pavement, with others stepping over her, until she could grab her wig and shove it back on her head.

Dear everyone: If any of you find the above footage online, please let me know. I will not rest until I see that wigless woman! Thank you.

Man Sick of Living on Dicks

posted by on November 25 at 12:49 PM


What He Said…

posted by on November 25 at 12:11 PM

Saw it first on Kos: Michael Kinsley doesn’t stop ripping Dick Cheney new assholes in this op-ed until the VP’s got more assholes than a truck full of cheap hotdogs. Enjoy.

Tertiary Means Third

posted by on November 25 at 11:26 AM

Manohla Dargis’s review of The Libertine, an Earl of Rochester biopic I’m seeing next week, alludes to my very favorite stage of syphilis, which is the nasty, highly literary, quasi-leprous tertiary stage (rarely seen in the modern antibiotic age), in which one’s nose is liable to rot entirely off. What Dargis doesn’t say is whether said character, played by Johnny Depp, is actually seen on screen with this affliction. If he is indeed noseless by the end of the film, that makes two noseless evildoers in the fall movie season (the other being Ralph Fiennes’s Lord Voldemort from Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire). No nose is the new, non-racist hooked nose. Pass it on.

Literally everywhere

posted by on November 25 at 11:16 AM

Devotees of my column (the two or three of you left) may remember a column a couple months back about the word “literally,” which people constantly misuse. The week after that column came out I remember someone who hadn’t read it telling me that he’d just been to a party that was literally a blast.

That still makes me smile.

Anyway, the other day I discovered this website, which tracks “literally” abuses. One reader finds this sentence in William Davis’s Lincoln’s Men, in a section about how Civil War troops regarded Lincoln as a father figure: “In the regiments of the United States Colored Troops, to which he had literally given birth, there was no doubt Lincoln sat at the head of…”

Johnny Swept the Leg

posted by on November 25 at 9:23 AM

Mr. Miyagi (also known as Pat Morita) has passed on.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Heck of a Job

posted by on November 24 at 11:35 PM

Read it and weep.

Former FEMA Director Michael Brown, heavily criticized for his agency’s slow response to Hurricane Katrina, is starting a disaster preparedness consulting firm to help clients avoid the sort of errors that cost him his job.

“If I can help people focus on preparedness, how to be better prepared in their homes and better prepared in their businesses — because that goes straight to the bottom line — then I hope I can help the country in some way,” Brown told the Rocky Mountain News for its Thursday editions.

(emphasis mine)

I don’t even know what to say.

What Am I Thankful For?

posted by on November 24 at 4:52 PM

Well, I’m thankful to have a day off. And I’m thankful for all the chow I’m about to stuff down my throat. And I’m thankful that my boyfriend let met stay home this afternoon instead of forcing me to go see the new Harry Potter movie with him and the kid.

And then I checked my email and found something else to be thankful for: I’m thankful that Eric took the time to write the letter below. It’s not that we don’t get a lot of letters praising the paper and what we do, or try to do, every week. But we rarely run those letters. It’s way more fun to run letters from haters and psychos and Scientologists. But we’re always thankful when we hear from readers who appreciate The Stranger. And in honor of Thanksgiving, and because we’re awfully light on SLOG posts today, and because I can, I’m going to take advantage of the infinite space that the Internet represents and slap Eric’s letter up on the SLOG. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone, and thanks, Eric, for the nice note.

Dear Stranger,

Your paper is excellent.

I looked at the Portland Mercury and that paper is excellent also. This depresses me as I have moved to San Francisco and our weeklies are horrible (other than the Onion, which is available here, but is really a national paper). While I used to look forward to reading The Stranger with coffee and a bagel on Saturday morning (I lived in Olympia and we didn’t get your paper until Friday or Saturday), now I am embarrassed by my current alternative weeklies. I occasionally had gripes with The Stranger and in my head would complain about your paper, now I want to write a letter to you telling you about the reasons I love your paper and miss it. A lot of the letter will compare your paper to the current San Francisco weeklies. I am sure you have seen them, but I want you to see why it is important for you to get a sister paper in San Francisco. Why your paper is so superior and why I want so badly for you to start a San Francisco paper.

The cover: the cover to the Stranger is almost always aesthetically pleasing. And you use local and national artists! I am sure you have seen the average weekly. The covers to my local ones are based on the content. They are always either a horribly ugly cartoon or a dreadful picture of whatever activist or band is featured. The content and budget dictates that the cover is going to suck. Your paper however is smart in striking the balance. A good looking cover that sometimes corresponds to the content and sometimes doesn’t. I appreciate this. Thank you for beautiful and ugly covers.

The amount of content: I remember thinking when I read the Stranger as a paper and not online, that there wasn’t enough content. Now, I feel the opposite. There are 2 features, many columns and reviews and such in every paper. The current San Francisco weeklies have one feature every time and far fewer columns. Thank you for making a paper that will last more than one lunch break.

The content: I remember during the lead-up to the Iraq war that Dan Savage wrote a few articles saying that maybe the Iraq war isn’t such a bad idea if we are honest about why we want to go to war. There were articles that were rebuttals. Dialogue, one would say. This is very refreshing. As a liberal person I know that we tend to live in isolated blocks of reality and that we desperately need other ideas. If you take a look at the San Francisco Bay Guardian, you will understand this as that paper often looses touch. The knee-jerking in the editorial page often turns me off to the extent that I find myself arguing views that I don’t believe just so that I can hear them. I feel that maybe your paper could use some more dialogue but this is your discretion and I think you are doing a good enough job. Thank you for dialogue.

The music coverage: Granted there is a lot of music coverage—sometimes it takes up too much room. But your paper is actually engaging in culture. Finding anything printed with a large distribution that doesn’t sound like it was written by clueless people who only see things when a publicist tells them about it is rare. In San Francisco, there is such an attempt to make sure that everyone is included that there ends up being a hip hop writer, a electronica writer, a rock writer, etc. I never get the sense that the writers themselves love music. I get this in your paper. Also having a paragraph about a lot of the shows around town every week is incredibly simple but so useful. I would read it and get some context for what shows are happening, it makes access to the local music scene so very much easier. Thank you for the great music coverage.

The Stranger Suggests: The events that you suggest actually seem worth going to. It feels like you guys are actually thinking about what is happening that night and what seems like it would be your favorite thing. The equivalent columns in SF are exercises in the most annoying form of P.C. multiculturalism. You can just tell that there is quota system on what they suggest the readership should see. Thank you for suggesting good things to see.

The writing: I always got the feeling that your writers had a voice. Some I didn’t like very much, and others I loved. The important thing, though, was that they seemed like people and one felt that they got to know them as writers. They were not faceless. I suppose facelessness is something that is valued in journalism, but I far prefer it to the way that many of the weeklies that I’ve read are. They so afraid of offending someone that the papers read like Benneton ad. The lesbian article, the hip hop/streets article, the activist article, etc. While I don’t find your paper to be single-minded, I appreciate what I feel is an acceptance of who you and the city are. I walk the streets everyday knowing that I am in a place that is in many ways segregated. There is constant stereotyping, and every form of prejudice. And most of the people of the city are complicit in it. I feel that this is normal in American cities. The weekly papers however put up this front of a rainbow coalition city. It is such a PC version of the city that I don’t even recognize it most of the time. Anyways, your paper seems to avoid that much of the time. I don’t feel like I am in a version of the city with rose-colored glasses where everyone has been thoroughly sterilized from having an opinion that is controversial. Your paper actually engages in the realities of living in the city. I remember the “Appropriate This!” Gay Pride issue, as one example. Thank You.

And finally,

Last Days: This is such a great column, thank you David Schmader for writing it.


Sotelo Challenges… Soundgarden?

posted by on November 24 at 11:00 AM

Washblog continues its stellar coverage of the Lori Sotelo challenge hearings with a recounting of Soundgarden lead guitarist Kim Thayil’s appearance at the Wednesday hearing. It seems Thayil was probably illegally registered to vote at a P.O. box (to protect his privacy as a rock star), but it led to yet another interesting exchange between a challenged voter, the canvassing board, and Sotelo. (Washblog’s permalinks aren’t working so you’ll have to scroll down past the long “Big Brother” post to read this — it’s the post right after.)


Thayil: “I am concerned about people in my situation — people in bands, the entertainment industry, etc. When I was out touring constantly, I didn’t keep any fixed address, but Seattle was always my home. It is also important for me to maintain my privacy and security — and to have a fixed permanent mailing address. A PO Box is the best way to do this.

“Soundgarden was a big band in the late 80s and early to mid 90s. We sold millions of records, appeared on MTV and local television — I personally was a regular on the local comedy show Almost Live — we won Grammys, were on magazine covers, etc. I’m not sure if any of you know anything about Soundgarden…”

At this point Dan Satterberg speaks up: “I’ve bought many of your albums. Unfortunately Mr. Thayil, our current ability to keep voter registrations confidential applies only to victims of domestic violence. It seems as if you either have to not vote, or let everyone know where you sleep at night.”

(Confidential to Dave Meinert: Here’s an issue for you. Looks like Thayil was illegally registered, but also seems like a rock star should be able to protect his privacy, no?)

A ruling on the challenges that were challenged at the recent challenge hearings (try saying that with a mouth full of turkey) is coming Monday. Meanwhile, that petition we linked to yesterday on the Slog is gathering signatures fast. Click here to tell King County Prosecutor Norm Maleng that Sotelo should be charged with perjury.

Support Evolution

posted by on November 24 at 10:00 AM


In even a marginally reasonable country, “Support Evolution” would be as ridiculous a post title as “Support Gravity.”

This, however, is not (currently) a reasonable country.

The American Museum of Natural History in New York recently opened Darwin, an exhibit detailing the naturalist’s contributions to modern science.

The exhibition is funded entirely by private donations, as the museum was unable to secure corporate backing.

An exhibition celebrating the life of Charles Darwin has failed to find a corporate sponsor because American companies are anxious not to take sides in the heated debate between scientists and fundamentalist Christians over the theory of evolution.

The entire $3 million (ÂŁ1.7 million) cost of Darwin, which opened at the American Museum of Natural History in New York yesterday, is instead being borne by wealthy individuals and private charitable donations.

The failure of American companies to back what until recently would have been considered a mainstream educational exhibition reflects the growing influence of fundamentalist Christians, who are among President George W Bush’s most vocal supporters, over all walks of life in the United States.


So far, the museum won’t say which companies declined to participate, for fear of jeopardizing funding for future shows.

If you live in New York or are planning a visit there, please take the time to visit the museum and make a donation. Go every day.

The museum has also published a special issue of their magazine, Natural History to compliment the exhibit. You can read excerpts, including Richard Dawkins’s excellent introduction, here.

The exhibit runs through May 29.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Woe to The Source, Yo

posted by on November 23 at 5:06 PM

Village Voice has a lengthy story detailing hiphop magazine The Source’s legal woes, frequent accusations of sexism among staffers, declining circulation and ad revenue, and misguided editorial decisions (mostly made by co-owner/rapper/Eminem-hater Benzino). Even if you’re not a huge fan of mainstream hiphop, the piece is a fascinating and disgusting portrayal of a tastemaker publication that seems to be on the ropes.

Bouncers Bash Back!

posted by on November 23 at 3:45 PM

Following yesterday’s wave of indignation directed at those who bounce for a living, today brings a crie de couer from an actual bouncer.

The writer had originally posted it in the I, Anonymous forum, where it didn’t quite fit, so I’ve transferred it here below for your reading pleasure.

Continue reading "Bouncers Bash Back!" »

It’s probably too late for Thanksgiving

posted by on November 23 at 2:25 PM

…but I just saw one of these amazing creations being delivered. Next time you skip out on your family’s holiday get-together, assuage your usual guilt by sending a delicious fruit centerpiece (with fudge fondue sauce) in your place.

Petition to Prosecute Lori Sotelo

posted by on November 23 at 1:00 PM

Just in time for the holidays, a group of voters has started an online petition urging King County Prosecutor Norm Maleng to charge Lori Sotelo with perjury.

Sotelo, you may recall, is the King County Republican leader who, days before the recent election, challenged the voting rights of almost 2,000 local voters, claiming “under penalty of perjury” that she knew they were illegally registered. She’s had to retract more than 150 of those challenges so far, due to the fact that she was wrong in issuing them, and that’s led to the calls for her to be prosecuted for perjury. So far, Maleng’s office has not said what it will do about the numerous requests that he take legal action against Sotelo.

To add your name to the petition urging Maleng to do something, click here.

UPDATE: WashBlog has some very fun reporting from a recent challenge hearing, where Ms. Sotelo was grilled by an attorney for the Democrats, confronted by a voter wearing his Purple Heart award, and apparently advised by her attorney not to answer a number of important questions. An official ruling on all the contested challenges is set for this coming Monday, Nov. 28.

Also see: Here and here.

The New Map

posted by on November 23 at 12:15 PM

Everyone at The Stranger was obsessed with those Red State/Blue State maps that were everywhere after George W. Bush managed to get his lying ass re-elected. The maps showed a lot red states—the South and the West—and fewer blue—the coasts and the Midwest. But as we pointed out in our Urban Archipelago issue, there’s really no such thing as a blue state, just big, blue cities. Some cities were so big and so blue, however, that they tipped the states they were in into the blue-state column.

Bearing that in mind, check out this map that went up on DailyKos last night. It uses red and blue to illustrate Bush’s approval ratings. Red means a state approves of Bush, blue means a state disapproves—the darker the shade, the more strongly voters approve or disapprove.


It seems the whole country has gone blue. I don’t think, though, that the “big, blue city” phenomenon can explain away this map. I don’t just think it’s people in cities who have turned on Bush. There aren’t any big cities in some of the states on this map—not cities big enough to flip a state into the blue column, at least. I mean, Kentucky? South Carolina? Arkansas?

It seems that rural and exurban voters have finally realized—a little late, but finally—what urban voters knew about George W. Bush all along: the man is a dangerous idiot.

Clean Phones, Leaked Documents

posted by on November 23 at 11:50 AM

Tequila-Tropolis at MĂ©xico Cantina in Pacific Place was disappointing. Three tall towers of stacked tequila bottles, laced with Christmas lights and poinsettias—a feat of balance but not aesthetics. Sorry for recommending it.

On my way down to the mall, I saw a man washing the public telephones. I was happily surprised that anybody washes a public anything, and told him so.

“Yeah,” he said, rolling his eyes. “Amazing.”
When I asked how often each phone gets bathed, he turned around and walked away.

In obviously less important news: The British media blackout continues on the memo that allegedly reveals Tony Blair talking George W. Bush out of bombing Al Jazeera’s headquarters last April. From Reuters:

Britain has warned media organizations they are breaking the law if they publish details of a leaked document said to show U.S. President George W. Bush wanted to bomb Arabic television station Al Jazeera. The government’s top lawyer warned editors in a note after the Daily Mirror newspaper reported on Monday that a secret British government memo said British Prime Minister Tony Blair had talked Bush out of bombing the broadcaster in April last year.

So British papers are afraid of legal action—sounds like a perfect job for The Internet. Hey Daily Mirror! Kick that dangerous memo our way for posting. We’ll give you credit—that way you can break the story, via us, and stay out of jail. Deal?

Get Your Spazz On

posted by on November 23 at 11:33 AM

Tonight brings another installment of Spazz 360, Rebar’s ridiculously goofy dance contest, hosted by MC Honky Honk and DJ Freddy King of Pants, and featuring the spinning skills of MC Queen Lucky. If you’re a freak who likes to shake your shit in public—go. If you’re a freak who likes to gawk at freaks who like to shake their shit in public—go. (Doors at 9 pm, $3 for competing dancers, $5 for chickens and gawkers.)

The Holidays Take a Bizarre Twist

posted by on November 23 at 11:07 AM

Hilly Kristal, best known as the owner of legendary NY rock club CBGB, is doing his part to contribute to the country’s collective Christmas cheer. He’s releasing a new version of his song “Mud Christmas,” “in which a barnyard pig sings the praises of said wet dirt, over hardcore disco-house.” You have to hear it to believe it.

Walking to 100th Ave N (or, Where to find the world’s best fish sand)

posted by on November 23 at 10:37 AM

On Monday after work I walked from Capitol Hill to 100th Avenue North and Aurora. I stopped once, on Westlake Ave, to pee against Queen Anne Hill. The entire walk took me slightly over two hours. I noted: a full can of white house paint, thrown onto the sidewalk and abandoned, its still-wet contents spreading across the sidewalk and a patch of grass and into the street (48th and Aurora); a colossal gray spider on the march (the sidewalk between 70th and 71st); a PCC grocery store with five banners outside reading “LOCAL,” “FRESH,” “COMMUNITY,” “NATURAL,” and “ORGANIC” [which of those words is not like the other?] and, across the street, an even larger sign reading, simply, “GUNS” (near 75th); a business called Rhino Linings advertising “The Sprayed-On Bed Liner” (near 83rd); and a Burgermaster publicizing, on a lighted sign, “WORLD’S BEST FISH SAND. HERE” (at 100th).

Plus, lots of motels. I was not mugged or raped.

Victory at Last!

posted by on November 23 at 9:58 AM

John Kerry has won an election.

re: Some Sad News For Roots Music Fans

posted by on November 23 at 9:49 AM

Here is the official statement on the death of musician Chris Whitley, who died at the young age of 45.

Singer/songwriter and guitarist Chris Whitley passed away of lung cancer on Sunday, Nov. 20, in Houston, Texas, at age 45.

Chris is survived by his daughter, Trixie Whitley, 18, of Belgium, whose voice could occasionally be heard in the background of Chris’s records over the years, as well as on stage with him. He is also survived by his brother, singer/guitarist Daniel Whitley (who contributed guitar to several of Chris’s albums); his sister, Bridget Whitley Anderson, of Vermont; his ex-wife, HĂ©lĆčne Gevaert, of Belgium; and his father, Jerry Whitley, of New Jersey.

Continue reading "re: Some Sad News For Roots Music Fans" »


posted by on November 23 at 7:00 AM

I was interviewed last night by John Moe for The Works, a show on Seattle’s NPR station, KUOW. The interview was about The Stranger, what we think we’re doing, where we get off, why we do shit the way we do it. You can listen to the interview here, if you care to.

I need to correct one thing I said last night: The Stranger is not 100% locally owned. You could say I misunderestimated outside ownership. The Stranger is “majority locally owned,” the publisher called to remind me—you could even say the vast majority of the paper is locally owned. You could say we’re locally owned by a landslide, and that we have a locally owned mandate. But a small chunk of the paper is owned by the group of folks who own the Chicago Reader. One of the owners of The Chicago Reader actually lives in Seattle, so you could say that a small chunk of the small chunk of the Stranger that the Reader owns is locally owned as well.

Just wanted to clear that up.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Eli Sanders’s Hard Drive

posted by on November 22 at 10:21 PM

1. Note the s-apostrophe-s construction, Strangers. It’s good enough for the paper of record, and it’s damn sure good enough for a gaggle of hashish-addled amateur pornographers posing as journalists.

2. My personal secretary informs me that I was out cold for more than a day after conducting only the most preliminary investigation of Mr. Sanders’s collection of—shall we say—”extraordinarily specialized” pornography. Though he claimed to have amassed this eye-popping array of nauseating (and nauseated) matter for the sole purpose of writing the Tortured Logic piece in last week’s paper, this office has been unable to reach any definitive conclusion about the source of said materials. In all candor, this office couldn’t even figure out how to open the video files. It’s just as well; legal or illegal, merely imagining the kind of pornography described in Sanders’s story ought to be a firing offense. No, what really knocked me out was the folder marked “EYES ONLY,” which turned out to be full of Lance Armstrong images—muscles straining against spandex shorts, teeth shining behind widespread lips, arms stretched around a Sheryl Crow-shaped gap (apparently, some Photoshop artisan had removed all traces of women from the photos). There was nothing strictly graphic, but the entire cache was utterly disgusting nonetheless. Alas, a quick call to my last remaining friend at DOJ made it clear to me that I had no genuine cause of action against Sanders, or against The Stranger as an institution. Make no mistake, however, you haven’t heard the last of this matter. Not by a long shot.

3. As for the story proper, when my secretary finally told me the gist of what Sanders had written, I found it utterly repugnant. I may not know much about pornography (in my day, “BDSM” stood for “Balding, Divorced, Some Money”), but brother, I’ve bunked everywhere from Camp Harmony to the Hanoi Hilton, and I know a thing or two about torture. There’s nothing sexy about torture. Romantic, yes. Sexy, never.

Once again, everyone involved should be ashamed, but especially Mr. Sanders. Lance Armstrong is an American hero.


X Vice President

posted by on November 22 at 6:55 PM

CNN is sending good subliminal messages to the American public.

Nothing says holiday like….

posted by on November 22 at 4:16 PM

…getting wasted at a Stranger party, am I right? Celebrate the tinsel-strewn crossroads of Christmas, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, Solstice, grabbing Santa’s sack, and singing along with Dina Martina on Friday, December 16th when the Stranger hosts a Holiday Blowout at the Showbox. But wait, there’s more! There’ll be live performances from Wheedle’s Groove, Band of Horses, Fruit Bats, and Common Market. And, and, and, it’s the celebration of our Strangercrombie holiday catalog benefiting the homeless at NW Harvest. All this and it’s only five bucks for entry ($7 at the door), it’s sponsored by Miller High Life, and there’ll be cheap drink specials for all. Merry musical holidays!

Proof: Every Asshole Has a Fanclub

posted by on November 22 at 4:13 PM

Not content to simply send in his smug musings every week for inclusion in the Table of Contents, Stranger Ombudsman A. Birch Steen has now taken to regularly reminding us Stranger writers that he has a fan site. Whatever.

Meanwhile, Birch, I’m still awaiting the results of the “internal investigation” you launched into my reporting on that recent hardcore porn story. Remember when you stopped by my desk and demanded a copy of Max Hardcore Golden Guzzlers #5 and Max Hardcore Golden Guzzlers #6 so you could “check my reporting.” Remember how you said, “This will only take fifteen minutes”? It’s been more than a week, Birch…

The Devil Wears Prada

posted by on November 22 at 3:32 PM

Picked this item up via Andrew Sullivan. Andrew didn’t make the obvious “Devil Wears Prada” joke, so I’m picking up the slack…

Pope Benedict XVI is developing a reputation as a clotheshorse with his taste for Prada shoes and designer sunglasses…. The Tablet, a Roman Catholic newspaper in England, points to the new pope’s expensive sunglasses, which Vatican officials say were a present. He has also been spotted in baseball caps and red shoes from Prada.

Surrender Saint Dorothy…

Who Knew?

posted by on November 22 at 2:48 PM

I had no idea that David Hasselhoff was a Christian.

Bush Wanted to Bomb Al-Jazeera

posted by on November 22 at 1:56 PM


Via the AP

A civil servant has been charged under Britain’s Official Secrets Act for allegedly leaking a government memo that a newspaper said Tuesday suggested that Prime Minister Tony Blair persuaded President Bush not to bomb the Arab satellite station Al-Jazeera.

The Daily Mirror reported that Bush spoke of targeting Al-Jazeera’s headquarters in Doha, Qatar, when he met Blair at the White House on April 16, 2004. The Bush administration has regularly accused Al-Jazeera of being nothing more than a mouthpiece for anti-American sentiments.

In a surprise move, White House spokesmonkey Scott McClellan pronounced the accusations “outlandish” and “inconceivable.”

Easy there, Scott. With this maniac in the White House, nothing is inconceivable. Could he possibly have thought that bombing the headquarters of the only Arabic news channel—in Qatar, an ally—would have helped his cause in the Middle East? The man is off his freakin’ nut. Way to stand up for American ideals, there, Mr. President.


Of Pardons and Turkeys

posted by on November 22 at 1:30 PM

President Bush today pardoned two Thanksgiving turkeys, in an annual ritual that gave the Democrats an opportunity to suggest a turkey who should not be pardoned this holiday season.


Every Thanksgiving the president pardons a turkey. But this year George Bush may try to use the holiday to slip in another pardon — of his friend and former senior aide I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, who was indicted for perjury, obstruction of justice and making false statements.

Conservatives around Washington are buzzing with rumors that George Bush will regain control of his lame-duck presidency by ending the investigation into manipulated intelligence on Iraq and the subsequent cover-up with pardons for anyone involved.

Show that you are watching — let George Bush know he can’t get away with pardoning this turkey over the Thanksgiving holiday.

Re: RIP Club Medusa

posted by on November 22 at 1:19 PM

…so if you got your shiny shirt on, your gelmet’s lookin right, those puka shells a-gleamin, and a pocket full of roofies, you’re gonna haveta just take it back to P Squizzy.

“Bouncers Are The New Polacks”

posted by on November 22 at 1:09 PM

A local bouncer seems to have invoked the wrath of at least two I, Anonymous writers (see “Bouncers Are Turds” and “Hear hear, bouncers are turds!”).

Then came a third post, positing the sentiment found in my subject line, illuminated with this joke:

Q: How many bouncers does it take to screw in a light bulb?

A: That’s it, dude, you’re out of here!

(bouncers are the new polacks of this millenium, pass it on…)

re: It’s My #1 Grammatical Pet Peeve

posted by on November 22 at 12:56 PM

I considered adding “[sic]” to that, but I figured it was in poor taste to mock a business in its death throes.

It’s My #1 Grammatical Pet Peeve

posted by on November 22 at 12:18 PM

From Amy Kate’s recent post:

Club Medusa is closing it’s doors for good. It’s [Saturday, Nov 26] your last time to party at one of Seattle’s most Legendary spots.

More often than not, the possessive its is rendered with an apostrophe, even by intelligent people who should know better. If you haven’t noticed by now, this sort of thing drives me crazy. Do American schools no longer teach this distinction? As Dubya memorably asked, “Is our children learning?” [sic]

RIP Club Medusa

posted by on November 22 at 11:49 AM

This just in:

Club Medusa is closing it’s doors for good. It’s [Saturday, Nov 26] your last time to party at one of Seattle’s most Legendary spots.

Mannequin Sex Spot

posted by on November 22 at 11:49 AM

Allen Johnson, having noticed our discussion on the Slog yesterday of his recent solo show and his past mannequin sex, writes to answer one burning question: Where in Seattle did it happen?

Eli -

The department store where I jerked off on the mannequin’s face was Frederick & Nelson.

I will avoid the Dakotas.



Cheers to you too, Allen. Thanks for clearing that up. And here’s hoping that if Washington laws are similar to laws in the Dakotas, the statute of limitations here has at least expired in your case.

re: More Sex Crimes

posted by on November 22 at 11:04 AM

I especially appreciate her necklace.

On an unrelated note, our world-class receptionist, Nipper, is here in the copy depo enjoying Megan’s latest Martha Stewart-brand cookies (iced gingerbreads). We wonder, should Nipper be allowed to post to Slog? Vote here.

Prison Painkiller Bonanza

posted by on November 22 at 10:53 AM

According to this KIRO TV investigation, Washington State prisons are home to an “out-of-control drug distribution system,” wherein inmates are routinely given serious narcotics for the tiniest of complaints—i.e. morphine for a stubbed toe—with the general sense being that a stoned inmate is a happy inmate. Full story here.

Situational homosexuality and irresponsibly prescribed painkillers? This jail place is starting to sound like heaven. Maybe it’s time for me to do a really lousy job robbing a bank…

Seattle Label in the NYT

posted by on November 22 at 10:52 AM

The New York Times ran a good little article on “other world” label Sublime Frequencies, a Seattle operation turning the concept of world music into something less NPR and more avant-garde.

More Sex Crimes

posted by on November 22 at 10:47 AM

What that poor young man in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, needed was a teacher like this:


The pretty teacher is facing the judgment of the law for having sex on several occasions with a 14-year-old student.

Bin Laden’s Alchemy Pt. 2

posted by on November 22 at 10:45 AM

From this morning’s AP:

“Those who advocate a sudden withdrawal from Iraq should answer a few simple questions,” Cheney said, such as whether the United States would be “better off or worse off” with terrorist leaders such as Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, Osama bin Laden or Ayman al-Zawahiri in control of Iraq.

Those who advocated a preemptive war in Iraq should answer a simple question too, Mr. Vice President: Why, after completing our “mission accomplished” goal of ousting Saddam Hussein (which was evidently your #1 priority in the War on Terrorism) is Osama bin Laden poised to take over Iraq?

M.I.A. Goes Pop

posted by on November 22 at 10:36 AM

A critic at our sister paper, The Portland Mercury, has this to say about the commercialization of M.I.A..

Some sad news for roots music fans

posted by on November 22 at 10:00 AM

Texas singer-songwriter Chris Whitley (coincidentally, one of the first recording artists I ever reviewed, during his brief tenure at Columbia Records) has died at 45 of lung cancer.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Gary Glitter May Face Death By Firing Squad

posted by on November 21 at 4:33 PM

Uh, yeah, you read that right.

Should the former singing sensation and eternal stadium-anthemeer be found guilty of sleeping with a 12-year-old girl in Vietnam, he faces a maximum penalty of death by firing squad. Full story here.

Re: We’re All Sex Offenders Now, and Re: Allen Johnson

posted by on November 21 at 4:02 PM

In the Allen Johnson solo show that Dave Schmader posted about earlier today, Mr. Johnson recounts performing a sex act with a mannequin in the back room of a now-defunct Seattle department store — exactly the type of mannequin sex that is apparently illegal in South Dakota, as Dan Savage notes below.

The friends with whom I saw the Allen Johnson show were all trying to figure out which defunct Seattle department store the mannequin sex might have occured in, but none of us thought Johnson should be registered as a sex offender.

(Confidential to Allen Johnson: If your show goes to South Dakota, plead the fifth.)

What Part of the Weird Device Biting Into Your Wang Don’t You Understand?

posted by on November 21 at 4:00 PM

I don’t know exactly how it happened, but somehow I missed June’s BBC report about South Africa’s controversial “rape trap”—a tampon-sized device to be inserted by women that attaches itself to a rapist’s penis and can only be removed via surgery.

According to the trap’s (female) inventor Sonette Ehlers, the tool will aid in the prosecution of South Africa’s rapists, of which there are a whopping 1.5 million each year.

According to critics, the device is a barbaric horror that tortures men and adapts women to rape.

Key final ‘graphs of the report:

Ms Ehlers’s critics argue that it would be better to educate men not to rape in the first place, rather than just to catch them after the deed. But the inventor insisted: “I’m not an educator - I will go for those they can’t educate.

also at Pacific Place

posted by on November 21 at 3:51 PM

As intriguing to me as the tequila tree is the new White House|Black Market women’s clothier at Pacific Place. The shtick is that they only sell things that are black or white (or black and white). I would like to see more of this kind of extreme and arbitrary organization in the retail world.

My mom is cooler than your mom

posted by on November 21 at 3:42 PM

Philip Schuth of La Crosse, WI, was sentenced today to 7 years in prison for attempted homicide, reckless endangerment and concealment of a corpse after police removed the body of his dead mom from his freezer.

The AP reports that police were summoned after Schuth fired shots at a couple and their 10-year-old son, Josh. The couple had come to confront Schuth about smacking Josh on the side of the head. Josh had been fucking with Schuth’s front steps.

10-year-olds are such punks.

During the ensuing 14-hour police standoff, Schuth kinda admitted to keeping his mother preserved in his basement freezer for five years (she died of natural causes in 2000).

Schuth has said he fantasized about being married to “Alias” star Jennifer Garner. At his sentencing, he said: “I apologize to Jennifer Garner and her pool boy Ben Affleck for involving them in my fantasies.”
I don’t doubt that Philip Schuth was a bit of a walking freak show, but if you’ve got the time, the La Crosse tribune makes him seem….well, not any more normal, but more lovable somehow.


posted by on November 21 at 3:16 PM

Today’s New York Times has an article that will be of interest to those who, like many Stranger editorial staffers, have an unhealthy interest in Scrabble.

Good stuff: An adjudicator from England explains the meaning of several winning words, including one defined as “the plural of a word meaning an arm of the sea with strong currents.”

Bad stuff: You can’t actually pick up any hints from the article, since it’s about the world championships, where words from both the OSPD (Official Scrabble Players Dictionary, used here) and OSW (Official Scrabble Words, used in England) count. You can’t play “qi,” for example, in any local living rooms. Damn the Chambers Dictionary.

We’re All Sex Offenders Now

posted by on November 21 at 3:06 PM

So a teenager in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, got busted trying to fuck a female mannequin. Since he’s 18, the poor motherfuckers name is in the stories that are being written up about his “crime.”

Security guards found Michael Plentyhorse, 18, sprawled with the dummy on the floor with his trousers and underpants down. Police spokesman Loren McManus said: “There was inappropriate activity between him and the mannequin. That’s the only way I know how to put it.”

Okay, so that sucks. So Michael is 18, he’s horny, and he’s trapped in the shithole that is Sioux Falls, South Dakota. (I know it’s a shithole—I spent some time there last summer, which I wrote about in my dumb new book.) Maybe he can’t find a girlfriend, maybe he can’t afford one of the Sioux Falls’ high-priced hookers, so he… makes do and gets busted humping the next best thing. Arrested, humiliated—gee, I think he’s suffered enough, don’t you? Well, not the authorities in Sioux Falls.

If convicted, Plentyhorse may be registered as a sex offender. Hope Matchan, of the prosecutors’ department, said: “People say it’s relatively harmless. But I certainly would want to know if this person was my neighbor.”

There’s another sexual witch-hunt gathering steam in the United States today, one that will soon eclipse the recovered memory/satanic sexual abuse scandals of the 1980s. We’re passing laws that are making it increasingly difficult for registered sex offenders to live anywhere at all. Soon the entire state of Iowa will be off-limits to sex offenders. And, hey, who wants a sex offender living next door? Not me. But at the same time that we’re making it impossible for sex offenders to live anywhere we’re also stretching the definition of “sex offender” so that includes people who haven’t really hurt anyone. Michael Plentyhorse—gotta love that last name—didn’t rape anyone. Who did Michael hurt? His crime wasn’t a sex crime, it was property crime. That wasn’t his mannequin to hump, so he had no right to hump it. But if Michael wants to hump mannequins it’s nobody’s business but his.

There’s an understandable fear of habitual sex offenders—there have been many high-profile murders tied to repeat sex offenders. They should be locked up, they should be watched. There are probably neighborhoods in which they shouldn’t be allowed to live. But forcing people like Michael, or teenagers who’ve had romantic relationships with other teenagers who are a little shy of legal, to have to register as sex offenders for the rest of their lives is insane and outrageous.

What Michael Plentyhorse did was offensive. But that doesn’t make him a sex offender. And if, as Hope Matchan states, the neighbors have a right to know when they’re living next door to someone who’s just kinky, well, we’re all in a lot of trouble.

Fungus Among Us

posted by on November 21 at 2:31 PM

An article in yesterday’s Seattle Times by Dru Sefton held this disturbing information about your pillow:

It may contain more than 1 million spores of as many as 16 types of fungus.

If you open up an older pillow, it’s a cesspool of mold, mildew, fungus, dust mites, and mite feces, according to a bedding expert.

It was also noted that the perfect conditions for the fungus are created by the 20 GALLONS of sweat we put into our beds each year.


Mixed News for Mixed Use

posted by on November 21 at 2:19 PM

The Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Project has mostly good news on trends in downtown residential density. Between 1990 and 2000, the population of people living downtown increased 10.4 percent: a major jump after 20 years of outmigration - fueled by so-called white flight - from inner cities to outlying suburbs. (Between 1970 and 1980, for example, downtown populations showed exactly the opposite trend, declining by 10.4 percent.)

Of the 45 cities surveyed, Seattle’s downtown population grew the fastest during the 1990s (77%), and was second only to Norfolk, VA in overall growth between 1970 and 2000 (86%).

The demographics of those new downtown residential neighborhoods, however, are hardly representative of the cities to which they belong. Between 1970 and 2000, the number of families living downtown nationwide decreased 18 percent, with 71 percent of downtown households composed of single residents. (In Seattle, that disparity is even greater: Just 17 percent of downtown residents are families.) The number of families with children, meanwhile, dropped by 27 percent. In contrast, families comprised nearly 60 percent of overall urban populations. This is bad news if you believe, as Seattle City Council member Peter Steinbreuck does, that downtown Seattle will never be truly livable unless it draws a diverse mix of residents, including families.


posted by on November 21 at 2:00 PM

The entertainment masterminds at Pacific Place’s MĂ©xico Cantina are on programming overdrive. Last week, it was the Miss Teen Washington USA 2005 Contestant Fashion show (mentioned in this week’s Theater News column).

But tonight, the MĂ©xico Cantina takes away the sins of the world with Tequila-Tropolis, a Christmas village built from 1,000 tequila bottles. Head to the MĂ©xico, have a few drinks, and at 6:30, you and the Tequila-Tropolis will be lit together. Altering a single letter of their press release would destroy its charm—permit me to quote in full:

“After 85 hours of work Tequila-Tropolis A Christmas Village built with 1000 tequila bottles is ready to be light up. Here is the list of material and decorations used for the creation of Tequila Tropolis.

1000 Herradura tequila bottles
1400 lights (white)
925 grapes (Green, Red, White))
350 poinsettias (red)
100 mini ornaments (Gold, Red)
50 mini Snow flakes
24 Ice sickles (Crystal, Blue, Green, Red, Silver)
7 Candles
A Tree top glass ornament by Christopher Radko
1 Winterwonder Land Train
Rudolp the Red Noised Reindeer
215 Glue gun sticks”

Hooray for Tequila-Tropolis!

My interview with the New Yorker’s fiction editor

posted by on November 21 at 12:36 PM

Last week I did a long interview with Deborah Treisman, the fiction editor of the New Yorker, which should be interesting to just about anyone who writes fiction (the magazine is the most prominent place in the country to publish stories, and Treisman talks about how they choose the stories they choose, whether she prefers certain kinds of stories over others, how she felt when a story of hers was rejected when she was 11, the magazine’s “voice,” the ratio of male to female writers who submit to the magazine, international writers, gay writers, the magazine’s infamous editing process, the Atlantic’s recent decision to ax short stories on a monthly basis) as well as anyone who reads the New Yorker and wonders, for example, why they recently chose to publish a short story set into motion by a guy who almost gets hit by a beer bottle but doesn’t.

The interview was going to be the basis for a column by me in the paper that comes out on Wednesday, but as there is no room for a column by me in the paper that comes out on Wednesday, the whole interview is posted here for you to read and enjoy.

And while you’re at it, the story in this week’s New Yorker, by Aleksander Hemon, is fucking spectacular.

re: Unsolved Mystery

posted by on November 21 at 12:23 PM

I did a second-grade science-fair project on this phenomenon. It’s an after-image-type optical illusion. Here’s what I remember about it: When you stare at the pink dots, the cells on your retina that respond to pink start to get tired and then fire less. Then, when a pink dot is removed, your eyes deceive you and you think you see pink’s complementary color, light green, in its place. Because the cells that report the presence of pink also report the absence of green simultaneously, your brain misinterprets the decrease in activity in your fatigued pink-receptor cells as the presence of green.

You can create the effect by staring at something brightly-colored like a Post-it or a highlighter for 30 seconds and then switching your gaze to a white sheet of paper. You should see the same shape in the opposite color. Fun! Get back to work.

Pint-sized Motormouth

posted by on November 21 at 12:19 PM

Freshly signed to Jay-Z’s Def Jam Left (also new home to the Roots), 19-year-old British grime MC Lady Sovereign is 5 foot 1 like Iggy Pop, and almost as cocky. She’s also poised to blow up next year. Her brief teaser of an EP, Vertically Challenged (on Chicago indie Chocolate Industries), is out this week and it’s full of catchy, dynamic electro-funk marked by grime’s trademark Richter-Scale bass blurges and liberal smatterings of video-game FX. Sov projects a playfully mischievous persona and possesses a passel of tart putdowns. She’s a more adept rapper than M.I.A. and cuter than Dizzee Rascal, plus she has Jay-Z’s clout behind her, so her forthcoming album looks likely to make a serious impact on the pop landscape. Prepare to be thoroughly sick of her by this time next year.

Unsolved Mystery

posted by on November 21 at 12:08 PM

How does this work exactly?

Get Your Mayor Gridlock T-Shirts!

posted by on November 21 at 11:51 AM


They’re just $10 and they’re going fast. Email to order a shirt.

Re: Photo Caption Contest

posted by on November 21 at 11:23 AM

Here’s another shot of our Dear Leader that cries out for a photo caption…


Americans Like Cheesy Romance

posted by on November 21 at 11:14 AM

According to this article at indieWIRE and this one at NYT, the version of Pride & Prejudice released in the UK was missing the conspicuously cheesy ending that U.S. audiences are being bludgeoned with. Now, don’t get me wrong, I adore the movie. But even for an anti-purist like me, hearing Elizabeth Bennet utter the phrase “goddess divine” was a little irksome. British audiences were apparently spared.

Also in the above article, some details about the marketing of everybody’s favorite gay cowboy movie, Brokeback Mountain, which has the same distributor as P&P. Is the target audience gay men? Women? Illiterate cowboys? Only the graphic designer knows for sure.

Call for Submissions: Regrets!

posted by on November 21 at 11:11 AM

Dear Stranger readers:

The end of 2005 is fast approaching, and once again The Stranger will ring out the year with our annual Regrets issue, a rue-soaked compendium of compunction collecting all things qualm-worthy, from regrettable sex, entrées, and art events, to real-time crimes and misdemeanors.

Some history: For our ïŹrst Regrets issue, we restricted submissions to our own staff; the following year, we also solicited regrets from cherry-picked rock stars, politicians, and other local notables. And this year—for our deeply regrettable third Regrets issue—we’re blowing the bastard wide open. We want the regrets of anyone who’s got ‘em—and that means YOU.

We want to hear about all your greatest regrets of 2005, from the phone calls you failed to return to that family of six you accidentally murdered. The best of these will appear in our year-ending, furiously anticipated Regrets issue—so start your soul-searching, rustle up your regrets, and send ‘em to by December 15.

Photo Caption Contest

posted by on November 21 at 10:53 AM

President Bush is shaking hands with “Albert Hubo,” a 54-inch Albert Einstein-inspired robot. The photo obviously needs an appropriate caption. Post yours in the Stranger Forums.


DailyKos Straw Poll

posted by on November 21 at 10:47 AM

DailyKos is hosting his final straw poll for 2005. If the 2008 Democratic presidential primary were held today, who would you vote for? Hillary Clinton? Russ Feingold? John Edwards? Joe Biden? No fucking clue? Go here to cast your ballot.

re: The man who forged the first power chord

posted by on November 21 at 10:30 AM

Yes, it’s true. Link Wray died in Denmark on November 5th.

Cheney Pushback 2.0

posted by on November 21 at 10:16 AM

Dick Cheney gave another speech today in which he blasted critics of the Iraq war, though he turned down the volume a bit from last week and didn’t slam anti-war Congressman John Murtha, perhaps because of the thinking expressed in this anonymous Republican quote, which comes from the Wall Street Journal via The Note:

“If the House Republicans want to make Jack Murtha the face of the Democratic Party, then Republicans will really be trounced next year.”

What did Cheney say in his speech? Well, this caught my eye:

”The flaws in the intelligence are plain enough in hindsight. But any suggestion that prewar information was distorted, hyped or fabricated by the leader of the nation is utterly false,” Cheney said.

For one rebuttal, please direct your attention to this article in the Sunday LA Times, which I posted about yesterday.

Juxtapoz Features Local Talent

posted by on November 21 at 10:12 AM

One of my favorite local artists, Kamala Dolphin-Kingsley is featured on the Juxtapoz website today. Check out her upcoming show at All City Coffee starting December 1.

Allen Johnson: Another Time

posted by on November 21 at 9:29 AM

I’m happy to say I caught closing night of Allen Johnson’s solo show Another You last night at On the Boards, and it was something to see. The house was sold out, as I’m told it was for the majority of the four-night run, and the show was really, really good—dark, mercilessly autobiographical, and frequently ugly as hell, but Johnson is a great natural performer with a deft way of handling the heaviest shit, and every blood- and shit-stained anecdote served the greater good of the piece, which ends up saying something new about one of the oldest and richest subjects on record: men and their fathers.

Another You is gone for now, but I imagine it will be returning for an encore or remount sometime soon. I’ll keep you posted.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Bin Laden’s Alchemy

posted by on November 20 at 9:00 PM

In his op-ed in today’s NYT, Frank Rich gets the tragedy of Bush’s Iraq war exactly right. Rich writes:

“One hideous consequence of the White House’s Big Lie—fusing the war of choice in Iraq with the war of necessity that began on 9/11—is that the public, having [now] rejected one, automatically rejects the other. That’s already happening. The percentage of Americans who now regard fighting terrorism as a top national priority is either in the single or low double digits in every poll. Thus the tragic bottom line of the Bush catastrophe: the administration has at once increased the ranks of jihadists by turning Iraq into a new training ground and recruitment magnet while at the same time exhausting America’s will and resources to confront that expanded threat. We have arrived at ‘the worst of all possible worlds.’

Sadly, Rich is right for two basic reasons. First, according to “Alchemists of Revolution,” (a fantastic historical primer on terrorism written in 1987 by a guy named Richard Rubenstein ), the goal of terrorism is to pull back the curtain on the tyrannical machinery of the “oppressor.” This tactic works by drawing the terrorists’ adversary into attack mode in which that adversary makes the mistake of flexing his muscle for the sake of flexing his muscle: Swinging indiscriminately, taking away rights, busting heads. And so, the tactic works to create widespread antipathy toward the terrorists’ adversary.

Looks like bin Laden played Bush according to Terrorism 101. In other words, bin Laden baited us, we attacked, and revealed ourselves to be an abhorrent presence in the Middle East. Thus all the new jihadists. That’s the context.

But here’s the really maddening part. Bin Laden’s other rationale for baiting the U.S. was this: Once we attacked, he believed we wouldn’t sustain the will to go toe to toe with him, and he would emerge victorious in the ultimate of all PR wars. He predicted this in speech after speech, citing our Black Hawk down defeat in Magadishu. I thought bin Laden was wrong. But, as Rich points out, our will has been exhausted.

It didn’t have to be this way, but thanks to Bush’s stupid decision to go after the wrong guys (Iraq), bin Laden has been proven right. The U.S. is tired of the mess in Iraq. The tragedy is: Had we gone after bin Laden and al Qaeda, it’s likely—due to the true value of that cause—we would have scored some inspiring victories (like toppling the Taliban). So, despite the arduous task, Americans would have stood by it.

As Rich notes: Not so anymore.

The man who forged the first power chord…

posted by on November 20 at 5:15 PM

There are a number of rumors circulating on the web today that pioneering hard rock legend Link Wray has left this mortal coil at the age of 76.

“Curveball” and the Iraq War

posted by on November 20 at 10:52 AM

First the scary tales about aluminum tubes, yellowcake uranium, and nuclear mushroom clouds were all debunked. And now the LA Times, in an incredibly well-reported story, debunks another scary tale Americans were told before the Iraq war. It’s the tale about about those mobile weapons labs that were supposedly criss-crossing Iraq, churning out scary bio-weapons. Not only does the LA Times expose this as an obvious fiction, but more importantly, the paper shows that the Bush administration knew this tale was phony before the war and hyped it anyway. It all traces back to an Iraqi defector to Germany who was code-named, ironically, “Curveball.”

This is a must, must read.

According to the Germans, President Bush mischaracterized Curveball’s information when he warned before the war that Iraq had at least seven mobile factories brewing biological poisons. Then-Secretary of State Colin L. Powell also misstated Curveball’s accounts in his prewar presentation to the United Nations on Feb. 5, 2003, the Germans said.

Powell, of course, is not happy and is on-the-reord:

Powell said he was never warned, during three days of intense briefings at CIA headquarters before his U.N. speech, that he was using material that both the DIA and CIA had determined was false. “As you can imagine, I was not pleased,” Powell said. “What really made me not pleased was they had put out a burn notice on this guy, and people who were even present at my briefings knew it.”

Curveball, it seems, was trying to get asylum by making up stories based on internet research, but the CIA believed him anyway:

Tyler Drumheller, then the head of CIA spying in Europe, called the BND station chief at the German embassy in Washington in September 2002 seeking access to Curveball.

Drumheller and the station chief met for lunch at the German’s favorite seafood restaurant in upscale Georgetown. The German officer warned that Curveball had suffered a mental breakdown and was “crazy,” the now-retired CIA veteran recalled…

Drumheller, a veteran of 26 years in the CIA clandestine service, said he and several aides repeatedly raised alarms after the lunch in tense exchanges with CIA analysts working on the Curveball case.

“The fact is, there was a lot of yelling and screaming about this guy,” said James Pavitt, then chief of clandestine services, who retired from the CIA in August 2004. “My people were saying, ‘We think he’s a stinker.’ “

The analysts refused to back down. In one meeting, the chief analyst fiercely defended Curveball’s account, saying she had confirmed on the Internet many of the details he cited. “Exactly, it’s on the Internet!” the operations group chief for Germany, now a CIA station chief in Europe, exploded in response. “That’s where he got it too,” according to a participant at the meeting.

Other warnings poured in. The CIA Berlin station chief wrote that the BND had “not been able to verify” Curveball’s claims. The CIA doctor who met Curveball wrote to his supervisor shortly before Powell’s speech questioning “the validity” of the Iraqi’s information.

“Keep in mind that this war is going to happen regardless of what Curve Ball said or didn’t say and the Powers That Be probably aren’t terribly interested in whether Curve Ball knows what he’s talking about,” his supervisor wrote back, Senate investigators found.

The U.N. inspectors disproved Curveball’s reports before the war…

On March 7, 2003, Hans Blix, the chief U.N. inspector, told the Security Council that a series of searches had found “no evidence” of mobile biological production facilities in Iraq. It drew little notice at the time.

And yet…

The invasion of Iraq began two weeks later.


The CIA had advised Bush in the fall of 2003 of “problems with the sourcing” on biological weapons, an official familiar with the briefing said. But the president has never withdrawn the statement in his 2003 State of the Union speech that Iraq produced “germ warfare agents” or his postwar assertions that “we found the weapons of mass destruction.”

Dead For Good

posted by on November 20 at 8:33 AM

If this young father had not received that empty honor from People Magazine, he would be alive today.