Lying Media Bastards

December 31, 2004

Another Goddamn Eulogy

I suppose it’s ironic that I’m having trouble finding the right words to describe someone who was so eloquent.

Bob seemed… wise. Some people just have that knack, even if they don’t feel that they have much wisdom, even if they actually don’t have that wisdom to give. He was in his 50s when I met him during my high school days, and he seemed to be a fellow who’d seen a lot of this world and had actually managed to figure a few things out. Not everything, mind you, but a few important things.

Bob had spent nearly all of his adult life working with abused and neglected children. “Parentless kids”, as he sometimes called them; kids who weren’t orphans but who’s parents had abandoned them in some form or another. Bob was great at this job because he knew the secret about fixing damaged kids:

You can’t.

This is true of nearly all people with nearly all things. You can’t heal anybody, you can’t save anybody, you can’t make anybody do anything. But if you’re lucky, you can help set the stage for that person to make the decisions necessary to heal themselves and to see those decisions through till the end. They’ve got to walk every hard step of the way, but you might be able to help them to find the path and endure the journey.

With regard to children who’d been betrayed by the first human relationships they’d ever know, this stage-setting meant one thing: sticking around. Standing by the kid through good times. Standing by through bad times. Standing by through worse times. Standing by when the kid tries to push you away to protect their “you can’t trust anyone” worldview. Standing by until that kid starts to believe that maybe they’re worth it.

That’s hard work, and it does not come without a price. I respected the hell out of Bob for that. It’s putting yourself on the line every day with no reward except the possibility that the kid might turn their life around.

Well, there can be some reward. Bob once told me a story about Tim, a kid he’d mentored from the time Tim was 14 and into his adult years. Tim and his wife had a child years later, and Tim invited Bob to town to celebrate the birth. As Bob came to the front door, Tim lifted up his newborn son and said, “Jeffrey, meet your grandaddy.”

While many folks seem to base their faith in “unconditional love” on new agey ideals or treacly self-help books, Bob’s was based on pragmatism. If these kids grow up believing that no one can be trusted, and that their futures will be no different from their painful pasts, they are almost certainly condemned to miserable lives. The only way to save them is to help them convince themselves that maybe they have some say in their destiny, and that it needn’t be so hellish. And the only way that that’s going to happen is for someone to make that supreme committment to support that kid as long as they need it.

But at his core, I think Bob was a letter-writer. He wrote to me, he wrote to other students, he wrote to the children he mentored, he wrote to his business partners. Not only that, but sometimes he’d include copies of letters he wrote to one person in his letter to another person, to spell out some point he was trying to make. That was the core of his letter-writing, anecdotes about his life that he hoped would drive home a message, and some of them were quite moving.

On a number of occasions, Bob spoke of “the gift of self.” He would say that committment, intimacy, vulnerablity, support, concern, all of these were a way for one person to say to another “I give you me because you are worth me giving you me.” That leap is really the core of love, and was the guiding light that helped Bob shepherd kids away from the darkness.

Sadly, I just found out that Bob died this October. I’m sure that an awful lot of former “parentless kids” are going to miss him like hell.

Posted by Jake on December 31, 2004 1:26 am

December 28, 2004

And Miles to Go Before I Sleep…

Not too much time to post in the coming days. I need to be all packed and out of my LA apartment by mid-January, but ideally within about a week; I can start working at the new job as early as Monday (I landed Job A and will work it while trying to achieve Job B).

However going through all my old things has gotten me a bit maudlin and introspective. I’ll probably get at least one such personal post up here in the next few days.

I will probably not write a “10 Blankiest Blanks of 2004″ article, as that would just be a waste of everyone’s time.

Posted by Jake on December 28, 2004 12:52 pm

December 21, 2004

Hail to the Greek

This cheers me up.

Posted by Jake on December 21, 2004 2:04 pm

Lump of Coal

Oh yeah, and my landlord left me a note on my door saying that my messy apartment has violated the “cleanliness” portion of our rental agreement, and if I don’t fix it and give them photographic evidence in three days, they’ll throw me out.

Then the manager says to me “don’t worry about that thing, you’re moving out soon anyway.” Which I am.

So either everything’s cool, or I’ll come back from Christmas to find a big fat eviction notice on my front door.

I know that by law it takes weeks or months to get a tenant out of the building, and the landlords would be stupid to drum up some kind of conflict if I’m already planning to leave. But part of me still worries that they’ll do something crazy/illegal like changing the locks or throwing my stuff out in the street.

Tis the season. Fuckers.

Posted by Jake on December 21, 2004 9:39 am

Leaving Las Vegas

I don’t live in Las Vegas, I live in Los Angeles. But every time I sit down to write this entry, that line from the Sheryl Crow song pops into my head. Why fight it?

Those of you who’ve visited here for a while know that these have been a rough couple of years for me, trying to help care for a dying mother last year, and trying to deal with her death this year. You hear a lot about the grieving process on TV and stuff, but no one tells you what’s on the other side. Maybe at some point it stops hurting. I dunno.

But there’s been plenty more than that. Nothing as traumatic as another death, but just a generally frustrating and unhappy path I’ve been following for many months without much hope of breaking away.

I’ve only recently faced that common young adult moment, where you look around with sadness and a bit of fear and say “do I really have to get a job I hate and work at it the rest of my life?” I’ve been trying to get by on one part-time job for about 8 months now, because when I looked for a second job to supplement this job, all I could find were jobs that looked ugly or boring or evil.

I know folks who’ve taken these paths, resigned themselves to decades of drudgery. Or if they aren’t working jobs they hate, they’re working unpleasant jobs that they’ve halfway convinced themselves they like. Making a choice like these is rough for me because I know that there are alternatives, many of them radical. I know folks who are intentionally homeless, turning their backs on what they see as a harmful, materialistic society. I know folks who squat in abandoned buildings, feeling that shelter is a human right. I know folks who turn their backs on secure employment for long-shots at success in music and art. I know folks who work half a year and then stretch their savings into voyages around the world, carpeing diems for as long as they can.

Even if this 50-hour a week cubicle/factory world is the norm, is that how humans are supposed to live? Maybe I shouldn’t be conceding to this seeming necessity, maybe I should be fighting to overthrow it. I know, I know, I’m a crazy idealist. You’ve got to be this idealistic to get this cynical.

So I’ve been trying to make a go of the “cut expenses till you can survive on what you make” lifestyle. And theoretically, that’s not a bad choice– would you rather have extra cash to blow on crap, or would you rather have that extra time and freedom to do what you enjoy? But this plan just isn’t working out for me, at least not with my current job. Sure, I could probably live within my means if I moved to a cheap apartment, but plenty of my other problems would remain.

In plenty of ways, my job is perfect for me: a highly solitary, politics-obsessed computer nerd who gets to work from home, by himself, researching and organizing political activism from his apartment? It’s like peanut meets butter! But at the same time, this is exactly the problem with the job.

I’ve come to realize that this environment magnifies a number of the negative consequences of my personality type. For a few years now, I’ve run this organization largely solo. And while it’s very freeing not having a supervisor looking over my shoulder, it also means that I feel the weight and responsibility 24/7. If anything’s going to get done, I have to do it. If a problem arises, I have to fix it. If I don’t do it, it doesn’t get done. I don’t put in my 9-to-5 and then spend my evenings carefree; it’s like I’m at work all the time. This set-up ratchets up my natural feelings of responsibility and anxiety.

And although I need plenty of alone time to be sane, working from home has been moving me from “moody loner” to “twitchy recluse.” I don’t get out much. My social circle has crumbled, and that gives me even fewer people to socialize with. Which leaves me indoors and alone even more, further eroding my social network, etc. And my constant anxiety about the job makes me even more hesitant to leave the house. It’s a vicious cycle that’s spun itself about as tightly as I’m willing to let it.

The first real honest-to-goodness escape route I’ve seen was a set of job listings for a San Diego library I used to work at (thanks Candice!). The idea was kind of euphoric. I could get one of those jobs (while continuing my other part-time job) finally be making full-time wages again. I could move down there and stay with my dad (and save up some money). I’d be interacting with co-workers and patrons—real, live people. And my anxiety would be reduced because my life wouldn’t be so centered around a single job.

Libraries are good things. No concern about profit, or marketing, or hustling. Just helping people. For free. And is there anything I’m more qualified to do than help people find the information they’re looking for? There’s no guarantee I’ll get the job, but it looks pretty positive.

And I’d be living just a few minutes from the ocean. I’ve missed it.

The only real downside of this plan is that I’d miss a couple of friends here in LA (although I’ll still come up to visit), and I wouldn’t be able to get that mohawk I’ve been hankering for.

Really that would just leave the issue of my radio show, which I assure you, would continue in one form or another. I’m thinking that I’d either keep coming up to LA to do it at Kill Radio (either weekly or bi-weekly), or join up with one of several radio collectives in San Diego and do it from there. Or possibly both.

And don’t worry about the writing, it’ll keep coming—hopefully in more venues than just this website.

So that’s it. Turned in my 30-day notice and will be moving out of LA in mid-January. Maybe for good, maybe just for a little while, I really don’t know yet. I’ve been unhappy for a real long time. This isn’t my dream come true or anything, but I think things will get better, a lot better. We’ll see how it all turns out.

Posted by Jake on December 21, 2004 1:31 am

Newsy Filling

Spammers ordered to pay $1 billion- ha ha ha. Fuck you, spammers. No, seriously, fuck you guys. No, seriously, FUCK YOU GUYS!!

FBI Claims More Arab Prisoners Abused- so when you take a prisoner, shove a lit cigarette in his ear, beat him with a stick, punch him in the stomach, and then drop him on some barbed wire, is that torture? “Team America, Fuck Yeah.”

They Got Game- article about the video game industry. This industry doesn’t get that much coverage, as mainstream America seems to think that games are still something just for kids to play. This article claims that the average “gamer” is actually about 29 years old. It also says that video games “generate more revenue than Hollywood,” which is misleading (setting aside the fact that video games cost about $50 a piece). Games make more money than movies in the theater, but movies still pull in bank from rentals and DVD sales (not to mention related soundtracks, merchandising, and yes, video games based on the movies).

Media Crisis 2004- Danny Schecter, “the media dissector” summarizes a new report from the Committee for Excellence in Journalism. The most interesting points:

- as news outlets fight for audience, their companies focus even more on profits and less on quality journalism.
- most money being invested in news by its corporate owners is in ways to distribute the news, not research and report it.

Schecter also predicts an unprecendented year in media activism in 2005. I hear rumors that he might be right.

A brief history- The Economist looks at believers of The Rapture, and then looks broader at a range of current and historical apocalyptic ideologies. Very interesting stuff.

The Second Water War in Bolivia- “Five years ago the issue of water privatization exploded here when massive public protests forced out the California engineering giant, Bechtel. Within weeks of taking over the city’s public water company Bechtel hiked up rates by as much as 200%, far beyond what the city’s poor could afford to pay. Now a new Bolivian water revolt is underway 200 miles north in the city of El Alto, a growing urban sprawl that sits 14,000 feet above sea level and is populated by waves of impoverished families arriving from the economically desperate countryside. ”

Bush: I’ll Bring Peace to the Middle East- stop it, you’re killing me.

Eye-witness account of Glasgow Anti-War action- Weir Pumps Ltd. is a Scottish company that makes parts for Halliburton. Some Scottish anti-war activists decided that if they could hurt Weir economically for supporting Halliburton and the Iraq war, maybe the company would pull out. So last week, the activists chained themselves up and blocked the gates of the company.

Report: U.S. Rentals Unaffordable to Poor- to afford the average 2-bedroom apartment, a family needs to make about $15.37 an hour. The minimum wage is $5.15.

Posted by Jake on December 21, 2004 1:11 am

December 20, 2004

Pre-Empted by Life

Sorry, can’t make the LMB radio show again this week. Sadly, work that pays trumps work that don’t. But, I had been planning to play this holiday song. And to make it up to you, I’m uploading a couple of shows from this summer/fall you can listen to.

August 16, 2004
Music includes Dresden Dolls, Bad Religion, Bjork, Madvillain, Against Me, David Cross, Ride, Jay-Z, Old Crow Medicine Show, Lou Reed, Leftover Crack, Camper Van Beethoven,
Jake rants about the election, Limp Bizkit and Venezuela.

October 18, 2004
Music includes Panjabi MC, the Ramones, Mos Def, Prince, Drive-By Truckers, Sonic Youth, Mike Ladd, Interpol, Harry Belafonte, and Skinny Puppy.
Jake rants about assorted media news, including Jon Stewart’s appearance on Crossfire.

Shows in mp3 format, kinda big files. I’ll probably take em down in a few days for bandwidth reasons. Enjoy.

Posted by Jake on December 20, 2004 12:03 pm

Bad Boy Bernie

I’m sure that many of you have at least a passing knowledge of the Bernie Kerik scandal. Long story short, Bush nominated the former New York police commissioner to be the new head of the Department of Homeland Security. A few days later, Kerik withdrew from the process, claiming that he might have hired an illegal immigrant as a nanny in the past. Since a handful of political nominees have been brought down due to similar illegal employer practices, this sounded like a reasonable excuse. For about 30 seconds.

It turns out that Kerik is so crooked he makes a lightning bolt look like a straightedge. The revelations started slow. In 2003, Kerik had been sent to Baghdad to train the new Iraqi police force, a job scheduled to last 6 to 18 months. But Kerik was back in 3, with no explanation. Seemed… odd.

Shortly after this, the dam broke, and we’ve been deluged with stories of Kerik’s rank underbelly ever since. He cheated on his wife with two mistresses. When one mistress broke it off, Kerik stalked her. He seemed to have waaaaay more money than he should, given his salary. He used an apartment donated to emergency workers at Ground Zero as his personal love nest. He’s wanted by the police in New Jersey for failing to pay rent on a place he owned there. He also seems to be involved in granting some shady contracts in NYC and in Iraq.

There’s also Kerik’s extensive mob connections. New connections to, and favors done for, organized crime are revealed every day. I half expect to find out next week that Kerik killed Jimmy Hoffa.

And, of course, it’s beginning to look like Kerik lied about having an illegal immigrant nanny in the first place.

Keep in mind much of this shady stuff went down while Kerik was in charge of the largest police force in the United States. To any of you out there who are staunchly pro-law enforcement, I hope this news will make you stop and think a minute.

The scariest thing to me here is that while Kerik was in charge of the NYPD, he was leaking information to his mob cronies for money. The idea that this guy was almost in charge of homeland security chills me. If he’d sell out the people of New York for a buck, why wouldn’t he sell out the people of the United States if the price was right? Mobster money and terrorist money all look the same when you’re a greedy fuck.

The second-most appalling thing here is that Kerik was even nominated. It sounds like there were three reasons Kerik was the favorite: 1) he was friends with Rudy Giuliani. 2) as a highly visible figure right after the WTC attacks, he would be a “symbol of 9/11″ in the White House, and 3) Bush liked him. Bush bought into Kerik’s public persona of self-made man who is also a tough guy, and felt a kinship with him, because Bush has bought into his own, similar, completely false, public persona.

It’s one of the tragedies of recent times: the president seems to truly feel that all politics, both national and international, is simply a battle of wills between individual leaders. Having people to fight your battles, having weapons for them to fight with, hell, even knowing where your enemy actually is– these things are irrelevant to winning a war. You win a war with your steely Clint Eastwood glare and your tough guy rhetoric some speechwriter cooked up for you. And because of that, you don’t need intelligence, skills, or diplomacy, and you don’t need to compromise ever. Because if you bravely refuse all other options, your opponents will back down. Cuz you’re tough.

Stay tuned for the next round of Kerik revelations, when we’ll surely learn that sent out all those anthrax letters, and that he totally slept with your mom.

Posted by Jake on December 20, 2004 12:47 am

December 19, 2004

Quick Version

I originally started this blog out of the frustrations that came from my more conventional journalism. After writing dozens of careful analyses determining whether or not Monsanto Corp., or Bill Clinton, or Saddam Hussein were lying or telling the truth, you just get tired of it. You want to say “well of course they’re lying! They always lie!”

Or, as I’ve said before, this blog exists as a place for me to call a motherfucker a motherfucker.

It is in this spirit that I say: the whole “fix Social Security” thing is just a scam to put your tax dollars into the hands of stockbrokers and investment firms.

I could go get you a hundred links and do a detailed breakdown of why the Republican plan will not accomplish their stated goals and whatnot, but I don’t even feel the need. Conservatives have been lying about Social Security’s impending doom for years, when really it just needs a few relatively minor adjustments to maintain. This is a naked and transparent attempt to skim off the top.

Posted by Jake on December 19, 2004 11:05 am

December 18, 2004

Democracy Is So Inconvenient

In King County, Washington, election officials have just discovered that over 700 ballots for the gubernatorial race were never counted, because of a clerical error. At present, the Republican candidate is ahead of the Democratic candidate by about 50 votes.

It should surprise no one that the Republicans filed a lawsuit trying to block those 700+ ballots from being counted. It should be more surprising that a judge agreed with the Republicans and 700 Washingtonians will have their votes thrown away. Why? It seems that the judge is uncomfortable with the idea of someone making a decision that certain votes are valid or invalid, and then changing their minds. Doesn’t matter if you’re right or wrong, it matters what you said first.

Good to see that the American judiciary is doing its best to keep the trains running on time. Even if the passengers end up at the wrong destinations.

[correction]

I misidentified the state in the original post. This took place in Washington, not Oregon.

[/correction]

Posted by Jake on December 18, 2004 8:43 pm

December 17, 2004

Thought

Maybe the war on Iraq is actually a clever Bush administration plan to save Social Security.

If they kill off enough of America’s young people, Social Security will remain solvent forever!

Posted by Jake on December 17, 2004 8:07 am

Not Your Mother’s Anarchist Cookbook

Back in the 60s, some joker printed and published “The Anarchist’s Cookbook.” It had little to do with anarchism, and more accurately would’ve been titled “The Vandal and Saboteur’s Cookbook,” or, perhaps “A Bunch of Semi-Accurate Recipes for Explosives.” The text of this book is easy to find on the internet, and is popular among young male nerds who think that knowing how to make dynamite ups their danger/cool quotient (it doesn’t). Sadly, this book has helped stigmatize anarchists as “people who like to blow shit up”. While it’s true that many anarchists feel that a lot of smashing up needs to be done to make modern society more fit for human beings, most anarchists I know are more interested in music, feeding the hungry, and designing political websites.

Well, there’s a new anarchist cookbook in town.

“Recipes for Disaster: An Anarchists Cookbook” looks to be an enormous tome full of information about various protest tactics, DIY how-tos, and activist culture. I have yet to read it, but it looks like it has potential. It’s by the poet-propagandists of CrimethInc.. They’re talented folks who repeatedly make a passionate, compelling case that living the life of your dreams and building a free, new world are not only possible, are not only preferable, but are actually necessary for the survival of mankind. Carpe diem meets “I have a dream” meets a fist in the air.

CrimethInc. also wrote Days of War, Nights of Love, which I highly recommend. The book even has a video trailer. That’s tres dope. I’m going to make a video trailer for my book, someday.

Was I going somewhere with all this? Oh yeah. Old anarchist cookbook: eh. New anarchist cookbook: lookin’ good. I’ll try to get a copy and report back to y’all.

Posted by Jake on December 17, 2004 12:11 am

December 16, 2004

Stoopid Symbolism

As I have said here a number of times, I am not fond of symbolic politics or symbolic protest. Which is why I find this to be one of the dumbest protest ideas in recent times:

Turn Your Back on Bush
…On January 20th, 2005, we’re calling for a new kind of action… On Inauguration day, we don’t need banners, we don’t need signs, we just need people.

We’re calling on people to attend inauguration as they are: members of the public. Once through security and at the procession, at a given signal, we’ll all turn our backs on Bush. A simple, clear and coherent message.

That’s it. They want people to go to the inauguration parade, and when Bush’s car drives by, they want people to turn around and face away from the car. Surely the souls of Martin Luther King Jr. and Gandhi are smacking their ghostly foreheads saying “why didn’t we think of that?”

Okay, problem #1 with this protest: IT WON’T ACCOMPLISH ANYTHING. Jesus fucking Christ, what do they think this is going to do? Is Bush going to feel such shame that he renounces the presidency? Are all these turned backs going to change a single Bush policy? NO! It might get them a one-line mention on nightly newscasts. Good work, team.

#2, the organizers claim that this is a “new type of action.” No it isn’t! Standing around and not doing anything is a time-honored liberal protest tactic. Standing around holding a sign, standing around watching a speaker at a rally, standing around and chanting another lifeless slogan. Hard to say if these folks are naive enough to think that standing around actually makes a difference, or if they’ve conveniently convinced themselves that it will so that they don’t have to take any actual risks.

#3, the organizers claim that this is a type of “direct action.” No it isn’t! Protesters organizing sit-ins at segregated lunch counters was direct action. Protesters blockading the entrance to a WTO meeting in Seattle was direct action. Protesters tearing down the fence surrounding the Summit of the Americas in Quebec City was direct action. This back-turning stuff is just bullshit. Symbolic action, not direct action.

#4 is that the concept has potential! “Turning your back” on someone is a figure of speech meaning that you ignore that person, or have kicked them out of your life. How beautiful would a true “Turn Your Back on Bush” movement be? Masses of people ignoring all of Bush’s insane policies and laws, showing the world that he is not our leader, he’s just a mad little puppet playing at it.

And #5, is that there are multiple ways of interpretting an action. On one hand, these protesters will be disrespecting the president by turning their backs on him as he drives by. And on the other hand, when the president gets closer to them than ever before, these protesters will choose to look the other way.

[update]

Here’s an alternative call to action.

[/update]

[update2]

Photos from the righteous, powerful Turn Your Back on Bush action. As you can see , it looks like as many as 20 people were confused and faced the wrong way as the limo drove by. Take that, forces of evil!

[/update2]

Posted by Jake on December 16, 2004 10:06 pm

December 15, 2004

The 21st Century

I just saw an ad on TV for “wireless soup.”

Posted by Jake on December 15, 2004 9:40 pm

December 13, 2004

Malfunction

Sorry, no LMB radio show today. Technical problems.

Posted by Jake on December 13, 2004 11:16 am

December 10, 2004

Cutting Edge Journalism

From the Associated Press:

Japanese Animation Catching on in U.S.

1998 called, they want their headline back.

Posted by Jake on December 10, 2004 10:52 am

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