Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Chris Penn 1962-2006

My phone beeped. 9:39pm. I had a voicemail.

"Mike, Chris Penn's dead. Call me back."

It was my brother, doing his best Frank Costanza. He knows I've always been a Chris Penn fan.

Penn's body was found at 4:00pm this afternoon at a residence in Santa Barbara. No cause of death was as yet determined. No foul play was suspected.

Immediately, I pictured him in black and white in "Rumble Fish." The shop class dream sequence. A young Diane Lane, leggy and elevated, while Matt Dillon drifted through his troubled subconscious. Chris twists a pair of tongs in the air, raising his eyebrows lasciviously. That moment, for me, is Chris Penn in concrete. "Rumble Fish" was his feature film debut, and remains one of my Top Five favorite movies.

And then in "At Close Range" acting beside his brother Sean, playing his brother. Even his mother, Eileen Ryan, was in the film, as his grandmother. And his former sister-in-law sang the theme song. I had the 45.

In my pantheon of Hollywood icons, Chris Penn was one of the princes of 80s cinema.

He exploded in the 90s with "Reservoir Dogs", "True Romance" and my favorite, Altman's "Short Cuts." Culled together from several Raymond Carver short stories, the film is full of images that have stuck with me since I first watched it. I'm pretty sure it was at Loew's on Hempstead Turnpike. 1993. Most memorably Penn's uncontrollable outburst where he bashes that girl's head in with a beer can. Holy crap!

He was a great character actor. And although he usually played the same sort of character (the small time gangster, the mook), it was in line with the classic character actors of Hollywood's past.

I feel bad for his brothers, Sean and Michael.

Who will take his place in cinema? I imagine there will be lots of casting directors mulling this over as they kvetch to agents and managers, "We need a Chris Penn type..."

To paraphrase his quote from "Rumble Fish":

"To Christopher Penn, a very cool dude."

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Dissidents by Thomas Dolby

One more young writer slid away in the night
Over the border he will drown in light
Hold it - wait a minute
I can't read my writing, my own writing!
Like tiny insects in the palm of history
A domino effect in a cloud of mystery
My writing is an iron fist
In a glove full of vaseline
Dip the fuse in the kerosene
I too become a dissident

Courting disaster we ran in the night
Wings of an angel torn in flight
Check it - verify it
It's all here in writing, down in writing!
At the hands of the press
And in the eyes of the government
I fell from grace
I too became a dissident
Like tiny insects in the palm of history
A domino effect and an early end to this story
My writing is an iron fist
In a glove full of vaseline
But dip the fuse in the kerosene
I too become a dissident.

- from The Flat Earth by Thomas Dolby (1984)

"In democratic societies political and social dissidents are supposed to be free from government pressure, but there have been notable instances of persecution, such as during the Palmer Raids." - Wikipedia

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Chin Music for Ashcroft's Lawsuit

Today in a stunning display of common sense, the Supreme Court ruled against Former Attorney General John Ashcroft and the Department of Justice's attempt to overturn Oregon's Death with Dignity Act, which had been affirmed by Oregon voters in 1997.

The law states that doctors who follow specific procedures may prescribe lethal doses of federally regulated medications to help their mentally competent, terminally ill patients end their lives. The Department of Justice attempted to override this law by arguing the federal Controlled Substances Act trumped Oregon's Law.

Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote the majority opinion in the 6 to 3 ruling over the case brought about by exiting AG Ashcroft (as a last minute F- You! to Oregonians who had not bent to his holier-than-thou opposition) and sustained by present Attorney General Ruben Gonzalez.

From a NY Times article by Linda Greenhouse (1/18/06):

In his opinion on Tuesday, Gonzales v. Oregon, No. 04-623, Justice Kennedy emphasized, with evident disapproval, the unilateral nature of Mr. Ashcroft's action, taken "without consulting Oregon or apparently anyone outside his department." The attorney general's rule was not entitled to the deference the court usually gave to interpretations of governing statutes by executive branch officials, he said, because Congress had not given the attorney general the authority he was invoking.

Said Justice Kennedy about Ashcroft, "He is not authorized to make a rule declaring illegitimate a medical standard for care and treatment of patients that is specifically authorized under state law."

He continues, "The authority claimed by the attorney general is both beyond his expertise and incongruous with the statutory purposes and design."

"Today's ruling reinforces Oregon's -- and every state's -- right in determining matters of medical practice," said U.S. Rep. Darlene Hooley, D-Ore. "The Supreme Court's decision today will end the repeated attacks on the will of Oregon voters once and for all."

Right on, Rep. Hooley! We Oregonians don't mess around!

And what did the White House have to say about this ruling?

White House spokesman Scott McClelland says the decision goes against the principles of President George W Bush.

"I'd express our disappointments," he said.

"I know the Department of Justice is reviewing the decision, we are disappointed at the decision.

"The President remains fully committed to building a culture of life, a culture of life that is built on valuing life at all stages."

That's the real kicker. "A Culture of Life." It's what Jesus would have wanted. And since Bush is unquestionably (this is questionable - ed.) a follower of Jesus (not to be confused with following the teachings of Jesus), perhaps we who agree with today's ruling must beg forgiveness someday from Our God for wanting to ease the suffering of our fellow man, in lieu of the Government cutting off so much funding into stem cell research, etc.

He's perhaps too ignorant to be a fucking hypocrite, but I still don't believe it's an excuse for his alleged indifference and hatred of the poor and the suffering.

And of course Ashcroft fought the Oregon Law tooth and nail. I mean, what would he know about "dignity" anyway?

You poor frustrated songwriter...sing yourself to sleep, you creep.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Who are You? And What is Your Name?

"Who's Who" meets "Page Six" at the Notable Names Database Weblog.

Alain Delon leads to Nico, Nico leads to Heroin, Heroin leads to, shit, almost EVERYONE!

Hours of fun. What else are you going to do? Work?

Get yr lascivious learn on!

(see "Heroin")

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Mr. Rex

Way, way back in 1982, I produced my "classic" (as it's written in pencil on the cassette) Dickie Goodmanesque piece, "Mr. Rex." I was 12 and working with a stereo something like this:

I'm sure it was from Sears. We bought everything at Sears back then. Specifically, the one in Hicksville on 107.

My source materials were drawn from my parents collection of records and 8-tracks, and recorded straight to cassette. The only thing more atrocious than the sound quality is my accent. I also see I've had a long history of saying the wrong words, dating back at least to this time (and surely long before).

"Mr. Rex" was a recently-discovered living dinosaur. He is interviewed by one "Joe Blow." I have the same exact humor now.

My clearest recollection of listening to Dickie Goodman was at my neighbor's across the street. A couple of kids from the block were downstairs at Annette and Linda's and Annette had a 45 of "Energy Crisis '74." The song cleverly ends with the speed slowing down and the words "We're running out...of...en...er...gy..."

Oh Dickie! I just learned he was from Hewlett. Long Island was a real genius factory at one time.

Anyway, here's "Mr. Rex." There's a lot of Billy Joel in the responses.

And as an added bonus, I present to you "Mr. Plutonion." (I portray newscaster "Harry Schwartz" interviewing an alien and the president...It's Just Goodman's "Flying Saucer" bit all over again.)

We're running out...of...gig...a...bytes...

Friday, January 06, 2006

The Book of Douchebags

Perpetual kvetchers and hypocrites, The American Family Association, are protesting NBC's new sitcom, "The Book of Daniel", the story of a priest, his painkiller addiction, his crazy family and parishioners, and the bonds that hold them all together. And he talks to Jesus. Who has a sense of humor (God forbid!)

And while the AFA monitor all the programs they need to boycott, their children may be huffing spray paint and building mobile meth units. Like good little carpenters.

Says AFA spokesman, Ed Vitagliano, the group was offended that the show's creator, Jack Kenny, is gay, as are two of the show's characters.

"We look at that and say, 'If they wanted to try to alienate conservative Christians, they're making every effort to do so,' " he said.

Because there are no gay conservative Christians? I venture to say many, many conservative Christians are conservative Christians because they need the power of God almighty to help suppress their latent homosexuality!

Let it out, kids. You'll feel a whole lot better. Then you can enjoy television again.

But no -- they are apparently offended that a gay man has written a "controversial" series co-starring Jesus.

Because all us good christian folk know Jesus had NOTHING to do with the gays during his lifetime!


Thursday, January 05, 2006

1976 + 30 = 2006...

...or "That Was Then, This Is Wow."

Thirty years and 35,000 Oreos later, the author ponders his next snack.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Firsts of the First

These are my firsts for this new year:

First breakfast: Buttered roll (Smart Balance, actually, not butter)
First album listened to: Don't Tell a Soul by The Replacements (listened to in the car on my way to buying rolls)
First Record Store visited: Everyday Music (of course it was open!)
Cost of First Tank of Gas: $16.03
First Items Purchased: Starting From San Francisco by Lawrence Ferlinghetti and email to the universe by Robert Anton Wilson (who knew he had a new book out?)
First lunch: A slice of Pizza from Pizzicato (it's a gourmet pizza)
First beer of the new year: Guinness (I'm drinking one now!)
First TV show watched: Something on Free Speech TV on public access with Chomsky and others about the militarization of space (Happy friggin' New Year!)
First T-Shirt worn: My Woody Woodpecker shirt. Ha-ha-ha-HA-ha!
My first Jackie Martling Exclamation: "Oh YEAH!" at 10:35pm.

Expect more of the same this year. But with more determination and less tolerance of fools and tyrants.

From the "Pot Notes" Volume Two

I've got a lot of notebooks and notepads full of nonsense and the logically indecipherable. Many were written in an arguably enlightened state. Written by myself and others "in the round", the contents are for the most part useless, but there are a few gems. Volume One began in the Carolinas. They're the funniest because we were completely out of our minds. We worked nights and were hammered and high most of the time. In my subjective history, there's a Volume Two and then a Volume Three, written at separate yet equal epochs of time. I stopped contributing to Volume Three while back, so Vol. 2 was long before it. There has been no Vol. 4. Though by the way I'm writing now, you'd think I was knee-deep in it. But I'm not. I've just had a few Guinnesses.

The following is an unsent letter written to Qner back in 1997. Now that I've found it, I figured I'd just send it to him in this format. What does anything matter anyway?

[Written by MO'SH, with interjections from clarke nova in RED]


Dear Brian,

they are talking to each other; they are talking to my left and my right. i hide in my orange, insulated from insult. i got a pulpy dog - "my dyslexic dogs are krabbing!"


Jonathan Bell is my preacher. I support him...Egads. Degas.
"Egads, Degas! You didn't wash your brushes."

Feel free to use this material. Feel free!


Brian you are not crazy! You are not! I have pictures!

We're listening to The Smiths - "Send me your pillow, the one that you dream on."
What's more satisfying than an articulate clause, a fluid sentence, a paragraph whose words fall into line with the graceful journey of the orange leaves?
I guess, oh I've forgotten. I'm in a Burroughsian mood (without the obsession w/Moroccan street waifs). I've had smoke, the old word-swirler. SO I see things a little different, a little

Jesus, Jesus Mary & Joseph!

clearer for the time being. The time being..."Time to me is a plane passing between the moon and Venus."

[clarke nova] says, "There's no such thing as bad wine."


Sorry, bad weather in the brain.

Writing is the best thing in the world. IT good.

Question: Is Paul Westerberg erotic?

Yes! He Knows to cover it All up! Less is more, so much more.

"I have been doing some writing. Will send along samples when i locate a typewriter. This town seems to have several dimensions. I have experienced a series of Kafkian incidents that would certainly have sent Carl back to the nuthouse. For example: I go to bed w/an Arab in European clothes."

Burroughs goes on to note he was "loaded on hashish."

Important: Do not have a picture taken of you with a typewriter. Do not make it easier for them.

Actually, I was looking at a photo of Burroughs at the typewriter & couldn't think of a photo of any of us w/typewriters. Just something i think about.

We're starting up RTH again. It's only gonna be with our writings. Quality people. Quality work. I'm thinking of subtitling it "The Journal of the New Pagans." I don't know. I'm really high.

We are now listening to R.E.M., the "Reckoning" album. [clarke nova] says he loves you. Put on the album, song #2. Sometimes, not a lot, but i sometimes glimpse a dragon's tail -- around the back of the house, or behind a truck. We have been programmed from the start, our language has been programmed by early Indo-European culture. A rose by another name is a slug. Don't be afraid to look past things. There's enough victims.

On music: it's the drums, the beat, the sound, that drives us from one music to another. That's why the 90's reacted so violently (w/Guns n Roses) to the curt 'lectronic drumming of the 80s.

It sort of ends there. Or I drifted away there. The next page includes these statements that I think were only intended for me:

A whale raining teeth.

2/5 does not equal 1/10

REPEAT: These fractions are unequal.

Write back soon!


The debate continues on what is more destructive to the civil liberties of Americans: the fact that the Bush Administration is spying on its own citizens, or that someone leaked this information. The government is, of course, leaning towards the latter.

"The fact that somebody leaked this program causes great harm to the United States," Bush said before returning to Washington from a holiday break at his Texas ranch. "There's an enemy out there."

Thanks for all your help, Democrats!

(P.S. - I only vote for YOU because I won't vote for THEM.)