Saturday, March 31, 2012

My first time

Until now, I've never posted 46 blogs in a single month (I did 45 in July 2004 and 44 last month). I just noticed this stat, so I'm taking this opportunity to raise the bar.

Sometimes I go dancing on Saturday nights.

Skipping ages

While swimming this afternoon, I asked a little boy how old he was.

He replied, "I'm four, but I'm about to be six!"

My kind of kid.

Sex, sex, sex and not sex

(Fourth in the Conservative Teen Takedown series)
As a teen, I was a big believer in abstinence. But it wasn’t for religious reasons — I just thought that’s what most level-headed people did. And also because I was raised with a very frank and full knowledge of sex, STDs and reproduction, and it scared the hell out of me.

I respect abstinence as a decision. I hope people who choose it do so for the right reasons. The question of whether to do or not do should be a personal, educated decision free of pressure or superstition. Unfortunately, it’s most often taught as a fear-based decision where knowledge is a dangerous thing. And that’s a damn shame.

I wonder if any of these issues made it into the article promoted on this page of Conservative Teen magazine. Why do I doubt it? And why do I suspect the “science” that claims to be involved? Probably for the same reason I dismiss most alternate-universe “science” conducted and bankrolled by those who desire predetermined results.

Just looking at this page makes me lose hope that this article is an honest picture of teen sex. Marriage? Really? In a teen magazine in 2012? Can’t we just make like Salt-N-Pepa and talk about sex? Sorry to upset your social mores, but the two aren’t the same thing. There comes a time in most young lives where the difference between the two becomes glaringly apparent. Usually in a dark room late at night. Then what?

This picture isn’t the best example of abstinence anyway. A couple that’s barely older than me combined isn’t proof of True Love Waiting. Show me a couple of 32-year-old virgins and I’ll be impressed.

The “success” of abstinence lies in very young marriages. That’s not waiting — that’s not waiting. The way I see it, sex is something you do when you’re ready. And that isn’t always your wedding night. Nor should it be. Marriage is a major commitment, and it shouldn’t be decided by your libido any more than a decision to practice unsafe sex.

Teens, listen up: you have options. You don’t have to 1) wait until you’re married to have sex or 2) get married young just to have sex. You can also 3) get an honest education about sex and make the decision on your own, whenever that is, and still be a good person.

Be ready, whether it be sex or marriage.

No

(Third in the Conservative Teen Takedown series)
• Having Michael Reagan writing an article about Ronald Reagan’s legacy is the very definition of journalistic integrity.

• Having Michael Reagan answer the article’s headline with an emphatic no in the first paragraph makes the headline’s approach seem tabloid-like. Which in turn doesn’t provide much of an incentive to keep reading.

• Pitching Reagan as a friend to African-Americans deserves a counter opinion from Archbishop Desmond Tutu from the 1980s: “Your president is the pits as far as blacks are concerned.”

• The statistics cited are as complete as a blind man’s mental picture of an elephant, which is to say he’s only grabbed some of the ass.

• The only reason to point out Joseph Perkins’ race is to trivialize it. Classic Herman Cain Syndrome at work: we’re supposed to like the guy just because he’s black, even though his views are repellent and his stats flawed.

• Reagan’s 1977 CPAC speech would be booed off stage today. And there’s no proof that he heeded its content even in 1980.

• Apparently the opposite of living as a conservative is to want to fail, live under tyranny and to have weak, broken families. Who defines this shit?

• The heart-warming anecdote near the jump almost works ... but the two black teammates still had to sleep separately, 15 miles from the rest of the team. Yay? (Also, consider that Reagan grew up liberal and shifted politics later in life. Is it possible he repudiated everything he supposedly learned from his “color-blind” parents?)

• I won’t say anything about the relevance of this article to teens, because there isn’t any.

From my cold, dead keyboard

I've often said that conservative humor usually fails. And it does for these main reasons: 1) they cannot poke fun at themselves or their institutions; 2) the philosophy itself is mean; 3) the jokes are predictable and repetitive; 4) the level of sophistication rarely reaches beyond low-lying fruit; 5) gags must fight with talking points for air time; and most importantly, 

6) the joke is often based on a completely false fact or stereotype.

With so much of this type of humor, you have to subscribe to ideas that aren't tied in any way to reality. I disprove a lot of liberal stereotypes just by existing, but that hasn't prevented past trolls from dissing my pot-smoking, patchouli-scented ways. That actually is hilarious.

Behold the graphic below, which has sparked an interesting discussion over at The Looking Spoon, a conservative humor website. (You might recognize one of the names.)

And yes, I realize that this isn't a JOKE, per se. Refer to point 5 above.
Whoever created this* feels not only that Obama is actively hostile toward the Second Amendment, but is unique enough in that hostility to make history. Not even Bill Clinton made the cut, so you know this is serious.

In the comment section, I asked why President Obama deserves inclusion with famous gun-grabbing tyrants, when his only gun-related legislation has been to allow concealed-carry in nation parks. As far as tyranny goes, that's kind of not that at all.

In response, I got numerous references to gun programs and scandals, as well as a long list of votes Obama made on weapons legislation. They made a comprehensive case for the American left as being against the Second Amendment, if that's defined as voting for or otherwise talking about any checks on any and all arms whatsoever, ever.

Still, there's really nothing pointing specifically to President Obama as a hater of firearms, let alone singularly determined to repeal the Second Amendment. And that's why this graphic, like many of its ideological brethren, fails.  

If I saw one of these comparing George W. Bush to Nixon, Napoleon and Custer, I'd get it. Warmongers with fatal flaws. You wouldn't even need to spell it out. Whether or not they agreed with the premise, most people would get it right away. Hell, even a comparison of Barack Obama and Jimmy Carter makes sense, because you can debate whether they're both failed liberal presidents or underrated executives beset with circumstances beyond their administrations. Either way, these contain kernels of universal truth that serve as jumping-off points for debate.

But the idea of Obama as an iconic gun-grabber? Explainable only with lengthy rationalizations and tortured associations. Certainly no single smoking gun that would make most people look at this and go, "Aha! He belongs there."

For this to work, you have to believe the false fantasy to begin with, and care less about laughing than feeling right. Which gives me an idea for a joke book... hold on ...

*-Much of the content is pulled from Facebook and elsewhere and is uncredited.

Friday, March 30, 2012

No longer Charlotte's sloppy seconds

The NBA is considering a rebranding of the New Orleans Hornets. May I submit some suggestions?

Bounty Hunters
Phat Dominoes
New Orleans Basketball Saints (NOBS)
Paints
Whorenets
Whodats
Canaille Canals
Pole Greasers
Hurricanes
Lestats
Quarters
Basket Cases
Post Apocalyptic
Da Yats
Porters
Po-Boys
Bouncin' Bensons
Easies
Floodgators
ThrowMisters
Tricks
Beadazzlers
Hustlers
Voodunks
The Category Five

Or we could piggyback off names of current and former NBA teams:

AverageSonics
Fishnets
The Humidity (As in, “The Heat is bad, but The Humidity is terrible” - stolen joke)
Ponchartrain Lakers
The Drizzlies
The Lizards (Bullets also available)
Alligator Nuggets
Naginbockers
Bayou State Worriers
Rebound Kings
Actual Jazz

Any other ideas?

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Apple, meet orange. Your colors are different.

I see this being passed around by people as if it means anything:


His failure to respond to three letters sent to the White House was because there was no "political value" and not worthy of a few minutes of his time.

What I’m about to say is meant in no way to minimize the impact of this or any other murder. But why is this case supposed to be on par with the Trayvon Martin killing?

The double-homicide of two British students in Florida is a tragedy in the sense that all murders are a tragedy. But it’s not a miscarriage of justice, and that’s the difference. The killer in this case has been convicted and is in prison. That’s a pretty substantial difference from the fact that the man who admitted to shooting Trayvon (and whose alibi is rapidly falling apart) was let go without charge and is now in hiding. The incident opens up a multitude of questions about self-defense laws, police procedurals and the roles of appearances and racial prejudice in determining risk factors. The whole country is talking about these things, and rightfully so.

The parents of the British victims are understandably upset about the deaths of their sons. But do they not understand why President Obama is weighing in on the Trayvon case and not theirs? I seriously doubt it’s the hostile snub that they (and the Telegraph article) make it out to be. The quote about “no political value” is not Obama’s or anyone associated with Obama; it comes from the parents. Not that you’d necessarily ascertain that from the Telegraph’s questionable reporting (the Telegraph, incidentally, is a right-wing mouthpiece on par with the Washington Times or the New York Post). Instead, we’re left to think Obama told them to quit wasting his time. But this is not the case. Why would the Telegraph single this Obama comment out and lead with it? And why would people feel the need to share it when similar murders and resultant frustration abound?

The only guess I can muster is that it’s supposed to show that attention over the Martin case is racially motivated. And that President Obama in particular is favoring the black victim of a white/Hispanic shooter over the white victims of a black assailant.

In other words, it’s supposed to prove the president is racist.

Same old agenda. Different day.

If there’s any other reason for sharing the article (or for the article itself, even), I’d love to hear it.

Was that headline meant to be hot?

Page 6 of Conservative Teen continues in the vein of the rag’s clever cover.


Prior to writing and researching this article, Matt Philbin received his marching orders:

“Matt, write a piece about how the liberal media is out to destroy American values through such authoritative mouthpieces as Katie Couric.”

“But isn’t she off the CBS Evening News now?”

“Doesn’t matter. She’s a liberal! No telling how many teens she’s corrupted through her broadcast by having pictures of people on her office walls.”

“How many teens these days even watch network news, let alone rely on Katie as their lone and unquestioned source for information?”

“Matt ... stop thinking. You’re violating corporate policy.”

“Sorry.”

“The point is that self-interested, hyper-partisan jackals run the mainstream media, and we have to get the good word out to teenagers so that they know not to trust its devious ways. And what better way to do that than through Conservative Teen magazine?”

“I’m on board. But how do we appeal to the teenage demographic?”

“I hear ‘Glee’ is a favorite among the whippersnappers. Let’s write up a piece that, at first glance, seems to celebrate the show, but then trashes it for being immoral, filthy and promoting the evil notion of tolerance! Comrade Katie appeared on an episode.”

“Oh, boy! I was about to ask how I could shoehorn in my disgust for sex and homosexuals (homosexual: someone who chooses to favor the libidinal company of the same gender, just to spite Jesus). I’d hate for that to go to waste!”

“That thing you just did with the definition? DO THAT IN THE ARTICLE!! A lot!”

“I got the idea from Cricket magazine.”

“That kids’ magazine that features intelligent literature and no advertising? Are you some kind of commie?”

“Iamnotnorhaveeverbeenacommunist!”

“Eh, even a broken clock is right twice a day. Roll with the definitions. Teens need to know what 'smutty' means, especially if we're going to tell them it's what 'Glee' is."

“Will do. Hey, I have an idea for a photo illustration. We could order a stock shot of teen dudes having fun but looking very gay —”

“No need. We’ve already got a bunch in our ... archives.”

“Cool!”

“OK, so I want 12 inches —”

“That’s what she said.”

“HA! I mean, heavens! I want 12 inches of copy on why ‘Glee’ is a danger to our youth, by secretly introducing the idea that gays, sex, drinking and immodest dress exist.”

“People who watch the show need their eyes opened to this!”

“I smell a Pulitzer. The good kind, not the worthless ones the mainstream media always win.”

“Maybe even a Nobel Peace Prize ... that’s what it is, right? For pieces?”

“I just have one more request for you, Matt.”

“Yeah?”

“Can you write the article in a way that makes ‘Glee’ look as enticing — and you as square — as possible?”

“Corporate policy!”

“Get on it!”

I'll bet it has ads for cigarettes, too

Meet Conservative Teen magazine! There’s actually some debate over whether it’s a real thing, given that its website has been UNDER CONSTRUCTION (or wherever it directs at the moment) ever since Buzzfeed ran and ridiculed some of its pages. Some of those pages indeed seem to suggest that it’s a parody or forgery.

But I think it’s 100 percent real. Why? Because I recognize every byline. Because the Media Research Center (the force behind the “funny” NewsBusted videos with Jodi Miller) is the real deal. Because these are really articles I would expect to see in something called Conservative Teen magazine. But mostly, because it’s such an on-target example of everything that’s wrong with today’s conservatism, and why it will never resonate with its target demographic (as they might put it).

Let’s look at the cover, if you can. Lots of pickings here. Where to start?


• The cover looks fake, like something done before illustration programs came along. Much of the type looks tacked on by a cheap word-processing program (the way I currently make my graphics ... I rest my case).

• The cover is as white as the two blonde, blue-eyed teen specimens on the cover. (Though it could count against the mag’s authenticity that the girl’s showing a little forearm. Nice job with the neckerchief, though.)

• “Countering liberal bias” is billed on par with “fostering conservative values.” Of course it is — though it seems to be the same thing these days. Conservatives are more obsessed with destroying their ideological opponents than they are with standing up for anything of their own. Notice too how they don’t stand up for “truth” or “justice,” but “conservative values.” It’s probably the one time they don’t hijack a universally good word for their own benefit. And the one time they should.

• “Hot air & cold facts of liberal media bias.” Seriously, that’s the big tease on the cover? Are they aware that teens care about many things other than that? Do conservative teens not want to read advice about dating, bullying or acne? (Fifty ways to make her know her place? Atomic Wedgies: Nerd Deterrent? Why greasy fast food is your God-given freedom and duty?) And that if teens do care about liberal media bias, they can check out adult media outlets like the National Review, the Washington Times, Fox News, Newsmax, WorldNetDaily, Rush Limbaugh and other explicitly conservative media that constantly whines about how the mainstream media doesn’t give enough airtime to their alternate realities?

• “Why the unborn need our protection, p.27.” This appears as a one-sentence blurb: “You deserve it, harlot.”

• “PLUS: Why abstinence works, p.24” ... three pages before the unborn-protection article! I’m guessing there’s no ad for “protection” in between these two disturbingly chronological articles.

• “Welcome to the debt-paying generation.” Now, that’s what teens love! Irony.

Next time: The next page. This is going to take a while.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

For God's sake...

Seen on The Looking Spoon along with other terrible things
Stop trying to soften Trayvon Martin's murder!!

Even if school suspensions over allegedly having empty drug paraphernalia and adorable faux-thug photos made Trayvon a bad guy ... even if every detail of George Zimmerman's attack story was true ... even if the media truly had a unified agenda to bring down a brave vigilante ... even if race was absolutely not a factor in the incident ... even if Zimmerman isn't an unrepentant assailant 100 percent of the time ...

The fact remains that a neighborhood watchman with no law enforcement authority followed and provoked a boy he deemed suspicious based on his outfit, disobeyed official orders to leave him alone and shot him to death. And the shooter is still free, because an insane Florida law all but condoned it.

This is a terrible tragedy and injustice, and every attempt to mitigate it is stupid and/or racist. And if you doubt that, how does this look?


I don't recall anybody making this point back then. I wonder why.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

March Mayday Madness

So apparently a JetBlue flight from New York to Las Vegas had to be diverted to Amarillo, Texas, today because the pilot went nuts. Eyewitnesses report he screamed, "Iraq, al-Qaida, terrorism, we’re all going down." TSA confirms the pilot has a "medical condition."

Hmmm. A jet pilot ranting about unverified links between Iraq and al-Qaida, and alarming Americans about an imminent threat in a way that only makes it worse?


I'm glad we're treating this as an illness now.

Unsuitable: My hoodie video

Monday, March 26, 2012

Back fired?

I like the idea of Bill Parcells possibly coaching the Saints for a year while Sean Payton serves his suspension as a Fox Sports analyst. 

I doubly like the idea that Roger Goodell might not have seen this coming, and that it's exactly what he didn't want to happen.

So if it all comes to fruition, I'm happy. If it gives Payton some leverage in saying, "Yeah, let's just maybe consider the appeal instead," I'm happy.

Always go down fighting.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Goodell grief

If the Saints’ ongoing trial by tyrant has any silver lining, it’s that people are waking up to what a terrible commissioner the NFL has in Roger Goodell. I’ve disliked him since his first season in 2006, and I’ve often felt like I was the only fan in America who didn’t adore the man. It didn’t help that I wasn’t able to articulate precisely what bugged me about him. But now New Orleans fans understand. And soon enough, other teams’ supporters will too. It’s just a matter of time before the commissioner once again gets the itch to make another statement.

And when that itch rears its venereal head again, many of us will only be too happy to scratch. Take it away, Christine Brennan:

Roger Goodell gave our increasingly permissive, slap-on-the-wrist society a wonderful gift Wednesday afternoon. The NFL commissioner showed us what real punishment looks like.

That asinine pair of pearl-clutching sentences encapsulates everything that is wrong with pro sports, media and society in general.

American history is littered with leaders who turned their domains into autocracies. J. Edgar Hoover. Joe Arpaio. George W. Bush. Vince McMahon. Polarizing figures praised by advocates for “getting things done,” and reviled by critics for quashing dissent. Greedy people interested in being feared authority figures above all else, even as they pay marginal lip service to our best interests.

Add Goodell to those ranks. He is driven by power, but even more by money — specifically, the need to protect NFL profits. His safety campaign boils down to dodging lawsuits, hence his willingness to arbitrarily crucify teams for bounties, but to not splurge on the most technologically advanced helmets. It’s also why, despite the safety talk, he wanted an 18-game season. He’s rightfully aware that sports is a business, but seems to forget there’s more to it than that.

It’s also about entertainment. And Goodell’s been in the luxury suite too long to understand what entertainment actually entails. In his mind, we fans are too delicate to tolerate the uppity antics of certain players, nor will we stand for any kind of touchdown celebration. And we definitely won’t watch any game that doesn’t involve the anticlimactic triumph of the league’s largest-market teams led by its most marketable players. No, what we really want is a squeaky clean game of minimal-contact football played by stoic players who exhibit class by having no fun whatsoever. And if we can’t afford a ticket, then at least we should have to buy hi-def flatscreens and expensive satellite packages to see what’s going on.

Oh, and is it too much to ask that the NFL be our arbiter of moral values? After all, our “increasingly permissive, slap-on-the-wrist society” could use a stern father figure to set our wayward selves straight. Sure, I’m nearly 32, but football brings out the kid in me — and that kid will be corrupted if exposed to anything more emotionally ambiguous than Miracle Whip. Right, Christine?

Such unblinking allegiance to Goodell here and elsewhere is a stain on the media, whose job it’s supposed to be to question the merit of his “wonderful gift” to the Saints. Do we even care whether or not the punishment fits the crime anymore, or have we all become Nancy Grace disciples? Punishment isn’t even punishment anymore; it’s a fetish. It’s to us what war was to George W. Bush: not something entered into after careful consideration as a last resort, but a brash, honking flexing of our most blood-engorged muscles. And there’s no drug testing of any kind in this bloodsport, because the juice is what makes it thrilling.

The conversation isn’t at all about what bounty systems mean for the integrity of the NFL, or their threat to player safety. There’s little debate over whether the details have been misconstrued, or whether it’s fair to clamp down one team and hope it makes others clean up their act. The conversation is barely about safety, or even football, at all. Instead, it’s about the glory of Goodell and his ability to get things done. How he foisted a harsh punishment, and how wonderful that is. Because a suitable punishment for a transgression is no longer enough; everything has to be an over-the-top morality lecture. They say, “Look how severe we are!” And instead of thinking, “That’s unfairly harsh,” we say, “Wow! They’re not messing around.”

The problem isn’t that America is a “permissive, slap-on-the-wrist society” — it’s that the exact opposite is true. We love swift, vocal and draconian retribution, and Goodell is only too happy to dole it out. If there had been no Saints scandal, or no Michael Vick, he would have created them. Not because he cares, but because he can.

The silver lining is that Goodell has overplayed his hand. And that finally hits home for a lot of us. It’s opened up the long-overdue debate on flashy punishment versus consistent enforcement — a debate that has ramifications far beyond the diversion that is pro football.

That alone may redeem the commissioner. Let’s hope.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Consider me risen

Something's on my mind right now that began as a debate but ended as something else altogether. As a result, I removed a friend from Facebook who I'd known years ago and knew to be a good guy. I'm sad that I did it, but the damage is done. 

Take it from someone who knows: "getting a rise" or "yanking your chains" is a shitty reason to say something. Believe what you say, always! If it pisses someone off, fine — anything worth saying is bound to draw critics. But that should never be the point. If it is, at least don't turn it around on the offended people and trash them for having the nerve to feel insulted.

Leave that attitude on the junior high playground where it belongs.

A thought amid the Saints suspensions

Roger Goodell claims he cares about players' safety and the integrity of the game.

If he cared about player safety, he wouldn't have tried to extend the season to 18 games, nor would the league have fought the NFLPA's efforts to get more money to treat veterans' lingering injuries.

If he cared about the integrity of the game, he'd level appropriate penalties all the time, not just when he wants to grandstand.

I'm not saying the Saints didn't deserve penalties, but this judgment was at least partially motivated by the desire to make a statement. Make no mistake.

And make no mistake — the statement won't work, because Goodell is the Vince McMahon of pro sports. Teams know what they can and can't get away with depending on who they are.

"Well then, I guess there's only one thing left to do ... win the whole fuckin' thing." — Jake Taylor, Major League

Tim Tebow huddles with God

“Are you there, God? It’s me, Tim.”

“Tim, you’re a bit fuzzy. Maybe adjust your signal a little bit.”

[Tebows.] “Can you hear me now?”

“Crystal clear.”

“Why hast thou forsaken me?”

“Is this about that Peyton Manning thing?”

“Yes!”

“What about it?”

“Well, despite my repeated prayers to you, you have decided that I am not blessed enough to be the starting quarterback for the Denver Broncos.”

“I think you’re reading Me wrong. See, you’ve not only beaten incredible odds throughout your life to display football talent at both the collegiate and professional levels, but you’ve cultivated a personality that ensures people will talk about you for the rest of your life, no matter what happens. Many of your better athletes can only dream about that.”

“And I’m grateful for all that. But I want to be the best I can be. I appeal to you, Lord!”

“I may work in mysterious ways, Tim, but I gave you a set of eyes and a brain. Use them to learn a passing scheme, maybe. It’s not all begging and groveling, you know. You have to use what’s at your disposal on Earth to excel.”

“But my faith — ”

“Is terrific, and I appreciate it. But if devout Christian faith were all it took to succeed, Jimmy Carter would still be president.”

“Wha?”

“And Me forbid if merely name-dropping Jesus guaranteed anything. My extensive, natural system of checks and balances ensuring pontificating sub-mediocrities like Rick Santorum and Sarah Palin never rise to the top exists for a reason. And that’s why I’m counting on you, Tim.”

“Me, O Lord?”

“Yes, you, Tim. You see, right now you are the national lightning rod for Christian faith. You can be polarizing at times, but ultimately you are a football player. Everybody talks about you. You’re young and relevant. But most importantly, you have potential. Potential to earn your high-profile status by becoming the best quarterback you can be. Potential to be a religious conservative in the public eye who isn’t completely abhorrent and worthy of mockery. Someone who actually lives by the principles they claim and makes a difference in the process. A lot of Americans who consider themselves Christian and conservative beseech me constantly to bless them with a representative who isn’t awful. So, Tim, I beg you ... study that playbook, please! Wherever you land.”

“Oh, yes, Lord! Thank you. I won’t let you down.”

“Please don’t. I’m tired of people seeing your 316-yard playoff game as a sign from Me. If they’re going to read something into your stats that isn’t there, I at least want those stats to be high.”

“What’s next for me, Lord?”

“It’ll play out in due time. You’ll see.”

“But — ”

“But nothing. I’ve got a whole world to worry about! Go do your thing.”

“I thought that was a sin.”

“You know what I mean!”

“Gotcha.”

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Welcome, Madison Jane McGibboney!

My first-ever niece, born on Sunday night. Seven pounds, 12 ounces. My brother said it will be my job to buy her Onion books ...
Though this adorable picture suggests she'll love "The Blair Witch Project."

Making real marks in fake places

On Sunday night, my brother and his wife welcomed Madison Jane into our crazy world, making me an uncle for the first time. We all knew she was coming, so I headed into Lafayette that afternoon. En route, the casting agency called to tell me to be ready at 7 a.m. Monday for my first call on “Treme.” While I hung around the waiting room doing McGibboney family things, an e-mail notification pushed that time up to 6:30. It would be a marathon couple of days, but I do like excitement. Madison debuted in time for me to see and hold her before I had to hit the road back to Baton Rouge and catch four winks.

I thought the parents were supposed to be the ones getting two hours of sleep.

The next morning, it took me an hour and 15 minutes to drive from Baton Rouge to New Orleans. I then spent the next 45 trying to find the designated parking spot. Here’s why: one-ways are Kryptonite to my sense of spatial reasoning. I can navigate the French Quarter on foot perfectly fine — but put me behind the wheel there, and I am a blithering idiot. I eventually found my destination street, only to find that I needed to be on the other, wrong end. I talked to one convenience store clerk, a sheriff’s deputy and two police officers before finding my way. That left me nearly half an hour late for the casting call, but the buses hadn’t yet left yet. After all my sleep-deprived stress and boiling frustration — exacerbated by my lack of sleep — all I missed was a long wait.

Originally, I was cast to be an “upscale dining patron.” But they bumped me to “Bourbon Street crowd” which, after seeing a crowd of suit-and-jacket-clad background players stand in the Bourbon Street sun for much of the afternoon, seemed like a relief.

The first scene we shot takes place in 2008, on the Friday before Mardi Gras, and depicts the Greasing of the Pole at the Royal Sonesta Hotel. We were asked to wear Mardi Gras apparel if we had it, which I did. No shorts or short sleeves, because it’s February and it would obviously be freezing in the Big Easy then. I wore a long-sleeved shirt adorned with Mardi Gras stripes and jeans; I brought beads in my gym bag but in the chaos forgot to adorn them. Nevertheless, the costume designer (who was making nearly everybody change) glanced at me and immediately said, “You look fabulous.”

Walking to the set was like entering a confined Mardi Gras time warp, where the Saints had not yet won the Super Bowl and my blog was an occasionally updated mess based in a far-flung apartment in Missouri. Quite a different time.

Once I made it to Bourbon Street, a crew member placed me directly behind series stars David Morse and Wendell Pierce, who exchange some lines of dialogue. Flanking me were a young guy on my right and two party women on my left. All around us were fake NOLA police officers, including my pal Clay from “The Hot Flashes.” Once we were set in our places, Morse turned around and asked us how we were doing.

Our job was to ogle the burlesque dancers and be party people in general. I tend to be animated in real life, and nearly hammy when it comes to physical acting, so I tried my best to dial it back. I decided the guy next to me was a travel buddy, and we mocked a conversation about how sexy this was, which dancer was our favorite, how we needed to visit more often, etc. I spent much of the first take craning my head around Morse, checking out the revelry with great interest. We also interacted with the women on our left, one of whom kept talking about being paddled.

After the first few takes, the director said to us guys, “You’re acting like you’re studying for a math test! Feed off her energy,” he said, pointing to the woman next to me, who was trying to pinch our nipples. A math test?!! What a perfect motivator, I told the director. If he only knew. He seemed satisfied with us on subsequent takes. The resultant overcompensation will be apparent when you see the show. (When I got on the bus at the end of the day, I heard a girl behind me refer to the guys who “were taking a math test.” Fame!)

Afterward, they sent us back to the holding area, where they asked us to form a line to process out. By then the second and third wave of extras had crowded the place, and they wanted the first wave (us) to clear out quickly to ease confusion. I found myself at the back of a serpentine line that ran the entire diameter of the room. About a minute later, a guy counted off the farthest people and had us head out for a second scene.

We were to shoot an establishing shot of Bourbon between the Hustler Club and Galatoire’s. My job was to cross the street on cue and keep walking. Because I was on the edge of the shot, and standing on the side of the street not caught on camera, I found myself surrounded by real tourists. On my left, a Japanese family marveled at the action; a family from Brazil stood to my right. I know they’re from Brazil because at first I mistook them for locals and asked them a question about Bourbon. So much for my local cred.

The next (and for me, final) shot had me walking from the Hustler Club to Galatoire’s. This required me to spend a lot of time in front of Hustler magazine covers, and feel the shaving cream-scented cool air seeping through the folding doors. Believe me when I say this made for some difficult downtime.

Before that shot began, a sheriff’s deputy walked up to me and asked if I was a stand-in for one of the actors. “A man can dream,” I replied. I asked if he was a real deputy or an actor playing a deputy. He said he was acting as a deputy. Then he laughed and said that he really was one, which may or may not have been him acting like a deputy. No, he really was.

In between takes, an older couple wandered near me and asked what was going on. I said we were shooting “Treme” for HBO. They probably thought I was important. I didn’t correct them.

After the crew dismissed me for the afternoon, I ran into nipple-pincher, who I’d been talking with on and off all day. We went to Yo Mama’s and ate hamburgers. She told me she worked as Brooke Shields’ stand-in on “The Hot Flashes” and is a yoga instructor. Her driver’s license said she was born in 1961, which can only mean it’s fake. We talked a lot about life in New Orleans and she showed me around some galleries where she knew (and introduced me to) local personalities. 

Afterward, I came home and slept until a few minutes ago.

Crack of dusk

This post has one express purpose: so that new people accessing this site — on mobile devices, especially — aren't immediately drawn to the "PROUD R.A.C.I.S.T." bumper sticker I've had front and center for the past three days, and draw the wrong conclusion.

And also, to assure everyone that I'm still alive. It's been a marathon couple of days. You'll read about it soon. I'm basically just waking up now.

So that's two express purposes, I guess.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

What it means to be R.A.C.I.S.T.

Rick's Army Condemning Indecency Somewhere Tawdry
Republicans Advocating Calling Issues Socialist Tripe
Regardless Any Coverup, Is Sans Tact
Regards All Commentary In Socialist Terms
Reagan Always Called It Something Tasteful
Rape: Ayn Calls It Sexy Time
Regretful A Chicago Interracial Signs Things
Rich Asses Committed In Stalling Taxes
Reprehensibly Amoral Cretins Irrationally Scared Together
Redneck Armies Cowering Inside Shacks Toothless
Recipients' Aid Covers Ironic Socialist Talk
Roaring Angry Charlatans Indiscriminately Screaming Threats
Robotically Afraid Change Is Something Terrible
Rightfully Awkward Concept Involves Segregating Thoroughly
Robocalls Aimlessly Conducted In Southern Towns
Retrograde Americans Conveniently Ignoring Shifting Times
Revenue Accumulation Cuts Incite Skinflint Tendencies
Regular Alienation Creates Ignorance, Severs Ties
Rank Airheads Converge, Incessantly Slight Turbans
Rare Any Conditioned Idiot Seeks Therapy
Reversing Asinine Congenital Inbreeding Seems Tough
Right-Aligned Crass, Insane, Stingy Thought
Rotting American City Infrastructure? Slander Thugs!
Radio Airtime Calls Inject Stupid Tirades
Rights Are Civil; Ingrates Snub Tolerance
Really, A Cracker Is Shamefully Transparent

Dunce Capital

Words cannot convey how excited I am to see teachers in Louisiana vehemently opposing Gov. Bobby Jindal’s “education” plan. I believe the plan is a veritable what’s-what of terrible, profit-driven measures that will only plunge the public school system into greater chaos (which might be the point).

A lot of my friends are teachers — in fact, it may be the most common profession among my college friends. What’s struck me most in the past few days is the nearly universal outrage they share over Jindal’s plan. It’s not because my teacher friends are all bleeding-heart liberals; many have never before had a bad thing to say about a Republican. Being blamed for all of society’s problems tends to sting regardless of political stripe.

It’s pretty surreal to see Jindal and his apologists express so much hostility toward educators. To hear the governor tell it, teachers are the least accountable people in society. They use their cushy positions for their own personal benefit rather than heed the charge to make life better for the students entrusted in their care.

The teachers, I mean.

Think about 99 percent of the conversations you’ve ever had about teachers. What always comes up? “They’re underpaid and overstretched.” “It’s a job you do because you love it, not for the pay.” “The work doesn’t end with the bell.” Add to that references to “stacks of papers to grade” and “paying for supplies out of my own pocket,” etc., and you’ve got an accurate picture of the grind that is teaching.

So it’s a remarkable feat by Jindal and Co. that they’re so adept at vilifying educators as pampered union thugs. It’s equally remarkable that anyone buys it. We’ll drop our sympathy for teachers as fast as the governor requests; he doesn’t even have to ask twice. When throngs of teachers took the day off to protest in Baton Rouge, critics saw it not as a teachable moment in fighting the power, but as an excuse to shortchange the children further. Why is that? Why do we believe the lunacy that teachers are selfish while Jindal and his cronies are paragons of integrity, completely free of influence? Why are we upset that teachers have the audacity to fight for their livelihoods? Is that something only profit-driven corporatists have permission to do now? At least teachers provide a worthwhile service in which we all share.

Educators face an uphill battle in combating the misinformation put out there by Jindal and his band of apologists. Tenure doesn’t make a teacher immune to accountability; it ensures that they aren’t fired for unfair or political reasons without recourse. A truly terrible teacher, or one who commits crimes, is going to face the music regardless. Also, Jindal says the unions care only about coddling teachers. I guess in his poisoned line of thinking, teachers will improve only if they have all job security taken away and their resources gutted even further. To say nothing of the flawed and arbitrary standards used to determine if a teacher is “successful.”

But Jindal maligns tenure along with unions to the extent that the public has forgotten that these are powerful checks on corporate and political abuse. Is it any coincidence that the Republicans, the party in favor of corporate power and against government services at all turns, wants to see those checks dead?

That should be obvious to anyone who’s smarter than a 5th-grader. Then again, a lack of critical thinking is what got us here in the first place.

Friday, March 16, 2012

A failure to discriminate

I have a theory that, somewhere in America, there’s a giant freezer containing a bag full of heads. Our heads. We certainly seem to have lost them.

The point of the billboard below was that quoting the Bible to justify American law is wrong, because we tend to leave out the inexcusable bits. The sign was vandalized and taken down the next day — not because people objected to its church-and-state message, but because they thought it was racist.


This reflects very poorly on both the group who created it, and those who objected to its content. And that’s frustrating, because both groups are absolutely right about their respective issues. I’m totally with those who argue the Bible (like any religious text) is rife with ambiguous, conflicting, archaic and straight-up sick passages, rendering it unsuitable for the basis of a democracy. I also consider myself sensitive to racial issues, which are still alive and slithering in the U.S.

But there are times when even the most well-intentioned groups just need to find that freezer.

Atheists can be as annoying as religious fanatics — both tend to share an absolute certainty in their views, and both favor the harsh, “You’re an idiot who’s wrong” approach to persuasion. I won’t defend their particular approach to this billboard, because I would have done it differently.

To suggest that the spot is racist against African-Americans, however, is a stretch. I don’t blame anyone for thinking that on first glance. But the sign is making the point that the Bible condones (or at least accepts) institutions that Americans abhor. To perpetuate the incorrect first impression is to do a disservice to the real prejudice that minorities face. Non-issues like this give ammo to those who dismiss good groups like the NAACP (and the ACLU, et al.) as ambulance chasers.

Unfortunately, Americans are not especially receptive to nuanced arguments. We’re so fond of killing the messenger that it could be a natural bridge between the First and Second Amendments. In grad school, I wrote an essay titled, “I Am Woman, Hear Me Whimper,” wherein I argued that a male author had little respect for his female characters. Many of those who read the essay got the idea that I agreed with his sentiments — probably from the title, which I coined at the height of my “sling provocation and see what sticks” phase — and accused me of sexism. That same year, I was also accused of racism for writing a column recounting some of the depths to which a KKK public-access show had plunged. Few things in life sting worse than being vilified for being something you go out of your way not to be. I’ll bet the people behind the billboard don’t have a racist bone among them.

That said, slavery was not the best way to make this point. Slavery in the Bible has a different demographic and historical context than the black servitude of America’s early days; a picture of a Jewish slave would have been more accurate. But why depict any slave at all? The quote is the point, but its underlying message (which has nothing to do with race or slavery) is now lost in the brouhaha over its clunky delivery. The billboard could have made the same point about the Bible by choosing from a myriad of ignored passages. Citing the prohibition on double-blend fabrics, for example, is not only eye-opening and funny, but has the benefit of not being potentially misconstrued.

This could work too.
Maybe then we could focus our outrage on things that are really racist, like this:

I'm sure it's just a spelling issue.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Extra! Extra! Read all about it

Last night, I served as an extra on the film "The Hot Flashes." A few stray observations:

• I make far better corner shots in pool under the glare of a motion-picture camera.

• After five hours or so, a beer-bottle prop really makes your hand sweat.

• Prop smoke smells like maple syrup. It doubles as pure humidity. Late in the shoot, someone pointed out that, despite the thick bar smoke, not a single bar patron had a prop cigarette.

• My two cohorts in the scene were also journalists, one who covered the Saints and another who is based in Baton Rouge. Microscopic world.

• Some background players do it full-time. Some of them asked me why I came all the way to St. Rose from Baton Rouge. Others not only did the same thing, but live down the road from me.

• There's enough paperwork involved to make Ron Paul almost seem like a good choice.

• I wish they'd let us take pictures on the set, but I fully understand why they don't. One crew member did take pictures of us afterward, including one where I posed with the guys I called "my best friends for life in the movie."

• I spent the first several hours sitting at a table with several women who kept comparing themselves and each other to famous actresses. I've learned two things from this: 1) it's best as a guy not to get involved with this conversation, because they'll never like or agree with your answer, even if they seek your opinion, the actress is beautiful and the comparison is valid; and 2) that's it. 

• The producers will see my dancing and assume I was nervous for the camera, though I was just following the filmmakers' lead to be as genuine as possible.

• I learned how to fake clap, which is a way to cock your hands so that no noise actually results. I will be looking for this in every movie I see for the rest of my life.

• I will also assume from here on out that that every crowd I see in a film is way too exhausted to be as happy as they look.

• They served a meal. Crawfish, among other local cuisine. I think that more than tax breaks is the reason Louisiana is the new film mecca.

• They asked us to wear western wear. Luckily for me, I happened to have a work shirt that I rarely wore because I thought it looked too cowboy. The fashion director loved it, raving that it "would do."

• I would love to pick the brains of the crew in charge of us. (I'm sure that makes one of us.) They were all very cool and approachable, considering how overworked they had to be and how people like us probably give them headaches at times.

• The production brought in its own prop trucks for the establishing shot of the bar. Just in case nobody in rural south Louisiana had a 1970s-era Ford pickup.

• Wanda Sykes had an assistant whose job was to hold a small fan to her face. She sang Donna Summer's "Hot Stuff" on karaoke. Because of the way film works, we heard only her vocals without music. She sings like she does comedy: funny.

• If asked, Virginia Madsen will gladly show you how to retrieve billiard balls from a pool table without popping in a quarter. She is incredibly stunning in person and there's no way in hell I would have pegged her for 50. For one glorious take, she handed me her pool cue on her way out of the bar. But that was too difficult based on where we were standing, so she told me she'd hand it over to the film's writer, who stood next to her. I think I'll be a writer now.

• Daryl Hannah is a very approachable person and hung out with a few of us during a break. She happily answered a couple of my questions about the production. Camryn Manheim walked up and asked me how I was doing before a take. Brooke Shields didn't really mingle with anyone, but that's hard to do when makeup artists and hair people are constantly swarming you. She is incredibly cut and still has it.

• Every person I talked to had amazing stories about being on the circuit. I can see why.

Making square feet meet

This graphic, which can be found here, makes a tremendous point. It's also undermining itself:
Why use a two-bedroom apartment as the indicator? If the purpose is to demonstrate how hard it is to get by on a single, minimum-wage income, a one-bedroom apartment is a better, and more damning, metric. A one-bedroom apartment (or an efficiency in major urban areas such as New York City) is something any gainfully employed person should be able to afford. I'm single and rent one-bedroom flats, and even with well-paying, professional jobs and no debt, rent can be a challenging chunk.

To use an analogy: this chart is lamenting that the minimum wage won't buy a brand-new sedan, when the real outrage should be that it often won't buy a beater either.

This isn't to suggest that some people in this situation don't need a two-or-more-bedroom apartment; but if the point is to illustrate how much of our money goes to even the cheapest housing, start at the bottom. Because it's a far, far climb back up.

Devil's advocate


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

School vouchers: Just how terrible are they?

For the longest time, I opposed school vouchers. The reason I disliked them was because I felt tax money shouldn’t go to private schools, especially parochial ones. But in recent months, after giving careful consideration to Gov. Bobby Jindal’s education reform plan — of which vouchers are a primary component — I’ve had a change of heart. Now I hate vouchers for so many more reasons.

School vouchers, in a nutshell, take a share of tax money dedicated to a particular public school and put it in parents’ hands for them to direct toward their school of choice. This theoretically allows children in bad schools to transfer to better ones, including private schools. In fact, proponents call it “school choice,” which makes the whole thing sound so sparkly.

However, I find the idea hard to stomach, largely due to the support it has from conservatives — the wing that openly disdains all things public, and includes many who wouldn’t shed a tear if the school system was dismantled altogether. It takes a slick person to sell vouchers as a solution to our education woes, and Jindal, with his passionate hostility toward teachers’ unions, knows his disaffected audience.

But not all of us buy into the notion that our only two options are to let schools continue to crumble, or adopt Jindal’s plan without hesitation. The governor’s education plan is like most of his plans: austere, punitive and cynical — words I learned in Louisiana public schools, and would like other students to learn as well.

So here’s what’s wrong with vouchers:

• Vouchers are a cure without a disease.

Our education system has enough problems without making up more. The idea behind vouchers is that public schools are failing due to educator apathy, and that free-market competition will light a sufficient fire under their asses to shape up. This cracked idea would fly only in our age, sold as we are on the image of an unmotivated government employee living high on the hog. Does anybody honestly associate that image with a public school teacher? Just being one requires an insane fortitude and a virtual vow of poverty — to say nothing of the incredibly touchy line they have to straddle with parents, administrators and the general public. They say mentoring young minds is its own reward, and we’ve sadly made sure that’s true.

Teachers are overworked, underpaid and underappreciated; voucher types pretend the exact opposite is true. They view public education as if it’s a failing business, specifically Enron. So not only is it flailing in the water, we’re all too happy to throw it an anchor.

America’s obsession with profit motives overlooks the fact that that not everything is meant to be a business, and that some institutions suffer when reduced to a mere spreadsheet. We seem to think public schools should duke it out for our support like they’re stores in a mall — or perhaps the Thunderdome. But really:

• Public schools should be like McDonald’s.

Not in the sense that they offer questionably nutritious fare and the seats are hard — I mean in terms of what they offer. Walk into any McDonald’s anywhere in the United States, and the hamburger you get will look, feel and taste exactly the same as its counterpart 49 states away. And while franchises are everywhere, they don’t compete against each other, because they’re all connected. Likewise, the purpose of public schools is to educate every American, no matter who they are or where they live. Quality public schools should be as ubiquitous as the Golden Arches, and just as surprising to see. Which is to say, not at all.

But voucher advocates want schools to be less like McDonald’s and more like AT&T and Verizon — at each other’s throats. Or, to use an older comparison, Coke and Pepsi at the height of the cola wars. Though maybe it’s more appropriate to say Coke and Faygo, because that’s the imbalance we’d be dealing with. Awarding schools for excellence is fine, but it should be done with an understanding of why schools succeed and fail, and a desire to elevate all schools. Unfortunately:

• Vouchers concede that some schools should just rot.

I once heard someone say, “Why should we care about tap water? I buy bottles.” Vouchers cater to that same self-centeredness: “My son is going to a better school than that hovel.” Sure, all parents want what’s best for their child. But what about that hovel? Will it go away once it’s been stripped of its funding and gutted of its most potentially positive influences? No, it won’t. But it could become a concentrated, crumbling haven for problem students and dispirited educators. And that’s forgotten when apologists argue that voucher programs work: for every success story, there’s someone who didn’t benefit. And if it’s true that vouchers are meant to help everyone, then every student we shortchange is more proof that the solution is a bad one.

• If the state must treat schools as businesses, it should at least try to sell them.

Public education is a civic imperative. It lives and dies by what we put into it in terms of money, support and dedication. Vouchers say, “Eh, screw that. Let’s go Galt.” Not only does it take tax money out of the system, it would also remove many bright students. If parents elect to send their children to private schools, fine. But the state should at least attempt to fix and sell its assets, rather than dare parents to avoid them. Jindal should be thinking of ways to get schools off the hospital bed, instead of announcing that he’s pulled the plug from the get-go.

In New Orleans and Baton Rouge, it’s largely understood that you don’t enroll in public schools if you can help it. Jindal’s plan doesn’t aspire to change that, which is unfortunate for students not in “choice” private schools. And that won’t help anyone, because:

• Choice schools will become un-choice very fast.

Private schools are not magical places buoyed by morals; they benefit from the ability to select their students and enjoy lower student-teacher ratios. If public schools weren’t obligated to teach every child, they’d see similar results. Conversely, if private schools suddenly saw an influx of voucher students, academic prestige would likely take a hit.

• That is, assuming the private schools would even take them in.

Lacking as they do accountability, private schools have no mandate to accept anyone. Vouchers put children’s futures in the hands of institutions that may not want them. Where does that leave the rejected students? Right back in the system that failed them and that we didn’t fix. And that has much less money to work with than before. But that’s their problem, right? If they weren’t enterprising enough, the blame lies with them.

• Vouchers create a distinct class of “them.”

And we know who “they” are. “They” are the reason a lot of people abandon the public school system in the first place. And many who have begrudgingly stuck with the system support vouchers to afford to get away from “them.” Because “they” are the ones who make trouble, and no system that enrolls “them” could possibly be worth improving.

Vouchers promote de facto segregation, is what I’m saying. Whether it’s along racial, academic, cultural, religious or economic lines, some parents want the ability to close off contact with entire demographics. And that violates the spirit of education, as well as society in general. As the world shrinks, our minds must expand. Our children will learn that one way or another.

Let’s let them hear it from us.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Dum


Yes, we're more civilized than countries ruled by tyrants and fanatic militias. That used to be something we bragged about in America until it became inconvenient. 

So I guess we need to start shooting border-jumpers? Or, short of that, sentence them to hard labor? I guess now would be the wrong time to ask Mexican immigrants why they cross into the United States.

Oh, and we're in debt because of deep tax cuts on the wealthiest Americans in the middle of two wars. Yeah.

Worst job ad ever

(Based on way too many of them)

Job title: 
Make up to $65,000 a year with terrific benefits at fun company!

Job description: 
Are you someone who likes to have fun in life and also feed your family? Do you desire out-of-this-world medical, vision and dental benefits? Well, have we got a opening for you! At Dynamics Amalgamated, we operate by our corporate credo of, “Live a Lucrative Life.” Do you think you’re up to the challenge? And the fun? Dynamics Amalgamated is seeking self-motivated individuals for our representative interaction center. The ideal candidate will turn our “Customer Concierge” telephone system into profitable solutions for our enterprise.

Who we’re looking for:
• Self-starting individuals who have no purpose in life but attaining the high that comes from helping our company make money! And also, feeding their families.

• People who thrive working eight hours a day in our patented “Cubicle Community” to deliver the kind of results we require.

• Energetic self-starters who unblinkingly use terms like “energetic self-starter.”

• People who are FUN!

Who we’re not looking for:
• If you plan to use this job as a stopgap or as a steppingstone to a different career, don’t bother applying.

• Those who desire to change the world or otherwise make their mark on society. We need people who are devoted first and foremost to Customer Concierge. The only solutions you should ever think about are our client solutions.

• If you are the kind of person into occasionally missing work for family-related or other issues, we don’t need your drama here. We at DA believe families should be fed, not heard.

• Anyone who feels a boss or supervisor should coddle you. Just by reading this, you should already be hitting the ground running. If you ever need help, you’re weak. We will check your references to make sure you’ve never asked a single question at any of your past jobs.

• People without experience. It’s your fault for being born later than the rest of us. You deserve to be punished accordingly.

• People who aren’t FUN!
Results not typical. Base salary is $14,000. Your family will probably go hungry.

Friday, March 09, 2012

Requiem for an aborted fan page

For the past couple of months, I've been working on a Facebook fan page for this blog. I thought it would be a good way to get my stuff out there to people who might otherwise not know about it. It's been a pretty fun project.

However, I'm hesitant to publish the page now, because according to Facebook policy, this banner image is not allowed:


They request that the primary banner be a photograph or anything else that isn't majority text. They also specifically ban promotions and coupons, which makes me glad I didn't go with the idea of a joke coupon you'd have to cut out of your monitor. You won't get five cents off your next visit, I'm afraid.

It's not hard to imagine why Facebook opposes such things — because they want you to stay on Facebook rather than redirect you anywhere. When they prohibit banner text that they say "belongs in About Me section," what they're saying is they want readers to have to dig to find it. 

Facebook wants to promote your blog the same way Sam's wants to help your small business — by getting its cut (even if there is no "cut" to speak of). Micromanaging your fan page is just one way they do it.

The thing is, I planned on having unique material there. Polls. Quizzes. Conversations. Other things I hadn't yet thought of. The page would have had a purpose in and of itself.

It's really a shame. I was looking forward to the exposure that would have benefited both of us. But since Facebook is a free service and a private company, and I'm powerless, there's nothing I can do about it but (try to) delete the page. I'm not risking them laying claim to my material (as some allege) if I can't even display it the way I want to. No dice.

It works both ways, though. Sort of. I've taken my Facebook sidebar icon off of this page. Not that it matters, because I'm a speck and it's not like you don't know how to get to Facebook. But I do what I can, even if it's not much.

That's one less thing I'll have to occupy my time, at least. It was really cutting into my post frequency here.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Our latest entry in the Conservative Song Challenge

For years, I've been pleading with Republicans to create a good political song. Several innate factors typically prevent this:

1) Conservatism and creativity tend not to mix;
2) Catchy hooks and clever wordplay tend to take a backseat to shoehorning in every aspect of the philosophy being pushed;
3) Which is done with all the subtlety of bricks hurled from mountaintops;
4) Half of the song is about how liberals/not them are wrong and/or evil;
5) The artists tend to be angry and vindictive types you'd avoid at parties;
6) Even by YouTube standards, the songs age quickly.

Today, I saw this ode to Rick Santorum. It's apparently not a joke. It's also not terrible.



Make no mistake — it's not great. It smacks of, "Let's set this campaign pamphlet to music" just like most of its brethren. And there's the amusing temptation to sing, "Gay mon" instead of, "game on." But you at least get the impression that First Love is a band that happens to be conservative, not conservatives who try to be a band. And as ridiculous as the lyrics can be (Santorum aims to raise morale?), they do offer that rare show of support for its own sake. Their brief partisan jabs — in the form of returning to the Constitution and the Rule of the People — are so subtle that they barely register on the Republidar. Also, this family seems like they'd be more fun company than the Right Brothers, the Young Cons or Krista Branch (there's a sweepstakes for you). But what really sells the song is that it's actually a decent, catchy tune, with a meter that suggests some thought was put into it. 

It's no wonder First Love breaks the right-wing mold, because they've never had cable. Which means they've never seen Fox News, lest it turn them into hoodlums. They've got a point there. They also claim never to have bought magazines, so I'm assuming they read them in the store (or online). They've also never been to public school, which presumably accounts for all the unnecessary apostrophe's on their website.

In any case, bravo to First Love for coming as close as Republicans have gotten to a decent song in some time. I just hope Santorum doesn't find the video too raunchy, what with all the girls in it.