The Race to (Mis)Lead

If you've been paying attention, you know the race for the next president of the United States is in full swing. Of all the candidates who threw their hats into the ring, the mass media only pays any attention to two of them now. You know their names. I don't need to rehash.

Some people claim the Democrat is humanity's salvation. Others claim the Republican is the only one who can keep this country on course. And the mass media acknowledges no other parties.

Many of my friends believe one will be better than the other. Perhaps it's due to a stance on the war. Perhaps it has to do with civil rights. The economy. Age. Experience. Wisdom. Hope. My friends, like most of the population, have chosen sides. They are ready to fight for their candidate. The better man must win.

I don't see two different people or two different parties. I see two piles of the same shit. I don't want to step in either, and while I realize one pile may have some slight differences, it all comes from the same source. The status quo will be protected.

Victory will be kind to one of the two candidates. Things may inadvertently get better for the country, but our reckless capitalistic ways will not change. Our moral arrogance will remain firmly in place. We may come out looking better, but you can only put so much make-up on a tumor, and our cancer is at the boiling point.

When I cast my vote, it will be "no confidence." I can't go any other way and still look at myself in the mirror in the morning. I can't vote for anyone who will keep the same lies in place, who will take the same money from the same sources, who will say one thing and cast a vote that goes the other way. I can't and won't. An old anarchist motto is "Only sheep need a leader." I firmly believe that. I'm just shocked that with the way the world is, we have so many people still willing to say, "Baaaa!"


Hero Worship

Every once in a while I'm asked about heroes. Do I have any? Who are they? Why do I think they're heroes?

I don't think I have heroes, per se. There are writers I admire, musicians I admire, film directors I admire and so on. Heroes, though? Heroes are those folks like volunteer fire fighters who dive head first into a flaming building to pull out a drunk who fell asleep with a lit cigarette. That's someone trying to save a life with little regard for their own. Let's face it, even with the proper training there's a lot of danger associated with going into a burning building. At some point you may not make it out alive. Heroes, yes, but I don't worship them.

When I'm asked, I usually instead talk about the people I admire. When it comes to musicians there are three of them. Two of which I've been lucky enough to talk to and even become friendly with.

GG Allin, Henry Rollins, and Jello Biafra.

Allin, whom I was an acquaintance of, was pure emotion. He was dangerous. He made his art (and it was art) mean something. He brought terror back into music, and the audience was worse off for it. He hated the people who came to see him and it showed. I admire that trait in a performer. He understood that the audience was there for him and not the other way around. When he asked my band, JFK's Head, to open for him, we considered it ... for all of ten minutes. Too dangerous for us, but God what a thrill.

Rollins, whom I also used to talk to through e-mail, always represented discipline and self-control. Those are two other traits I admire. He "looked the lie right in the eye" and wasn't "afraid to see too clearly." Introspection took on new meaning, and it was through interviews with him that I became familiar with Nietschze.

Biafra, whom I've written to often but have never heard from, showed me that you could be political and a prankster and make life into one big piece of performance art (like Andy Kaufman -- another one I admire) to not only teach, but to also poke fun. Running for mayor of San Francisco was brilliant. Performing at the Bammies was sublime. Biafra, to quote a Lard song he did, made his life a big prank on a society he hated. I can totally get behind that.

Raw, disciplined emotion aimed at opening eyes and amusing one's self. Those men and those qualities just about say it all. If you can't see it, you'll never get it. And if you do get it, you know how important those things are.

Kafka wrote a story that was called (I believe) "The Hunger Artist." It's about an artist (a performance artist in a cage if I recall correctly) who starves himself. It's an attack on his audience (or at least I read it as such), and that has always stuck with me. Allin, Rollins and Biafra, while all being very different people, also combine all those things "The Hunger Artist" represents.

Hero worship? No way. But a strong respect for the ability of the enlightened? You bet your ass.


Parent on Fire

Every time I pass by Nancy Grace's cable show, which is usually brutal in its delivery and therefore unwatchable, I can't help but see pictures of that smiling, missing kid (whose name I won't mention). The girl's mom reported her missing 31 days after realizing the kid was gone and is now (as of the last report I heard) in jail. A bounty hunter is trying to bail her out because she needs a "friend." What this woman, whose name I also won't mention, really needs is a hammer to the teeth.

Most reasonable, sane parents would not be out hitting night clubs when they discover their kid is missing. Not this mom. She's out there rubbing breasts with other women and chillin'. You'd be hard pressed to find anything wrong in her life. In fact, from all those reported conversations I heard, and all those pictures I've seen, Mom looks like everything is going a-ok. Well, except for the jail thing. (Wonder if she's been rubbing breasts there?)

Whenever I think about a parent hurting a kid, I get a little irrational. Call it the human in me, but I don't think parents should be doing bad things to their offspring. This woman, who Nancy Grace is basing an industry around, should suffer the same fate as her child. If she won't tell authorities where the kid is (she has been, to put it mildly, inconsistent with her stories), she should go missing. I've got a garage, some power tools and a hell of an imagination. Give her to me for a few days. I may be able to get a confession out of her. At the very least I'll have fun.

This bounty hunter, the one who wants to be her "friend," is stating that once she's out he'll find the child within a week. I'm not sure how he knows that, but it would be great if he did. I suspect if that is true, however, that smiling little girl will not be breathing. He's convinced she's still alive, but we all know how well those things usually go. It's a major story when the kid is found alive. It's par for the course when they're dead.

And before you think I'm advocating torturing the mom, I'm not really saying it should be done. I'm just saying I wouldn't shed a tear if it happened. I'd say it's justice served. She obviously knows more than she's saying, and when there is a child involved that is verboten. You don't keep secrets.

If she needs a "friend," then she needs to start acting human ... like a parent ... not some mom finally relieved of a burden, which is what those pictures seem to show.

And if she killed her daughter? Well, I don't believe in Hell, but I do believe that there will plenty of people who would like to put her through their own version of it. Here's to hoping she gets to party with them. Cheers!


Earthquake Update

The earthquake last night was a 4.6, or so I read.

For those keeping score, that's God 0 and Doug 1. I'm still here, jerkface! Put that in your creation and smoke it!


Earthquake at 10:58

As I'm going through my blog stuff, trying to add an End of the World Countdown Counter, and earthquake rattled my house. I'm not a stranger to these types of things, but being on the Northcoast, as it's called, of California, I have to wonder when the next one will be the Big One.

I put this one at a 3.x. Don't know officially, because as I write this the pictures on my wall have finally stopped shaking.

Feeling that as I'm looking at the End of the World Countdown sure gave me a jolt, though. Gotta love when weird things like that happen.


Bigfoot Found?

The picture shows a body in a chest. Bigfoot? A clever hoax? I don't know, but there is a press conference scheduled for later today, and DNA evidence is supposedly being gathered.

I believe there are probably creatures like Bigfoot out there. There have been too many sightings and other "evidence" (I use quotes since the evidence hasn't been proven yet) to make me think something is possibly going on. Then again, a lot of people claim to have seen angels, but I don't believe in those.

I think I want to believe Bigfoot is real. The concept isn't too far out there, and science is discovering new animals from time to time, including those thought to be extinct. I have talked to several people who have claimed to have seen it, and I find most of their stories to be credible. The idea that Bigfoot could be out there appeals to me. I gives me great pleasure in knowing that we, as a society, still don't know everything about the world we live in.

If this body is real (and I have my doubts), it will change things. It won't be like finding an alien body, but it will force the scientific community to rethink the way it treats these tales (Loch Ness Monster and so on). It will be a great story for science and society.

I'll be following this closely. If it's fake, I'll still continue to hold out hope. If it is real, well, I'll be pretty content and even more driven to see one alive (there is going to be an expedition to caputre a live one in the same area the body was supposed to have been found).


Pointless Thunder

"Tropic Thunder" opened yesterday. I haven't seen it yet, but it's touched on things I've written about before -- chiefly actors who portray mentally disabled people and actors in blackface.

I'm not going to rehash those things here. The "Excess Hollywood" columns are thoroughly accessible on the net even by the most inept surfer. What I will say, however, is that I don't understand the protests.

On one level, I do, of course, understand. Nobody likes being made fun of. When mentally disabled people protest the movie and the character of Simple Jack, they are trying to say they don't like the way their group is being portrayed. Fair enough. But how many have seen the picture? How many have thought about the message? How many of them protested Sean Penn when he played the role of a mentally disabled man and took it seriously? (That's far more offensive than someone doing it comedically to make a point.)

Groups protesting art and entertainment, whether they be mentally disabled, gay, or albino, often come across as having no sense of humor, being opportunistic and uneducated. Sad, but true. Every single person in America could find one movie that portrays them in a negative light. How many of them take to the streets with signs bearing "clever" slogans? (I don't know if this lack of protest is due to laziness or because they understand that art and entertainment is just that and not real life, however.)

If mentally disabled groups really wanted to make an impact, they should point out exactly what "Tropic Thunder" is said to do: There are actors who will take the role of a mentally challenged person in order to win awards. Don't protest the films. Write articles about them. Do press releases. Protesting brings more attention to a movie you want nobody to see, and nine times out of ten you give the film more credit than it deserves, including free publicity.

I'm all for protesting for the right reasons, like shutting down nuclear power plants and schools that train backyard dictators, but art and entertainment? Those protests always work in reverse.


Desperation is our Bread and Butter!

I was asked why I was doing this blog. I stopped doing "Excess Hollywood," a popular column that later became blog, because I had no interest in living in the "blogosphere." So why do this?

The "Times-Standard" and its reliance on desperate writers begging for a byline. That's why.

The "Times-Standard" is Eureka, California's hometown newspaper. It's been around for ages, and is read by a sizable portion of Humboldt County's population. (The sizable portion that can read, at least.) Some of you may know of it.

Back when I was writing for "Tattoo Savage" I was looking for other writing outlets to supplement my income. (Every freelancer knows that timely paychecks aren't exactly a regular part of the gig.) I decided to try our local paper. The entertainment editor at the time was thrilled that I asked. There was a jazz festival coming up and the paper needed an experienced writer to cover it. The editor wanted coverage of the festival and interviews with several of the acts. I'm not a big fan of jazz, but I am a big fan of paying the bills, so I said I would be interested. I figured it would be at least 14 hours worth of work, and the editor agreed. I didn't think the paper would pay as much as the tattoo magazine (which averaged about $80 an hour), but I thought I'd make some decent money.

Twenty-five dollars was the rate I was quoted. Not per hour. For the piece. Twenty-five dollars. Oh, and I'd get to see my name in print.

I reminded the editor that my name was already in print on a regular basis, and I wasn't doing the piece to pad my portfolio. I was writing to make a living. Not stroke the ol' ego.

The editor understood, but kept insisting it would be a great experience that would look good in my portfolio. I asked how it could possibly look better than an international magazine (one of a few at the time). There was no answer, and I didn't take the assignment.

Fast forward quite a few years. My poker book comes out. Press releases are sent to all sorts of media, including the "Times-Standard." Does my local paper contact me for an interview? No. The newspaper in my old hometown, a place that had every reason to hate me, had a writer call me up and I did an interview on my lunch break.

I couldn't help but wonder who was sleeping behind the wheel at the "Times-Standard." It was a ready-made story, and anyone who remembered me from the last contact I had with the publication had long since left the paper. Here I was thinking I might like to give the writing thing another shot (it really needed some better film critics), and the entire incident soured me ... again.

A few more years goes by. I noticed that the paper was doing its own blog and publishing some of the pieces in its print edition. Should I dare? I was kind of missing the immediate gratification of "Excess Hollywood." Should I? I should. I did. I contacted the editor and told him I was interested (knowing I would have to water it down as the stuff the paper tended to like had to do with mothers writing about the cute things their kids did). I also gave him some direction to the online stuff I had written (most notably Film Threat, which the "Wall Street Journal" ranked as one of the five best movie sites). He asked to see some samples and then we could talk.

Instead of getting excited, I became depressed. Why would I want to help the "Times-Standard," that exploiter of hungry freelancers, sell papers and capture surfing web eyes? I wouldn't. And I didn't. I shined it. I didn't even respond to the editor's e-mail. I had no desire to write about flower shows, coffee shops, or the cute things animals in my neighborhood did. I'd leave that to the clueless and self-important. I'd do my own thing.

And here we are ...

Obama is running for president. Bernie Mac is dead ... for real this time. CNN is running exciting video clips of people commenting on the John Edwards "sex scandal." The music industry continues to implode. The Joker is everywhere. The Olympics is showing the world why nobody should care. A lady clones her dead dog and is revealed to be someone accused of kidnapping a man and keeping him as a sex slave decades ago. Wildfires ravage California while the Arnie attempts to cut the pay of state employees to minimum wage. The Blue Lake chief of police (now ex-chief to be exact) is accused of some pretty horrific crimes involving spousal rape and firearms.

It seems like a pretty good time to get back into the commentating business. Sticking my nose where it is unwelcome. Poking my finger into that festering wound that is society. This is the kind of thing I enjoy, the kind of thing I don't do nearly enough these days. How long will I stick with it? I can't answer that, but I think it will quite a ride regardless of its length.

Introduce Yourself ...

Okay, a bit about myself.

White. Male. Married. Father. Office monkey. Writer. Author. One-time musician. Prankster.

Someof you may know me from my film reviews and interviews on filmthreat.com(where I also wrote "Excess Hollywood"). Some may have bought my book ("PocketAces: The Newbie's Guide to Online Texas Hold-Em"). Some may remember mefrom my "Violence Fetish" e-mails, or read "Tattoo Savage" back when it wasactually about tattoos and piercings. (That magazine is a shell of whatit used to be.) Some may remember the 'zines I did and wrote for.

Whydo a blog now? Why do a blog when I have no time? Because finishing upa manuscript is lonely business. Writing is a lonely business, period. I want people to remember my name. Not in the way Robin Meade's name isremembered, more like in the way Stalin's name is remembered. It's hardto do that when you're doing movie and music reviews, the occasional interviewand working on a book people may or may not ever see.

What will Icover? Whatever I feel like. Pretty simple. Just like the e-mail transmissionsand 'zines. Whatever. I. Feel. Like.

Got questions? Send them in. I don't check my e-mail every day (I'm not a Luddite, but I'm close), butI will eventually respond.

And one more thing ... these posts won'texactly be polished pieces of literature. Again, I don't have time for that. These will be from-the-gut blows that are as raw as a herpes sore and justas disgusting.