Thursday, May 29, 2008

fog of white house wars

Best Headline about former White House ball-boy Scott McCellan's pulpy memoir regarding his complicity in Bush Administration malfeasance comes from the blog Wonkette: “Bush Propagandist Complains Of Bush Propaganda.”

One is left to wonder if there's a terminal illness, a deep hatred of Karl Rove, or just the love of money involved. The former brought Defense Secretary and architect of cost-effective (?) bombing campaigns, Robert McNamara, to come to Jesus and beg the forgiveness of previously napalmed innocent civilians and the American public.

The best apology that the Bush Administration cronies could give to the American public about 7+ years of lying would be to plead nolo contendre to high crimes and misdemeanors.

wonkette slaps the weasel

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

opening at a theater near you

The summer blockbuster season has descended. What will it be? Reluctant superhero?Romantic comedy? Cops and robbers?

Iron Man, which some have described as a young John McCain with a couple of good arms and a jet pack (sense of humor still intact), didn't quite do the early numbers that had been expected. Who knows, late-summer DVD sales may yet rescue this aging superhero who in reality is lot more like Indiana Jones in a rocking chair. He just can't do the stunts any more so any kind of superhero analogy with McGruff the Crime Dog is always going to be a stretch. McGruff's more like Walter Matthua near the end - all grousing and boyhood hi-jinks but little panache and policy.

Wacky romantic comedies, the ones where the two main characters don't really like each and spend most of the first 3 reels sniping and undermining each other, sometimes play big at the summer drive-ins, but it's unlikely that Clinton-Obama will turn Hepburn-Tracy in the near future.

This just might be the summer of the reluctant anti-hero, the underestimated homeless person who turns out to be Chauncey Gardener, or even the Dark Knight with a quiet posse of determined followers. The big picture where the main character, despite his flaws and hem-haws, ultimately decides to pick up the mantle and run headlong toward 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue with everyone chasing him down the street and throwing junk in his way.

Salt the popcorn and pass the Dots. I'm ready for the show.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

marcie miller gross @ review studio

Imagine being tasked with pulling something, something common and everyday, pulling this thing completely apart until there was nothing left. Nothing left at all. Except art. How would you do this? If this sounds daunting, and I believe it to be, then this is largely the task that many of us face every day. We must pull apart our day to make something out it. We want to think that art is different, that it comes from some magical place, deep inside, but really it comes from the painstaking process of pulling things apart until there is nothing left. And then putting them back together. If there's any magic beyond the everyday, it's in the putting back.

Marcie Miller Gross's new work, a part, at Review Studios, offers a glimpse of the difficulty in putting things back together. Coherently. Miller, who has long worked to elevate the everyday object above the pedestrian object, this time takes on the second-hand store sweater. You know the ones. There are racks and racks of them at the your local thrift. Always a gem there if you can find it, the perfect wool sweater, gotten for few dollars when a new one would set you back near a hundred note these days. But how many do you have? Even if you mine the second-hand stores on a weekly basis, the gems are hard to find. Miller takes wool sweaters and then felts them. Not a few, but several hundred. As one who has combed the thrifts stores in search of the thrift store for wool sweaters to felt, I know finding a hundred or so of them isn't easy. Not when color and texture matter, and to Gross, color and texture always matter. Miller said the work evolved as a response to accumulating the materials. This is true of many works, and many art practices, but for her marks an attempt to be more fluid and abstract in her approach to making.

It shows in the work. The earliest piece, ginned from a show several years back, is a small cube of cut and stacked felted pieces. Several hundred small strips come together to make this small cube and it sits atop a stool, much like one might imagine the artist herself has done in the studio, sat on the stool and contemplated, "OK. Now what? Where do we go from here."

Moving forward is never easy for in repetition there is comfort, but repetition can bind us to point of injury if not careful. Gross's first step forward seems somewhat tenuous, a linear abstraction of the cube approximately 20 feet in length, that barring one slight cut, lines an entire wall of the gallery. Patience has always been a strong foundation of Gross's work, it's true in this show, and that structural underpinning continues to be a virtue in the work.

Space has also been one of the foundations of her work and here Miller takes ample exception to this one. The Review gallery space is best thought of as only half a space. The remainder seems unconnected. Gross makes a valiant effort to pull in the steel pillars and make them part of a more serene and contemplative space that Gross's work evokes.

One might best think of these colors, these thousand colors, as a mediation on the whole, rather than on a part of the whole. They attempt to establish a relationship between what they once were and what they are now. And in the process, they lose every part of what they once were, and define something new. This is were the subtly of art lies, in creating that new space, between those spaces that existed before, but which you never noticed. The post war movement mono-ha in Japan also worked on these edges and Miller Gross references them in her artist statement.

It is good that see that Gross didn't stop at the edges though, but ventured over them. And these forays carried her, and the viewer, first into a chasm of wool slashes pinned to the wall like insect specimens, then into the more elemental components of the wool itself. If a sweater carries forth a color field within its fibers, then what does the wearer carry forward? The memory of the fabric, the knowledge of the maker, the experiences of the owner? The intersection of them all? These are the questions her work evokes and to pass them by is to pass by a rack full of gems. Try one on for size. That's a fine color on you. And it fits you nicely in the shoulders. There now. Make a turn. Such a nice look for you.

Monday, May 26, 2008

sketching reality

The Phoenix probe, which successfully landed in the Martian artic yesterday on a mission to confirm the presence of water and (the building blocks of life?), looks eerily like a sketch of a UFO done by a British citizen in the early 60's - sans the skis. This continues to fuel speculation that our government has routinely been visiting Mars, and long ago colonized the Red Planet as part of a Top Secret secret mission.

OK. Not Really.

But there are plenty of folks who apparently believe so. You can find them in the same place on the internet where 911-truther's and Ron Paul conspiracy theorists hang out. They post videos on youtube with an interesting mixture of German and English and what purports to be a manned Martian landing that took place in 1962. It looks surprising like it was shot from the passenger window of a Ford Fairlane which for me makes it all the more interesting. It's never clear in these videos why "The Government" would be keep such triumphs from us, why the Martian atmosphere would be blue, and why in the midst of the cold war we are collaborating with our arch enemies. But when viewed as an experimental art film, they are pretty compelling.

Anyway. In the coming months, NASA's martian probe will attempt to make mud pies and snowcones for the space-exploration obsessed.

Regardless. I think everyone would agree that things would be a lot more interesting and our space program would ramp up like never before if one of the first images sent back to the Jet Propulsion Lab from terra igcognito were of an angry creature rising out of the Martian dust. And if the dusty blob then proceeded to pummel our little bitty science station on another planet into smithereens we'd be fixing that broken-down space station in a hurry. And stop complaining about $4 a gallon gasoline.
Image: Sketch from National Archives, Mars artic landscape from NASA/JPL

Sunday, May 25, 2008

one angry white man

wow! this dude is angry with Hillary Rodham Clinton

in a perfect world

former hollywood animators apply their skills at nasa

Saturday, May 24, 2008

green and gray and black and white

Kansas City is set to finally confront the largest infrastructure project in its history - the repair of its sewers and storm sewers. The repairs are being required so that the City can meet Clean Water Act guidelines, the ones that state, in vastly over-simplified terms, that you can't pollute the rivers, lakes, and waterbodies of the United States. It's a little more complicated than that, but essentially that's what it comes down to. And shitting in the creek would be polluting it. I've been known to say that only pigs and humans shit in their own water, and while not completely true, when your sewers overflow into the local stream, well...that's pretty shitty for the environment.

One of the things the city did several years ago was to put together a Community Panel to deal with a number of issues related to Wet Weather - termed the Wet Weather Solutions panel - and overflows of sewers would be one of those items. The panel has been meeting monthly for almost 5 years. The idea is to develop an integrated plan for dealing with wet-weather related issues and to use this approach to help inform and guide the approach on how to solve the overflow of sewage into streams in older parts of the city. Some sewers in Kansas City are as old as the Civil War.

Now that the infrastructure plan is moving toward something concrete (in more ways than one) the city has been going to neighborhood association and community meetings to discuss the plan. Pretty much anyone who like to hear about the plan, the city will come and talk to them. As a panel member, I've been asked to help with these talks and to date I've helped with a couple. They've turned out to be interesting for a couple of reasons.

One of the most interesting thing about the meetings has been how similar the community responses have been to the plan. People are really interested to learn about this plan, what's it going to do, how much is it going to cost, and how can my voice be heard? These are some of the first questions. Cost is always a consideration, but people are willing to pay what they consider to be a fair share. Since the cost of the plan is projected to run into the billions and the only thing for certain right now is that the cost of water, wastewater, and stormwater is going to go up for Kansas City customers, citizens want to know how the city is going to pay for it. And what it will mean for them. Some citizens will not be able to afford the increases and will need help. They are also very interested in green solutions. No matter what part of the city you are in, the are intrigued by the idea of green solutions and how these might help the city become more livable.

The other interesting thing about these meetings has been seeing firsthand just how racially segregated many areas of our city still remain. In one meeting, everyone homeowner was a member of a minority and in the other, every member was a Caucasian. The Caucasians were vistors in the first meeting and the minorities were working as servers in the second meeting. But everyone has the same interests in mind. How to make the city a more livable place? How can I keep my neighborhood vital and intact? Everyone wants the same things for their city.

There also remains, among many residents, a high level of distrust of the city government to use our tax dollars wisely. And many residents distrust the city to be open and frank about the true costs and true benefits of the project. And the only way they are going to insure that the money is spent wisely is to stay informed and to hold public officials accountable for the outcome. This takes time and energy and many families appear to be stretched to near their limits.

The city is asking for public comments to the plan, but these are being held in meetings just after work. Attendance has not been high, in part because people either aren't aware of the meetings, or because they either won't, or can't, take the time to attend these meetings. Seems like we need an online public forum for comments that would allow more public participation. This could be moderated in a number of different ways, but it would allow more folks to provide comments. And a city that listens to its citizens is a city where folks want to live.

wascally wabbit

Non-stop campaining makes fools of us all. HRC knows that as long as you remain in the race, anything can happen. Let's hope it doesn't because the reaction from all sides will likely be a lot more outrageous than in '68.

Friday, May 23, 2008

when your flag lapel pin just isn't big enough

I know. You've always been a little embarrassed by the size. On the tiny side. And not nearly so obtrusive as to readily stop traffic in the bar. "Hey, would you look at the size of the thing?" That's not something you're hearing of late is it? You got a couple of choices. Hang out at a bar with more liberal tendencies or get yourself a bigger unit.

Try this one on for size. Cut down that elm tree in the front yard. You know, the one that shades the west side of the house from the afternoon sun. And then take a chainsaw to it until you end up with something more suitable to your stature as a patriot. Like an 15 foot tall bald eagle's head. BooRah.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

tadpoles on an oak leaf

There isn't a lot to be said for having to drive to the suburbs to put my time in at the day job working for the MAN. Oh, the work is fine enough, but the commute, even against the traffic, even with Democracy Now, da blues, All Things Considered to while away the time, the drive eats up an hour of my day. And that sucks.

There is no transit option because it's a suburb designed solely with the car in mind. It's residents, largely conservative educated whites who drive the other direction for jobs, moved here because they had decent jobs, decent cars, and gas was probably a buck and a quarter. One benefit though of being here is I'm only a short distance away from a area managed for wildlife. I hesitate to call it a wildlife management area, but it has trails, it's mostly wooded, it has a nice stream flowing through it, a lake, and there are no cars and very few people. Very few people. If I see one person on my daily walk, it's rarity.

But lately I've been seeing tadpoles. Thousands, if not millions of tiny tadpoles. The cricket frogs (this is a guess on my part they might be leopard frogs) fertilized a small ditch alongside a roadside. Apparently from a frog's perspective, this isn't a bad spot to leave ample evidence of your ability to procreate. Ephemeral pools don't typically have fish in them, so there aren't many predators. It's been a wet spring so the tadpoles have been having a heck of time swimming around, turning some stretches of pools almost black with sheer numbers. As the days have gotten longer and warmer and the distance between rain events longer I began to wonder what happens to the tadpoles if they don't make it long enough to crawl out on dry land? Well this week I found out. The ephemeral pool which housed the spawn of so many future generations of frogs dried up. And when it did, so did all the tadpoles. They became caviar on the oak leaves which lined the bottom of the ditch. A smear of organic matter, all dried up, with no where to go. Except to become part of the carbon and nitrogen cycles. They'll be broken down into little bits and then washed away in some future rain event. So much for the promise of the masses laid down in a ditch.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

border wars

Obama's win in the largely educated state of Oregon coupled with his recent thumpings in the less-than-average-educated Appalachian states indicates that the November election will likely return to those elections of yore. Do you want this race to be about ideas or about emotions? As effective as the Clinton campaign has been of late in pulling at the heart strings of the ignorant, they have nothing on the Republican machine of world domination. The Republican mantra will begin to sound like thrashings from the bully pulpit of a hell-fire-and-brimstone country preacher in short order. Essentially it will come down to "what do you want to do? Think for yourself. Or watch American Idol." If only we could text message our vote for the Presidency.

And if you think dumb doesn't matter in the debate, then think again. Barack Obama was wearing a flag lapel pin last night during his speech in Iowa. What does that have to do with anything other than pandering to the lowest common demoninator?

Monday, May 19, 2008

flow chart for a standing eight count

It's 19 minutes after the hour, and now it's time for our daily feature The Astrological Hour. A quick reminder these reports are not intended to foster belief in astrology, but merely to support people who cannot take responsibility for their own lives.
The Kentucky Fried Movie (1977) directed by John Landis.

Hillary Rodham Clinton's use of fuzzy math is approaching that of the Bush administration. Today she claimed victory on the laurels of winning the most popular votes in the primaries. The problem lies in the fact that she hasn't. Her new math only works if you count the votes of those her campaign already agreed wouldn't count and where her rival did not compete and wasn't even on the ballot. And she claimed victory based upon winning the most electoral votes. Ummmm. Electoral votes? That's the general election. In the primary, it delegates. Who has 2025 delegates. That's it. Nothing else matters. She got the electoral vote idea from a Karl Rove and Company memo obtained by ABC news that shows her competing well against John McCain in the general election. So it's a hypothetical based on 6 months before the election. Six months ago, HRC thought she'd be the nominee. My how times change. And that Karl Rove guy, he of the ill-fitted suit, always had the best interests of the Democratic party at heart. Rove is now an analyst on Fox News where he shares the mantle of impartiality with Bill O'Reilly. We wish them all the best.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

obama set to take the nomination

Sports metaphors are overused everywhere and we try to avoid them. But portends, that's different matter. We love portends. Yesterday, Big Brown cruised to an easy victory in the Preakness. The chestnut colt was relaxed and confident in the winner circle, despite having undergone considerable testing in the backstretch and despite the glare of the press eye around the track, all waiting for disaster to strike. But it did not, unless you were betting on a longshot. The long awaited end to the Democratic primary season is just about to end, the longshot is now the favorite son.

Tuesday, Kentucky and Oregon, hold primaries and fortunately for everyone, there just aren't enough white supremacists left in 'Kaintuck to keep Obama from claiming a majority of elected delegates. He needs just 17 and he's likely to get somewhere around 52 - give or take a couple in either direction by the end of the day.

In the last couple of weeks, Obama has quietly gone ahead of Clinton by approximately 25 super-delegates. In fact, between his elected delegates and his pledged super-delegates, on Tuesday, Obama is most certainly to be over the necessary votes needed to garner the nomination. And then Huckabee the Huckleberry Hound Dog is really going to begin to look even dumber than before.

Also after Tuesday, Obama will have won 33 of 50 contests held to date. The Clinton camp can do the math any convoluted way they want, but you can do just as easily as can they, and it's pretty simple math.

Winning 33 of 50 battles is 66 percent of the contests. SIXTY-SIX PERCENT! That's called a 2/3's majority.
A majority of elected delegates is just that, A MAJORITY.
A majority of super-delegates is just that, A MAJORITY.
The rules (the ones that both candidates agreed to at the beginning of the race) require that one needs to get 2025 delegates to win the nomination. After Tuesday, Obama will have around 2236. Sounds like victory to me. Let's call it that and move forward.

So sad to say if you're a Clinonite, but that leaves you on the wrong side of all three of those equations and it means, IT'S OVER. DONE.

Obama is set to be in Iowa on Tuesday, where he began this historic run by winning the Iowa caucus, to claim victory. With only 2 weeks remaining before the final three contests: Puerto Rico, Montana, and South Dakota, Hillary Rodham Clinton may yet remain till the end but regardless of how historic her campaign has been, no one has yet figured out how to bring back to life a campaign that was euthanized two weeks ago on the track in Churchill Downs.

Warrior Ant Press will make this prediction. If Big Brown wins the Belmont Stakes in two weeks, John McCain doesn't stand a chance come this fall. If Big Brown isn't able to pull off the Triple Crown, expect the November race to come down to the wire.

Photo credit:J.David Ake, AP

Saturday, May 17, 2008

bill o'reilly endorses new sting video

Bill O'reilly has a few words with his staffers over the new Sting video.

Here's the remix version. Turns out Bill, like us, is fond of the f-bomb.

Friday, May 16, 2008

mike huckabee and the nra take aim at a black man

Just when you thought Huckleberry Hound Dog couldn't get any dumber. Here he is preaching to the NRA about morality, the constitution, and a black man who's running for President having to avoid getting shot.

I only have one thing to say to Huckleberry. "Down on your knees and Pray MERCY. NOW!" OH. And being Vice-President. Not this time, doufus.

eldar @ cccckc darfur benefit: visual reviews of aural entertainment

Jazz pianist Eldar [Eldar Djangirov] with Todd Strait [drums], and Burniss Earl Travis [bass] in a benefit for Darfur humanitarian aid @ Country Club Community Christian Church. Attendance ~750.

other reviews in the series:
m.o.i.: elvis costello and the attractions
m.o.i.: the police
m.o.i.: the swell season
m.o.i.: anne-sophie mutter
m.o.i.: pat metheny trio

jean carnahan's blog selected to dem convention state blogger corps

Jean Carnahan, remember her?, widow of former Missouri Governor Mel Carnahan, who will be forever enshrined in the hearts and minds of progressives everywhere by defeating John Asscrotch Ashcroft for a U.S. Senate seat while Mr. Carnahan was dead and buried. Jean Carnahan, briefly a U.S. Senator because she was appointed to fill Mel's seat which she lost a year later to Jim Talent, and apparently since those days a blogger (who knew, but recently it was reported that 1 in 10 Americans has a blog), was selected to be the Missouri representative in the 2008 Democratic Convention's State Blogger Corps.

The State Blogger Corps was the coveted seat with the delegations on the convention floor, which for those who can read between the lines, means one of the long shots, Warrior Ant Press, was not selected. It's hard to compete with political insiders, although it's a little hard-pressed to see exactly how hard-hitting any coverage of your party friends might be during the convention. Jean Carnahan's daughter, Missouri Secretary of State, Robin Carnahan will surely be on the floor with the convention delegates. In fact, we'd be a little surprised if Jean Carnahan wasn't already a convention delegate so having her blog there, just seems to insure that whatever party line the Democrats want distributed, she will surely distribute. It seems about as far from the 4th estate as you can get.

But fear not Warrior Ants, there are still bones to be thrown, and we might yet make an appearance as a member of the pundit class come August. Unfortunately, the level of access by the General Blogger pool to the convention isn't the same as having a floor seat, but if we make it, we promise to spend a week in August sleeping in our car and snacking on every free buffet table we can possibly find. And we promise to report on the convention happenings and shenanigans with our typical WTF? attitude - which largely mirrors your own. We'll make one more promise. You can look at Carnahan's blog, and please do, but we can state unequivocally, that on that blog, you'll never find a photo of a yak butter sculpture. And here you have two. That's the difference between the two blogs - yak butter sculptures. We have them; they do not.

We'll go through some of the state blogger corps in the coming weeks and examine them with our last remaining good eye and provide you, the dear and gentle reader, with our thoughts. But for now you can start your own border war by looking at the Kansas and Missouri picks.

missouri state blogger corps: fired up
kansas state blogger corps: everyday citizen

Thursday, May 15, 2008

rednecks for clinton, democrats for obama

Wow, Hillary Rodham Clinton gets the overwhelming support of West Virginia rednecks and Barack Obama gets the endorsement of John Edwards. What does that tell you? Do you really want the Democratic Party to be the party of uneducated racists? or would you rather have them work for those people who are truly in need? Not that, mind you, as Edwards might say, that rednecks don't have needs, but in my mind the difference between the redneck and the poor is that the redneck makes a conscious decision to be ignorant whereas the poor person does not. Let's move forward, not backwards.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

visual reviews of aural entertainment: elvis costello and the attractions

Elvis Costello and the Attractions [opening for The Police]
Sprint Center, Kansas City, ~12,000

visual reviews of aural entertainment: the police

The Police [Andy Summers, Stewart Copeland, Sting]
Sprint Center, Kansas City, attendance ~12,000

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

hillary plays her last hand

OK. Up front. For once. The river. There it is. The 7 clubs. What a card to get now. You’re done. Toast. Out. Gone away. But we're going to play this hand backwards, the way you would have liked to have played it from the git-go. But that wasn't an option then. Actually, it was an option then, you just did not see it as one, you were too busy focused on the pot. Always on the pot, never on the process. So you pushed in with twenty, your last twenty, I might add, but it's too late now. The river. 7 clubs. Stand up and be counted. Out. That's how it works. You think you've got it, got the insight, got the vibe, got the trick, got the mojo, got the cards. They're coming your way. Or not. Stand up and be counted.

But we're going forwards when we should be going back. Back in time. Reverse order, remember? The cards. Yes, the cards. Your cards. The ones that were dealt. They were...coming. Coming your way, the cards. In fact they would have gone your way but you made a mistake. Some might call it a calculated one, but who calculates mistakes? No one, that would be silly. Perhaps an over calculation? A tell? Was it a tell. No. Not really, life is always more complex than a tell. A tell you could correct. But luck. How do you correct luck? You can’t really. An over estimation. That you can correct for, could have corrected for, had you seen it coming which of course you did not or we wouldn't, check that, you wouldn't be standing now.

The turn. This is where the luck began to change if such a thing can be said to change. If it can changes is it really luck? No. Strategy changes, luck carries forth. But granted, at the outside you did neglect to imagine that on the turn, after check, check, and check, your dunce-in-the-hole, the patsy who you'd set up 2 hands before, the one who was going to raise, raise, and re-raise. Patsy Boy, that's what you call him, the one with the hair, stepped out. "Out." That's what he said. Just like that. And just for a minute. Away from the table. Cool. Calm and deflected. Patsy Boy who's never, ever neglected to raise on pair of treys, is now out. Why? Turns out it's not deep, because Patsy Boy isn't deep but you knew that. Patsy Boy was recalling a memory of a girl he'd meet the night before at a bar, and had lost focus, not that he ever had much focus, for the moment Patsy Boy lost focus, and wanted to think instead about Mya? Was that her name? She didn't spell it like that, how did she spell it? M Y _ _. So he dropped that hand, it was as simple as that to try and recall the correct spelling, because recalling the spelling was the key to remembering her edress and remembering that was the key to contacting her, since phone numbers were not exchanged, and although he was slightly drunk he'd said, "sure, go ahead, give it to, I'll remember it." So his future, his future with Mayah? it all hinged on his memory, which he was now actively searching. Searching for his future and that was how you lost yours.

But back to the turn. Patsy Boy drops into a reverie and you begin your descent into being a loser, because once Patsy Boy goes the way of promises-yet-to-come you are forced to stare at the table green, because to not stare into the green is to stare into the face of your nemesis who sits across from you. That's what you call him. To his face. "Nemesis?" you'll ask, thinking this helps you understand him, calm your fears, but what you don't realize is that none of that is true. No. The opposite is true. Nemesis understands you. Thus nemesis, instead of combatant. He who imposes the rules of are but a victim here. Of your own over-calculations. Once the hands are dealt, everything’s in motion. Things are no longer equal. Not at all. Nemesis. You’re toast. And you know it. Knew it then. Know it now. And therein lies the problem with the flop and this is really where your downfall began to be described. Think about it. A twenty. That's the price of your downfall. That and three cards on the table stretched out in a row.

It's all about possibilities. Really. Think about it. There's so much promise there, right now, at the moment they all come. There they are...ONE...TWO...THREE. Three cards fanned across the table. The possibilities are almost limitless. That's what you say to yourself. Let's play this out. What's the end game from here on out? Best to worse case. OK. Best case. Full house. Knaves and daggers. You'd love that. "Knave this! motherfuckers." That's what you'd say. Or "OK. I've seen your mercy and now to cut your heart out." Yeah that be good one. Really. OK. Second best. Spade flush, not out of the question but such a shame to lose the pair like that. It's not how you win, though, just that you do. So OK, then straight. Top or bottom, it's easy as a two-way. That could work. Now worse case. And this one's bad. Trip, trip, trip down memory lane. Count'em. "one. two. three." All so easy, all so many possibilities. Isn't life grand?"

Grand. Yes it is. You were set to be grand from the git-go. That's what you always called it. First card the git, second the go. The git-go. And what a git-go it was. This is going to do it. Easy now, don't get too over confident, but whoa, what a git. What a go. But remember, we're playing this game backwards. Why? you say, well why not? Perhaps there's a lesson to be learned here. How? How did we get here? Last hand or the first of many to come, sometimes we just never know? So the git. There is it. Now the go. Full steam ahead. Seems like the right cards. Really, odds-ons the best two hole cards to start with. Hard to beat. The best two to start with, but what you didn't know, couldn't know, was that when Patsy Boy stepped away from the table, when he took one last look at those two cards he was holding - and now we'll never know what they were because they just don't matter anymore - when he took that one last look down and then he looked up at you, just for a moment and a little smile edged along his face and then he folded and stepped away, that moment, which really had nothing to do with you, except you were both in the same room, THAT MOMENT, that moment was the tell. You never saw it coming. So you went in with your last twenty. And now you are standing. Standing and out.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Eldar - Darfur Benefit @ Country Club Christian Church

Looking for something cool to do that doesn't cost any more than helping your fellow humans? Look no further than Thursday, May. 15, 2008 @ 07:00:PM

Renowned Kyrgyzstan jazz pianist, Eldar Djangirov, whose 2007 album re-imagination, was nominated for a Grammy, will play a benefit performance to aid the on-going humanitarian crisis in Darfur.

No tickets are required, but donations will be collected to aid humanitarian efforts in Darfur.
Country Club Christian Church
6101 Ward Parkway
Kansas City, MO
Contact/RSVP Information:
eldar Djangirov jazz

museum mapping initiative on dafur crisis

Sunday, May 11, 2008

julia ward howe's mother's day proclamation for peace

Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord;
He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored;
He hath loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword;
His truth is marching on.
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! His truth is marching on.
War makes pacifists of us all. The rest are buried and marked by crosses. Julia Ward Howe, who in 1861 penned the battle hymn of the Republic would later organize the pre-cursor to today's Mother's Day. Howe's Peace proclamation for disarmament was written in response to her first-hand witness of the atrocities of the Civil and Franco-Prussian Wars.

Mother's Day Proclamation
Julia Ward Howe, 1870

Arise, then, women of this day!
Arise, all women who have hearts,
Whether our baptism be of water or of tears!

Say firmly:
"We will not have great questions decided by irrelevant agencies,
Our husbands will not come to us, reeking with carnage, for caresses and applause.
Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn
All that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience.
We, the women of one country, will be too tender of those of another country
To allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs."

From the bosom of the devastated Earth a voice goes up with our own.
It says: "Disarm! Disarm! The sword of murder is not the balance of justice."
Blood does not wipe out dishonor, nor violence indicate possession.
As men have often forsaken the plough and the anvil at the summons of war,
Let women now leave all that may be left of home for a great and earnest day of counsel.

Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead.
Let them solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means
Whereby the great human family can live in peace,
Each bearing after his own time the sacred impress, not of Caesar,
But of God.

In the name of womanhood and humanity, I earnestly ask
That a general congress of women without limit of nationality
May be appointed and held at someplace deemed most convenient
And at the earliest period consistent with its objects,
To promote the alliance of the different nationalities,
The amicable settlement of international questions,
The great and general interests of peace.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

will okun @ wjzo

About the time I get completely jaded with a dismal world view someone comes along with a fresh attitude and straightens me out. Such a person is Will Okun. Will teaches high school English and Physical Education in Chicago, at the Westside Alternative High School in the Austin neighborhood. When not teaching, he can be found taking portraits of his students. And some kind of portraits they are.

Will was selected by the NY Times to travel to Africa with Nicholas D. Kristof during the summer of 2007 based upon his stellar photographs; but more so based upon his humanity, and a witty essay he wrote that you can read by following the link below. You can also view some of the thousands of photos that Will has taken of his students. They will make you smile.

Take look at some of his portraits. Then go take a picture of someone you love. You won't be disappointed in either.

will okun portraits
nytimes essay by will okun

Images of Latonya and Lazzerick by Will Okum

Friday, May 9, 2008

be a cupcake and help a friend in need

My pals at the Reading Reptile, who will stop at almost nothing to remain the only independent bookstore in the Kansas City area, have worked up a new venture. When I first received word of this latest escapade from the reptiles, it seemed a lot like begging, but then I realized that's how corporations stay in business, except corporations ask for really large amounts of money and you get nothing in return, so why not the small venture capitalist? Besides, the reptiles are offering things in return for your support. And if you don't help them, they are liable to go the way of Dutton's, the venerable LA bookstore that just bit the bin.

OK. Truth in lending. There are a few other independent bookstores in the KC area; they just aren't nearly as interesting as the Reading Reptile.

There's that bookstore that burns books in a giant iron cauldron once a month to draw attention to the fact that "no one reads anymore" to which my reaction is, "uhh...excuse me, then how do you explain the fact that you've been able to remain in business for so long?"

Then there's that other bookstore run by those not-always-so-friendly faces across the state line. Forgive me, but I'm used to going a bookstore where there is an ongoing give and take, a discourse if you will, about things in life, of which books are but a part. Yes, granted, and important one. And I like going to a bookstore where folks are happy to see me - most of the time. And know a joke when they see one. And aren't afraid to tell one. And aren't afraid of a little criticism of the books they sell. There's a lot of books out there and I'm a fan of many, but not all of them. Some of them suck.

True, sometimes the arguments (and I mean that in the classic sense of the word) do get a little heated in the center ring at the Reptile, but generally when that happens, bitterman and I go out back and settle it like, well like intellectuals...we blow cigarette smoke in each others face. And then see who can fart the loudest.

So back to the not-always-so-friendly little store in the uppity part of town. Just last week I went there to purchase a signed copy of the Laura and Jenna Bush book, which I must say, is one of the dumbest books ever perpetrated upon the public. It's sophomoric, it has no soul, and it sucks. It's dehumanizing to children everywhere. Never-the-less, in the spirit of a m.o.i. piece, I was there plunking down some hard-earned dollars to purchase this crappy book so I could take it home and drive a spike through it and make it ART. But before I could say out loud, "what kind of Republican writes this horseshit", there before me was a tray of CUPCAKES. Little tiny CUPCAKES. Frosted in pastel colors. And who doesn't like a cupcake? I asked, in the spirit of inquiry and democracy for all people, "what's with the cupcakes?"

"Oh." came the stilted reply, "its for __ [unintelligible] who's having a book signing. It's kinda of a quaint, endearing book. We thought cupcakes would be appropriate."

"Why?" I asked, "is she a cupcake?"

The stare was cold and harsh from across the counter. "Well! I don't know about that. But she has written a book!" said the clerk handing me my bag of blubbery shubbery.

"Well let's hope it's better than the Bush book." I said grabbing a chocolate one, with lemon icing, on my way out, "even so, she could still be a cupcake."
debt depletion day at the reptile

Thursday, May 8, 2008

art in the loop: laura deangelis' celestial flyways

Laura DeAngelis’ Celestial Flyways, an interactive sculpture produced as part of Kansas City's Art in the Loop project, was unveiled recently in downtown Kansas City. DeAngelis' work joins a growing list of art projects that have transformed downtown in ways that are arguably more far-reaching that the Power and Light District ever will be. One is about a vision of commerce - what drives it, underlies it, and makes it vital; while the other is simply commerce - the buying and selling of goods and services.

Artists were inhabiting, and in many cases, rehabilitating spaces to live in, to create studios in, places to show their work when city planners were giving your tax dollars to wealthy corporations and providing 25-years of property tax abatement so suburban folks who'd fled the city might consider moving downtown again. The practice of an urban revitalization driven by the arts eventually became institutionalized under the auspices of groups like the Urban Culture Project, and what followed was a revolution for Kansas City.

Today, art is frequently what is used to "sell" downtown as the place to be. Work, live, shop here. It's hip. Look! Art. How cool is that? Indeed. Suburbanites continue to flock into the new urban landscape, this canvas of people and energy that does not exist in cul-de-sacs; they come because art fills a void in their lives.

But artists do not make art for suburban visitors who find security in Ted's Montana Grill. They make it for themselves. Sometimes people see it. Sometimes they do not. To see it, one must take the time to engage oneself in another way of looking. Another way of longing. What is it that I seek? What is it that makes me alive and well in this world? Slow down. Take a moment. Here is a park. Let's sit for a minute.

“Celestial Flyways” can be seen at Oppenstein Brothers Memorial Park, 12th and Walnut streets and like many other large-scale public art projects currently in vogue, it hinges on a collaborative process, this one involving DeAngelis and Davison Architecture + Urban Design LLC. Collaboration can strengthen a work and add dimensions to it that otherwise wouldn't be possible, but sometimes it seems to lend itself to over thinking and a loss of spontaneity.

Given the arduous process to fund, site, and complete any major public works project, lest of all one involving art, that should come as no surprise. Like the vetting of politicians during the campaign season, this lengthy process makes producing any work of public art that throws lightening bolts at conventional wisdom a rarity - unless you happen to believe that art of any kind, is in itself, a practice that shocks the system. There's is some truth to that, but the vetting process typically leaves us with works that reference the controversial in very oblique ways, but frequently without a deep and jarring challenge to our psyche. The challenge for the artist then, in some ways, is how to circumvent the process that will meet the needs of the individual artist, how to find avenues to fund such large projects, and how to make engaging work that doesn't offend the patron. Or at least offend the patron and the public to the point where they stop giving.

The central component of “Celestial Flyways” is a large-scale interactive Star Disk at the center of the pocket park. The disk is purported to be the the largest-known modern recreation of an anaphoric clock, one of the first astronomical machines. [You known the machines; with microcomputers they've become so tiny that versions small enough to fit in a backpack are readily available.] Here DeAngelis has gone in the opposite direction, sizing the disk to the surrounding office buildings. Working with astronomy historian, James E. Morrison, who designed the computer program that maps the night sky specific to the park's location and through the magic of LED lights, presents the star pattern to the viewer. Etched on the disk are the constellations, or at least our vision of the constellations as perceived by Ptolemy.

Then throughout the park, as though small gems unearthed during a spring walk, are smaller references to nature. Metal etchings of migratory birds that utilize the Missouri and Mississippi River flyways are set into the concrete and fan out across the plaza. Crows, crested cormorants, scissor-tailed flycatchers. Don't walk past them. Stop. Take a long look. If you saw these birds in the wild, you'd stop for a minute to look. Do so here and you won't be disappointed.

In many ways, Celestial Flyways underscores larger problems in our society. As much as art can connect us, it can also remind us of what we've lost. Light pollution in the city obscures the sky to the point that sometimes even seeing the big dipper is a challenge. The city had a chance to install dark-sky approved lighting a few years back and refused to listen to concerned citizens. Naturalists were pitted against THE SOCIETY FOR ILLUMINATING ENGINEERS; the end game was less illustrious than your imagination, which the SOCIETY -for all the light - lacked in abundance. This left the city with an antiquated street light system that spews light in all direction, pollutes the sky, and is terribly inefficient. And one of the biggest proponents of this system was Mark Funkhouser, who then served as city auditor. Funkhouser's argument was that this was the only system that Kansas City could afford. That's clearly the auditor speaking but save a buck, lose the sky. How is that being smart with the money?

The flyways component of Celestial Flyways references the Missouri River, but the river can't be seen from this vantage point. So the idea of the river, as the idea of the migratory waterfowl, and the stars overhead become only a hint. Is this all we have left, hints of the natural landscape? Why can't we have both. With more careful planning we could. But for now we have art.

Spend some time in this park, down on your hands and knees if must, and examine the tile work. This level of detail, patience, and execution is rare in any work, even more so in a large public art installation. Where else can you find paddlefish cavorting between concrete steps and ladders to clouds? And if I can't see the river or the stars then give me a step ladder to the constellations so I can search my soul for a spoonbill of inspiration.
The Art in the Loop Foundation is a partnership of the Kansas City Art Institute, the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation, the Municipal Art Commission and the Downtown Council of Kansas City. A 501c3 nonprofit organization, public art projects produced by the program have been supported by a five-year grant from the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation, with matching funds from the City of Kansas City, Mo. for the past three years.

more at:
m.o.i.: art knocked for a loop
art in the loop
urban culture project

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

no end in sight

Despite the collective groan that surfaced among the pundit class this morning, Hillary Rodham Clinton declared there was no end in sight, "hey, at this point, I'm in it for the snark."

Jeez. Where does that leave the pundit class? Paying for drinks at the victory party to raise money for West Virginia...

hillary clinton waves goodbye

Hillary Clinton, exhausted after months of dogged determination on the campaign trail and with the knowledge that nothing has worked to move ahead of Barack Obama and nothing can work short of scandal, her hopes of re-inhabiting 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue dashed, waved goodbye to her one, good chance of being President Tuesday in Indianapolis.

Clinton was bested by organization. Therein lies the reason she was unable to secure the nomination even with her gold-plated credentials - and being Senator from NY State and a two-term former First Lady, is more than golden, it's platinum.

Obama organizers descended on Indiana months ago and began to build a base of operations. With repeated calls to Obama loyalists in neighboring states after losses in Pennsylvania and the Rev. Wright controversy, the Obama campaign was able to mobilize campaign volunteers to help register voters, canvas neighborhoods, and answer questions. Not everyone was convinced, but much of the Obama strategy has been to whittle away at the poll numbers, diminish the status quo, and keep working until the difference between any Clinton win and Obama loss is so close as to be insignificant in the delegate apportionment. And Obama was able to keep the money flowing into his campaign, something Clinton learned all too late. Organization matters. Especially if you're running for CEO of the United States.

The Clintons, who walked on airs and controlled the Democratic Party for over a decade, ultimately succumbed to a case of political gout, which begets hypocrisy, until descending into its own form of tyranny. No one likes a tyrant.

Regardless of the glad-handling and kind words now, don't expect to see the same level of enthusiasm from the Clinton elite during the General Election. Why? This election will be about trying to throw the bums out. And some of the bums have been around a while.

Photo credit: Damon Winter, NYTimes.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

the swell season: visual reviews of aural entertainment:

The Swell Season, featuring Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova with guest Damien Dempsey.
Uptown Theater, Kansas City, MO, May 5, 2008, sold out, ~1200.

Monday, May 5, 2008

field of purple penstemon

Presidential primary politics have gone on too long. By the time the next President is seated, this campaign will have gone on for about 2 years. It isn't a Congressional seat, it's the Oval Office. And the fallout from all this, despite the interest and knowledge that at least for the first time in our history, either a woman or an African American will be the nominee of the Democratic Party, if not the next President, is boredom. Folks are bored. They are tired. And they are weary of the process. Two years? Most wars don't last that long.

It's spring. Finally. People are getting outside, into the garden. Baseball season is starting to heat up. Soccer practice is in full swing. Families are ready to get on with the business of things that seem to matter more to them than 30 second commercial spots that proclaim jargon such as, "Tough on terror; soft on the family farm." Voters are tired of the nonsense, and most of what passes for sound bites and commercials is nonsense. They are tired of guilt by association, closet racism, mindless hijinks masquerading as working class insight. I'd never vote for McGruff the Crime Dog, but of all the candidates he's the one I'd most like to trade shots with. Why? He's the one most likely to snap. And that, friends, is more like a middle class moment than any candidate will ever bring to light during a Sunday morning roundtable hosted by piddling pundits of pandering postulates.

Top. Purple penstemon.
Bottom. Royal Purple smoke bush and fire engine azalea.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

big brown derby portends end of democratic primary race

The events Saturday at the 134th Run for the Roses likely portend the end of the long, drawn-out epic known as the 2007-08 Democratic primary race. Big Brown, the winner in the 10th race at Churchill Downs this first Saturday in May, started from the 20-post, rode an unorthodox race by hanging wide through the first two turns, then pulled out in front of the field on the final turn and rode home to a relaxed and convincing win over a large field of contenders.

The filly Eight Belles placed just behind Big Brown, in what sadly turned out to be the ride of her life.

On Tuesday, Indiana and North Carolina hold primaries, and despite the air of hope that any rendition of My Kentucky Home always stirs in sentimental hearts everywhere, Hillary Clinton will likely have to settle for a place in at least one, if not both of these races. Once that happens, super delegates will act quickly to euthanize her campaign, lest the whole Democratic tradition collapses before John McCain starts continues a war that will never end.

Unfortunately for HRC who has poured her heart and soul into becoming the first woman President, roses are only awarded to the winner. Clinton will still wear the Big Hat known as U.S. Senator from NY State. Chubby Bill is expected to return to Harlem and continue his work as the stand-up comedian who has the job of warming up the crowd for the Main Act, now known as Barack Obama, at Showtime at the Apollo.

Photo credits:
Top, John Gress, Reuters.
Bottom, Charlie Riedel, AP.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

kcai brush creek community rain garden

The KCAI Brush Creek Community Rain garden was formally unveiled yesterday with a ceremony in Theis Park. The work of artist Julia Coles, students in the Kansas City Art Institute's (KCAI) Persuasive Ecology Design Class, the KCAI Community Service Arts Service Learning program, Brush Creek Community Partners, Discovery Center, and a host of other agencies and interested citizens, the rain garden was over a year in the making. If that seems like a long time to build a rain garden, it shouldn't seem like a long time to build a community. Building a community takes work - lots of it - and this project is an example of how artists bring a new and different kind of energy and vision to projects. One that reaches into communities with far-reaching and lasting implications.

At the core of this rain garden project, deeper than the roots of the native plants used to build it, was education, community involvement, and listening. Students worked for a semester on designing a public art project and to do that, they invited members of the community into the classroom to discuss ideas about various components of the project. This included naturalists, landscape architects, scientists, engineers, business leaders, and politicians. They listened to the community; the community listened to them. Then students, with guidance from Julia and her colleague Tyler Galloway, designed the layout of the rain garden, its intent and purpose, and vetted that again with the community. The result is one of the largest and most visible rain gardens of the Kansas Citiy 10,000 program. And one of the most interesting, if not the most important.

The result is a garden like no other in the city. Some of the components that set this garden apart are "learning stones." These are several kind of learning stones in and around the garden. Some are ceramic stones, about the size of a cobble, embedded within the garden. Visitors can take these stones out into the community and drop them like pebbles, with the idea that these can act to further the ideas behind the project. Additionally, there are larger cast stones designed to educate the public about some of the water-quality issues related to the 10,000 rain garden project - such as how capturing and infiltrating stormwater runoff into rain gardens reduces the amount of runoff that might otherwise end up going through more traditional catch basins, which provide little, if any, water-quality benefits.

Photos, Top to bottom, from upper left.
*Detail of Brush Creek Community Rain Garden.
*Artist Julia Coles, Former Kansas City Mayor Kay Barnes, Kansas City Councilwoman Jan Marcussson, and John Fierro, President of the Parks Board.
*Informational stone.
*Traditional concrete catch basin being installed at 18th and Tracy.
kcai raingarden
discovery center
10,000 raingardens

Friday, May 2, 2008

hired assasins stalking the 'burbs, looking for work

Every couple of weeks in the spring and summer I have flashbacks. It starts when then this creepy dude flashes past the suburban* office window. He reminds me of the the ice-pick wielding hit man in La Femme Nikita, the one with the ear bud.

We never know what motivates this evil spirit in the film, he just seems to have a need to kill things - people in particular. This dude will seemingly stop at nothing to do a frontal lobotomy on his victims using nothing more than an ice pick and his surly attitude. We also don't know what's being piped into his head through the ear bud. Orders from HQ? Directives from his fellow hit men, "watch out behind you!" It's not until the final scene that we discover what's being piped into his brain"** and it makes us laugh. This guy makes Jules Winnfield in Pulp Fiction look like a saint. He doesn't pause to read scripture, he just plunges the ice pick in deep, quick! there! it's done.

So this dude flashes by my window at the office. He's wearing an ear bud. Who is he? Is he after me? He must be.

I turn off the lights. Log off the computer. Just in case he's got the ability to go wireless. I turn down the radio. Close the door. Sit in silence. Motionless. And wait. After about a half-an-hour of this, he's usually gone and I crawl out from beneath the death desk. Who is this masked man? And why does he wish to kill things?

Then today, I finally find out, "He's the lawn dude". Come to spread his death and destruction on the planet. The other day, it was "weed and feed" day - that's what they call it. They apply a mixture of inorganic fertilizers and herbicides, both of which are made from, or owe their existence to foreign oil. The fertilizer insures the grass will continue to grow so in another couple of weeks, serial-killer dude will again ride past my window operating the most energy inefficient gasoline-powered object on the planet - the lawn mower. The herbicides are applied so that there are no dandelions in the cool-season grasses which don't belong here. All of this makes about as much sense as the Surge.

Does any of this matter? Ask the Bluebird couple, who just hatched a clutch of chicks and now must feed them pesticide-laced worms. Want one? Ask the 5-legged frog that lives in the mud puddle. Ask your children if they'd like a little pesticide with that apple. or that orange. Or ask yourself. "Why are people still doing this to the planet?"

*Sad but true, this Warrior Ant is sometimes forced to work for the MAN - in the 'burbs.

**Eine kleine Nachtmusik Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Thursday, May 1, 2008

grab a flagpole

It's May Day. Get outside. Do a little dance. Around a tree, or a flag pole. With someone. Like your worker friends. Or your family friends. Then take the afternoon off. Spring is here. Celebrate a little.

Image: City Workers Memorial, Kansas City,MO