Friday, April 29, 2016

FRIDAY 'ROUND-THE-HORN.


The song starts at 1:27. We're not gonna wash our face; we're not going anyplace.

OMG Bobo:
I was surprised by Trump’s success because I’ve slipped into a bad pattern, spending large chunks of my life in the bourgeois strata — in professional circles with people with similar status and demographics to my own. It takes an act of will to rip yourself out of that and go where you feel least comfortable. But this column is going to try to do that over the next months and years. We all have some responsibility to do one activity that leaps across the chasms of segmentation that afflict this country.
Can you -- excuse me -- can't catch my breath -- whoosh. Now then: Can you imagine David Brooks out among the hoi polloi?

[SCENE: a low dive in Lancaster, Pa., Wednesday night. Smallish crowd of men in gimme caps; country music loud; David Brooks enters. To fit in, he has ditched his Brooks Brothers suit and tie, and wears instead his old rowing blazer over a light blue New & Lingwood shirt open at the neck, Berle Charleston Khakis, and Hush Puppies. He stands motionless at the bar until the music quiets a little.]

BROOKS (to bartender): Yoo-eng-gling, please.

BARTENDER: (handing him a Yuengling) It's Ying-ling.

BROOKS: Ah! Sorry, my Cantonese is a little rusty. (Looks around; no one is laughing; clears throat) Can one of you fellows tell me whether they still make Rolling Rock out at Old Latrobe?

(Silence.)

BROOKS: Bartender, a round for my friends here.

(Beer is delivered. Men drink.)

MAN #1: They moved to Jersey in ought-six.
MAN #2: I ain't worked since.
MAN #3: My grandma is in jail for crystal meth and my paw lives in a treehouse.

BROOKS: You don't mind if I take notes? To what do you gentlemen attribute your financial difficulties?

MAN #1: Nigger president.
MAN #2: The freemasons.
MAN #3: I keep a dead woman wrapped in plastic in my trailer for company.

BROOKS: I assume you're all voting for Trump?

MAN #1: Hell no. I'm voting for that Clinton bitch cuz I want to see her go to jail but these Republican sons-a-bitches won't do shit unless they can impeach her.
MAN #2: I'm not just voting for Trump. I'm gunna be his Secretary of the Treasury, he tells me.
MAN #3: I'm voting for Trump cuz I'm a heighten-the-contradictions guy. Lemme send you my article in Salon.

BROOKS: Bartender, can I get some Slim Jims for my friends?

MAN #1: I think we'd all prefer the charcuterie. (to the bartender) They got organ meats from Brook Farm today, don't they, Christopher? And maybe a nice pinot noir.
MAN #2: Kale salad for me. That nose-to-tail shit makes me gassy.
MAN #3: I shoot my rifle into a tree stump out back and if I do it enough I get a boner.

Aaaaand scene!

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

POSITIVELY THE WORST PRINCE MEMORIAL COLUMN.

Almost without my noticing it, David French has become the worst thing at National Review. Jonah Goldberg has, as we know, a distinguished history of stupid, but his recent columns are just so lazy and aimless that they're not even worth making fun of (I mean, look at this shit). Contender Kevin D. Williamson seems at first a clinical sociopath, but once you tumble to his shtick (call everyone else stupid, drop in an obscure reference or two to make it look intellectual-like) it's kind of like Porky Pig tumbling to Daffy Duck's "People shouldn't push me around... I'm a split personality!" routine; the magic is over.

But French just keeps finding new ways to be wrong. Take his Prince column. Yes, seriously, this horrible wingnut Jesus freak wrote one.
Prince died last week, and America overreacted. No, I’m not diminishing Prince’s talent. He was one of pop music’s most gifted songwriters and musicians. As millions shared his more memorable performances, I realized I’d forgotten what a great guitar player and showman he was. He could write hit songs like few others, and he shared his talent freely, “gifting” songs to other artists. In short, he was one of the few pop stars whose fame was fully justified.
You can really feel his pleasure at Prince's work, can't you? You can't? Well, of course not; this is exactly the sort of thing I would write about a NASCAR driver ("I had forgotten what a great NASCAR driver he was... he could turn left like no other") if I were trying to pretend I liked him as a way to win the confidence of someone whose intelligence I didn't respect.
But to spend time on the mainstream and left-wing Internet last week — or to listen to some of the web’s more popular podcasts — you would have thought America lost a national hero, and not merely an immensely gifted artist.
You heathens didn't cry like this when Andrew Breitbart died!
...In our post-virtue culture, we worship celebrity and talent not for its own sake but for ourselves. Their talent is all about us. Their fame is for our amusement. Pop music fills the hymnals in the temple of the self. We are the stars of our own biopic, and we just lost someone who wrote part of the score.
Can't you see how selfish, how narcissistic it is to enjoy music? I mean, music that isn't hymns?
The sentimentality is understandable, given the millions of people who could remember some significant moment in their lives that happened to the sounds of “Lets Go Crazy” or “When Doves Cry.”
(You know he had to look them up.)
...Our country doesn’t lack for heroes, but our true heroes certainly lack for fame. Even on the Left’s terms, valorizing Prince for his transient activism disrespects those who spent their lives in the trenches, fighting for their vision of “social justice.”
Hmmm -- I don't remember "the Left" telling me not to mourn Prince; maybe I missed a meeting... but hold on, brother French has taken up a snake:
For conservatives, Prince was ultimately just another talented and decadent voice in a hedonistic culture. He was notable mainly because he was particularly effective at communicating that decadence to an eager and willing audience.
GLORY HALLELUJAH THIS "PRINCE" WAS A VILLAIN IN A CHICK TRACT, MAKING THE KIDS GO A-FRIGGIN' AND A-FRUGIN' WHEN WHAT THEY NEED IS CHEESUS!
...I don’t say any of this to denigrate Prince or his talents.
Fuck you.
And I don’t say this to shame people out of listening to music they enjoy, though not all music is worth hearing.
You heathens ever hear Three Doors Down?
Rather, it’s time for a dose of perspective. Music has its place...
!!!!
...and gifted musicians undeniably enhance our lives...
You know, like air conditioning or wall-to-wall carpeting.
...but if our hearts are given to these songs and those who make them, then our lives are unnecessarily impoverished.
And then it hits you -- French isn't just ignorant of Prince, or even just of music -- this poor, twisted freak literally doesn't know what art is. He doesn't know its place in human history, or why human beings invented it, or why it persists even when it doesn't make money or is suppressed. He thinks it's upholstery. He thinks it's some sort of trivial comfort. And he thinks so because he's been taught that all you need are Jesus and Bill Buckley and the pleasure you can take from the suffering of your inferiors, and anything else that has a claim on the human soul, whether it's justice or sex or art, must be crushed lest it steal their thunder.

These are the monsters that monsters bred. You think Trump is bad? You have no idea.

THE LAST ACT OF A DESPERATE MAN.

Somebody explain to me how pre-selecting Carly Fiorina as a running mate is an advantage for Cruz. A failed CEO who lost thousands of jobs -- that's what primary voters in Indiana are screaming for! (I guess he figures California Republicans nominated her for something once and they might do it again. But that time she was actually on the ballot, and not the appurtence of the nation's only charmless Texan.)

If you're not up on Fiorina or have managed to banish her from your memory, check my columns on her lack of qualifications, her outrageous Planned Parenthood slanders, and her maladroit supporters in wingnut media -- the worst of whom, as you might expect, is Megan McArdle, who actually argues on Fiorina's behalf against success as evidence of competence. (If only I could get employers to buy that one!)

Enjoy -- and enjoy also the sad endorsement of Brandon Morse at Red State. ("While Fiorina has a fair share of criticism aimed at her, and her successes and failures at HP are hotly debated..." Oh brother.) Fave bit:
It should also be noted that a Cruz/Fiorina ticket would also strip Hillary of one of the sharper arrows in her quiver; the fact that she’s a woman.
Look, we got one too! Maybe Cruz, should he get the nomination, will try to fix it so Fiorina debates Clinton in his stead, while he goes around the country scaring children. I can just see Hugh Hewitt at the moderator's table: "Mrrowr mrrowr! Hissss!"

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

...BUT NOT FOR THEE.

So there's a site called Market Urbanism, against which I am predisposed for two reasons: because they announce chirpily in their header, "Believe it or not, free-markets and urbanism go well together"; and because they like to cite Joel Kotkin, who for years has been harboring a hate-on for the Blue Cities and is always predicting their downfall. But I figured I'd give it a chance. I mean, heaven forbid Vox should call me smug or something.

The first item I looked at, by Carolyn Zelikow, about how Richard Florida and his "creative class" (and not, as you might think, rapacious capitalism) have ruined the cities by flooding them with yuppies -- in fact the title is "Richard Florida Should Replace The Term ‘Creative Class’ With ‘Country Club.'" The thing is rife with the conservative version of virtue-signaling (values-signaling?); Zelikow refers to creatives' penchant for "superficial diversity" and "Florida’s tacit preference for bike lanes over food stamps," she accepts the claim that "members of the Creative Class embrace diversity, except when it comes to blacks, whom they prefer not to live around," etc. But look at how she starts:
Here’s a fun fact about me: I embody the Creative Class.

I live in a big, old witchhatted townhouse between Dupont Circle and Adams Morgan in Washington, DC. I love locally raised produce and my exposed brick yoga studio has a juice bar. I fall in love with every silver bullet remedy for civic malaise I come across: teach kids to code! bike lanes! murals! And guess what? I work at a think tank, where we think… for a living!
I should note that at no point in the essay does Zelikow inform us of any plans to move away from creative-class-ridden D.C. -- though she notes that there are "many American cities that are doing just fine without a preponderance of Creative Class representation: Houston, Atlanta, Oklahoma City all come to mind." Can't she telecommute from Oklahoma City? She thinks for a living!

The other item I examined was by Nolan Gray and called "Reclaiming 'Redneck' Urbanism: What Urban Planners Can Learn From Trailer Parks." Gray likes trailer parks on the expected conservatarian grounds -- "a trailer owner pays rent not only for a slice of land in an apparently desirable location but also for a kind of club good known as 'private governance,'" plus there's no "top-down, paternalistic planning," etc. Alas, neither does Gray walk the walk:
The lesson here is not, of course, that we should all go live in trailer parks. As a Kentuckian, I have spent enough time in and around trailers to think better of that idea. But...
Yeah thanks. Still I find even this much honesty refreshing. I wonder when regular, non-niche conservatives will start picking it up, e.g., "Welfare recipients should take regular piss tests and only be allowed gruel to eat -- though of course if I ever get into economic trouble I expect to maintain the standard of living to which I am accustomed, because I think for a living."

UPDATE. Comments, always excellent, outdo themselves on this one. For example, weedcard:
This dipshit has obviously never lived in a trailer park. WTF does he mean by "private governance?" That a man can discipline his woman when she "sasses" him and not have to worry about the statist police force enforcing the radical, left-wing Violence Against Women Act? That since most trailer parks do not require a lease the landlord can kick you out anytime he wants for any reason?
No, weedcard, he means freemarket ReaganHayek doubleplusgood. I mean, it doesn't matter what it means so long as he doesn't have to live in it.

Monday, April 25, 2016

NEW VILLAGE VOICE COLUMN UP...

...about the Andrew Jackson/Harriet Tubman swap on the $20, and rightbloggers' bright idea of portraying this as a conservative victory because Jackson was a Democrat and Tubman was a Republican and what about guns libtards? I don't think this strategy is meant to attract black voters, or even get rightbloggers' usual followers comfortable with such voters -- a visit to the comments sections of their pro-Tubman posts shows how fruitless that would be. It's really just a way for them to take some sting out of an event which, were it not so racially fraught, they would be denouncing as a politically correct outrage (and don't worry, sports fans, some of them do). And you know what? That's fine. It's not a bad thing when the enemy starts pulling uniforms off your dead soldiers and putting them on so they can pretend they were on your side all along.

UPDATE. If you like blowhards gassing about politics on internet radio AND WHO DOESN'T, you may enjoy my appearance on Joshua Holland's latest Politics and Reality podcast or whatever you people call them these days, never listen to the things myself. BTW Josh, a writer for The Nation and not often wrong, is wrong about one thing in the broadcast: this blog's name is pronounced al-i-CU-blog, based as it originally was in the web magazine alicubi, from the Latin. There -- when your grandchildren are studying the fall of the American Empire you'll have an interesting footnote to share with them before they shove you into the Elder Hole.

UPDATE 2. Hat tip to commenter J--- for bringing my attention to this encomium from RedState:
My only hope is that someday, one hundred and fifty or two hundred years hence, we will have occasion to honor on our currency a brave (and as yet unknown) warrior who will have helped to erase the stain of legalized infanticide from this nation's history, in the same way Harriet Tubman helped erase the stain of slavery.
I picture Erick Erickson IV,  who kidnaps pregnant women from abortion clinics and chains them up in birthing pens, wanted by the police but celebrated by conservatives.

Friday, April 22, 2016

FRIDAY 'ROUND-THE-HORN.


I'm sorry Prince is dead,
but there's not much on the internet of him I can use.
I'm sorry Hound Dog Taylor is dead too.

• Chuckleheads like Steven Hayward at Power Line are trying to portray the placement of Harriet Tubman on the 20 dollar bill  as a crisis for liberals because a few authors (including my old pal Steven Thrasher) have noticed the irony of a soldier of liberation appearing on the currency of her oppressor. But by and large the liberals I've talked to (and I see lots of them at our frequent abortion-fests) are pleased to have Jackson o'erthrown by a freedom-fighter. Actually the real split appears to be among conservatives: The Hill cites a survey showing the Trump faction (which, I remind you, is yuge) mostly against the new avatar for reasons I bet you can guess. The anti-Trump conservatives, perhaps sensing a propaganda opportunity, have devised a claim on Tubman because, as National Review's Eli Lehrer writes, she was "black, Republican," and "gun-toting" -- as if she were an NRA yahoo rather than a person of color operating in a time and place where she could easily have be killed without consequence. Some of them even want Tubman shown holding a gun on the bill. I would agree, if she could be shown using it to kill a white man. (Also, I bet every one of these cowboys would plotz if they came upon a live black woman with a gun.)

• Oh and yeah, Prince. So much has been said already, but I will say that he was always reliably fresh in a way that even the most talented non-genius musicians aren't -- after I stopped paying close attention to him in the glyph era, every so often a new AFKAP/Prince tune would pop up and suddenly all would be funky and right. I'm listening to HITNRUN Phase Two now, and with its rock-solid pop values -- not just in the way it's written but in the way it sounds, the way the stings and squeals are placed, the reverb on the flute, the twist of the stomp-box dials -- he could have written it 30 years ago. Who knows, maybe he did. But it has no smell of the basement or the retro vault; it's as new as today. And so is everything he did from I Wanna Be Your Lover onward. Even the cheesy 80s synthesizer and drum pad sounds on the old stuff don't chain his music to the past. That's because of his gift, but also because he was always down in it -- though he was a great guitarist his real instrument was the recording studio, and he played its variations obsessively and revealed them to be limitless. That's good to remember at those moments when you get sick of pop music or feel too old to participate and start to believe that what the withered scolds of the past hundred years say is true, that it's just cheap crap for children; Prince always proves them wrong. We didn't get tired of him because he never got tired of music. He believed in jazz, rhythm and blues, and this thing called soul; he believed in rock 'n' roll.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

ON CURT SCHILLING'S CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT TO A JOB AT ESPN.

As you may know, people get fired for their Facebook comments all the time; the National Labor Relations Board seems to hold that employees' "concerted activity" in social media (e.g., agitating for a union) is protected while posts that disparage or put their employers in a bad light are not -- maybe like this lady who talked to the Washington Post about her shitty job and got fired for it.

The NLRB has its standards, and Rod Dreher has his:
OK, that’s a provocative image, and Schilling was unwise to post it in this LGBT-McCarthyite environment. But is so bad it merits firing? Besides, I’m pretty sure that a rather huge number of people, especially ESPN viewers, share disgust with how if you aren’t on the Trans Bandwagon, you are basically a neo-Nazi...

This is called Progress. Sit still for long enough, and they’ll find a reason to smear you too.
I have never heard Dreher complain about any other poor sucker (emphasis on the "poor") getting kicked off his job for something he said or posted -- but when it's someone who slags gay or trans people, he's Clarence fucking Darrow.

In the Brendan Eich case, which this one resembles, you frequently heard conservatives saying some variant of "don't get me wrong, private companies can fire whomever they want but [homophobic gibberish]." Well, I'm always willing to compromise and fix it so no one gets fired for anything they say.  I doubt Dreher would take the deal, though. Guess why.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

ANOTHER CULTURE WAR CASUALTY.

Remember that "Intellectual Case for Trump" made by Mytheos Holt at The Federalist a few weeks back? If you saw it, surely if nothing else Holt's tale of how he turned out a racist chick when she let him "probe her ideology" stays seared in your brain. Did you know that was only Part One? Yeah, I blocked that out too, but Part Two has arrived and it's even stupider. A lot of it is about how liberals got bored with free speech and now they're Hitler -- but God help us, Holt also has a Culture War angle:
For decades, the institutional Right has ceded American culture to the Left, in spite of many voices who pointed out ample areas where the Right could carve out a countercultural movement against leftist domination, or even co-opt some of modern culture for itself.
Not sure what "voices" have advocated a "countercultural movement" as Holt provides no link -- but the voices urging conservatives to "co-opt some of modern culture for itself" we have heard; they're the guys who write articles like "How Star Trek Explains The Decline Of Liberalism" in rightwing rags, and who come up with concepts like "South Park Republicans" to make their sponsors feel au courant.

Holt is true to the template -- he even devotes a paragraph to a South Park episode recap! -- and tells us that the problem with conservatism is that it has become infested with "young fogeys" who are no fun at all, which is why all the cool conservatives are flocking to Trump: "Trump is many things, but a fogie he is not." Trump makes liberals mad, see, just like us cool dudes make our parents mad; he's "taking his cues from his time as a pro-wrestling heel personality," and when all those WWE fans get old enough to vote they'll vote for him, or maybe for Triple H -- he's pretty awesome too.

Eventually Holt gets to the inevitable "choc-o-muts ice creams is conservative" list:
The Right doesn’t have to conjure up its own art from scratch. It can and occasionally has co-opted modern entertainment as well. After all, don’t films like Christopher Nolan’s “Batman” series make the most powerful statement about the tension between chaos and civilization since John Ford? Don’t Nietzschean fairy tales like “Breaking Bad,” “House of Cards,” or even “True Detective,” not to mention most video games, utterly brush aside the Left’s fantasies about Rousseauistic, universal human goodness?
Boring a girl at a party with a rant about how your favorite TV show means Social Security sux is the revolution, comrade -- I mean bro!

These people are always going on about Saul Alinsky -- and The Frankfurt School and the Long March Through The Institutions and all those other wingnut equivalents of the Illuminati -- so naturally they think culture is not something to make, or even to appreciate and enjoy, but something to "co-opt."

UPDATE. Sorry, I can't leave out this bit from Holt's essay about Bill Clinton yelling at the Black Lives Matter guys and how it shows liberals went fascist:
In this, they break from the past in many respects. Bill Clinton himself revealed how significant this shift was when he challenged Black Lives Matter. Clinton was advancing a policy argument in defense of his approach to crime in the 1990s, in the face of protesters who would hear none of it. His arguments were based on the facts, where the BLM protesters’ signs were based on the equivalent of brand loyalty to a cultural movement. No matter how correct Clinton’s case was, it inevitably fell on deaf ears.
No, you read that right: he's really saying BLM's protest signs lost an argument with Bill Clinton. I'd say the signs were at a serious disadvantage; maybe they should have used dry-erase to reduce response time.