shaken & stirred

welcome to my martini glass


I haven’t been writing much about politics on here lately, though I do follow what’s going on very closely and find it extremely troubling. I suppose I should say more and more troubling, because what’s going on with the U.S. government both here and abroad seems to be an avalanche—such a huge force overtaking you at any one moment that it’s hard to know what hit you. And yet, what it is, is a huge amount of vexing details or the even-more-vexing absence of details.

And we’re trained to ignore that feeling of being troubled, to just trust our government and go on, even if we don’t. I feel like we should all be doing more, but I don’t want to stop shaving my armpits (though if you don’t, you’re already ahead in the ballgame, and I salute you), start wearing hippy dresses, making signs and singing music of questionable quality. That’s really the historical model for protesting here, but it seems awfully dowdy and silly, and there must be a better one. The big challenge has never been having a voice, but getting it heard.

This American Life did a wonderful primer show on The Secret Government. I highly suggest everyone take the time to listen to it. If you’re starting to just tune out all the details because you don’t want to start wearing hippy clothes either, it’s especially important that you listen. Knowledge is where dissent starts. And it has started; Ariel Dorfman writes eloquently on behalf of peace. (And sidenote, I’m pretty sure he lives in Raleigh, though this piece is in The Guardian.)

Boy, don’t I feel all sincere and outraged, just like in high school? Maybe I’ll start writing funny political poetry again. Or perhaps not.

That’s not to say that there aren’t plenty of good things happening. For one thing, the MacArthur Foundation just gave out a bejeezus-sized truckload of grants to worthy causes including National Public Radio. I love NPR. I don’t have any time for people who complain that NPR is just “another big media outlet” or “tool of the machine.” Yes, I sometimes wish that NPR broke ranks more often with the spin things are getting in other big media outlets. But it does break ranks, and more importantly, it lets us hear the voices of people making decisions and the ones of the people those decisions directly effect. And it’s readily available to just about everyone in our country, for free. I have no doubt that there are kids growing up in households where the New York Times just isn’t going to happen, even on the Internet, and maybe they hear things on NPR occasionally that make them think about the world differently. If nothing else, it’s worth it to support NPR for that reason.

Boy, don’t I feel like a bleeding heart liberal right now? Moving right along…

The fact that Just Married (if you don’t know what this movie is, you’re lucky, don’t try and find out) was the number one movie at the box office last weekend is proof that people are literally buying tickets into hell. The Surreal Life on WB may be more proof, but I’m going to watch it anyway probably because I can’t resist listening into the kind of conversations that Emmanuel Lewis (who bills himself as “the other short black guy”), Vince Neil, and Corey Feldman (Tom Shales calls him “the poor man’s Corey Haim”) might have with each other, with a Playboy Playmate looking on. Nobody ever said all that debauchery at the end of the Roman Empire wasn’t fun.

Claire Tomalin and Michael Frayn are up against each other for the Whitbread and there’s an funny, charming story on them in the New York Times’ today. Michael Frayn says of what he knew about Claire before they first met, “I thought if I could meet a girl with a name like Claire Delavenay, my life would be much better.” Which is aww, shucks, truly sweet.

And with that incredibly long mass of details and slightly embarrassing political shucksterism: yes, we got the apartment. Painting starts tonight.

Everyone should submit to Say…. I believe you can find actual guidelines here, under Paying Markets, in the first entry under S, or e-mail me. The theme for the next issue is “Say…What Time Is It?” and we’re currently reading submissions. Query first on nonfiction, send us stories and send Alan DeNiro poems. (And make sure you look at Ptarmigan’s, or was it Palimpsest’s, comment on movies. It cracked me right up. And Alan, how did you manage to incorporate a comments feature into your page? I wanna too.)

Be well.


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