Monday, August 22, 2005

Chic Lit

I've just read a couple of books recently in the recovery memoir vein, which seems to be all the rage these days. Namely, Dry by Augusten Burroughs and A Million Little Pieces by James Frey. Both are intensely readable, though I suspect the latter suffers from some intense exaggeration. You almost hope so: no human being deserves to suffer capping two teeth and receiving two root canals without anaesthetic, even if they are in recovery and aren't allowed any sort of drugs. What makes Frey's book especially so gripping, whether he stretches the truth or not, is his sheer determination. That part must be true or he wouldn't be here to tell us about it.

I also just finished the wonderful graphic novel Persepolos by Marjane Satrapi, which details that writer's childhood in Iran. (For some reason, I'm drawn to Iran. I watch every Iranian movie I can get my hands on,and I've enjoyed everyone. Abbas Kiarostami would have to be one of my most favorite directors.) It's is by turns touching, enlightening and horrifying. The illustrations are simple, yet refined, often elegant. A graphic novel classic. That's three memoirs in a row. Now, I've just started The Dew Breaker by Haitian-born Edwidge Danticat. I'm headed to Puerto Rico for my vacation next week and hope to lots of reading this time, and less running around like a madman, as is usually my modus operandi.

Update 01/09/06: Yep, turns out Frey's pretty much a fraud. More thoughts here and over at Saheli's place.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

The Truth Will Out

As the Observer reports, a Republican candidate for the Charlotte City Council Doug Hanks was outed as a white supremacist this past week. Another local paper the Rhinoceros Times actually broke the story and published a handful of his 4000+ posts (separate article) on the notorious site (I don't want to link to them).

Here's one particularly charming post, as recently as February 25, 2005:
In response to a poll question “Which is worse, same sex marriage or interracial marriage?”

“I hate them both and voted that way, but if I had to pick one over the other, I would say that Zebras are worse because when the fags die, they’re gone. When the Zebras die, they leave non-White offspring to breathe more of my air, steal my tax dollars, and encroach on my land.”
I feel like I need to take a shower after copying that here. The local Republicans smartly washed their hands of him right away.

I bring this up for two reasons: A) Man, sadly, it's easy to forget guys like this exist. And it's easy to think they're all living up in the mountains in shacks or something and to forget that they may be your clean-cut neighbors. B) He was outed by the Internet. Somehow this guy didn't think those thousands of posts on the Stormfront site would ever catch up with him? Of course, he did execute a stunt where he climbed a flagpole at a local cemetary to replace the Confederate flag which had been ordered taken down, so maybe he was just reckless. Still.

Increasingly, our behavior on the internet is another facet of our lives which folks will rightfully be scrutinizing. Makes you wonder how it's all going to play out. How intense that scrutiny is going to get.

The Rhino article also discusses how extremist groups are trying to appear more palatable:
[A]ccording to information provided by the Anti-Defamation League: it’s not uncommon for white supremacist groups to try and assimilate extremist views into the mainstream using a strategy that combines old hatreds with new rhetoric.

Indeed, an entire Stormfront message board is dedicated to how white supremacists should go about infiltrating mainstream politics. Members were asked how they should portray themselves publicly: “Old Klan (more aggressive), New Klan (less aggressive), Professional, Non-professional, or National Alliance (basically Klan, but less secretive).”
Scary stuff.

Local blog The Pryhills also has a photo of Hanks at a protest over the removal of the Confederate flag from the cemetary--about a mile from my place.

Update: Hanks has rather weakly claimed that his 4000+ posts on the Stormfront site were merely research for a book he was working on. Good try, Mr. Hanks. The Rhino Times promptly published an interview they did with him shortly before the story blew up, and he pretty much admits to buying into Stormfront dogma. Here's a representative quote:
Some people might call them radical and racial. Like I said, I look at things from a heritage point of view. We have been conditioned, I think, over the years that being proud of who we are is wrong, that some people are allowed to have that and other people aren’t. You can have, let’s say, you know, Gay Pride or Black Pride or something like that, but when somebody says I’m proud of my German ancestry or something like that, then they automatically interpret that as being racist.
In the end he reaches for the classic white supremicist's cliche:
There’s a big difference between the word racist and racialist, and a lot of people don’t differentiate that.
Interestingly enough, in my humble opinion, the only people I've ever seen try to make such a distinction are, well, racists.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Peter Jennings 1938-2005

Peter Jennings

Peter Jennings has died of lung cancer, Sunday August 7th, 2005. 67, though he didn't seem it. And a bloody handsome bastard to boot.

Ever an isle of calm when covering any event, he always took journalism seriously. Which is saying something in this age where news continues to slip into infotainment.

What an articulate and debonair guy. What a class act. Gone.

Sunday, August 07, 2005


Wong Kar Wai's latest cinematic dreamscape 2046 is finally in limited release here in the States. Will it come to lovely Charlotte, North Carolina or will I be forced to wait to see it on DVD, a la In the Mood for Love? (The latter may have actually shown here in blink-and-you'd-miss-it fashion.) From the stills and trailer, looks like Christopher Doyle's cinematography is as masterful as ever.

The reviews at Cannes this time were apparently tepid because the film was late and still unfinished. However, the NYT's Manohla Dargis call's it "an unqualified triumph." Sounds then that, like all of Wong's flicks, you can expect it to be an idiosyncratic and painterly investigation into love, loss and longing.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005


Breaking: Our President, leader of The Free World, has just endorsed Intelligent Design. Endorsements for alchemy, divination, and the Platygaean Hypothesis to follow. Stem cell research? The work of the Devil.

Magical Musical Meme

Via the illustrious Saheli, a music meme:

Number of records/tapes/cds I own: Well, heh. I'd hafta estimate about 600+ CDs. 20 or so records. And a gaggle of tapes. Think that's a lot? My brother will blow these figures away. (He used to work at a record shop.)

First record/tape/cd I bought: OK, I wanna say The Cars' Heartbeat City 'cos that disk still sounds so cool today. But I'm afraid it may have been, er, heh, ahem, Air Supply. Hey, I was, like 13. And they're from Australia! So, anyway, I'm going with The Cars.

Last record/tape/cd I bought: I'm not sure, but I think it was Citizen Cope's The Clarence Greenwood Recordings, which is really fantastic. I also got a stack of CDs from Skyscraper Magazine recently to review, and from those I'd recommend the new Go-Betweens and the Nick Cave B sides and rarities ('cos I always gotta give props to the Caveman).

Recordings or songs that mean a lot to me (and/or changed my life): As I've detailed here before, handsdown, Peter Gabriel singing "Solsbury Hill," which is autobiographical for him and felt so for me, too.

If I had to choose a soundtrack of my life, what 5-10 songs would be on it: This one's kinda tough, yeah. Gotta narrow it down to 5-10 songs. I'll try to choose 'em both because I like them and the represent stuff from my biography. Kinda like if Cameron Crowe really ran outta ideas and decided to make a movie about my life:Chris? Over to you.

Update: Chris weighs in. BTW this meme originated with Dru Blood, who has a great little blog going over there.