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« Media-Consumption Attitudes | Main | Nikos Reactions »

May 10, 2005


Michael Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards --

* Luke Lee marvels at the intolerance of some liberals.

* Lynne Kiesling doesn't think energy subsidies are the way to go.

* 32 formerly unknown Jackson Pollock drip-and-slosh paintings have been discovered in a storage facility in East Hampton.

* Quiet Bubble enjoys the perfect meal at New York's 2nd Avenue Deli.

* Newsweek's Peter Plagens finds that a new history of art since 1900 is actually a history of art-theory since 1900.

* Will Duquette lists six "perfect songs." I'm certainly not about to disagree with any of Will's choices.

* Jon Hastings notices that the people who like "Starship Troopers" the novel generally don't like "Starship Troopers" the movie, and vice versa.

* Steve Sailer has been doing his usual -- ie., heroic -- job of blogging and writing on weighty subjects. But the piece of Steve's I especially enjoyed discovering recently was a little more casual: this report on a study of barroom bouncers.

* Glenn Reynolds thinks videoblogging is the next hot blogtrend.

* Have you heard about the Japanese game called Kansho? Strange country, Japan ...

* Who needs nonstick? Mrs. Blessed loves her cast-iron pots and pans.

* DesignObserver's Michael Bierut wonders how big a role "bullshit" plays in the design process.

* Retail historians Peter Blackbird and Brian Florence run a fascinating site dedicated to the history of America's shopping malls.

* Jim Barker's scans of pulp-fiction bookjackets should make illustration buffs weep with pulp happiness.

* TinkertyTonk thinks that too many parents are using public libraries as free daycare centers.

* Is it a building? Or is it, perhaps, a computer punchcard? David Sucher turns up an amazingly ... blech modernist building in Lisbon.



posted by Michael at May 10, 2005


Re: bouncers

I (had no problem getting into Nachtcafe and ...) am reminded of my favourite bouncer anecdote.

It concerns my college days, when I occasionally used to train and hang out with the karate club at another college in the same town. Their black belt instructor, an Iranian expat, supported himself in college by working as a bouncer (and was a thoroughly nice guy, as genuine hard men with nothing to prove often are).

One year he decided his club should win the national college karate championship - in purstuit of which goal he got a bunch of his mates'n'colleagues to sign up for various vocational diplomas. They duly won (the opposition being mostly more the normal student demographic) and went out to celebrate. Some thugs decided beating up a few students would be a fun and easy way to round off their evening. Oh how wrong they turned out to be ...

Posted by: Alan Little on May 11, 2005 6:44 AM

Steve Sailer also has a report on a blog, "Standing on the Box," written by a bouncer at two New York nightclubs. Many of the blog entries are a mixture of humor and cynicism that's probably very difficult to pull off on a regular basis.

Posted by: Peter on May 11, 2005 9:35 AM

Talking Heads "Take Me to the River" is a "perfect" song? Maybe "perfect" doesn't mean what I think it means.

Posted by: JT on May 11, 2005 11:00 AM

Was anyone else started by the Japanese "kansho" game? Made my eyebrows go up, that's for sure.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on May 11, 2005 2:08 PM

Pop music is funny. I find that after you listen to a song a cetain number of times you don't want to listen to it any more. Dave Eggers has the theory that we listen to songs until we figure them out. I don't think this is what happens in other arts. People generally don't say they are tired of Tolstoy or Picasso.

Posted by: joe o on May 11, 2005 3:16 PM

Well I for one don't know how you could link to that Born Again Democrats site at all, let alone read it. The smug, condescending tone, the self-deprecating approach when talking about groups to which the writer doesn't even belong, the sweeping generalizations and straw men, and the general self-contentedness combined to have a particularly nauseous effect. And Steve Sailer -- well, I'll be content simply to say that I often find him funny when I don't think he means to be.

Posted by: Michael on May 11, 2005 3:22 PM

Michael (PF): side effect of natural inclination to get along with everybody...

Posted by: Tatyana on May 11, 2005 4:42 PM

Thanks very much for linking to me. I'm no fan of Steve Sailer or some of the others linked to here, but it's terrific that the Blowhards have the magnaminous nature to link to content that they might be morally and politically--if not aesthetically--opposed to, simply because it's good writing. The catholic spirit of this site is precisely why I read it regularly, and foist it upon my friends.

Posted by: Quiet Bubble on May 11, 2005 5:08 PM

Tatyana: I suppose you're right. I'm not in any position to tell the Blowhards how to maintain a popular blog. =\ I've no trouble with theists or democrats (or atheists or republicans, for that matter), but the writer's arrogance was simply grating. I wondered what MB saw in it.

Posted by: Michael on May 11, 2005 5:53 PM

I was a bit confused by the Luke Lee article, as well. I just wasn't sure what he was getting at, to be honest. No, I mean it. It just confused the heck out of me. Plus, I hope he gets his thyroid checked out (read the link, it'lls make sense).

*Here in my little corner of New England that I live in, in a city that rhymes with Roston, I know some very intelligent educated people who think that there are roaming hoards of evangelicals running around in the square states. I was told this with a straight face: "I am worried about the Christians." Which made me laugh out loud, Indian born Iowa raised Hindu that I am. It's odd, I had lots of issues 'being different' growing up, but the religious thing never registered at all.

Sometimes I think people who leave their part of the world, wherever that is, get a sort of culture shock, and instead of recognizing it for what it is (their own discomfort), they think it's some kind of conspiracy. Well, that's how I feel. It's a conspiracy that there are as many potholes as PhDs in the city rhyming with Roston. A conspiracy, I tell you!

Posted by: MD on May 11, 2005 7:24 PM

Hey: screw consistency, and screw groupthink -- a party that doesn't have a good mix of people is a sorry thing indeed. I'm really pleased y'all stop by, and thrilled when you join in. Looking forward to much more.

I'm puzzled by reactions to Luke's postings. I find Luke very humane and modest, and complaining about liberal intolerance ... well, he certainly wins my heart with that theme, living as I do in NYC. Where do y'all find condescension and smugness?

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on May 11, 2005 7:24 PM

Luke believes gay people are unacceptable in the suburbs. He hints that they interfere with the procreation of heterosexuals in some unspecified manner.

His arguments are not very coherent.

Posted by: joe 0 on May 11, 2005 10:05 PM

Michael B, I had the same problem with the Born-Again Democrat articles. I found him incredibly condescending to the "simple folk" he was writing about -- "unsophisticated hicks"?; and what sweeping generalizations -- big cities are not fit places for children to grow up in?? Surely millions and millions of children have been successfully raised in big cities, not only surviving, but thriving. I found both pieces off-putting. I wouldn't suggest that you not link to them, though. That's what I like about this blog.

Posted by: missgrundy on May 11, 2005 10:13 PM

Talking Heads "Take Me to the River" is a "perfect" song? Maybe "perfect" doesn't mean what I think it means.

That's kind of what I was thinking.

The Talking Heads do one thing perfectly: They flawlessly make me change the station every time one of their songs comes on. Every single time--now that's a perfected skill.

Posted by: Scott Cunning on May 12, 2005 6:09 AM

Scott: I like the Talking Heads and I find that cover version of theirs abhorrent. It reminds me of the idiots who think "Help" is the Beatles best song.

Joe O: I also experience fatigue at times from listening to a certain work of classical music too much. Why we grow tired of music and why, sometimes after we listen to a piece of music once or twice, it suddenly becomes more and more meaningful and wonderful, is one of those mysteries humans are at a loss to explain.

Posted by: JT on May 12, 2005 10:47 AM

Michael, Joe O, Missgrundy -- I guess I read Luke very differently. The only "should" he seems to me to be arguing is that the Dems should get over their aversion to many of the people whose votes they need, including rural Christians. That's not too controversial, by the way: the Dems have lost a lot of their traditional constituencies to the Republicans. I don't think Luke's arguing by any means that parents ought to get kids out of the city or that the suburbs ought to give gays a rough time. I think he's just saying that these seem to be patterns in life -- city people who have kids do overwhelmingly move out of the city, and suburbs (essentially child-raising camps) aren't going to be terribly friendly to the kinds of lives many gays seem to like to leave. I think Luke's just saying: get used to it, it ain't evil, quit dealing with these fairly-natural patterns by getting all angry with 'em, because all you're doing is alienating the people you need.

But I shouldn't try to speak for Luke so much. Luke, dude, are you out there?

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on May 12, 2005 10:55 AM

MB -- I have no argument with the argument itself, to a point. I also appreciate the variety of perspectives and the idea of an umbrella party; in fact I often find that element of the dailyKOS (especially with its extensive diary area) website very satisfying. My problem with Born Again Democrats was the tone, and missgrundy did a great job of identifying examples of the condescension and generalizations that bothered me. I wasn't saying you shouldn't link to it, however, which seems to be how I've been read -- I just wanted to know your opinion on it (i.e. why you linked to it), because it didn't seem in line (except perhaps in certain themes) with the rest of what you post. It struck me as an outlier.

Posted by: Michael on May 12, 2005 12:11 PM

Memo to Blowhards:

Go back a little further in time.

They were writing great songs in the teens, 20s, 30s and 40s.

I think that the most perfect song ever written has to be "So Lonesome I Could Cry" by Hank Williams. How can you have a list of perfect songs and leave off Hank? "Hey Good Lookin'" is a monster song. It should be a top 10 hit every five years. In a just world (which I intend to bring about), everybody would be educated in Hank.

You might want to also write a bit about the greatest melodies ever written. My favorite is an oddball: "Round Midnight" by Thelonius Monk. The most beautiful tune ever written.

Posted by: Stephen on May 12, 2005 12:12 PM

As for Dems and Christians and fundies oh my, ala Luke, I think he misses the primary point - several actually. The problem most non-fundamentalists have with fundamentalists, regardless of political party or religious persuasion, is that they claim to be the sole possessors and arbitrators of the TRUTH, and therefore everyone else is simply wrong, they just haven't realized it yet. To take issue with that is not intolerance, it is more accurately complete disagreement. Take for instance the recent silliness where that Baptist Pastor literally excommunicated all Democrats. This is the same ground trod on by members of the KKK where they opine that they don't necessarily need to lynch black people, but they should certainly know their place and not interbreed with the superior whites. To find that viewpoint abhorrent and wrong is not a case of intolerance; it's a case of those views being incompatible with a free society and demonstrably harmful. I don't think Democrats, or even Republicans and Libertarians, should want to kowtow to certain fundamentalists, because they want things that are harmful or shunning to those outside of those groups in ways that aren't necessary or even scripturally required. (Like some nutball claiming a vote for Bush is the only acceptable option.) It's usually based on a mutant interpretation of scripture whereby the fundamentalist claims someone not of their group is to be cast out or some times harmed. Disagreement with that is just that, not intolerance.

As for perfect songs, I agree with Will and Stephen (though I'd put "Once in a Lifetime" (live) before "Take me to the River" - but I'm not arguing that "River" belongs).

I'd add:
I Melt with You - Modern English
Smells Like Teen Spirit - Nirvana
Old Time Rock and Roll - Bob Seger
Respect - Aretha Franklin
(It's) the End of the World as We Know It - REM
Hey Jude - The Beatles
You Can't Always Get What You Want - The Rolling Stones
I Feel Good - James Brown
Just the Way You Are - Billy Joel
Rikki Don't Lose That Number - Steely Dan
Take the Money and Run - Steve Miller
All Along the Watchtower - Jimi Hendrix
She Blinded me with Science - Thomas Dolby
Walk this Way - Aerosmith
Train in Vain (Stand by Me) - The Clash
Surrender (live Budokan version) - Cheap Trick
The Letter - The Box Tops
Time in a Bottle - Jim Croce
Dreams - Fleetwood Mac
We Will Rock You \ We Are The Champions - Queen
Reelin' in the Years - Steely Dan
You Really Got Me - The Kinks
Runaway - Del Shannon
Mrs. Robinson - Simon and Garfunkel
Just Like Heaven - The Cure
Desperado - The Eagles
Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain - Willie Nelson
Dance the Night Away - Van Halen

Honorable mentions (due to profanity, schmatlz factor, too new to tell, or otherwise)
Hair of the Dog - Nazareth
Rock and Roll Part 2 - Gary Glitter
Wildfire - Michael Martin Murphy
Vertigo - U2
Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye - Steam
Baby Got Back - Sir Mix-a-lot (I'm almost kidding about this one)

Posted by: Yahmdallah on May 12, 2005 3:50 PM

I'm so excited: I hoped "I am a Japanese Schoolteacher" would show up here sooner or later. I have a good friend in the JET program right now, with whom I haven't had the time to discuss this thing. A while back I read the whole thing straight through and haven't laughed so hard in a long time. Michael, did you just read the first post, or have you also delved deeper? If not, it gets a WHOLE lot more disturbing from there; definitely worth the read. You never knew what you never knew about Japan.

Posted by: Rob Asumendi on May 12, 2005 6:55 PM

I don't know about perfect songs, but I would agree that "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry" is as good a popular song as I've ever heard. Equalled, no doubt, but not excelled. It does seem weird to have to tell people that if they like popular music, they will almost certainly enjoy Hank Williams.

"She Blinded Me With Science" is also a personal favorite, if not quite in the same lofty realm.

I am easily bored by Romantic-classical music, but Classical-classical music (i.e., late 18th century orchestral/instrumental music) never seems to tire my brain.

Posted by: Friedrich von Blowhard on May 12, 2005 8:28 PM

I'd probably add Simon and Garfunkel's "59th St. Bridge Song", and Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody". I'd also add songs by Karen Carpenter and Jim Reeves (sorry, can't decide which ones) just because their voices are so perfect.

Posted by: Doug Sundseth on May 13, 2005 11:24 AM

Michael - great bunch of links - 'specially the English teacher in Japan.

Yahm - The problem most non-fundamentalists have with fundamentalists, regardless of political party or religious persuasion, is that they claim to be the sole possessors and arbitrators of the TRUTH, and therefore everyone else is simply wrong, they just haven't realized it yet.

I'm quakin' in my secular shorts here - there are people who actually believe the tenets of their religion? Or are like, you know, convinced that some things are true and some false? Mabel, my smelling salts...

There are any number of beliefs concerning which I, a secular non-believin' type, am convinced that I am the "possessor and arbitrator of the TRUTH", and therefore the fundies are "simply wrong" - and these are not all merely private views that will result in no intereference in the lives of people who disagree with me.

Fundamentalists, non-fundamentalists, Donks, Pachs, the school board, the public library, the goddamned Avon Lady - I got problems with all of 'em. Oh man, it just sucks to have to share the public square with people who strongly disagree with me. Can't we make them all go away or just legislate their troglodyte views right out of the public square? Gosh, I have to soil myself by actually having to slug it out politically with these people, all democracy-like, when the views of people who disagree with me are so obviously incompatible with a free society? (And Yahm? I'd be a bit more circumspect with the KKK riffs. It's the sort of analogy that needs a precision fit to work at all. Otherwise you can end up sounding like a...nutball.)

Disagreement with that is just that, not intolerance.

Correct - disagreement is not intolerance. But when you start making noises about the non-criminal behaviors of people in free, voluntary organizations, whose views you happen to disapprove of, being "demonstrably harmful and incompatible with a free society", some of us who value privacy and freedom may start to wonder where you're going with that.

Like some nutball claiming a vote for Bush is the only acceptable option.

Big whoop. I'd bet the majority of people who voted one way question the intelligence, sanity, or character of people who voted the other. Both sides were probably correct in their evaluation.

Posted by: Moira Breen on May 13, 2005 12:01 PM

Well, ouch.

*I* believe in the tenets of my religion. I completely believe that Jesus walked the earth, was man and God in the same incarnation, and that - along with the many other things he did, such as preach a pretty good message - died in place of me for my sins, if I only accept that gift via belief. I'm not saying that having beliefs is a bad thing.

I'm saying that when your beliefs extend to harming others and repressing their rights, it's a bad thing. Fundamentalists almost by definition are often, but -to be fair - not always, driven to force their society to form laws that cater to their beliefs.

I disagree with that view, particularly with American fundamentalists Christians, because I do not share their interpretation of my religious texts.

Therefore, I don't like being painted with the broad brush of "intolerance" when in fact I simply disagree with most (if not all) fundamentalist views. It means I think they're wrong, and often extend into legitimate harm and suppression of others - which I disagree with both as a Christian and as an American.

My paralleling fundamentalist views and actions with those of the KKK is a bit strong, but I still think it's apt. I happen to have to interface a lot with these guys (fundies) since I ostensively belong to the same faith, and they really do view the entire world as "us and them" - not "us" as Jesus said we should do. The KKK has a very "us and them" viewpoint, too. I make that connection because it seems apt.

You dismiss the Baptist pastor's actions as "big woop". Hey, had that been you tossed out for those reasons, would it be "big woop"? What about Dick Cheney referring to Democrats as "the other faith" in his speeches these days? What about Dobson of Focus on the Family holding a national day of prayer to get Republican judges pushed through to the bench, because they want the third branch of government to ensure their views become law, (since they already have the other two doing just that)? What about the not-too-subtle threats of harm against the judges who wouldn't intervene in the Terry Schiavo case? Have you heard about a particular trial going on in Kansas about now? How many examples do you need?

Y'know, I remember pissing you off years ago, re religion, and it seems you are still pissed at me. Why else would you defend a fundamentalist, the very type of person you typically snarked the most about on your blog? Is this about the issue, or your dislike of me I wonder?

Posted by: Yahmdallah on May 13, 2005 1:42 PM

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