Saturday, May 06, 2006  

R and R (rant and rave, yo)

I am so not amused. This being lower SoCal with everything in the air (+ the fact my students are constantly coming down with something), I now have a Spring cold and the makings of a felon. I went to RiteAide today and got carded. Not for beer or smokes (neither of which I do, btw) but for cold medecine! Apparently an anti-drug law went into effect in April that makes purchasing anything with pseudoephedrine , something for which one is carded. And not just "oh, look at the birthdate!" kind of carding. Oh noooo, it's the run your id, cough it up for the government kind of carding. They got you flagged kind of carding.
When I asked what would happen to my info, the clerk cheerfully said they (the gov) would keep track of how much I buy and when. Oh, goody. File that one along with my phone records (sorry, no phone sex scheduled this month, but do keep a translator handy as I plan to make some non-English-speaking calls - but then you probably knew that), and my micro-chipped purchase and have a ball.

And then, here's the kicker- I took myself down to the Salvation Army Store on El Cajon Blvd and got followed by a cop who proceeded to hang out in the parking lot until I came out of the store, dutifully buckled up and pulled out the parking lot. Hmmm. I know my car looks a little ghetto at the moment (thank you anonymous B---- who dented my door and left no note...) and I imagine the keep on crossing sticker designed by Victor Payan and Perry Vazquez probably gets a second look this week (all those uppity immigrants and all). But, I ask you, is this a coincidence? Perhaps yes, perhaps no...
I so look forward to more suveillance since I go through cold medecine like candy, especially when a cold goes into my sinuses.
While I am all for curbing meth use, I am also for intelligent monitoring- sort of like intelligent design but based on fact. I've seen meth use up close and it ain't pretty- and I don't care what you think about Kate Moss- nasty, nasty shit.
Seriously, I do not look like a tweeker. I look (and sound) like someone with a miserable head cold- not Willie The Weeper.
AND I bought the kids version.

What I am concerned with (and you should be, too) is what else that little cardswipe has gotten me into. On the surface, it sounds relatively innocuous-and I can hear it now-"if you don't have anything to hide, blah, blah, blah." And I don't, not according to me, anyway. BUT, this is precisely the sort of reasoning that leads you down the velvet (yellow, if you like) path of martial law and totalitarianism. This clears the way for no-subpoena wiretapping, search and seizure while you are not at home, accessing your computer, your library records, what you rent and buy, who you frequent, where you go.(well, now, that's already happening!) And pretty soon all you darling, do it by the book people will find that the Bill of Rights does not protect you, that six degrees of separation don't separate you enough from the friend of a friend of a friend who just might, possibly, maybe, be part of an organization that they suspect might be gasp! a subversive group of brownie munching nutjobs who oppose (fill in the blank).

Don't believe me? Check it out. The ACLU has been getting all sorts of interesting info on whom our tax dollars have been spying. Got GPS? Goody for you. You will never go unfound or unheard. Check out what happened in San Diego to the city councilmen accused of accepting bribes. Good old GPS recorded their conversations in Vegas and they were not protected because of the type of technology.
Say something intelligent- your car is listening.
And then there's that microchipped product you just bought with your credit card. Wonder where all that junk mail and spam come from? Thank the chips because that's how Procter and Gamble and others figure out what you buy and how and when and how often and where...I think you get the idea.
And it is not just them. Government think tanks get ahold of this stuff and figure out how to sell things to you- like what, you might ask? Ponder this list:

- political candidates
- propositions
- up-coming legislation
- military recruitment
- war
- pre-emptive strikes
- a president whose ratings are tanking

It's all in how it's spun. Think the "morning in Reagan's America" commercial, think about the June primary commercials you have seen recently.

What buttons can the government push to make you buy in to something? It all starts with a chip and a little swipe of your id in the name of public safety. Go ahead- you have nothing to hide. But don't say I didn't warn you...


Torture- it's not just for Third World Countries anymore...

So the elephant is up and running around the living room. About time someone said something. Amnesty International has decided to do just that in its latest report which places us in such august company as Tajikistan, the Taliban (are you sensing a pattern?) and a host of like-minded groups for whom due process, habeus corpus, cruel, etc. might as well be part of a spelling bee list of Hard Words to Spell and Use.

Usually the US gets dinged for its use of the death penalty, on which I am somewhat ambivalent, but I am not somewhat ambivalent on the concept of indefinite detention and torture. And I don't appreciate being suddenly cast in the role of citizen of a rogue state. If I had really wanted that, I could have moved to Argentina in the 80's.

And now the US is "concerned" about sending the Uighers and others it has at Gitmo back because they may face torture. Oh, please. Like what was happening in Gitmo wasn't? This is double-speak at its fatuous worst. And the question is who believes this assinine position? We do, apparently, and so the grasp of the US as a nation on reality slips a little more.

I wonder if nations can be excused for dispicable behavior by reason of collective psychosis...

Thursday, May 04, 2006  


Well, y'all, time to get out and make Some NOISE!
This is for you all in SD but the rest of you can join in and set something up if it isn't going already.

Save the date
The ADC and other groups are calling for a rally in front of the Federal Building to protest the intention of going into Iran (and YOU KNOW they are thinking about it)

12-2, folks

let's take the spirit of Monday's rally - un pueblo unido - which was expanded to include me and you and everyone we know - and be just that - un pubelo unido and say Ya Basta! to invading other countries no matter how much we dislike their government or how much of a nut job their president might be (look at ours, for crying out loud - this is something to be proud of? sheesh), we will not condone naked aggression nor will we allow the youth of our communities to be manipulated yet again into dying for the hubris of a racist, classist and Orientalist State.

THESE are might times, people, mighty times. Stand up and make some noise because based on the reaction to Monday, they are listening. They don't like what they hear (tfb), but the First Amendment guarantees you the right to express your opinion, in public, with like-minded people.

It is time to take back OUR government and tell them what WE want. Bush is in NO position to lecture the people how and whne they can express themselves. He is an elected, hired hand who is subordinate to the Constitution and not the other way around.

Like it says in the tagline of the movie Vengance:

People should not be afraid of their government- the government should be afraid of its people.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006  

Review: Race Is The Place

Ok, time to kick off the review section. We'll start with a kick-ass documentary- and I use the word kick-ass precisely because of the way this doc presents itself. It's smart, well-paced, in your face and provocative- in other words, a good, contemporary doc. The fact that it is talking about a peculiarly American obsession (not that other countries don't think/talk about race, it's just that Americans are so damn obsessed by it)- is a bonus as the doc represents an excellent marriage of content with presentation.
Race Is The Place (RIP)- is very performance poetry-based mixed with interviews. I was really pleased to see Willie Predomo, James Luna and Culture Clash since they're either SoCal or been out my way. Predomo is an amazing reader and if you can catch him live, you are in for a treat.
Performers I have heard of but haven't see before were Ahmed Ahmed (on FWA- flying while Arab), Lalo Guerrro ("No Chicanos on TV" [man, did he get that right...]), and Amiri Baraka.
And then there is Kate Rigg- after "Rice, Rice Baby" I WILL NEVER look at rice the same way again...
What's great about RIP is that it is not just one group, although some of the imagery seems to lean more towards racist depictions of African-Americans (and it could be because there has been so much of that produced)- but it hits many of the right registers about Indigenous peoples (Luna, Trask), Hapas (Rigg, Bumatai), Latino, Asian, African-American, Caribean-American, working class White, Arab-American, etc.
It's a good piece for looking at how race and self-identity can fuel an artistic process and also a good way to catch some of the rising stars (and established ones) of the new United Colors of US.

race is the place
by Ray Telles and Rick Tejada-Flores
Paradigm Films
91 min, festival version (on dvd)

Tuesday, May 02, 2006  


After a few years in the news business, a bunch of freelance articles and brassy essays, I finally decided to give in and get my own blog. Yup, that's right, as the song says, time to stand up and MAKE SOME NOISE!
So, what will that noise consist of, you ask. Well, I'm glad you did. I plan on sharing the following:
political essays
a few news stories
various photos
a whiny diary entry or two
cool and, may I be frank, amazing links to some essential reading: aka Zazou's friends and people extravagently admired for this, that and the other
articles I consider germane (usually written by others)
notices of interesting events (mostly in my area- but you can cyber-hang all the same)
and a video or two
(oh, yeah, I do video, too)

So, I look forward to writing and to reading any comments you might have.
A few rules on the comments, if you don't mind

1) no racist remarks- not interested, won't tolerate them, will not find them cute
2) keep the sexist comments to a minimum. You are allowed one per quarter.
3) please feel free to contribute interesting links.
4) could we make an attempt to stay on topic? I'm busy, you're busy- the topic police don't come cheap
5) if you have A LOT to say, this may be a sign that you should get your own e-blog. If I can do it- you most certainly can.

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