Posts Tagged ‘Jokes’

Death

Saturday, August 29th, 2009

People keep dying.

Celebrities. Relatives. Some obscure people. Some powerful people. People no one has or ever will hear of.

More U.S. Solders died in Afganistan this month than in any other since the current war there started (beating out last month’s record).

Why does this seem remarkable? Is there anything different about it right now? How many times in this last year have we heard the phrase “…end of an era” as a way of marking the death of someone or another. I do wonder if it has to do with the whole Obama thing giving us a sense of historic focus. But then we also have the wars and the recession/depression thing too.

Today is the confluence of Michael Jackson’s birthday (which is remarked upon because of his death), the funeral of Ted Kennedy, and the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina hitting the gulf coast. Add to this, personally, that one of my uncles just died. What to choose… What to feel… hmmm…

Totally off topic here but I do have a Ted Kennedy joke I’d like to share: You know it turns out it wasn’t the tumor in his head that killed him. It turns out there was another tumor on the grassy knoll…

…too soon?

One thing I’ve been glad of is that I haven’t seen very much reference to the “Celebrities Die in Threes” trope. It’s always bugged me. I mean it has to be one of the stupidest things EVER. It could well be that when the human race slips into extinction we will find out that the total number of humans who ever existed will be a multiple of three. Or at least the total number of celebrities will be divisible by three. But its more likely that the number will not be a multiple of three, and more importantly, as the species disappears, is this REALLY going to be the most important question?

ANYTHING can be grouped into threes. Look at the stars. They’re all arranged in threes!… I’ve even noticed that after a cycle of three days, my life repeats and has ANOTHER cycle of three days!… spooky… Like all forms of numerology, it says more about the creativity of the numerologist than the nature of any kind of hidden order.

There is a thing about “Beginning-Middle-End” that makes groups of three deeply calming to our innate desire for order. So when two people die, we probably look for the third as a way of containing death. So that it won’t go on some kind of rampage in which EVERYBODY eventually dies, which is of course the big truth that we spend most of our lives distracting ourselves from. The theory of three deaths, is like a mini religion.

Truth is the boomers are dying. The post-war demographic bulge of births from the late 40s to the early 60s is falling off the cliff of time. And people who were important to the boomers are being noticed as they go. Presumably this will go on for awhile.

Or is it just that I’m getting to that age when I notice the obituaries more…

Hmmm…

I’m (relatively) rich!

Sunday, November 30th, 2008

I’ve been back in NYC for a few days now, watching the country try to figure out if it’s panicking, hopeful or just normal. Stories about those “Thank you Sarah Palin” (I used the name) videos. Stories about people who used to contribute money to food kitchens in the DC area, showing up for food. Bizarre discussions about how the new administration is going to be for comedians (now THATS a slow news day).

All this in the context for me of returning to the Big City, during the holidays. A time when the romance of this place is hard to miss. I sat next to a woman on the flight from Atlanta who was visiting the city for the first time. She was older (60s?), from Tennessee, and was traveling with her family. They had no relatives or friends in the city, and although this was her first time, her children make the trip almost every year. The focal point was the Macy’s parade to kick off a weekend of shopping. Not that I would want to judge, but it didn’t seem like these people were particularly well off. Somewhere in the vast white middle class at best. I was oddly moved, and as much as I find the commercialization of the NYC brand distasteful (that new “Go [heart] your own city” shirt is great), as a resident of the city that this nice old lady was visiting, I couldn’t help but feel like we had company. When we landed, I didn’t make a big deal of it, but I welcomed her, and wished her a pleasant time in our city.

I’ve been saying, ever since the economic (insert word. Suggestions: Downturn. Collapse. Catastrophe. Melt-down. Apocalypse. Correction. Comeuppance. Whoopee-cushion. From-hell’s-heart-I-stab-at-thee. Elegant-demonstration-that-Reagan-was-wrong. Buddy-could-you-spare-a-dime. etc), “It’s a good time to not have anything.” The idea being that those of us who didn’t have millions couldn’t lose them if we tried. There actually is a practical advantage, psychologically, to having very little to lose. There are also, the well documented, and very practical disadvantages, but what’s the point of whining about that? I’ll leave that to the newly poor.

But the terms “rich” and “poor” are completely relative. The majority of people on the planet, get by on a tiny fraction of what I consume. By any reasonable global standard, I’m filthy rich. I have to consciously limit my caloric intake. That’s crazy! I have to exert energy to exercise my will, to NOT eat. To quote Oliver Stone “Man, you gotta be rich to even THINK that way.”

But compare me to the average guy my age, at my level of education (not necessarily in my field), in my city. I’m WAY below average. I’m pretty close to poor. But here’s the thing: Thanks to the recent economic dilly-oh, a lot of those guys lost millions and millions of dollars. I didn’t. That means the disparity between us has closed by millions of dollars. Its like I just MADE millions of dollars.

Now if only I could convince Citibank of this… Maybe I should show up in a private jet and ask for a bailout. Arguing that I’ve made stupid choices in the past and therefore should be given a boatload of money…

I am Iraq

Monday, November 24th, 2008

This is a little bit random, but following up on the last post:
I heard someone singing S&G’s “I Am A Rock” the other day, and the following, slight, adjustment of the lyrics occurred to me. Its essentially the same joke as “Iran is a country between Iraq and a hard place,” but the more I thought through the entire song, the more poignant it became. And funny.

Of course there’s a problem with the line “I am an island.” And at first I tried to find something like “I am not Ireland.” But ultimately it became more interesting to imagine Iraq thinking of itself as an island.

So enjoy! Sing along if you know the tune…

“A winters day
In a deep and dark December;
I am alone,
Gazing from my window to the streets below
On a freshly fallen silent shroud of snow.
I am Iraq,
I am an island.

I’ve built walls,
A fortress deep and mighty,
That none may penetrate.
I have no need of friendship; friendship causes pain.
Its laughter and its loving I disdain.
I am Iraq,
I am an island.

Don’t talk of love,
But I’ve heard the word before;
Its sleeping in my memory.
I won’t disturb the slumber of feelings that have died.
If I never loved I never would have cried.
I am Iraq,
I am an island.

I have my books
And my poetry to protect me;
I am shielded in my armor,
Hiding in my room, safe within my womb.
I touch no one and no one touches me.
I am Iraq,
I am an island.

And Iraq feels no pain;
And an island never cries.”

Living in a Cartogram

Monday, November 17th, 2008

Yes. I’m still writing about the election.

So there were some jokes I’ve been telling after the election. My favorite is “It’s good to have a crypto-Muslim back in the White House. This country hasn’t had that since Filmore…” I’m also fond of pointing out how this whole change thing is a sham. Gravity (or what have you) is still just as strong.

There was another joke I was telling the day or so surrounding the actual election, about how I thought we should be a Quaker country and we’d have to wait until we had unanimity on the president. Until every last person agreed. This qualifies as a joke because it contains some truth. If I could choose I would prefer the country where everybody wants Obama to be pres.

So NPR’s Science Friday, which is a kind of dorky show but I listen to it (Pod catching) every week because I often learn amazing things, posted this video. At first I was kind of “Yeah, yeah…” about it but for some reason it stuck with me. I kept thinking about how we over-simplify our thinking about our society. How we sometimes fail to see that there’s actual beauty in our situation. How boring it would be if the world was the way we wanted it to be. It is the job of science to constantly remind us that the world is actually much harder to understand, and much more beautiful than we though.

Enjoy!

An Olympic joke

Thursday, August 28th, 2008

Ok, so I’ve been telling this one for a couple weeks and I really like the way it works, so while the memory of the China games fades:

Q: How do they fill Olympic swimming pools?

A: Michael Phelps.

If you don’t find this funny, of if it doesn’t even seem to be a joke, it might help to know that this joke is actually dependent on another, older Olympic joke:

Q: How do they fill Olympic swimming pools?

A: Mark Spitz.

See?

Yes, I know that this is my blog entry on the day that Obama is speaking at the DNC convention. But certainly you’re getting enough of all that, and I didn’t want to do it during the Olympics cause you were getting enough of that then.

RITA IV

Friday, October 7th, 2005

Ok, so you may have seen this before, cause it’s just a straight cross-post. The phrase “funny cause it’s true” comes to mind on a number of these:

YOU KNOW YOU LIVE IN LOUISIANA WHEN…

You have FEMA’s number on your speed dial.

You have more than 300 C and D batteries in your kitchen drawer.

Your pantry contains more than 20 cans of Spaghetti Os.

You are thinking of repainting your house to match the plywood covering your windows.

When describing your house to a prospective buyer, you say it has three bedrooms, two baths and one safe hallway.

Your SSN isn’t a secret, it’s written in Sharpie on your arms.

You are on a first-name basis with the cashier at Home Depot.

You are delighted to pay only $3 for a gallon of regular unleaded.

The road leading to your house has been declared a No-Wake Zone.

You decide that your patio furniture looks better on the bottom of the pool.

You own more than three large coolers.

You can wish that other people get hit by a hurricane and not feel the least bit guilty about it.

Three months ago you couldn’t hang a shower curtain; today you can assemble a portable generator by candlelight.

You catch a 13-pound redfish in your driveway.

You can recite from memory whole portions of your homeowner’s and flood insurance policies.

You consider a “vacation” to stunning Tupelo, Mississippi.

At cocktail parties, women are attracted to the guy with the biggest chainsaw.

You have had tuna fish more than 5 days in a row.

There is a roll of tar paper in your garage (if you still have a garage).

You can rattle off the names of the meteorologists who work for the Weather Channel.

Someone comes to your door to tell you they found your roof.

Ice is a valid (and deeply interesting) topic of conversation.

Your “drive-thru” meal consists of MRE’s and bottled water.

Relocating to South Dakota does not seem like such a crazy idea.

You spend more time on your roof than in your living room.

You’ve been laughed at over the phone by a roofer, fence builder or a tree worker.

A battery powered TV is considered a home entertainment center.

You don’t worry about relatives wanting to visit during the summer.

Your child’s first words are “hunker down” and you didn’t go to UGA.

Having a tree in your living room does not necessarily mean it’s Christmas.

Toilet Paper is elevated to “coin of the realm” at the Red Cross shelter.

You know the difference between the “good side” of a storm and the “bad side.”

Your kids start school in August and finish in July.

You go to work early and stay late just to enjoy the air conditioning.

Hopefully my next post will be a bit more creative, but what’d you gonna do?

Katrina VII

Tuesday, September 20th, 2005

Ok, so Tom (who corrects my introduction to him in a comment on Katrina I) told me this one:
Q: What did Bush say when asked about his position on Roe vs Wade?
A:”I don’t care how you get out of New Orleans.”

Tom also sent me this link: http://gmagic.com/katrina/

I am led to understand that the politics and policies of the United States are covered in certain parts of the world much more carefully than they are here. There is good reason for this. I would also pay a lot of attention to what someone was saying, if they had all the weapons and I had something they might want, like oil or coffee etc. For example Al Jazeera broadcasts what are essentially transcripts of US policy statements rather than the sound-bites of American media. It is not difficult to argue that civilians in Iraq know more about the official reasons why American troops are killing and being killed in their country than the soldiers themselves or their loved ones. Not that I want to go out on any limbs about the ideological objectivity of Al Jazeera, but I think it’s clear that people all over the world actually have access to quite a bit of American “official” information. Given this, it is safe to assume that these people are listening in on our national conversation (again, we have the guns so it behooves you to watch us carefully). And it strikes me that it must seem strange that in the aftermath of a natural disaster, the people who drop bombs on their cities are arguing about the rescuing of cats and dogs and why weren’t pets part of the evacuation plan.
I am very sympathetic to the concerns of people who own animals and the attachment that they feel towards their pets. It just seems to me that people in Bagdad, many who haven’t had running water or electricity since Hurricane Shock and Awe, are looking at this conversation with the sinking feeling that the extremists are right and these people are immoral devils. Again, don’t get me wrong. I want to live in a country where we can mobilize our military to rescue the only friend someone might have. I think we should expend the energy necessary to make sure we don’t have to split that kid up from Snowball. I think our response to this situation should be that compassionate and touchy-feely. I really do. Sarcasm check… 0.0%…
I just can’t help but think that we’re doing such a lousy job… no, a criminally insane job, being compassionate on the world stage that people can be forgiven for feeling a bit of resentment towards our grieving for our pets.
Legally, pets are property. They don’t have rights, guaranteed and protected in our constitution. They have certain protections against egregious abuse, but for the most part they are seen, legally as below the threshold of deep consideration. In the human vs pet equation the humans always come out on top. This seems tacit, and we’re just lucky it doesn’t come up very often in most of our lives. But for those of you who think that the argument for rescuing pets is ridiculous, it’s interesting to remember that they occupy a legal status similar to Women and slaves of previous generations.
I say: Save the people. Save the pets. But follow that logic out to its conclusion. Save all the humans. Not just the rich ones. Not just the ones that you can relate to. Not just the ones that the media keeps in your concerns. That’s what I say.

We look with horror at what happened in NO. But look, for example, at Iraq. As far as I can tell, the situation is deplorable. It is getting worse. The infrastructure isn’t coming back on line with much speed. We Americans promised that once we took care of Saddam, the lives of the Iraqis would get much much better. These people have been putting up with more than most of us can imagine, and have been doing it for a long time now. News agencies are having trouble keeping correspondents in Baghdad, because even seasoned war reporters are saying it’s worse than anything they’ve seen. We caused this. Now the size of print that we announce our dead soldiers with is getting smaller, and the blurbs are getting shorter and they’re moving deeper and deeper into the depths of our newspapers. And that’s just one of a long lists of things… Life in the 21st. Century. It’s not for the faint of heart.

I’m reminded of Martin Luther King saying that we are a 10 day country. After that we’re on to something else.

I’d like to pass on a thought that Harry Shearer articulated so well in last week’s Le Show: Ladies and Gentlemen. If you want to see looting. Keep your eyes on the aftermath of Katrina. You ain’t seen nothing yet. Three words: No Bid Contracts. Bush and his buddies are going to make the organizers of post civil war reconstruction look like a bunch of amateurs. And it’ll look so compassionately conservative too.
One of the amazing things about Mardi Gras parades in New Orleans is that despite the fact that they are huge public events, there are no corporate sponsorships. The funding of the floats and their krewes (look it up) is a big deal but it’s done in such a way that the floats don’t end up being big beer commercials. Lots of corporations use Mardi Gras to advertise, but Mardi Gras itself doesn’t advertise. I think that’s cool. I don’t want some big brewery now to come in and fund Mardi Gras and want their logo everywhere.

It’s a hurricane. Not a hurri-can’t.(That one’s from Stephen LaVergne)

A reality that is happening in reference to the re-building of NO: Many of the corporations that poured money into facilities and people in the Gulf Coast did so in defiance of scientific reports that they had in their files speaking about the possibility of this happening. Now that it has happened the veracity of those reports is elevated to the point that they are affecting decisions. Many of these reports point out that we have been in a multi-decade lull, hurricane wise, and we are now exiting the lull. The next twenty years or so will bring many more hurricanes, and thanks to the temperature of the gulf being elevated by global warming and the progressive coastal erosion (we lose an area the size of Manhattan every year) the effects of the hurricanes will be worse. This isn’t new information. It’s just being taken seriously for the first time in many cases. The corporate world is going to act on this information with the time honored sentimentality for the bottom line for which they are known.

Here’s a huge problem and I don’t know how to parse it these days: We evaluate the veracity of information we hear on the basis of how much we agree with it. I am down on the Bush administration. Therefore if you tell me that the administration has done something stupid or immoral, I’m more likely to trust the source than if you tell me they’ve done something spectacular and nice. If I start reading an article about the country and it talks about the positive effects of Bush policies, I start to question the writer’s accuracy and motives. If it’s tearing things up, I start Xeroxing it and passing it out on the street.
I’m a great believer in the Scientific Method. I don’t claim to be good at it, but it is a basic governing principal of how I organize my perceptions of the world. In science, the possibility of being wrong is the most valuable thing a thinker can hang onto. For a topical example: Intelligent design (Creationism) isn’t bad science because it can’t be proved. It’s bad science because it can’t be DISPROVED. On the other hand, the theory of evolution makes predictions that can be disproved experimentally or observationally. Scientists put their faith in evolution because it passes tests that could disprove it. Solidity is gained by opening the door to being wrong. This is hard work. It’s just plain hard.
The problem with this country is that the political argument has been made religious by BOTH SIDES. Evidence one way or the other doesn’t make a dent because both sides are working on belief. This doesn’t mean that both side are right (or left). But it means that the conversation itself is dysfunctional and going nowhere.
People like me being right about the ineptitude of our government isn’t helping anyone. Standing at the banks of the new Lake New Orleans and deriding Bush is just as useful as these yahoos passing out flyers on campus here about how “God puts Sin-City under water” (They site Amos “…shall there be evil (calamity) in a city and the Lord hath not done it?” This stuff reminds me of the assertion made in Japan after the war that the nuking of Nagasaki was a consequence of it’s high Christian population.).
I don’t have an answer here, but I think people like me (inclusive of myself) often jump on ideological bandwagons of the left with just as much stupid fervor as our counterparts on the right, but we pretend like we’re being reasonable.

I don’t think it’s news to anybody that Katrina gets compared to 9-11. I’ve heard things like, this is 9-11 in slow motion. It’s bigger than 9-11. It’s worse than 9-11. It’s not as bad as 9-11. It’s just like 9-11. It’s nothing like 9-11.
One thing I have been thinking a lot about is how this Hurricane is not as useful to our government as terrorism. For one thing, it exposed a lot of ineptitude and bad management. The terrorism people saying “We have to get it right 100% of the time,” was a way to prepare us for that 1 time when they drop the ball. A way to prepare us to be sympathetic. There are really no public statements you can make to prepare the public to be sympathetic towards you standing on the tracks looking, slack-jawed, at the approaching train. An important hurricane to talk about in the context of all this is Pam. Hurricane Pam is the name of the computer generated, virtual hurricane that hit NO a year ago July, in a simulation participated in by FEMA and other administration officials. The results of Pam are so close to what happened with Katrina that it is really freaky to watch how Brownie flailed around doing “a heck of a job” while Bush told the nation that “No one could have predicted this devastation.”… but I digress.
One of the reasons why terrorism is so useful is that there is a human in the equation. Since it comes from a person, it can be tied to hatred. We can choose to deal with the confusion of 9/11 by hating Osama Bin Laden. Like some sort of two-way alchemical reaction, fear can be converted to hatred and back to fear again. This is VERY useful for a government. Fear and hatred are two of the sharpest tools in the shed. Our current government is very good at this trick. Very very good. We have a government capable of shifting the fear and hatred engendered by 9-11, to Sadam Hussein. This is advanced blame game. This is blame game extreme. The quote is not “I don’t play the blame game.” It’s “I play the game so well you don’t even see me playing it.”

Just wait. A couple months from now we’re going to mount an invasion of somewhere, cause they were actually behind Katrina. Cuba maybe? Maybe we’ll go all out and invade heaven. I hear we’ve got missiles that can do that, and the shuttle doesn’t seem to be good for much else.

The other night, PBS and NPR broadcast a concert at Jazz at Lincoln Center called Higher Ground. It was a sort of telethon style broadcast to raise money for hurricane relief. Laurence Fishburne was the MC. His opening comments can be heard on the NPR website. I recommend them despite the fact that he indulges the way way overused Gumbo metaphor as a way to describe NO culture. A theme that kept coming up over and over again, almost as much as the Gumbo thing was the way in which NO is the Soul of the United States, which just seems so tremendously hyperbolic, and wouldn’t we say the same thing about… oh I don’t know… Canton Ohio… if it was destroyed. But then they went on to make a pretty convincing case for it. The most compelling (along with quotes like Mark Twain’s “An American has not seen the United States until he as seen Mardi-Gras in New Orleans”) being the fact that Jazz originated in New Orleans and that Jazz is the only indigenous American art form with any legs, sets up a kind of ipso-facto, ergo kind of check-mate it REALLY IS the soul of America thing.
Paul Simon performed “That Was Your Mother” with Buckwheat Zydeco. I started to think “Oh geeze. This whole Paul Simon world music thing is just so inauthentic.” But in the middle of the thought I realized that this was the song that made me first pay attention to Zydeco music. The fact that Clifton Chenier is in the Lyrics (He changed it to Buckwheat to honor the big guy with the squeeze-box standing behind him) is probably the reason I started listening to “The King of the Bayou.”

Riffing a bit more on the predictions theme:
The very first time I visited New Orleans, long before I ever though I would be here for any length of time, I saw the “Hurricane Evacuation Route” street signs, the “Sea Level” markings on the side of buildings and the above ground tombs and asked a cabbie who answered by basically describing Katrina. Actually what he described was worse because he described what would happen if a Category 5 actually hit the city dead on. Since then I have always known that NO was a city under Damocles sword. It actually was how I accounted for many things about the spirit of the town. It wasn’t a secret. People talked about it.
Mr. Bush has mentioned how he used to go to NO to revel in its Bacchanalian pleasures. Now even assuming a certain level of inebriation, I find it hard to accept that he never heard about this scenario. If he didn’t, that fact says something about his basic curiosity as a human being. If he did and it didn’t stick with him, that says something else about him as a human being. This guy is running our country? I wouldn’t lend him my car (maybe he can borrow my iPod but he has to give it right back).

…oh yeah… Almost forgot. Here comes RITA!!

Katrina VI

Wednesday, September 14th, 2005

KATRINA VI

Ok. Let’s start right off with some of my current jokes…

What’s the difference between Ray Nagin and George W. Bush? One has a constituency in dire need of rescue from a terrible situation. The other is the Mayor of New Orleans.

Toto. I don’t think we’re in New Orleans any more.

Hurricane. Hurri-saw. Hurri-conquered.

I’ve had it up to here with all this flooding.

The name of the State of Louisiana is being changed to the State of Emergency.

I’ve heard references to my town as “New Rouge.”

People who think the situation has nothing to do with race are, on the whole, white.
People in America who are genuinely surprised by what happened racially are, on the whole, white.

OR as John Steward said:
The people who complain about people playing the “blame game” are to blame.

This from a t-shirt: Hey George Why don’t you wait in the convention center

I had a long conversation with Alaina Dunn, who I wrote about before. She’s doing better. Her family is scattered all over the place. This very large and tight New Orleans family is now scattered over about 7 different states. She is particularly concerned about a cousin. “He’s black, gay and living in a Baptist church in Little Rock… It’s not working out.” Alaina herself is putting up about 7 people… 4 of them are on oxygen. One thing we talked about a lot, and it is a HUGE conversation around here, is the fate of the culture of New Orleans. For many people in America, Mardi Gras and the Jazz of the French Quarter was a tourist attraction. For the denizens of the city they were much more and deeper. The fact that Mardi Gras might not happen in New Orleans this year is really high on the unthinkable list for the NO diaspora. I myself, even after being down here only a couple of years, cannot imagine something NOT happening. Despite the subterranean well of meaning that it had in the community, Mardi Gras has a big visible side to it as well, but many of the aspects of NO culture were less flamboyant. More delicate. More nuanced.

The culture of a city like NO is like a compost pile. It takes a lot of junk and rot and crap to build up the critical mass necessary to get the heat and richness of NO. The music and art and weirdness and food and vibe that seeped out of those streets were organic in the deepest sense possible. And there is much talk that trying to get it back together is like trying to un-fry an egg. It ain’t gonna happen. Oh there will be some sort of Disney version of NO, with Jazz and Mardi Gras and Jambalaya. The politicians will be able to brag about how they re-built it, and they will claim that it is better than ever, and they will even claim that the spirit of NO is back. People all across America will feel good about it. But it won’t be that thing that was keeping these people with little else, culturally alive. Hey I saw Lion King. I know about the circle of life. But something really beautiful has died here and as we continue to deal with the ongoing problems, we need to grieve.
The Blues, and all of Jazz come out of pain and deprivation. It is not an accident that there was a lot of Blues in NO. There was a lot of pain and deprivation. The culture that emerges in a place like the American south is a culture that provides survival. Spiritual sustenance. For the tourists it was entertainment. For many of the artists it was literally ALL THEY HAD. Sure there were artists who had dough, but there were enough hungry ones biting at their heels to make the scene in NO as authentic as it was. The “scene” was one of an extravagance of spirit in an impoverished milieu. To pretend that the people who were making that spirit and that milieu possible were all living middle-class lives, is just plain blind. And to think that people whose very reason for going on living came out of being a part of that milieu were refusing to leave because they were stupid or blind is just dumb. Many of the people who are out in the hinterlands now had NEVER been outside of New Orleans in their lives.

Alaina told me about her cousin who, after rescuing fifteen people in his flooded neighborhood stood in chest-high water watching and waving wildly at rescue choppers going back and forth over them with no indication that they were seeing them. Apparently he said that just as he was thinking “What do I have to do to get these guy’s attention? Shoot at them?” the firing started and the choppers all went away.
I showed her the cover of the new Onion with the headline “God Outdoes Terrorists Yet Again”. She summed up a lot of the feelings amoungst the dispossessed with a quaint colloquialism: “Fuck mother nature. I want my city back.”

Looking at what’s going on in this country, I have a recurring and really troubling thought. It goes back to the period of time after 9-11 when it became clear that the country was going back to sleep. That we were all going to just hook ourselves back up to the Matrix and go on with the hypnotic money fueled choreography of America. That even a clarion wake-up call like what that day was couldn’t cause our culture to think anything more sophisticated than “let’s declare war on terrorism” and “we need to go shopping to get the economy back up to speed” was and continues to be really upsetting. I remember saying to quite a few people that what’s really scary now is that if we ARE going to wake up, it’s going to take something much worse… like the loss of a major city. Now with something very close to if not actually the loss of a major city we’re already starting to slip back into the haze of catch phrases and spin. The problems of New Orleans are the problems of the entire country. Scrape the surface off of any community in this nation and this is the color of the blood you’ll see.

On a note closer to home for me; after some frustrating time dealing with the cowardly, selfish, artistically blind way my department has been reacting to this crisis, I have massaged the politics and managed to get Big Love back on the calendar. I am doing it with a minimal budget which excites me and some of my colleagues, who are as concerned as I am that we are teaching a group of theatre majors that if you don’t have the funding you should stop doing the art. I mean if that were true…
Because it is a form of life, the most elemental job of art is to keep going despite the circumstances. The job of civilization is to create and sustain healthy conditions for life (inclusive of art) to flourish.
…I have abundant evidence to argue that what we have here in America is not a civilization. It is the idea of a civilization that has been hi-jacked by a bunch of terrorists who are fanatics in the religion of capitalism. They are using the mighty democratic tool that was forged to help us all make a better world and used it to generate profits for the few, and keep the rest either asleep, or running in circles, chasing carrots on sticks.

Ever since Katrina, the gym here at LSU has been one of the places that visiting EMT (emergency medical technitians) have been using to camp out. There’s something really interesting about racquet-ball courts with rows of inflatable mattresses and little reading lamps. I go in in the morning to do my workout and I’m rubbing shoulders with the groups that are getting their gear together to go out, or the groups that are coming back in. They’re on a sort of 24 hour rotation, so there’s always people sleeping, coming and going. We civs are cordoned off from the main areas where they live, but the locker-rooms are shared and an important part of their lives. Even naked you can tell who the EMTs are because no one else carries waterproof cell phones into the showers.

Speaking of showers. Remember a few posts back and I mentioned that the father of the girl across the street said that after three days cutting his way out of Sllidel he was happiest about taking a shower. It’s strange. He came by the house the other day. His daughter who now lives in my house wasn’t around, but I told him he was welcome to hang out. He got into the shower and took a two hour shower. I’ve mentioned this to a couple of people and some people have told me that I’m not the only one to notice this. Apparently many of the displaced seem to find comfort in long showers…