Saturday, December 12, 2009
If this is the twilight of the idols, two of them will be very hard to see in the dark but for their smiles. One's stunning grin is becoming a grimace, the rigor mortis of a zombi (the one we invented, not "28 Days"). The other is too locked in the contrite flinch splashed across tabloids in smeary ink to show his teeth, once so prominent nibbling on blonde canapés.
Tiger Woods deserves the anger of black folks. I'm not sure whether there is any, but a friend reminded us on his Facebook status of Nas's edict, "Pro ball players with white wives/Peep they night lives." He assented with this observation before the baker's dozen of bang biscuits came hot off the presses: 13 women? $60,000 kinky sex? Taste for blondes? There's nothing wrong with sex and lots of it, with different people. Even adultery is rather ho-hum, saddest really because of the children. Here the tragedy is the grand scale of it, the height of his pedestal, and the dull tropes he played out in the course.
Pedestrian and flat is the paper Tiger now so perforated, who used to stare from ads at something just behind, over, or to either side of the viewer. I didn't begrudge him success, because he's phenomenally talented. There's no reason for the fair-minded to revel in schadenfreude; this is the fall of a man who seems more idiot savant than genius.
But why should Obama deserve the anger of "his people," the brown he let down? Blacks and Hispanics think he's doing a great job, says a recent Gallup poll. That's odd, especially considering the figures on black unemployment. Thirty-nine percent of whites still favor him, so does thinking he's crap make me a white guy? That's unfair by half.
He has disappointed nearly the span of his voting base in less than a year. A list of letdowns bores me with its staggering breadth, a complete index of which is beyond the scope of this writing. I didn't want to have any hope for Afghanistan because I'd come to expect disappointment, but I took Obama's stalling as due consideration. A progressive radio host said last night that he's "done with Obama", who has even begun to garner praise from conservatives for his hawky-talky.
The Obama administration has been jobbing off the "green sector jobs" he promised our rust-belt wastelands to China, all while letting the loan applications of domestic manufacturers bog down. Health insurance is still too early to call, but the noises about expanding the rolls of private insurers without a public option's cost controls are not encouraging. Our borrowed bailout money to fill the hole left by housing speculation is yet being blown on commodities trading, with inadequate regulation allowing this market to drive up our food prices. What's next, air and water futures? It's starting to seem that the only thing getting "change"d here is a diaper.
It was silly to be in a major city, a chocolate city, when he won the election. All the giddiness and t-shirts, flags and banners, bumper stickers, calendars and blather when all he'd done was talk and posture. I believed it too, but I didn't buy it. So now I don't have a single Obama calendar to tack to my dartboard, but in a few weeks I'll get one out of the trash.
My father came here from a country where presidents who have promised populist revolution have become totalitarian demagogues. Obama's not doing it in the "banana republic" way, naming himself President for Life and setting up his own paramilitary to spirit people off, torture and kill. We do things here on the d/l, in a suffocating shuffle of paper à la Harry Buttle's fate in "Brazil." But my father might say that Obama is a shame to us, to the race he'll be taken to represent. (I don't know, I don't have the heart to ask.) Growing up, my father told me that my every failure would reflect poorly on my race. Remembering that while mulling over Tiger and Obama, I could see how irrationally livid I was.
By those admittedly old-fashioned lights, Tiger's probably set us back a few decades. Squinty crackers probably don't watch golf, but I bet they're happy to see that this black man, master of a Scottish game customarily played in exclusive venues by largely white folks, has acted out a snore-jerking stereotype with 21st century decadence. We can only hope this will all blow over and not keep rising like a priapic O.J.
I had hoped the Nobel Peace Prize was a clever preemptive strike by Europe that would remind Obama he was elected as an antiwar president: the committee knew he would have to make some decision about the wars before accepting the prize.
How ironic it all looks now, framed under a Norwegian sky as a Russian missile sputters overhead. Obama, too bad the father you didn't have wasn't like mine.
Thursday, November 5, 2009
I had to negotiate something I could reheat later with a typically curt Jamaican counterperson. The wait was customarily long, so I had to dash once the food was packed. While eating a bammy (cassava fritter), carrying a folding scooter and food in a bag (I've never seen a Caribbean dinner that travels well, though the snacks are portable), I tried to get my subway pass out at the station.
Thursday, August 13, 2009
KAHVE DEFTERI: A journal of Turkish coffee grounds readings, an intermittent Fahrenheit Googolplex project
[Some readers turn the puddle of grounds on the saucer and spill a drop off the edge to see whether the wish will come true. That's determined by the progress of the drop, its path, and how quickly it reaches the base of the saucer.] It seems my wish will come true, quickly and without hindrance. As with birthday candles and shooting stars, no telling.
Sunday, July 5, 2009
People don't miss him; they miss the way he made them feel. Let's at least be honest about our grief. The impulse to mourn his death is selfish, the loss of a part of childhood or innocence that seemed animate as long as he was alive. (Closer examination would, of course, have proven that impossible.) He became the unwilling griot of our cultural Grand Guignol.
Don't get me wrong, I love him as much as the jukebox hijackers, the Twitterers, the folks on the street recounting their personal experiences for which his music was the soundtrack. Maybe I don't love him as hysterically as the flagellants making their pilgrimage to the Staples Center, but I hold to that old chestnut, "If you love something, set it free."
Last Friday's Bob Herbert Op-Ed in The New York Times laid the blame for this idolatrous displacement squarely at the feet of a fantasy culture the symptoms of which include Reaganomics and the Iraq War. Herbert concluded, "We don’t want to look under the rock that was Jackson’s real life. As with so many other things, we don’t want to know." Jackson was a hero of an era that has decisively ended. With the death of Captain Eo (Gk., "dawn"), night has fallen, and only the nostalgia of salad days will keep him from his rest.
Regarding the mechanics of his exit, an opednews.com piece by Mary MacElveen opined that "knowing how fans would react to his passing, Jackson should have set aside funds to pay for such an elaborate memorial service given the city [of Los Angeles'] deficit." Jackson engaged in widespread philanthropy through foundations and charities, but I doubt he would have financially encouraged the rending of garments and possible mass suttee that would occur at such an enormous pity party: everyone trying to out-sing each other in their praises of him and claim him the most decisively.
Because for most of Jackson's life, except when performing, he only wanted to be left alone. Almost as much as I'd like to be left alone by Geico commercials, which have have co-opted the
Michael Jackson Rockwell song "Somebody's Watching Me" in a remix to flog their unsurance [sic].
The eternal reverberation of those broadcast waves across the aether is probably what killed Michael Jackson.
Monday, April 20, 2009
While mucking about the industrial area last week, I met a genial fellow named Fulvio where he worked at a huge recycling operation. He had recently suffered a heart attack, and answered the doctor's demand for more fitness by outfitting a cheap bicycle with a two-stroke engine from Gasbike. If he overexerts himself while riding his bike, he can just fire up the engine and motor the rest of the way home.
Fulvio says the police are indifferent to his vehicle's engine, which probably doesn't fall under any particular regulation yet (in New York City, you don't need a license for a moped). If they look menacing, he throttles off the engine and starts pedaling.
The kit is about $130. It can be adapted to any bike except folding ones. The bike can go 120 miles or so on one tank of gas. Hardware included is pretty cheap, so Fulvio was replacing the zinc-plated bolts with stainless steel ones he'd ordered. Disc brakes are also a must on this vehicle that tops out at 40 mph.
How funny that a cheap Chinese-made kit can be slapped on whatever wheeled rubbish you have lying around (he picked up a bike on Craigslist worth less than the kit), and it'll go just as fast as the preposterous Puma from the benighted minds of GM and Segway. It'll be no less safe either, given that the Puma seems made out of an Olive Garden clamshell takeout. A gasbike won't be able to carry any less, really. And the gasbike kit probably costs less than 1/30 of the Puma.
The only conceivable use for the Puma is as a prop in the "Arrested Development" movie. Perfect for Gob's big-screen edition -- and not big enough for George senior to hide in.
Wednesday, March 25, 2009