Thursday, June 30, 2005

Conspiracy Corner

A slight bit of conspiracy hokum but some interesting questions nonetheless.


Superficially, it all seemed straightforward enough. According to the official story, about 19 suicidal Middle Eastern terrorists, their hearts full of hatred for American freedom and democracy, hijacked four airliners, crashing two into the twin towers of New York City's World Trade Center and a third into the Pentagon. The fourth reportedly crashed in western Pennsylvania after passengers attempted to fight the terrorists. But a series of disturbing questions have arisen. Among them:

Why was the US military preparing war plans against Afghanistan months before the Sept. 11 attacks? Were they just looking for some event to propel the normally disinterested American public into a war as in the past?

How could paper documents incriminating bin Laden be found intact at the WTC but the plane's black recording boxes designed to withstand crashes were damaged beyond use?

Even days and weeks after the WTC attack, why were news cameramen prevented from photographing the ruins from certain angles, as complained about by CBS Correspondent Lou Young, who asked, "What are they afraid we're going to see?"

Why has the NYPD liaison to the FBI been sent packing as a "security risk" as reported in the Oct. 16 New York Times? Whose security is at risk? The FBI? What is it that the bureau does not want NYPD to know?

How could an obviously sophisticated terrorist plan involving perhaps as many as 100 persons and in the works for five years escape the notice of our intelligence services, especially the FBI and CIA? And why, instead of cashiering those responsible for this intelligence failure and totally restructuring these agencies, are we doubling their budgets? Will we now get twice as much failure as before?

Why did the South Tower collapse first when it was not as extensively damaged as the North Tower which burned for almost an hour and a half before collapsing?

Why did many witnesses claim to hear further explosions within the buildings? And why did the destruction of the WTC towers appear more like a controlled implosion than a tragic accident?

Why did FBI Director Robert Mueller acknowledge that the list of named hijackers might not contain their real names? Doesn't everyone have to show a photo ID to claim a boarding pass? Where was the normal security?

Why was there a discrepancy of 35 names between the published passenger lists and the official death toll on all four of the ill-fated flights? Internet Columnist Gary North reported, "...the published names in no instance match the total listed for the number of people on board." Why the discrepancy?

As none of these listed passengers had an Arabic-sounding names, how did the government know which were the hijackers?

Why did the seat numbers of the hijackers given by a cell phone call from Flight Attendant Madeline Amy Sweeney to Boston air traffic control not match the seats occupied by the men the FBI claimed were responsible?

Since Saudi Arabia's foreign minister claimed five of the proclaimed hijackers were not aboard the death planes and in fact are still alive and a sixth man on that list was reported to be alive and well in Tunisia, why are these names still on the FBI list?

Why were none of the named hijacker's names on any of the passenger list? If they all used aliases, how did the FBI identify them so quickly?

Why did one of the named hijackers take luggage on a suicide flight, then leave it along with an incriminating note in his car at the airport?

As for the overall investigation into the September attacks, by late October U.S. authorities conceded that most of their promising leads for finding accomplices and some of their long-held suspicions about several suspects have unraveled, according to The New York Times. Since more than 800 people have been arrested and more than 365,000 tips have been received from the public, why has nothing substantial has been forthcoming in the largest U.S. criminal investigation in history?

Why are none of the nearly 100 people still being sought by the Federal Bureau of Investigation seen as a major suspect?

Why does the heavy drinking and searching for hookers by some of the hijackers in Boston, as reported by Reuters New Service, sound more like mercenaries carousing before a mission than pious religious fundamentalists about to meet their maker?

How did the terrorists obtain top-secret White House and Air Force One codes and signals, the excuse for hustling President Bush all across the country on Sept. 11? Was this evidence of an inside job or was it, as reported by Fox News, evidence that former FBI employee and double agent Robert Hanssen delivered an updated version of the purloined computer software Promis to his Russian handlers who passed it along to bin Laden? Does this software, which was stolen from a US company during the Reagan Administration by Justice Department officials under Attorney General Ed Meese, allow outsiders carte blanch entrée to our top security computers? (Hanssen's last job before being arrested as a spy was to upgrade the FBI's intelligence computer systems.)

If United Flight 93 crashed as the result of a struggle between heroic passengers and the hijackers, why did witnesses tell of a second plane which followed it down, falling burning debris, no deep crater and crash wreckage spread over a six-mile area indicative of an aerial explosion?

Why did news outlets describe the throat-cutting and mutilation of passengers on Flight 93 with box cutters when Time magazine on Sept. 24 reported that one of the passengers called home on a cell phone to report, "We have been hijacked. They are being kind."?

As Internet pundit Gary North stated, "We need a theory of the coordinated hijackings that rests on a plausible cause-and-effect sequence that does not assume the complete failure of both check-in procedures and the on-board seating procedures on four separate flights on two separate airlines...I don't see how anyone can make an accurate judgment about who was behind the attacks until he has a plausible explanation of how hijackers got onto the planes and were not removed."

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Love it or Leave it? Show Me the Door.

The last thing this blog needs to be is political, but…

This week I have been engaged in a spirited debate with the family (nothing new), this time on the subject of France. It occurs to me that the problem my fellow Americans have with France is that they do not agree with us on a good number of things. Nor should they.

An email was sent around the old misinformation superhighway to the tune of, “My daughter went to France and they were rude to her once they discovered she is an American. They are such assholes… fuck France.” Or something. I believe the email also called for a boycott of all things French. It conjures up the time, a few scant years and several bloody deaths ago, when we entered into this absurd and pointless war and France refused to lend support, causing the Yankee yokels to stop eating French fries. Some decided they could not live without the salty treats and opted to eat only “Freedom Fries”. Well, if we can’t have our cholesterol raised then the terrorists have won.

Expressing shock at the rudeness of the French is sort of like complaining about getting wet after jumping in a pool. It is a legendary trait, perhaps embellished heavily, that has become the stuff of myth. I am certain that there are as many rude Frenchmen as there are ugly Americans, which is a lot. But to criticize the French for rudeness means we must look at our own myopia and cultural insensitivity. How many cultures have we shit on? Lots. We are a bigger country, so shall we count the amount of racist Americans and compare it to the number of rude French? If one were to allow the numbers to weigh, it might be the good old U.S. of A. that comes out smelling less like a rose and more like a slice of rotting apple pie.

But we saved their asses in WWII and they don’t care. How dare they express such ingratitude! As an American I expect a blow job from every French citizen as thanks for keeping them safe from the Third Reich. After all, we won that war, which we entered rather late after years of turmoil suffered by other countries. We entered it because we cared about the state of other nations and had a fundamental desire to fight an evil force and do the proverbial right thing. Or was it because we got attacked, I can’t recall. One thing I do know is that now we do care deeply about every other nation, which is why we are in Iraq. We care so much we liberate the people from the evil thugs who call themselves leaders. Which is why we have occupied every country currently ruled by a dictator subjecting his people to atrocities. As of this moment, no other country is in such a state. Freedom reigns tall over the entire globe. Thank god for the U.S.A.

Now pardon me while I drink a glass of Merlot and enjoy some Baudelaire poems.

Monday, June 27, 2005

More Quick Reviews

Land of the Dead

Romero’s Dawn of the Dead is a classic, surely the best zombie film that’ll ever get made. This is not Dawn of the Dead. Still, not bad. I am glad to see that the guy has a decent film in him, as all reports regarding his recent efforts suggest otherwise. A few minor complaints aside (Asia Argento had no purpose being in the movie), this is a lot of fun and there are some great Romero touches. And goddamn, it is gory. Lots of blood, lots of flesh being torn from the bone by the hungry dead. Everything one could ask for in a zombie film. Compared to others in the series, it’s not the greatest; compared to the last Resident Evil movie, it’s a masterpiece.

The Life and Death of Peter Sellers

The Pink Panther films obsessed me as a kid and that obsession blossomed into an interest in Sellers, mostly as I had no clue who the hell he was. I wonder if he knew. If this film is to be believed, he was a prick. Geoffrey Rush does an admirable job hamming it up Sellers style and John Lithgow plays Blake Edwards as I imagined him to be: a cocky asshole. Interesting on a certain level but it took me a few tries to get through as I kept falling asleep, which I have never done while watching Dr. Strangelove.

Original Sin

I watched this as after seeing Mr. And Mrs. Smith as that film left me with a desire to see Angelina Jolie naked. Mission accomplished.


I fell asleep last night while this was on TBS. I seem to recall seeing it in the theatre, although I hardly remember what would have motivated such an action. The film is simple and light and means well, but we all know what they say about someone who means well. They are usually a pain in the ass.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Quick Movie Reviews

Mrs. And Mrs. Smith

Angelina Jolie is hot (those lips!). So is Brad Pitt (those abs!). I couldn’t figure out who was hotter. Things blow up. There’s sex but not the kind where people take off their clothes. Otherwise, the plot had more holes than Swiss cheese. In other words, a good, brainless night at the movies.

Be Cool

The best thing about this film is The Rock playing a gay man. And Harvey “the best thing about a bad movie” Keitel is always a treat. Aerosmith is featured, so it looses points for that. And, well, mid-way through the thing one wonders if a sequel to Get Shorty was at all necessary. All signs point to no.

The Hours

After years of hype and avoidance, I willingly watched this film, mostly to see how Virginia Woolf was represented by everyone’s favorite Australian ex-beard of Tom Cruise. Not a bad job by Nicole but I found the film a bit overlong and excruciatingly sad. I like sad—and dark and bleak—as much as the next guy, but this film, to quote the hippies, “Bummed me out.”

That’s all for today. More soon.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Fuck Dave Matthews

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

After a parting kiss
You turned and your hair caught sunlight.
I saw it lighten
In an instant
And saw you
In a picture, aged 60.
Still with smiling face, baby’s skin and untouched eyes,
Hair pulled back
Mixed gray with deep black,
Arms like gold
In modest dress
Of fashionable restraint—far more alluring
Than scornful children walking city streets.
Laugher touches you more than sadness
And every hurtful moment we volleyed back-and-forth
Has faded like cut flowers.
The years are dust, tears dry and
Ardor still alive
like the desert sands shifting in your skin.
You smile and I feel every year.

I want to be there now.

Were time mine to bend we would be there,
Like children,
Content to be running through the pouring rain.
The angry mornings are defenseless;
I found your black hair between my fingers.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Fuck Coldplay

Monday, June 13, 2005


Another year down. I didn’t kill myself at 33. I outlived Jesus.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Fuck Monoculture

Lounge Axe passed, how sad. The Double Door is looking at the same fate. For what? A Banana Republic. A fucking tragedy if this occurs.

For the record, I have nothing against big corporate clothing stores and Banana Republic is a fine place to purchase garments (even though walking into one makes my fucking flesh crawl like half mad snails along slime covered leaves), but we hardly need another one in Chicago. We really do not need one in Wicker Park. Damen Avenue is not Michigan Avenue. What we do need is a venue to see live music that is intimate, hip without pretension and mixes a damn good drink. And one savvy enough to book local acts like Rock Star Club and Local H as well Frank Black and even the goddamn Rolling Stones.

On another note, Wicker Park is rapidly becoming Lincoln Park. Rents are all ready sky high and the overall snotty art school attitude (annoying as it may be) is vanishing, replaced by the far more upsetting yuppie monoculture. I for one would sooner see a neighborhood of art school dropouts and skateboard riding, baggy pants wearing cretins before unleashing another yuppie playpen on my fair city.

This city is (or once was) rich in culture and while Wicker Park-- a ghetto when I was in high school, an artist community when I was first in college and now a hybrid of quasi-artistic sensibility and corporate gloss-- is not necessarily the cultural Mecca it is far less plastic and insipid as nearby Lincoln Park. Sadly, it is only a matter of time before the location of Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer and High Fidelity becomes condo ridden, Starbucks saturated and khaki covered. Let's strike one last blow against such a fate. Sign the petition attached and write a letter or two to the papers and the alderman. What the fuck will it do? Probably nothing, but at least you can sleep easier at night knowing you did your part. The next time you walk past the corner of Damen and Milwaukee your eyes might be spared the sight of bright clothes and dead eyed shoppers.

Thank you for your time.

Future Scams to Ponder

(AP) - WINTER HAVEN, Fla.-A community college professor has been charged with using his students' names and Social Security numbers to obtain department store credit cards. . . Slosberg had asked his students to write their names and Social Security numbers on a sign-in sheet, students said. "We all signed it," Amanda Bracewell said. "We figured, 'He's a teacher, what is he going to do with it?'"

The story in somewhat full:

Saturday, June 04, 2005

My Best Friend...

is named Jack Daniels.

Just thought I'd share.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Revenge of the Hype

Well, I saw the goddamn Star Wars movie. I was dragged, sort of. I wanted to see it, having seen the original in the theatres as a blessed-out sci-fi kid and then going to see each film ASAFP, all the way up until The Phantom Menace. After the disappointment of Return of the Jedi, Meance was the last straw. Lucas’ return to the director’s chair (kind of like if Reagan had made more films after his second term in office) was less than auspicious. More like Eliot’s famous line about the way the world ends, “Not with a bang but a whimper.” The Phantom Menace remains the most racist film ever made, worse than Birth of a Nation and without a trace of D.W.’s prowess and innovation. A terrible byproduct of marketing, long stoked ultra-hype and ridiculously dull plots delivered with laughable dialogue and the superfluous exposition of a story every light saber totting geek all ready could guess. Oh, and a terrible CGI creation named Jar Jar something. I vowed George would get no more of my money after that cinematic sack of shit.

Then came Attack of the Clones, and I stayed true to my word. Seeing previews was enough. It looked to be a cold and dispassionate green screen digital nightmare with a tacked on insipid love story. No thanks, I said. I’ll stay home and watch The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover for the 13th time. Well, a few years evaporated and I recently found myself tempted by favorable reviews and the lure of a dark end to the all ready overblown story. People claimed the new movie was as good as the best of the series, The Empire Strikes Back. Negative endings, characters getting maimed, evil winning (albeit temporarily in the chronological sense), it sounded tolerable. Besides, I couldn’t stand the idea of having to tell people I still had not seen it. “But you loved those films!” Yes, well, I was 10 at the time.

Overall: not bad. An improvement over The Phantom Menace and the Return of the Jedi puppet show. It is pretty damn dark and yes, people get hurt and everything gets explained. But I wonder what there really was to explain. How are Luke and what's-her-name siblings? How is Vader their father? What was Obi Wan’s relation to Vader? Interesting if you are a super fan, but these are hardly the brain puzzlers of Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey.

And that’s the problem.

I have no problem with the scores of people who wish to dress like Luke Skywalker and wait in line for days on end. I have no problem with any of the zealotry that Star Wars seems to generate. I can understand being a fan of an entertaining movie. Hell, I’ve watched Return of the Living Dead more times than I can recall. What I do have a problem with is the way people seem to equate the Star Wars films with intelligent, thought provoking cinema. Everyone (especially now after Joseph Campbell has said his thing about the hero's quest), thinks these films represent high art. They don’t. They are entertaining at times, grating at others and always just an excuse for lasers and robots (pardon me, droids) and things blowing up. Nothing wrong with that, but let’s call a spade a spade. Ray Pride accused these films as being responsible for the dumbing down of America. Hard to debate.

That being said, Revenge of the Sith works well on the level of entertaining sci-fi and somewhat justifies the previous lugubrious efforts. It has some flash, some spark, a lot of down moments and those oh so cool light saber duels. The love story continues and yes, it is as lifeless as Alec Guinness these days. The ending seems to wrap it all up but the idea of another one of these films is not impossible. I guess we’ll have to wait and see. I can.

By the way, anyone ever hear of a “sith” before in the first 3 films? When did that word come about?

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Bosses, Landlords and God

There will always be
Those above who are in love
With their own tenuous position,
Desirous of such authority,
Such aloof condemnation,
As it works toward
Dubious validation
Of a fragile ego.

Stand in line.
Eyes down.
Chest out.
Never speak.
Hold your breath.
Wait your turn.
Never question.
Take it like a man.

A cold, calculated letter of rejection.
A condescending smile.
5 day rent notices.
Expired licenses.
Bureaucratic citations.
Yearly reviews.
Pink slips.
Forced early retirement.
Fine print.
10 commandments.
Bosses, landlords and God:

Anyone who looks down on you
Is not worth looking up to.