This is Not About Sarah

After a week straight of probably engaging in too much political reading, I’m going to stay away from anything election or convention-related (except to maybe quote NWA: “Fuck the Police!”). But someone else’s inability to refrain from railing against the potential next Vice President of the USA actually inspired this post. Matt, my friend Rebecca’s partner over at Sporky.net, posted this awesome picture:

Me being something of an occasional comic geek, I loved this image. In fact, it’s probably my favorite political image of the year. It made me do a search on the guy who made the image, Derek Chatwood. He’s a Seattle-based video game designer, illustrator, artist, etc. Like everyone else, he also has a flickr page. He’s done some other great stuff. In particular I urge you to look at the Beginner’s Bible Coloring Book.

One of the more poignant pieces he did is an image of Heath Ledger as The Joker. He writes an accompanying piece that talks about the death of Brandon Lee during the filming of The Crow contrasted with Ledger’s death just before the release of The Dark Knight. It’s awesome, and well worth reading — check it out.

I haven’t watched The Crow in a long time, but I will rectify that soon. I think what Chatwood says about the nature of that story, and its impact on subsequent “superhero” movies, is dead on. I’m sure the angsty, doomed hero aspect is a big part of what we endure now re: the Hot Topic youth culture, but it doesn’t take anything away from it as a source.

I do remember the sequel to the movie, The Crow – City of Angels, wasn’t nearly as good. If I recall, Iggy Pop was in that movie. But goddamn did I have the hots for Mia Kirshner after seeing that flick. I think the only other movie I ever saw her in was Exotica, which I remember as being okay. Wonder what she’s up to these days?

For those of you interested in such things, Chatwood also entered an Obama T-shirt Design contest you might want to look at. Some of the designs are cool. Many are awful. Some of them look too much like those horrific Nascar t-shirts I see all over. Blech.

I’ve been in a funk the last few days over how boring music has become, my own included. So when I get to browsing and looking at other art forms, and things other people are doing with graphic designs, brushes, photography — anything, really — I’m always blown away by just how many magnificently talented people there are out in the world. Why is there not more worth assigned to that than to those who have mastered the art of being a dick via blackberry? I don’t know. I want to get a brand new, high-powered mac and start learning how to do some of this shit, but I can’t really justify the expense at this point. Even so, I’d probably only end up doing Photoshop tricks like this:

It’d be a start, though.

The Dark Knight

We went to the midnight showing of the new Batman flick last night, and it was a great time. I was trying to recall, but while I’ve stood in line plenty of times for movies I’ve never done the midnight preview thing. It was well worth getting home at 3 AM and only getting 4 hours or so of sleep, I loved it. My only criticism of it is it probably runs about 30 minutes long; there is a lot of stuff going on at the end that really didn’t need to be there. Still a top shelf flick though, no doubt about it. Very, very dark . . . and definitely pushing the limits of PG-13. There are some laughs, but this is a grim, serious gangster movie that touches on a multitude of themes very relevant to today’s world. I will absolutely see it again.

Heath Ledger, wow. I’m going to say his portrayal of a villain is one of the best “bad guy” performances, ever. The menace and tension he brought to every scene he was in was captivating; that he was portraying such an iconic character as the The Joker only made it better. All the hyperbole over his performance is justified. Go see the movie, if only to witness the last work of an actor who was on the cusp of true greatness.

What a bummer he’s gone. Julia and I were discussing his death last night, and where it measures for our generation in relation to the generations that have mourned their artistic heroes like Lennon, or Jerry Garcia, or Marilyn, etc. Kurt Cobain is certainly part of my pantheon of dead artists, though at the time, while I was bummed, I had such a low opinion of drug addicts that, frankly, it left me with an attitude that he got what he was ultimately after. Of course I’ve become more enlightened since then, but I didn’t buy into the entire “voice of a generation” bullshit he has been often tagged with. Kurt — and Layne Staley, for that matter — is a tragic loss, but it isn’t something I lament much because he never really touched me with his art.

Heath bummed me out, though. He seemed like a genuine person to me, and I’m no celebrity worshiper. The first role of his that utterly blew me away was his portrayal of Skip Engblom in the movie Lords of Dogtown. It was one of those roles where you don’t even recognize the actor in the character, and I thought he was brilliant. At the end of the movie, where all the young superstars he helped get started are basking in adulation, the scene of him working on a surfboard as an employee at the shop he had to sell to get by, broke my heart.

Then, of course, was his performance in Brokeback Mountain. What a magnificent movie, and what a tragic, heartbreaking performance he delivered. The surest way to earn my loathing is to be one of those people, usually guys, who uses the “no way I’ll ever watch that fag movie” line. What an ignorant fuck that reveals a person to be. I don’t see how you can be a person with love in your heart and not be devastated by that movie.

I hope Heath gets the posthumous Oscar, because he deserves it. What a talent. What a loss, and what a waste.

Homogeneity Threatens Democracy

Running a week behind, as usual, I read David Sirota‘s column from last Friday today. I can’t agree more with what he is saying; read it here. This bit really paints the picture I see everywhere I go in this country, and it is a gripe I’ve been voicing to just about anyone who will listen for the last few years:

— the contemporary road trip tells the tale of hegemony better than even shared holiday experiences. Turn on your car radio and your listening experience is standardized. No matter where you are, you find yourself unable to find much other than either Rush Limbaugh rants or Bad Company songs on a dial now owned by a tiny group of conglomerates. The off-ramp pit stop — once the spicy outpost of local flavor — today seems mass produced from a Chinese factory, a bustling harbor of franchise commerce astride Jack Kerouac’s endless road. Towering signs for Applebee’s, Wendy’s and Bob Evans are the boat masts on a sea of corporate food below.

To compare and contrast; Higgins Avenue downtown is what America should look like, in my view. It is what the America I like is all about — the look, the feel, the energy of a vibrant place where people live. Like last night, with Downtown Tonight or whatever was going on, there were people out everywhere. And it is like that practically every time I go downtown, which is a couple times a week. Compare that with Reserve Street. Rows of big box stores that look the same, right down to the architectural flourishes, whether you are in Arizona or Iowa. You really don’t see people, just cars. And it sucks. I’m grateful I rarely have to venture out there.

What amuses me about the Sirota piece is the use of the word “homogeneity.” Way back in 2001, the first song I wrote post-9/11 is a tune called Dissent. It is basically a rant against the common notion of those times, still prevalent today, that basically said “you are either with us or against us.” So I was pissed about that, and I also went off on a tirade about how this country was being led down the path to homogeneity. Jimmy and Bubba thought that was hilarious and didn’t believe it was an actual word. But it is. So suck it, boys.

Oh, and here’s the song, in case you’re interested in hearing it. It is on the first LAZERWOLFS album, Get Mad.

Put ’em Up, Not-My-Mom!

Last night I was sitting on the floor in the hallway of Meadow Hill Elementary school with Jimmy’s wife, Liz, and their two youngest kids. We were the first ones on hand for our indoor soccer game; we were lacing up various ankle braces, strapping on shin guards, popping ibuprofen . . . you know, all the preparations adults have to go through before engaging in any kind of serious physical activity. We were just outside the door of the gym where our game would take place. At the moment there was a youth basketball game going on. Suddenly the door burst open and this woman came staggering out and about fell onto Liz and her kids. Immediately in her wake was an older woman who had clearly shoved the first woman out. They were jawing vehemently at each other. Down the hall, another gym door burst open and this guy came charging down the hall, “You don’t talk to her like that, mom! You never talk to her like that!” and he had to be restrained by the first woman. It was quite exciting . . . and more than a little embarrassing.

I walked off down the hallway a short distance while they sorted out their disagreement. 10 minutes or so later the younger couple were back in the hallway, joined by another guy. From their conversation this was the gist of what was going on: apparently, the game was some kind of AAU girls’ team playing a boys’ team from the school. The girls were pretty high speed — they had fancy uniforms, knew the game, and were apparently putting quite a whuppin’ on the boys. It looked a little mismatched; the boys were a motley-looking bunch, one looked like he was only about 5 or so. The family disagreement was complex. There was the husband and wife, his parents (the mom was the one going mano e mano with the wife, his dad was apparently doing a lot of screaming and yelling inside the gym), and apparently a brother on the other side of the contest being waged on the court, or maybe he was the coach of the boys, I don’t know. The whole thing was a classic case of parents taking a youth sporting event waaaay too seriously; throw in that families were involved with different ideas about how things should be handled and we had all the ingredients of a bru-ha-ha.

The crux of the disagreement was that these poor boys should not have to endure getting their asses handed to them by a bunch of girls. Quotes were along the lines of “don’t they know what these boys will have to endure at school if they lose to girls?” and “their egos will just be crushed!” I actually had to walk away because I was amused by the absurdity of it all. Look, if these poor boys couldn’t handle losing to girls because the girls are better players, then the parents are the ones who should be ashamed. I think losing a basketball game is a perfect introduction to the kind of rejection and humiliation that (most of) those boys are going to suffer at the hands of women in the life stretching before them (with parents like the ones described, the boys who are actually gay are going to have an entirely different set of problems to deal with).

So, clearly, misogyny is still being practiced in our nice little city, and our boys are being indoctrinated into it early. Not that I’m surprised, I see misogyny all over the place. It almost makes me want to vote for Hillary. Unfortunately, I’ve read one or two things too many about her that make me just not able to get on that bus. I mean, I’d cast a vote for her to make McCain or Romney cry when they get mocked back at the country club, but I’d rather not have to do that. Then again, I do like to point fingers and laugh now and then. . . .