Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Random

Okay. So I applied for my new passport card today! It was pretty simple- pictures, photos and the old passport. Easy Peasy.

I attempted to get my license renewed ( I no longer have my medical restriction) And I need eight millions bits of paper. Jesus, when did local goverment decided to mimic Italy in non-efficency?

And now, a word from Jon Voight:


"The Democratic Party, in its quest for power, has managed a propaganda campaign with subliminal messages, creating a God-like figure in a man who falls short in every way. It seems to me that if Mr. Obama wins the presidential election, then Messrs. Farrakhan, Wright, Ayers and Pfleger will gain power for their need to demoralize this country and help create a socialist America." -Jon Voight, actor and humanatarian

Thanks, Jon!

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Gnarls Barkley on The Tonight Show

I just watched the Tonight Show, which had an overabundance of animals, Brendan Fraiser ( looking handsome but rather crosseyed) and Gnarls Barkley, who did a brilliant rendition of "Who's Gonna Save My Soul?", my absolute favorite song from the new album. It was haunting and exquisite, and the stage craft reminded me of shows in Savannah and Atlanta, a cross between hiphop and steam punk. If you were there in Savannah or Atlanta in the late 1990s then you know what I mean. It was simply brilliant, and it was far too short, but hey.

Let's hear it for all the Afro-Avant Gardistes!

Here are some examples of the Brilliance that is Gnarls Barkley:



And then:



I couldn't help but think of Kindred.

Get the album, now!

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Monday, July 28, 2008

The Old Neighborhood

People often ask me about good old Bed Stuy and Crown Heights, where I grew up. I always tell them it was a tight knit place where people where the working poor to struggling to achieve middle classes. There was tons of crime- but you were not involved in it, there was also churches, mosques, even a synagogue or two, parks to play in and stoops to sit on. There were also shops and a full, lively culture that was distinct from the rest of New York.

The New York Times, who has only recently discovered Brooklyn as being worthy to cover since it's upper class readerships 'discovered' Brooklyn as a 'affordable' place to live, has an interesting article on the development of Brooklyn as a 'hipster' and the issues that come from a community that long neglected and used as a dumping ground. Sorry, $1,700/month rent will not shield you from the public housing folks who hate you and your freedom of choice. If it any comfort ( and it's not) no amount of money can shield you from the world, media blathering notwithstanding.

Give it a read: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/27/nyregion/27gentrify.html?ref=realestate

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Saturday, July 26, 2008

On the Financial Bailout

Generally speaking, I am very pratical, financially conservative person. That does not mean I don't want to pay any taxes and am greedy. Rather, that means I am very careful about expenditures, alway ask a ton of question regarding every deal and take a magnifying glass to all small print.

I was lucky enough to pay off my student loans, and last year I went about trying to purchase a small home in Portland. The three brokers I spoke to wanted me to either borrow more than I needed ( for improvements, even though the home was newly constructed and built exactly the way I had wanted) or to do a interest only loan ( and pay nothing of the principal, and the payments would reset in 3 years) Depsite have a okayish credit ( fine, 670 average, you nosy bastard) and money for a downpayment, these brokers wanted me to do these stupid loans. I got hung up on when I suggested standard financing.

After a year of watching the news, I now understand why people tried ot push me into these dumb loans, and why so many people got caught up in these loans.

The reasons?

1) The loans were profitable. If i had a standard loan (interest plus principal) wih a 10% downpayment and paid pmi, it would have made less money in fees than an option adjustable rate mortgage or an straight interest only loans- loans that required more fees and more money to process.

2) I was a young female minority- so the loan officers structured these prducts to look like the loans were doing a great favor by allowing you to have the capital to buy a home. What utter rubbish. My parents owned their home Brooklyn for years, got it throughthe community thrift, paid a high interest rate- but paid it off in 15 years. I think that with the expansion of banks and credit came the expansion of fees and high interest rates, and so being African american or 1st Generation Hispanic or Asian ( or any combo of the three) who did not have the knowledge f how these loans worked, or who were panicked that they would miss the boat on getting a home as a way to build wealth for their families, were especially vulnerable. Was there greed and flipping? Absolutely. But there was also a lot of swindling for quota bonuses, and many of the brokers who offered the swindling loans were members of minority groups themselves.

2b) Not that whites did not get taken as well. All the lifestyle programs, the "Flip this House" and interior decorating programs, the applaince porn, the Wolf stoves and SubZero fridges that look like they should hold fold for a cafeteria and instead hold only take out boxes and beer, the $10K couchs and tables and such. Geezus.

3) So now, the bailout. But this bailout will not directly help desperate homeowners- it will help hedge fund managers and mortgage companies and such who profited from badly regulated markets:




No, I am no disciple of Ayn Rand. But this covering the Angelo Mozilo bottom is simply not right at all. And not just at all.

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Thursday, July 24, 2008

Ich bin ein American!

Wow. Many thousands of peole, perhaps even 200K. Wow!

You gotta feel sorry for the McCain campaign. Sniping in wan sarcasm about "arrogance", "John McCain has dedicated his life to serving, improving and protecting America. Barack Obama spent an afternoon talking about it."

And to put a sad cherry on it, McCain then campaigns at Schmitt's Sausage House, a Bavarian themed resturant. Jesus. How sad is that?

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Sunday, July 20, 2008

Review of The Dark Knight

1)Brilliant, brooding and quite beautiful, The Dark Knight takes what comic books and graphic novels truly are: pure illustrated thought, color and emotion. It delves into the impulses of what brings pure color into such form- themes, fantasies, nightmares,- and brings the underpinnings of high Greek tragedy to the fore. The result is a deeply affecting film that will haunt you for several hours after you see it. It is still haunting me now.

2) Heath Ledger was our generation's Marlon Brando. What stories he could have told.

3) Brilliant cinematography, clean and crisp and the colors in film used ion the way of Hitchcock- to highlight and show emotion.

4) PG-13 is the cop out rating when a naked woman is not shown, or if the word f**k is not used. PG-13 ensures marketing to you ng children. Sorry, Nolan Bros; I know the studios need to make some of the productions'costs somehow. This film should have been rated an R- there is not a lot of gore, but it is extremely violent and disturbing.

5) There is a briliant, horrifying scene with two ferries, one with ordinary passengers, one with prisoners. Chris Nolan plays with morality, and race, and class in such a way that will make you cheer even as the action moves on ( the movie theater did, in any case.)

6) Again, not for children. Not even for preteens, or 13 year olds. Sorry. This is a R rated movie that was given a cop out rating because there were no bare breasts.

7) Brilliant. Best movie of the summer, period. Yes.

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Thursday, July 17, 2008

My response to the current financial markets

This is my somewhat snarky response to the bank runs and the stock market up and downs:



I know, very silly, but come on.

On 'Hancock': Really, really fun, with an interesting, almost Greek play like twist in the middle. I wish the movie was about 10-15 minutes longer, to develop the characters a bit and give a bit more depth, but overall a good summer flick, best for a Matinee.

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Sunday, July 13, 2008

Brilliant

We have perfect summer days for the past week- clear, bright blue skies and fresh, hot sunshine, with with just a hint of humidity. These are summer days as they should be, with plenty of water and ripe, lush fruit hanging from deep green trees. Kids hanging out, and working adults sneaking rays during lunch, and plenty of people on their bikes, which had been forgotten since last November. Their is an intensity to people outside- no one forgets that for most of the year, there nothing more than steel grey air and heavy, rain laden clouds.

So, all the sensible advice- sunhats and parasols and sunscreen- is obey only laxly, if at all. I have seen the fairest of red haired people with plenty of freckles and burnt skins, and lots of babies in just their diaper.

But that's okay- really, it is. The rains return soon enough.

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Monday, July 7, 2008

On Jesse Helms, Bigot and Failed Statesman

Jesse Helms died on 4 July. Now, we ought not speak ill of the dead, but we ought to remember people as they really were. Hitler was not a great artist. Mugabe is not a great statesman. And Jesse Helms was not a fine statesman. He was not a fine human being. He was a cheap, belittling bully; he exploited the very worse feelings of the people of North Carolina to acheive power; and did very little to improve small scale farming, good, sustainable logging or to develop industries in North Carolina ( other than farming subsidies for tobacco, which eventually phasede out.) In short, Jesse Helms was the perfect example of a failed statesman who stayed in power for far too long,and used the mantle of conservatism to cover himself.

Here is a link to a much better blog post here.

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Friday, July 4, 2008

4 July or 2 July or Juneteenth- Huzzzah!

So, happy 4th ( even though independence was declared a few days earlier). And for many african Americans, Juneteenth is a holiday to observe, but that's okay. However you would like to celebrate independence, solidarity and The Republic, Happy 4th to you!

Usually, I would like to speak about politics- so here goes. Now, I know why I stay independent for so many years: The Democrats know how to snatch defeat from all mighty jaws of victory. Obama's decision to use independent funding and support of the overthrow the clearly unconstitutional ban on guns has now made him a "flip- flopper" with the more assholey factions of the Democrats- the Naderites and the still bitter, still sad Clinton supporters. Sigh. Meanwhile, Republicans are scrambling to find reasons to support McCain, who, week by week, still sounds like he does not a clue. Of course, what's nice about this particular Democrat is the broad base of support that, if it indeed holds up, will propel him to the White House.


There, that's enough. Go, read a copy of the Constitution, or read John Adams by David McCollough ( one the finest biographies of an American character done in the last 10 years- no, I am not exaggerating) Go grill out, and talk to your neighbors, and forgive the fact that he keeps chickens or perhaps likes the music loud or maybe has a tomato plant addiction. Go help out at the homeless shelter or help the kid out from prison ( he's not all that tough- just frightened). Remember, dear Friends, the 4 July and Juneteenth are not just about freedom. Beacuse with freedom come the responsibility of taking care each other.

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