Friday, September 30, 2005

I'll be saying goodbye tonight at Ozona. Drink with me.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

I went to take the tests to get my Texas driver’s license this morning at the DPS office at Northwest Highway & Jupiter. This would be my final attempt. I have been driving on a license that expired in December of 2000. I have never in my life been pulled over. But the thought of seeing those wild lights and stepping out of the car please and getting cuffed and roughed up, those thoughts get to be too much to drive with. I needed a license, a safety net. I’d tried several times before and could never seem to get my papers in the proper order. But today I went through the process cleanly. My test scores were satisfactory.

As I stood at the long desk where the women with the tall glasses that have the necklace-strings attached administer the vision tests and give you what for, a supervisor questioned the man next to me. I’d seen him in the waiting area — a stubbly guy who smelled like he spent a lot of time outside, kind of like the raw smell of skin bracer if you drained out all the perfume and essence. He’d been pacing from one end of the row of blue plastic chairs to the other. His faced looked like it could have looked mean, but instead it looked soft, his eyes calm and glassy, lips loose but together, cheeks puffed out slightly.

He’d been in a mental institution, apparently. The woman, the supervisor needed to know some things. And so he told her:

“Well I got out of the hospital for my foot and I was walking down the road and I had to stop. And I sat down and had to take off my shoe and pull out four of the nails and the, you know, the meat. So an ambulance comes along and takes me back to the hospital. And then a guy there gives me a ride home. And when we got to the door there was some people there. I don't remember much after that. And when I woke up I was in a place I’d never seen before.”

“Yes. But did you go there voluntarily?”


“So you could leave whenever you wanted?”

“No. They wouldn’t let me leave. They kept me there for I think it was three months to make sure, you know, to make sure I was OK.”

“But when you went there, did you choose to go there?”


After I took my tests and pulled onto Northwest Highway to head back west toward Dallas, I saw him standing there at the bus stop. Waiting for a bus.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

What a grand morning. What a beautiful fucking day.

The cool front is coming and we’re getting its first tickle.

Oh! my car in the morning! in the morning parking lot! morning air was misty and my car was covered in dewy sweetness! There was no shine there on the red paint and clear coat as I approached passenger’s side to deposit my backpack, only quivering micro-globes of, of, of! The grandiosity overwhelmed my every last nerve ending, spun me around at dangerous speeds, beautiful and grand, thick and cool in my nose and down into my lungs. I am breaking up for nature. Getting down with anticipation. Acting a fool. Rolling it over my tongue. Abusing punctuation with impunity.}{:)*&

Chart this feeling on a line graph and you will need 10-foot pencils and high ceilings and industrial laser pointers.

ADDENDUM: I just realized this entire post could easily be misconstrued as some sort of cocaine celebration. I mean, look at the title, for chrissakes. I assure you, however, that it is exactly what it is, and nothing more. ANY DRUG UNDERTONES ARE UNINTENTIONAL.

(In case you didn’t get Monday’s memo.)

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Must be the season of the squirrel. They are everywhere. Their twitching tails peek out of deep grass as the better part of them forages down low, stuffing their cheeks with autumn treats, fattening up for those bitter Dallas lows.

Squirrels own the apartment parks. Emboldened by years of easy feeding at the hands of fascinated children, they scamper up your pant leg and nestle between the warm folds of skin therein. They will dig their front funnyteeth into your bulbous fruits and you will shriek in pain as October’s crows flap their hands from the balcony. (The crows, they come from nowhere and end up everywhere. In the Midwest, they will cake entire blocks of sidewalk with their milky-white distributions. Their winged sentries will dive from low branches and peck you on the crown. Confused and frightened, you will drop your bookbag and retreat at top speed. You will hear the flapping in your sleep. And but so some of them, the wayward crows, come to Dallas to start new chapters. Their membership is growing. Monitor this trend carefully.)

The squirrels fan out at day’s end to their homes outside of the apartment parks. Again, emboldened by the comfort and safety of the tall grasses and kind humans with fists full of trail mix, they dart hither and yon across the concrete, weaving their way through the paths of four-wheeled beasts. Making miraculous escapes. Oblivious to this fact. This is where things get messy. Because when the humans fan out from their office buildings and wend those twisting avenues home, they will see the brave, fast, bold squirrels and have no time. Their mechanical beasts’ mechanical brakes are no match for the inertia of all that mechanical bulk.

Squirrels have died. More will die. You will never hit one yourself, but you will see them on your way home. Some will have exploded under enormous pressure, their heads, thighs, torsos laying flat like broken grapes. Others will look like they are sleeping in unwise places. They will be gone, we’ll know, but as we drive by and discern no structural damage, we might tell ourselves that boy, that squirrel must have been knackered. “Look, honey, he fell asleep in the middle of the street. Awwww. Precious.” And then the smell removes all doubt.

It is the season of the squirrel. They take their chances. You've got to respect that.

That's why we mourn them for moments at a time.

Monday, September 26, 2005

He’s the best-kept secret in on-line political commentary. He is Billmon.

Monday, September 19, 2005

5. My face is a corned beef parade bladder.

4. Sing the buttered harmony of focus group hijinks.

3. Sadly, I never sanctioned that isthmus.

2. Take this monkey yeast and turn your elbows around.

1. George Bush put Karl Rove in charge of Gulf Coast reconstruction.

Friday, September 16, 2005

I’ve started, stopped, started again and reconsidered. I am waffling like a champ. Vacillating like a something. Titillating like an oscelot oscillating its tit a lot. And this is all my gentle way of letting you know that, in the end, I decided it’s better not to talk about it. Two weeks now and nothing. Nothing. The shitting of you would be beneath me. And I mean that in the most un-whatever-you-think-I’m-meaning way. Let’s keep it clean. Now touch gloves. Return to your neutral corners. Await my instructions.

Fuck. It’s killing me not talking about it. And by “killing me” I mean “worrying me a little bit.” Two weeks and nothing. Nothing! But you look over George’s shoulder, over the church, and there’s downtown New Orleans: office buildings illuminated. Karl Rove is telling us that everything is just fine. What a show.

I’m not talking about it any more.

Bombshell. I am moving to Chicago in October. This is final. You have been notified. By me. Passively.

Upon my arrival, I will gather the city streets together in my hands and tangle them like wire. I will apply headlocks to buildings, beautiful buildings crafted by Big Time Architects, Brilliant Engineers. My eyeballs will shower them with love. It will be retinal. Tactile. There will be feeling entering me and catapulting back out, outward toward everything I loved and missed, everything that missed me.

I will lay down in the finest intersections and direct traffic with the beams of light that will shoot out my chest. I will sweep clouds away with my hands. I will sign into law a measure that ensures the world appears at twice its normal size. I will run for mayor. I will lose to Richard Daley. But only because he will fix the election. In their hearts, my fellow Chicagoans will know that I was the one, I was the one in whose hands they wanted their city. I was the one who would have gathered the streets in my fists like wire and slung them outward toward the suburbs!

They will know that I would have waded out into Lake Michigan for them, banished the Asian Carp that sullied our estuaries, warmed the cool waters to hot-tub-like temperatures, sifted the broken glass and beer cans from the beach sand!

I will stuff the city into my pockets and hand out everything I know to everyone I meet. They will compliment me on my fashion sense. I will box them on the ears with stone tablets. We’ll all have a good laugh. The police will be called. They will be placated with raises.

And when, one year hence, I walk down Clark Street to visit my favorite record stores, an old man with orange-rind skin and a whip of white beard slung around his jaw will tap me on my shoulder and ask me who I am. I will tell him my name as I gently lift the wallet from his back pocket. He’ll understand. I’ll need the money.

Because damned if I’ll be able to do anything about the city tax.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005


Monday, September 12, 2005

I do not care to reconstruct the bizarre train of clicking that brought me upon this story. Just know that, once there, reading it brightened up my morning. [Click on the page, anywhere near the headline “I just couldn’t take work seriously,” to bring up the article.]

Inspiring little stories like that get me every time, especially when they culminate in "and now I write novels for a living."

Friday, September 09, 2005

Not only is FEMA “director” Mike Brown not an actual human being, complete with thoughts and feelings and testicles, but it turns out that he’s not even a real lawyer.

Look even closer. A lot of Mike Brown “qualifications” to manage national disasters — many of which are only tangentially related to the job of coordinating and leading full-scale relief efforts — are completely fucking fake!

Now with tight constraints!

Thursday, September 08, 2005

From yesterday's White House gaggle:

Q Scott, does the President retain confidence in his FEMA Director and Secretary of Homeland Security?

MR. McCLELLAN: And again, David, see, this is where some people want to look at the blame game issue, and finger-point. We're focused on solving problems, and we're doing everything we can --

Q What about the question?

MR. McCLELLAN: We're doing everything we can in support --

Q We know all that.

MR. McCLELLAN: -- of the Department of Homeland Security and FEMA.

Q Does he retain complete confidence --

MR. McCLELLAN: We're going to continue. We appreciate the great effort that all of those at FEMA, including the head of FEMA, are doing to help the people in the region. And I'm just not going to engage in the blame game or finger-pointing that you're trying to get me to engage.

Q Okay, but that's not at all what I was asking.

MR. McCLELLAN: Sure it is. It's exactly what you're trying to play.

Q You have your same point you want to make about the blame game, which you've said enough now. I'm asking you a direct question, which you're dodging.


Q Does the President retain complete confidence in his Director of FEMA and Secretary of Homeland Security, yes or no?

MR. McCLELLAN: I just answered the question.

Q Is the answer "yes" on both?

MR. McCLELLAN: And what you're doing is trying to engage in a game of finger-pointing.

Q There's a lot of criticism. I'm just wondering if he still has confidence.

MR. McCLELLAN: -- and blame-gaming. What we're trying to do is solve problems, David. And that's where we're going to keep our focus.

Q So you're not -- you won't answer that question directly?

MR. McCLELLAN: I did. I just did.

Q No, you didn't. Yes or no? Does he have complete confidence or doesn't he?

MR. McCLELLAN: No, if you want to continue to engage in finger-pointing and blame-gaming, that's fine --

Q Scott, that's ridiculous. I'm not engaging in any of that.

MR. McCLELLAN: It's not ridiculous.

Q Don't try to accuse me of that. I'm asking you a direct question and you should answer it. Does he retain complete confidence in his FEMA Director and Secretary of Homeland Security, yes or no?

MR. McCLELLAN: Like I said -- that's exactly what you're engaging in.

Q I'm not engaging in anything. I'm asking you a question about what the President's views are --

MR. McCLELLAN: Absolutely -- absolutely --

Q -- under pretty substantial criticism of members of his administration. Okay? And you know that, and everybody watching knows that, as well.

MR. McCLELLAN: No, everybody watching this knows, David, that you're trying to engage in a blame game.

Q I'm trying to engage?


Q I am trying to engage?

MR. McCLELLAN: That's correct.

Q That's a dodge. I have a follow-up question since you dodged that one. Does the White House feel like it missed opportunities to alleviate or head off some of the damage in the New Orleans area, flood damage? Did it miss an opportunity to head any of that off?

MR. McCLELLAN: In what way?


Wednesday, September 07, 2005

I just read that the military, at Bush's behest, is banning the media from New Orleans. I guess they need to construct a bubble inside of which they can create their own reality. The White House has already ordered that no more photographs be taken of the dead. Next thing you know they'll be telling us we can only watch state-sanctioned TV networks. This is the height of tyranny.

Where the fuck am I? Are we seriously going to let this happen in America?

Rooster Spice has the news.

All the world’s a stage
And the men and women merely players

(Especially the ones wearing flame-retardant uniforms.)

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Remember last week when I joked that White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan probably wishes he could invoke an ongoing investigation when questioned about the disastrous federal response to Hurricane Katrina? (I mean, c'mon, it's been working so well whenever the D.C. gaggle grills him on the Karl Rove Scandal.) Well, it's not a joke anymore:

From today's K-Street Q&A:
MR. McCLELLAN: We will look at back at the facts and we will get to the bottom of the facts and determine what went wrong and what went right. But right now ... we've got to continue helping the people in the region."

He also fell back on the Blame Game Defense six times. Six times! That is simply not natural. It's Talking Point #713A. (And if you look closely, he almost said it a seventh time, but he caught himself after uttering "blame.")

Not even Rufus T. Firefly could pull off that kind of semantic slight of hand.

We see you Scott. And you're not fooling anyone this time.


It took them almost a week, but Bush’s handlers finally found a language frame they liked. Now, whenever anyone criticizes the federal lack of response to the tragedy in New Orleans, they are playing the “blame game.”

Ah, the blame game. You know these heartless assholes are desperate when their defense amounts to elementary classroom flummery. I suppose this means that the reporters exposing this mess are tattle tales. And that Bush tried to snub Gov. Blanco because she has cooties. We already know he loves a recess appointment. Eureka! Bush is a man-child!

Trust me when I say that there's no aspect of this clusterfuck that even remotely resembles a game to me. And what the dopes in Washington like to call blame, I like to call accountability. I require it of my paid legislators. Seems to me that at the most basic level, the government’s responsibility is to protect its citizens. Last week, they failed. And they failed at the highest levels. And they failed after telling us for the last four years that our safety and security was their No. 1 priority.

So what has the White House been busy doing while the rest of us were trying to figure out why things went so horribly wrong? Well, they of course were busy playing the blame-shifting game. They even went so far as to feed lies to the media. Remember, these bastards have not earned the right to be staking out any moral high ground, nor have they earned the right to be accusing others of playing politics with anything.

Let’s not be taken in by Bush Talking Point #713A. Let’s not let them fool us into thinking this is a game, and that accountability is something we can hash out later, after the major players have a chance to put their heads together and get their alibis straight.

We’ve seen this before. We are familiar with this beast. It preys on human trust and turns fiction into fact.

This is how it thinks.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Let’s see how long the White House's press secretary tries to dodge questions. I bet he wishes he could invoke an ongoing investigation.

Not this time, Scott.

If you haven't already.


Three quick, disgusting facts:

• Dick Cheney is still on vacation in Wyoming. Politicos are beginning to speculate that his heart problems are worse than the White House has been willing to admit. Poor guy.

• The director of FEMA, a Bush appointee with almost no experience in disaster control, is blaming those unable to evacuate the city for the fact that their lives are now in jeopardy.

• Politicians of all political persuasions keep showing up on TV, congratulating each other on what a great job they’re doing.

UPDATE: Wondering about Mike Brown's qualifications to lead the Federal Emergency Management Agency? Well, according to the White House: "From 1991 to 2001, Brown was the Commissioner of the International Arabian Horse Association, an international subsidiary of the national governing organization of the U.S. Olympic Committee."

Brown was eventually forced to resign from his position with the IAHA.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Which crisis makes the President travel from Crawford, Texas, to Washington, D.C., in the shortest period of time?

A. Terri Shiavo
B. Hurricane Katrina

"According to Drudge, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has recently enjoyed a little Broadway entertainment. And Page Six reports that she’s also working on her backhand with Monica Seles. So the Gulf Coast has gone all Mad Max, women are being raped in the Superdome, and Rice is enjoying a brief vacation in New York. We wish we were surprised.

What does surprise us: Just moments ago at the Ferragamo on 5th Avenue, Condoleeza Rice was seen spending several thousands of dollars on some nice, new shoes (we’ve confirmed this, so her new heels will surely get coverage from the WaPo’s Robin Givhan). A fellow shopper, unable to fathom the absurdity of Rice’s timing, went up to the Secretary and reportedly shouted, “How dare you shop for shoes while thousands are dying and homeless!” Never one to have her fashion choices questioned, Rice had security PHYSICALLY REMOVE the woman."

I’ve actually heard people on television saying “we underestimated the storm” when asked why the emergency response has been so slow and inadequate.

I don’t know about you, but I remember when the Katrina coverage started really picking up steam on Saturday. I remember the breathless reports of 190-mph winds and satellite images of an angry white behemoth roiling over the Gulf of Mexico, its eye bearing down on the worst of all possibilities. I remember hearing about atmospheric pressure dropping to 902 millibars, wondering what exactly that meant, guessing it must be bad, very bad, because even the anchors on the Weather Channel were looking worried. I remember watching the slow crawl of cars as New Orleans residents evacuated, the crowds of poor and sick and elderly outside the Superdome, the mayor speaking, angry, about the dire situation in his city.

I don’t remember anyone underestimating the storm. Nope. Sorry. That’s one excuse that will not fly. By all accounts, the storm actually decreased in strength and changed direction, sparing the Big Easy the brunt of the beast's fury. To think that it could have been worse.

And that’s why it’s sad that every cable network in the Lower 48 has had a live feed coming out of the bayou since Sunday, but it’s taken most of the National Guard until today to get its act together — who knows the full scope of what’s happened during the interim. On Tuesday, the president went on a junket to Arizona to make a little speech and strum a custom-made guitar while people in New Orleans were in their attics, on their rooftops, thirsty, desperate, dying.

Don’t give me that underestimated-the-storm crap. I’m not buying it. It’s simply not true. The truth is you just didn't care.

UPDATE: George Bush today on Good Morning America: "I don't think anyone anticipated the breach of the levees."

That is an outright lie.