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January 4, 2011

Gerry Rafferty has passed

Just learned it from the tweeter. RIP to a great musical hero. Here's my fave of his:

That singing guitar, so sweet and understated. Perfection.

December 29, 2010

Oh gag me, part deuxième

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Can you believe this? Even in death, Carlos Andrés Pérez is the stuff of bad soap opera. Courtesy of the indefatigable Cort G., this landed in my e-mail today:

MIAMI (AP) -- A judge has delayed the burial of former Venezuelan President Carlos Andres Perez amid a family feud over his final resting place.

Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Gerald Hubbart issued an order late Tuesday to keep a funeral home from burying Perez as planned Wednesday.

His first wife, Blanca Perez, wants him buried in Venezuela. She maintains that she has the right to decide because, while the two were separated, they were never legally divorced. She also claims Perez left no written instructions regarding his remains.

Perez's longtime mistress and secretary, Cecilia Matos, and their two daughters had planned to bury him in Miami, where they live, after a Mass Wednesday. Matos is frequently identified as Perez's current wife, but it is not clear if they were married.

She and her daughters have vowed they will not bring Perez's remains back to Venezuela until President Hugo Chavez, who led a 1992 coup attempt against him, leaves office.

Hubbart did not immediately schedule another hearing, but he granted Blanca Perez's request to prevent the funeral home from taking any action to bury or otherwise dispose of the body until the dispute is settled.

Juan C. Antunez and Juan Jose Delgado, appointed to handle the matter on Blanca Perez's behalf, declined to comment Wednesday.

Perez's family in Venezuela wants him buried there next to his daughter Thais, who died 15 years ago.

Another daughter in Venezuela, Carolina Perez, told The Associated Press she found out about her father's death from Twitter and her family was never consulted about the burial. She maintains that her mother, Blanca Perez, should be the one to decide what happens to her father's remains.

"They're still married, and the law is very clear in Venezuela and in the United States: When the person dies, the one who has the right to reclaim the body is the spouse, and we exercised that right," she said.

Diego Arria, a close Perez ally and his former U.N. ambassador, said both sides have expressed willingness to resolve the situation and he does not believe the dispute will turn into an extended court battle.

He said lawyers for Perez's relatives in Miami and Caracas are discussing the matter and that both sides should agree on when the ex-president's body are to be taken to Venezuela.

Oh my. This is embarrassing. In my first entry on CAP's death I translated "separated" as "divorced", assuming that that had taken place. It hadn't. Either CAP couldn't be bothered, or he was so arch-Catholic and hypocritical that he didn't dare offend the churchmen who tend to side with Venezuela's oligarchy on all issues anyway. Maybe he really was expecting to be called back to the presidency when Chavecito was overthrown!

Plus, seeing as CAP left no burial instructions, it seems very likely that he left no will either. Meaning, more catfights in court to come. Any way you slice it, we have yet another CAP scandal!

Of course, I fully expect the oppos to somehow try to spin this politically as "Chávez's fault". After all, he "drove" CAP into "exile"...only, of course, that happened while the young, yet-to-be-elected Chavecito was still in Yare Prison for leading an insurrection against CAP (who was impeached during the same period), so of course they can't. Chavecito has already said that the Pérez family has a right to bring his remains back to Venezuela for burial, so there's certainly no way they can rightly blame him for this tangle. But it will be entertaining to watch the fireworks anyway.

Popcorn, anyone?

December 28, 2010

Oh, gag me with a meat cleaver!

I know you're not supposed to speak ill of the dead, but I think that's ridiculous. Do we not speak ill of Hitler and Stalin all the time? There are some people to whom one owes not even token posthumous respect, and the funeral of Carlos Andrés Pérez, which took place today in Miami, illustrates perfectly why that is:

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Yes, that's the OLD flag of Venezuela. The seven-star flag of the Fourth Republic, which died when Chavecito came into office in '99. There was a big fuss when this one was scrapped in 2006, but it was to no end. Nobody uses it anymore but the most rabid of the Venezuelan oppos, who all happen to spend more time in Miami than they do in their "beloved homeland". It's also historically inaccurate, since the current (and correct) version has eight stars, symbolizing the eight provinces (including Guayana, which was earlier omitted) which revolted against Spanish Rule in Bolívar's day. (Bolívar himself decreed an eight-star flag in 1817.) But it's the perfect emblem of the murderous, faux-democratic corruption of the Fourth, so I guess it fits right in at this celebration of its crookedest figurehead's death. It is also the perfect emblem of the opposition's stubborn pettiness.

Even more sickening, though, is the memorial card:

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The quote, from Venezuelan poet Andrés Eloy Blanco, reads: "While the bad son of the homeland grows and gets fat destroying it, the good son dies in exile, weeping for it." Blanco wrote that for Bolívar, who did die in exile. By putting it on CAP's memorial card as a pointed insult to Chavecito, the oppos twisted it so hard that they broke it. Need I underscore what a travesty it is to slam a sitting president (and a very patriotic, competent one) that way, especially since the bad son who fattened his wallet on corruption and death did not die in exile but on the lam, not weeping but laughing all the way to the bank?

BTW, CAP also has the dubious distinction of having been the first Venezuelan president ever to be impeached. But only for corruption. He never had to answer for mass murder.

There's a reason why ordinary Venezuelans call their defeated old Fourth Republic ruling class sinvergüenzas--shameless people. Actually there are several, but I decided, out of "respect" for the dead, to list only two or three this time.

December 25, 2010

Carlos Andrés Pérez dies in Miami

The news just came out over the tweeter in the last hour or so. Here's the first official announcement, courtesy of Panorama:

Former Venezuelan ambassador to the United Nations, Diego Arria, posted a few minutes ago on his Twitter account that the former president of Venezuela, Carlos Andrés Pérez, died on Saturday, December 25, aged 88, in Miami.

Carlos Andrés Pérez was president of Venezuela for two terms (1974-1979 and 1989-1993) as head of the Acción Democrática (Democratic Action) party.

He lived with his family in Miami, and had withdrawn from public life after a stroke.

The ex-president was born in Rubio, in the state of Táchira, on October 27, 1922.

He was married in 1948 to his cousin, Blanca Rodríguez. They had six children: Sonia, Thaís, Martha, Carlos Manuel, María de los Angeles, and Carolina.

After his second term in office, Pérez divorced his wife and continued to live with his secretary, Cecilia Matos.

Translation mine.

Obviously, this is the Reader's Digest condensed version of Pérez. The real one is considerably longer and more sordid. Cecilia Matos, for starters, was Pérez's mistress and the reason for his divorce. And believe it or not, she is the LEAST sordid chapter of his life. Here's the MOST sordid one...the Caracazo, a military/police massacre of random, poor Venezuelans, ordered from the top...by the newly second-term president, Carlos Andrés Pérez, in late February and early March of 1989:

Video in Spanish, in two parts; click through for the second.

Pérez was not solely responsible for all the crime and death, but he was at the head of the very corrupt AD government that decided to follow, to the letter, the IMF's disastrous "shock therapy" package. He was not a president so much as a tame dictator; he reversed his campaign promises almost as soon as he had taken office. In so doing, he lost whatever democratic credibility he still had. The results were catastrophic for Venezuela's majority poor, whose wages did not keep step with the sudden inflation in the cost of living that a "free market" inevitably brings. The price of gasoline rose, and with it, bus fares more than doubled. Prices shot up as storefronts closed; there was no actual shortage of goods, but the store owners were hoarding them in order to jack up the prices by claiming shortages. Angry crowds refused to buy that--literally. They set the buses on fire and broke into the shuttered shops, taking whatever they could get their hands on. Barricades made of old tires and garbage burned in the streets. Some waved the flag and sang the national anthem, a graphic reminder that this was not mere looting, it was a nation trying to reclaim its dignity in a spontaneous, unorganized outburst.

But Pérez, having set a disaster in motion by going back on his campaign promises, did not revert meekly to democracy. To do so would have meant losing the IMF cash with which he intended to line his own pockets and those of his mistress and cronies. So he chose another tyrannical, top-down "solution": He sent the army out to fire on the citizens, indiscriminately, in the poor neighborhoods where the protests raged for days on end.

Crank up the sound on that. The Bersuit song is an angry and very fitting soundtrack. "Here comes the explosion/Here comes the explosion/Of my guitar/And of your government/As well."

The only thing that saddens me about this death is that this murderer, this dictator, never did any prison time in his life for the thousands of violent deaths on his watch. He was impeached in 1993 for misuse of public funds, a weak charge considering the death toll of his reign--one approaching that of Augusto Pinochet, according to unofficial figures. The Caracazo is widely believed to have killed as many people in one week as died at the hands of fascist thugs during Pinochet's entire reign.

Carlos Andrés Pérez was actually something worse than Pinochet--he was utterly dishonest about his antidemocratic stance, whereas at least the Chilean dictator made no bones about his own. And rather than do jail time, Pérez fucked off to Miami to enjoy the good life with his mistress...and call for a true democrat, Chávez, to die "like a dog" at regular intervals. Classy, huh?

Here's the fun part, though: Pérez was waiting for Venezuela to call him home to be president again. That call never came. The only call came from Hades, where one might devoutly hope this sickening old bastard finds justice at last.

Ashes to ashes; dust to dust; shit to the shitpile. Goodbye, Carlos Andrés Pérez...pathological liar, thief and murderer. You won't be missed.

January 21, 2010

Paul Quarrington, RIP...

Yesterday, I found this song echoing through my head for the first time since...oh, about 1995 or thereabouts, when I was at journalism school and you couldn't turn on a radio anywhere in Toronto without hearing it:

And today, I found out why I suddenly had this little adolescent earworm. Paul Quarrington, singer/songwriter, novelist, and filmwriter, has passed away. He wrote this song along with the Rheostatics, and lobbied for them to be in the soundtrack of the film version of his novel, Whale Music. Until then, no one knew who the Rheostatics were; a damn shame, because they're a fine, still underrated band (and recently reunited just to pay tribute to the ailing writer who once gave them such a big, generous career-boost.)

I still haven't read that book (yeah, I know--shame on me!), and I only saw parts of the movie when it finally came onto TV. But it was big, big news while I was in j-school. All my classmates were talking about it, and this haunting song was everywhere. I still have memories of intoxicating darkroom chemical vapors swirling around my head while this was playing in the background as I did my job as photo editor of my j-school paper. Somehow, it was very appropriate: quirky, funny, poignant, meditative.

I dare you to listen to it and not find yourself absentmindedly singing along with the "ba ba ba ba, ba ba ba ba" chorus at some odd, unforeseen moment...

January 4, 2010

Farewell, Lhasa...

This morning, I was saddened to learn (via DAMMIT JANET!) that Lhasa de Sela has died of breast cancer.

For those who don't know who she is, she's the closest thing Canada has ever had to its own Mercedes Sosa (who also, sadly, passed away recently.) In fact, she covered a Fito Páez song that "La Negra" Sosa also did, "Yo vengo a ofrecer mi corazón". This cover was used to great effect in the documentary The Take, by Naomi Klein and Avi Lewis, about the struggle of the occupied-factories movement in Argentina. That was my first contact with that haunting voice.

Here's one of her last pieces, which feels hauntingly prescient now:

Sleep well, Lhasa. You are loved and missed.

December 25, 2009

Festive Left Friday Blogging: Chavecito's Christmas message

And there's a new "Baby Jesus" being born in Venezuela this holiday season--a mission to promote maternal and child health.

The original Jesus would approve.

Feliz Chavidad, mis amigos.

PS: Here's a little something for everyone--a gift of music from a gifted young Venezuelan woman who died recently, much too soon. But she left a legacy worth keeping. RIP, Solimar Cadenas.

December 1, 2009

Short 'n' Stubby: Snips, snaps and snark

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It's World AIDS Day, and to celebrate, Uganda's government is mulling a bill to mandate the death penalty for gay sex. The driving influence? "Evangelicals from abroad", according to one Anglican bishop. These same evangelicals and their parliamentary buddies are no doubt the same ones who are screaming about Hugo Chávez for not bad-mouthing Idi Amin. Hypocrites much?

BTW, Gwynne Dyer's piece on prudishness in Africa, and how it's costing lives, is a must-read.

It's now official: Dubai is in deep doodoo. (Literally--among other things, they're awash in their own shit. Despite all their expensive building projects, sewage treatment plants were rather low on the list of priorities.) They're claiming that their debt crisis (soon to become a default) is really a "standstill", but who's fooling whom? The only way they're gonna pay this one off in the end is by taking on more debt elsewhere when Abu Dhabi gets sick of sinking money into this bottomless pit. Where are the IMF and the World Bank when you need 'em? This sort of thing is right up their alley.

Oh, and get this: Dubai also claims it's not responsible for running up its huge debts--the creditors are, for lending them the money! Chutzpah--it's an Emirati thing, apparently.

Truthdig gets to the bottom of the US's stupid celebrity "reality" obsessions, and comes up with a real nugget. Hint: It's not about reality at all, unless you're talking about the evasion thereof.

(All the same, I can't help wondering if Tiger Woods really did crash his car at low speed because he was banging this human trainwreck. Embarrassing, but can it be helped when the episode is getting saturation coverage and even in Canada, you can't get away from it? And WTF is this mytho-poetic shit?)

Finding Dulcinea waffles a bit about Chavecito's sinister Maoist cloud-seeding plan, while conceding that Venezuela IS suffering from an El Niño-induced drought, and also managing not to blame that on Big Red You Know Who OR ridicule his admonitions to conserve water and hydro power. Progress nohow contrariwise, I guess.

Only in Italy do the police drive Lamborghinis--and crash them. Too much espresso, I guesso.

Argentine same-sex wedding denied! The would-be cock-blocker: A federal judge. Undeterred, the happy couple say they'll try again tomorrow.

John Demjanjuk is trying to use his failing health to get out of being tried for crimes against humanity. One wonders if he granted any such clemency to those whom it was his job to kill on behalf of Hitler. One guesses not. (One also notes that Augusto Pinochet used a similar strategy, to great effect; he died unpunished in 2006.)

Brazil still categorically refuses to recognize the bogus election in Honduras. Lula clearly doesn't give a shit for that old good left/bad left distinction anymore.

A former Miss Argentina gives her life to illustrate why the best thing a woman can do with her butt is buy flattering clothes and leave it the hell alone. RIP, Solange Magnano.

October 7, 2009

An ironic death in Russia

From La Jornada (of Mexico) via Aporrea, an item both ironic and sobering about what has become of Russian glasnost:

Journalists, politicians and many ordinary readers of Izvestia, the daily newspaper which marked a crucial period in Russian history, attended a funeral on Tuesday for Igor Golembiovsky at Royekurovskoye cemetery.

Golembiovsky, a symbol of freedom of expression along with Yegor Yakovlev, of the weekly paper Moskovskiye Novosti, and Vitali Korotich, of the weekly Ogoniok--reached fame in the years prior to the collapse of the Soviet Union, and in the 1990s.

Golembiovsky, who died a few days after his 74th birthday, was buried in the same cemetery as Anna Politkovskaya, who was assassinated three years ago by a gunman.

But Golembiovsky, one of the architects of glasnost in the days of Mikhail Gorbachev, did not die of an assassin's bullets; his brilliant journalistic career at an end, sick and marginalized, as a victim of the market economy, the same he had always promoted as a viable alternative to socialism.

In the early 1980s, in the days of Yuri Andropov, Golembiovsky, considered a "problematic" journalist, was sent to Mexico as a correspondent for Izvestia. He lived his first exile there until, at the end of Konstantin Chernenko's reign, with Gorbachev in power, he was able to return to Moscow as bureau chief of that newspaper.

Even during his days as sub-director, in 1990, the new Communist party hierarchs, and above all the most conservative ideological wing, considered Golembiovsky "too liberal" and sent him to Spain. A few months later, he quit as correspondent and asked to return to Moscow to become a columnist for the paper.

On August 23, 1991, two days after the failed coup against Gorbachev, Golembiovsky became editor-in-chief of Izvestia, elected to the post by the same journalists and newspaper workers who, in an assembly, proclaimed themselves independent of the Supreme Soviet, which until then had financed them.

With the help of Boris Yeltsin, whose government he did not hesitate to criticize when in his opinion there were reasons, Golembiovsky led Izvestia to its golden age, with a daily press run of 11 million copies. Unlike some editors, who enriched themselves by appropriating the infrastructure inherited from the Soviet era, Golembiovsky wanted the paper to finance itself as a limited corporation, dividing earnings between journalists and workers, as well as attracting important capitalist partners who, gradually, took control of the enterprise.

In 1997 the powerful lost patience with the criticisms. Golembiovsky, true to his journalistic convictions, considered it worth reproducing an article from the French periodical, Le Monde, which attributed to the then prime minister of Russia, Viktor Chernomyrdin, an estimated personal fortune of some $5 billion US.

The permier flew into a rage and demanded that the corporations Lukoil and the Oneximbank, majority shareholders in Izvestia, fire Golembiovsky. Along with him, a number of journalists left, and a short time later, they founded Noviye Izvestia, a new paper financed by magnate Boris Berezovsky, formerly a member of Yeltsin's inner circle.

But Berezovsky came to grief in a personal confrontation with Vladimir Putin. Golembiovsky had to leave Noviye Izvestia in 2003, after the Kremlin launched a palace coup in its editorial department and several members of the old team abandoned him to his fate.

Still, Golembiovsky found the strength to start a new paper, the Russky Kurier, which soon had to close because it could not withstand the pressures of the authorities, judicial charges on all manner of pretexts, and the growing advertiser boycott launched against it.

All these battles took their toll on his health and, in 2005, after suffering an embolism, Golembiovsky became bedridden, but still remained lucid and interested in the political situation in Russia, without ever losing his irrepressible sense of irony.

As luck would have it, the funeral of Golembiovsky, always in solidarity with critical voices, would coincide with the date on which a lower-court judge in Moscow exonerated the president of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov, of all responsibility for the murder of Natalia Estemirova, a human-rights activist from the Memorial organization, kidnapped and executed in the Chechen capital city of Grozny last July 15. The director of Memorial, Oleg Orlov, accused Kadyrov of ordering Estemirova's death, and, in the face of the obvious impossibility of presenting conclusive proof, the judge ordered the organization to publish a retraction on its web page and pay Kadyrov the ruble equivalent of $2.3 million US in damages. Memorial plans to appeal the sentence.

Translation mine.

Aporrea headlined this piece as "Russian journalist, architect of glasnost, dies a victim of the market economy." I'd say that sounds about right.

RIP Igor Golembiovsky, ironic victim of the very policies he had every reason, at the time anyway, to believe would be successful. If only he had known...

September 28, 2009

Lucy is now truly "in the sky with diamonds"

From Yellow Submarine, the song.

Sadly, the "girl with kaleidoscope eyes" is gone:

Lucy Vodden, who is widely believed to be the inspiration behind The Beatles' 'Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds', has died.

Vodden, 46, had been receiving treatment for the immune system disease Lupus. She passed away last Tuesday.

'Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds' was featured on The Beatles' 1967 album 'Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band'.

Critics originally thought the track was about drug use, but John Lennon always maintained it had been inspired by a picture of Vodden drawn by his son, Julian.

He is understood to have shown his father the drawing, and said: "It's Lucy in the sky with diamonds."

The pair, who went to a nursery in Weybridge, Surrey together in 1966, reignited their friendship when Julian discovered Vodden was ill.

Here's the picture Julian drew that so enchanted John and inspired what may be the Beatles' most misunderstood song:

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Rest well, Lucy.

September 18, 2009

Quebec blogger murdered in Mexico

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One of the last pictures published on Renée Wathelet's blog, En direct des îles. "Jeux d'eau" ("water games") is from her Flickr page.

A very sad note from the Canadian blogosphere. Thanks to "Monmick", who sent me this article in French from the Montreal newspaper, La Presse:

Quebec blogger murdered in Mexico

A 60-year-old woman from Quebec was savagely murdered yesterday morning in her apartment on Isla Mujeres in Mexico. Her killer, a 24-year-old man, stabbed her at least 36 times with a knife before being arrested.

Once more, the circumstances have been ignored surrounding the ugly deed which cost the life of Renée Wathelet, who for years had been sailing between Montreal and Mexico.

The victim, born in Belgium, had decided a few months ago to settle down for good on the island, just off the coast of Yucatan.

The murder happened at her apartment, in a condominium complex facing out on the Caribbean Sea.

The suspected killer, José Joaquin Palacios, was arrested on the spot while trying to flee. According to Mexican authorities, he was not intoxicated, but may be suffering from mental health problems. Palacios appears to have claimed to have killed Mme Wathelet for personal reasons. The connections between the victim and her killer have yet to be determined.

Well-known in cyberspace, Renée Wathelet kept at least two personal blogs, endirectdesiles.com and professionnomade.com, and was a fixture on Twitter and Facebook.

The news of her death has shaken those close to her, and many members of the blogging community.

The mother of three had worked as a financial advisor. In Mexico, she was dedicated to her blogs, as well as looking after stray animals with a veterinarian friend.

This morning, one of the victim's sons prepared to leave for Mexico. According to him, his mother had interrupted a break-in as it happened. "She was a marvellous person, devoted to everyone, a pacifist. I'm going to carry out her last wishes," said her son, visibly shaken by the senseless-seeming crime.

Renée Wathelet had asked that her ashes be scattered over the sea. Passionate about her travels, the sea, and swimming, she had decided to put down roots in Mexico because of the sun and the warmth of the people, her son said.

The last contact he had had with his mother was a few days ago, when she sent him a picture taken September 15.

The death of Renée Wathelet has created a shock wave through the blogging community. "If there is one truly kind person in the blogging world, it's her. She is something like a spiritual mother to bloggers," said Michelle Blanc. She and her friends had organized a little celebration for Wathelet at her apartment in Outremont just before her departure for Mexico. "We are really in shock," Blanc said.

"I knew her as a super-humanistic person. She cared a lot about animals. I can't understand how anyone could break into her place and kill her. It's really horrible!" said Cécile Gladel, an independent journalist and blogger, who reported the death of her friend on her blogue, cecilegladel.blogspot.com.

Just before having been killed, Renée Wathelet published an entry on her blog, endirectdesiles.com, about the beach she loved. "Lost in thought, I arrive at the little cove where every morning, I take time to take time. A moment in which I can attune my breathing to the rhythm of the waves; a moment in which I look to the north, towards Montréal--hello everyone, yes I think of you every morning!"

About an hour later, she whom her friends called "the nomad", lost her life.

The suspected killer is in jail, and the police are continuing their investigation.

Translation mine.

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My thoughts go out to all she left behind. You are her footprints on the sand.

Blessed be the name of Renée, now and always.

September 8, 2009

El Ecuadorable loses security chief to flu

From Aporrea, a sad note:

Colonel John Merino, chief of security for the President of Ecuador, died today from AH1N1 flu, after 27 days in the intensive care unit of the Military Hospital in Quito.

Merino was admitted on August 10 with a grave prognosis. He had co-ordinated the security for the Unasur summit, the bicentennial celebrations of the independence of Quito, and the inauguration of Rafael Correa's second consecutive term as president, which was being celebrated that day.

Since that date, Merino remained in intensive care. According to President Correa himself, in a report on August 29, he was "between life and death."

"My security chief, an extraordinary official, Air Force Colonel John Merino, is between life and death because he went above and beyond the call of duty, to the point of imprudence," President Correa said.

Merino did not mention having symptoms of influenza, and kept on doing his job. Correa confirmed that "the chief of security was a man who worked tirelessly for the national government."

Merino, 42, died around 8:00 pm local time (1:00 GMT). He will lie in state in the Yellow Room of the presidential palace in Quito, and will be transferred tomorrow to the coastal city of Guayaquil.

The latest data from the Ministry of Health in Ecuador report that up to now, the type A flu has affected over 900 persons in Ecuador, killing 45.

Translation mine.

Condolences to Col. Merino's family, and to all of Ecuador.

August 29, 2009

Wankers of the Week: Ted Kennedy memorial edition

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This week, we honor a man who, like his brothers before him, made a career of public service. And who better to show what a public DISservice is, than those who dishonor him? Yes, folks...here are this week's public fappers, and here's this week's public thwap:

1. Andrew Fucking Breitbart. Please, people--don't get any "news" off his website, boycott his sponsors, and stay the fuck away from his Twitterings. You are feeding a booze-addled, pop-eyed, dough-bellied, frowsy-haired TROLL. Or, to quote Bitefart himself, "a special pile of human excrement". Class? Decorum? Compassion? Any virtue at all? Him no haz it.

2. Joseph Fucking Farah no haz any, either. Hairball remedy, Joe? You sound like you could use it. Also, heh.

3. And Joe, when you're done with the bottle of Hairball-B-Gone, don't forget to pass it around to these fucking conservatwits. Meghan McCain (who DOES haz class, and to spare) didn't spank those flying monkeys NEARLY hard enough.

4. Rush Fucking Limbaugh. Figures the Pigman would gloat about Sen. Kennedy dying before the healthcare reform he advocated would pass. Guess what, OxyMoron--nobody's gonna visit your grave except maybe to dance and/or piss on it. Ted, like his brothers, will get pilgrims. Dust THAT on your stinky cigar and smoke it! We wanna hear you cough and wheeze your last REAL soon. (Better still, blow an artery on the air, you fat sack of shit. I'm sure I'm not the only one who has a bottle of champagne waiting just for THAT occasion.)

5. Sarah Fucking Palin's Facebook "friends". Trollops one and all. Won't be missed when THEY are gone, either.

6. Andrew Fucking Klavan. Until now, I had never heard of this dickhead. I wish that were still the case. Oh well, another one who won't be missed when it comes time. Too bad that time won't come nearly soon enough.

7. Bob Fucking Owens, alias Confederate Yankee. Basically, shitty used-car salesman with a whiny accent, living in the North, bitter that the South ain't risin' agiiiiiiiin (and that he still ain't got hisself a brand-new barby-cue), takes out all his bilious ire on a corpse from Massachusetts. Once more, with feeling: Will not be missed, etc.

8. The Fucking Wankeress--er, sorry, I meant to type Anchoress. Say, aren't nuns supposed to take vows of poverty, chastity, and all that crap? What, then, is this one doing with a computer, ho'ing around in the wingnut blogosphere? Oh yeah: Chappafuckingquiddick. Self-righteousness blogged large. Jesus appropriately pissed. Have I said "won't be missed" yet?

9. Nick Fucking Gillespie. Someone please tell him that he just blowdried his own already feeble brains out. Ah well, won't be missed...but that vegetative state IS rather disturbing.

10. Jonah Fucking Goldberg. Srsly, who cares what the illegitimate spawn of LBJ "thinks" about anything? Won't be missed!

And in closing, I reiterate the mean thing "mauser" said at Dr. Dawg's blog. The only true bad thing anyone could say about Ted Kennedy, in my humble estimation. Sleep well, old lion.

July 18, 2009

A few random thoughts on Walter Cronkite

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Walter Cronkite announcing the death of JFK. I take off my glasses to you, sir.

A venerable man passed away this week at a venerable age. His name was Walter Cronkite, and he was 92 years old.

Some called him a "Voice of God"--which, for all its reverential implication, simply means a male news reader with a voice that sounds authoritative even when reading off a grocery list. (Canadian actor Lorne Greene--Bonanza's beloved "Pa Cartwright"--was also known as such during World War II, when he worked as a radio announcer for the CBC.)

Walter Cronkite was more than that. When he spoke, he didn't only sound authoritative--he was it. People knew when the war in Vietnam was well and truly lost for the US--it was so because Walter Cronkite took a good hard look at it and declared it unwinnable. His judgment was sound, based not only on casualty reports (the Vietnamese had several times more casualties than their enemy, but that didn't stop them) but on the fact that the US troops knew they were fighting an immoral war based on a lie. Cronkite had the guts to tell that exactly as it was.

Interestingly, he was also right about another war, although this is less well known. (I didn't find out about it till today.) Did you know that he also "called" the War on Drugs? It's true. Unfortunately, his prescience has not shaped public policy nearly as much as it has mirrored public opinion. This failed war still rages, with ugly implications for, among other places, South America. And yes, plenty of lies are being uttered in the service of it. All of them come from lesser journalists.

Interestingly, for a "Voice of God", Walter Cronkite never pretended an impartiality he didn't feel. When John F. Kennedy was killed, Cronkite took off his horn-rims and blinked in pained disbelief, clearly fighting tears. He was not afraid to show emotion, be it grief or--when the Apollo 11 lunar mission took off--jubilation. He felt no obligation to come off as a cypher in the interests of that bogus journalistic ideal, "objectivity". This, too, underscored his authority--it let the audience know it was getting the real deal. When he said "And that's they way it was...", you knew he meant it. The man was avuncular, but he was not bland.

I miss Walter Cronkite terribly. He slowly slid out of the spotlight before I took a serious interest in journalism, and that's too bad. We need more like him today. Unfortunately, the best we had was Dan Rather, and he soiled himself shamefully after 9-11. Would Walter Cronkite have choked like that? Most assuredly not. I like to think he would have followed the truth wherever it led, whomever it inconvenienced and whatever nefarious, costly agenda it would have hurt. Walter Cronkite was no liar, no sellout, no crapaganda whore. He was a journalist's journalist, and while there were precious few of them in his time, there are even fewer of them today.

How I miss him. Oh, how I miss him!

January 13, 2009

A dirty old bastard finally goes to meet his lord

And no, it ain't Jesus for this racist SOB:

William Devereux Zantzinger, the Southern Maryland tobacco farmer convicted of manslaughter in the death of barmaid Hattie Carroll in a celebrated 1963 case, died Jan. 3, according to the Brinsfield-Echols Funeral Home in Charlotte Hall. He was 69.

No cause of death was reported. His burial was today.

The victim in that case, a 51-year-old black barmaid at Baltimore's old Emerson Hotel, died after being struck with a 26-cent carnival cane used by Zantzinger after he complained that she was slow in bringing a drink he had ordered at a society ball there. Carroll, the mother of 11 children, had a history of heart problems. Zantzinger was convicted of manslaughter, fined $500 and given a six-month sentence.

His trial, held in Hagerstown at the height of the civil rights movement, was the subject of many news stories and gained national attention in a Bob Dylan song, "The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll."

Zantzinger made news again in 1991 when he charged rent for ramshackle properties he no longer owned. Charles County State's Attorney Leonard Collins charged him with one count of unfair and deceptive trade practices, accusing Zantzinger of making "false and misleading oral and written statements" in his rental arrangement with a couple who formerly lived in Patuxent Woods, a community of houses without indoor plumbing.

Zantzinger owned Patuxent Woods properties until May 1986, when the county foreclosed on the half-dozen houses because of his failure to pay more than $18,000 in property taxes and penalties. Court documents said he continued to charge residents rent, sometimes taking them to court when payments were overdue, according to court records.

Read this, and tell me if you don't think he deserved all he got and more:

According to press accounts of Zantzinger's trial, he and his wife arrived at the ball, a charity event called the Spinsters' Ball, at the Emerson Hotel on Friday evening, February 8, 1963. He was in top hat, white tie, and tails, attire with which a cane is optional. Unlike other guests, Zantzinger didn't check his cane at the door because, as he said, "I was having lots of fun with it, tapping everybody." Tapping turned to hitting; a bellboy named George Gessell said Zantzinger struck him on the arm, and a waitress named Ethel Hill said Zantzinger argued with her and struck her several times across the buttocks. At about 1:30 a.m., he ordered a drink from the bar from Hattie Carroll, one of the barmaids. When she didn't bring it immediately, he cursed at her. Carroll replied, "I'm hurrying as fast as I can." Zantzinger said, "I don't have to take that kind of shit off a nigger," and struck her on the shoulder with the cane. Soon after, Hattie Carroll said, "I feel deathly ill, that man has upset me so." She then collapsed and was taken to the hospital.

"What makes it hard to bear was that no one at the party challenged him, no one stopped him," Rev. Jessup said. "He was bold enough to behave like this in the presence of many people, and not one of them intervened. Maybe they had connections to him, maybe they came for business, or their hands were tied by who he was. But not one of those people stood up for her."

[...]

Zantzinger was sentenced in the Hattie Carroll killing on August 28, 1963. As it happened, that was the day of the March on Washington, when Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech. The New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Baltimore Sun all ran stories about the sentencing; the Times gave it a short, single-column write-up on page 15; the stories in the Post and the Sun were not much larger. None mentioned that anybody objected to the lightness of the sentence.

All three papers devoted pages and pages to the march; and it is striking, to a reader with the perspective of four decades, how blind (for want of a better word) the coverage in all three papers was. What comes through in the stories about the march is a vast relief -- shared, presumably, by the reporters, the papers' management, and their readership -- that the 200,000-plus assembled Negroes hadn't burned Washington to the ground. All three papers used the adjective "orderly" in their headlines; all reported prominently on President Kennedy's praise for the marchers' politeness and decorum. The Post and the Sun gave small notice to Dr. King, and less to what he said. Neither made much of the phrase "I have a dream." Only James Reston of the Times understood that he had witnessed a great work of oratory, but even his story veered into brow-wiping at the good manners of the Negroes.

Listening to "The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll" today, you can hear Dylan shouting against exactly this blindness. The song he wrote took a one-column, under-the-rug story and played it as big as it deserved to be. Dylan's voice sounds so young, hopeful, unjaded, noncommercial -- so far from the Victoria's Secret world of today. Even the song's title is well chosen: Before I went to Hattie Carroll's church, I hadn't quite understood why her death was "lonesome." But of course, as Rev. Jessup noted, "not one of those people stood up for her"; in a party full of elegant guests, Hattie Carroll was on her own.

At the time of his death, Bill Zantzinger was working as a foreclosure auctioneer. This man profited off the less fortunate all his life, and it's clear that he had nothing but contempt for them. Deeds speak.

Rot in hell, Zantziger...and may the demons eternally cane your worthless, sorry ass to this tune:

January 5, 2009

Spare a thought for the White House cat

Sad news, fellow cat lovers...India the White House cat is no more.

A longtime member of the Bush family died Sunday at home in the White House: a cat named India, after a favorite Texas Rangers baseball player.

The Scottish terriers Barney and Miss Beasley have been more visible first pets, with their own webcams and holiday-themed videos.

But the 18-year-old black American Shorthair had been with the Bushes since she was a kitten, giving her a decade of seniority over Barney.

Tempted to send sympathy cards to the Bushes? I dunno. Considering what that kitty had to put up with, I think she's the one who deserved the sympathy. Now she's gone where good (and long-suffering) kitties go, and I'm sure there's one heckuva reward in store for her.

Rest in peace, India Bush.

December 19, 2008

"Deep Throat" is deep-sixed

This just in...

The man once known to the world only as "Deep Throat" has died at the age of 95.

W. Mark Felt, the one-time anonymous source behind some of the key news stories that forced late president Richard Nixon to resign in the wake of the Watergate scandal, passed away in Santa Rosa, Calif. He had been suffering from congestive heart failure for several months, a family friend said.

Felt, a top FBI commander in the 1970s, provided Washington Post reporters Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward some of their most significant leads in a series of stories following what appeared to be a low-level break-in of the Democratic National Committee's headquarters at the Watergate Hotel.

With Felt's help, the reporters were able to trace the origins of the 1972 crime to the Republican White House and Nixon.

Allan Lichtman, a political historian at Washington's American University, said Felt played an indisputably important role in bringing a difficult truth forward to the American people.

Without Felt's efforts, "it's quite possible that the worst scandal in the history of the country may never have been fully probed, may never have been fully understood and Richard Nixon may have gotten away with crimes of Watergate and even served a full second term," Lichtman told CTV Newsnet in a phone interview from Washington.

If there is no reason other than this to mourn for Mark Felt, who was J. Edgar Hoover's #2 man and, like all FBI, very far to the right of normal, at least we can thank him for deep-sixing Tricky Dick's career. Some say he was bitter at not being promoted to #1 after ol' cross-dressing J. Edgar kicked the bucket in his high heels. I'm not so sure that was his motive; it seems rather petty considering the dangers he ran in collaborating with Woodward and Bernstein in exposing the true nature and extent of the Watergate burglary and the ensuing cover-up. He risked his life, his safety, that of his family, and yes, his job--and yet never publicly cashed in on his fame (or notoriety, if you will.) He very nearly took his secret to the grave, and might very well have done so if he had not chosen to reveal himself a few years ago.

Thanks, man.

December 18, 2008

An early holiday gift for the antifascist in all of us

Paul Weyrich has, at last, gone back to Satan his lord.

At his death, Weyrich was chairman and CEO of the Free Congress Foundation, a conservative think tank. His latest commentary, posted on the foundation's Web site with Thursday's date, was titled: "The next Conservatism, a Serious Agenda for the Future."

In it he wrote: "It is the worst of times because conservatives appear lost and without a serious agenda or a means of explaining such an agenda to the public." But he also "it is the best of times" because conservative thinkers are generating ideas and proposals for a 'Next Conservatism,' which will lead to substantive debate about the nation's core principles and its future direction.

Weyrich, who lived in northern Virginia, was one of three founders of the Moral Majority, and later had a hand in creating the Christian Coalition.

Hallelujah, good riddance, and may all his works soon follow him.

November 25, 2008

RIP Kenny MacLean

"Somebody Somewhere", the hit written by Kenny MacLean for Platinum Blonde, a Toronto band, in the mid-1980s. Kenny, the band's bass player from their second album onward, was found dead today of a probable heart attack. He was 52.

October 31, 2008

Bow down your heads, folks...

...a great, uppity American has passed:

Studs Terkel, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author and enduring radio-show host whose oral histories chronicled the travails and triumphs of America's working class, has died. He was 96.

Terkel died today at his home in Chicago, his son, Dan Terkel, said in an interview. "He just went very quickly and was in no pain at all,'' Dan Terkel said. "He lived a very long, full, satisfying though sometimes impetuous life.''

Born in New York, Terkel became synonymous with Chicago, the city where he moved at age 10 and rarely left. His parents ran a boarding house and a men's hotel during the Great Depression, giving the young Terkel a steady diet of the struggles of ordinary people whose stories became his life's work.

"People's everyday experience can be as profound and as compelling as any celebrity,'' said Russell Lewis, chief historian of the Chicago Historical Society, which houses many of Terkel's collected works. "Everyday experience is powerful, and Studs understood this.''

Terkel's most popular books, "Working,'' "Hard Times,'' and "The Good War,'' which earned him the Pulitzer Prize in 1985, were compilations of transcribed interviews with waitresses, truck drivers, gravediggers and prostitutes telling their own stories.

An unabashed leftist who was blacklisted during the McCarthy era, Terkel considered President Franklin D. Roosevelt a hero and credited his New Deal programs for getting the U.S. economy moving again. Terkel, who always wore a red article of clothing as a symbol of his sympathies with labor, would later rail against welfare reform and other "small government'' policies that he said hurt working Americans.

He had a website, too. The lessons he carried out of the Great Depression would be so applicable to today's situation, and I think it behooves us all to read him and learn through the voices of the ordinary people he conversed with and championed.

Rest well, Studs. You done good.

June 23, 2008

Quotable: Chris Hedges on crapaganda whoredom

"The past week was a good one if you were a courtier. We were instructed by the high priests on television over the past few days to mourn a Sunday morning talk show host, who made $5 million a year and who gave a platform to the powerful and the famous so they could spin, equivocate and lie to the nation. We were repeatedly told by these television courtiers, people like Tom Brokaw and Wolf Blitzer, that this talk show host was one of our nation's greatest journalists, as if sitting in a studio, putting on makeup and chatting with Dick Cheney or George W. Bush have much to do with journalism.

"No journalist makes $5 million a year. No journalist has a comfortable, cozy relationship with the powerful. No journalist believes that acting as a conduit, or a stenographer, for the powerful is a primary part of his or her calling. Those in power fear and dislike real journalists. Ask Seymour Hersh and Amy Goodman how often Bush or Cheney has invited them to dinner at the White House or offered them an interview.

"All governments lie, as I.F. Stone pointed out, and it is the job of the journalist to do the hard, tedious reporting to shine a light on these lies. It is the job of courtiers, those on television playing the role of journalists, to feed off the scraps tossed to them by the powerful and never question the system. In the slang of the profession, these television courtiers are 'throats.' These courtiers, including the late Tim Russert, never gave a voice to credible critics in the buildup to the war against Iraq. They were too busy playing their roles as red-blooded American patriots. They never fought back in their public forums against the steady erosion of our civil liberties and the trashing of our Constitution. These courtiers blindly accept the administration's current propaganda to justify an attack on Iran. They parrot this propaganda. They dare not defy the corporate state. The corporations that employ them make them famous and rich. It is their Faustian pact. No class of courtiers, from the eunuchs behind Manchus in the 19th century to the Baghdad caliphs of the Abbasid caliphate, has ever transformed itself into a responsible elite."

--Chris Hedges, "The Hedonists of Power"

May 6, 2008

She didn't set out to be an uppity woman...

...but Mildred Loving, just by marrying her childhood sweetheart, broke a color barrier fifty years ago:

Loving and her white husband, Richard, changed history in 1967 when the U.S. Supreme Court upheld their right to marry. The ruling struck down laws banning racially mixed marriages in at least 17 states.

"There can be no doubt that restricting the freedom to marry solely because of racial classifications violates the central meaning of the equal protection clause," the court ruled in a unanimous decision.

Her husband died in 1975. Shy and soft-spoken, Loving shunned publicity and in a rare interview with The Associated Press last June, insisted she never wanted to be a hero — just a bride.

"It wasn't my doing," Loving said. "It was God's work."

One can credit whomever one wants. But whether she saw a loose brick and kicked it deliberately, as Rosa Parks did, or whether she dislodged it just by stumbling across it--Mildred Loving, she of the appropriate married surname, brought down a wall which was shoddily built, served an immoral purpose, and could no longer be allowed to stand.

She will be missed.

April 10, 2008

It wasn't the coroner, it was the kitteh

Kitty pries gun from Charlton Heston's cold dead hands

I guess now we know who's mightier than the NRA's late shill.

And frankly, a cute widdle orange tabby kitteh is more to be trusted with a firearm than any old racist far-right demento who ran away from a picture of a little girl killed by a gun-totin' classmate.

January 9, 2008

Philip Agee has died

And of course, since this happened in Cuba, we only get to hear about it after the fact...

Former CIA agent Philip Agee, a critic of U.S. foreign policy who infuriated American intelligence officials by naming purported agency operatives in a 1975 book, has died, state media reported Wednesday. He was 72.

Agee quit the CIA in 1969 after 12 years working mostly in Latin America at a time when leftist movements were gaining prominence and sympathizers. His 1975 book "Inside the Company: CIA Diary," cited alleged CIA misdeeds against leftists in the region and included a 22-page list of purported agency operatives.

[...]

Agee's U.S. passport was revoked in 1979. U.S. officials said he had threatened national security. After years of living in Hamburg, Germany — occasionally underground, fearing CIA retribution — Agee moved to Havana to open a travel Web site.

The site, cubalinda.com, is designed to bring U.S. tourists to Cuba, offering package tours and other help that is largely off-limits to Americans because of the U.S. trade embargo. Agee opened the site in 2000 with European investors and a state-run travel agent as his partners.

There was no mention of Agee's death on the site Wednesday.

Continue reading "Philip Agee has died" »

September 23, 2007

And now, a moment of silence...

...for Marcel Marceau, who said so much without uttering a peep.

Continue reading "And now, a moment of silence..." »

September 7, 2007

Madeleine L'Engle has tessered

A splendid 88-year wrinkle in time has, alas, come to an end.

Author Madeleine L'Engle, whose novel "A Wrinkle in Time" has been enjoyed by generations of schoolchildren and adults since the 1960s, has died, her publicist said Friday. She was 88. L'Engle died Thursday at a nursing home in Litchfield of natural causes, according to Jennifer Doerr, publicity manager for publisher Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Continue reading "Madeleine L'Engle has tessered" »

September 6, 2007

Addio, Luciano...

Today, we have lost a Caruso.

Nessun dorma.

Arrivederci, maestro. Mille grazie.

August 20, 2007

The Queen of Mean has left the scene

Who mourns for thee, Mrs. Helmsley? Not me.

US property tycoon Leona Helmsley, who was famously quoted as saying "only the little people pay taxes", and was later jailed for tax evasion, has died at 87.

Mrs Helmsley died of heart failure at her summer home in Greenwich, Connecticut, her publicist said.

Continue reading "The Queen of Mean has left the scene" »

June 14, 2007

Kurt Waldheim ist kaputt

Bim, bam.

Gott sei dank, jetzt ist die Welt um einen Nazi-Mistbock leichter. Nur schade, dass es so lange gedauert hat...

Continue reading "Kurt Waldheim ist kaputt" »

May 15, 2007

Jerry Falwell has gone to hell

Ding dong.

April 15, 2007

June Callwood has died

I really have nothing to say that her obit in the Toronto Star could not say better about this remarkable woman, activist and writer.

Sleep well, June.

April 12, 2007

God Bless You, Mr. Funnyguts

From the wires, a sad but not unexpected item about one of my favorite all-time writers:

American literary idol Kurt Vonnegut, best known for such classic novels as "Slaughterhouse-Five" and "Cat's Cradle," died on Tuesday night in Manhattan at age 84, The New York Times reported on Wednesday.

Continue reading "God Bless You, Mr. Funnyguts" »

March 10, 2007

I closed my eyes and I slipped away...

RIP, Brad Delp, lead singer of Boston.

Here he is, making "More Than a Feeling" unforgettable:

January 31, 2007

Quotable: Molly Ivins' famous last (published) words

"We are the people who run this country.

We are the deciders. And every single day,

every single one of us needs to step outside

and take some action to help stop this war."

--Molly Ivins, sorely and sadly missed

January 6, 2007

Farewell, Mr. Noodle...

If long noodles bring long life, as the Chinese proverb insists, then Momofuku Ando has certainly proved that right. He was 96 when the Great Noodle Factory in the Sky called him home.

Mr Ando said the inspiration for his product came when he saw people lining up to buy bowls of hot ramen noodle soup at a black market stall during the food shortages after World War II.

He developed his first instant noodles, Chicken Ramen, in 1958.

Continue reading "Farewell, Mr. Noodle..." »

July 6, 2006

Make those hellfires extra hot now

Just heard the news at the top of the hour on Air America. Seems Kenny Boy, even in death, has managed to skate away from justice:

Former Enron CEO Ken Lay maintained throughout his fraud and conspiracy trial that he was an innocent man — a man who never should have been charged, never should have been indicted, and certainly never should have been convicted. After his death from a heart attack early Wednesday, it's almost as if he wasn't. Legally, his case died with him.

By law, Lay had a constitutional right to participate in his criminal appeal. And since he's no longer alive to help his attorneys prepare, the case will be "extinguished" — as if it never happened, explains Houston attorney Joel Androphy, author of the textbook White Collar Crime. "It's as if he was never charged and convicted," says Androphy. "This is the law. There may have been a moral victory for the government, but there's no longer a legal victory."

Continue reading "Make those hellfires extra hot now" »

July 5, 2006

Stoke up the fires of hell...

...because one big weenie is comin' right down!

Enron Corp. founder Kenneth Lay, who was convicted of helping perpetuate one of the most sprawling business frauds in U.S. history, died Wednesday of a heart attack in Colorado. He was 64.

The Pitkin, Colo., Sheriff's Department said officers were called to Lay's house in Old Snowmass, Colo., shortly after 1 a.m. Mountain time. He was taken to Aspen Valley Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 3:11 a.m. Lay, who lived in Houston, frequently vacationed in Colorado.

Continue reading "Stoke up the fires of hell..." »

June 15, 2006

We now pause for the following announcement...

The Pentagon has just informed the world that the 2,500th US military death in the Iraq pillage has occurred.

That's right: 2,500 dead US military for the sake of a lie. And OIL.

And in the meantime, there's no end in sight.

The Unknown Soldier is dead. Long live the Big Lie.

March 28, 2006

Stanislaw Lem, R.I.P.

From the Beeb:

Polish author Stanislaw Lem, most famous for science fiction works including Solaris, has died aged 84, after suffering from heart disease.

He sold more than 27 million copies of his works, translated into about 40 languages, and a number were filmed.

His 1961 novel Solaris was made into a movie by Russian director Andrei Tarkovsky in 1971 and again by American Steven Soderbergh in 2002.

Continue reading "Stanislaw Lem, R.I.P." »

March 22, 2006

Another 9-11 first responder has died

And if you guess correctly what she died of, you win a hunk of asbestos-ridden rubble from Ground Zero:

A 41-year-old paramedic who worked at a morgue for months after the Sept. 11, 2001, attack on the World Trade Center was buried Monday after dying of an asbestos-related cancer.

Continue reading "Another 9-11 first responder has died" »

February 22, 2006

Laurel Hester, R.I.P.

I won't blog too much on her today, as I didn't know her personally. I will, however, point you to her obits at Salon.com, The Big Gay Picture, and the New York Times, as well as my previous entry on her plight, written around Yule.

I'm glad her story has a (somewhat) happy ending, though: Laurel has gone to her rest knowing that her partner, Stacie Andree, can legally inherit her pension benefits and her home, as Laurel wished.

The larger implications for same-sex couples should go without saying. But I can guarandamntee that some people won't get that message unless it gets said over, and over, and over again. Which is why Laurel's case sets a vital precedent.

Even in death, a person can still accomplish so much. There's a lesson there for the living, I'm sure.

April 11, 2005

Andrea Dworkin has died

Unlike a lot of feminists who've taken a hard stand on Andrea Dworkin, I refuse to; I neither adore nor revile her. I prefer this even-handed account of her life, as reported by the UK Guardian, over the dogmatic proclamations that she was either a messiah, or a hopeless man-hater. She was neither. She was, however, an important and trail-blazing feminist writer--love or loathe her. Or, as I do, appreciate her sharp perceptions for all their considerable worth, but don't take her extremes too much to heart. She certainly deserved all the recognition she got and then some, because she got us talking about the ways sex is used and abused in the oppression of women. Give her credit for that much, even if, like me, you're not too thrilled with the final direction her work took.

BTW, Susie Bright has a surprisingly warm obit for her on her blog. She may well be the last person you'd expect to feel that way about Andrea Dworkin. But read the piece, and you'll get some inkling as to why she can't really disparage her old mentor/nemesis too much. Who could, if they had anything even vaguely resembling a heart? Dworkin's life, her activism, even her excesses, all stand as cautionary tales of where the collective lack of heart in our society can lead a person awry. In the end, she deserves empathy. It certainly sounds like she could have used it.

As for me, unlike Susie Bright, I can't give Dworkin credit with interesting me in the erotic; that honor goes to Cosmopolitan (in the grand old days of Helen Gurley Brown) and Nancy Friday. But I will give her credit for alerting me to the ways, subtle and not-so-, that the erotic can and will be used against unwary women. And surely that is a salutory lesson even for the most avid pro-sex feminist.