BLOTTER 9

Oh, criminals and cranks, drunks and delinquents, thank you for your never-ending service in providing me with guffaws. Welcome to another POLICE BLOTTER ROUND-UP!

MY GOD, THE HORROR

Disturbance: A male salon worker at a Medina business became irritated when a female customer would not make eye contact with him as he was working on her nails March 16. Police responded to the disturbance. Another employee finished the woman’s nails.

Loss: A Birch Hill apartment resident informed police on March 4 that she had lost her phone charger. Police did not determine that to be a pressing issue, so no investigation is imminent.

Paint: While in a tunnel near Springbrook Drive March 6, several juveniles noticed some splatter on the wall of the tunnel around 2:50 p.m. Police responded and determined it was paint. Everything was deemed okay.

Vandalism: On Middle Road, a homeowner found an obscene word penned on their home in very small lettering.

Noise: A man on Highway 2 East was invited to lower the volume of his music.

OM…

Assault: 11:52 p.m., 5400 block of Lakemont Boulevard Southeast. Subjects were engaged in a verbal argument over cultural issues. The argument resulted in mutual simple assault.

Disorderly Conduct: An argument between a couple ended with police referring both of them on charges of disorderly conduct.

According to the police report, officers were summoned to a residence in the 900 block of Westover Avenue at 1:30 a.m. for a physical incident. When officers arrived they made contact with a 41-year-old man and observed that his shirt was ripped around the collar.

The man told police that the woman was upset that someone in the family had been involved in an accident. When he arrived home from work, she sent him out to buy alcohol even though she was taking medication for a back problem.

He returned with a bottle of wine and two 32-ounce cans of beer. She consumed the bottle of wine, and he drank the beers. According to the police report, the man wanted the night to end romantically and she began to talk about the family member who was in the accident. The man told her to worry about their own problems, not things they can't control.

The man alleges she then hit him in the face twice with an open hand and ripped his shirt and that he pushed her and she fell. The woman was transported to Oconomowoc Memorial Hospital for neck pain incurred from the fall.

UM…

Animal Control
: A concerned citizen called to report that a mountain lion was sitting on the fence at the county landfill. Fortunately, the feline was actually dead and posed no danger to dump patrons.

Suspicious: Someone in Martin City claimed that it appeared that blood was coming from the attic of their home. Deputies arrived to find that the “blood” was in fact maple syrup on the floor.

HAND JIVE

Obscenity
: A drunk woman at a N. Court St. bar allegedly used her hands to show her distaste for police on March 17. No citations were reported.

Threatening Behavior: A local man claims that another individual came into his business and made threatening hand gestures.

MESSY MESSY MESSY

Vandalism
: The owner of a Lafayette Road storage unit told police that someone had left a used condom on the lock of the door sometime on March 18 or 19. The man wanted to report the incident.

Mischief: Several suspects allegedly rang the doorbell to an Old Farm Trail home around 10:30 p.m. March 20 and ran away. As they fled, the individuals threw a plastic bag, which contained feces, at the exterior of the house. Police could not locate the suspects.

Vandalism: Unknown assailants squirted mustard and Italian dressing all over a 2003 Toyota Camry that was parked at a Highland Avenue residence.

Vandalism: Someone on Maple Drive apparently found a prophylactic implement along with a suggestive note in their mailbox. Authorities are investigating.

CRIMINAL WORD PLAY


Underage Drinking
: Police cited Edward Shoning, 20, of 113 Lakeview Court, and Adrian K. Mikelonis, 20, of W260 N2972 Steeplechase Drive, City of Pewaukee, for underage drinking March 13.

According to the report, an officer saw the two leave the Pickled Egg, 215 Oakton Ave., at about 2:20 a.m. As the officer drove by, he saw Shoning attempting to hide behind a trailer. The officer stopped and approached the two and found they had been drinking.

Shoplifting: Store security at Walmart, 250 Wolf Run, observed Holi Smart, 47, of Dousman removing various food items, toiletries, cat food and glass-type gems from their packaging and placing them into shopping bags at about 4:30 p.m. March 5. Smart was stopped outside the store by security and was arrested and cited for retail theft. The items were valued at $108.20.

MAD MEN

Distress: According to a caller, a man pushing a vehicle on Highway 206 looked like he was in distress. His bad mood was found to be a direct result of his broken-down vehicle.

Disturbance: Walking eastbound on Highway 2 East, an older male subject was reportedly yelling and exhibiting obnoxious behavior. Officers visited with him and he went home.

Slur: An Oak St. resident informed police that an individual drove by the home in a truck on March 12 and shouted a derogatory term out the window at the man. The driver of the truck did not stop, and nothing else was said. The resident merely wanted to document the incident.

Distress: A possibly suicidal man on Highway 35 was not in fact suicidal. Authorities contacted him and found that he was on his way to dinner.

EASTER BUNNIES GONE BAD?

Mischief: Subjects in a mud-covered vehicle allegedly chucked eggs at people on East Evergreen Drive. Police could not locate the individuals.

MY LOCAL AMERICAN IDOL CRIME


Speeding: Former American Idol contestant and Federal Way resident Sanjaya Malakar apparently can't drive 55. He was caught going 50 miles over the posted speed limit early Tuesday morning on I-405 through Kirkland. Malakar, who was a contestant on season six of the popular reality show and was famous for his hair style and voice, was issued a ticket for $411 from the Washington State Patrol for going 110 mph near the N.E. 85th Street exit in the south-bound direction at approximately 2:30 a.m. Malakar was driving a blue 2008 Mazda 6 so fast it took the Patrolman nearly three miles to catch up and pull him over. No drugs or alcohol were found during the stop and Malakar was not arrested for reckless endangerment, as there were no other vehicles in the area at the time.

And my very favorite…

LA LLAMA!

Animal Control: A resident of North Ferndale Drive called to ask questions regarding a neighbor’s dead llama.

Animal Control: Officers left a notice at the home of a dead llama on Ferndale Drive. It is unknown how the creature died.

Animal Control
: A resident of North Ferndale Drive called to ask questions regarding a neighbor who was evidently burning a dead llama.

CONJECTURE CE QUI?

I don't know why the car rides home from school provoke mid-20th Century European surrealism in my children.

Mr12: Guess what?

MissSeven: Does this have something to do with Canadian trivia?

Mr12: No.

MissSeven: Does this have something to do with French trivia?

Mr12: No!

MissSeven: What about mucus, does it have anything to do with mucus?

Mr12: No.

MissSeven: People falling off of buildings into a huge cake?

Mr12: That's never happened.

MissSeven: You don't know that for sure! Mommmmmmm! Tell him that!

Me: I have no idea.

Mr12: See??

MissSeven: FRANCE!!!!

MARI WORTH

You should at all times strive to be worthy of the praise you receive from those you respect, love, honor, and admire. However, you should never base your worth upon praise from others. It's your thang, do what chu wanna do.

That's what I am telling you, and I don't even care if someone else said it first. Mine now, bitches.



PANTY HAG! PANTY HAG!

MORE magazine, for those of us women over 40 it says, is making suggestions on How Not To Look Old when you put on clothing. My personal feeling is that if you can't figure that out for yourself you probably need cataract surgery or are old enough to happily not give a shit either way. Anyway, look at this screencap from one of their online features:



That's right, Visible Panty Lines = HAG. Hag Ass, not the Scottish delicacy mind you, is something to be avoided at ALL COSTS.

ALL, huh? OK. These ideas have a tendency to be taken globally, you know.




GOING GOING GONE POSTAL

I have a fondness for the United States Postal Service – it runs in my family. Both my grandfather and my great-grandfather were rural mail carriers in Wisconsin, and one of my aunts and some of her kids still work at the USPS. My grandfather, born in 1887, had retired a few years before I was born but I heard stories of how he started out delivering the mail in a horse and buggy, the day he graduated to a Model T, and how he felt it was his solemn duty to honor the idea “In rain or in snow or in sleet or in hail / the U.S. Mail will never fail.” Imagine the fun of driving a horse and buggy through Wisconsin winters…man. My family was proud of their service in the post office; it was seen as honorable, steady, valuable work. No one got rich as a mailman, but no one went hungry either. This was particularly noted by my dad as he went through his teen years during the Great Depression and never forgot all those men who could not find work while his dad went out before dawn six mornings each week, every year, to sort and deliver all kinds of letters and packages over miles and miles of farmland. They had a nice white-frame two-story home, good food on the table, and the respect of the people in their small town, which was a fair amount of riches, if you think about it.

Prior to the days of Le Internete and email and the expansion of UPS and FedEx and such, your regular mail service was pretty much it. Mail was important and EXCITING, and was sometimes the only way to receive your information or goods. When I was a kid getting a letter or a birthday present wrapped in brown paper and twine was so thrilling, delivered by a mail carrier who knew how special that was, and who would wish me a happy birthday as well. Later on, I would get rock records from collector stores in Sweden or Germany, a cassette tape of a live concert I could never have attended, or some photos from a friend who moved far away. An empty mailbox was always a little disappointing; a full one likely to hold something that would make my day.

But when you mention the post office now, or anytime in the last 30 years or so, you are more likely to get back tales of long lines, spotty service, stolen mail, rising rates, and surly clerks. When I lived in Chicago in the ‘80s, I would dread having to go to the post office where I lived in Lincoln Park – WORST CLERKS EVER. Oh my god, this place surely generated the whole “going postal” expression. You would wait and wait and wait and wait, while they all waddled around at their leisure, scowling, rude, incompetent, sometimes just SITTING THERE DOING ABSOLUTELY NOTHING AT ALL GLARING AT PEOPLE while the service line went out the door. Apparently, it has not improved since then, as I peruse some recent online ratings of that particular branch:

“The worst I've ever seen...and I've seen a lot. This post office just seems to have given up. They don't care. Or maybe they're just so overwhelmed that they've become numb.”

“Mail arrives late if at all, mailman doesn't bother to sort mail for separate apartments-just jams everything in one box and leaves. I had important tax documents sent certified mail and they never arrived but they had no problem listing them online as 'delivered'. My signature was REQUIRED and they just didn't even bother delivering it! Oh, and they don't answer the phone. This place is the worst example of government waste I can think of. These people have no sense of work ethic or pride in what they do-simply collect paychecks like welfare handouts.”

“I only talked to an employee on the phone because my "priority shipped" book for school didn't come in for two weeks! She was so rude I finally got mad enough to hang up!”

“Sent my request on 10/27/08 to have mail forwarded from this post office to my new home. It's Thanksgiving eve and I have yet to receive my mail. Thanks Lincoln Park Post Office!”

“Same thing for me, thank God my realtor sends me huge envelopes of my mail every other week!!! Thanks 60614 Post Office!! You give public service people such good names! I can't wait for you to steal my Bears tickets again.”

There were lots more, too, all saying the same stuff. It’s the kind of thing that makes peoople push for the mail service to move completely out of the government’s hands to private companies. The USPS has been bleeding money for many years now, and it's currently waiting for approval to move from six-day delivery to five-day. (It used to be seven-day delivery, which ended in 1912 when religious leaders complained about folks being more interested in what was happening at their local P.O. rather than their Sunday services, by the way.) It seems inevitable that at some point the gubment will drop the USPS. Since the postal monopoly is a Constitutional issue, Congress would have to approve the bail. I can see some very immediate problems. There is no profit to bring mail service to difficult-to-reach places, so your Appalachian hermit, bizarre islander, and rural Wisconsinite would probably lose service completely, or pay outrageous fees to keep getting birthday cards from Aunt Louise. Your mailbox, now only accessible to the USPS and criminals, would be stuffed daily with paper spam and firecrackers. “Al’s Friendly Postal Service” could maybe give you some great shipping rates, and then one day abscond with all the packages and you’d never be able to track down “Al” or your package that was never delivered to Aunt Louise, and then she would be mad and never send you a birthday card which you couldn’t afford to accept delivery of anyway.

There is a trust that we place in the United States Postal Service, as quaintly old-fashioned as that might seem. We expect them to provide good service to all citizens, regardless of income or location, and we have faith that the privacy of our correspondence will be respected, and our stuff will not be stolen. We do expect that sometimes our magazines will be pre-read on a mail carrier’s break. Perhaps the answer to the USPS's financial troubles is to keep looking into using already well-established private services like FedEx more extensively as subcontractors, streamlining service, and closing the Lincoln Park Post Office FOREVER, or re-establishing it as The Museum of Governmental Horrors.

I think my great-grandfather and my grandfather would approve of Archie, my current mail carrier. He always delivers the mail on time, sometimes bringing it to the door if it won’t fit in the mailbox or he thinks it might get wet from the rain, always bringing a big smile as well. He always asks how I am and calls me by my first name. When I pass him in his mail truck, often when I am headed out to pick up the kids in the afternoon, he never fails to wave. Archie reminds me of the days long past when your mail carrier was someone who became a bit of a family friend, having seen you every day for years delivering both good news and bad, a part of your world, and someone who always respected the responsibility of that.

I hope the United States Postal Service can find its way to self-sustaining health; after all, anything the super-awesome Ben Franklin helped set up can’t be all bad, huh?

COOLEST. PHOTOSHOP. TOOL. EVER.

OMG, I just saw this for Photoshop CS5 and went GAHHHHHHHH and WOW and OOH! If you use Photoshop, this is going to save you a WHOLE LOT OF TIME with object removal and background continuities. LOOKEE:



Now. If you don't have the $$$ to upgrade to CS5, check this out, from the free GIMP program:



Not quite as elegant as Photoshop, but pretty darn good. Either way, HURRAY!!!!

YOINK2

Every single time I wear this cropped hoodie from Free People -- every single time -- one of the sleeves gets caught on a door handle and I get yanked backwards, hard, like a cowboy's lasso on a runaway calf.



A fashion item with a built-in sense of physical comedy.

THE RULES OF THE GAMES

In case you didn't know, here you go.

YOUR PRETTY FACE IS GOING TO SELL

It would have made an excellent black comedy. The leaders of a political party, having taken a beating from 8 years of their president's clownish buffoonery that led to intractable wars and world economic collapse, are desperate to find a new leader to re-energize their ranks. Their situation is so dire that many of the fold defected to elect a black liberal president, and this cannot stand.

It's hard for folks out of work and scared of losing even more to relate to millionaire white lawyers. So...who to prop up in place as the new figurehead of hate, division, fear, and intolerance? Ah ha! A 40-watt lightbulb snaps on.

Make it a woman. Make it a good-looking woman. Make it a good-looking woman with a family. Make the family seem more down-to-earth by including a special-needs infant and a pregnant teenager. Make the woman not too smart; people don't like women who seem bright and therefore uppity and harsh. Put some glasses on the woman and put her hair up so she seems not quite as dumb as she actually is. Give her a gun or two because that makes her seem strong and guys like chicks holding guns.

Give her all the old, tired, and easy-to-remember rabble-rousing cliches to use like "take back our country," "Washington has broken faith with the people that they are to be serving," "big government, big debt," "common sense conservative values," "elites in Washington," and "media lies." Have her keep repeating them in a loop, completely ignoring that her party is supposed to serve all people, not just some, that her party's leaders ran up the national debt at the highest rates yet, that most in her party are in fact elites in Washington, and have plenty of their own "fair and balanced" media outlets to spew falsehoods.

Have her remind people that it is simply not acceptable to have others avail themselves of the democratic process. There is only one right way, she must say, because people hate to be confused with complexity, shades of gray, and long, difficult rebuilding. It's far easier to blame and divide and stereotype others, to take advantage of ever-present bubbling and barely-concealed racism, and to completely gloss over the fact that a broken health care system was ensuring sick and destitute lives for millions of citizens, both employed and unemployed, poor or once-well-off, as medical bills started pouring in past what any insurance would ever pay.

Yes, this would have been a most wicked film farce. However, those running the theater popcorn concession be forewarned -- those popping kernels might be mistaken for gunshots.

WHAM GLAM THANK YOU MA'AM: SEATTLE ROCK ORCHESTRA DOES DAVID BOWIE AT THE MOORE

The conductor held up his baton, and made eye contact with those in his orchestra most key to beginning the piece of music, then began his count-in, “…One, two, three…”

“FFRRHONKK!”

Groans from all, another frustrated frown from the conductor. A ready young comedian standing at a snare drum delivered a quick rimshot directed sarcastically towards the red-faced saxophonist who, once again, jumped the gun.

Eighth-grade band practice, 1975. Most days, taken up by teaching the assorted young musicians how to play nicely together, how to manage timing and pitch and dynamics, and the conductor yelling at the drum section to settle down back there. The comedian, none other than yours truly, one day after practice borrowed an LP from Maureen, who played the flute. It was David Bowie’s “Aladdin Sane,” and I kept it on my turntable for almost a full year. Maureen was very nice about that, too, when she finally asked for its return.

This was the memory that came back to me yesterday night as I sat in the Moore Theater (courtesy a ticket giveaway from the wonderful KEXP—thank you!), watching the Seattle Rock Orchestra and several excellent guest vocalists perform “A Tribute To David Bowie.” The combination of Bowie’s early-‘70s glam rock period songs and a traditional orchestra is not such a funny mix, although some might raise an eyebrow. So many of his songs have that orchestral grandness to them, with sweeping emotions and terrifically-intelligent construction. Almost all truly great pop songs can well handle nearly any interpretation: sparse, layered, or wildly out of their genres. What is so good about them always remains. And if you poke around a bit, you will find many rock musicians who first learned to play an instrument in their school bands. Imagine little Gwen Stefani on flute, Steven Tyler and Flea on trumpet, Peter Hayes and Nelly Furtado on trombone, Aretha Franklin on tuba, and Tommy Lee and Trent Reznor back there in the percussion section, no doubt delivering rimshots. And of course, David Bowie’s first instrument was…the saxophone! It is not at all uncommon to find your shredding guitarist was once squawking away on a tiny violin, or your glamorous rock vocalist was once Queen of the Bassoon.

After seeing this teaser promo clip from the SRO, I was confident that their take on Bowie would be solid. Good buzz and a lot of nice advance press brought out an enthusiastic crowd to the Moore, with a bit of a fashion nod to Bowie noted as well. I wore my silver high-heeled sneakers.





As the show opened strongly with “Five Years,” I thought about my own early days in band and how much time was spent just teaching us all how to play together. The Seattle Rock Orchestra has managed to do something rather extraordinary in bringing together assorted Seattle-area musicians, both professional and amateur, all unpaid, all united in their love for all kinds of music and the desire to play. Do you know how hard it is just to co-ordinate getting 70+ people in one space even once, much less have them all coalesce on a new musical project?? Hats off to director/conductor/bassist Scott Teske, who has in a short 18 months made the Seattle Rock Orchestra a delightful and welcome addition to our already-rich musical community. Add in a guest choir of 30 happily-swaying singers, and that is a lot of people on one stage, for one night. It is a measure of the talent of the performers and Teske’s leadership that the evening was such a success.



I had wondered about the vocalists selected for the performance, as I was only familiar with one, Jon Auer of the legendary power-pop band the Posies. Would they try to sound like Bowie? Would they try to sound very different from him, or re-stylize the melodies? I think there is a distinction within the title given to the evening: “A Tribute To David Bowie.” If you are simply playing covers of someone else’s work, your audience wants to hear as faithful a reproduction as you can manage, down to the last note and a scarlet-red shag wig. A “tribute” to me means raising the bar higher, saying you wish to honor the songs by not only doing them well and faithfully, but adding your own talents and interpretations into the mix a bit more. It is something like saying to the artist, “I love your songs. This is how they came into me, how they changed me, and this is how I can bring that out again to show you.” It’s a valuable thing, and it was definitely expressed by Teske, the orchestra members, and the vocalists during the evening. Londoner-turned-Seattleite Tom Beecham (The Raggedy Anns) was the closest in vocal and physical resemblance to Bowie, but Jon Auer, David Terry (Aqueduct), Tim Kelly (Discs of Fury), Ian Williams (The Thoughts), and Alessandra Rose (The Kindness Kind) all did fine jobs with the material. The only real falter in the night was in the two songs done by Nouela Johnston (People Eating People) – both were simply past her range, the high notes falling flat despite her forceful push to make them otherwise. She seemed out-of-place in the evening for it, and would have fared much better given songs that would have highlighted the soulful smoky quality of her voice, rather than the shortcomings.

I especially loved the re-arrangement of what is probably my favorite David Bowie song, “Heroes.” It was simple and folky, just hovering under jaunty, with a quiet electric chug behind it and a passionate and sharp vocal from Ian Williams. The original version was all cold electronic angst, with Bowie’s desperate yelping, almost-operatic style underscoring the fatalism and longing in the lyrics. The SRO spins it, years later, into a sadness that contains more of a wistful, bittersweet smile, somehow less tragic and more accepting of loss. It is a wonderful example of “tribute” that added something unique and cool to something that is already a classic. You can hear this version of “Heroes” as performed in KEXP’s studios this week right here, along with “Moonage Daydream” (featuring Jon Auer), “Oh! You Pretty Things” (featuring Alessandra Rose), and “The Man Who Sold the World” (featuring David Terry).

EDIT 4/14/10: KEXP has put up the in-studio video here, and here's "Heroes!"



Killer perfect vocals of the night went to Jon Auer. What a beautiful voice he has. Here he is during the encore with “Quicksand.” Visual quality is so-so from Row T, but the sound is purty good.



Last song of the night went to Alessandra Rose with “Life On Mars?” Her singing is slightly mannered to me, in that nouveau-Billie Holiday-quirky way that is hot now in the indie world, but no matter. She hit those big notes strong and well and she added a lot of fun to the night.



At one point in the evening, I imagined David Bowie sitting in one of the ornate balcony box seats watching the performance, and I thought, yes, he would be pleased, charmed, and maybe even a little verklempt – all these people coming together to play from so many different backgrounds, nodding their heads and smiling, all for the love of the songs he wrote. And not a single “FFRRHONKK!” Pretty cool.

Thank you, SRO and guests, for a lovely night.

ZERO EFFORT NEWS SUMMARY

This I do for you, because I know you are all too busy and such to read things that aren’t about vampires or people with multiple tattoos. Here’s what’s going on in the world today, says CNN:

* Donny Osmond doesn’t care for the sex and violence in Lady Gaga and Beyonce’s new video, and in defiance Beyonce is reportedly not pregnant.

* Shockingly, gay teens are harassed in Mississippi. The military beckons now.

* Cooking food for kids is better than stuffing them full of McDonald’s or Otter Pops.

* People died in places where there are active wars going on.

* Jesse James liked the Tiger Woods model of marriage.

* A guy who likes to think for a living says “imagine no religion” and the Vatican doesn’t like people saying bad stuff about abusive pedophile priests.

* Killer bees and Mexican drug cartels are pushing north into the U.S., possibly in tandem.

* Roger Ebert’s old TV show got canceled and Sarah Palin got a new TV show, unfortunately not called “I Am Even Worse For Alaska Than The Exxon Valdez.”

* While most of Korea is busy playing internet games, one of its Navy ships is sinking to its watery demise.

* Drunken teenagers wrecked a house, and Dr. Gupta says brain injuries in children can be serious.

* Dennis Hopper is getting a star on Hollywood Boulevard, so he can die in peace knowing that new generations will be able to walk, spit, and crush cigarettes out on his name in the sidewalk for years to come.

* There was an election in Iraq that probably won’t turn out so well for some guys.

* A former model now has something to do with drugs; a woman who lost 100 pounds is now not a model.

Now go back to whatever it is you are supposed to be doing. Especially you, Korea.

LADIES! THIS WAY TO THE BACK ALLEY!

Of course. Of course, the new health care bill was NEVER going to be passed unless the “no federal money for abortions” restriction remained in place. There are too many Stupidpaks in government that would make sure of that. Obama had to sell out some to save the others, and it was never going to be any different at this point. But let us remind everyone what that means, the bottom line: that sexually-active women of reproductive age have fewer legal rights than others in the United States. That’s a whole lot of disrespected citizens. Yet, it is accepted, and the ramifications are profound.

Pro-lifers don’t want their tax dollars financing abortions. Just why it should be an issue is moot to me – after all, abortion is a legal medical procedure here, and we as citizens are not allowed to withhold tax money because we don’t like the school system or don’t want a new highway or whatever, right? Gee, I would rather not have MY tax dollars go to those who spend their lives smoking, abusing all kinds of substances like alcohol, drugs, or food, knowingly compromising their current and future health, yet are totally able to access government funds for their inevitable treatment if they financially qualify. But again, that’s not up to me. I don’t have control over the choices other people make, and I don’t expect to. Them’s the breaks, and it is my duty as a citizen to accept that.

But with abortion…ah, we have the religious input and the ethical dilemma and the difficulty, for many on any side of the issue, about when human life begins, how the right to privacy plays out, and who decides the fate of a woman and something that could be a clump of dividing cells to one person and a divine gift to another. And none of that should matter when it comes to the government divvying out health care access. As long as abortion is a LEGAL MEDICAL PROCEDURE, there is absolutely NO credible basis to deny it to any woman for any reason. None. Strong pro-life FEELINGS should not be able to infiltrate into government, morphing into the bullying nightmare that has resulted in the fact that in 2010, women are still second-class citizens, especially those who are saddled with the double burden of being poor and female.

If you keep going back and back and back into the pro-life logic, it comes down to control and fear of sexuality. Worried about not being able to pay for an abortion, sweetie? DON’T HAVE UNPROTECTED SEX UNLESS YOU WANT KIDS! Of course this only affects you, sweetie; your boyfriend or husband or hook-up doesn’t have to sweat it at all. Only YOU, you bad bad girl. Shame on you. Shame on you for being poor and having sex and making a mistake and not wanting to bring an unwanted child into the world! SHAME! The righteous pro-life folks seem to have difficulty accepting that abortion has been around since people have been around – just more women die from it when denied access to clean, safe, and legal avenues for the procedure. But those gals DESERVE to die or be damaged for their SIN, right? Who cares?

It’s insanity. You can’t say on one hand the something is legal and then say, unlike any other medical procedure, that if you are a poor woman you are shit out of luck from the government who was supposed to protect your rights and give you the same level of treatment as any other citizen.

But who will fight? The poor women? Will they all form a grass-roots collective to oust the lawmakers who deny them? Nope. They are all too busy collecting welfare and getting high and trying to figure out new ways to upset the moral compass of our nation, uh huh.

The politics of hate, ignorance, and intolerance are a stain on our country, and make us a joke to the civilized world.

MAY I ENQUIRE ABOUT THE STATUS OF YOUR WELL-BEING?

“How are you?”

“Fine! And you?”

“Oh, fine!”

BOR-ING. Yes, I realize this most-common exchange of social greetings is efficient and polite, but it’s soooooo dull, and it tells you absolutely nothing other than the respondent wants to tell you absolutely nothing, and you both should move on to something else. I might have been better off around the turn of the 20th Century, where I could have combined the elegant, arcane, and ridiculous into a sentence worth the effort of forcing air through my vocal chords, using my tongue and teeth and throat and cheeks to shape the air, then to let out of my mouth, word by overly-precious word.

For instance, some far more interesting and honest responses to the query, “How are you?”…

“Ah, lamentations! My cranium has been infiltrated by a host of germy warriors, beset upon wreaking havoc upon my sinuses! My nasal emanations are copious and thoroughly unwanted!”

“I suggest to you that the likelihood of your actual investment and genuine interest in my response pertaining to the summary of my current state is as tiny as the nipping bedbugs that plague you mercilessly every sleepless midnight.”

“Your gaze, as noted for its trajectory trained towards my bountiful bosom, causes me to imagine that my words are met only by your deafened ears; rejected, each falls like a useless metal slug to the concrete.”

“My general happiness and contentment continue unabated and unfettered by your hastily-concealed envy.”

“In all which I am involved, there is chaos, disappointment, and furious impotence, yet I still extend my hand to you in cheerful greeting.”

“It is my fondest wish at this moment in time that we may soon part, and I no longer am queried by you in this manner.”

Try one of these out today, and let me know what happens, ‘k?

USA! USA! USA!

Hot mess Sarah Palin used an image of gun crosshairs on her Facebook page this week, trained upon some of the House Dems who passed the health care bill.

Then Republican House Minority Whip Eric Cantor got a bullet fired into his campaign office.

Then Rep. John "Man Tan" Boehner told everyone to channel their violent feelings into acceptable channels.

Then Sarah Palin's handlers said she "condemns violence."

Here is a shrimp on a treadmill.

WHAT'S YOUR SOUND?

If you were to sum up in sound the essence of YOU, that core of your unique being, what would it be? What does your aural aura emit? If your tombstone had a little sound chip (like a musical Hallmark card) built into its somber grey granite, and a mourner could press PLAY HERE, what would the bereaved hear to make them think, ahh yes, that’s Aunt Beulah alright (or whatever your name is, although Beulah is due for a comeback).

I’m now imagining a graveyard enlivened by hundreds of varied digitized noises as people would press the buttons over and over.

Anyway, let me give you some examples:

George Hamilton: The hum of the glowing light tubes of a tanning bed.

Lindsay Lohan: The tumbling clatter of someone falling down a flight of stairs.

Roger Ebert: The steady clack-clack of a manual typewriter, with a stuck letter “E” key.

Gene Simmons: The airy flip of thumbing through a massive stack of hundred-dollar bills.

Rush Limbaugh: Pig squeal.

Keith Richards: A smoker’s cough and a Chuck Berry guitar solo.

Bernie Madoff: Three descending trombone notes.

Thomas Jefferson: “Brown Sugar”

Simon Cowell: The airy flip of thumbing through a massive stack of Euro 500 banknotes.

Ruben Studdard: Crickets.

Hugh Hefner: The sound of a non-child-proofed container of Viagra being opened.

George W. Bush: The “Benny Hill Show” theme, played at an oil field.

Betty White: The tiny little crispy creaks of a wink and a smile.

Marilyn Monroe: A child’s mechanical music box.

Adolf Hitler: Several thousand tons of rancid sauerkraut being dumped on a Polish sausage factory.

Lassie: Bark, whine, bark, whine, bark, scratch, whine, bark, bark.

Sound is very emotional, and can be very succinct.

If I were to pick my own sound, hmm…well, I think this would do as nicely as anything to sum me up, provided by our friends the White Stripes.

MISS FRANCES WAS NOT A COUGAR

No, but the mistress of one of television's first programs for children was bright, compassionate, ethical, and extremely well-educated. My point is this: watch this, and guess how old she was at the time.



Got a number in mind?





























She was 46.

Our expectations of what middle-age should look like are a little different now, huh?

FREEDOM TRAIN OF THOUGHT

Me: So, you went with your class to see a play today? What was it about?

Mr12: I think...it was about a woman in the slave days...her name was, like...Marriott Tubman.

Me: HAHAHA!

LADIES & GENTLEMEN: JOE F'-N' BIDEN!

Vice President Joe Biden is very, very excited about health care reform being signed into law. Listen very carefully to his enthusiastic expression to President Barack Obama this morning:



He's right, you know. It is a big _____-ing deal. Now, fill in the adjective of your choice, depending on your own personal politics, from George Carlin's infamous "Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television" comedy bit (I will edit them for readers with more delicate retinas):

1. Sh*t
2. P*ss
3. F*ck
4. C*nt
5. C*cks*cker
6. M*therf*cker
7. T*ts

If you are a Republican, please use numbers 1, 2, or 5. If you just hate Nancy Pelosi, use 4 or 7. If, like me and Joe Biden, you are delighted, please join Joe and I in using number 3, or if you are SUPER MEGA EXCITED, use #6.

I predict -- and I would bet a hundred bucks and a beer on this -- that sometime later on this evening, when the DC workday is done and the cameras are off, the Leader of The Free World will say that yes indeed, it's a big m*therf*cking deal.

HA 26

Sometimes I receive some interestingly-worded blog comments. Please to enjoy this strange spam:

"Well your article helped me very much in my college assignment. Hats incorrect to you enter, intention look forward in the direction of more interrelated articles without delay as its anecdote of my pick subject-matter to read."

YEAHHHHHHH!!!!!!!

THE FIRST DAMN DOCTOR

Once upon a time, there lived a man of the most simple times and means. One day, after eating some improperly-handled game meat, his stomach began to ache and cramp, his brow quickly dripping with sweat.

“Ow! I have pain!” the man exclaimed to his hut-mates.

“Damn! That so sucks for you!” the hut-mates replied in sympathetic union. They made sad faces at the man, and then went on with their regular neighborhood business of gathering sticks and gossiping about the height of some folks’ loincloths.

Time passed, and the man still was not relieved of his distress. “Ow! This so sucks for me! Little help?” He raised his eyes piteously to the sky, and at that moment a large bird of prey dropped a huge white glob of its waste in the suffering man’s left eye. “Aw, damn!” the man cried out. “Damn!” Three of the other men glanced over, conferred briefly, then walked a few hundred feet away from the hut to construct a funeral pyre. When the aggrieved man saw this, he did not again look to the sky, as he was a smarter-than-the-average-hut-dweller, but instead mournfully regarded his bubbling mid-section and feces-laden eye, and mumbled to himself, “Aw. Damn.”

One of the elders of the hut folk, a wrinkled and hunched crone of about 30 years, squatted down by the man, who was lying in a fetal position on the dusty ground whilst moaning low moans, and she pressed her bony weathered hand against his wet forehead.

“Damn? Right? Am I right? It’s like, damn?” the man asked her, his lower lip trembling.

“Yes, damn,” she croaked in her crackly rasp of a voice, nodding somberly at him. “Damn.”

“Aw!” The man’s stomach audibly rumbled.

The old crone, wise in her golden years and possibly his aunt, began thinking how to perhaps cheer and/or shut up the pained fellow before he would be dragged off to Flamin’ Friday ceremonies. She knew that some sweet red berries still remained on the low bush by the river, and that their delicious taste might be a kindness to offer the man in his last moments and at least would stuff up his mouth. She stiffly rose, slowly hobbled her way over to the plant, gathered a few handfuls of the tiny scarlet fruit, and placed them in the pocket of her loin apron as she hobbled back again to the man. She knelt down on the ground, and placed a few of the berries into the man’s dry mouth.

“Mmm…mmm,” The man’s face contorted as he began to chew the fruit, then his features relaxed. “Damn! That’s tasty!” He managed a small grateful smile towards his elderly benefactress as she pondered how to best recycle his loincloth into a shawl.

As MC Hut prepared his topical rap for Flamin’ Friday, this time with the working title of “Home Slice Got Taken Out By A Fly-By,” the men preparing the funeral pyre had almost finished their work. Fire was a recent acquisition to the hut people, and drew a nice crowd because of its novelty and spectacular efficiency. People began to gather around the pyre, glancing at their wrists frequently, which had no use at all because the wristwatch had yet to be invented. It was a simple time, as previously mentioned; simple, and dim.

“DAMN!” It was the sick man, yelling with great vigor, and all the neighborhood hutters turned towards him. “DAMN! MY POSSIBLE AUNT IS FRIGGIN’ AWESOME! I FEEL, LIKE, LOTS BETTER!” He grinned a large grin, and his three teeth glinted in the late-afternoon sunshine. Flamin’ Friday was canceled, with some sheepish disappointment on the part of most, and the man did a small jig of joy in the dirt.

Soon, the old crone was sought out whenever any of her neighbors had an ailment, her status in the ‘hood now greatly elevated. As there also was no Botox or liposuction or Spanx then, she knew that her assumed ability to cure illness was a damn good thing, especially as village females hit the wall at like, 14. She was important and useful again. She was clever enough to know that those berries were pretty much the only thing she had going, and that she would have to disguise her knowledge of their powers, or what looked like knowledge but was in fact sheer luck, or the secret of the fruit would be known, and her value greatly diminished.

The hut hag began to speak to people that came to her in a “new” language, one only those with “special wisdom” could understand. “Yes, damn, you look terrible, “ she addressed a rather pale-complected woman one day, “I believe your panticular is receding towards your frentella, and we need to schedule a partial-panticularotomy for you. Next Thursday work?” The ghostly woman could only nod in confusion and awe. As Thursday arrived, the old woman had already gathered her berries, unseen by the others, mixed them into some river water with a little dirt and a bug from the bottom of her foot, and offered the concoction to her patient. She laid her hands upon the woman’s back and poked around officiously. “Come back the next Tuesday and the following so I can monitor the status of the panticular. See the receptionist.” The woman did so, and told all that she was feeling much better, her lack of Vitamin C remediated by the berries, this detail unknown to her and the old woman, of course.

Not all who came to see the crone were cured, but this inconsistency was easily accepted by the commonly-used hut phrase, “It was Glob’s will.” Glob was the name given the crapping bird of prey, seen as a destiny-delivering deity.

The supply of berries from the bush by the river eventually ran out, and the crone had to travel to find more, for the demand was never-ending. Flamin’ Friday was cut down to once a month, replaced by 2-for-1 Fermented Yak Milk Happy Hour at the pyre site. “Damn!” thought the old gal, “The hell I’m gonna do? There aren’t enough berries to give to everyone.” She fretted about this, staring at her red-stained fingertips.

A handsome young man from one of the higher-class huts came to see her early one morning, desperate. “I need your assistance, immediately! My face has erupted in foul pustules, and I have a date with that hot red-headed chick who is the hostess for Yak Milk Happy Hour this Friday! Please, remove these unsightly horrors from me!” he begged.

The old woman glanced outside her medihut. The line to see her was long, her berry supply low. A plan of action crept into her brain. “Damn, dude!” she exclaimed. “You aren’t getting’ any looking like that, for sure. How badly do you want this chick to dig you?”

He opened his eyes wider. “Dude! You kidding me? You see how she’s rockin’ her mini-cloth. Come on!”

“Well…” The crone leaned towards the anxious young man, and spoke in a low gritty whisper, and continued, “…you see all those people out there waiting? They want help right away too. I can’t possibly know yet whose need is paramount. Perhaps…perhaps if you leave here and return with, oh, say, a small premium to assist me in my endeavors, then perhaps I can provide you with expedited treatment and your hook-up shall be salvaged in time. Perhaps…” She turned away, and made the tiny huffing noises of The Very Very Busy.

“YES! YES! Say no more! I will be right back!” The young man ran to his hut, and brought back a beautiful blanket, woven from the finest yak hairs, a flacon of Premium Stock Fermented Yak Milk, and his own mother’s loinshawl. “Here! Will these suffice?”

The old woman greedily eyed the three items, things she normally would never possess. “Yesssss…yes, these will be of great comfort and allow me to expend the extra energy for your cure.” She handed him a small vial of red liquid. “Spread this upon your face and sit with your face to the brightest sun each day this week. Return to me if you require more. More cool stuff gets you bumped to the head of the wait line, dig?”

“Dug! Thank you!”

The astringent properties of the berries combined with the drying effects of the sun calmed the young man’s acne, although he did have to spend quite some time washing the red berry dye off his face. His hook-up was successful, and quickly word began to filter through the ‘hood that if you wanted reeeeeally good help from the old gal, it was smart to bring her cool stuff. The crone’s hut became filled with the riches of the village, her powers even more legendary, almost Glob-like. Splantism and Crung’s Disease and faffomas were treated, provided you came up with the goods.

The poorer hutters were depressed. Their ranks at Flamin’ Fridays were increasing, and not to drink Yak Milk either. “Damn! What can a poor boy do?” they wailed, as MC Hut sang “Cave-Fightin’ Man,” drowning their sorrows while watching the fire reach into the sky.

One man had been watching the drama with beady-eyed interest. There must be some way to get in on this illness-deal and get some of that cool stuff. He knew he didn’t have any special healing skills, but…ah ha! A plan came to his mind, and he made an appointment to see the old woman, bringing her a lovely weasel-skin hat. She regarded him with some curiosity. He seemed perfectly fine.

“Ma’am, let me say first how grateful we all are for your gifted abilities. We are truly blessed, praise Glob. But I must warn you: there is growing discontent amongst those with modest means.” The old woman’s face turned serious and she stared at the man as he continued confidently. “These folks feel that as members of the Hut community they are just as deserving of your skills as the more materially-rich. I believe that the day could come when they may attempt to band together. With their numbers, they could easily force you to provide care for all with no additional goods offered to you.”

Oh, damn, the old woman thought, that would so suck. She had gotten quite used to getting cool stuff all the time, because, frankly, it was cool, and she didn’t want that to end any sooner than necessary, because at some point there would be no more berries. “Why do you tell me this? Have you some idea to counteract this?”

“Indeed I do, ma’am. I believe that with a minor adjustment you will be able to continue your fine work with no loss of income. After all, we all benefit from your work, and damn, we really don’t want, well…some folks’ running the show, do we?” The man then described his plan. He would address the entire village after the next Flamin’ Friday, telling them how he understood the pain of the poor and that he had a revolutionary idea of how to access better healthcare without actual revolution. He would tell the hutters of his close, personal relationship with the old woman, and that if each person would bring him a small gift every week without fail, he would personally assure their ability to get quick and good care from her if they ever fell ill. He would keep a few of the gifts, but give most to the crone. The people would be calmed, secure in the fact that they could afford a little bit given out each week for some peace-of-mind.

“Damn, “the old woman said as she stroked her sharp chin, “That’s so crazy it just might work! You’re on!” The two shook hands, the meeting was held, and the new plan activated. The participation of all the villagers made them both even more loaded with cool stuff, which emboldened them. The crafty man soon returned to another Flamin’ Friday gathering.

“Rate hike, folks! You know, cost of living, medical research and trials and such. We want to continue to provide you with the finest care any group of hutters could hope for, so please bring in three items of value each week from now on. Thanks!”

A angry older male voice rang out from the crowd. “What?? Are you kidding me? It’s hard enough for me to bring even one! I can’t do that! DAMN!”

The man sought out the mad man’s face and replied. “Bro, I am so sorry. Times are tough. Anyone who can’t keep up with these moderate, reasonable rate hikes just has to be cut from the program. You understand. It just isn’t fair to the others to pay their fair share while some pay less or nothing at all, and we all have to get by. Glob bless you, though, and I hope your fortunes improve sometime so you can avoid an early painful death or something.” The crowd stood, chilled even as the embers still glowed from the pyre.

The rate hikes continued until, essentially, things were as they had been prior to the plan, where only the wealthiest hutters could afford full access to the crone’s help. Some huts could only bring in gifts to secure care for the youngest, or the best hunter, or the red-headed hottie. In frustration, the poor and middle-class hutters tried to form their own healthcare collective using river mud, leeches, and yak tongue scrapings, with little practical success.

The old woman’s searches for her berries one day finally proved fruitless. She had walked as far as she could. There were no more. Panicked, she spotted another bush, taller with darker leaves, prickly and foreboding. It had the tiny purplish-red berries that Glob seemed to prefer. “That must be a good sign – if Glob likes those, maybe they are even more powerful!” she thought. She scrambled over to the bush as fast as her withered old legs would take her and stripped the tree bare, flinging the berries into a large carved bucket, one of her many gifts. She covered the bucket with a bunny hide as to disguise its contents from the villagers and made her way back to her hut, one she no longer had to share with others.

In the morning, she began to see her steady flow of privileged hutters for a range of ailments, from an ingrown toenail to a suspicious cough. The crone made up her potions with the new berries, dispersed them to the ill, and closed her medihut early so she could take some relaxation by whacking a few rocks into weasel holes with a stick. As she neared the 10th hole, she heard the high, strident scream of a young child.

“DAMN! Everyone, hey…DAMN!”

As she neared the circle of huts, the old woman saw to her horror that all of the people she had seen earlier in the day were now lying on the ground, writhing in agony, with nasty liquids expelling from most of their orifii.

Aw, dammmmmmn, the thought came to her, those berries didn’t work out so well. As she stared, frozen and fixed, and as the villagers began to understand the connection between the stricken and the crone and began to stare ominously at her, she felt a heavy wetness fall upon the top of her head through her grayed, thinning hair.

The Great and Glorious Glob had spoken. The crone turned and retreated hastily into the dense wilderness, never to be seen by the hutters again. Her slick business partner also disappeared, although later it was rumored he was selling wooden flutes and yak-skin drums to the good hutters of River City. The bird berry sufferers recovered within a few days and both rich and poor alike decided that berries were now banned from consumption, and that it takes a village to…do stuff. Fermented Yak Milk was now thought to prevent panticularitis, the man who received the good berries to begin with disavowed any personal relation to the crone, Flamin’ Fridays were back and more equitable than ever, and the red-haired hottie was promoted to Pyre Manager. A large monument in the image of Glob was erected at the site of the crone’s last footstep, the hut folk continued gathering sticks and gossiping, and in 2010 the United States passed health care reform legislation. Praise Glob!

HA 25

BAHAHA! Rumor has it that convicted murderer Phil Spector lipped off to the wrong jailhouse badass and got his ass kicked! Courtesy the NY Daily News:
Has Phil Spector gotten a bloody taste of jail-yard justice? The hot-tempered music legend is minding his tongue after having several teeth knocked out by a fellow inmate at the state prison in Corcoran, Calif., two Spector confidants tell us.

"Phil has quite a mouth on him," says longtime pal and defender Steven Escobar. "Not everyone understands his humor. He said the wrong thing to the wrong inmate in the yard."

Lacking any of his trusty firearms, Spector wound up with a bruised nose, black eye and the loss of a couple of caps, according to Escobar.

"He mouthed off to a big guy, who punched him," concurs another source close to Spector, who's serving 19-to-life for fatally shooting actress Lana Clarkson in the mouth in 2003.

Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/gossip/2010/03/21/2010-03-21_music_legend_phil_spector_roughed_up_for_mouthing_off_to_fellow_inmate_says_pal_.html#ixzz0ire9VVIn
AWWWWWWWWWW.

"To know, know, know, him, is to slug, slug, slug, him..."

DUM DUM GIRLS & GUYS: JAIL HA HA

Aw, come on. Does anyone really believe that the criminal justice system in a capitalist nation is going to be FAIR? America is about get-what-you-pay-for, and proudly so. This ideology doesn’t just quit at the courtroom, because we like to pay lip service to “justice for all.” Sometimes your free public defender is smart, competent, compassionate, and skilled, and sometimes, well…you get what you pay for.

Oh, yippee, a class-action suit has been filed on behalf of poor-decision-maker Kimberly Hurell-Harring. Ms. Hurell-Harring was very unhappy that her court-appointed lawyer, one Patrick E. Barber, was such an incompetent doofus that he got her convicted on a felony count rather than a misdemanor. Whoops. Well, this happens all the time. There are idiots like Ms. Hurell-Harring and there are idiots like Mr. Barber, and idiots often end up spending time in the same places, wringing their hands over their own idiotic behaviors. Ms. Hurell-Harring’s particular brain surgeon moment was attempting to smuggle in marijuana to her incarcerated husband, jailed for assault with a deadly weapon. She did this by filling a condom with weed and stuffing it up her lady tunnel. The mother-of-two was immediately arrested, for prison folk were more than able to outsmart her wily wits. She told everyone how very sorry she was, and how her husband, in the joint for an 8-year deal, said bad words to her thereby forcing her to become Francis the Drug Mule.

Enter Mr. Barber, working for 50K a year, which is squat for any lawyer, much less one nearing 50 years old and in practice for some time. So why did Mr. Barber wish to take on such relatively-poorly-paid, low-prestige, and draining work? HMM. HMM. Let’s think about that for a minute. Was he a wealthy man, ready to move from private practice to devote his life to serving the destitute in their hour of need? Hmm…nah. It turns out he had been professionally reprimanded twice for case neglect, had emotional problems, and was rumored to enjoy distilled mood-altering beverages perhaps more than would be prudent. His psychiatrist, with the absolutely delightful name of Dr. Koock E. Jung, testified that Mr. Barber’s emotional state would surely compromise his ability to represent his clients. But who cares, right? No one, if honest, would admit to expecting much better to defend the parade of criminal fools that could not even afford to scrape up the cash to buy some Snidely P. Whiplash, Esq., from a splashy ad on a city bus.

So Ms. Hurrell-Harring did her four months in prison, and left with a felony record and a few years of probation. Mr. Barber’s bummer continued downwards, resulting in a brief hospitalization, he quit his job, and then got arrested on his own special felony charge of forging court documents. He is currently awaiting trial. Ms. Hurell-Harring’s conviction was overturned and now she is championed for her Vaginal Trojan Doobie adventure by none less than the New York Times. The fate of the condom and its contents are unknown.

The class action suit may result in states taking a closer look at the men and women they hire as public defenders, and that’s not a bad thing, although no one will want to pony up the money for reform. Let's say it again: this is America. The best and brightest in anything, including those who have toiled away in academia for years getting professional degrees, generally are not going to be attracted to depressing low-paid jobs to pay off their substantial student debt. The noble intent to serve all with the luminance of Constitutional justice fades rather quickly when faced with unpaid bills and the never-ending stream of humanity coming though county jail who cannot seem to follow basic laws or get too close to others who cannot seem to follow basic laws. Ask anyone who has spent time in the D.A.’s office. A lot of those lawyers enjoy their distilled mood-altering beverages, too.

Dumb, meet Dumber.

JETT-FUELED: "THE RUNAWAYS" MOVIE

Honestly, I hated the band The Runaways. I was 14 years old when their first LP came out and I started reading about them in 16 and CREEM and the rest of the rock/teen mags. My hopeful curiosity at seeing an all-girl rock group was very quickly replaced by disappointment and disdain for two solid reasons: they just weren’t very good, and they were incredibly sleazy. Oh lookee lookee, how scandalous – they are pushing the pedo-button. The Runaways were not selling to me, although perhaps they wanted to think that a little Midwestern girl rock fan would find them cool and liberating. The opposite was true for me, and still is: every time women in rock n’ roll make more out of selling sex than creating great music, it’s hardly edgy or revolutionary. It’s just another kind of prostitution. I am not at all saying that women in music shouldn’t be women or be sexual or be attractive, but you have to have songs, and you have to be able to play. Otherwise, go sing karaoke at the Bunny Ranch. Don’t try to tell me that wearing lingerie onstage and crotch grinds are feminism in action.

To me, the Runaways were as contrived and phony as KISS, a cartoonish joke and no more. Image was all these young girls had, as imagined by scenester/producer/manager/nutcase Kim Fowley, a man, and the band fell apart predictably and mercifully soon. So, why did I want to go to see the big-screen version of the Runaways’ story? I guess I wanted to view how Hollywood would revise their legacy 30+ years on. Would I find out something about these girls and what they went through that I didn’t already know? Would there be something to it all that would make them more sympathetic to me, or not? Would this be anything past the tired rags-to-riches-to-ruin-to-redemption production? Add in a little nostalgia jones and my need to see perfect ‘70s period detail (which is a pun, if you’ve seen the opening scene to the film) and I paid my money, got my popcorn, and settled into my seat in the theater last night.

Let’s start with what the film succeeded in completely: the casting. Getting the right people for roles, especially those based on real people, is a challenge that often fails in Hollywood. Money money money rules the day in the biz and if you think you can get an audience to even remotely buy Angelina Jolie as Marie Curie, by god, she’s hired for “Radium Took My Baby Away: The Musical.” “The Runaways” would have failed from the first moment if they had used actresses visibly older than the girls were at the time; when the band was formed in 1975 guitarist/vocalist Joan Jett turned 17, drummer Sandy West, 16, lead guitarist Lita Ford, 17, bassist Jackie Fox, 17, and lead singer Cherie Currie, 16. Instead, the producers used their budget wisely to secure the talents of some of the best young actresses available, and Kristen Stewart and Dakota Fanning are (gasp) real-life teenagers themselves.

Stewart in particular nails her role as Joan Jett, down to her hunchbacked slouch as she plays guitar. I liked that all the actors and actresses very reasonably resembled their characters, and did a good job finding the personalities within the roles – explosive, bitter Ford, laid-back West, childish Currie, Jett as both aggressor and peacemaker. Riley Keough (Elvis Presley’s granddaughter, ya know) did a nicely restrained turn as Marie Currie, Cherie’s twin sister, left behind to toil at a fast-food joint and take care of their alcoholic father as her sister glammed it up on the road. Tatum O’Neal as the Currie sisters' brittle, well-dressed mother who bails on them to follow a new husband to Indonesia is terribly underused – her character was potentially more interesting than both sisters’ combined.

Michael Shannon also did a pretty damn good Kim Fowley, someone who seems to have graduated from the Charles Manson School of Artist Management. To movie viewers unfamiliar with the impresario, Fowley comes off as monstrous – creepy, repulsive, with no boundaries or conscience, all for the sake of spectacle and rock and press and money in his pocket, pushing the girls to be outrageous and crude and tough. How much of Fowley is demonized is probably impossible to tell. ‘The Runaways” was based on the memoirs of Cherie Currie, and the film was produced by Joan Jett and her long-term business partner Kenny Laguna. Fowley has alluded to the whole story not being told in his recent interviews but goes no further, only reminding people that this is Currie’s view and that the film is faithful to her recollections of the time. Was he, is he, a “good guy?” Doubtful. Would the Runaways ever have made it out of a few L.A. rock dives without him? No.

Past the excellent acting work (and yes, the period detail was also good), there isn’t all that much to recommend, because just as the Runaways failed to deliver quality music, the film fails to deliver much of a story. It’s hard to feel for the characters – some treacle-y bits are laid down early on to let you know that Currie and Jett had neglectful parents, and that they both found a community in glam-rock escapism. But it isn’t enough. You expect the sleaze and grime and drug abuse and promiscuity to come pouring out of this film, with all the attendant outcomes and dramas, but past a few coke snorts, ugly abusive language spat out from Fowley, and some blurred-out lesbian sex scenes, it’s pretty bland. One has to wonder if the studio and director Floria Sigismondi had to be very conscious of the young Twilight-eyed fans that would be drawn into this film because of Stewart and Fanning, and particularly of Fanning’s age as well. The story shows how Cherie Currie was prodded to be sexually provocative and vulgar, but at what point in the portrayal are we thinking, “Wow, Dakota Fanning is 15 years old and on all fours with barely any clothes on.” Is that also exploitative, in the end? I don’t have an answer for that.

Currie’s character runs out of steam pretty quickly, which is a problem as she is the main focus for three-quarters of the film. She doesn’t come off as particularly wild or ego-crazy, nor as abrasive or harsh as she likely was. You don’t spend your early teen years hanging out on the ’70s-era Strip without seeing a whole lot of nasty stuff and adjusting your personality likewise. But Fanning portrays Currie as rather na├»ve and mildly conflicted, a bleached-blond shell, unformed and unwise, hollowed-out. She ends up doing a lot of dazed raccoon-eyed druggy baleful stares. Fanning doesn’t have, despite makeup, the well-worn look that Currie did at her age, and isn’t really given all that much to say or do. That is not at all Fanning’s fault. The fault lies in the fact that Currie isn’t a particularly interesting person. Kid from broken family in the Valley likes Bowie, is picked to sing in a band even though she can’t sing, gets into drugs, quits, gets a regular job. Oh.

The film seems to be aware of this, and shoots Jett’s character to the forefront as the band implodes. A fair estimate of Joan Jett is that she too was about image, but more about music. She was willing to pay her dues, learn how to write songs, learn how to connect with an audience, and figure out how to not get used up and spat out like so many others. In the film we see her thinking about lyrics in the bathtub, slamming out power chords in her underwear on a mattress on the floor, and then voila! She’s getting interviewed as a solo success by Rodney Bingenheimer, and Cherie Currie’s phoning in from her job as a sales clerk, just to say “hi.” The movie ends on Jett’s triumph in the rock business, playing her solo music over the credits, with a still frame of Currie’s face sentimentally smiling as she folds napkins at a store.

In a text epilogue, we are told that Jett’s first solo record was rejected by 23 record companies but ended up selling 10 million copies, that Kim Fowley also worked with Helen Reddy and now has green hair and walks with a cane, and that Cherie Currie grew up to help other teens with addictions and became a “chainsaw artist.” It is a very obvious flip-off to the rest of the members of the Runaways that their stories weren’t even worth updating, even though Lita Ford went onto a very high-profile heavy metal career, Jackie Fox graduated from Harvard Law, and Sandy West, who remained close to Currie and Jett, died of cancer in 2006. Ouch.

If the point of “The Runaways” was to convince me and everyone else that the girls were some kind of vitally-important proto-punk pioneers, causing young ladies everywhere to pick up electric guitars and commence shredding in their Frederick’s of Hollywood gear in the name of equal rights in rock n’ roll, it didn’t. It’s no coming-of-age story, as no one seems to grow up in the least or experiences any kind of powerful revelations, other than refusing to sing in the studio one day. It doesn’t mention that the Runaways continued on for two more years after Currie’s departure, or that Currie ended up working with Fowley again, this time on a record with her sister Marie. What I saw in the film was essentially the same as what I saw back in 1976 – a bunch of teenagers that were so-so musicians being manipulated by men, for men. Would any of the Runaways wish the same “legacy” on their own daughters? I hope not.

I started playing guitar in 1976, partially inspired by the thought that if some dumbass dude classmate of mine in junior high could do it, so could I. I wasn’t looking to brand myself as some great “chick player,” wasn’t into the novelty aspect, didn’t give a crap if people thought that girls shouldn’t and couldn’t play rock n’ roll…and most folks did think exactly that. I played because I loved to play, and that was more than enough reward to keep going. There is no gender to a great melody or a crashing chord or a snapping snare drum. There wasn’t anything I wanted to take as an example from the Runaways, other than What Not To Do.

Joan Jett and Cherie Currie’s spin, filtered through the expensive lens of Hollywood filmmaking, seems to want to leave the audience fired up with Grrl Power, when the opposite was true. The band was powerless – too young, too dumb, too hungry for promised fame and money to escape being pimped out and consumed by wolves, with no family ever coming to the rescue or questioning what in the hell was going on. There’s nothing to celebrate there. Great casting doesn’t change the fact that “The Runaways” cops out in many ways – it’s not filthy enough, not honest enough, and doesn’t convince me that the band was anything more than a minor blip on rock radar, despite shots of screaming Japanese fans. It wasn’t really an important story to tell, just a re-scripting of the Oldest Profession in the World, with a Les Paul guitar, platform boots, and glitter eyeshadow.



GOD BLESS AMERICAN IDOL

It gives me an outlet to vent.

I would never EVER suggest that you watch this show. It is the devil. You be better off attending your local high school’s spring musical or karaoke night at Fat Dave’s Bar & Grill. AI is utter mediocrity synthesized and served up in pretty lights with a blissed-out Stepford-girls crowd waving their manicured hands in the air. It offends me, and the rubbernecker in me cannot seem to stop watching the pile-up.

My short takes on the remaining contestants:

Aaron Kelly: A sweet little kid with acne who could use years more of performance experience. Maybe should go into Christian teen music or just be the featured soloist in his church for the next 70 years.



Andrew Garcia: Snore. Unremarkable “modern singer-songwriter” voice. Neck tattoos are gross. Horrible glasses. I don’t want to see his dad crying again about what a dodgy upbringing he gave his kid in the stupid inset “personality” bits. Suck it up, old man.



Casey James: Adorable shaggy Ken doll who could sell a lot of albums/tour tickets because he is sweetly good-looking and doesn’t completely blow. Dumb enough to get multiple DUI convictions. Very…mild.



Crystal Bowersox: Looks completely unhappy to be there at all, although likely looks miserable most of the time anyway. “Yellow Teeth Award.” Good pick for Janis Joplin biopic, then back to the local coffeehouse/bars.



Didi Benami: Just wants to be famous. Dead friend story. Has large teeth and the female version of the “modern singer-songwriter” voice. Smells like Hollywood, filtered through "attempted natural kind of girl."



Katie Stevens: Go back to high school.



Lee Dewyze: Just a regular shlub, with zero charisma. Looks like he wants to pee his pants or throw up at all times. DO IT.



Michael Lynche: Giant overconfident dude whose voice lacks the power his size would suggest.



Paige Miles: Not appealing, and not memorable in any way. Slightly buggy eyes make her seem sort of lost. Spandex is not her friend.



Siobhan Magnus: The #1 most annoying contestant by far. Quirky clothes, snaggleteeth, a fondness for coloring books, and a rather dim-bulb intellect combined is nothing compared to the sheer horror of her screeching. Awful awful awful. Stop singing completely and try acting your age of 19 rather than 11.



Tim Urban: Needs a Nick/Disney preteen TV show before he starts shaving or his wide-eyed wonder grows suspect.



Yes, god bless American Idol. Of course, there is no god.

THE BIRD WAS THE WORD

I was a mannerly and somewhat-naive child, sheltered from much of the crassness and ugliness of the world by my parents. It was a different time, too. Despite all the craziness of the '60s, a great deal of it was still the polite and clean '50s, just dressed in paisley. You would never talk back to an adult, for instance. It was unthinkable and unladylike as well. Girls couldn't even wear pants to school, only skirts and dresses. Right from the start, there was substantial pressure to conform. Don't you dare.

I honestly think at age seven, I didn't even know any swear words past "hell" or "damn." If I had ever heard anything rougher, I surely would not have known at all what anything meant. But I had an idea of bad words and REALLY bad words and things that little girls simply did not do, ever. But once, out of impulse and necessity, a little flare of impudence served me just fine.

One the first day of 1st Grade, my mom drove me to school in the morning -- the first day of a full day of school for me was a big event. Even bigger was that after school was done for the day I would get to ride the big yellow schoolbus home. I was very excited about this, as most kids are to start. It was a pretty quick ride down the street, no more than a couple of miles, but it was a MILESTONE OF INDEPENDENCE for me. So when I boarded with my older brother after Miss Lurvey dismissed me at 3PM sharp, I was stoked.

But what was this? As I got on, catcalls, teasing, the "bad boys" in the back of the bus calling me "baby" and asking if I needed my "blankie," calling me "stupid."

WHAT? WHAT?? THE HELL IS THIS? My face, I am sure, burned bright red. It didn't take long for me to figure out why I was getting this treatment, not the other 1st graders -- my brother was not popular at school at all, and was often a target for bullies. He never fought back or said a word. As I muddled through the bus with my brand-new plaid bookbag in my starched pinafore dress to a shiny green vinyl bus seat, I figured it out: the bullies assumed I would be the same easy mark. In my seven years on the planet, this I knew for sure: I would hear this crap the rest of my school days if I didn't DO SOMETHING about it RIGHT AWAY. My mind ticked and spun, and I got more and more angry that I had to deal with this because of my brother.

But what could I do? I couldn't outtalk them -- there were too many of the boys, they were all older than me, and I was tiny anyway with a tiny voice. Something else I knew was that they wanted to get a rise out of me. They wanted me to look ashamed or cry or start screaming for them to stop. I knew not to give them that either, even though I was steaming and furious. Whatever I was going to do had to be just right, or I would make it all even worse.

My first instinct was just to ignore them, like my brother always seemed to. But it didn't work. They kept poking and poking. OK. OK. OK.

It didn't take long for the bus to make its way up the gentle slope of the road to our stop, right outside our house. The catcalls got louder and nastier. As I rose and followed my silent cowed brother down the bus aisle to the opened door, I decided I would pull out the very worst thing I had ever seen. No, that isn't quite right; I didn't actually decide it at all. I just did it. Right before I went down the stairs, I turned around and faced all the kids on the bus, all 3'-whatever of me, and I gave them a very vigorous middle-finger salute with the meanest face I could muster.

The bus exploded in howls and laughter and applause, shocked. I had no idea what the flipping the bird meant, at all, but I knew it was not good. I got off the bus, still mad as hell, and didn't look back.

The next morning as I got on the bus, one of the bad boys called out to me: "Well, look at Little Miss Tough Stuff! What you got today?" His facial expression wasn't the same as the day before -- his smile this time was different, amused almost. I went to the back of the bus, a very bold move, and took a seat nearby.

"Shut up," I told him, with the most dismissive and disgusted look I had in my arsenal.

"Ha ha!! You're crazy, Little Baby, I like you!"

And that was that. I never had a problem on the bus ever again. I eventually learned what the middle finger stood for, and was quite, quite pleased.