Friday, October 28, 2005

Fitzmas musings

Well, I must say the indictment of Scooter Libby made an otherwise ordinary fall Friday more pleasant. But I expected more. I was disappointed that they didn't go after Dick Cheney and even George himself, because these were the guys who masterminded the schemes and lies that led us into a tragic, useless war from which we cannot seem to extricate ourselves. Did someone mention treason?

I don't know if George can be repudiated much more than he already has been. Iraq. Katrina. Miers. Libby. The guy steps on his own dick at every turn. Almost everybody has seen through his shazaam by now. But I still don't trust the fucker. He reminds me of the scene in the Terminator where the monster just won't die.

The contractors provided lively background noise while I worked online all day. The lead guy calls me "Moik" in his thick Jersey accent. He's 45 and (proudly) confided that he has a 19 year old girlfriend. They've been dating for two years. He consulted his attorney when he first met her so he didn't get in trouble with the law. You learn way more than you want to know when your house is full of rockers.

Still, as I watched these guys drywall three rooms I was thankful I hadn't undertaken (word choice intentional) the job myself. You would have had to pay me three times what I paid them to do the work. And it would've come out looking like some of my other, um, handyman projects. Instead, the newly covered walls represent a corner being turned on this renovation. The final steps of putting-back-together have followed the destruction I wrought on this place last year. I'm starting to feel encouraged and am envisioning many happy summers ahead at the shore.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Discovering my inner Jersey boy

My wife, from North Plainfield, has a shirt proudly emblazoned, "Jersey Girl: Best in the World."

After quite a slog on the road—250 miles Thursday night—300 miles Friday night, and another 500 on Saturday—I pulled into the parking lot of the new Wawa here in Villas just after sunset. It came rushing back to me how much I like New Jersey. Colonial villages that morphed into Victorian towns and then into doo-wop sprawl and there are still enough farms to call it the Garden State. No wonder it's the most densely populated in the nation: it's the coolest. People are intense, direct, and sure of themselves. There's the ocean and there's New York City just over the border.

The wind was howling in from the west, so much so that after I unloaded my bags and took my perfunctory walk down to the bay, I felt like one of those t.v. guys reporting on approaching hurricanes. I held my arms out as I faced the water and felt the wind might take me away.

But it didn't. It helped me home along Wilde Avenue, pushing at my back. After I brushed my teeth and crawled under the sheets, it howled all night long. It tore through the leaves of the huge oaks that tower over the cottage. Acorns pounded down onto the roof and I worried they'd put dents into my beloved pickup truck—the truck that had just hauled me a thousand miles without a whimper. I didn't worry long because I fell asleep soon: I was dead tired..

When I awoke this morning, the light was brilliant, suffused by the sea. The wind must have blown all the clouds away. I went outside and there were leaves and branches littering the ground everywhere. The sky was so brilliant I had to ask myself whether I'd ever seen that particular shade of blue before.

I spent the gorgeous day buying appliances at Lowes. Afterwards I took a walk on the beach, still stunned by the way the sky looked. I watched the Cape May ferries headed to Delaware. I stopped on the way home for dinner at Harpoon Harry's in Townbank. I sat at the bar and watched the sun set over the bay, eavesdropping Jersey fishermen bitching about the Coast Guard. We all wolfed down Yuengling beer and fried grouper sandwiches.

Poke fun at it all you want; Jersey's one of the richest states in the nation. It may be a little tacky, but it's got it all.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Big brother lives in your laser printer

I came across an interesting little discovery today while perusing the blogosphere. It seems several years ago the U.S. government and major printer manufacturers struck a deal whereby the manufacturers would embed an invisible coding system into color laser prints to identify date, time and serial number of the printer involved. They're minute yellow dots and can only be seen with a magnifying glass in blue light and if you think it is just a little creepy that the government can know when and where you made a laser print, you can read more here.

On to other news. How about a look at Laurence W. Britt's Early Warning Signs of Fascism:

• Powerful and continuing nationalism
• Disdain for human rights
• Identification of enemies as a unifying cause
• Supremacy of the military
• Rampant sexism
• Controlled mass media
• Obsession with national security
• Religion and government entertwined
• Corporate power protected
• Labor power suppressed
• Disdain for intellectuals & the arts
• Obsession with crime & punishment
• Rampant cronyism & corruption
• Fraudulent elections

Sound familiar? They're a result of Britt's research on seven fascist regimes.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Eleanor Roosevelt slept here

It nags at me, as it does other bloggers, and I've seen a hundred blog posts about it, so I can scarcely hope to add something new to the assessment of what happens when you can't think of anything to write about. There are so many brilliant posters out there competing for readership, it humbles and daunts me.

So I'll free-associate and just talk about what I've been up to. I'm preparing to head back to New Jersey for a few weeks to oversee the contractors finishing up the cottage. I'll be doing business in New York while I'm out there, and will spend some time in Philly. I'm dreading the drive, it's more than 1000 miles, but driving long distances seems to be my lot these days.

We're settling in to Carbondale nicely. Some friends refer to it as "Car-bahn-do-lay" which adds an exotic sound to the otherwise pedestrian name of the place. It's such a manageable small town, with a smattering of student-priced ethnic restaurants. And it's really quiet. You don't hear traffic buzz like you do in towns near Interstate highways, and I like that. At night you hear trains frequently—they come right through the town square—and their whistles remind me of jazz notes on big horns. Hearing them takes me back to when I was a child and the woeful sounds connected me to a bigger world.

There's rolling countryside to the south that in some places feels like Tuscany (minus the villas.) We've spent more than one pleasant Sunday afternoon at the Blue Sky winery on their patio drinking quite decent red wine while listening to blues musicians. We went to the SIU auditorium to hear Garrison Keillor. His humor and humility were delightful and every syllable of his rich voice resonated. I had a feeling for what it might have been like to watch Mark Twain when he gave his lectures. He might even have stopped in Car-bahn-do-lay. Eleanor Roosevelt did once.

Monday, October 10, 2005

What I fear is really happening here

From the consistently most excellent 37signals blog, Signal vs. Noise I was directed to this rather chilling little web movie for the ACLU. Enjoy. Or not.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Vonnegut—my man!

People on the coasts diss my hometown, Indianapolis, without even giving it a second thought. It was so very annoying when we lived in Philadelphia. We'd confess our corn-fed roots and people visibly stepped back—as though we had some kind of red-state contagious disease that causes a loss of brain cells. Particularly cells in the "coolness" area of our brains. (There were exceptions; D, J, S & M, you know I don't mean you.)

Among the gifts of Indianapolis to the world is one of my favorite writers, Kurt Vonnegut. He grew out of the city's somewhat underground liberal tradition—which is very deep if not particularly wide. Hard to imagine, but that tradition influences life there greatly.

David Hoppe, a writer for Nuvo Newsweekly has done interviews with Vonnegut over the years. The one in this week's issue is outstanding. In it Vonnegut, who had seen himself as retired, says he was forced by the Bush administration to end his retirement and publish A Man Without a Country. This interviewrocks. It will make you laugh and maybe cry. Well done, David.