Sunday, June 29, 2008

You don't bring small things into a bar.

It was movie day at the Terrenoire household yesterday, as I was capable of doing little more than lying on the couch after Saturday night's Blues Challenge.

Results on that in a moment.

But back to the movies. We watched Be Kind Rewind, a quirky little comedy that had its moments; Persepolis, an animated story about a young Iranian girl that was very good. I highly recommend it.

Then we just happened upon Harvey, a movie I hadn't seen in decades and it was better than I remembered. Much better.

If you're not familiar with Harvey, it's the story of a pleasant drunk whose best friend is a 6 foot tall invisible rabbit.

Written by Mary Chase, the movie was made in 1950 with Jimmy Stewart as Elwood P. Dowd leading a great cast of character actors you will know, even if you don't know their names. Josephine Hull won an Academy Award for her hilarious performance.

But as much as I enjoyed the acting, I loved the writing. The title of this post is from the movie, as are these:

"I've wrestled with reality for 35 years, Doctor, and I'm happy to state I finally won out over it." - Elwood P. Dowd

"My mother always told me that in this world you must be oh so smart, or oh so pleasant. I recommend pleasant. You can quote me on that." - Elwood P. Dowd

"I've been spending my life among flyspecks... while miracles have been leaning on lampposts at 4th and Fairfax" - Dr. Chumley (Cecil Kellaway)

I was surprised by how much I had forgotten about this movie, and if you haven't seen it, do yourself a favor and rent it. You'll thank me.

How about you? Any movies surprise you lately?

Talk to me.

(As for the Blues Challenge, I took Ed's advice and enjoyed cold beverages, tried to play my best, and expected nothing. No, our band didn't place in the top three, but that was OK. Our good friends Valentino and the Piedmont Sheiks came out on top. Ed is their drummer. More on the competition tomorrow.)

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Is the media really in love with Obama?

Constant reader Dread asks if we've noticed that the media has stopped writing stories about Obama and started writing romances instead. I don't mean to pick on Dread, but I don't buy it.

I make no pretense to being objective about this, but every time I hear someone mention the liberal media, I ask them to Google Sue Schmidt, the AP's Nedra Pickler, Fred Hiatt, Rick Kaplan and Judith Miller.

Steno Sue writes for the Post and has never read a White House press release that she didn't pass along with love. Fred Hiatt has turned the Post's Op-Ed page over to right-wing bloviators like Charles Krauthammer. Rick Kaplan turned CNN to the right and then moved on to MSNBC with the truly crazy Michael Weiner Savage. Phil Donahue had already been fired, even though Donahue had the highest ratings on the cable channel.

And we should all remember Judith Miller at the NYT and her pushing the war based on stories fed to her by the administration, Chalabi, and the aptly-named Curveball.

The mainstream media is so frightened by the right that they bend over at the slightest hint that they're leaning left.

I hear consummate Beltway insider Cokie Roberts and political reporter Juan Williams of NPR (and Fox News) and wonder why NPR is considered liberal. I watch NBC and wonder how anyone can say it's liberal when one of it's primary political reporters is Andrea Mitchell who is married to Alan Greenspan, the acolyte of Ayn Rand and the man at least partly responsible for our economic problems, from the national debt to the mortgage meltdown.

I am not ojective, I admit, but these are the stories I've seen this week: Obama went back on his word over campaign financing (flip flop!) and he approved the new FISA compromise. Neither of those stories are positive, the FISA compromise, in particular, is a big disappointment.

I've also heard about the Newsweek poll that puts Obama 12 to 15 points ahead of McCain, and in every story I've read or heard, reporters are quick to point out that this poll is "an outlier" and may not reflect how close the race really is.

I've heard that Obama trails McCain when people are asked about national security, that a McCain advisor said a terrorist attack would benefit McCain's campaign and that Karl Rove thinks Obama is "that guy" at the country club that makes snide remarks about everyone else. Yes, the same Karl Rove who was recently hired to write for Newsweek.

What I haven't seen in the mainstream news is how McCain's top energy advisor, Phil Gramm, was responsible for legislation that unleashed Enron on the US, at a time when Phil Gramm's wife, Wendy, sat on the board of Enron. You'd think if the media really did lean left, this would be major news, but sadly, it is not.

Liberal media? Maybe at one time, like in the 70's, but not today. Today a small handful of corporations own the majority of media outlets. Reporters who want to keep their access to the White House are remarkably uncritical. Columnists who were fired after 9/11 were fired because they criticized Bush. Columnists who have been consistently wrong, especially about the war, have been rewarded. Just look at the records of Tom Friedman and David Brooks, both of the liberal New York Times.

So, I'm not buying it. I know a lot of people believe it, but I think it's convenient bunk. If there's any romance being written by the mainstream, it's a love of money and an infatuation with the trivial.

But you won't read about that in the news, either.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

iPods in the News.

This morning, the editor of Rolling Stone said that Obama has great musical taste, which doesn't surprise me. In an interview with RS, Obama admits that he has "pretty eclectic tastes."

What's on his iPod?

The Rolling Stones, Ludacris, Springsteen, Stevie Wonder, and Dylan. He's quoted as saying, "One of my favourites ... is Maggie's Farm. It speaks to me as I listen to some of the political rhetoric." There's also Miles, Coltrane and Charlie Parker. Pretty decent mix, if you ask me.

Curious, I looked up Bush's iPod list and found this partial list:

John Fogerty, Van Morrison, Stevie Ray Vaughan, The Knack, Blackie and the Rodeo Kings, Alan Jackson, George Jones, Kenny Chesney, Eric Clapton, Robert Palmer and Bryan Adams.

Not too unexpected. No Hammell on Trial or Steve Earle.

Cheney's iPod?

The VP rocks out to Hank Williams, some tunes from the 40's and the wails of tortured prisoners. Again, no surprises.

Hillary Clinton's iPod is pretty cool. Her playlist is boomer-centric with the Beatles, the Eagles and Aretha. No Celine Dion.

And John McCain's iPod: Abba.

Mama Mia.

So, what's on your iPod? And would it hurt you if you ran for office?

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Bill Kristol, irony-free since 1984.

This is New York Times columnist, William Kristol, a man who became famous by being Irving Kristol's son.

Once a week, Kristol writes a fact-free Op-Ed piece for the Times and yesterday he penned a brightly-polished turd that is right up their with the best of his best work.

He was writing about this ad:

If you haven't seen it, it shows a young mom with her baby son, Alex. She tells John McCain that if he's serious about staying in Iraq for 100 years, and he's counting on little Alex to feed the cannon, he can look elsewhere.

Sure, like any 30 second ad, you can pull it apart by its loose threads, but the message is still there - war requires mothers to sacrifice their sons and daughters. When asked to make that sacrifice, many mothers, both Democrat and Republican, say they would rather not. It's how moms are.

Bill Kristol thinks Alex's mom is selfish. He quotes an unnamed mom blog commenter, the most reliable source ever, as saying:

“...Someone has to stand between our society and danger. If not my son, then who? If not little Alex then someone else will have to stand and deliver. Someone’s son, somewhere.”

Kristol, wiping away a crocodile tear, writes:

"The MoveOn ad is unapologetic in its selfishness, and barely disguised in its disdain for those who have chosen to serve — and its contempt for those parents who might be proud of sons and daughters who are serving. The ad boldly embraces a vision of a selfish and infantilized America, suggesting that military service and sacrifice are unnecessary and deplorable relics of the past.
And the sole responsibility of others."

Let's leave aside Kristol's overwrought interpretation of this mom having contempt for people who serve. Let's overlook Kristol's conflation of the disaster in Iraq with all wars that depend on the sacrifice of men and women like my brother and sister, my father and his brother, Jenny's father and, the least likely soldier of all, myself.

No, let's look at his last umbrage-laden sentence, that service in MoveOn's view is "...the sole responsibility of others."

For those of you who may have forgotten, Bill Kristol, besides being a crackerjack columnist, was also one of the leading lights behind the Project for the New American Century, or PNAC. PNAC was a collection of brilliant minds, all of them thinking as hard as they could about international things. You might have heard about their most innovative product. It's called the Iraq War.

Hmm, you might say, so Bill Kristol and his friends sent a lot of other people off to war. But surely, when it was their time to serve, Bill Kristol and his friends didn't think of it as "the sole responsibility of others."

So, who, among these brilliant architects of the misadventure in Iraq, served?

Kristol? Wolfowitz? Feith? Cheney? Perle? Bueller? Bueller? Anyone?

No, when Bill Kristol had a chance to take someone else's place in the line, to serve his country as he wants Alex to, Bill Kristol stood with his fellow PNAC patriots and said, "Let somebody else do it."

When I get lectured about "...those who have chosen to serve — and ... parents who might be proud of sons and daughters who are serving" by a man whose closest brush with uniformed service comes when he orders a Big Mac from the back of his limousine, I think this is as useful and full of intellectual integrity as Kristol's paper-thin patriotism.

So to you, Mr. Kristol, this old enlisted man suggests you take your precious respect for the people who serve, roll it up into a tiny, little ball, and stick it firmly up your ass.

You know, where your head usually is.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Another one of my heroes is gone.

Maybe it's my age, maybe it's the season, maybe it's just 7 years of Bush, but I find I no longer have any tolerance for bullshit.

Which makes George Carlin one of my heroes. As you probably know, George died last night, leaving us without his strong voice in this season of unceasing bullshit.

It's nearly impossible to imagine today, but George was arrested several times for his "7 words" bit. The first time in 1972. That's right, the cops hauled his ass to jail for doing comedy. Now that's bullshit.

In honor of George, here's one of my favorite rants against bullshit. Enjoy.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

A once in a lifetime opportunity.

I left work yesterday and settled in for my usual 40 minute commute home. Paul Butterfield was blowing a harp solo on the box and traffic was its usual rush hour pack of swift moving automobiles.

About 4 miles from the airport, traffic began to slow. I saw a few police cars blocking an exit and figured there was an accident. As I-40 swept up past the Wade Avenue exit, I saw that the opposite lanes of the Interstate, usually bumper to bumper this time of day, were empty. Not a car in sight. It was like a scene from On The Beach. Spooky.

Our westbound lanes continued on as usual. It was only the eastbound lanes that were abandoned of all commuter life. Then, lights flashing, two motorcycle cops came toward us. They were followed by more cops on bikes. Then an EMT truck. Behind that, a long line of black SUVs.

I got into the left lane, closest to the oncoming motorcade. I let the black SUVs get closer. I knew who was sitting behind one of those darkened windows and I knew I would never have this opportunity again.

As the motorcade pulled opposite, I held up my middle finger. It was only for a moment, but in that brief flash of the single digit, I got to tell George W. Bush, America's petite dauphin, exactly what I thought of the way he's handled his office.

And it felt good. It felt damn good.

When a regular guy, commuting home after a long week at work, gets to flip off the most powerful man in the world, it just reminds me why I fly the flag every 4th of July.

Damn, I love this country.

Have a good weekend.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Winners and Losers.

A few weeks ago, our band agreed to play in the Triangle Blues Society's Blues Challenge, a competition for a slot in Memphis and our local Bull Durham Blues Festival. I was OK with this, and when Tim, our guitar player, expressed discomfort at making music into a compeition, I said that if we go into it with the right attitude, it should be fine. Next weekend, on the 27th, we'll be playing at the Blue Bayou, my favorite bar.

But now I'm having second thoughts.

Our good friend, Ed Mezynski, is the drummer for Valentino and the Piedmont Sheiks, another band in the competition. This morning, Ed gave me this list, guaranteed to make the event go well:

1 Relax and have fun
2 Try to play well
3 Stay within the time parameters
4 Sit down and enjoy the other bands
5 Enjoy a cold beverage
6 Expect nothing
7 Hug the pretty girls (repeat as often as allowed)

I've won stuff and lost stuff and I'm always pretty even-keeled about it either way. Beneath A Panamanian Moon was nominated for a few prizes, and that was great. I didn't win, but according to witnesses, I had a great time. Mostly because I adhered to #5 and #6.

So I'm going to try to follow Ed's list of approved activities and relax. Still something about this just doesn't feel right, but I'm sure I'll get over it.

So, how about you? How do you handle these things?

Talk to me.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Naked breasts and Texas.

If you're a regular reader, you probably recognize certain themes at The Planet. There's the Bullshit in Politics theme. There's the News That Should Be Too Personal to Relate But Isn't theme.

And there's this one, a personal favorite. It's the Conservatives Are Freaks theme.

This time it involves a Texan Republican who came to Washington with a busload of Promise Keepers and was shocked by all the nekkid people he saw in the nation's capital.

Robert Hurt, a rancher, GOP delegate, and father of 14 (he kept his eyes closed the whole time, he says), told the Washington Post, "You don't have nude art on your front porch, so why is it important to have that in the common places of Washington, D.C.?"

Sadly, I don't have a front porch. But if I did, I'd happily have some of these naked pictures on it.
Of course, I'm a liberal, which means I'm already going to hell.

Or, to quote Jim Gaffigan, I'm practically sprinting there.

It's not that Mr. Hurt wants to curtail anybody's freedom. In fact, he said that he respects free speech, as long as you say stuff he agrees with and shows art he likes. Art with clothes on it.
"I believe art affects a country indirectly," Hurt said. "I have been studying the decline of morals in this country. It's sending the wrong message to children that nudity is fine, that nakedness is fine. . . . There are degrees of vulgarity, and it opens up the door for the other stuff."

That other stuff, that's the real problem. Imagine, if you let marble females show their naked lady lumps in public, before you know it, everyone will be walking around brazenly naked under their clothes and then where will we be?

Hurt hasn't been able to get anyone in power to cover up all the naked bosoms, winkies and bottoms in Washington, but he's not one to give up. He said he'll make another trip to DC to videotape the evidence.

That's right. He's going to videotape the evidence, so he can study it in the privacy of his home back in Texas.

When his wife is visting her sister in Amarillo.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Raleigh's resident horse's ass.

There's a local columnist named Rick Martinez who is associated with the conservative American Enterprise Institute and news director of the local radio station that hosts Rush, Hannity and other political commentators who present the entire spectrum of political thought from right to far right.

This morning he proved that he's either dishonest or stupid. I'll let you decide which. He wrote:

"Barack Obama employed another myth that drives Bryce and me nuts -- that U.S. dependence on foreign oil finances terrorism. Baloney. As Bryce put it during an appearance at the American Enterprise Institute, al-Qaida, Hamas, the Taliban and every other Terrorist-R-Us group won't go broke and out of business if we stop importing oil."

It's easy to spot the glowing turd of Martinez's logic. Saying that oil revenues finance terrorism is a no-brainer, right? Even Dick Cheney would agree to that. But saying that drying up oil revenues would eliminate terrorism is an entirely different argument, and one that Obama didn't make. This is what Obama actually did say in Michigan the other day:

"Oil money pays for the bombs going off from Baghdad to Beirut, and the bombast of dictators from Caracas to Tehran. Our nation will not be secure unless we take that leverage away..."

So, is Martinez stupid or dishonest? I could make a cheap joke and say he's both, but I won't. I don't think Martinez is stupid.

But I suspect he thinks we are.

Friday, June 13, 2008

The Bridge.

We watched this documentary last night. It's deeply disturbing and yet, beautiful. The director, Eric Steel, has done something remarkable here, showing us how people get to a point where jumping off the Golden Gate is a relief from the prison that their lives have become.

Cut with interviews of family and friends and beautiful shots of the Golden Gate and San Francisco bay, are shots of people jumping. Watching someone climb over the rail and over the edge is a shock I can't shake, nor do I want to.

The film, when it was released, caught a lot of flack from critics who saw this as a glorification of suicide or the exploitation of tragedy, but I didn't see it that way. To me, this is a closer look at the victims of mental illness, including the families, and the desperation that drives them to take that last long step into darkness.

This movie will stick with me. I highly recommend it, but be warned, it's tough to watch.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

They have no shame, part 126853979462.

The right wing just oozes class. Take a look at the new Obama sock monkey for sale in Utah. Read more here.

Fox News, not to be outdone on the racist jackass front, calls Michelle Obama a baby mama, which implies that Barack and Michelle are not married.

Yes, that is Michelle Malkin again, taking precious time away from identifying dangerous fashion accessories to show America just how monumentally stupid she really is. Again, read more here.

I'm willing to bet that at Fox, as well as the White House, no one has ever said, "I think we could get away with that, but it would be wrong."

Nope, not once.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Fiction, nonfiction and why doesn't this guy get it?

This is Jack Shafer, one of the editors at Slate magazine, and he seems to think that David Sedaris, the man who came to fame with a story about his part-time employment as a Christmas elf, is a reporter, as in someone who should tell the story EXACTLY as it happened, with no embellishments.

As Jenny (and I suspect the spouses of many of my readers - you know who you are) will tell you, I can spit out the same story three times and each time will be different. Early in our marriage she asked how that could happen and I reminded her that she did not marry an historian. She married a storyteller. She has come to accept the difference.

But Mr. Shafer does not. He wants to read Mr. Sedaris and know that everything is the precise truth, note for note as it happened. As an example he says, "I find stories that are absolutely true—like the time one of my neighbors, dressed up to party on Saturday night, fell into a 55-gallon drum filled with human excrement and urine—the funniest."

Ha ha. A guy all dressed up falls in shit. That's hilarious.

Perhaps that's why David Sedaris is widely read and Jack Shafer is not.

It's called entertainment. It's not history. It's not reportage. But Shafer gets this b&w distinction in his maw and shakes it like a rag doll.

"If writing fiction is the license Sedaris and other nonfiction humorists need to get at 'larger truths,' why limit this exemption to humorists? Let reporters covering city hall, war, and business to embellish and exaggerate so they can capture "larger truths," too. I'm sure that Stephen Glass, Jayson Blair, Christopher Newton, and Slate's "monkeyfishing guy" would back this idea, especially if applied retroactively."

That's right. Charlatans like Glass and the Million Little Pieces guy are exactly like David Sedaris.

Except they're not. I'm on record with my umbrage over fictional memoirists, but Sedaris is not in that school. He's a humorist.

And if you make me laugh, I'll give you all the license you need to rearrange facts.

Is that so wrong? I don't think so.

More news from the American Institute of DUH.

Surprise, government research has discovered that smoking a lot of pot is bad for you. According to this report:

"Chronic marijuana use is not only causing people to get high, it's actually causing long-term adverse effects in patients who use too much of the drug," Cadet, whose study is in the journal Molecular Psychiatry, said in a telephone interview. "Chronic marijuana abuse is not so benign."
How much pot are we talking about?

"The marijuana users in the study averaged smoking 78 to 350 marijuana cigarettes per week, based on self-reported drug history, the researchers said."
Jumpin' Jesus, 350 joints a week? Really?


Perhaps, if we think about this, there's another reason for those health problems. Maybe it's the munchy affect.

And yes, that is a Krispy Kreme.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Did somebody drop America on its head?

I didn't think I could be surprised by the depths of Michelle Malkin's stupidity, but this recent dust-up had me shaking my head. Rachel Ray, a person I didn't know existed before this flap, had the audacity to appear in a Dunkin Donuts commercial wearing a SCARF! Based on this scarf's print, Malkin sussed out a terrorist thread and went all crazy, which for Malkin is crazy on a scale rarely seen outside of upholstered rooms.

And because Malkin is considered a credible source by right wing bloggers, the crazy swept across the country and Dunkin Donuts, in a craven display of corporate cowardice, pulled the ad instead of telling this handful of loons to suck it.

Now comes one of the Fox News blonde bimbettes suggesting that Michelle and Brack Obama's celebratory fist bump might be a secret gang sign of


It's enough to make Jesus drink himself to sleep. When I was a GI, this was a common greeting among the brothers and self-conscious white guys. It was "doing the dap." And yes, while we were armed, and we did have a major grievance with our government, we weren't terrorists.

Finally, while this ran a few weeks ago, it deserves another look. Fox News makes assassination of a presidential candidate funny. Ha. Ha. What a great joke.

And while I am certainly not the most stable person in the world (you knew that), these people make me look like a poster boy for mental health.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Some Monday odds and ends.

The Good: As we were leaving San Francisco last week, we met this lovely woman, Amanda. Amanda is a ballet dancer and had just come from a successful audition. Amanda's husband, Jose, is a Navy corpsman serving in Afghanistan. When I meet young people like Amanda, it makes me think this country's going to be all right.

I've posted before about how the two cultures, the arts and the military, seem to be growing farther and farther apart, but here's a young family where these two live both to the fullest. Hoo-uh.

The Bad: This is Carly Fiorina, John McCain's senior economic advisor. I caught her on TV this morning laying out McCain's well-considered, nuanced economic plan. Are you ready?

Cut taxes. That's right, it's the George W. Bush Patented Panacea for All Ills Economic.

Budget surplus? Cut. Budget deficit? Cut. High gas prices? Cut. People being laid off? Just cut the capital gains tax. That oughtta fix things right up.

And Ms. Fiorina knows a thing or two about being canned. Hewlett-Packard let her go after some of her ideas resulted in a few thousand people being laid off and, the ultimate sin for any CEO, lower stock prices. The poor woman, after her failure, was forced to walk away with a paltry 21 million in severance.

This is the woman John McCain sent out to sell an old sack of bullshit as premium fertilizer. I wish her luck.

The Ugly. I saw this bumper sticker on a van with Florida tags today. The van was being driven by an angry old man who cut a guy off, nearly causing an accident. When the aggrieved driver honked, the old man gave him the finger and then proceeded, as Florida law demands, to drive in the left lane with his blinker on. No, I am not making that up. What an asshole.

As a side note, I'm writing an article about tattoo removal and I'm looking for stories. Anyone?

Friday, June 06, 2008

Friday cookie update.

Good grief, Columbus.

Sue, the woman in fits of unbridled glee over last week's gi-normous cookie, sent in this photo from Ohio, showing just what a deficient state Ohio is, cookie-wise.

Another reason to flee the Buckeye State.

How people live there is a mystery.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Welcome to The Rock.

On a fog-shrouded Tuesday morning, Jenny and I boarded a ferry for Alcatraz. A crooked judge gave us a Valentine (a short bit in con speak), and we expected to be free and back in San Francisco by lunch.

This was our first view of the prison. That is what's left of the warden's house. Yeah, cry me a river, Warden.

The long walk up to the cellblock was equally welcoming.

Finally, we looked up at the Graybar Hotel, a vacation stop for guests like Capone, Machine Gun Kelly and Robert "Birdman" Stroud. Here's a typical guest suite.

Note the sumptuous in-room work space, the comfy bed and, hidden discreetly behind the mattress, the private bathroom facilities.

This is C-D Street with access to the community library on your left. I looked for Safe and Sound, but it had apparently been checked out by some guy named Creepy Karpis. I guess he wanted a good thriller to take to the beach.

It was overdue.

This is Broadway, looking west toward Times Square. Beneath the clock is the hotel's restaurant, where the last meal served included steamed wheat and scrambled eggs.

This is the yard, where men played ball and bridge and occasionally shanked a rat, just to keep things honest.

The screws' entrance.

As we leave, the guards wave good-bye and hope to see us again, real soon.

Exhausted, Jenny and I take a nap.

San Francisco - Day 3

Ignoring a cold I'd picked up in evil San Francisco, we rented a car and drove north,

through Marin County and up into Napa, then followed the navigator through winding back roads to the coast, where we, like Balboa, discovered the Pacific.

It was a great trip.

Take a good look at that map up there. See how windy the coastal road looks? Well, that isn't half of it. I wore my arms out while Jenny got the view. That's what husbands are for.

To end the day, we got on the cable car. Got off at the bottom of Lombard on Columbus and walked, yes walked, up Lombard and were rewarded with this view.

Next, The Planet goes to prison!

We interrupt this travelogue for an important message from our sponsor.

Twelve Cents Shy will be appearing at Papa Mojo's, the fabulous Cajun venue for good food and good music this Saturday night.

Papa Mojo's is Mel Melton's new hot spot in Durham. Mel is a consummate Cajun chef and one hell of a hot harp player, the front man of the Wicked Mojos for years and one of my favorite bands anywhere.

The last time I saw Mel play, I was at the Cape Fear Crime Festival, happy to be there, but sorry I was going to miss Mel's CD party that Saturday in Hillsborough. As I was tooling toward the beach I looked up and saw on a bar's marquee, Mel Melton and the Wicked Mojos!

That night I went to hear a set of wicked blues with my friends, The Mr. and Mrs. Dusty Rhoades.

More on Mr. Rhoades later as I hear he's got some news.

If you're in town, please come out and hear the band. We would love to play Mel's place again and the more people who show up, the more likely he is to ask us back.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Snapshots from the edge - Day 2: Welcome to Oakland

This is my nephew's radio, or lack thereof. He assures me it took six months of leaving the car, unlocked, in a civic-iffy spot, before the local skateboarders copped it, and it's proaby unfair of me to start my post about Oakland with a cheap joke about crime.

But hey, if you're here, you know that cheap jokes are what the Planet's all about.

I live in Durham, a town maliciously maligned by its white bread neighbors, and here I am heaping bad PR on a beautiful spot. I should be ashamed.

Again, regular readers will recognize that I am not.

This is my nephew, Kenny. He gave us the grand tour of Oakland and neighboring Berkeley and we were joyful tourists. We had brunch at his restaurant, T-Rex (plug plug)and then went on to the Oakland Museum to see the exhibit, The Birth of the Cool.

And it was indeed coolness to a degree rarely achieved by any museum, anywhere. But back to Oakland. Here they can put their politics on a marquee, politics that those of us in North Carolina can only whisper. Gasp.

As usual, I met some people.

This is Ellen and Lynnette. Lynette has books in her head that she wants to shake free, so she asked me, me of the 3 year block, for advice. Probably not a good idea. Ellen has written a cookbook she sells out of her B&B. Her B&B is close to the Shakespeare Festival, so it has to be good.

This young lady was waiting for a BART train and I had to take her picture. Her name is Ref Wiggum, and she's a Bay City Roller Girl. I took this picture for Riva Derci, our own Tai-Cheetah. Hoo-uh.

Finally, the day ended at John's Grill, back in San Francisco. John's is best known as the favorite spot of Dashiell Hammett, a guy you might have heard of who wrote a book you might have read.

So it all comes full circle.

And that, my friend, is cool.