Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Great Escape.

Nothing makes the boredom of military life melt away like a book.

I had a friend back in the states who sent me books. I will always be grateful. I doubt if she knows just how much that meant to me. I'm not sure anyone can know who hasn't been there, opening a box from home.

Which is why I'm also grateful to the more than two dozen people who signed up to send books to the 47th Combat Support Hospital in Iraq. I expect the first boxes will be showing up soon. I'll keep you posted.

You guys are terrific.

Sorry I haven't been posting much this week. I hurt my back doing something I must be too old to do, although I don't know what that was. Just sitting hurts.

This weekend I'm going to lie flat and relax. Maybe by next Monday I'll be whole again. Wish me luck.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Is that a sausage in your pants?

Did you know that the most commonly shoplifted item in America is the Bible? Really. The book that commands "Thou shalt not steal" is the hot ticket to pinch?

What's going on here? Is there a boom market for hot gospels? Are shoplifters more religious than we heathens? Or are the religious just more inclined to take things that don't belong to them?

Maybe they did as Jesus instructed, gave away all their shit and then found themselves Word deficient. I don't know.

Whatever it is that moves people to give up their good name and court jail time in exchange for a Bible they could probably get for free from some generous evangelical is beyond me.

Not that I'm above larceny. Everyone has their price, as the cynic says, and I'm not deluded enough to think I can't be bought. Hell, I'm in advertising. I sold my soul decades ago. But outright theft? I'm not sure of much, but I know my price is higher than the cost of a sausage from Whole Foods, that's for sure.

Which is the first thing this professional shoplifter interviewed in the Gothamist said he stole. A sausage, stuffed down his pants. Jesus, dude, have a little dignity.

I took some small pleasure in knowing he stole from Whole Foods, the company whose CEO is one of those loopy Ayn Randers, people who've fucked us up with their economics of greed.

I don't suggest you get into shoplifting, but if you're out of work, thanks to the economics of that other famous Ayn Rander, Milton Friedman, then here's some advice from the pro:

1...choose your locations carefully ... Don't start right away, go there several times, walk around, get to know the people who work there, especially the ones who don't dress in uniform.

2...get to know the camera system. You don’t want to be directly under the camera, you don’t want to be in front of the camera, you want to find blind spots, this is my technical term. Beyond the corner or the bottom reach of the camera.

3...have an exit strategy. Meaning put things in different places, in your pocket or under your pants. Don’t do it right away. First you take the item and walk with it for a little bit. Then when the moment is right and the inspiration is correct, you put it in there. And you don’t run away right away, you stay and shop in the store for awhile until the energy comes down and then you calmly walk out. But the bottom line is don’t rush, don’t rush.

I guess this is good advice in our new oligarchical economy. Bibles or bratwurst, maybe that's what we'll all have to look forward to in retirement.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Our soldiers should be...

... well-trained, well-fed and well-read.

Yes, I'm still badgering you to donate books to the 47th Combat Support Hospital in Iraq.

For the address, drop me an e-mail: davidterrenoire at

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

A modest request.

This is the Al Asad Air Base in Iraq. And yes, that is a sandstorm about to swallow it up.

This is the charming new home of my niece's husband, a surgeon with the 47th Combat Support Hospital.

I want you to send books to this hospital. Send 1 or 20. I want to send books because I can't send each and every person there an ice-cold vodka tonic.

Some bloggers ask for donations. I don't do that. I write this blog for free, in the hope that it provides you some small amusement. Now I'm asking you to pony up.

Do it for the men and women working long hours in the hospital. Do it for their patients.

You and I know how important books are. Pass that on to people who might think we've forgotten about them.

Send an email to davidterrenoire at and I'll send you the address. Ask your friends and family. I guarantee this small thing will make a big difference.

Let's build a library in Iraq.

Update: My e-mail again is davidterrenoire at

Monday, August 17, 2009

The girls you don't kiss.

Unless you've been asleep or living in a cave, you know that 40 years ago a half million people came together in upstate New York.

I was a young GI at the time, stationed at Fort Monmouth, New Jersey, learning how to call in hard rain on the unsuspecting.

A couple friends said to me, "There's a big concert in New York this weekend, you wanna go?"

I had a date that coming weekend, and there was a high potential for some skin-on-skin activity. So I said no.

And I missed Woodstock.

What's worse, I didn't get laid, either.

It's one of the regrets I've accumulated as I've grown older, the missed opportunities, the roads I could have taken, the places I could have seen. But instead, I took other roads and saw other places, and it all worked out. No complaints.

But it is true what the philosopher said: "It's not the girls you kiss you regret, but the girls you don't kiss."

So, Woodstock is one of my regrets, which in the big picture isn't so bad. It just taught me to say yes more often.

How about you? What bounces around your skull in still moments and anniversaries? What, or who did you let slip away?

I'll leave you with one of my favorite, often overlooked pieces from Woodstock. This is John Sebastian, tripping his ass off on acid.

He hadn't expected to play, but was asked to do a 15-minute acoustic set while they swept water off the stage so the electric players wouldn't get zapped. Like a trouper he got up and held it together long enough to do a couple of songs, even if the lyrics did drift away a time or two.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Found him.

This is the headstone for James Ryan, a 19-year-old KIA on Iwo Jima. I've been looking for his grave for years, with the hope of finding his family. So much time has elapsed, and the name Ryan is so common, I don't hold much hope of the latter, but then, I didn't expect to find this, either.

Maybe his family will stumble upon this or the memorial page TD Miller kindly created for him.

James Ryan was my uncle's best friend in the Marines. As one of their comrades wrote to me when I began this search, "They were the first to go on liberty and the last to return." Neither of the young men lived to be 20.

This is the picture that started my search and is quite possibly the last photo taken of either:

My uncle is on the left. Ryan is on the right. The Marine who wrote to me about them said that he was on the hospital ship when he heard that they were killed. He was told that they were together. It gives me some sad comfort to know that. I don't quite know why.

I will continue to look for Ryan's family in the hope that I can give them a copy of this picture. He was from California and he's buried in San Francisco, so that, at least narrows my search.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Les Paul is No More.

Guitar player, performer and inventor died at the age of 94 in White Plains, NY.
You can read more here.

More Town Hall Crazy.

I know we shouldn't dismiss these people. They're sincerely scared that Obama is somehow going to turn the US into Communist Roosha overnight.

But Goddamn, this is one big ball of crazy. Here's one woman yesterday in one of these town hall cage matches and her representative is a Republican.

She stood up and said she had five children, telling us nothing more than she's fertile and shuns birth control. She said her husband works hard and pays for the family's health insurance. Again, that told us little more than her husband is employed and his insurance company hasn't decided that covering all those babies is too expensive. Yet.

Then she said, "Because he's white, because he considers the Constitution the law of the land, we are now considered terrorists in our own country." The crowd cheered. "We're considered domestic terrorists, everyone in this room, in the eyes of our own government, if someone gives the word we could all be rounded up." That told us that she's paranoid delusional.

She also said that health care reform could lead to nurses coming into homes, forcing women to have abortions. "You could very well end up on a list for a mandatory abortion."

And that tells us that she's fucking crazy.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The subtle and not-so-subtle art of propaganda.

I've written this blog for 3 1/2 years and along the way I've said some things that were intemperate, ill-considered and sometimes (gasp) even wrong.

So I must confess that I've also been inconsistent. I've said that William Kristol, number one Palin fan, Washington Post columnist and editor of the conservative Weekly Standard, was the Wrongest Man in America.

I've also said that David Brooks, New York Times columnist and frequent televised talking head, was King of Wrong.

Obviously, they both can't be. One of them has to take the silver.

The latest evidence? An appearance by David Brooks on Meet the Press where he was asked about Obama's efforts to reform America's health plan and shown Rush Limbaugh comparing Nancy Pelosi to Hitler. Here's what he said:

"I hadn't seen the Rush Limbaugh thing. That is insane. What he's saying is insane.

But I guess I would say the, the first thing is it has been a conventional wisdom among the smartest people in Washington that this is such a tough issue you got to do it on a bipartisan basis. And the Obama administration, for better or worse, decided not to do that.

There was a thing called the Wyden-Bennett bill that really could have launched a bipartisan, so leaders of both parties could have gone out to these town meetings. They didn't do it, they chose more or less a Democratic plan and now all hell is breaking loose. And we are now--and it's not just the crazies, among whom we just saw some."

Ah, calm, rational David Brooks. Did you see what he did there? He pirouetted away from the ravings of Limbaugh, making Brooks seem sane, and then he laid the crazy mob behavior of Limbaugh's followers on Obama's doorstep because Obama wasn't bipartisan. Then he said that it wasn't just the crazies who opposed the bill, making the crazy people seem sane.

Wow, that is some fancy footwork there - People are going insane because Obama isn't bipartisan and that makes going insane a sane thing to do.


First, let's take a look at this bipartisan Wyden-Bennett bill. It's complicated, as any bill that hopes to fix this train wreck will be, but it looks like it has some merit. You can see a summary of it from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities here.

This is the bill that Mr. Brooks says, if only Obama had backed this, everything would be all sweetness and light with calm people debating calmly in an atmosphere of calm.

Uh, not according to the right-wing Heritage Foundation who cautioned Republicans from backing the bill. They didn't advocate going crazy, but that's not what Heritage Foundation people do. It would muss their hair.

No, the Heritage Foundation counts on crazy people like Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh to incite the masses.

And David Brooks' call for bipartisanship? Someone should remind him of how Grover Norquist, DC mover and shaker and College Republican pal of Karl Rove, defined it.

"We are trying to change the tones in the state capitals -- and turn them toward bitter nastiness and partisanship," he told
the Denver Post. "Bipartisanship is another name for date rape."

And we all know how eagerly the Republicans have worked with Obama to solve America's problems.

Bipartisanship, my ass.

So, I could say David Brooks is wrong, earning him a point in his contest with Kristol, but I think David Brooks knows exactly what he's doing. So he's not wrong, he's just dishonest.

Leaving Bill Kristol, his heart still going pitty-pat for la femme Palin, even as she goes completely off the rails, holding the King of Wrong crown.

Bill Kristol, still the Wrongest Man in America.

Fox News. Fair and Balanced

and Wrong.

Look, I know geography isn't America's strong suit, but that country is Iraq. You know, the country Fox News was so eager to invade.

Good thing Sean Hannity wasn't leading our troops* or we might have ended up in New Jersey.

Is it any wonder people who watch this channel are so wrong, so often?

Thanks to the always-entertaining for this.

*This would never happen, of course, because it would require Sean Hannity to actually grow a pair and serve his country.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Oh my God, they beat up Kenny!

You bastards!

If you haven't been following the Town Hall traveling circus, the man in the wheelchair is Kenneth Gladney, a conservative black man from St. Louis who showed up to protest health care reform, the kind of reform that would cover people who were laid off without insurance.

People like Kenneth Gladney.

The Mighty Wurlitzer of right wing media has made a hero out of Kenny, claiming he was beaten by union supporters of reform. Fox News has practically orgasmed over the opportunity to:

1. Add more noise to the health care debate
2. Show a genuine black conservative who is not Michael Steele
3. Wring their hands over an oppressed minority - a first!
4. Say the words "union thugs" over and over
5. Pretend to champion free speech

Before some Anonymous asshat accuses me of being selective in my support of dissent, I'm not a fan of silencing anyone. I'm old enough to remember when New York hardhats waded into a group of anti-Vietnam war protesters, beating them bloody. I didn't like it then and I don't like it now.

So while I'm angry that anybody gets roughed up for exercising their First Amendment rights, this story is yet another shining example of a Republican working against his own best interests.

And irony? Lady, you're soaking in it.

So far, no reports that Rupert Murdoch has ponied up for Kenny's medical bills.

For those who haven't seen the assault, you can see it here, although it's not very clear what happened, it is pretty clear that Gladney's OK. That is until he gets a lawyer who sees a chance to wring a few bucks out of Kenny's 15 minutes.

And that my friends, is truly the American way.

I woke up this morning with the news in my ear.

I heard that half the people in North Carolina don't believe Obama is an American and a majority of them don't know Hawaii is a state.

These are the same people who are crowding into the Town Hall fiascos yelling and shouting and never listening. They scream "Keep the government out of my Medicare." They yell "socialism" and then go to the V.A. for their blood pressure medicine.

And more frighteningly, they operate a 3-ton SUV at 70 miles per hour just a few feet from me, every goddam day.

These are the Christians, like the good woman here who is cleverly giving us all the finger, tee hee. I'd bet she doesn't know ABC is owned by the Disney Corporation.

And I'll lay good money that she doesn't know that these astro-turfed Town Hall disruptions are paid for and organized by GOP flacks, right wing PR firms and health insurance companies deathly afraid of losing their monopoly.

I would say they're stupid, but I know some of them and they're not stupid. They're ill-informed, manipulated, lied to and scared, but they're not stupid. And that makes it even worse.

Which leads me to Despair. Despair that nothing will be done to fix our broken health care system because while the GOP is really good at convincing people that Obama is going to kill your mama, that Mexicans are going to crowd you out of your doctor's waiting room and that your grandparents will face "death panels," they suck at actually coming up with anything more positive than stamping their feet and screaming "No!"

The death panel thing comes from the lovely Sarah Palin, who waved her Down's Syndrome baby around like the proverbial bloody shirt, exploiting that little kid again for political gain. Shameful.

Palin should take her own advice, honor the American soldier's sacrifice and stop making shit up.

But that's not going to happen. And that's why the word of the day, kids, is Despair. It's what's for dinner.

UPDATE: For a really great rant about Sarah's death panels, try this.

A sample:

"...You have no idea what it’s like to be called into a sterile conference room with a hospital administrator you’ve never met before and be told that your mother’s insurance policy will only pay for 30 days in ICU. You can't imagine what it's like to be advised that you need to “make some decisions,” like whether your mother should be released “HTD” which is hospital parlance for “home to die...”

Monday, August 10, 2009

And yes, there was alcohol involved.

The post-mortem score as it stands today:

Lenin 1, Stalin 0.

Of course, Vladimir Ilyich has a ways to go catch up with Uncle Joe's estimated murder of 20 million. And that doesn't even count the war years.

But you have to give it to Lenin. There is a certain perseverance in reaching out from the grave.

From the AP:

MINSK, Belarus -- Belarusian officials says that a massive statue of Soviet founder Vladimir Lenin collapsed on a man who was hanging from it, killing him on the spot.

The Emergency Situations ministry said Monday that the 21-year-old man was drunk when he climbed onto the five-meter (16-feet)-high plaster monument early Monday and hung from its arm. It then broke into pieces and he was crushed.

Proof that there are rednecks across the globe. Pass the vodka, comrade, and then watch this.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Mr. Waits.

We all need a palate cleanser after the urn post. Jesus, what a thing to wish on your heirs.

The NYT dug up this clip from Fernwood Tonight and suggested that maybe Martin Mull didn't understand Tom Waits' act, which does a huge disservice to Mr. Mull's truck-sized sense of irony.

As is often the case, the only one left out of the joke is the New York Times.

Years ago, a few years before this clip aired, I went to a big party and at the door the hostess asked, "Will you be getting naked tonight?"

I said that I hoped so, eventually, because I hated sleeping in my clothes.

She explained that many of the partiers would be shedding their clothes and those people would be designated by a gold star.

I declined.

It was a good party and as the crowd loosened up, first one, then two, and then more people appeared sans clothing, drinking, smoking, talking as if there was nothing untoward about a naked person standing at the buffet dipping into the canapes. I heard there was some group sex happening in another room, so I knew which room to avoid.

One fellow, gold star afixed to his forehead, sat in a corner, naked except for his briefs. He looked uncomfortable and very alone.I wanted to tell him it was OK to put on his pants. And it was OK to shed the jockeys. But choose.

That guy? That guy probably went on to work at the New York Times.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

A quick look around to see what's happening in the world.

and ... OH MY GOD!

Wish it into the cornfield, Billy, wish it into the cornfield.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Summer Vacation.

Crippled by a recurring migraine and near-terminal ennui, I'm closing up the Planet for a while.