Friday, July 28, 2006

A Modest Proposal: Peace

“If we could just join hands , , ,”

More killing or less, which way should we go? I’ve been drifting between making a modest proposal and singing “give peace a chance.” At this moment, it’s pretty clear that the former is the way of the world and nothing in our shitheaded moral universe is going to change that. Unless the fucking Republicans are thrown out of the majority this fall, killing is going to be a growth industry for the foreseeable future. And Fox News is going to make it sound sensible to middle half-witted Americans and their sympathizers in the churches of holy self-righteous gas-guzzling fuckwits that pollute the sight-lines of rationality across our fair land. And if you think this is an endorsement of the Democratic Party, pass me the crack pipe.

The damage report for Lebanon is a fun first place to start thinking about this killing spree. No doubt the officers in the IDF who did such a good job prior to the kidnapping of their charges will probably get demoted or something tough, but any fool in this country who thinks Israel invaded because of those missing soldiers is just a cow looking at a pile of alfalfa waiting for fun in a charnel house. There is one possible upside to this invasion. Hezbollah will do something that we certainly can’t: unite Shiites and Sunnis in hate against Israel and their arms suppliers which you may have a clue to as long as you haven’t been staring at that steaming hay for too long.

Ah, this is an evil screed. Get out Physical Graffiti, cue to “The Rover.” Stop the madness. Get me a Boddington’s . . .

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Save the planet for less than a buck a day

I love horseshit, and on the internet there is a lot of horseshit flying around. Big green chunks in this case. Or maybe not: maybe all it takes of offset my supposed 20 tons of CO2 that I produce driving and chewing up the kilowatts and flying about is a measly 206.87 or whatever this "" calculated as my fair share of recompense for burning energy like the ugly American I most certainly am. I will begin donations shortly.

I was thinking that this is something that I would like to invent, and then I just googled “My CO2” and this is what I got. I feel better about myself, which certainly makes me wonder about the validity of this site. Its probably funded by the oil and car companies . . .

Monday, July 17, 2006

Do the Right Thing

I was weak, I tried to be nice, tried rationality with a disagreeable right-wing arrogant San Diego columnist because he had said something nice about a friend of mine. Fucking stupid of me. Materazzi (the guy who Zidane head-butted) is known to my Italian friends as "a rugby player." I should have stayed dirty and profane with Nick Canepa. Stay the course America. We need to kill more people so that we can gain the world's respect.

Here's the actually spew, his response and my retort. I love Italians, just not this piece of shit.


I spent my lunch with an Italian. He says Materazzi is a dirtbag, and he won 8 grand on Italy. Churchill said that he loved Americans because they always do the right thing. After they have tried everything else. Keep trying! wrote:

My freaking name,

I don't know if you could be more wrong, but you're probably close.

Thanks for writing,


-----Original Message-----

Sent: Mon 7/17/2006 9:57 AMTo: Canepa, Nick

Subject: Right and Wrong

Mr. Canepa,

I waited a good 24 hours to cool down after your Zidane piece. And I also wanted to be fair and to thank you for doing the Ultimate column on my friend Jim Herrick. He, in my mind, is the embodiment of a sportsman, someone who plays for the love of his game and who as long as I have known him as always been both a fierce competitor and a class act. Again, thank you for taking him seriously. Ultimate is a good sport, with a long history in this country. And its a sport Americans can be proud of.

On the negative side, and of course you knew this was coming, I am always disheartened when someone as respectable as yourself misses the mark so widely on an issue that could provide for your audience what we like to call in the corporate world as "a teachable moment." Zidane's act was something that many on this side of the Atlantic percieved as a clear sign of moral failure, something that was just not understandable given the situation. But did you bother to research the Italian player he fouled, the history of the man himself, or even get your local baseball contact Gwynn to use an analogous situation in his career (which he may never have had actually) to contextualize what Zidane did? No. You took the easy way out to my mind (and writing as many columns as you do for as long as you have certainly gives you a pass if you wish to take it) and just went along with the crowd who think that there could be nothing to justify Zidane's actions. Sports are great when they give us a chance to be our best and honor our finest ideals. But sports are not the meaning of life, they only reflect and enhance it. And if, and this could be too big an if, Materazzi did use racial and familial taunts at that moment in a World Cup that many feared could be damaged by white supremacists "fans" could this context change the meaning of what took place?

The German replay of the incident in the stadium would not have taken place in Petco. Tony Gwynn, was he ever called the n-word during game seven of the World Series by a catcher before a two-strike pitch with the winning run on third? You can read the Dave Zirin piece below if you like and tell me that he's just a biased lefty hack but you didn't even ask the right questions. He did. That you didn't is a shame.

If nothing else, know that among your peers, even though I disagree with much of what you write about and the ideological perspective that bleeds through your pieces, I admire your professionalism. In fact, you are the only columnist I regularly read in the UT. Some day I hope to live in a city with a world reknown newspaper. Since I was born in raised in Santa Barbara, I know that should I ever move back, it won't happen there . . .

Respectfully, My freaking name

Confronting Racism, Head On Why I Wear My Zidane Jersey

Imagine Michael Jordan in his last game, with the score tied in overtime, knocking out his defender with a punch to the throat. Imagine Derek Jeter in game seven of the World Series, at bat with the bases loaded, thrashing the opposing team's catcher over the head with his bat. Our collective shock would only be exceeded by disappointment. No one, fan or foe, would want to a see a great player end their career in an act that speaks to the worst impulses of sports: when hard competition spills over into violence. Now imagine if Jordan and Jeter claimed they were provoked with a racial slur. Does their violence become understandable? Even excusable?

Herein lies the case of French National team captain, the great Zinedine Zidane. Zidane, competing in his last professional match, was kicked out of the World Cup final in overtime for flattening Italian player Marco Materazzi with the head-butt heard around the world. Zidane, or Zissou as he is known, became the first captain ever ejected from a World Cup championship match. The announcers denounced Zissou for committing a "classless act and the French team withered, eventually losing to a demonstrably inferior Italian squad in overtime. The following morning the international tabloids with their typical grace, gave Zissou a new nickname: "butt-head. Less examined was the fact that Zissou was literally carrying a lightly regarded French team to the finals. Less examined was the fact that Zissou had been grabbed, kicked, and fouled all game by the vaunted Italian defense. Less examined was the fact that Zissou had almost left minutes earlier due to injury, his arm wilting off his shoulder like a wet leaf of spinach. This unholy amount of pressure is the primary reason the 34-year-old veteran snapped and planted Materazzi into the pitch.

Now the great mystery is what set Zissou off. What could Materazzi have possibly said to send him over the edge? Answers are beginning to filter out. According to a FIFA employee transcribing what was said during the match, Materazzi,s called Zissou a "big Algerian shit. A Brazilian television program that claims to have used a lip-reader said Materazzi called Zissou,s sister "a whore. The highly respected French anti-racist coalition SOS Racisme issued a press release stating, "According to several very well informed sources from the world of football, it would seem [Materazzi] called Zissou a 'dirty terrorist'." Materazzi, in an answer that can only be called Clintonian, said, "It is absolutely not true. I didn't call him a terrorist. Of course he didn,t comment on what he did call him. Zissou himself has only said cryptically that he would reveal what Materazzi said "in the coming days."

Right now, we do not know beyond a shadow of a doubt what was said but all the circumstantial evidence points at least toward a variant of SOS Racisme's claim. Zissou is the son of Algerian immigrants who has sparred verbally with Europe's far-right political machine for more than a decade. He is an outspoken anti-racist on a team that has defined itself by its multiculturalism and stubborn insistence to stand up against bigotry both inside and outside the sport. Materazzi on the other hand, will be playing this year for the Italian team Lazio, where his father was the former coach. Lazio's fan club, The Ultras, are notorious for their Fascist-friendly politics. Lazio's hardcore Ultras, known as the "Irriducibili," have members in Italy's extra-parliamentary far right and try to use the club to recruit. The group has frequently uses racist and anti-Semitic banners, one time hanging a 50-foot banner that said their opponents were a "team of niggers."

It's wrong to taint Materazzi for the actions of Lazio's fans, but there is more. Earlier this season in a match that pitted Messina against Inter in Sicily, Messina's star African player Marc Zoro famously picked up the ball and walked off the pitch in protest of the monkey chants rained upon him by Inter supporters. In a stirring act of solidarity, many of the Inter players immediately showed support for Zoro's actions. But one opponent yelled, "Stop that, Zoro, you're just trying to make a name for yourself." That opponent's name was Marco Materazzi.

At the start of this tournament I wrote a soccer column with my colleague John Cox, called Racism Stalks the Cup. We expressed our concern that the monkey chants, banana peels, and peanuts raining down on African players this year would continue on the sport's grandest stage. This largely did not occur. But then in the final act, at the moment of most exquisite tension, it seems racism may have actually emerged from the shadows. I, for one, am damn glad that when it did, it ran smack into Zissou's beautiful head.

We don't know with iron certainty what Materazzi said, but if it turns out to be more of the anti-Black, anti-Muslim, garbage that has infected soccer like a virus, the Italian team should forfeit the cup. They should voluntarily give the greatest trophy of them all back to FIFA as a statement that some things in this world are more important than sports. Racism will be the death of soccer if things don't change. Italy can set the sport back on course, with one simple, stunning gesture. Give the damn thing back.

Dave Zirin is the author of "'What's My name Fool?': Sports and Resistance in the United States." Contact him at

Thursday, July 13, 2006

City of Mice

I drive a 1970 Ford Ranchero, and driving down I-5 the other day with my sister I found myself stuck in traffic listening to the city of mice squeaking fiercely in the undercarriage. The struts and the shocks and just the old rubber that lies beneath makes this rodential din, and then my brain drifted into Zappa's "City of Tiny Lights" as it started up in the synapses. This forced me to put "One Size Fits All" on the cd player, something my sister's backround in decency and polite thinking has never before had to contemplate. There's a song on there about San Ber-dean-o (phonetically correct spelling!) about Bobby getting slobbering drunk at the Palomino and doing thirty days for drunkedness. Something about "there's 43 men down in cell block C and there's only one shower and it don't apply to Bobby." Yes, the City of Mice were talking. And they are telling me that its a far better thing to drive an old beater with no airconditioning in the glaring haze of Orange County than to convince yourself that the Volvo Wagon that does 130 in climate controlled comfort is what we all deserve. I like going 130. And I like it when my ass cheeks are not dripping wet with heatburn. I like it a bit too much is what the mice told me.

So the planet she is a-cooking, and even the most daft are starting to come around. Just listen to those freaking mice. They will tell you what you need to know. Sure, the Ranchero ain't helping global warming but we all need some chemical translator and the time to not give a damn about those damning things that seem so freaking important. BTW, Zappa's kid and a lot of the folks who used to tour with FZ are doing a tour and playing Zappa's catelogue. The mice told me to write this down. Go listen to something from Sheik Yerbouti will ya? And those toliet seat covers? Complete bullshit. They protect you from nothing. Al Gore, on the other hand, he might be doing something for the City of Mice.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Carrots and Sticks

I have taken it for granted that the world my father introduced to me was, while unique, not something outside the centrality of our civilization. That he was raised on a small farm, his father an immigrant from Sweden, his mother an immigrant from Wales, and attended a one room school house and ended up a scientist with a graduate degree from Caltech seemed special but not abnormal. The rationality that clothed me was part of the essence of our modern world, and it felt comforting in a way that did not require constant presentation and defense. There were fair and approachable ways to confront the mystery of life, and if the people around me weren't too freaked out then I didn't need to freak out. It was a world of carrots. You got fed according to your abilities to master the codes of knowledge. It wasn't always fair but it was fair enough. I was a well-fed kid.

The other day I took a runner at a born-again who was trying to defend Ann Coulter and Intelligent design. I guess Ann takes some shots at evolution, and he thought she made hay. I sent him an article from the Nation and he went apoplectic. This issue isn't light for him. Evolution threatens him to his very core so he chooses to attack it and pretend the half bright attacks against the nuances of a theory he abhors prove something big and worth fight over. He is angry, pissed to his core. I believe that he, like our president, comes from the world of sticks. Hell exists and anyone who can't abide this or the magic wands of biblical rationality is the enemy. Hit them. They will only understand when they feel the real pain of God's sublime wrath. We need more sticks he is saying. Sticks that will break godless one's bones.

I stopped fighting this unwinnable fight a while back, not caring to give these clubby haters words to push up against. It was wise, you can't churn shit into butter. But I wanted to move past my own anger at the irrationality and negativity of the half-assed believers because I really don't have any bones to pick against belief, its the anger that causes damage I am coming to believe. I don't want to have confrontations, I want to find some dialogue. Pie in the sky? I know that it would be easier to discount this hate, say its coming from some childhood hurt, but it seems to be a deeply rooted phenomenon. I know plenty who love Jesus but don't judge those like myself who need to be far away from the human institution of religion. But there is this other animal lurking. They want to live in a world of sticks. They may get their wish.