Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Queens Of The Stone Age Creating Era Vulgaris II

June is going to be a good month.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Second Rate

I have been living in San Diego for the largest part of the last 28 years. During that time, we have gone from two newspapers to one newspaper to two and back to one. We have a weekly, The Reader, which is tremendously uneven but often very good in a muckraking sort of way, and another weekly, City Beat, which is newer and cheesier and often funny if also light-weight. The two I remember from day one were the Union and the Tribune which became the Union-Tribune and after a failed attempt by the Los Angeles Times to do a San Diego version (San Diegans are not going to love anything with “Los Angeles” on the cover) we have only the UT as a consistent daily read. There are other papers like the black-owned “Voice and Viewpoint” but they are only after a niche market and willingly seem to write themselves into a cultural cul-de-sac. The UT is our paper of record and by many many standards it is not a good paper. But it is what it is.

Last year the UT won a Pulitzer for taking down Randy “Duke” Cunningham. Duke was always a piece of crap but it wasn’t until he started nakedly lining his own Republican pockets that the UT found the fortitude to take him down. Good for them. They didn’t spend a lot of time being introspective about the fact that they had never to my knowledge tried to unseat the S.O.B. from Congress and in fact had always sung his praises. It’s a military town and he was a fighter ace. No questions asked please. His takedown and the UT’s prize are symbolic of the greater demographic changes taking place in San Diego. According to Lionel Van Deerling, resident democrat and columnist for the UT, the city is now blue and the suburbs are red. We are a county that has always gone to Bush in a state that goes the other way. But that dog is getting tired and the highly educated populace is trending bluish especially in the over-priced housing in the city limits. I guess you could say that things are looking up.

But our media lags. We have always had a second rate media. Local TV news is polished and pathetic. The UT is still owned by the corpulent Copley family, old Republican money that refuses to spend enough of it on their paper. Look at the size of the UT versus the LA Times and it becomes obvious that we are just not in the same league in terms of resources and talent. Eventually the UT will have to join the wider world and sell outside the market as the Times appears to do or it may fade away. Look at the advertisement section and watch it shrink day by day. San Diego would like to be known as one of the great cities of America and the world. We have the scientists to do it: Scripts Research Institute is already at the cutting edge of the global warming problem. But our leaders are too comfortable and foolish. So will we too be if we don’t demand more from our local media.

Thursday, April 12, 2007


I had one of the better talks I have ever had last night. Learning for me requires that I say what is in my heart out loud. I guess that is what is called an “auditory learning style.” It might explain why music has been such a key ingredient in my life. I used to prepare for the most intense history seminar classes by listening to whatever band was giving me the juice at the moment. I would hurl my thoughts into the sound and from this some sort of neo-verbal essence a central and usually quite powerful synthesis of my ideas and emotions would coalesce. I was a demon in those classes. I could tear anything apart that wasn’t tightly and rigorously built. But I digress.

The other night I was talking with my sister. She and I discussed the implications of owning the same internal architecture of personal vexation that seems to animate all three of us siblings. Somewhere in our upbringing we assembled a toolbox of odd shaped assumptions about our place in the world. I am not knocking the specialized implements that we own and ironically enough can’t quite seem to master. Around us are people, good people, who have benefited from our machinations. I won’t go touting our successes or spinning our failures. We’ve done OK except that we have accepted too many backhanded compliments from the mouths of others. “I can’t believe they are your kids” says the judge of my character. The fools that my sis and I are when we hear such things we put down our tools and let the elements add their rust.

As the words spun out of my maw and they turned from experimentations to analysis, my sister’s eyes filled with tears and she could not speak. Writing for me works if I can hear my voice and so talking is writing when it is done at its zenith of rhythm and lexicon. I found myself saying things that I had forgotten I knew. I asked why she couldn’t answer me, what had I said that so wounded? “You hit the nail on the head.” I was speaking of dreams and it occurred to me that I no longer can identify those moments when the sounds are from my own creative spirit. Still, I can hear those wishes echo when my words are right and somebody will listen to me for a generous spell. And as more words and tears spilled out of the two of us I heard myself giving chase to the fleeting vibrations and knowing that their direction was clear. I can no longer afford the compromise of an experience where my music is played only in the hearts and lives of those who love me yet hear not with my ears. I want to be in the front row as the songs are played. Gently I go forward to hear what I must.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

What's Next?

I have not been able to focus well on any one thought for weeks now. My mom’s passing aside; I think that what ails me ails a lot of folks at the moment. Mostly we have been listening to so much spin and so much dissembling and so many blatant untruths that reality seems like a fond memory and hope something you shouldn’t drink too much of. What matters and what counts are distant cousins. Productivity reigns over imagination and ethics. A great cloud of unwanted gas surrounds us and there is no away to go to anymore. Happy thinking has become a cult. When good things happen we sigh and quietly whisper a dark prayer to ourselves of bad expectations. Days are beautiful but they are weightless. The body counts climb methodically. We hope the impossible might happen in foreign lands even as we realize we are riding a rudderless ship in a hurricane of destruction. It seems useless to talk.

And there is that other realization that eventually and hopefully soon something is going to change. 2007 sure feels like a year of change to me. And my friends are doing new things and they seem driven as I do to become something better if for no other reason than the opposite doesn’t seem like as much fun as it used to. I count my blessings and I am stunned at the amount and quality of my good fortune. We are poised on the precipice of something momentous and I think we may in fact be ready. At least as ready as we will ever be. As Ludacris says, I just feel like slapping someone today. Our time to slap is coming up.