Wednesday, April 18, 2007

We Have Met The Enemy, and He Is Us!

After a point, I turned off the endless coverage of the Virginia Tech tragedy as it kept repeating the same information over and over, yet totally ignoring certain salient points.

The relatively
few quotes from the writings of the young man responsible for the tragedy seem to point to his having been victimized at some point in his youth. This does not excuse his actions, or shift the blame in any way, but there is something in that which needs to be looked into and addressed.

100 per cent of all shootings are commited by humans.
This should make the Martians very nervous. That the alleged perpetrator of this tragedy was an immigrant overlooks that he had been in the United States since he was eight years old. Not even our Founding Fathers would escape the suspicious label of immigrant under those parameters. Timothy McVeigh was not an immigrant (unless you ask a Native American). Was it any more or less relevant that he was a suburban-raised youth? An English major?

A number of the security experts weighing in have called for the need to create barriers for campuses to define their perimeters. One expert even went so far as to suggest that there should be but a single entrance/exit for college campuses. It would appear to me that the majority of campus shootings have actually been committed by a member of the campus community, thus a barrier in most cases would not prevent a perpetrator from committing the act, nor address the root cause. Furthermore, the possibility of panic and number of casualties might very well escalate were there no easy way for people to evacuate easily..

I'm all for getting rid of guns... all guns. Handguns, automatic weapons, nukes, you name it. Everybody's. I'd like to live in a world where armies had nothing more than Rice Krispies to hurl at each other, yet humans in their ingenuity have even figured how to turn airplanes into weapons of destruction. And don't get me started on tobacco.

To exist, in and of itself, is a potential pre-existing condition for our non-existence. Yet it seems counter intuitive to be pro-active by preemptively non-existing in order to prevent our non-existence.


On an entirely different note, who'd have thought that in the end, Richard Gere would stick a metaphorical gerbil up his own butt? One would think that after all his advocacy on behalf of
the Tibetan people, he'd be a little more familiar with Indian customs and etiquette.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

National Poetry Month in LA

The Long Beach Poetry Festival takes place at various venues from April 10 - 14; and the Highways Poetry and Performance Fest runs from April 12 - 15.
And with no small degree of anticipation, natch, all the bibliophiles in Southern California are waiting for the LA Times Festival of Books at UCLA on April 28 and 29; an event which more than proves that, yes, people do read in LA. Who knew?

Yet more April events

The Queer Media Conference (Q-ME Con) comes to Los Angeles April 13 - 15; Dining Out For Life takes place on April 26 in various cities around the country and Dine Out LA will take place on April 19 at locations throughout Los Angeles.
Last, but not least, Big Sunday will take place across LA on April 29.

Friday, April 06, 2007

The Namesake

This morning I went to see the film by Mira Nair, based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jhumpa Lahiri's novel.

The film was extraordinarily touching. Even for anyone not of Bengali heritage, there are themes in the film that most Americans would identify with to some degree. For those like me, who weren't born in the States, who, as one reviewer stated, always get hung up on that awful question, "Where are you from?" it was a real punch in the gut. In a good way.

It's so much easier these days to find people who have grown up in multi-cultural households, or have one foot here in America and another dangling out somewhere an ocean away.

This is one of the few times in my life I will have seen the film first, then read the book. In part, because of the impending holiday weekend, I had looked forward to doing something special, and seeing The Namesake certainly filled the bill. Everyone connected with the film deserves whatever accolades come their way. The moody weather in Los Angeles might have helped somewhat, as it is overcast yet warm, and definitely with the kind of sky that lends itself to introspection. The sun keeps trying to break through the clouds, but it doesn't quite get there.

I think, I may have a clue as to why I'm always jumping to view my birthplace every time I log onto Google Earth. The tug that accompanies my scanning it --even if a magnified view from space-- is pretty universal, I think.

It doesn't get me any closer to home in reality, (what is home, anyway?), but I'll take what I can get.

After thinking about the movie and the impact it had on me, I realized there was a memory long suppressed that it brought out: in junior high school, my mother mentioned that my parents had another name chosen for me before I was born. Now she is long gone, and there is no way for me to know what my other name was/is. I had asked my dad once, and he couldn't tell me. A name is such a simple, ethereal thing; it doesn't have anything to do with your DNA, won't change your race or height or eye color, yet gives you an identity. It presents you with a whole way of thinking about yourself and who you are. I'd forgotten for so long my wondering as a youth what my life would have been like had I been given my other name, and what was the reason for the change?

Not everyone seeing The Namesake may identify on with the movie on that level, yet there is still plenty for almost every human being to identify with. Too many "Americans" aren't aware of what forgotten memories lie beneath the surface of their consciousness.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

What were they thinking?!? (Continued)

I read today that ABC is cancelling the series, "Six Degrees," after shuffling it around their schedule and not giving it any real promotion. Are they taking a page out of George Bush's Iraq playbook to run their network? The chorus is growing at every juncture about how they have split the airing of the most popular shows in order to showcase some of the most inane drivel. Of course, this is coming from someone who has made himself a near pariah in Hollywood by professing his hate of all things tainted with the brush of "reality television."

At this rate, I wonder if people are betting that "Lost" will get cancelled before there is any resolution to the puzzle.

With any luck, perhaps we can get the folks at ABC/Disney to run the 2008 Republican presidential campaign.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Sojourner Truth 1797 - 1883

Now I hears talkin' about de Constitution and de rights of man. I comes up and I takes hold of dis Constitution. It looks mighty big, and I feels for my rights, but der ain't any dare. Den I says, God, what ails dis Constitution? He says to me, "Sojourner, dere is a little weasel in it."

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Proud uncle addendum

My nephew will be marching on April 22 in the Grand Parade of the Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival in San Francisco. Clicking on the header at top will take you to the festival website.

The true human price of "staying the course" in Iraq

Long Beach gets an alternative newspaper (finally)

Set to hit the streets on April 11, the new publication, The District Weekly, has already been causing a lot of buzz. The word of mouth gossip has been the kind of Godsend publicity any start-up publication could only dream about. Here's to hoping they make it!

Monday, April 02, 2007

I say, sue the bums ...for starters

Authorities have been trying to dissuade the number of pet owners affected by the death or illness of their pets growing exponentially over the past few days from suing the various manufacturers of the labels of pet foods tainted with poison that have apparently originated in mainland China. The basic premise has been that juries are likely to regard pets as mere "property," and thus not likely to grant them the legal reparations they desire.

I seem to recall, however, that through the end of slavery in the mid-19th century, slaves were considered property, and it was not uncommon for lawsuits to be brought against a party that caused death or injury to the property of the slaveowners.


There is also that tricky issue of the point of origin of the tainted pet food, China. What are we gonna do?
Nuke 'em? Try getting them to admit to any culpability in this.

While no humans have (yet) to be stricken as a result of this incident, it has been hinted at a number of times by the media that there is a high probability that the tainted product may have found itself into the human food supply, yet it has been downplayed to the degree that we have thus far avoided the panic that accompanied Europe's mad cow scare.

As the globalization of of basic commodities continues, someone in the War Room better be keeping a close watch on this, as the next time it happens (and there will be a next time), it might well be baby food or good ol' apple pie.

One thing is certain, don't trust the authorities who have tried to deliberately downplay the extent of this contamination. Upton Sinclair is long dead, and it isn't likely that anyone will sound the alarm in time.