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Agenda Bender
Saturday, November 09, 2002  

The Good Parts

Learned via Boing Boing that the Weekly Standard piece on Gitmo had some interesting details. This is the kind of reporting the Standard could use a lot more of.

...Knowing that in some Taliban-held provinces, pederasty rivaled headless-goat polo (buzkashi) as the favorite pastime, I ask a Naval officer if there are any reports of Guantanamo prisoners turning to man-love. "Oh God no," he says. "Though there are some Air Force personnel over there, so who knows what's going on?"

...When I ask the Marines if they've seen anything weird, they laugh sheepishly, looking at each other. Finally, Sgt. Josh Westbrook, who sports a forearm tattoo of flaming baby heads, steps up. "They know they're being watched," he explains, "so they'll stare at you, and while they stare at you, they'll, uh, masturbate."

According to these Marines, they don't just pleasure themselves to freak out the snipers, but also to embarrass the female Army guards in the camp's interior. The weirdness doesn't end there. They've also eaten their toiletries and urinated on equipment. "The other day," says Westbrook, "one of the guys tried to do a naked cartwheel." In the most bizarre twist, Lance Corporal Devin Klebaur says a few have also been known to "put toothpaste in their ass." "What's the purpose?" I ask. "I'm not sure," he says, puzzled.

Sheepish, laughing marines shyly exhanging looks, gotta love that. Bet the talibs do to. Even better than the coy jarhead lambs though is the glaringly incomplete list of reasons to masturbate while staring into a soldiers eyes.

Update: Just realized the joke potential of "glaringly incomplete" given the context. Just thought I'd share that.

8:46 AM


He is Sam

Sean Penn paid 64k to run an open letter to GWB in the WaPo. He counsels the president to eschew hasty belligerence.

OK, the title and the pic--2 easy jokes. But aren't easy ones the best? Penn's letter isn't embarassing in the way the other grand anti-war adverts have been. It's earnest, overwritten, and spins like a carcrash hubcap but Penn at least grants Bush humanity and acknowledges that it's not an easy call. Which makes it smarter than anything Noam Chomsky has said lately. Like since about 1981.

I love Sean's Here I Stand most of all though as an artifact of the Hollywood High student council. You can bet it got the attention fellow council BMOC's Warren Beatty (a letterman fo almost 40 years) and Tim Robbins. Will Penn's unilateral action result in escalating open letters? We can only hope, pray and dream.

8:22 AM


Prisoner in Garrison K.

More on the on Garrison Keillor's subscription only innuendo: Mitch Berg gives away for free what Salon and Keillor charge for but don't deliver. And Mitch quotes and comments on a couple more excerpts from the original piece here. It is being smuggled out from behind Salon's iron firewall one steaming fair use shovelful at a time.

To Mitch and all the other muckers liberating the dreck. (And dig the .ru domain on the link--Yes!)

1:04 AM

Friday, November 08, 2002

Shall We Say

Atrios posts this quote from a Salon premium article by Garrison Keillor. Keillor is Minnesota's version of a funny guy. The Norm he speaks of is Norman Coleman, who will now represent all the funny men and women of Minnesota in the US Senate.

Norm got a free ride from the press. St. Paul is a small town and anybody who hangs around the St. Paul Grill knows about Norm's habits. Everyone knows that his family situation is, shall we say, very interesting, but nobody bothered to ask about it, least of all the religious people in the Republican Party. They made their peace with hypocrisy long ago. So this false knight made his way as an all-purpose feel-good candidate, standing for vaguely Republican values, supporting the president.

That's all you get for free. I hope the paying customers get the goods after this tease. Otherwise Garrison K is indulging in a rhetorical device that even the lowest gossips disdain as louche. What you have here is a mute item. The more typical and honorable device is the blind item, a morsel of gossip in which the discreditable actions are detailed but the actors remain unnamed though hints are given to their identity. Hints of such specificity that you can usually narrow the suspects down to a hot hundred or so. In the mute item the actor is named but the actions go unspoken. It's a kind of paranormal slander.

Keillor lacks the courage of his insinuations. "Everyone knows that his family situation is, shall we say, very interesting" Keillor relates, and then bizarrely adds "but nobody bothered to ask about it". But we're all insiders here right, GK? Small townies and St. Paulie Grill girls and guys. We already know what we know (wink) why ask about it? I hear Coleman's habits and his family situation are in a jealous rage with each other over which is more infamous, which is more the talk of the town. And the Grill.

Of course Garrison doesn't mean "everyone" when he says "everyone knows", anymore than he means "knows". He's just doing the turn known as noblesse oblique beloved of mediacrats with delusions of omniscience. Which would be all of them.

For all I know Norman Coleman is a ratfucking weekend tweaker who spends his weeknights gulping down the dregs of abandoned beers in the St Paul Grill. But that would put him higher on the foodchain than a pantomime gossip.

6:14 AM

Thursday, November 07, 2002

The Squalor and Le Parkour

The conservatives are loving Theodore Dalrymple. Dalrymple is British, a doctor (psychiatrist) and a chronicler of the welfare state lower depths. The gloomiest gus on the bus, the anti-Mr. Rogers, it is always a shitty day in his neighborhood. He is also a pseudonym. An Anglo-Saxon Celine?

I'm digging Theodore too, about 48%. He has the squalor of the welfare state down. But damned if he ever sees beauty anywhere amidst the plastic and concrete rubble. I think he's ideologically, aesthetically, temperamentally committed to not seeing it. The world is fallen and it can't get up.

T.D. generalizes like a fiend too. An unhappy anecdote recounted at the beginning of a paragraph usually morphs into a universal trend by paragraph's end.

Then there is Dalrymple's calculus of equivalences:

...the escalation of appetite that Jeffrey Dahmer experienced, eventually finding sexual release only in congress with the intestines of his increasing numbers of murdered victims, can occur on a mass scale also, as witness a recent film, funded by the Canadian Arts Council, "normalizing" necrophilia.

And so now, when I meet lesbian patients who have used a syringe full of a male friend's semen to impregnate themselves, they challenge me to dare to pass judgment on them. For who am I to judge what is natural or unnatural, normal or abnormal, good or bad?

Check out the serial glides--sex with intestines is becoming normalized through Canadian arts subsidies (anecdote into universal, natch) AND SO NOW lesbians are artificially inseminating themselves. And giving Dalrymple attitude about it. The quote above is from Theodore at his worst.

He is much better in his latest piece. It's about the suburban new city ghettoes of Paris. Again it's all beasts and no beauty. I guess he doesn't see bodies only souls since the physical beauty of many of the citizens of the cités is as undeniable as it is unremarked by Dalrymple. Still I think he gets a lot right here. And the local color is positively fluorescent:

The ambivalence of the cité dwellers matches “official” France’s attitude toward them: over-control and interference, alternating with utter abandonment. Bureaucrats have planned every item in the physical environment, for example, and no matter how many times the inhabitants foul the nest (to use the Afrikaner’s expression), the state pays for renovation, hoping thereby to demonstrate its compassion and concern. To assure the immigrants that they and their offspring are potentially or already truly French, the streets are named for French cultural heroes: for painters in Les Tarterets (rue Gustave Courbet, for example) and for composers in Les Musiciens (rue Gabriel Fauré). Indeed, the only time I smiled in one of the cités was when I walked past two concrete bunkers with metal windows, the École maternelle Charles Baudelaire and the École maternelle Arthur Rimbaud. Fine as these two poets are, theirs are not names one would associate with kindergartens, let alone with concrete bunkers.

If Dr. Dalrymple's peepers weren't tuned only to ugly he might have noticed this flipside to dirigiste anomie and decay: Le parkour, the sport and spirit born of these same suburbs. It's most widely associated in the US with the Nike Presto ad campaign of last spring. Of course Dalrymple would probably only see this thrilling acrobatic art as chaotic para-suicidal hijinks.
(Why I'm not a conservative--Reason # 4,865.)

1:08 AM

Wednesday, November 06, 2002

Election 2002--You Decide

I think the guard looks more stylish.

3:38 AM

Tuesday, November 05, 2002

Bush Family Baby Naming Scandal!

We're poll watchers 365 days of the year at Agenda Bender so election day is just another 24 hours full of possiblities to us. The shocker of the night so far was Senator-elect Liddy Dole thanking her MOTHER in her victory speech. I mean she thanked her for being there for her here and now not just back on her birthday in 1936.

She also thanked her sister-in-law Bunny.

And Jeb Bush forgot to mention Noelle in his family thank-yous. Not even a thanks for nada. He did thank his sons who were there with him and whose names are............Floofus and Baxter!!!!!!!!!!

Ok, Jeb and George.

Jeb and the family.

11:23 PM

Monday, November 04, 2002

Foxnews---Fair, Blowjobs

Shepard Smith, the twinkly eyed cyborg who anchors early evenings on Foxnews just blooped when he should have blinged. It was easily the greatest TV news fuckup I ever had the deep honor of viewing live. Except of course for the forever unmatchable moment when Peter Jennings accepted that call from some dude doing a Klan-level black american dialect and claiming to be an eyewitness on Rockingham to the denouement of OJ's slow motion chase. Jennings apparently has so little contact with black people that Amos 'n Andy schtick sounds plausible to him.

Back to Shep. He was doing a last 5 minutes of the show smart-aleck names-in-the-news cavalcade. He mentions J-lo's new single/video "Jenny from the Block" and informs us it is about her days back in the hood. (I'm not sure why this is news since most of J-lo's singles/videos are cred drenched homages to her distant days in the hood.) Our dog Shep was saying how Jenny's old neighbors aren't as nostalgic for her as she is for them. I think he meant to say they were more likely to kick her to the curb than give her a block party. Don't ask me what his point was since I was laughing too hard to hear the story behind the jibe. You see, the affable and almost life-like Mr. Smith misspoke himself and instead said the disgruntled homies were more likely to give "her a curb job than a blow job." Bad homies.

I looked up in time to see the simulacra blink ever so slightly and move on with no reference to what had just happened. And there was the briefest offscreen laugh strangled in some cameraman's throat. Shepard only circled back to the blow job at his signoff saying he was sorry for his handjob, excuse me I mean his mistake, that he didn't know how it happened and it would never happen again.

I wonder if Rupert Buttfuck will be amused.

Update: I should linked above to the audio for the legendary "I see OJ" phone call to Jennings. Here it is. Bababooey to y'all!

8:41 PM


Homeless Furniture--America's Hidden Shame

Sullivan linked Barbra Streisand's endorsement of the Wellstone was whacked theory. Babs should know from whacked. Her expertise notwitstanding I think the setting was more interesting than the sentiment.

Streisand expressed her paranoid conspiracy theory to an audience of interior designers bidding on the chance to decorate a planned addition to her Malibu estate.

The singer, who recently sold her triplex on Central Park West for half of what she originally asked three years ago, gave up looking for another apartment in New York and is sending her furniture out west, where she is building a separate building to house the antique items.

"She's asked five top West Coast designers to bid on a project to incorporate her New York furniture into a farmhouse-like addition on her Malibu estate," said the source.

In a letter to the five candidates bidding for the job, she tells the prospects she won't have time to discuss anything until after the election.

The Agenda Bender Design Group is bidding on the chance to redecorate Barbra's farmhouse-like self-regard. Our resume is a little thin but we have the requisite ass lathering skills and we delight in nodding and chuckling along with those far richer than us. And unlike those West Coast chatterbitches we can keep our pieholes shut. Mama, can you hear me?

Update: Joanne Jacobs is apparently in on the bidding too. Great designers bid alike.

7:56 PM