News, culture, and politics. Not necessarily in that order.

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Another Talking Point Deflated

August 5th, 2008 · Energy, News, Politics, Science, Tech

TIME says Obama is right: keeping tires properly inflated can save more oil than offshore drilling would produce. And it would do it immediately, rather than taking till 2030 to have any substantial effect.

How out of touch is Barack Obama? He’s so out of touch that he suggested that if all Americans inflated their tires properly and took their cars for regular tune-ups, they could save as much oil as new offshore drilling would produce. Gleeful Republicans have made this their daily talking point; Rush Limbaugh is having a field day; and the Republican National Committee is sending tire gauges labeled “Barack Obama’s Energy Plan” to Washington reporters.

But who’s really out of touch? The Bush Administration estimates that expanded offshore drilling could increase oil production by 200,000 bbl. per day by 2030. We use about 20 million bbl. per day, so that would meet about 1% of our demand two decades from now. Meanwhile, efficiency experts say that keeping tires inflated can improve gas mileage 3%, and regular maintenance can add another 4%. Many drivers already follow their advice, but if everyone did, we could immediately reduce demand several percentage points. In other words: Obama is right.

Look, things like drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and increasing offshore drilling, are bogus, band-aid solutions that sound good to the easily manipulated but aren’t going to make even a tiny dent in our long-term energy problems. Drilling in the ANWR might produce a six-month supply of oil, ten years after drilling starts — with no guarantee that it will have the slightest impact on oil prices — but the environmental destruction will last forever. It’s just not worth it.

At this point, our petroleum-guzzling culture is like a junkie, wildly slapping around on our scarred, ruined arms trying to find just one more vein. We need to face facts and realize that finding one more vein isn’t the answer — the only realistic, long-term solution is to clean ourselves up and get off the junk.

That means, as sensible candidates like Obama (and Edwards before him) have proposed, a massive investment in the development of alternative energy sources. What we need is a Manhattan Project for green energy. The recent breakthrough in solar power technology is just a hint of what could be achieved if the quest were taken as seriously as it should be:

Up to now solar power has been a “Cinderella” energy source because storing the sun’s energy is so expensive and inefficient.

Now scientists believe they have overcome the problem using technology inspired by photosynthesis in plants.

The system allows small amounts of electricity from solar panels to split water into hydrogen and oxygen. A similar water-splitting reaction occurs during photosynthesis. Later, the gases can be recombined in a fuel cell to produce carbon-free electricity.

Professor Daniel Nocera, from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Boston, who co-led the research, said: “Solar power has always been a limited, far-off solution. Now we can seriously think about solar power as unlimited, and soon.”

British expert Professor James Barber, from Imperial College London, said the technology represented a “giant leap” towards generating clean, carbon-free energy on a massive scale.

“This is a major discovery with enormous implications for the future prosperity of humankind,” he said. “It opens up the door for developing new technologies for energy production thus reducing our dependence for fossil fuels and addressing the global climate change problem.”

More work needs to be done to integrate the new technology into existing solar power systems. But Prof Nocera believes that within 10 years people will be able to power their homes with a combination of solar panels and household fuel cells.

10 years from now would be a lot sooner than 2030, by the way.

It’s absolutely within our scientific and industrial power to transition our culture to sane and sustainable energy sources. All we lack is the political will to stop listening to the junkie-enabling pundits and politicians who are sponsored by the oil pushers, who want to keep us hooked on a hopeless addiction as long as possible.

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Esprit Decor

July 27th, 2008 · LGBT, Politics

Just saw Dana Milbank’s column about the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell hearings this week — in which the homophobes who testified apparently made such hilarious fools of themselves that pretty much everyone in the room was embarrassed and appalled. And as Milbank puts it,

Though there’s no expectation that Congress will repeal “don’t ask, don’t tell” and allow gays to serve openly in the military, the display had the effect of increasing bipartisan sympathy for the cause.

You should go read the whole thing for all the comic highlights — but it was this paragraph in particular I can’t stop giggling about (boldface emphasis mine):

Donnelly was followed by Jones, a tough-talking businessman who suggested that the military’s tradition of “selfless service” would be undermined by gay men and lesbians. “In the military environment, team cohesion, morale and esprit de corps is a matter of life and death,” he said. His written statement spelled it “esprit decor”

Ah yes, esprit decor: that vitally important solidarity among interior decorators in the military. Because without esprit decor, how will the throw pillows get arranged properly in the barracks?

But if he thinks having gays serving openly in the military is going to undermine esprit decor — rather than, say, taking it to dazzling new heights — the poor man is even more confused than he seems.


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Remedial Comedy-Writing for T-Shirt Companies

June 27th, 2008 · Advertising, Comedy, Culture, Facebook, Science Fiction, TV

Methinks some people in the t-shirt business misunderstand the basic idea of funniness.

For example, I just got a little ad on Facebook, which claims this is “the funniest Star Trek t-shirt ever … !”

Picard t-shirt

Well, um … no. That’s not especially funny. Sure, “Make it so” was Captain Picard’s catchphrase. But there’s nothing funny about just slapping that onto a T-shirt next to his picture.

If you want a Captain Picard shirt that’s actually funny, what you do is you have him sitting in front of a sewing machine, frowning.

The caption reads: “MAKE IT SEW.”

Now that’s comedy!

If you really want to go for the gold, you could have Worf working on some needlepoint in the background, maybe.

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Guantanamo, False Imprisonment, and the Human Rights Toggle Switch

June 27th, 2008 · Human Rights, Journalism, Media, News, Politics, Terrorism, TESK, Torture

This story is about a week old at this point, but it goes in the “things everyone should know” category.

One of the most common talking points from right-wing pundits, especially on Fox News, is that whatever happens to the people in Guantanamo Bay is okay because all those prisoners are really bad guys — “the worst of the worst,” as the Bushies like to put it.

Let’s bracket for a moment the depressingly medieval notion that all human rights magically evaporate the moment someone becomes a “bad guy.” In other words, the right not to be tortured or abused isn’t actually a human right at all — it’s more of a privilege, that can be suspended as soon as the authorities decide you don’t deserve it anymore.

Even if that notion of a human rights toggle switch were acceptable for our supposedly civilized age, you still have to wonder what kind of cartoon universe the people who want to flip that switch live in — where human beings never make mistakes, and nobody innocent is ever falsely accused or falsely imprisoned.

At any rate, this new investigation from McClatchy should make it clear once and for all that human justice is indeed flawed.

Here’s the truth: There are innocent people in Guantanamo. Some of them were falsely accused by enemies, or rounded up in sweeps, or caught up in a case of mistaken identity. Maybe they just ticked off the wrong person on the wrong day. And the result was a ticket to imprisonment, abuse, and torture — with no court of appeal.

Akhtiar was among the more than 770 terrorism suspects imprisoned at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. They are the men the Bush administration described as “the worst of the worst.”

But Akhtiar was no terrorist. American troops had dragged him out of his Afghanistan home in 2003 and held him in Guantanamo for three years in the belief that he was an insurgent involved in rocket attacks on U.S. forces. The Islamic radicals in Guantanamo’s Camp Four who hissed “infidel” and spat at Akhtiar, however, knew something his captors didn’t: The U.S. government had the wrong guy.

“He was not an enemy of the government, he was a friend of the government,” a senior Afghan intelligence officer told McClatchy. Akhtiar was imprisoned at Guantanamo on the basis of false information that local anti-government insurgents fed to U.S. troops, he said.

An eight-month McClatchy investigation in 11 countries on three continents has found that Akhtiar was one of dozens of men — and, according to several officials, perhaps hundreds — whom the U.S. has wrongfully imprisoned in Afghanistan, Cuba and elsewhere on the basis of flimsy or fabricated evidence, old personal scores or bounty payments.

Go read the whole thing. It’s important.

On a related note, it’s interesting that we’re finally starting to see the words “Bush” and “war crimes” used in the same headlines at mainstream media organs.

At ABC News:

Retired Gen. Taguba: Bush Administration Committed “War Crimes.”

At USA Today:

Taguba: Bush administration tortured detainees, ‘committed war crimes’

Granted, these are blogs at ABC and USA Today, and they’re careful to attribute the statement to Taguba, and put the words “war crimes” in quotes.

But it still feels like a huge change in emphasis compared to a few years ago.


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Roundup: Maracas and Purple Pants Edition

June 24th, 2008 · Chicago, Comedy, Culture, Doctor Who, Fantasy, Grammar, LGBT, News, Politics, Science Fiction, Terrorism, TV

Just a few things that are on my radar at the moment …

purple pants

• First up, I just found this interview with Gore Vidal from May, in which he gives his current takes on Obama and McCain.

Vidal says he’s a fan of Obama now, but it took him a while to get there (hey, kinda like me):

As for Obama, Vidal has taken time to warm to him. “I liked the idea of him, but he never managed to get my interest. I was brought around by his overall intelligence – specifically when he did his speech on race and religion.”

In Vidal’s opinion, “he’s our best demagogue since Huey Long or Martin Luther King”.

And as for his views on McCain, when asked if Obama can beat him, Vidal says:

You could beat McCain! I’ve never met anyone in America who has the slightest respect for him. He went to a private school and came bottom of his class. He smashed up his aeroplane and became a prisoner of war, which he is trying to parlay into ‘war hero’.”

In his view, McCain is “a goddamned fool. He was on television talking about mortgages, and it was quite clear he does not know what a mortgage is. His head rattles as he walks”.

Ah! That’s what that sound was. I thought McCain had hired a personal maraca player to accompany him on the campaign trail …

However, in Vidal’s eyes, McCain is just a symptom of the real malaise affecting America today: the cynical subversion of the US constitution. “The Bush people”, he says, “have virtually got rid of Magna Carta and habeas corpus. In a normal republic I would probably have raised an army and overthrown them. It will take a hundred years to put it all back.”

• Meanwhile, today we have this:

Charlie Black, a top adviser to Republican John McCain, apologized yesterday for suggesting that another terrorist attack on US soil would help McCain’s prospects.

He can apologize all he wants (or all the the McCain campaign wants him to), but it’s how the upper levels of the Republican party think. It’s how they’ve always thought. Remember, this is the party that used pictures of Bush on 9/11 as a fundraising premium. Turning tragedy into political and financial capital is their specialty.

• Excellent profile in the NYT of Russell T. Davies, the man who regenerated Doctor Who, as he gets ready to step down from the show after next year and hand the reins over to Steven Moffat.

I love this quote:

“He takes ‘Doctor Who’ and pushes the envelope the whole time, not in terms of taste and decency but in terms of ideas and emotional intelligence, the size of feeling and epic stroke of narrative breadth,” said Jane Tranter, the BBC’s head of fiction. She said that no one at the BBC had ever had a problem with Captain Jack or with any of Mr. Davies’s plotlines. “How ridiculous would it be that you would travel through time and space and only ever find heterosexual men?” Ms. Tranter said.

• And speaking of heterosexual men, who are everywhere (did you know?), here’s a poignant Pride Month column by a straight guy and self-identified former “homophobic idiot” who was also a huge Monty Python fan, and who suddenly grew up the day he found out Graham Chapman was gay. I doubt this guy was ever really an idiot — just took him a while to overcome received prejudices, like most of us. But I appreciate his honesty and the point he makes here is well-taken.

Every now and then I hear people arguing that it doesn’t matter whether gay celebrities come out or not, or that if they do it’s not news and no big deal (kinda like the whole gay Dumbledore flap). This piece is a perfect argument for why it does matter.

• Ever wonder why the Hulk TV series in the 70s changed Bruce Banner’s name to David Banner? As a little Marvel comics freak, that used to bug the heck out of me.

Well, according to Lou Ferrigno, it’s because CBS thought the name Bruce was “too gayish.” Seriously.

… and hey, what about those purple pants, anyway? I mean, how Tinky-Winky is that?

• Is the English sentence an endangered species? (h/t Norm Sloan)

• Chicago is cracking down on drivers who don’t give pedestrians right of way. About time. Power to the Pedestrians, that’s what I say.

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New Music from Dan: I Was a Cub Scout, Alphabeat, and The Helio Sequence

June 24th, 2008 · Culture, Music, New Wave, TV, Video

My old college pal Dan (well, actually we got to be friends after college, but that’s a long story), who was the master of the new-music mix tape back in the middle-eighties, turned up on Facebook recently and has been freshening up my iTunes with all sorts of fun new stuff.

So here are a few of my favorite things Dan has turned me on to …

First up, “Pink Squares” by I Was a Cub Scout. It’s got a nice new-new-wave sound, but it’s also got a certain post-Death Cab for Cutie charm as well. I just love this to death.



Next up, something I didn’t expect to like so much at first, but have gradually fallen in love with: “Fascination” by Alphabeat.

This is just goofy pop fun, but it’s charming and lighthearted in a way that not much pop music manages to pull off successfully these days. In fact, I’m really enjoying the whole Alphabeat album.



… And possibly my favorite new album Dan turned me on to is Keep Your Eyes Ahead by The Helio Sequence.

Listen to “You Can Come to Me”, and possibly my favorite thing on the album, “Shed Your Love” — which sounds almost like vintage, Fairytale-era Donovan. Just breathtaking. Here it is:

And here’s some video of them on the latenight teevee.


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Uncertain Smile: McCain Shredded by His Own Side

June 5th, 2008 · Media, News, Politics, TV, Video

Watch the Republican pundits on Faux News shred McCain’s speech from Tuesday night.

I daresay we won’t see him get within a mile of a green backdrop again.

And suddenly, I can’t wait for the debates this fall with Obama and McCain on stage together.

In the meantime, I’m dedicating my favorite The The song to John McCain’s awkward social grimace …

UPDATE: Since J-McC is obviously needing a little help in the rhetoric department, Hunter at DKos offers to help him out with some new slogans:

Compassionate Maverickism. Simple and to the point. The compassion part would serve notice that you have no actual interest in compassion and are just getting that part out of the way right off the bat, while the maverickism sounds appropriately rebellious and manly. Since you haven’t technically been a maverick in, what, a decade or two, this also would appeal nicely to the sullen longing-for-the-past that conservatism is so continually engaged in.

A Changely Leader For Nonchangelyness. I like this one because nonchangelyness is a fantastic, very Bushian word. Creative half-literacy would resonate well with the Bush base, while the dual messages of change and non-change would satisfy those that recognize the Bush years have truly sucked, but who still cringe at the thought of attempting anything even the slightest bit different. This slogan properly conveys the message of nearly every modern Republican election, which is “yes, I know we screwed things up last time. But this time will be different, because we’re going to do exactly the same thing.”

McCain: Get The Hell Off My Lawn. People have been concerned about your age and health: the only way to combat this is to respond to it directly. With a slogan like this, people will know you are still vigorous enough to care whether or not people are on your lawn. Your concern about proper lawn care will resonate with the suburban middle class. And your invocation of hell will enliven the religious base, who are very eager to know that there is some class of people, somewhere, who you are willing to consign to hell for the most petty of reasons.

… I like the second one best, but there are so many good options. Read them all here.

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Wordslingers Appearance Now Online, and Poem of the Week on Deep Dish

June 4th, 2008 · Blogs, Books, Chicago, Culture, Fringe, Journal, Lit, Performance, Poetry, Politics

For those of you who didn’t hear it on the public airwaves a couple of weeks back, because you were busy painting your toenails or defending the earth or something, my appearance on the Wordslingers poetry radio show from Sunday 5/18 is now online in the Vox Cafe archive on the Wordslingers Web site — available for your streaming delight at whatever mad moment the mood might strike you.

Look for the show that says “WordSlingers with Mary Blinn & Dave Awl – 05/18/2008” — right now it’s easy to find because it’s on top of the list. Click the purple buttons and stream yourself silly.

After our host Michael Watson kicks off the show, the first segment is the fabulous Mary Blinn, who is Riesling in my book, and who does a number of striking and memorable poems (and I chime in once or twice). And then my segment starts about a half hour or so into the show.

I read a few things from What the Sea Means, plus a couple of newer poems that aren’t in the book, and we chat a little bit about Barack Obama and New Wave dancing, too. Because those things are bound to come up.

Also: I’m the featured poet this week on a blog called Deep Dish, which serves up a fresh piping-hot slice of Chicago poetry every week. The editor of Deep Dish chose my poem “Wednesday” from the “Bestiary” suite to feature. Thanks, Deep Dish!

And finally — if you decide that you actually like listening to me read my poems online, maybe because the fumes from that pedicure are affecting your brain, then there’s lots more in the “Totally Dave” feature at e-poets.net, including a reading of the complete “Bestiary” suite.

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McClellan, Yellin, and the Press Under Pressure

May 29th, 2008 · Foreign Policy, Journalism, Media, News, Politics, Video

Boy, Scottie McClellan’s decision to come clean — well, I say clean, I mean slightly less dirty — on his role as the Mouth of Sauron, and how the press corps passed along the White House’s propaganda to sell the invasion and occupation of Iraq, has really opened all sorts of floodgates.

In addition to all of the outrage pouring out of the various die-hard Bush defenders this morning, and the various mediatrons pretending to be shocked at these revelations, there’s this riveting bit of video (via Crooks & Liars) from CNN last night. Congressional correspondent Jessica Yellin (who worked for MSNBC and ABC News before moving to CNN) acknowledges to Anderson Cooper that yes, reporters got pressure from corporate executives to slant the news in favor of the Bush administration and its message.

You really have to see the video above for full impact, but in case you’re somewhere you can’t watch, here’s the transcript:

Cooper: Jessica, McClellan took the press to task for upholding their reputation. He writes “the national press corps was probably too deferential to the White House and to the administration in regard to the most important decision facing the nation during my years in Washington. The choice of whether to go to war in Iraq…the ‘liberal’ media didn’t live up to its reputation. If it had, the country would have been better served.” Dan Bartlett, former Bush advisor, called the allegation “total crap.” What’s your take? Did the press corps drop the ball?

Yellin: I think the press corps dropped the ball in the beginning when the lead up to war began, uh the press corps was under enormous pressure from corporate executives, frankly, to make sure that this was a war that was presented in a way that was consistent with the patriotic fever in the nation and the President’s high approval ratings and my own experience at the White House was that the higher the President’s approval ratings, the more pressure I had from news executives, and I was not at this network at the time, but the more pressure I had from these executives to put on positive stories about the President. I think over time….

Cooper: You had pressure from news executives to put on positive stories about the President?

Yellin: Not in that exact…they wouldn’t say it in that way, but they would edit my pieces. They would push me in different directions. They would turn down stories that were more critical and try to put on pieces that were more positive. Yes. That was my experience.

Look, at this point, anyone with a lick of sense who’s been paying attention the last few years already knew this to be true. The myth of the “liberal media” is so thoroughly discredited at this point that a little flock of magic pigeons should automatically appear to rain down guano upon the head of anyone who ever again utters those words in earnest.

Still, to hear it finally said out loud in the mainstream corporate media, after all these years, is a remarkable thing. Turns out two and two equal four after all, Winston … sorry about all the unpleasantness in the little room.

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Roundup: Spotty Jove and the Return of the Scottish Beaver Edition

May 27th, 2008 · Comedy, Comics, Culture, Doctor Who, Fantasy, Film, LGBT, Meta, Nature, News, Politics, Racism, Science, Science Fiction, TV, Video

Jupiter spotsSome Tuesday-morning bagel bites for you …

  • In case you’re wondering what Barack Obama might look like with a small engine or wind farm on his head … after being attacked by the Evil Spellbinder in the employ of certain right-leaning but largely illiterate online communities … well, just go read this for your morning moment of hilarity.
  • Crooks and Liars quotes this fascinating statement from John McCain in 2000: “Well, in 2004, I expect to be campaigning for the reelection of President George W. Bush, and by 2008, I think I might be ready to go down to the old soldiers home and await the cavalry charge there.”
  • A third red spot has erupted on Jupiter. Jupiter, speaking as a forty-something who still gets acne, I feel your pain. Do they make Clearasil in a planet-sized tube?
  • Beavers are being reintroduced into Scotland 400 years after being hunted out of existence. Welcome home, beavers!
  • Say there, speaking of beaver-free zones, there’s a new book out about Raymond Burr’s secret gay life and you can read a very dishy excerpt here. For some reason I’m a sucker for these Hollywood closet stories … maybe because they had such roomy and glamorous closets in those movie-star mansions.
  • If there’s an epidemic of people pretending to drown at Coney Island, you’ll know why. Heck, I might try it myself.

And from the warming plate, some older items I didn’t get around to posting when they were still fresh, marked down to half price.

  • For our comics section, an episode of The Amazing League of Pundits, in which the Poor Man expounds on a media principle dubbed “the transitivity of blackness” — aka “the well known-fact that if one black person says something, it’s the same as if all black people said it.”
  • Russell T. Davies, the man who regenerated Doctor Who, has formally announced that he’s stepping down from the show after next year’s specials … but fear not. The show will be in the very capable hands of Steven Moffat, the multiple-Hugo-winning writer who’s already brought us a lot of the show’s very best episodes, including The Empty Child, The Doctor Dances, The Girl in the Fireplace and Blink.
  • Feel-good story of the past month: triumph of a gay homecoming king.
  • Other feel-good story of the month: bionic dolphin!
  • The Hillary Clinton versus Monty Python “flesh wound” mashup video is worth a giggle.

Finally, speaking of video, if you haven’t seen the video of Ellen nailing McCain to the wall about marriage, while he sits there squirming, it really is riveting.

What’s fascinating is that when John McCain says the part about marriage being between a man and a woman, he looks like a kid being forced to eat worms. I truly think he detests the position he’s taking, and the clear subtext going through his mind is I hate myself right now I hate myself right now I hate myself right now …


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Judybats on Popdose, and First Judybats Album Reissued

May 26th, 2008 · Blogs, Culture, LGBT, Music

Judybats Native SonJohn C. Hughes has a post about The Judybats up on Popdose.com, part of the “Why You Should Like … ” series.

He doesn’t have to convince me — the ‘bats were arguably my favorite band of the 90s and it broke my little heart when they busted up the first time. When their debut album Native Son came out in 1990, I snapped it right up because my sis had already told me all about them — she was going to school in Knoxville in the years when they were regularly playing the local clubs down there, before they got their major label deal, and she and her friends made a regular thing of seeing Judybats shows during that period. I bought all of their albums as they came out, and I think I fell a little more in love with them with each release.

As I said in the comments section over at Popdose, Jeff Heiskell’s voice — its versatility and the way he colors words as he sings — still astonishes me after all these years. And then there’s the general urbanity of his lyrics — that man has a positively thrilling way with wordplay that recalls the great gay songsmiths of the past like Porter and Coward. (cf. my favorite song from The Judybats’ second album, “Our Story,” which John links to.)

The first four Judybats albums have been out of print for ages, which is a crying shame — but I just this minute discovered that Native Son was reissued in February by Wounded Bird Records. Maybe the other three will follow eventually? Their second album, Down in the Shacks Where the Satellite Dishes Grow, is still my favorite Judybats record, so it would be especially nice to see that one available again.

I’d take this excuse to write more about the ‘bats, but I’m on a tough deadline this week (and my freelance lifestyle knows no holiday weekends). So instead I’ll just direct you over to John’s post. And you might want to make a beeline while those Mavis Pickles the Third links are still fresh.

UPDATE: As he noted in the comments below, Will from Popdose has a follow-up piece up on the site now that looks at the terrific turn-of-the-millenium comeback album Judybats ’00, and then segues into an interview in which Jeff Heiskell himself serves up all kinds of hot dish.

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Saturday, May 24: The Relaunch of Planet Earth Chicago at Subterranean

May 15th, 2008 · Chicago, Culture, Music, New Wave, News, Nightclubs, Planet Earth Chicago

Here’s another very fun event on the horizon: What are you doing next Saturday night? Feel like going New Wave dancing with some of the most flamboyant and fabulous Earthlings in Chicago, at a groovy new location? Here’s what I’m talking about:

Planet Earth Memorial Day 2008 ad

Some of you know that over the last eight years I’ve been heavily involved in both online and print promotions for Planet Earth Chicago, our city’s best, most popular, and longest-running New Wave dance club night.

DJ’s Dave Roberts and Kristine have been packing the floor with their patented mix of vintage New Wave, old school punk & ska, New Romantic, and synthpop dance music since 1994. (Dave and Kristine also taught me to DJ, letting me spin a few guest sets at Planet Earth over the years, and eventually hooking me up with my own night at Club Foot — “New Toys for Glow Dogs” on Sunday nights, circa 2003-2004.)

The story of how I got involved with Planet Earth is mentioned toward the end of this interview, and a fictionalized version of Planet Earth is one of the main settings for my short story “Love The Shirt,” which was published in the Summer 2004 issue of Blithe House Quarterly.

Earlier this year Planet Earth moved on from the little nightclub in Lincoln Park where it had been since relocating from Club 950 eight years ago, and is now starting the next chapter in its history with a special “Brave New World” kick-off party at a brand new location: Subterranean in Wicker Park.

Dave & Kristine picked the Saturday night of Memorial Day weekend for the grand regeneration of Planet Earth, so we loyal Earthlings can start the summer in style. Here are the specs:

DJ Dave Roberts + Kristine present:
Planet Earth Chicago: Brave New World

Saturday, May 24th, 2008
at Subterranean
2011 W. North Avenue, Chicago

Doors open at 10 pm
21 + with ID

Tickets $5 in advance, $10 day of show
Buy advance tickets online at:
(quick and easy TicketWeb interface)

In addition to the usual music and glamour, Dave & Kristine are promising alien dancers, roaming paparazzi, and other surprises — and the fine folks from Laurie’s Planet of Sound will be hawking tons of New Wave 45’s, records, CDs, t-shirts, buttons, and other goodies.

So, if you like dancing to New Wave and punky music from the late 70s and early 80s, come join me and my fellow Earthlings next Saturday night. In addition to this old New Waver, I have it on fairly good authority that you’ll spot at least a couple of my colleagues from The Neo-Futurists, The Partly Dave Show, and even a Schadenfreudian in the crowd.

Oh, and a word of advice: There will be a line out the door for this thing, so if you’re coming, you should snap up an advance ticket ASAP, so you can breeze past the line like the rock star you are.

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Sunday, May 18: Wordslingers Poetry Radio Show

May 15th, 2008 · Chicago, Culture, Fringe, Journal, Lit, Performance, Poetry

This Sunday evening, May 18, I’ll be appearing on the radio program Wordslingers.

Wordslingers, hosted by Michael C. Watson, airs on the first and third Sundays of each and every month, and features Chicago-area poets reading their work and being interviewed live on the radio. You’d think there’d be a law against that kind of thing, but apparently not.

I’ll be sharing the hour with Mary Blinn, one of my fellow contributors to the Winter 2008 issue of After Hours. Mary was also on the bill at the After Hours reading at DvA Gallery a couple weeks back (which was a lovely evening all around), and I guess Michael thought the two of us made a nice combo. Like, say, an elegant Riesling paired with some peanut butter on nuclear-orange cheese-with-a-Z crackers. (I’ll let you listen to the show and decide which of us is which.)

The program takes place from 8-9 PM US central time, on Loyola’s community radio station WLUW, 88.7 FM. If you can’t remember how to work the dials on the dusty old radio machine under the tarp in the garage, you can also listen to the show live on WLUW’s Web site.

And if you miss it on Sunday night, presumably you’ll be able to listen to it in the Wordslingers “Vox Cafe” online archive eventually.

Here’s some of Mary’s work: “Age of Reason,” one of a series of poetry videos she has up on YouTube.


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Colbert on the O’Reilly Meltdown

May 14th, 2008 · Comedy, Culture, Journalism, Media, News, TV, Video

Sublime. Any comment would be superfluous.

And in case you haven’t seen it, the dance remix. Warning: Loud, crude, uncensored language, accompanied by a nifty techno beat. Lots of bad words that cultural conservatives might find objectionable, uttered by a conservative! Definitely not safe for work, kind of like the Falafel King himself.


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