Sunday, January 17, 2010

Satan's response to Pat Robertson, the dark lord's faithful servant

You've probably heard by now Pat Robertson's "pact-with-the-devil" comments regarding the devastation in Haiti, and gagged with disdain (but, sadly, not disbelief).

The callousness is unthinkable, but fortunately the Devil himself -- somehow channeled through a woman in Minnesota and onto the pages of the Star Tribune -- has responded to Robertson. (Since letters to the editor tend to have short life in cyberspace, here's the text of the letter reprinted in full):

Dear Pat Robertson, I know that you know that all press is good press, so I appreciate the shout-out. And you make God look like a big mean bully who kicks people when they are down, so I'm all over that action. But when you say that Haiti has made a pact with me, it is totally humiliating. I may be evil incarnate, but I'm no welcher. The way you put it, making a deal with me leaves folks desperate and impoverished. Sure, in the afterlife, but when I strike bargains with people, they first get something here on earth -- glamour, beauty, talent, wealth, fame, glory, a golden fiddle. Those Haitians have nothing, and I mean nothing. And that was before the earthquake. Haven't you seen "Crossroads"? Or "Damn Yankees"? If I had a thing going with Haiti, there'd be lots of banks, skyscrapers, SUVs, exclusive night clubs, Botox -- that kind of thing. An 80 percent poverty rate is so not my style. Nothing against it -- I'm just saying: Not how I roll. You're doing great work, Pat, and I don't want to clip your wings -- just, come on, you're making me look bad. And not the good kind of bad. Keep blaming God. That's working. But leave me out of it, please. Or we may need to renegotiate your own contract. Best, Satan


And in another welcome rebuke to Robertson, the consummate Christian extremist, here's former Sacramento Kings center and prominent Haitian activist Olden Polynice talking to The Nation's Dave Zirin:

DZ: I have to ask you your thoughts about Pat Robertson saying the earthquake happened because Haiti made a pact with the devil for independence.

OP: Pat Robertson can suck a big one--you can quote me on that. He is not a man of God and shouldn't claim to be. And you can quote me on that. Please.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

You can't mosh to this -- spending time onstage with Fugazi

I am a man of many regrets. I cringe when I hear these optimistic types proclaim they have no regrets in life. If that's really the case then they are either too simply satisfied or they are deluding themselves.

My list of regrets could fill volumes, but I'm focussed on one in particular at the moment: the fact that I never got to see Fugazi play live. The extent of the regret is somewhat tempered by the fact that I can't remember any specific time they were nearby and I made a conscious decision not to go. But it's a life failure all the same. (Maybe a lifetime of abstaining from substance will allow them to bust out on the road again sometime, but you can only expect so much from a group that must be pushing 50.)

But I did just get a bit of a flavor of what one of their shows might have been like, even beyond the essential "Instrument". It's a compilation of stage banter, sans music, just 40 minutes of the guys castigating moshers and just being general badasses. It doesn't sound like much, but how can you not get a kick out of hearing Ian MacKaye say things like "I'm wearing an inordinate amount of Ben Gay" and muse on the importance of democracy (in this case, an audience petition to get the band to turn the venue lights off). It's really quite entertaining.

Check it out if you have a chance or have 40 minutes of menial work to do (cleaning the bathroom, in my case). I'm sure it pales in comparison to actually being at a show, but at least it will remind you what a legendary outfit they are/were and, if you're like me, what an unfillable void you have in your life.

I heard about it from the Pitchfork blog, which will direct you here.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Another smashing benefit and bash in the little town of Washington

You haven't been to a party till you've been to a Buck Rainey party.

I've been to a few, mostly back when they were held at the Peppermill in Reno (the winter versions, anyway). But 2009 was my first experience at the Washington Party, spawn of Peppermill.

Postmaster Buck -- chief mail sifter for the little town of Washington -- is the consummate host, and he goes all out.

After trekking to Reno got too cumbersome, with the oft-impassable Donner Pass limiting attendance, Buck decided to bring his year-end bash back to Nevada County -- and he brought the casino along with him. Buck built by hand a regulation-size craps table, a blackjack table and a roulette table. Once a year, he lugs all of them into the dining room at the Washington Hotel and sets up the sweetest casino the sleepy little town has seen in centuries. (See the pics of Buck building the tables and more information about Buck's party-planning at The Wild Buck website (login: "guest" pass: "friend").)

Friends come from far and wide to gamble freely and imbibe deeply. Nevada City's harpist sensation Joanna Newsom and her beau, SNL's Andy Samberg, are regular attendees. Washington's population comes close to doubling on that night, and it's quite likely that the hotel (and bar) makes more money on that single night than it does during any single month the rest of the year.

Sure, it's an excuse for everyone to party like only Nevada City crits know how -- uproariously. But in the end, it's a big benefit for the host town. The hotel rakes in fistfuls of cash, sure, but all the gambling benefits go to the town council. Some $800 was donated this year. It will help pay for the town's electric bill and go towards building a new stone sign at the city limits.

This year's bash is still in the earliest of planning stages, but if you are anywhere near Nevada County around Christmastime 2010, it is an event not to be missed.

Seeking a creative spark in 2010

I have just returned to Singapore after three weeks in lovely Northern California. I've said it before, and now, once again: I'll take a pine tree over a palm tree any day (though I fall in love all over again with the "live oaks" every time I'm in NorCal).

It's a new year, and for the first time I can remember I've jumped on the old resolution bandwagon. In addition to studying Chinese at least five times a week (I'm currently on once in 12 days), I really want to get my writing gears back in working order, as they seem to have rusted to a halt.

Quite simply, my mind has gone fallow, and it frightens me. My level of inspiration is stuck at zero. I feel like my vocabulary is shrinking, not growing, and that anything resembling a creative peak that I may have had has long past.

I've been feeling this way for months. But it was a conversation a few days after Christmas that really got me self-evaluating. I was talking to someone I've known for years at a party in the little town of Washington (more about the party here). I was trying to talk to her about my life and current interests when she looked at me in mild disbelief and told me plainly: "You've lost your spark."

It was a rather jarring reality unexpectedly thrust in my face, but I could not disagree. She had me nailed.

So please forgive this public reckoning with myself. I'm hoping I can, in 2010, rekindle whatever "spark" I once had and kick this dearth of inspiration. Perhaps it'll require a change in my physical environment, or maybe just an adjustment of attitude. I'm trying to read more fiction and plan to buy a guitar, see if those things help me tap into some dormant creative juices. But this will be a real undertaking, akin to self-reinvention. If anyone has any advice on how to proceed, I'm eager to hear.