Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Deconstructing God book signing -- This Friday @7:30


Friday, September 17, 2010

Deconstructing God Book Signing --

Village Books in Pacific Palisades. Friday Oct. 1 @ 7:30.

Here's the link:


Friday, September 10, 2010

Sex: Our Bodies, Our Junk

A very funny new book. Check it out. 


"Finally, someone has managed to find the hilarious flip side to the unspeakable tragedy we all know as 'human sexuality'.  
-- Jon Stewart

"The perfect coffee table book for people with sexually inadequate houseguests."
-- Stephen Colbert

"Possibly the most irresponsible book written on the subject of sexuality since The Berenstain Bears Host a Key Party." 
--Conan O'Brien

"If I had only read this book when I first started having sex, its wit and wisdom would have changed my life in so many positive ways that I would have become the six foot tall blond I was meant to be much, much sooner."
-- Merrill Markoe , author of Merrill Markoe's Guide To Love

"Whether you're a sexual Einstein (know a lot, never have it), or a sexual Tiger Woods (great golfer, have lots of it), this book will hold tons of embarrassing revelations for you. Quickly buy it and take it home, because right now the bookstore security camera is watching you reading it." 
-- Bob Odenkirk , co-creator and star of "Mr. Show"
"If you absolutely must buy ONE sexbook this year that is as informative as it is disgusting THIS should be the one. Or not."
-- Buck Henry , screenwriter of The Graduate and To Die For 

"Why, this is incredible. I...I've never seen anything like it. Jane! Michael! Father! Aunt Sarah! Constable! Little Bill! Arsenio! Cookie! Come quick!!!"
-- Robert Smigel , "Saturday TV Funhouse", Triumph the Insult Comic Dog

"So, so funny. This book disproves the old conventional wisdom that sex is a poor subject for humor."
--DC Pierson (Author, The Boy Who Couldn't Sleep And Never Had To) 

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Reverend Terry Jones - Relignoramus

One reason many people have soured on religion is the collection of villains, thieves, scoundrels, and morons whose actions and comments demonstrate a perverted sense of its meaning and purpose. Whether it's Sharron Angle claiming in a recent anti-abortion statement that "rape and incest are part of God's plan." Or Franklin Graham, son of Billy Graham, asserting his belief that "President Obama is a Muslim because he was, in fact, born into that religion due to the "seed of Islam" being passed to him through his father." Funny, I'd always assumed my sperm were non-denominational.

But for sheer gutter stupidity, you can't beat the Rev. Terry Jones of the Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Fla., whose declared intent to burn copies of the Koran on 9/11 as a commemorative protest has the world in a snit. Claiming Islam is "of the Devil" Jones has been all over the media, including an interview with Chris Matthews, who I'm sure figured he'd let the guy hang himself with his own words. Unfortunately, that didn't happen, and Jones' media presence has only become more ubiquitous, as we close in on a "will he or won't he burn the Koran" moment, rivaled only by our interest in whether Lindsey will or won't get herself straight. The tension has been building as we get closer to the day of reckoning to see what this idiot will do. And that is sad on several levels.

First off, the man is a clown. As juvenile as it is to burn someone's holy book is as primitive as it is to think there's a man in the sky named God who's telling you to do it. And, and even if there were, which there isn't, don't you think that conversation might have been prefaced by God saying: "Ok, Reverend, I will anoint you to preach my message of protest to the world, but before I do, shave off that dumb-ass moustache. This isn't the 70s, and you're not playing for the Oakland Raiders." Why should anyone care about the actions of a dope? Even a religious dope.

Second is the media's complicity. I don't live in Gainesville, so why do I know about this? The media told me. Because someone deemed it newsworthy. And as sure as the sun will rise on September 11, they will be in Gainesville in full swarm, covering this non-event. Unfortunately when an idiot like this is taken seriously enough by the media, it conveys an unwarranted legitimacy on him and his actions. After all, in the minds of many, if he didn't matter, he wouldn't be on TV. If he were just some ordinary book-burning rube, no one would care. But because he calls himself "Reverend" suddenly he warrants the attention of the media, which transforms the actions of a local clod into a symbol of national protest. And, once it becomes a story, no news outlet can afford to ignore it. Such is the unhealthy symbiosis between the media and the media whore. Modern culture, if one can call it that, is drowning in non-talented "celebrities" who are famous for being famous, and the fact that the media treats them as celebrities only increases their fame. And this is fine, or at least tolerable, when confined to the world of entertainment. But now it's encroaching into reality.

And then there is the expected reaction of Muslims, conveyed by General Petraeus and others. An expectation of violent reprisals over this desecration of their holy book, along the lines of an attack on a Danish cartoonist for drawings of Mohammed. All these are symptoms of our primitive understanding of religion, which unfortunately pervades all traditions. Our devotion to symbols and books, as if they are holy in and of themselves, as opposed to repositories of meaning. Symbols represent an idea. They don't embody or contain it. Burning books is, and has always been a thuggish activity by those who think they can wipe out an idea by burning a copy of a book that expresses it. Unfortunately, we've become more attached to symbols than the ideas they represent. Otherwise it would seem odd to commit violence against someone who burns a book that contains the mandate to "enjoin goodness and forbid evil in all aspects of life." It's a copy (or copies) of the Koran. Not THE Koran. People burn the U.S. flag all over the world and it's seen as a form of protest and most people don't have a coronary over it. The flag is a symbol. Fine, we get it. You're angry. So, burn it. The country won't evaporate. And we've got more flags.

I also doubt the Reverend understands that Islam is part of his own intellectual tradition. It's the Judeo/Christian/Islamic tradition. Exactly where did the devil get involved along the way? But this is part of this notion we've come to accept called "religious differences," which basically amounts to saying: "The things I do to be a kinder, more compassionate person are better than the things you do to be a kinder, more compassionate person. So I'm going to have to kill you."

The world is stuck in this cesspool of stupidity when it comes to religion, extending not just to the dumber individuals in various traditions, but to the media and government as well, where we're subjected to politicians who claim their candidacies are divinely sanctioned, goofball ministers who think they're striking a blow for God by burning books, and adherents ready to strike back with violence if their cherished book is burned.  But for a moment, let's put the whole thing in perspective and drag it back to reality: Jones is just another American idiot who's going to pervert his own tradition with an action to protest activities that were based in the perversion of another. He's not a national figure. Not a scholar. Not a leader of any kind. Just a clod who doesn't understand his own religion, or anyone else's. The guy's a walking advertisement for atheism. He doesn't speak for all Christians. Or all Americans.

Religion, in its purest form, is a system of rites, rituals, and practices that can lead one to a deeper experience of life. It is there to encourage our better natures, not foment our baser instincts. And while it may be too much to expect the entire world to crawl out of the intellectual dark ages in its understanding of religion, how about as a means of world-wide counter protest, decent, intelligent people of all religious or intellectual persuasions, including those in the media, make a commitment to come together on this sad anniversary and simply ignore this asshole.

Friday, September 3, 2010

The 2010 Elections: Depth Takes A Holiday.

As throngs of fat, angry white people crowded Washington to heed the lunatic ravings of a pudgy, angry white guy who clearly didn't get beaten up enough in high school, and while John Boehner measures the drapes in the Speaker's office, recent polls reflect the prospect of  Republican victory in the mid-terms. Republicans hope to take back their country and restore its honor. The question is: take is back from whom? And who is the "they" who have lost it? And what is this mythical time of "honor" to which we need to go back? The lackadaisical, pre-civil rights Eisenhower 50s? Or the Reagan 80s, when we charged ourselves into the illusion of prosperity? Still, you have to give credit where it's due. These people do not quit.

From day one of this administration, the single goal of Republicans was to get back in power. Screw the mess they made of things. Screw any attempt by the administration to fix it. Like it was drugs they were being offered, they just said no and rode the obstructionist train to get back in power. And that meant tearing down a popular president. And by any means necessary. Democrats and other sane, reasonable people like to mock the Birthers, Deathers, Town Hall screamers, and Tea Partiers, as well as Congressional simps like Virginia Fox, Louis Gohmert, and Joe "You Lie!" Wilson. They're so dumb, they're amusing. Cartoonish. But there has been a definite method to all this madness. The strategy was to keep slinging mud. Take down a popular president by a thousand retarded cuts. It didn't matter how crazy. Obama's a Muslim! A Socialist! Fascist! Communist! He's killing grandma! He wasn't born here! He's not one of us! His policies are Un-American! He's ruining the country! Trampling on the Constitution. He's not even a Christian! What's the dog whistle message? Who's the "us" he's not one of? C'mon, it's not that tough to figure out. This is how you play the race card without playing the race card. But it isn't really about race. Race is just a convenient sidebar. This is about fear.

Somewhere Dick Armey is laughing himself sick. He's actually mobilized thousands of middle and lower middle class Americans to demonstrate, shout, scream, and carry misspelled signs to rallies with the goal of restoring to power the very corporate shills who screwed them in the first place. That is a stroke of PR genius. That's what's behind the smile skulking under Dick Armey's Stetson. And in classic Democratic fashion, they stood by and let it happen by allowing the opposition to control the message. They got swift-boated again. But, more importantly, they made a strategic blunder coming out of the gate.

Barack Obama was elected because the economy was crumbling. People were talking about a second great depression. And McCain was so rambling and incoherent, even the most hard-core Republicans looked at this crazy old man and his milfy night nurse and shuddered at the thought of turning the keys over to them. Better trust the young smart kid. And they did. But in great part because the Republicans self-destructed. We didn't have an epiphany that launched us into a post-racial America. We voted our economic self-interest. Fear, usually a Republican motivator, this time worked for the Democrats.

But upon taking office, this administration got too cool. They assumed the election was a mandate instead of a plea for help. And they went right for health care instead of making their primary focus from day one: jobs and the economy. Every single word out of their mouths should have been "We're fixing the mess Bush got us into. We're on it. We're putting America back to work." That message should have been simple, clear, and repeated daily: "The other folks broke it. We're fixing it. Recovery will be slow. It'll take time. But we're on it." Then, if jobs numbers were bad. If unemployment rose. If the market dipped. People would know, yeah, it's taking time. But we're getting through it together. And the president's on it.

They should have trumpeted every rise, every upturn, as turns of the wheel in a slow painful climb out of a Republican ditch. They should have mocked the shit out of every birther nut who crawled out from any rock, while painting themselves as the adults who are cleaning up the mess left by the kids. That single idea needed to be both the substance of their efforts, and the content of the message. It needed to be both reality, and optics.

And if and when that message was secure, and the economy did begin to turn around, even slowly, then the president would've had the good will of the American people, been untouchable by the lunatic fringe, and could've passed real health care reform, and real Wall Street reform. From a position of success, he could have dispensed with the dick armies in their flag shirts and dingle ball, tea bag hats as the silly people they are.

Republicans love crowing about the dangers of underestimating the American people. But there are dangers in over-estimating them. Even if health care was an economic issue, the truth is, as a nation, it's not a subtlety we're in the mood for. Americans don't want theory. Americans want jobs. We're not a nation of economists. We're a nation of workers. Give us a job, we're happy. As a voting nation, we're not that deep. We fall for most any silly shit if it's repeated often enough and put in simple enough terms. And has a sidebar of fear. Like when the government wants to go to war. They flash pictures of some Satanic, mustachioed thug, wave a flag, talk about God and freedom, give the war a jazzy name like Operation Kick-Ass, put up a tough-looking square-jawed general as the point man, and we're off. And if doubt rears its ugly head, they put out a news story showing a soldier on leave sneaking into his kid's classroom for a surprise reunion and some tearful hugs. We choke up at this stuff and forget to question whether it was worth it to send the guy overseas in the first place. It's the ultimate misdirection and we eat it up with a fucking spoon. The same way we've bought that what's really ruining this country is illegal aliens, welfare fraud, and the gays being allowed to get married.

The president needed to be FDR, calming nerves in a time of national crisis. Now he's in danger of becoming the second coming of Jimmy Carter, at the hands of goons like Palin, Angle, Bachmann, and Joe Miller, Palin's greaseball protégé in Alaska, who claims that God is funding his campaign. They've actually managed to convince people that intelligence and reason are not the answer, and that we need a return to lead-footed, bone-headed meanness and stupidity. And the head of this revolutionary movement? Its spiritual and intellectual leader? Beckles the Clown. A man who proves there's an extra "m" in Mormon.

So, here we are with a sputtering economy, and like a battered wife who goes back to her abusive husband because maybe this time he'll be different, the country seems poised to turn Congress back to the Republicans. While the Democrats simply stand by, accepting their role as the mother-in-law who doesn't want to interfere. They're so off message they can't even seem to find the message on which to get. But despite the midterm results, however hideous, there is time to get on message. But the message has to be simple. And clear:

Republicans broke the economy. They turned a budget surplus into a deficit. They pissed away a Trillion dollars on an unnecessary war. They de-regulated Wall Street and let them screw us. They de-regulated oil companies and let them screw us. But we're fixing it. Recovery is going to be slow and painful. But we're headed in the right direction. Put Republicans back in power, and they will resume screwing us all in ways we can't even imagine. Tax cuts for the rich. Program cuts for the poor. And fuck-all for the middle class.

There's still time to turn Obama into FDR. But right now the only thing Democrats have to fear is not using fear itself.