Listening to: “Freddie Freeloader” – Miles Davis

I never thought the day would come when I’d say this, but: I’ve become a political junkie. But I’ve always hated politics. What is wrong with me? I’ve been asking myself this question in between sessions of checking the polls, watching clips from the Rachel Maddow Show, witnessing Sarah Palin fuck up again and again and again, and looking at photos of Obama being gosh dern cute. (I know, I’m a filthy, filthy liberal aren’t I? Oh yeah, baby, you liiike it.)

But why is this my new form of online procrastination? What happened to photos of narwhales, minimalist webcomics, obscure music blogs and anonymous people’s impotent rage? Why do I care so goddamn much about this goddamn fucking election?

There’s probably a longer answer, but the short answer is that Barack Obama is the first politician in years that hasn’t struck me as a total dickbag. ((It helps, of course, that the competition is sooo dickbaggy.)) In fact, I really think I like him. He’s actually an inspiring, intelligent-seeming guy who actually makes me feel kind of good about America–not what it is now, lord knows–but what it could be. Like when he says stuff like this. He really does work as if he lived in the early days of a better nation (That’s an Alasdair Gray quote, by the way, swiped off the side of the Scottish Parliament building in Edinburgh).

All this keeping up with the news has even made me try to, well, keep up with the news. I started puttering around some major news sources’ homepages to see who thought what was important. A snapshot of some pages’ headlines, around midnight EST:

The NY Times is all about how a circus ringmaster is retiring. The BBC wants us to know that Communism is trendy again. The Guardian’s on about a PM embezzling from the Russian government. The Washington Post talks about some botched federal contracts. The Boston Globe’s top coverage is the Secretary General of the UN’s speech at Harvard. The LA Times highlights a piece about the President of France’s crisis-handling capabilities. The Times of India has what should arguably be everyone’s headline — the launch of India’s first moon mission. Al Jazeera, oddly enough, centerpieces Obama leaving the campaign trail. The Wall Street Journal highlights his edge in the polls over McCain. USA Today offers a dreaded trend piece about US travelers abroad getting grilled on politics. Le Monde in France spotlights a doctor shortage. The China Daily’s top story is Bush’s talks with President Hu. The Chicago Tribune talks about sadistic local cops. South Africa’s News 24 covers a fatal plane crash.

Moral of the story(s)? No two agendas are alike. Obviously, papers are more localcentric. But even take a look at the American papers alone, and you see a very different set of priorities.

—–DRAMATIC BREAK——

OK, I just watched the Palin-Drew Griffin interview on CNN, and I’m too mad to write anything more that’s even remotely coherent. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more useless journalist than Griffin. They might as well’ve let a Teletubbie interview her. She twisted Joe Biden’s words so viciously, and dodged questions, and Griffin nodded and smiled, and she lied and lied and–OH GOD I HATE HER. I have to go stick my head in a tub of ice cubes now.

At the ol’ neighborhood coffee joint, drinking black ginger tea and trying to get some work done before the VP debates. But of course, I’m not getting work done. I’m writing in my infernal blog.

Hate Cowboy (who I really should come up with a new nickname for–he long ago traded his cowboy hat for a leather porkpie one) is at his perch in the corner, muttering not-quite-under-his-breath as usual about The Blacks And The Jews And The Rotten World. A snippet, transcribed as I’m hearing it: “What else is wrong with you? Why don’t you ask your fucking friend what’s wrong with you? I’ll tell you what’s wrong with you. Bein’ a stinkin’ asshole is what’s wrong with you. Don’t ask what’s wrong with you. Just fix it.”

I’m pretty sure he was the one who started bleating chaos underneath my window this afternoon when I was trying to conduct a phone interview all professional-like. Thanks, Hate Cowboy. Thanks a stinkin’ lot.

Anyway, who’s as stoked as I am to watch Biden rip Palin a new one tonight? He’d better not screw it up. Judging from stuff like this, he’s more than capable of unleashing all the fury of the Heathen Liberal Gods. (Love those gods.)

It seems like it’s gotten to be autumn in earnest. My favorite time of year, hands down. The light, the temperature, the events, the rewinding of things, the fashion, the apple picking, the beerfests, the blowy, blowy leaves… and of course, Halloween. It’s also when I’m most prolific. In a twisted way, I’m sort of glad I’m sans day job right now–more chances to get outside and breath it all in. (of course, that would involve me going outside much more than I have been… details.) I might try to head out to the White Mountains one more time before it gets too cold. Maybe tackle one of the ol’ Presidentials.

I started working on “World’s End” again–a project I’d put aside for too long. I’m trying to make Alex deal with his imminent zombieism a little bit more; it’s no small thing, after all. And I still want to integrate the bit about the CCTV operator who hasn’t left her post since before the big collapse. Watching the whole world die on 20 TV screens while she subsists on instant coffee and Weetabix…

I finished West With the Night and started reading Death in Venice. So far, Mann’s as pretentious as hell, but it’s a good read nonetheless. I’m interested in his philosophy that “a story must tell itself.” So far as I can tell, his authorial voice is no small peppers.

Well whaddya know… T minus 10 minutes till the debate, and I haven’t done a speck of work. Time to grab some beer and head over to the boys’.

Listening to: “North Adams” – Gabriel Kahane

In another bid to crystallize my utter gastric disgust with her, Sarah Palin demonizes international travel. When asked why she didn’t have a passport until last year:

I’m not one of those who maybe came from a background of, you know, kids who perhaps graduate college and their parents give them a passport and give them a backpack and say go off and travel the world. No, I’ve worked all my life. In fact, I usually had two jobs all my life until I had kids. I was not a part of, I guess, that culture.

‘Cause you know, only lazy entitled people travel. Good Americans who work for a living wouldn’t dream of leaving U.S. soil unless coerced.

Gross gross gross. Anyway, I try not to let my horror at the tubes America is going down ruin my already foul disposition. Funny thing — a downward-spiraling economy isn’t so awesome for helping to find employment. I’m thinking now’s a better time than ever to quit this country for a bit, provided I can find something quasi-lucrative overseas.

If only I could focus my attention, lazer-like, on what I want. It’s just that I want about a hundred things — and most of them don’t work with each other. It doesn’t really gel with the way society works right now. So it’s hard. I just like to move — I don’t really care about the destination. But that’s not the way to be “successful” in this world. Maybe I need to find a different world.

—-

I’ve been reading West With the Night, Beryl Markham‘s memoirs about her years as a aviatrix/horse trainer/huntress/all-around badass in pre-World War II Kenya and England. She’s pretty much the awesomest person who ever was — a totally independent woman in an era and a place where that was really difficult, an adventurer, a free thinker, a total babe, and a really good writer. (There’s a theory that her then-husband, who was a journalist, was the real author of West With the Night; but I like to think it was Beryl who wrote it.)

Anyway, I’m at a part in the book where she’s on a safari with some white hunters on the Yatta Plateau, having an introspective moment while sitting around a campfire. Though she was born in England, she’s been in East Africa since the age of 3:

You were alone when you sat and talked with the others — and they were alone. This is so wherever you are if it is night and a fire burns in free flames rising to a free wind. What you say has no ready ear but your own, and what you think is nothing except to yourself. The world is there, and you are here — and these are the only poles, the only realities …

I return to my list of things needed, but not for long. I wonder if I should have a change — a year in Europe this time — something new, something better, perhaps. A life has to move or it stagnates. Even this life, I think.

It is no good telling yourself that one day you will wish you had never made that change; it is no good anticipating regrets. Every tomorrow ought not to resemble every yesterday.

Still, I look at my yesterdays for months past, and find them as good a lot of yesterdays as anybody might want. I sit there in the firelight and see them all.

The hours that made them were good, and so were the moments that made the hours. I have had responsibilities and work, dangers and pleasure, good friends, and a world without walls to live in. These things I still have, I remind myself — and shall have until I leave them …

Meanwhile, haven’t I got two quarts of water, a pound of biltong — and the doctor’s bottled sleep (should I be hors de combat and the Siafu hungry that night)? I certainly have, and, moreover, I am not defenceless. I have a Luger in my locker — a gun that Tom has insisted on my carrying, and which can be used as a short rifle simply by adjusting its emergency stock. What could be better? I am an expedition by myself, complete with rations, a weapon, and a book to read — Air Navigation, by Weems.

All this, and discontent too! Otherwise, why am I sitting here dreaming of England? Why am I gazing at this campfire like a lost soul seeking a hope when all that I love is at my wingtips? Because I am curious. Because I am incorrigibly now, a wanderer.

Ugh, Beryl man, I feel ya. Here’s an example of someone who’s driven, but in more than one direction. And she manages. She more than manages — she’s a fucking hero. It was a different time though, when there were more frontiers, more things to do that hadn’t yet been done.

—-

I went on another hike in New Hampshire last weekend with J, Tuck and some more peeps. It was perfect clear early fall weather. We hiked 15 miles, hitting two summits in the Upper Valley — Mt. Smarts and Mt. Cube. Ridiculous names, no?

A little over halfway, we camped overnight and finally got to build a fire! Here’s the view west toward Vermont from the abandoned firetower on the top of Mt. Smarts:

Ah, mountain climbing. So much more clear-cut than anything else in life.

*Takes thoughtful drag from universal pretentious cigarette*

I have spent the past 24ish hours forcing myself to pay attention to the Republican National Convention, and being subsequently enraged, nauseated, and depressed by what I see. The speeches themselves (Giuliani should be excommunicated from New York City for that shit he tossed), the coverage, and worst of all, that sublimely ignorant grin on the face of America. But this article in the Herald really, really, takes the fucking cake:

SARAH PALIN MIGHT INSPIRE GALS TO TRESS FOR SUCCESS

Will the “Sarah Barracuda” beehive be the updo of the season?

The Republican vice presidential nominee wowed the crowd with her speech – and her hairstyle – Wednesday night, prompting fashion pundits to predict that the deconstructed coif will be the most requested look for fall.

“The half-up, half-down look is pretty current,” said stylist Mitch DeRosa, owner of Mitchell John Salon in Boston. “And I like the bangs to the side. I think yes, a lot of women are going to want the Palin look.”

Better yet, ladies can show their political preference by sweeping their bangs to the right or the left, DeRosa added.

Yes. Because that is what we should be concerned about. Sarah Palin’s up ‘do. Her violently pro-life stance? Her flat denial of the human role in global warming? Her lack of non-Alaskan experience? The fact that she wants to de-classify polar bears as an endangered species? The fact that the GOP brass aren’t letting the media talk to her cause then they’ll find out she doesn’t know shit? No no no, silly woolly-headed lefty. The hair is the real issue. Funny, I haven’t heard anything about Joe Biden’s fab tresses.

And women of America? Screw voting. Let’s leave that to the menfolk. We can broadcast our political views proudly with some well-placed bangs.

I suddenly wish I didn’t even have bangs.

Finally, here’s some dirty laundry-shaking from the fantastic Jon Stewart on the “Gender Card”: