Saturday, June 30, 2007


From the New Orleans Times-Picayune:

Case dismissed in Shavers murder

Orleans Parish prosecutors on Friday dropped all charges against the teenager accused of murdering the drummer for the Hot 8 Brass Band in December, saying their key witness -- a 15-year-old girl -- refuses to testify.

David Bonds, 18, was charged with the second-degree murder of Dinerral Shavers, 25, a band teacher at Rabouin High School and a Hot 8 Brass Band member who was shot in the head while he drove his wife and two children along the 2200 block of Dumaine Street on the evening of Dec. 28.

Police said a feud between Bonds and Shavers' 15-year-old stepson sparked the fatal shooting -- and that Shavers was not the intended victim.

District Attorney Eddie Jordan's office may re-institute charges against Bonds at a later date under Louisiana law.

"If we can get the witness to cooperate," said Dalton Savwoir, Jr., Jordan's spokesman.

Click here for the rest.

With it's historically corrupt government and police force totally strapped for cash and manpower in the unstable economic environment brought on by Hurricane Katrina, social issues that have bubbled beneath the city's surface for decades are now beyond New Orleans' ability to control. I mean, crime has been bad in the Crescent City for a long time, but under pre-Katrina conditions, it was manageable. Not anymore. And make no mistake about it: this massive crime wave is the direct result of the festering poverty long tolerated by the city's good old boy white power structure and the state of Louisiana. Yeah sure, each crime is the result of an individual making a decision, but you have to realize that these individuals come from desperate circumstances, broken homes, and generational urban blight.

At the moment, however, that remains a long term problem--a soluble problem, to be sure, if the white power structure ever decides to get serious about poverty, although I'm not holding my breath waiting for any white knights. In the meantime, New Orleans has become exactly like the dark, dangerous, crime-ridden, and corrupt fictional Gotham City of Batman comic books. This murder case dismissal mentioned above is but one of many other murder case dismissals. The DA's office can't seem to make charges stick. And the murder wave just goes on. My ex's hairdresser was killed in his home a couple of weeks ago. A biker was gunned down on Esplanade Street near the French Quarter when he tried to stop a thug from stealing his bike. A documentary film maker was murdered in her home a few months back while her husband, a doctor, took bullets meant for their child.

Two years ago New Orleans was drowning. Now it's burning. Short of martial law, I have no idea what the solution is, but a quick glance at the comments below the article excerpted above, as well as the gossip being fed to me by me ex, strongly suggest that street vigilantism is coming soon. Just as the urban horror of Gotham City gave birth to Batman, so will the urban horror of the Big Easy give birth to real-life vigilantes.

But this isn't a comic book. And vigilantes are notorious for shooting up the wrong people. Things are going to get a whole lot worse before they get better.


Friday, June 29, 2007




Be sure to check out Modulator's Friday Ark for more cat blogging!


Washington blames racism for Grey's firing

From the AP via the Houston Chronicle:

Former Grey's Anatomy star Isaiah Washington said racism was a factor in his firing from the hit ABC series after he twice used an anti-gay slur.

Washington, who initially used the epithet during an onset clash with a co-star, told Newsweek magazine that "someone heard the booming voice of a black man and got really scared and that was the beginning of the end for me."

Click here for the rest.

For a white guy, I think of myself as being fairly progressive on race, trying as often as I can to give the benefit of the doubt to anyone claiming to be the victim of racism. After all, most white people really know nothing of the strange dynamics of contemporary American racism, and it's just too darned easy to say "bullshit" when discrimination isn't completely obvious. But I'm saying "bullshit" on this one. It wasn't the "booming voice of a black man" that got Washington canned; it was the booming voice of homophobic hate that did it. Without any real evidence to support his claim of racism, Washington's allegations should be dismissed as the whinings of an eternally-adolescent man who refuses to take responsibility for his actions.

Even though racism is a very pervasive and real problem, it's not always about race, and this guy's bullshit does great disservice to people who are trying to make white Americans aware of how bad things really are.


Black high school students in Louisiana threatened with lynching

From the Big Con courtesy of Eschaton:

In September 2006, a group of African American high school students in Jena, Louisiana, asked the school for permission to sit beneath a "whites only" shade tree. There was an unwritten rule that blacks couldn't sit beneath the tree. The school said they didn't care where students sat. The next day, students arrived at school to see three nooses (in school colors) hanging from the tree....

The boys who hung the nooses were suspended from school for a few days. The school administration chalked it up as a harmless prank, but Jena's black population didn't take it so lightly. Fights and unrest started breaking out at school. The District Attorney, Reed Walters, was called in to directly address black students at the school and told them all he could "end their life with a stroke of the pen."

More here.

Some years ago when I first saw American History X, I remember thinking "cool movie, but that kind of racism exists now only in isolated pockets; what we need is a movie about institutional racism, which is clearly the much bigger problem." I stand beside that first reaction, but I'm starting to wonder if those isolated pockets are starting to expand. In the wake of Mel Gibson's drunken anti-Semitic tirade, Michael Richards' angry hurling of the N-word in performance, and idiot Imus' shameless use of racist imagery, incidents like this one in Jena neatly fit themselves into an overall cultural context that is, at best, depressing. I'm getting the sense these days that many white Americans are sick of dealing with the still existing and near limitless problems caused by the hundreds of years that the US supported slavery and Jim Crow, and want to bury their heads in the sand, pretending that everything is just dandy.

This much is true: American racism never went away, and it appears to be getting worse.


Thursday, June 28, 2007


Too busy to really post tonight. As always, here's some reading, courtesy of AlterNet, to tide you over.

Whites Just Don't Understand the Black Experience

Respondents generally requested less than $10,000 to become black. However, they said they'd have to be paid $1 million to give up television for the rest of their lives.

"The costs of being black in our society are very well documented," says study co-author Philip Mazzocco. "Blacks have significantly lower income and wealth, higher levels of poverty and even shorter life spans, among many other disparities, compared to whites.

"When whites say they would need $1 million to give up TV, but less than $10,000 to become Black, that suggests they don't really understand the extent to which African Americans, as a group, are disadvantaged," says Mazzocco.

In another scenario, the references "white" and "America" were omitted, and participants were asked to select between being born a minority or majority in a fictional country called, "Atria." They were warned of the disadvantages that the minority group faced -- the same disparities faced by black Americans -- and they said they should be paid an average of $1 million to be born a minority.

Click here for more.

One Woman's Journey to Conquer Her Fear of Porn

Ayn Carrillo-Gailey would like the world, and women in particular, to know a few things about porn. For instance, according to Talk of the Nation, National Public Radio, the fastest growing segment of the porn-buying audience is women. One in three visitors to all adult websites is a woman, as reported by the Internet Filter Review. These are just a few of the many facts that the author discovered on her journey to conquer "pornophobia," an affliction diagnosed by one of her former boyfriends when she categorized porn as anti-feminist and misogynistic. Not one to back down from a challenge, as evidenced by the tales of previous adventures she shares with readers, Carrillo-Gailey set out on a mission to explore the world of porn and report back to her friends, a group who call themselves the Naughty Knitters in reference to gatherings involving knitting for charity, drinking, and hashing out the issues of their varied lives. Along her journey, more and more people expressed a similar interest. Carrillo-Gailey decided to extend her audience and share the facts she had gathered. The result is Pornology.

Click here for more.


Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Congress: NFL Should Improve Benefits

From the AP via the Huffington Post courtesy of AlterNet:

Aging NFL retirees told Congress Tuesday that playing professional football left them with broken bodies, brain damage and empty bank accounts. Lawmakers said they may get involved if a better pension and disability system isn't created.

Former NFL players told a sympathetic House Judiciary subcommittee tales of multiple surgeries, dementia and homelessness, all while trying to fight through the red tape of the National Football League and the NFL Players Association's disability system.

The league and the players association said pensions are improving and there's no need for Congress to step in.

Curt Marsh, an Oakland Raider from 1981-87, described a leg amputation, more than 30 surgeries and multiple doctor visits before he was approved for disability payments. Brent Boyd, a Minnesota Viking from 1980-86, talked about his bouts with homelessness as a single dad and brain damage he blames on multiple concussions from his football days.

Click here for the rest.

So, as you probably know, I love football. I just try not to think about shit like this when I watch. Otherwise, it wouldn't be much fun. But make no mistake about it. Football is an extraordinarily brutal and dangerous game. From time to time over the years, viewers get to see some of that brutality on the field, when players are badly hurt, or even disabled for life. The crowd falls silent; the announcers soften their tone. Then play starts up again and we forget about it. Almost never, however, do we see the long term effects of football's savagery. And that's what these hearings are about. I'd foolishly assumed that the NFL was taking care of its own, but apparently I was wrong.

Bottom line: the NFL rakes in hundreds of millions every year; they easily can afford to take care of these guys who literally gave their bodies for our entertainment. Really, some of those millions should be going into making the game safer, but until then the wealthy elites of bigtime football owe these former players. If they don't get their shit together on this, Congress should definitely get involved.


Compromise reached in UT 'Saw 'Em Off' suit

From the Houston Chronicle:

Kalaouze had been selling sawed-off merchandise since 1997 as an ode to his alma mater's fight song, during which swaying students croon "Saw Varsity's ho-orns o-off!" as a dig at Texas A&M's archrival.

The lawsuit, filed 10 days after Texas A&M pulled a 12-7 upset of Texas in their annual football matchup, claimed the Kalaouzes infringed on the trademark.

Defense attorney Allan Van Fleet argued that Saw 'Em Off fell under traditional First Amendment protection of satire and parody.

Van Fleet estimated more than 50 hours were spent haggling a settlement that would allow the university to protect its cherished trademark and the Kalaouzes to keep selling Saw 'Em Off merchandise without paying royalties on past, present or future receipts.

Click here for the rest.

As much as this lawsuit makes me giggle, I've got to side with Van Fleet's contention that the "saw 'em off" logo is protected speech. I mean, it's obviously satire, and the First Amendment is waaaay more important than my burnt orange blood. And all a suit as ill-timed and ill-considered as this one will do is make Aggie pride shoot through the roof. Like anyone needs to deal with more Aggie pride.

Besides, the fact that dumbass Aggies can make shirts like this one...

Means that cool and sophisticated Longhorns can make shirts like this one:

As for my own tastes, I'm still holding out for my favorite anti-Aggie logo of all time being featured on a t-shirt:

Let me know if you ever see one like this. I'll buy it in a heartbeat.

Don't you just love free speech?


Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Rulings show Supreme Court's conservative shift

From the AP via the Houston Chronicle:

The Supreme Court liberated corporate and union political spending, limited students' speech and shielded the White House faith-based program from legal challenge today in 5-4 rulings that pointed up the court's shift to the right.

President Bush's two appointees, Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito, were front and center. They wrote the main opinions in those three decisions — including the "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" free-speech case — as well as another ruling that had been sought by the administration and business groups in an environmental case.

Five justices — Roberts, Alito, Anthony Kennedy, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas — formed the majority in each decision. The court's four liberals, Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, David Souter and John Paul Stevens, dissented each time.

Click here for the rest.

You know, I used to have respect for conservative Supreme Court Justices because I believed them to be honest and wise, truly deliberating over complicated Constitutional issues, and then rendering verdicts that were more about principle than partisanship. Not anymore. Ever since 2000's incomprehensible party-line decision in Bush v. Gore, I've tried to look a bit more closely at some of their decisions, particularly the reasoning. What I've found is disturbing. Instead of the "strict constructionist" approach touted by conservatives for decades, I've seen what's best described as a high school debater approach, mixed with some Bill O'Reilly style arrogance. That is, the conservative majority on the court already knows how it's going to rule for any given case before they hear it; then they cherry-pick facts and and torture bits of logic in order to get the ruling they've already decided on. I mean, these rulings make very little sense. Their decision in the gender discrimination case was amazing in it's bullshit. The fact that suppressing the phrase "bong hits 4 Jesus" will do nothing at all to curb teen drug use makes their rationale behind chopping away at free speech rights stupid at best. And on and on.

We're being adjudicated to death by a bunch of fucking monkeys.


'Most severely wounded' soldier endures:
blind, quadriplegic, struggling to breathe

From the International Herald Tribune courtesy of Eschaton:

He lies flat, unseeing eyes fixed on the ceiling, tubes and machines feeding him, breathing for him, keeping him alive. He cannot walk or talk, but he can grimace and cry. And he is fully aware of what has happened to him.

Four years ago almost to this day, Joseph Briseno Jr. was shot in the back of the head at point-blank range in a Baghdad marketplace. His spinal cord was shattered, and cardiac arrests stole his vision and damaged his brain.

The 24-year-old is one of the most severely injured soldiers — some think the most injured soldier — to survive.


In December 2003, he went home, to Manassas Park, Virginia, where his parents, Joseph Sr. and Eva, quit their jobs to care for him.

"All our savings, all our money, was just emptied ... the 401(k)s, everything," said Joseph Briseno, who took a new job a year and a half ago to make ends meet.

Various charities, especially Rebuilding Together, raised money to renovate their basement, supply a backup generator for the medical equipment, and install a lift so they can hoist "Jay," as they call him, into a chair and bathe him in a handicapped accessible bathroom.

Click here for the rest.

Of course, this is just terrible; it's like Johnny Got His Gun, as Atrios observed over at Eschaton. Due to improved medevac procedures and technology, many soldiers who would have simply been killed in earlier wars are now coming home maimed and disabled for life. I mean, at least they're alive, but it's still terrible.

Worse than that, however, is the fact that Briseno's parents are now totally broke from having to care for their son, and that they have to rely on charity to continue. Briseno gave everything for his country--it is no fault of his that psychopaths are in charge of the US military. Why the fuck isn't the government paying for all this?!? He, and his parents, should be in the lap of luxury right now, small compensation for what they've lost, I know, but that's what this country fucking owes him.

What the fuck is up with this shit?


Sunday, June 24, 2007


Well, I failed last week to find anything worth living in, so I'm headed back on Sunday for more hunting. Hopefully, I'll nail it this time. At any rate, no posting until Tuesday, which means yet another missed installment of This Week in Real Art. I'll probably get back to that next week, though.

Wish me luck.

An illustration of a French Quarter street from an 1861 issue of Harper's.



From the Washington Post courtesy of AlterNet:

White House Defends Cheney's Refusal of Oversight

White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said Cheney is not obligated to submit to oversight by an office that safeguards classified information, as other members and parts of the executive branch are. Cheney's office has contended that it does not have to comply because the vice president serves as president of the Senate, which means that his office is not an "entity within the executive branch."


The Archives' Information Security Oversight Office sent two letters to Cheney requesting compliance but never received a response. The office then asked Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales in January to decide whether Cheney was violating the executive order, but he has not responded either. Instead, according to Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.), Cheney's staff tried to get the oversight office abolished this year.

Click here for the rest.

Right. Well, the obvious question that arises here is that if the office of the Vice President is exempt from executive branch oversight, why did Cheney try to abolish the oversight office? Actually, while obvious, that's probably not the most obvious question. The most obvious question is more along the lines of "what is this fucking bullshit?!?" I haven't been watching many of the TV pundit-heads since I moved to Baton Rouge and downgraded my cable package, so I'm not really sure if any of those morons are actually trying to help make the argument, but if they do, they'll be moving into high school debate territory. I mean, really, "not an 'entity within the executive branch.'" That's got to be the most stupid shit I've heard coming out of this administration, and because this administration has been all about stupid shit, that's really saying something.

Will the pussies in Congress let him get away with this? Given their record, there's a good chance they will, in which case, they'll prove themselves worse than the Veep.

This country really disgusts me sometimes.


Means "Who Polices the Police?"


From the Houston Chronicle:

HPD officer accused of sexual assault is taken off duty

Dargin, a 24-year veteran, has been suspended with pay since the May 17 incident. That's when a 25-year-old woman alleged the officer pulled her over about 2:30 a.m. in the 900 block of Laurel Springs Lane and sexually assaulted her, said Harris County Assistant District Attorney Joe Owmby.

Owmby said Dargin, who is assigned to the Kingwood Patrol Division, was on duty and dressed in uniform at the time.

In addition to the woman identifying the officer as her attacker, DNA evidence also links Dargin to the alleged assault, court documents show.

More here.

So, as longtime readers of Real Art know, I grew up in Kingwood. As far as I can tell the alleged crime actually took place in the neighboring subdivision called Forest Cove, a slightly older bedroom community, but pretty much like Kingwood in terms of culture and demographics. That is, both Kingwood and Forest Cove, which have been part of the City of Houston since 1996, are hardcore white well-to-do suburbs, bigtime Republican territory. There is still animosity about the annexation, and nobody but nobody gets pissed off at the police like Republicans do, as rare as such an occurrence might be.

I'd say this cop picked the wrong town to have his way; Dargin's going to get fucked hard. And I daresay he deserves it.

You know in some ways this story reminds me of all the rumors I heard growing up about how the Harris County Constables, who Kingwood had contracted with for security before Houston moved in, would constantly proposition cute teen girls they had pulled over for speeding or whatnot. I'm pretty sure these were just rumors, though. Like I said, the self-righteous Republicans of Kingwood would have never allowed their hot white daughters to be groped by the working class likes of a Harris County Constable without swift and harsh retaliation.


Saturday, June 23, 2007

Plugged-in: Wal-Mart shuns gay groups

From Fortune via CNN courtesy of AlterNet:

Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, has decided to curb its support of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) organizations after conservative Christian groups threatened a boycott, and after some of its own employees expressed disapproval.

The move comes a year after Wal-Mart had put on a gay-friendly smile. The company joined the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce. It sponsored the annual convention of Out & Equal, a group that promotes gay rights in the workplace, and sold gay-themed jewelry in stores.

"We are not currently planning corporate-level contributions to GLBT groups," said Mona Williams, the company's senior vice president of corporate communications. Individual stores can still donate to gay groups.

By way of explanation, Ms. Williams cited a policy adopted last fall saying that Wal-Mart would not make corporate contributions "to support or oppose highly controversial issues" unless they directly relate to the company's ability to serve its customers.

Click here for the rest.

A few years back while I was watching the Houston gay pride parade I was struck by how many corporate floats there were. "Wow," I thought, "it looks like society really is changing." Of course, even though society really is changing, the new gay-friendly face many corporations are donning these days has very little to do with different attitudes among the corporate elite. This Wal-Mart move illustrates the point well.

Corporations don't have "attitudes." They don't have feelings. They don't like or dislike different groups of people. They discriminate sometimes, yes, and they do the right thing sometimes, too, but not because they have bigoted or benevolent attitudes one way or the other. It's all about PR and profit.

Clearly, Wal-Mart decided a while back that they would make more money than they would lose by heavily marketing to gay people--from the corporate point of view, "contributions" means "marketing", rather than a nice thing that individual human beings do for charities they like. Now it turns out that that the cost-cutting mega-retailer miscalculated. Gay-friendly does indeed stand to lose the company more money than it would gain. Consequently, they're trying to put on a neutral face now, in hopes of appeasing the fundamentalists who comprise their core market.

Good business move, I guess, but what this story really emphasizes to me is how easily we all fall into believing the carefully crafted corporate fiction that big businesses are our friends, with human personas and feelings just like any other American. Really, all they want is our money, and if selling out a small group of Americans will get them what they want, then that's what they'll do.


Friday, June 22, 2007




Be sure to check out Modulator's Friday Ark for more cat blogging!


How Low Can He Go?

From Newsweek courtesy of Eschaton:

In 19 months, George W. Bush will leave the White House for the last time. The latest NEWSWEEK Poll suggests that he faces a steep climb if he hopes to coax the country back to his side before he goes. In the new poll, conducted Monday and Tuesday nights, President Bush’s approval rating has reached a record low. Only 26 percent of Americans, just over one in four, approve of the job the 43rd president is doing; while, a record 65 percent disapprove, including nearly a third of Republicans.

More here.

Heh heh heh heh!

The really sad thing about all this is that it's not just about how badly people think Bush is doing as President. He's created such an awful mess that it's going to take at least a couple of future administrations to clean it all up, and that's being optimistic. It's very likely that whoever succeeds the frat-boy king is going to unpopular as well, Democrat or Republican.

No one but no one will be able fix this jam on the first try.


Study Says Eldest Children Have Higher I.Q.s

From the New York Times courtesy of AlterNet:

Researchers have long had evidence that first-borns tend to be more dutiful and cautious than their siblings, early in life and later, but previous studies focusing on I.Q. differences were not conclusive. In particular, analyses that were large enough to detect small differences in scores could not control for the vast differences in the way that children in separate families were raised.

The new findings, which is to appear in the journal Science on Friday, are based on detailed records from 241,310 Norwegians, including some 64,000 pairs of brothers, allowing the researchers to carefully compare scores within families, as well as between families. The study found that eldest children scored about three points higher on I.Q. tests than their closest sibling. The difference was an average, meaning that it showed up in most families, but not all of them.


Another potential explanation concerns how individual siblings find a niche in the family. Some studies find that both the older and younger siblings tend to describe the first-born as more disciplined, responsible, a better student. Studies suggest — and parents know from experience — that to distinguish themselves, younger siblings often develop other skills, like social charm, a good curveball, mastery of the electric bass, acting skills.

“Like Darwin’s finches, they are eking out alternative ways of deriving the maximum benefit out of the environment and not directly competing for the same resources as the eldest,” Dr. Sulloway said. “They are developing diverse interests and expertise that the I.Q. tests do not measure.”

This kind of experimentation might explain evidence that younger siblings often live more adventurous lives than eldest siblings.

Click here for the rest.

Well, this might be true statistically speaking, but it just can't tell the entire story. You see, I happen to know that I'm smarter than my older brother: he was wrong on the Clinton impeachment, and he was wrong on Iraq--I was right. The key to such an aberration lies in the statement above, "first-borns tend to be more dutiful and cautious." That is, they're traditionalists generally, which means that they're hopelessly attracted to the conventional wisdom, whether it's right or wrong. When virtually everybody believes something is true, such traditionalists are very likely to believe it too, unless it somehow violates custom and tradition, in which case they stick with the tried and true.

You know, if anything, such an observation shows how IQ is rather hopeless as a real indicator of intelligence. That is, as an assessment tool for educational purposes, IQ tests have their uses, but they're limited, and our culture doesn't seem to factor that in when considering what intelligence actually means. For instance, athletic ability is rarely considered as having anything to do with intelligence, but the brain controls the body: surely Michael Jordan is a true genius when it comes to basketball. Consequently, this three point disparity in IQ between eldest and younger siblings is, in the grand scheme, inconsequential.

Besides, if my big brother wasn't so conservative and tied to conventional ways of thinking, I'm sure he'd be much smarter than I am.


Thursday, June 21, 2007

Leading Conservative Activist Seeks Punitive Damages

From ACSBlog courtesy of Eschaton:

Judge Robert Bork, one of the fathers of the modern judicial conservative movement whose nomination to the Supreme Court was rejected by the Senate, is seeking $1,000,000 in compensatory damages, plus punitive damages, after he slipped and fell at the Yale Club of New York City. Judge Bork was scheduled to give a speech at the club, but he fell when mounting the dais, and injured his head and left leg. He alleges that the Yale Club is liable for the $1m plus punitive damages because they "wantonly, willfully, and recklessly" failed to provide staging which he could climb safely.

Judge Bork has been a leading advocate of restricting plaintiffs' ability to recover through tort law.

More here.

Bork is about as crazy as they come, a real right-wing psycho's psycho, and a guy who seriously believes, and relentlessly asserts, that the Supreme Court does not have, and never has had, the power of judicial review, which would, if that were actually the case, allow Congress and the White House to essentially set fire to the Constitution. I mean, he's a total nut. Unfortunately, true blue conservatives everywhere look to him for wisdom and guidance on legal issues. President Reagan even nominated him to the Supreme Court back in the day, but better Democrats in the Senate refused consent, which would never happen with today's bunch of pussies. Anyway, this lawsuit makes Bork to be an utter hypocrite, which means that he's probably not as crazy as I've long thought. That is, it is rapidly becoming clear that all bigtime conservatives are utter hypocrites: that they only support the loony and hateful values and principles they espouse when, and only when, they benefit powerful white men while fucking over everybody else; the moment those principles turn and bite a powerful white man, they go out the window.

Think "tough on crime" and the right-wing movement to pardon convicted perjurer Scooter Libby.


Is the Internet dumbing us down?

From MSNBC courtesy of AlterNet:

Keen’s original subtitle, simplified before publication, sums up his argument: How the democratization of the digital world is assaulting our economy, our culture and our values. He looks at the various user-centered Web activities that epitomize Web 2.0 — YouTube, MySpace, Wikipedia, blogs, file-sharing and so forth — and ties these, variously, to loss of accuracy in news and information, the declining quality of music and video, the troubled economics of the content industries and even an erosion of original thinking (as students use Google to create “cut-and-paste” term papers).

Keen’s central thesis is that user-generated content and the disaggregation of information by search engines — reducing books, magazines and newspapers to mere collections of facts — damages both economics and quality. His economic warning is the strongest element of the book: Keen worries that traditional media companies may be done in by the “cult of amateurs.” While probably not due to “amateurs,” it is indeed the case that virtually all of the old-line content producers, from encyclopedias and record companies to television, newspapers and now even pornographers, are experiencing painful business pressures as the Internet absorbs and reorders media.

Click here for the rest.

Yeah, so I listened to an interview with this Keen guy last weekend on NPR: I was taken aback at both how fucking stupid Keen is, as well as the fact that the mainstream media is actually taking what he says seriously--actually, given what amounts to a defense of the MSM, I probably shouldn't be so surprised by their favorable coverage. The political blogosphere is easily taking care of itself in terms of defense against these ludicrous assertions, but I've got to throw in a word or two about cultural media.

While Hollywood and the recording industry have brought us some great television, film, and music over the decades, their golden age is long past. Since these industries moved from small and medium sized business models to a corporate one (see here, here and here), all they've been able to give us are the likes of Justin Timberlake, American Idol, and an endless stream of shitty action-blockbusters--there are, of course, exceptions, but you get the idea. Arguing that breaking the corporate gatekeepers' choke-hold on culture is a bad thing is tantamount to tattooing the word "idiot" on one's own forehead.

Keen is a major fucktard and should not be taken seriously.


Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Iraq Violence Leading to Abortions

From ABC News courtesy of AlterNet:

Pregnant Iraqi women who have been forced from their homes by worsening violence are obtaining illegal abortions because they are unable to get medical care for themselves and their unborn, according to a new report by a national humanitarian group.

A record number of Iraqis -- most of them women and children -- are fleeing their homes to escape the bloodshed of sectarian violence and anti-U.S. attacks, according to a new report by the Iraqi Red Crescent organization, the largest aid group operating in Iraq.

Health care is inadequate and difficult to access for those people, according to the IRC report.

"Pregnant women, infants and children are unable to get...required medical care," states the report, which was translated from Arabic, "and criminal abortion became [sic] the norms."

More here.

So let me get this straight. The Iraq occupation, which at this point is strongly supported only by the most conservative of American voters, is creating circumstances which are compelling Iraqi women to get illegal back-alley abortions. Those same American voters who want to "stay the course" in Iraq are, for the most part, insanely anti-abortion. Well, I guess if it didn't bother them when we fire-bombed Fallujah, all the dead baby fetuses aren't going to bother them either.

But really, this is extremely disturbing. No, not the fact that Iraqi women are getting abortions, rather, what's so disturbing is that these abortions are neither wanted nor safe. I know that the Iraqi people have suffered unconscionable indignities and violence since the US invasion in 2003, but this moves into slasher movie territory.

And it's our fault.


Revealed: Bush's Presidential Signing
Statements Have Been Used to Nullify Laws

From AlterNet:

The report was conducted fairly simply. GAO officials surveyed 19 of last year's 160 objections to determine how the statements had impacted the implementation of laws. According to the report: "We contacted the relevant agencies and asked them how they were executing the provisions. After evaluating the responses we received, we determined that agencies failed to execute six provisions as enacted."


Indeed, it's the Unitary Executive Theory -- another Constitutionally dubious concept -- that has made Bush's use of signing statements especially damaging. Last year, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) inserted a provision into the Department of Defense emergency supplemental bill that would have criminalized the use of torture by U.S. military interrogators. In order to protect the measure's effectiveness, McCain included a provision that aimed to stop all interference by the President, save for a veto of the entire package. "The provisions of this section," it read, "shall not be superseded, except by a provision of law enacted after the date of the enactment of this Act which specifically repeals, modifies, or supersedes the provisions of this section."

But upon signing the law, President Bush declared his intent to interpret the law "in a manner consistent with the constitutional authority of the President to supervise the unitary executive branch and as Commander in Chief and consistent with the constitutional limitations on the judicial power."

Click here for the rest.

Okay, it's disturbing enough that Bush and his boys think it's just fine to redefine, however they like, the laws they're supposed to execute, but this "unitary executive theory" bullshit moves into some very frightening territory. The AlterNet essay explains that Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, probably the most conservative asshole on the bench, is the theory's principal champion: it is beyond irony that Scalia is a "strict constructionist," the kind of guy who's not at all into creative Constitutional interpretation. And that's the problem. "Unitary executive theory" literally ignores the plain language of the Constitution, which unequivocally grants the executive branch only the power to execute laws, in favor of some pretty wild textual inferences seen by wild-eyed right-wing weirdos like Scalia, but nobody else.

The long and short of "unitary executive theory" is that it grants the President near king-like powers. In the long run, this hurts Democrats and Republicans alike. It's anti-American insanity.


Sunday, June 17, 2007


Well, not much of a post tonight: I'm gearing up for apartment hunting in the Big Easy starting tomorrow, which means no posting for a couple of days. However, I did put together a little video greeting for my Dad, which I'm embedding here for Father's Day merry-making:

See you Tuesday or Wednesday!


Saturday, June 16, 2007

Why Is the Pet Food Industry Killing Our Pets?

From AlterNet:

The first thing that came to light was the fact that the pet food industry is virtually self-regulated. The only requirement that the industry must meet is to adhere to the Labeling Act, which states that food must contain the name and address of the producing company, whether the product is intended for dogs or cats, the weight of the food, and the guaranteed analysis. The source of the protein included in the analysis can be anything: condemned material from slaughterhouses, road-kill, zoo animals and even euthanized companion animals. Of course, the industry denies all this, especially the use of dead dogs and cats in pet foods. However, a senior official from a large rendering conglomerate in the United States wrote to me, "I know of no rendering company in the U.S. that will segregate companion animals from the rest of the raw material they process."

Click here for the rest.

As if the creepy, cannibalistic, Soylent Green oriented ramifications of feeding our dogs and cats euthanized dogs and cats wasn't disturbing enough, the article goes on to observe that this kind of "food" necessarily contains the chemical used to put pets to sleep, pentobarbital. In other words, it's possible that we're feeding our pets a deadly drug, which the article suggests has a cumulative effect on the nervous system--over a long period of time, we might be slowly poisoning them. All this on top of what's turned out to be the biggest pet food recall in history, the recent scandal over melamine tainted wheat gluten from China.

This is all, of course, a very poignant example of why federal regulation of business should no longer be dismissed as "bad for the economy." Milton Friedman would tell you that the market would self-correct, that consumers would drift towards brands with better reputations. But this kind of shit is market wide, and consumers can't act on information about which they are unaware. Sure, it means less profit when the government requires that companies don't poison our pets, but fuckin' A, it's damned well worth it.


Friday, June 15, 2007





Be sure to check out Modulator's Friday Ark for more cat blogging!


'Common' birds vanishing in U.S., study finds

From the AP via the Houston Chronicle:

The populations of 20 common American birds — from the fence-sitting meadowlark to the whippoorwill with its haunting call — are half what they were 40 years ago, according to an analysis released Thursday.

Suburban sprawl, climate change and other invasive species are largely to blame, said study author Greg Butcher of the National Audubon Society.

"Most of these we don't expect will go extinct," he said. "We think they reflect other things that are happening in the environment that we should be worried about."

Click here for the rest.

Okay, so common birds are disappearing and bee colonies are going missing. Clearly, something really fucked is happening with the environment. Unless this is yet another manifestation of some big liberal conspiracy to keep the rich from getting richer. Of course, I'm joking about that, but it worries me that the potential public reaction to this now endless stream of news stories concerning subtle environmental shifts, like glaciers melting or super-hurricanes, is so easily diluted by right-wing disinformation campaigns. I mean, attitudes do seem to be changing. The fact that Al Gore is now something of a superstar is evidence of that. But are they changing quickly enough? The birds and the bees are fucking disappearing, for Christ's sake!

I don't think alarmism is out of line here.


Republicans abandoning Bush

From MSNBC courtesy of Eschaton:

As President Bush attempts to revive the controversial immigration reform bill he supports, the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll finds that Republicans are abandoning the president, which has dropped his job-approval rating below 30 percent -- his lowest mark ever in the survey.

But he isn’t the only one whose support is on the decline in the poll. Congress’ approval rating has plummeted eight points, bringing it below even Bush’s. And just one in five believe the country is on the right track, which is the lowest number on this question in nearly 15 years.

Click here for the rest.

The people who did the study believe that Bush finally started to lose some standing in his own party because of the immigration issue, and they're most likely correct about that. Of course, he's such a shitty fucking president, and Republicans know it, that it was only a matter of time before they found something, anything, to use to justify hating him. I mean, two years ago, when the kool-aid was strong, they'd have put up with it, but not now. What bugs me is that rank-and-file Republicans already had plenty of good reasons to hate him, but they're all so into the various wars we're fighting, they just couldn't do it, just couldn't bring themselves to bash their dear leader. Xenophobia serves as a handy excuse.

As for the Democrats in Congress polling so badly, well, this is what they get. They were clearly elected to get us out of Iraq, reverse massive trends in corruption, and stand up to the worst president in US history. But they've done none of that. Indeed, this recent cave-in on war funding was particularly insulting. The lobbying feast apparently continues unabated. And Bush seems to be doing whatever he pleases while all Congress does is whine. Bunch of do-nothings.

Rome is burning. Pass the violin.


Thursday, June 14, 2007


From the AP via the Houston Chronicle:

Shoplifting, employee theft wallop Wal-Mart

Shoppers at Wal-Mart stores across America are loading carts with merchandise — maybe a flat-screen TV, a few DVDs and a six pack of beer — and strolling out without paying. Employees also are helping themselves to goods they haven't paid for.

The world's largest retailer is saying little about these kinds of thefts, but its recent public disclosures that it is experiencing an increase in so-called shrinkage at its U.S. stores suggests that inventory losses due to shoplifting, employee theft, paperwork errors and supplier fraud could be worsening.

And has linked rising theft to its claims that the company offers skimpy pay and benefits. Wal-Mart also faces a class-action lawsuit alleging female workers were passed over for men in pay and promotions.

"I am not the type to steal, but because we are so mistreated, when I saw things I just didn't do anything," said Gina Tuley, a former Wal-Mart bakery worker, who quit her job at the Seagoville, Texas, store in March. A big complaint was that her hours had been cut, reducing her take-home pay.

Click here for the rest.

Wal-Mart is probably the most anti-union corporation in existence. Indeed, any store where there is even a hint of pro-union sentiment among employees merits a big visit from Wal-Mart's special anti-union truth squad, complete with propaganda videos shown at "informational" meetings for which attendance is required. Union organizers are fired immediately when caught on the low cost giant's security monitors, which exist not for shopper safety, but for union busting. That's why it's almost impossible for Wal-Mart workers to get a fair shake. Clearly, this rise in employee theft, as well as lax employee attitudes about apprehending shoplifters, is the inevitable result.

And boy, is this music to my ears.

Stealing and shitty performance are tried and true methods of resistance that date back to slavery, at least. I mean, what can you do when your options are extremely limited? Easy, do a bad job. The sad thing is that a lot of these workers might actually feel a bit guilty about ripping off their boss, about doing nothing while on the clock. They shouldn't. Wal-Mart treats their employees like shit and this is what they deserve.

Or look at it from a capitalist perspective: you get what you pay for. I guarantee you that if the Arkansas based retail mega store paid their workers better and offered decent benefits, "shrinkage" would go waaaay down. It's simple business.


Pardoning Perjurer Scooter Libby

From Hullabaloo courtesy of Eschaton:

Can someone tell me what hold Scooter Libby has on everyone in Washington that he can even get Barack Obama's general counsel to go to bat for him? Pictures? Videos? What?


A Libby pardon means that Bush will finally be paying the price for his administration's Iraq war because he will have to take the heat. Right. My question is, from whom? Atrios? Jane Hamsher? Because I don't see that anybody in the press will say much, and there certainly will not be an uproar. They are, after all, implicated in this case and have every reason to portray the pardon as the reversal of a miscarriage of justice, which is exactly how it is being sold. And now that major Democrats seem to be actively supporting the pardon in some byzantine plan to make Bush "look bad" (as if he cares) it would seem that "accountability" means never having to say you're sorry.

Click here for the rest.

Never mind how fucking stupid such an argument is--I think that's pretty obvious at face value. What this cockeyed scheme represents to me is a textbook example of the head-up-your-ass "consulting" that's got the Democrats so screwed up today. The same people who want a pardon in order to make Bush "look bad" strike me as the same people who've been telling Democrats to move to the right in order to appeal to the "center," who back corporate "free trade," who've gone a long way towards turning the so-called liberal party into Republican Lite.

What the fuck kind of consultants tell you to shoot yourself in the head?


Wednesday, June 13, 2007

MS Sufferer Montel Williams Makes the Case for Medical Pot

From AlterNet:

The new study, conducted by Dr. Donald Abrams, looked at neuropathic pain in HIV/AIDS patients. About one-third of people with HIV eventually suffer this kind of pain, and there are no FDA-approved treatments. For some, it gets so bad that they can't walk. This was what is known as a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, the "gold standard" of medical research. And marijuana worked.

The very first marijuana cigarette reduced the pain by an average of 72 percent, without serious side effects. What makes this even more impressive is that U.S. researchers studying marijuana are required to use marijuana supplied by the federal government -- marijuana that is famous for being weak and of poor quality. So there is every reason to believe that studies such as this one underestimate the potential relief that high-quality marijuana could provide.

Medical marijuana has allowed me to live a productive, fruitful life despite having multiple sclerosis. Many thousands of others all over this country -- less well-known than me but whose stories are just as real -- have experienced the same thing.

The U.S. government knows marijuana works as a medicine. Our government actually provides medical marijuana each month to five patients in a program that started about 25 years ago but was closed to new patients in 1992. One of the patients in that program, Florida stockbroker Irvin Rosenfeld, was a guest on my show two years ago.

Click here for the rest.

Of course, medical marijuana's detractors dismiss it all as an attempt by hippies to get high legally, and there's definitely some truth to that. Nonetheless, it's not so easy to dismiss the science. Pot heals. That's a fact, and it doesn't matter that stoners have pushed the idea for their own reasons. I know at least one man living with AIDS who claims that smoking pot brought him back from the brink of death, and I've read countless similar accounts from others. For that matter, it's not even the recreational crowd that's out in front of this as far as activism goes these days. The serious medical activists are in charge now, and if individual states keep legalizing medical marijuana, it's only a matter of time before the feds have to follow suit.

Really, it ought to be legal for the stoners, too. What does it matter if people get high?



From Wikipedia:

Gore Vidal

Contrary to his wishes, Vidal is — at least in the U.S. — more respected as an essayist than as a novelist. The critic John Keates praised him as "this [the twentieth] century's finest essayist." Even an occasionally hostile critic like Martin Amis admits, "Essays are what he is good at...[h]e is learned, funny and exceptionally clear-sighted. Even his blind spots are illuminating."

Accordingly, for six decades, Gore Vidal has applied himself to a wide variety of socio-political, sexual, historical, and literary themes. In 1987, Vidal wrote the essays titled
Armageddon?, exploring the intricacies of power in contemporary America. He ruthlessly pilloried the incumbent president Ronald Reagan as a "triumph of the embalmer's art." In 1993, he won the National Book Award for his collection of essays,United States (1952–1992), the citation noting: "Whatever his subject, he addresses it with an artist's resonant appreciation, a scholar's conscience, and the persuasive powers of a great essayist." A subsequent collection of essays, published in 2000, is The Last Empire. Since then, he has published such self-described "pamphlets" as Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace, Dreaming War: Blood for Oil and the Cheney-Bush Junta,and Imperial America, critiques of American expansionism, the military-industrial complex, the national security state, and the current administration.

More bio here.

And to watch the interview, via Throw away your TV, click here.

Okay, so in the interview, Vidal doesn't really say much that he hasn't been saying for the last four or five years or so, you know, that Bush has destroyed the republic, that the war is totally illegal and imperial in nature, that public attitudes about all sorts of things are extraordinarily vapid, etc., but he says it so damned well. He is, after all, Gore Vidal. Go check it out; he's always a pleasure.


Tuesday, June 12, 2007


From NPR's All Things Considered, a Ted Koppel radio essay:

A Duty to Mislead: Politics and the Iraq War

Democrats are telling voters that if they are elected, all U.S. troops will be pulled out of Iraq. But as Sen. Hillary Clinton privately told a senor military adviser, she knows there will be some troops there for decades. It's an example of how in some cases, politics can force dishonesty.

Click here to listen to the essay.

I'm not sure when I first mentioned it here at Real Art, but it had to have been at least two years ago: we'll be in Iraq for twenty years or more. What with this South Korea metaphor coming down from the White House, and now this news that Hillary's all for an indefinite presence of US troops there, it's looking like the politicians are finally getting around to publicly admitting what's been obvious for a while. The US establishment wants to control Iraq. Forever. And damn what American citizens want.

Doesn't matter anyway. America hasn't really been a democracy for some years.



From AlterNet:

Why America Hates Paris Hilton

I've found a lot of the conversation around the Paris Hilton jailing to be very troubling -- people don't want to see her incarcerated because she broke the law, but because she's a "stupid bimbo," a "skanky little whore," a "stupid bitch," a "ho," a "piece of white trash," a "ignorant cum hole on a stick," a "fucking whorebag," a "whinning pussystretched crab infested skank," a "spoiled cunt," etc etc. And those are just from the first 150 comments on the post linked above. Other commenters hoped that she'd get a "full-cavity search," talked about their sexual gratification at the sight of her crying and the description of her being dragged off by a prison guard, expressed their desire for her to be raped, and even said that "the next story should be about the whore dying." Even artists are getting into the game, supposedly critiquing drunk driving by depicting Paris dead, naked and with her legs spread open (created, notably, by the same dude who did the pro-life Britney-birthing statue).

I think it's fascinating that of all the disgusting things Paris Hilton has done -- using racial, anti-Semitic and sexual slurs, mocking "lesser" rural people on The Simple Life, acting condescendingly and generally cruelly toward anyone who crosses her path, driving drunk -- what people are really upset about is the fact that she's a slut. Yes, she's technically being punished for driving without a license, but that isn't what makes everyone so gleeful about her stint in jail -- it's the pretty-little-rich-whore getting her comeupance.

Click here for the rest.

I think that the 1970s ended for me in the late 1990s. Until that point I had pretty much believed that American social attitudes about sexuality had fundamentally changed, that the sexual revolution had actually accomplished something, that the sex-hating Puritans were simply a fringe group continually dwindling into irrelevance, that most people didn't care who you were sleeping with or why, that sex was an individual's personal business. Then they impeached President Clinton for an adulterous blowjob. Oh yes, of course, technically it was about giving misleading answers concerning his affair with Monica Lewinsky during a deposition, but the rhetoric was all about sex. Even the majority of Americans who wisely understood that Clinton's crime didn't rise to the level of impeachment seemed to be shaking their heads and wagging their fingers in judgment of the President's sexual escapades. That's when I realized that, in spite of the endless stream of mass media sexual imagery we endure 24/7 here in the US, public attitudes about sex aren't what I believed them to be.

The Scarlet Letter never went away.

Say what you want about Paris Hilton. I think she's a useless parasite, myself. But having sex with lots of people is not a good reason to condemn her. I mean, yeah, it was funny as hell when South Park blasted her for it, but really, sexual promiscuity isn't hurting her or anybody else, assuming she's safe about it. And it's sexist. It's primitive and superstitious. Just stupid when you get right down to it. And it's nobody's fucking business anyway, even if she walks around half naked all the time.

Big fucking deal.

Why do so many people get so vicious when they judge her for being a "slut"?


Monday, June 11, 2007


(NSFW-really loud cussing!)


Sunday, June 10, 2007

Party Host Mom Set for Va. Jail Term

From the AP via the Huffington Post courtesy of AlterNet:

Ryan Kenty, 20, and his brother Brandon, still a sophomore in high school, plan to drive their mother to jail Monday morning before heading back to her rented apartment to move the rest of her belongings into storage.

Their mom, Elisa Kelly, and her ex-husband, George Robinson, are paying the price for hosting Ryan's 16th birthday party -- more than two years in jail each. Ryan had asked his mother to buy his friends some beer and wine, as long as they all spent the night.

"No one left the party," said Kelly, 42, who collected car keys that night almost five years ago to prevent anyone from leaving. "No one was hurt. No one drove anywhere. I really don't think I deserve to go to jail for this long."

Click here for more.

I'll second that last thought. I mean, okay, she broke the law, but did so in a responsible way that recognized the realities of underage drinking. That is, lots of teens drink and everybody knows it: teen drinking is waaay more safe when supervised by adults than when not. Maybe a fine would be appropriate. I don't know. But two fucking years in jail?!? That's nuts. Plain nuts. Really, the law ought to change to reflect the reality. Fuck, man, I lost one of my high school students to a drunk driving accident back when I was teaching. If he'd been drinking at this party instead of on his own, he'd have never been allowed behind the wheel of his car. He'd be alive today.

This is so fucked up. In many ways, this woman was doing the right thing.


Spice Girls Planning Reunion Tour and Album

From People courtesy of AlterNet:

The Spice Girls are preparing for a Christmas reunion tour, sources close to the band tell PEOPLE.

"It should be happening in December," a source tells PEOPLE. "Geri [Halliwell, a.k.a. Ginger Spice] and Emma ["Baby Spice" Bunton] have been in the studio writing new material and they want to do a worldwide tour."

Rumors have circulated recently that the band would reunite for the Princess Diana memorial concert that is to be held on Diana's birthday, July 1, to mark the 10th anniversary of her death.

"They definitely won't be performing at the Diana show. It is too soon and Emma is pregnant," says another band insider. "But plans are afoot for later in the year. It all depends on Simon Fuller. He is the mastermind."

Fuller, 47, was the Svengali manager who turned the five-woman group into the most successful female act of the 1990s and later went on to create American Idol.

Click here for the rest.

I love Spice Girls, but I still think Simon Fuller is an asshole.

Yeah, this post makes for a pretty big oxymoron what with coming right after my Peter Gabriel post from yesterday. I mean, okay, both of these groups are English and all, but the similarities pretty much end there. Unlike the pretentious and artsy early years for Genesis, Spice Girls were always about prefabricated pop, which didn't really happen to Gabriel's former mates until the 80s, and even then, they knew exactly what they were doing, that is, selling out. Anyway, just because I like jazz and Frank Zappa doesn't mean that I don't dig the occasional piece of pop trash, and I usually feel justified when I do it.

For instance, starkly contrasting other sexy plastic singing groups, Spice Girls always had a marvelous sense of humor about themselves. They knew what was going on, and never seemed to take their stardom very seriously--well, except for Ginger Spice when she left the group, but see where that got her. Spice Girls were about fun. Girl power and all that mid 90s stuff. They also had great producers crafting their music. "Say You'll Be There" for instance has a really groovy gangster synth sound throughout, while liberally ripping off hooks from George Michael and Michael Jackson, throwing in a few Stevie Wonder harmonica licks. Hard to go wrong if you can successfully pull together all the elements, which they did.

See for yourself. Here's the video, which also shows off some of that humor I mentioned. I mean, really, kung fu in the desert...

Anyway, I'm excited about their triumphant return. Hope they head down to New Orleans. I'm sure to be there.


Friday, June 08, 2007


From Wikipedia:


Collins and Hackett made their studio debut on 1971s Nursery Cryme. The album features the epic "The Musical Box", as well as Collins's first lead vocal performance on "For Absent Friends". Foxtrot was released in October 1972, and contains what has been described as one of the group's most accomplished works—the 23-minute "Supper's Ready". Songs such as the Arthur C. Clarke inspired "Watcher of the Skies" solidified their reputation as songwriters and performers. Gabriel's flamboyant and theatrical stage presence, which involved numerous costume changes and surreal song introductions, made the band one of the most popular live acts on the early 1970s UK rock scene.

Selling England by the Pound followed in November 1973, and was well received by both critics and fans. According to one commentator, Gabriel was conscious of over-using lyrics or references which might suggest a bias towards an American audience. He was keen to avoid this, and insisted that the album was titled
Selling England by the Pound, a reference to a Labour Party slogan at the time. The album contains "Firth of Fifth", and "I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe)"; these songs remained part of Genesis's repertoire in future live performances. During this period, Hackett became one of the first guitarists to use the "tapping" technique—normally credited to Eddie Van Halen—as well as "sweep-picking", which was popularized in the 1980s by Yngwie Malmsteen. These techniques were incorporated on the song "Dancing with the Moonlit Knight".

More here.

And from another Wikipedia article:

"The Musical Box"

The climax to the song concerns itself with Henry's feelings towards Cynthia, representing his lustful view of her, shown no better than the words 'She's a lady, she is mine!' and then just after when Gabriel sings, 'Why don't you touch me? Touch me, NOW, NOW, NOW, NOW!' In live performances, Peter Gabriel would don an "old man" mask for the finale and creepy lighting would be used each time he shouted "NOW!" At the end of the song the old man would die.

More here.

Right. So Genesis was a major obsession for me when I was in high school and college years ago, and as every real fan knows, the best version of the band was the one fronted by Peter Gabriel. Indeed, the earlier albums featuring Gabriel on lead vocals are more artistically ambitious (some might even say pretentious, but whatever), with better lyrics, and, I would argue, better passion--I think it's even safe to say that Gabriel's voice, the physical instrument itself, is better than his successor's, with a deeper home pitch, and an almost earthy rasp. I'm fond of Genesis in all their incarnations, even the poppy dreck they were pumping out in the 80s, but it's their old stuff that has always stirred me the most.

That's why it's weird that I've never seen any film or video of their early live performances. Critics have always mentioned Gabriel's onstage theatrics, complete with costumes and odd makeup, as being a key part of what Genesis was in those days. I have no idea why, but earlier today I did a YouTube search for some of that stuff, and it paid off in spades. Gabriel is, of course, everything I've heard about him, even squeezed into the small YouTube video format.

The performance of "The Musical Box" (embedded below) is missing the ballyhooed costumes and masks, but it presents Gabriel without any gimmicks, and you get to see what a powerful and natural performer he was, even in his early twenties. I mean, the guy's like Jim Morrison and Robert Smith all rolled into one, expertly executing sensuous and desperate goth many years before the term was coined. And the way he moves is nothing short of incredible; his hand gestures alone are worth watching, but his full body movement verges on dance without actually being dance. It's impossible to look away from him. The "Dancing with the Moonlit Night" clip (also embedded below) is great too, but with a bit less performance emphasis on Gabriel's frenzied gyrations. He wears a costume for this one, relying much more on projection of stage presence and the like, but it's just as effective.

It's important to note how tight the rest of the band is. These songs are fairly complicated at certain points, but they whiz right through them without falling into Steely Dan's lifeless trap of perfection-done-live. These performances are fresh, happening right now. It's good to be reminded that Phil Collins isn't simply the Tin Pan Alley hack he started making of himself once Gabriel left the band: Collins is one of the greatest rock drummers of all time, as good as Keith Moon or John Bonham, maybe even better.

One thing's for sure, I thought I knew what Peter Gabriel was about, but I was wrong. He's definitely the god everybody's always said he is.

The Musical Box

Dancing with the Moonlit Night