Posted byat 6th July, 2009
Here are two words calculated to scare the poo out of you, and it’s not a joke. Ready?
Yeah, I know. She resigned from office last week under what appears to be mysterious circumstances. Then she pretty much threatened to sue anybody who suggests there might have been any mysterious circumstances. Well, I’m raising the possibility that this dimwit resigned under mysterious circumstances, and if she doesn’t like that, well, evidently I like Alaska a lot more than she does and I wouldn’t mind going there to defend myself and, oh yeah, the constitution of the United States of America. You know, the very thing Palin and her equally mindless sycophants use as toilet paper.
Posted byat 29th June, 2009
Well, I guess Michael Jackson’s death pretty much blows my idea for a remake of that great German movie, M.
Am I the only person who remembers that Michael Jackson, by his very own words, was a child molester, or am I just the only person who seems troubled by that? How talented do you have to be in order to make up for getting little kids drunk and taking them to your bed – while naked? Just how talented do you have to be before that behavior becomes acceptable?
I’ve got to tell you, in my book being a good singer and a great dancer isn’t enough. I’m not certain coming up with a cure for cancer would be enough. “Oh, yeah, sure, he got little boys drunk and then took them to his bed, but hell, he cleared up my carcinoma.”
Sorry, folks, I’m not buying Jackson’s canonization. I won’t be doing a tribute on Weird Sounds Inside The Gold Mind, I won’t be dropping teddy bears off at the Apollo, I’m not going to rent The Wiz (then again, Diana Ross scares me).
Posted byat 22nd June, 2009
You may have noticed that Iran’s in turmoil once again. So it’s time for another Braniac On Banjo pop quiz. Ready?
Between Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Mirhossein Mousavi, the two “leading” candidates in last week’s wacky Iranian presidential election, which one is in favor of continued local nuclear build-up? Which one is a strong supporter of Hamas and Hezbolla terrorism? Which one holds strong anti-American sentiments?
Posted byat 15th June, 2009
There’s a documentary that opened in movie theaters this week called Food, Inc. The folks behind it have been doing the teevee and radio circuit, getting interviews and spreading their message that corporate America is making us sick with their industrial farms, their torturous animal pens, their hormones and corn-laden feed, and their mutant chicken breasts. That’s fine. Those are very good and very important messages.
The problem is, their pompous self-righteous delivery is obnoxious and vile. Yes, honest, when we look at a bucolic scene on a carton of milk, we really do not believe that Farmer Brown personally juked the cow and poured it into a bottle, no more than we think Sauk Chief Black Hawk was really a hockey goalie.
This is a technique that is common to the food and so-called animal rights movements. There’s a particular degree of arrogance that exceeds the norm of political advocates, and I don’t understand it. Sometimes their noses are so far up in the air I think they’ll drown in a light drizzle.
Posted byat 8th June, 2009
From time to time, it dawns upon me that I’m one of the luckiest people on the planet. Here’s an example.
For many years, I wrote for an underground newspaper called The Chicago Seed. Its circulation peaked at about 58,000, so I’ll side-step the definition of “underground.” It was housed in various locations: one of America’s first head shops, an office right between a Chicago police station and the Moody Bible Institute, and an old bar in a building owned by an ancient member of the Industrial Workers of the World. There’s a bunch of stories in each of those locations; today’s tale is set in the next-to-last and most long-lived venue, the one that occupied the entire second floor above what was then Chicago’s best-known blues club, Alice’s Revisited.
Posted byat 1st June, 2009
We understand why vultures like Newt Gingrich and Rush Limbaugh maliciously misrepresent Judge Sotomayor’s comments about what she brings to the bench as a Latina: by quoting her completely out of context, they can trade places with her on the issue of racism: she becomes the bigot, not the likes of the RePub Right.
Quite frankly, from her record it’s difficult to discern how “liberal” the nominee might be. It doesn’t matter to the RePubs; the hated Obama appointed her, even if Bush the First initially appointed her to the Federal bench. But it should matter that the so-called press – and I’m not referring to Fox “we suck, you swallow” News – would go to such great lengths to make her look like a bigot by not presenting the context of her statement. Then again, from a historical perspective, maybe not.
The non-Hispanic American public has always had a hard-on against the Latin community ever since we finished stealing their northern lands early in the 20th Century. Sensing this fear and hatred, the media has done much to whip up this hostility and turn it into something evil, ugly and dangerous. Back in the 1920s, before the Great Depression, newspapers warned us that Mexicans were swarming across the borders to take our jobs and, hopped up on the Mexican-sounding narcotic “marijuana,” rape our wives and daughters.
Posted byat 25th May, 2009
Dick Cheney. Gotta love him.
Here’s this paranoid fuck running scared all over the nation trying to taint the jury pool. Oh, clearly Cheney’s worried about being indicted – his daughter makes that perfectly clear as she runs around the nation defending her father. The Cheneys’ defense is simple: ever since we started pulling fingernails out of Moslems, you haven’t been attacked, have you, you ungrateful asshole? Quack quack.
Well, Dick’s right. And we haven’t had any elephant stampedes, either. Only Dick (and, possibly, PeTA) knows what we’ve been doing to them. Clearly, elephants are a lot larger than old rich Republican contributors, so Cheney’s probably not shooting them. And they’re a bitch to waterboard.
So… out of all this nonsense, who’s the guy I admire the most? Well, right now – and I never, ever thought I’d be saying this – it’s Erich “Mancow” Muller, the right wing radio guy. Mancow has been defending waterboarding as “not torture,” but, unlike cowardly liars like Sean Hannity, Mancow put his mouth where his money is. He got waterboarded. Live. On the air. In front of video cameras.
He lasted all of six seconds. In torture-time, that’s three-quarters of a gallon of water. And it’s about five and a half seconds longer than I would have lasted.
As soon as he was done coughing and gagging, Mancow said “yes, this is torture.” He knew he wasn’t going to be killed, he knew it would be over in a heartbeat (the average is 14 seconds), he knew the EMS was there, and he knew he wasn’t going to back to a prison cell for sleep deprivation or stress torture. Despite all those assurances and safety-nets, he only lasted six seconds and he was immediately convinced it was torture. It was being drowned, Mancow said, and he should know. As a child, he drowned and was, obviously, revived.
Here’s the link: www.youtube.com/watch?v=KKfEjdAkmbs. Warning: this clip of the entire event might not be suitable for children, hydrophobes or Republicans.
He stood up for his principles, and he admitted he was wrong. Mancow manned up. I wish ex-Vice President Dick Cheney was one-third as honest as Mancow Muller.
• • • • •
It is with great pride and even greater ego that I announce my weekly two-hour Weird Sounds Inside The Gold Mind ass-kicking bizarro music and blather show starts up this Sunday, May 31st, at www.getthepointradio.com 7:00 PM Eastern, replayed the following Thursday night at 9:00 PM Eastern. Love it or hate it or just get confused by it, you’ve never heard anything like it before. At least not since 1976.
Likewise, I’ll be adding Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mind rants on Tuesdays, Wednesday and Thursdays, exclusively at www.getthepointradio.com. The regular Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mind rants will continue every Monday and Friday on The Point podcasts, available right here at www.michaeldavisworld.com, as well as at www.comicmix.com, www.getthepointradio.com, www.zzcomics.com, and www.ravenwolfstudios.com. You can subscribe to The Point at iTunes by searching under “The Point Radio.”
Posted byat 18th May, 2009
When Barack Obama was running for president, he made all kinds of promises that helped differentiate his positions from those of the evil Bush/Cheney administration. By and large he’s kept most of those promises, and to be fair, some of those that he didn’t were mitigated for understandable reasons. Not all. Not all, at all.
Obama reversed his position against “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” the military’s policy of tossing out homosexuals who come out of the closet. On May 7th, the Army chucked out First Lieutenant Dan Choi.
When such a thing happened during the Bush years, it was customary state the victim’s bona fides. Whereas that shouldn’t be necessary – it’s not okay to discriminate against, say, the bottom 25% of one’s graduating class and I, for one, hated being referred to as one of the “good ones” when Christian friends were trying to be nice to me in high school – I shall bow to tradition. Dan Choi is a West Point graduate and a decorated officer in the Army National Guard who is, by the way, completely fluent in Arabic. He served with honor in Iraq. When it comes to his career and his view of the military, Choi’s a believer. If we’re going to have well-trained soldiers in the area, Dan Choi is exactly the type of guy we need.
Posted byat 11th May, 2009
Despite George W. Bush’s blunderings, lies, and power-grabs, he was not – in my opinion – the worst president in recent history. That honor falls to second-rate actor and thirty-fourth-rate president, Ronald Reagan.
Sorry, you sad, whiny Neo-Cons. Your great god and his greedy economic visions are the root of our present financial ails. We used to have a vibrant middle class. We used to manufacture stuff. We used to have fairly reasonable gaps between the sundry societal strata. Now we have stupidly rich people who demand tax cuts, stupidly poor people who sure would appreciate having medical insurance and a roof over their heads, and we have people stupidly in debt with their jobs at constant risk – if they still have jobs as all.
If you’re in debt, Neo-Cons and objectivists say, it’s your own damn fault. Oh really? Reagan and his Randites saw to it that our economy was entirely fueled by debt. If we didn’t incur that debt, the capitalist system in America would have collapsed. The sainted newspaper columnist, the late Mike Royko, said after the 1980 election that Americans didn’t vote their pocketbooks; we voted our credit cards. We should have listened to the man.
Posted byat 4th May, 2009
(Author’s Note: This is an expanded version of next Friday’s Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mind podcast on The Point; you’re getting an early look, you lucky debbil. Yeah, I know, I did this last week too, but I’m out of town, time is short, and my attention span is even shorter. As always, to get the full experience, read this, listen to The Point and dig the music from Danny Elfman, Paul McCartney [!] and Al Hirt [!!], and grok the subtle sarcasm of my melodious voice.)
Okay, you people who wallow in popular culture and, given the pedigree of many of the contributors to this site, probably enjoy comic books as well. It’s honking-big-comic-book-buying-time. And it’s a great one this time, worth putting down your Purell to purchase. Because this one’s magic.
Damn near everybody knows about Jack Kirby. When he died 15 years ago, long before comics became cool, he was eulogized on the network news. He partnered with Joe Simon throughout the 1940s and 1950s. In case you didn’t know, Joe was Marvel Comics’ first editor-in-chief, and he’s still with us today. Together, Joe and Jack created some of the most powerful work of the era, in all genres. War, crime, mystery, humor, s-f, superheroes such as Captain America, The Fly and my favorite, Fighting American. They even created the romance comic book.
Just about everything Jack did at Marvel and DC in the 60s and 70s has been reprinted in hardcover, but while some of their higher profile creations like Captain America have once again seen the light of day, the bulk of Simon and Kirby’s massive and massively important output has been restricted to those wealthy enough to buy the original comics. At long last, this has changed.
Last month, The Best of Simon and Kirby released by Titan Books. Introduced by the 95 year-old Joe Simon, edited by Steve Saffel and annotated by Kirby biographer and former assistant editor Mark Evanier, this brilliant 240-page tome covers all aspects of their work, including their creations for Marvel and DC during the period. The art restoration is impeccable; perhaps the best I’ve ever seen.
For people who are enthusiasts of the medium, interested in our 20th century cultural history, or simply looking for a read that’s great fun, you will not do better. The Best of Simon and Kirby is but the first of several volumes, and I eagerly await the next.
By the way, this series has motivated DC to publish the Simon and Kirby run of The Sandman, from the 1940s. It will be out in August.
The Best of Simon and Kirby, Titan Books, edited by Steve Saffel, $39.95 retail, available at your friendly neighborhood comic book store (well, at least they can order it for you, and maybe they’ll give you a discount if you pay in advance) and from the usual retail and online sources.
Mike Gold’s Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mind rants can be heard every Monday and Friday on The Point podcasts, , available right here at www.michaeldavisworld.com, as well as at comicmix.com, getthepointradio.com, zzcomics.com, and ravenwolfstudios.com. You can subscribe to The Point at iTunes by searching under “The Point Radio.” This is the best way to hear his dulcet tones while doing your daily jog. By the way, he loves writing about himself in the third-person.
Posted byat 27th April, 2009
(Author’s Note: This is an expanded version of today’s Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mind podcast on The Point. It contains more verbiage and a pretty picture of Richard J. Daley, but it doesn’t contain awesome music from Mike Bloomfield, CSNY, Stevie Ray Vaughn and Buddy Guy, nor do you get to enjoy my snotty tone of voice. To get the full experience, read this, listen to The Point, burn some incense, and put on a crash helmet.)
This is my anniversary. It was 41 years ago today that I attended my very first police riot.
Not that we knew it at the time. I was a lanky, tassel-haired youth of 17, and I was in downtown Chicago for a peace march. We had permits, we had about a quarter-million friends, we had about 12 million cops and we sang Country Joe McDonald while we toed the line. The police had other ideas.
When we reached the Civic Center for our rally, the police decided we had enough fun. In direct violation of the agreements that were made and noted in the permit, they began using their police clubs to disperse the crowd just as the speakers started to talk.
That’s when I learned a valuable lesson: you don’t disperse a crowd with truncheons. You beat a crowd with truncheons.
Posted byat 20th April, 2009
(When we last visited Brainiac On Banjo last week – http://www.michaeldavisworld.com/cgi/wp/?p=369 – Gold rambled endlessly about the stupidity of provincial moralism as it affects our nation’s drug laws. Not being content to leave well enough alone, Gold babbles further on the subject.)
So who benefits from our nation’s obsessively stupid drug policies? As journalism students were taught back when there was a vague possibility of getting a job: follow the money.
You might think the police departments make out nicely, but they don’t. Many cops either smoke dope today or did as kids, and police always protect their own. Cops are no different from the rest of us, except more of them spent time in that alternate drug haven, the military. The bureaucrats and the politicians who profit from their acts would get much better coverage if all their resources were focused on real crime and not on busting people’s kids… and they know it.
Posted byat 13th April, 2009
My niece Cheryl and her family just got back from spring break in Mexico. Being rational people they restricted themselves to the safer touristy areas but, being my mother’s son, I remained concerned. There’s a lot of shit coming down in Mexico these days, and of course it’s about drugs. Marijuana in particular; the Americas’ largest cash crop. And I mean “cash” literally.
Everybody’s wringing their hands over this. Both the Americans and the Mexicans blame the problem on the drug users in the United States of America. Of course, that’s not the problem. The problem is that marijuana is illegal, and that simple act has repercussions.
It finances the drug wars. Some of the money, according to organizations with bad track records when it comes to telling the truth, goes to outfits that sponsor terrorism. Yeah, well the Taliban supports poppy growing and heroin processing, but Mexico isn’t exactly across the street from Afghanistan and grass ain’t smack.
I’m sure you’re familiar with the toll placed upon our society by keeping marijuana illegal. The billions and billions of dollars we spend prosecuting and incarcerating users. The distraction of police departments, whose time could be better spent doing just about anything else. The loss of massive tax revenues. The network of dealers where customers can easily obtain more dangerous stuff.
Posted byat 6th April, 2009
Last Saturday in Pittsburgh, a guy whipped out a gun and opened up on policemen, killing three. The killer’s friends said he had been upset about losing his job and, oh yeah, he thought Obama was going to ban guns. Light ‘em if you’ve got ‘em.
Last Friday in Binghamton NY, a guy opened first at an immigrant center, killing 13. The killer had just lost his job and, oh yeah, was tired of people mocking him for his imperfect English.
Last Tuesday in Ellensburg WA, a 42 year-old man robbed a convenience store, accompanied by his nine year-old daughter, who looked rather bewildered on the security tape. The robber said he needed the money to support his daughter and he had been unemployed for several months. He didn’t kill anyone, but I hope he puts the $200.00 he stole towards his daughter’s shrink bills.
A few weeks ago in Sampson AL, a 28 year-old man shot and killed 10 people, five from his own family, before he committed suicide at the plant where he used to work.
Posted byat 30th March, 2009
This might comes as a shock to Dennis O’Neil, but he was with Linda, Adriane and me on our drive from Connecticut to Detroit this past weekend.
We were going to Michigan for the bar mitzvah of my great-nephew, Nathan Raine. This mostly consists of me wandering around wondering how the hell I got old enough to have a 13 year-old great-nephew. Then I remember my sister’s seven years older than me… but that doesn’t make me feel any better.
As is our want during these drives to the Midwest, we usually stock the car up with interesting listening material, including an audio book or two. Recently, we’ve listened to David Sedaris and Rex Stout. This time, it’s Denny O’Neil’s turn.
Posted byat 23rd March, 2009
To be fair, the conservatives are right about one thing: there’s no way we’ve got the money to pay for President Obama’s entire social agenda. As worthy as it is, we don’t have the resources to fund 100% of the shopping list.
Barack’s already started to cut, quietly and in a most unfortunate place. He wants to cut our armed forces from the VA health roles if –note, if – they have access to private insurance. This is a really lousy place to cut.
Whatever you think about our sundry wars, including the present escalation in Afghanistan, let’s appreciate the sacrifice being made by the men and women of our armed forces and of their families. With battlefield care improving, we have more veterans in need of long-term care than ever before: vets who, in previous wars, would have died in combat. The only problem with the VA hospitals (compared to other hospitals) is they tend to be in urban areas, and vets in non-urban environments have a hard time getting care.
Obama’s plan will make it all the harder.
Posted byat 16th March, 2009
That guy smiling out at you is Charles Ponzi, and he’s had a lot of press lately. Actually, compared to his greatest disciple he’s looking good.
By now you know what a Ponzi Scheme is. Essentially, a con game is run on a pyramid of investors and the early marks are paid just enough of the money that’s coming in from the next generation of marks to attract even more marks. Eventually, the con man has to work too hard to find more suckers so he stops paying anything to anybody, takes all of the money that’s left (the great majority) and buys real estate in a country without an extradition treaty.
Back in 1921 – a time of economic opportunism not unlike that we’d just gone through – Charlie showed some creativity. His hustle was based upon speculation in international postage stamps. He told investors that he could provide a 40% return in 90 days by managing the flux of foreign currency. The scheme was so successful it actually clocked a $1,000,000 intake during one three-hour period. It turns out Ponzi had only purchased $30 worth of stamps, just enough to show people the product.
You really can make this stuff up, but why bother?
Posted byat 9th March, 2009
After a week’s silence I find myself all warm and squishy, reflecting back as I often do on my wistful youth. Actually, I was inspired by a conversation with my wife, Linda, after we saw this week’s episode of Batman: The Brave and the Bold.
Linda finds Adam Strange’s costume to be one of the coolest ever in comics, so, of course, I launched into a history lesson. Adam Strange had one of the finest artistic pedigrees of all DC heroes: his costume was designed by Murphy Anderson, his Showcase try-out issues were drawn by Mike Sekowsky, the regular series was pencilled by Carmine Infantino (usually inked by either Bernard Sachs or Murphy Anderson), and the early covers were drawn by Gil Kane. Later work has been provided by guys like Neal Adams and Jim Starlin.
Wow. Not too shabby.
Posted byat 23rd February, 2009
Steve Martin used to do this character who, when admitting to willful wrongdoing, would apologize with an overwrought, exaggerated, totally artificial “Excuuuuuse Me!” It was more offensive than not apologizing at all… which was his point.
I’ve always felt that the younger brother to this routine has been the “well, to those people who were offended, I apologize.” What a load. It’s not an apology. It shifts the blame from the person who did the action over to the person who was thin-skinned enough to be offended. It’s the most condescending act of the Great American Shithead.
Unless you’ve been hiding in a Gallifreyian police box the past week, you’ve heard that the ultra-right-wing New York Post, a “newspaper” totally lacking the credibility of the late, lamented Weekly World News, published an editorial cartoon that conflates the police shooting of an enraged chimpanzee with Barack Obama. When you think about it, there’s really no other way to interpret this cartoon: why else would you make the comparison if you weren’t grafting the chimp illusion onto Obama?
Posted byat 16th February, 2009
This one might be a bit depressing. You see, the third World War has started. I’m not kidding.
The United States is not alone in this current economic crisis; the whole world’s in much the same situation. Most nations are in worse shape: when the U.S. farts, Europe gets an enema and Africa gets dysentery. This time, the world blames the United States for the disease – specifically, the former president and his cabal. I can’t argue that one.
Every nation is desperately trying to create new jobs. We can quibble about how that’s to be done, but everybody is going to try something. Because a lot of these nations have leaders who are in some way beholden to their public, the first thing that will happen is what is broadly referred to as “protectionism.” That’s when nations try to futz with tariffs, imports, immigration and labor laws to expand domestic jobs at the expense of other nations. It always happens. It’s like gravity.
Sadly, history has told us that, next to religion, global economic diddling is the common root of war. This, too, is like gravity. It always happens. To grossly oversimplify, Japan didn’t invade the United States back in 1941 because they are evil people who loathed our way of life, they invaded because we cut them off from imports they considered vital.
Posted byat 9th February, 2009
The big announcement at last weekend’s New York Comic Con was DC’s raising their price to $3.99, except for those titles that will be $4.50. You know, the smaller circulation stuff like Vertigo and those titles they’re about to cancel.
That’s not how it’s supposed to work. In a depression, supply goes up as demand goes down. We’re in a depression (just ask the folks at Mad Magazine), but DC is violating this most basic law of capitalism. Therefore, by raising its prices DC is showing its true communist leanings. Tsk, tsk.
What does it cost to follow a reasonable number of DC Universe titles? Nowadays, given the massively amusing (perhaps not in the way they intended) perpetual pseudo-events like Final Crisis, if you don’t have about $100 a month to spend on four hours of what you hope to be entertainment, you’re going to be twisting in the winds of multi-tracked contradictory continuity. At best. Maybe you’re going to be spending your money on other things. Perhaps health insurance. Or food.
Yes, I know. Marvel Comics has slowly and quietly raised the cover price on most of its books to $3.99, and most of their top titles are all at that price point. That’s true. But here’s the lesson DC management and DC’s hardcore fans have never, ever learned: DC Comics is not Marvel Comics. You might think they’re better and that’s swell, but that’s your opinion. The marketplace has told us loudly and clearly that the top selling regularly published comic books have been from the House of Idea for the better part of 40 years.
Posted byat 2nd February, 2009
O.K. This is seriously cool.
Unless you’re terrified by vending machines, you’ve probably noticed for the past decade or so the U.S. Mint has been issuing state-themed quarters. The heads side carries the visage of General George Washington, the tails side some sort of design reflective of each state’s history or ambiance.
Zillions of collectors gobbled these puppies right up; even more folks sought out their home state’s quarters out of patriotic fervor. That’s great, but there’re only 50 states and they just nailed Hawaii. No problem, the Mint said, we’ll honor the District of Columbia and then our sundry possessions: Puerto Rico, Guam, Samoa, the Virgin Islands, and the Marianas. And, sayeth the Mint, we’ll start with the District of Columbia and its only city, Washington.
You’d think they’d simply stamp out a bunch of two-headed Washington quarters. Cheap, easy, and cute. But, no, the folks in the District of Columbia decided to honor one of its native sons. After some discussion about abolitionist Fredrick Douglass and surveyor Benjamin Banneker, the locals decided on musician, Pulitzer Prize recipient and Presidential Medal of Freedom winner Duke Ellington.
Posted byat 26th January, 2009
People tend to feel a bit more patriotic when outside of their country. This isn’t necessarily a defensive response, and it isn’t necessarily a “look at these people; man, have we got it good” response. It’s more of a nesting attitude.
So viewing the inauguration of Barack Obama from the point of view of an American in London is interesting. Lucky for me, I knew one such American – our lovely and clever daughter Adriane, who just happened to be in London on inauguration day with her friend Joanne to attend one of those Rockabilly weekenders. Adriane and Joanne made certain they were in a pub with a television (which is not as common as it is in the States) at 4:30 PM local time on Tuesday, January 20th to watch history happen.
The television enjoyed a degree of attention, but by no means did the pub come to a halt. The two young Americans sat in the corner in line-of-sight and found themselves moved to tears when the Oath was administered and President Obama gave his speech. So were a lot of Americans who were watching the affair Stateside, including her parents, but I digress. The locals at the pub cheered Obama’s elevation.
After the swearing in ceremony – and am I the only vengeful American who felt Obama’s predecessor deserved a swearing out ceremony? – Adriane went to the bar to order a round. A local girl said “oh, you two must be Americans.” Adriane copped the plea with pride, something that might have been just a touch tougher to do an hour before. “How do you know?” she asked.
Posted byat 19th January, 2009
As I sit before the Mighty Mac composing this week’s history lesson, I am once again awestruck by this nation’s near-total lack of perspective. Anderson, Keith, Wolf, and the rest have been telling us about how President-Elect’s train trip into Washington parallel’s that of Abraham Lincoln’s wonderful journey as he travelled from Illinois to the District of Columbia to begin his new job.
Nothing could be further from the truth. The comparison is totally artificial, and therein lies an important lesson.
Obama and Biden are making a nice giveback to the people, giving those along the short Amtrak line between Philadelphia and Washington a glimpse of our incoming hopes for salvation (I say this without any sarcasm whatsoever). They’re in a beautifully equipped restored classic train coach; the entire Amtrak has been retrofitted with the latest in security and telecommunication in order to make this journey safe and productive, to reduce the barriers between the Commander-in-Chief and the population.
For Abraham Lincoln back in 1861, well… it was a bit more hairy.
Posted byat 12th January, 2009
Our most powerful inner resources are our childhood memories. We hold onto them all our lives, the way Linus held onto his security blanket. We can’t shake them loose. Nor should we: they shaped who we are, and are the source of our value systems and worldviews.
Many of us at michaeldavisworld.com share the comic book medium as our common ground. I still love the Bill Finger / Dick Sprang Batman stories of my youth: those buildings shaped as obscenely huge typewriters, the goofy menace of The Joker and The Penguin, the strange relationship between Bruce Wayne, Dick Grayson and Alfred Pennyworth… great stuff. Here’s how bad I’ve got it: 47 years ago I bought the first of the original Batman Annuals off the stands, and since then I’ve read all of those reprinted stories in their original editions. But I’m looking forward to possessing DC’s forthcoming hardcover reprint – yes, a reprint of a reprint – of those early issues, just to have all those swell stories in one honored place in my overcrowded bookshelf. Fanboy? Yes, but the root of that lies in my childhood love for the material.
Posted byat 5th January, 2009
Linda, Adriane and I just got back – literally – from a few days in my hometown. Unless there’s a comic book convention involved, any event that unites my three greatest loves is a winner, but this time the trip was a doozie. We went to Chicago to attend the NHL Winter Classic, the hockey game held on New Year’s Day at Wrigley Field. The ivy-covered home of the Chicago Cubs, or as Ernie Banks named it, The Friendly Confines. It was opened in 1914, making it second only to Boston’s Fenway Park as America’s oldest baseball stadium by two years.
Baseball is a game traditionally played outdoors. Hockey is a game traditionally played outdoors by small children and their parents. Except for the Winter Classic.
As the three of us were driving into Chicago, I turned on WBBM-AM in order to get a traffic reading. The local CBS News radio station had started to interview a professional financial wizard out of New York who was offering an analysis of the New Year’s economic health, or, actually, the complete and total lack thereof. With a passion and demeanor so over the top that he made CNBC’s Jim Cramer sound like Perry Como, this guy informed us the economy was going to get a lot worse and damn near everybody was going to be out of a job and our money would be worthless. Major retail chains such as Macy’s were going out of business – use your gift cards now – all of the automakers have had it and the shopping malls and shopping strips were going to turn to swampland fit only for Hoovervilles. The sort of guy who gives hysteria a bad name, when he stopped for oxygen interviewer Regine Schlesinger barely suppressed a laugh. Sure, things are bad and are getting worse, but are conditions really that apocalyptic? Won’t incoming President Obama do things that will put people to work?
Posted byat 29th December, 2008
This column might disturb you. If so I’m sorry; that’s not my intention. But I know from personal experience that some people will likely be disturbed by what I’m about to say. I don’t understand why, and I guess that’s the point.
Quite some time ago I was doing the midnight Christmas morning shift on what was then WEAW-FM (now WOJO) in Chicago. The program was called Radio Free Chicago, and if I say so myself it was quite popular. As was the case throughout my radio career, I usually did the midnight Christmas morning shift because it freed up others who had family plans. I maintained our usual format of straightforward hard rock and blues, effectively counter programming the other several dozen stations in the market.
Posted byat 22nd December, 2008
Einstein can’t be classed as witless.
He claimed atoms were the littlest.
When you did a bit of splitting-em-ness
Frighten everybody shitless
There ain’t half been some clever bastards.
Probably got help from their mum
(who had help from her mum)
There ain’t half been some clever bastards.
Now that we’ve had some,
let’s hope that there’s lots much more to come.
– There Ain’t Half Been Some Clever Bastards,
Ian Dury And The Blockheads
This world is propelled by the energy of the clever. Not necessarily the smart, but most certainly the clever. Clever people need not be Einstein-smart, and to my experience a whole lot of Einstein-smart people are not clever.
We need originality in everything we do. That’s how our society grows; that’s where the new stuff comes from. Stagnation is the enemy: it’s corrosive. Complacency is the enemy: it breeds stagnation. We need more clever ideas. Originality comes from clever people. We need more clever people.
Posted byat 15th December, 2008
Who Outed Blagojevich? by Mike Gold
Brainiac On Banjo #97
Casablanca has given us one of the all-time favorite bits of movie dialog. When Captain Renault is ordered by the Nazis to close down Rick’s Place, he does so under the pretext of gambling. A long-time frequenter of the joint, Renault is asked why. Renault replies “I’m shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!” Just then, a croupier hands Renault a boatful of cash and says “Your winnings, sir.” The Captain thanks the staffer politely, and then orders everybody out of the joint.
Much like the hubbub over Illinois’ moronic governor, Rod Blagojevich, when he was indicted last week for influence peddling. People are outraged that Blago was selling the senate seat opened by the election of Barack Obama. “Lincoln would roll over in his grave,” we were told.
Posted byat 8th December, 2008
Quick. What did Issac Asimov, Rick Baker, Charles Beaumont, Robert Bloch, Ray Bradbury, Marion Zimmer Bradley, Tim Burton, Joe Dante, Danny Elfman, Ray Harryhausen, L. Ron Hubbard, Peter Jackson, Stephen King, John Landis, George Lucas, Penn & Teller, Julius Schwartz, Gene Simmons, Steven Spielberg, Billy Bob Thornton, Mort Weisinger, and Ed Wood have in common?
Forrest J. Ackerman played a significant, live-altering role in each of these people’s lives – and, of course, so many more. As a teen-ager, he teamed up with Schwartz and Weisinger and others to create The Time Traveler, one of the earliest science-fiction fanzines. That lead to Forry and his team to represent such legendary writers as Asimov, Beaumont, Bloch, Bradley, and Hubbard and the “discovering” of Ray Bradbury and Ed Wood.
Posted byat 1st December, 2008
Each year, Linda, Adriane and I drive from Connecticut to Detroit to join my family for Thanksgiving dinner. We usually get to the Motor City (stop laughing; that’s not funny) a couple times each year, so we’ve been watching the deterioration of a major metropolitan region for some time now. It’s sort of like watching Winsor McCay’s classic 1918 cartoon, The Sinking of the Lusitania:
Actually, and more sadly, it’s like watching a very dry, slow motion version of Katrina. I was somewhat ambivalent about the car bailout; now I see it as what we didn’t do in New Orleans. Virtually every adult at the dining room table outside of my 92 year old mother had either lost his or her job, was notified the job would vaporize by the end of the year, or saw their work get cut by more than 50%. continue
Posted byat 24th November, 2008
I can feel it. It’s like when a low-pressure area comes into the region; there’s a sort of mild static electricity that cleans the air before the cloudburst.
Once again, the times they are a-changing. Rapidly. It’s coming from all directions, and we probably won’t recognize the prevailing winds for a while. We can have a beautiful, sunny new day; we can have a tornado rip through our society. But that shift is happening.
Much of it is fueled by the optimism of the Obama administration. Sure, Barack brings a strong sense of change and has generated a feeling of hope that I haven’t seen since John Kennedy. But make no mistake about it: at the crest of this wave is the absolute certainty that our long international nightmare is over, and the NeoCons lie broken in defeat. They’re not dead, nor should they be: the confluence of ideas is critical to our health. But they’re not holding us back; they are not robbing our middle class any longer.
What they have left in their wake is a global Katrina’s worth of disaster. The NeoCons have plunged the world into recession, and with deflation going viral we are at the brink of depression. Obama can’t stop that in time, but perhaps the optimism he has inspired might.
Posted byat 17th November, 2008
Barack The Barbarian – by Mike Gold
Brainiac On Banjo #93
Comics creator supreme Timothy Truman took great pride in the fact President-Elect Barack Obama is – or at least was, before he got busy – a fan of Conan comics. Timothy writes Conan and was a community organizer on behalf of the campaign. Even though “comics creator supreme” sounds like a Baskin-Robbins flavor of the month.
That’s pretty cool, although I wonder what comics Still-President Bush reads. Brother Mike Grell suggested Jughead. I think he identifies more with Moose, but he wishes he was Reggie. Brother Grell further suggested Dick Cheney’s favorite would be Richie Rich. Perhaps, but it gives lie to the theory that Richie’s parents murdered him and, in death, Richie became Casper The Friendly Ghost.
I think Cheney would be reading The Shadow, although I regret to suggest it. Bush… probably Lobo. There was a moment there when he thought he was Steve Canyon.
Posted byat 10th November, 2008
America – the Next Generation, by Mike Gold
Brainiac On Banjo
“’Rosa Parks sat so Martin Luther King could walk,’” Jay-Z told the crowd. ‘Martin Luther King walked so Obama could run.’ An anonymous black man on the ‘L’ in Chicago put his own spin on it when he announced to a car full of strangers: ‘Rosa Parks sat down. Martin Luther King marched. Barack Obama ran. And my grandchildren will fly.’”
Chicago Tribune, Wednesday, November 5 2008
Well, they called him an elitist. They called him a Muslim. They called him an Arab. They called him a socialist. They called him a communist. They called him a terrorist. They called him everything but black, and he gently shoved it back in their faces. We all did, all 52% of us who turned out to vote last week in record numbers – a plurality undreamed of (and, sadly, unneeded) by his predecessor.
It’s about time.