and I quote

november 2008

click here for permalink November 04, 2008

Yesterday morning, an old friend emailed saying she was trying to get out and help people with early voting but couldn't get downtown because there was a guy in camouflage and a ski mask standing on an overpass waving a flag in one hand and a gun in the other. No one wanted to get in his way and my friend was rightfully outraged that people were being disenfranchised — in real time — by some apparent nutcase.

By the time I found the story online, the man had already been arrested and traffic was once again flowing as fast as it ever does in Southern California. The details, however, were my first tip-off that something just a bit different was going on...

gunmanSANTA BARBARA, Calif. (AP) "A man in a ski mask waved an American flag and a handgun on a freeway overpass for about three hours Monday morning, forcing a massive traffic shutdown [of Santa Barbara on Highway 101] before he surrendered... After dropping his weapon, [Edward] Van Tassel [an Iraq war veteran] asked for a Barack Obama campaign sign, which authorities delivered to him using a bomb squad robot... the man attached the sign and the flag to the overpass [with his shoelaces] and later walked backward to officers, who took him into custody. [His] gun turned out to be unloaded." (By ERICA WERNER)

The police confirmed that he's a veteran of the Iraq war — and was intent on making a statement against the war — and that he's being taken in for psychiatric evaluation. Quick, by a show of hands — anyone ever seen an anti-war protester dressed like that before? Then again, his being dressed like a soldier and not a hippie is probably the only thing that prevented his "stand-off" from becoming a "suicide by cop."

But enough about yesterday. At around 6 o'clock this evening, I was out doing some errands and there were people out in the streets shouting Obama, Obama. In Vancouver... in Canada.

It's now just after 9:30 pm Pacific time, about half an hour since the headlines on all the news sites switched to 48-point font and went from predicting to projecting to pronouncing Barack Obama the winner, the President-Elect. That's when I started to hear sporadic voices from outside — people standing on their balconies, people walking in groups, people shouting — joyous, triumphant, relieved shouting — the kind of thing you hear when the Canucks win a Stanley Cup playoff game. (Did I mention we're in Canada?)

obamaMy friend Nicholas just called from Times Square (talk about your triumphant shouting!) and I'm trying not to go crazy tabbing between Democracy Now, MSNBC and Google News and all the words like historic and victory... so many, many words that will no doubt become, over the next few hours, days and weeks, an unbearable din of cliches but for now, I'm just trying to keep my promise (fat chance) not to cry until after midnight.

Aretha says she was reminded of this poem by Maya Angelou after watching Michelle Obama's speech at the DNC. I told Aretha I was looking forward to drinking a toast to Maya, Michelle and her on election night while watching an historic acceptance speech. Amen to that.

Out of the huts of history's shame
I rise
Up from a past that's rooted in pain
I rise
I'm a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that's wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.

— Excerpt from Maya Angelou's Still I Rise


click here for permalink November 02, 2008

I was skimming through the comments after an interview with Ridley Scott about his recent announcement that he will be directing a film adaptation of Aldous Huxley's Brave New World when, all of a sudden, this unexpected insight by a commenter called FeodoraFoote leapt off the page at me:2 mccains

"For days, McCain's imploring "my friends, my friends" has been rattling around in my head. It seemed so eerily familiar. Then last night it hit me as I was leaving work. It's from Brave New World."

["My friends" in action.
Video by LisaNova.]

I wish I could say it was my insight but, having read the book not once but two times, I feel like it almost could have been. So I found the full text online and — sure enough — there it is in Chapter 15. John the Savage, our protagonist, has just whipped a crowd of complacent laborers into a frenzied mob when riot cops appear, "goggle-eyed and swine-snouted in their gas-masks." The protesters are quickly taken down with rounds of liquid anesthetic and clouds of the pacifying drug "soma." (Bear in mind, this was published in 1932 and Huxley was already predicting riot-control paramilitary squads using "non-lethal force" to subdue civilians.)

"Suddenly, from out of the Synthetic Music Box a Voice began to speak. The Voice of Reason, the Voice of Good Feeling. The sound-track roll was unwinding itself in Synthetic Anti-Riot Speech Number Two (Medium Strength). Straight from the depths of a non-existent heart, 'My friends, my friends!' said the Voice so pathetically, with a note of such infinitely tender reproach that, behind their gas masks, even the policemen's eyes were momentarily dimmed with tears, 'what is the meaning of this? Why aren't you all being happy and good together? Happy and good,' the Voice repeated. 'At peace, at peace.'" [Full text online at]

If only that, my friends, was the most disturbing utterance of McCain's — but it pales in comparison next to his other recent Freudian slip, "my fellow prisoners." I think John Cleese (yes, of Monty Python fame) said it best on Friday night's Countdown with Keith Olbermann. After viewing the aforementioned clip, Cleese had a hard time getting the words out, due to a fit of coughing brought on by laughter: "It makes you wonder what's going on in his mind... like he's just a tiny little bit insane!"

It's hard to believe this election is 48 hours from being over and decided — at least we're all praying it will be over and decided by midnight tomorrow — and as irrefutable as a landslide.