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Monkey Media Report Archive

The Triangle's daily news and arts Weblog

All up in your area since late last night

Posts from November 2002

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11.27.02 - Soon, monkeys. I'll have an improved version of the site back up soon. The smoke smell is much diminished, soon to be gone completely, the landlord and contractors say. The air's now clear enough that I can work from home again during the day, with the help of some space heaters. The really good news is that I may not have to move after all. I'll still have to box up and move much of my stuff when the walls get repainted, but hell, that's nothing.

Have I mentioned how grateful I am that all three mammals in my apartment survived the fire? Even my cacti seem happy as ever. I just love those hardy little things. [link]

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11.20.02 - Triangle Business Journal got the scoop first about Lather Weekly, the new alt paper starting up in Raleigh. Mark Hornburg, the former arts editor of the Indy, and Trevor Holland, the former calendar editor at the Spectator, are the editor and ad director, respectively; I'll be writing for them regularly. The designers working on this thing are amazing; the mock-ups look great, with full color on every page. Launch date: December 5. [link]

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11.20.02 - Things will be sporadic here for the next week, obviously, until I get heat and a floor back. The charred odor is also too much to take for long, and it's feeling increasingly like I'm going to have to move. Ugh. Feel free to email me if you know of any cheap apartments with wood floors inside the Beltline. And hugs to JB and Dana for putting me up. While I'm gone, pay close attention to Cursor.org for international news. It's been great recently, with excellent links to stories about how the U.S. seems to be losing control of Afghanistan - if not outright turning its back on the country - as well as pointed analysis of the situation in Hebron. And New World Disorder has been linking to some fun and fascinating stuff lately, too. [link]

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11.18.02 - Well, that's one way to start your Monday. At 9am this morning, the old furnace underneath my half of the little duplex I inhabit caught fire. My cat and roommate are fine, don't worry, but the battery in our smoke detector had gone dead, so things might have turned out differently if the fire had started, say, five hours earlier. Thanks to the quick response of the Raleigh Fire Department - and their ability to focus the firefighting on a small area, for which I will be eternally grateful - there was little damage to our stuff. Even the smoke damage seems to have been limited, and, as you can tell, my precious silicon hindbrain appears to have emerged unscathed. This is an incredibly lucky day for me, since neither my roommate nor I have renter's insurance. The firepeople gently scolded us for that. "I'd guess 75% of people who rent don't have insurance," said the friendly guy who happened to be the first one into my smoke-filled living room this morning. "It's only 15 bucks a month. Smartest investment you'll ever make."

Got it, sir. Thanks for risking your life to save my house. It really was inspirational to watch the firefolks in their gear go into and under a place to search in thick clouds of smoke for the flames that were causing the trouble. I'll be marveling for days at the fact that firefighters are so damn cool.

I had tons of stuff to post today - including a pointed rebuttal to Rob Christensen's unsupported dismissal of the idea that the Democrats' rightward tilt influenced their poor showing on election day - but given the large, charred hole in the hallway floor and the lack of heat in my apartment, it'll have to wait. Anyway, here's the obligatory lesson we all know but forget too often: Be thankful for what you have. It could all go up in smoke at the drop of a hat. And check your smoke detector already. [link]

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11.15.02 - Do you use "antibacterial" products? Here's an idea: Stop now. No, really. A strain of Staphylococcus Aureus has just become resistant to one of our "antibiotics of last resort," vancomycin. Here's a 1999 article that notes, "The emergence of vancomycin resistance in MRSA [a strain of S. Aureus already resistant to methicillin] will constitute one of the clinician's worst nightmares, as infections with MRSA will be essentially untreatable, a situation reminiscent of the pre-antibiotic era." And now we see something that looks like just what the author was warning about, in a woman in Detroit. Watch out, world. [link]

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11.15.02 - One of the sharpest voices on the left against Cheney's "All War, All the Time" is freelance journalist Justin Raimondo at Antiwar.com. In his most recent must-read column, He's Alive!, Raimondo surveys all the current pieces on the board - including goofy characters like this - and encourages readers to step back and see the larger picture, which couldn't be more clear: The current administration has its head up its ass. It's utter lunacy to start a new war with Iraq at a time when the head of Interpol is saying, "All intelligence experts are agreed that al Qaeda is preparing a major terrorist operation, simultaneous attacks that would not target the United States alone but several countries at the same time."

Left-wing objections to war based on morality are fine, but the real war of U.S. public opinion will be won on strategic grounds. The fact that national Democrats didn't even try before the election to press the case that war on Iraq is a stupid, unfocused and dangerous idea is damning evidence of Dashle and crew's utter incompetence. Now that clear evidence has emerged that bin Laden is alive and the FBI is back to issuing vague, horrifying warnings of "spectacular" attacks, the Dems suddenly find a spine? Give me a freaking break. And so we turn to folks like Raimondo, who are more than happy to pick up the slack. [link]

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11.13.02 - New links up at the Monkeytime TV page related to the topics we laughed at on this week's show. They're fascinating, honest.

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11.13.02 - Headline of David Broder's op-ed about the Democratic Party in today's Washington Post:

"Tipping Left Toward 2004"

Headline of the same op-ed in today's Herald-Sun:

"Look for aimless Democrats to make sharp turn to the left"

Neat, huh? There's nothing at all about Democratic "aimlessness" in Broder's piece, which is a decent look at the ideological contrast between new Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and her more conservative Democratic colleagues. It also explores the strategies Democratic presidential contenders are likely to use in 2004 as they try to ignite the party base they completely ignored this year. In short, it discusses plain old triangulation politics, which last time I checked wasn't the sole province of either major party. Couple the headline manipulation with cartoonist John Cole's funny, if cliched, characterization of Dems standing on a sunken ship (what is it with Cole and obvious cliches? Someone please tell him no more walking the planks or tips-o'-the-iceberg) and you have the Herald-Sun editorial page agenda nicely laid out for you. You're getting a little obvious there, guys, might want to take it down a notch. We can make up our own minds on the strength or weakness of the arguments themselves, thanks.

Speaking of those weaknesses, here's a glaring one in Broder's analysis: He claims that Senator John Edwards "almost has to take a populist stance" on rolling back Bush's tax cut "as a way of putting a favorable gloss on his long career as a trial lawyer." Huh? Broder apparently doesn't know what North Carolinians who voted for Edwards learned years ago: the definitive case in Edwards' career as a dreaded "trial lawyer" was the one in which he represented a little girl who had her intestines ripped out of her anus by an uncovered drain in a wading pool. Here's how the Washington Monthly described the case last fall:

In 1993, a five-year-old girl named Valerie Lakey had been playing in a Wake County, N.C., wading pool when she became caught in an uncovered drain so forcefully that the suction pulled out most of her intestines. She survived but for the rest of her life will need to be hooked up to feeding tubes for 12 hours each night. Edwards filed suit on the Lakeys' behalf against Sta-Rite Industries, the Wisconsin corporation that manufactured the drain. Attorneys describe his handling of the case as a virtuoso example of a trial layer bringing a negligent corporation to heel. Sta-Rite offered the Lakeys $100,000 to settle the case. Edwards passed.

Before trial, he discovered that 12 other children had suffered similar injuries from Sta-Rite drains. The company raised its offer to $1.25 million. Two weeks into the trial, they upped the figure to $8.5 million. Edwards declined the offer and asked for their insurance policy limit of $22.5 million. The day before the trial resumed from Christmas break, Sta-Rite countered with $17.5 million. Again, Edwards said no. On January 10, 1997, lawyers from across the state packed the courtroom to hear Edwards' closing argument, "the most impressive legal performance I have ever seen," recalls Dayton. Three days later, the jury found Sta-Rite guilty and liable for $25 million in economic damages (by state law, punitive damages could have tripled that amount). The company immediately settled for $25 million, the largest verdict in state history.

And Broder thinks Edwards needs to polish his populist credentials because he was a "trial lawyer?" Yeah, right. [link]

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11.13.02 - While we're laughing at the editorials the Herald-Sun runs, be sure to look at the letter the paper saw fit to publish this morning, "Democrats defined." The writer gets up to speed quickly - "The Democratic Party is defined by three ideological pillars: wealth transfer, immorality and hate America first" - before going on to attack the immorality of "abortionists, trial lawyers, fatties, hedonists, etc." Fatties? Did the Herald-Sun really just publish a letter with the insult "fatties"? What, did they edit out the "kikes" and "niggers"? [link]

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11.11.02 - Enjoy it while it lasts. [link]

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11.11.02 - You know, if alt-country lovers gave half as much attention to amazing local honky-tonkers Two Dollar Pistols (above, left) as they do to pop star Ryan Adams (above right), the world sure would be a much nicer place. Don't get me wrong; I'm not one of those who gleefully wallows when Adams' bad-boy shtick boomerangs - in fact, I think the crap he took recently over his ejection of hecklers who scream Bryan Adams requests was more than a bit unfair. Hell, I'd have done the same thing, without giving their money back. And FWIW, at least one fan who claims she was sitting behind the guy who got kicked out of Nashville's Ryman Theater on Oct. 15 says the heckler had not only been "yelling shit at Ryan all night" but had hassled the opening act, too. Oops. Too bad that detail didn't make it into the AP story that got reprinted around the globe. (And before I hear it, yes, I often do trust fan reports as much as music journalists' reports of what went on at a show.)

I expect the national music press to start circling and snapping like vultures the moment they see blood. But did Hillsborough-born singer-songwriter Robbie Fulks really have to pour gas on the fire by offering free stuff to any fan who disrupts a Ryan Adams show with a cheesy rock request? Ugh. Real classy move there, Robbie. If an alt-country star wants to act like a prima donna, do a quick burnout, slowly dissipate or whatever, what's the skin off your nose? I'll be sure to think twice before buying your upcoming album of, er, Michael Jackson covers.

Anyway, enough with the pop; Two Dollar Pistols were amazing Saturday at Kings. They play straight-up, soulful, twangy, honky-tonk country - try George Jones, Merle Haggard, early Dolly Parton and Ernest Tubb if you need references - and the richness of that tradition was on full display. The women in cowboy hats were dancing, the crowd was whooping and hollering and frontman John Howie just smiled and sang in that incredible rich baritone of his, including lots of songs from the Pistols' new album "You Ruined Everything" (left). And the guitarist, Scott McCall, was as perfect a lead country guitarist as I've ever seen. This was one of my fave shows in months (and I saw Mountain Goats the night before at Go! so you know that's saying something). What's even more amazing is that Howie has bounced back from two very tough experiences this summer - the loss of his father after open-heart surgery in July and the death of his former bassist, Ellen Gray, from cancer on August 5th.

"It's been a bad, bad, bad year," Howie told the N&O - a statement that makes the beauty and humor in his achingly sad songs even more powerful. This quote from a review of the Pistols' collaboration with fellow alt-country star Tift Merritt says it all: "There hasn't been this much honesty in country music since the day Gram Parsons met Emmylou Harris."

Amen. Ellen Gray played bass on that record. [link]

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11.8.02 - David Rees of "Get Your War On" fame is back in his hometown tonight, speaking at UNC's Manning Hall, room 209 (note: not Great Hall, sorry) at 7pm. I can't wait, even if we don't get a staged reading of the comic, which I'm sure is fun even as it fails to quite capture the dry horror of the original (episode 16 was posted Monday, btw). And did anyone else laugh at the fact that yesterday's N&O had our buddy, ol' G.D. Gearino, previewing Rees' appearance? Can you say 'mismatch'? I knew you could. Gearino informs Raleigh that "in the space of a few months, Rees "rocketed from obscurity to cult fame at warp speed."

Er, no. Rees rose to "cult fame" with his first strip, the laugh-out-loud funny, dead-on 1970s kung fu parody, "My New Fighting Technique is Unstoppable." The guy was widely known in "cult" circles long before Mohamed Atta became a household name. The "martial arts theme" Gearino dismisses in a phrase has been a humor staple on the Web for a while now. Next came "My New Filing Technique is Unstoppable," a letter-perfect satirization of 9-5 office culture that resonated with a rapidly increasing number of readers wasting time at work (uh, like you). It also set the scene for his aggressively political - and amazingly popular - work today. It's fun to follow the transformation by reading all three strips online (go ahead, no one gets anything done on Friday afternoon). Memo to GD: 25 million hits is hardly "cult fame."

For real insight into Rees' work, read the guy himself in this December 2001 essay about the book version of "Fighting Technique." He discusses the problems of narrative in the comic as well as his life, his fascination with language, freestyle rhyming and Ludwig Wittgenstein, and offers a few hilarious behind-the-scenes details, like so:

The greatest single influence on "My New Fighting Technique is Unstoppable," however, is Davey D's 1998 "KRS-One Will End Your Career", an analysis of then up-and-coming rapper Canibus's chances against the fabled Chris Parker, aka KRS-One...the character of Karate Snoopy in "My New Fighting Technique is Unstoppable" is based in part on KRS-One.

I can see G.D. pounding his fist on his desk now: "KRS-One? Who is this KRS-One the young ones speak of? I will beat him!" [link]

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11.8.02 - I have needs. Rock needs. But, damn, there are way too many choices for tonight. There's the freaky, noisy, broken-up rock of Need New Body (click the boombox) and Cantwell,Gomez,Jordan at a house show off Wake Forest Road in Raleigh. Or the always-amazing Mountain Goats at Go! in Carrboro. There's also the Found Magazine tour stop at the Cave - an early event, 8pm (hope they wait for David Rees to finish). Bring your own found photos, notes and other random paper. I haven't been as utterly wow'd as some over Found, mainly because my pals and I were marvelling over this kind of thing ten years ago (and who can forget a certain local alt country star's work application in Jimmy'Z?), but it's still nice to see such a great idea making the bookstore rounds. Should be fun, even if it's not real clear what's going to be actually happening at the Cave.

UPDATE from a kind reader named Dean: I went to the tour stop at the Regulator here in Durham last night and had a lot of fun. Davy is a cross between Bart Simpson and Adam Sandler, and by the end of the evening he was rather tipsy from drinking a 40-ounce of OE on an empty stomach. There was a raffle, a short play, and great readings of his favorite finds. I recommend it. [link]

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11.8.02 - Liked John Hood's piece today about voter turnout at the Carolina Journal site; it's a properly skeptical debunking of the "chin-tuggers'" conventional wisdom about What Turnout Means. He notes that this year's number, far from being "good," was 2% below the average for North Carolina's mid-term elections since 1966. Hood also notes that some of the highest turnouts have come during the most negative campaigns, particularly Helms v. Gantt in 1990. Of course, what we really need is more detailed information; it's probably true, for instance, that sharply negative ads about racial issues pull some voters out the front door while alienating others so much they write off the election entirely.

Hood's only fumble comes when he suggests that increased turnout might actually be a bad thing, "as it would mostly involve the addition of voters who are not confident of their choices and often ignorant of the candidates, positions, and issues." Voting as meritocracy? Interesting idea, but I'll pass, thanks. I suspect that the apathy/ignorance of the general population, turnout and type of media coverage (I can dream, can't I?) are related in slightly more complex ways. Other democracies with higher turnout don't seem to be electing that many more crooks or rich kids who do crappy in high school but get into elite colleges because of Daddy than we do. [link]

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11.7.02 - Here's what you missed at last Saturday's "Halloween at the End of the Universe" party (yes, that's me down there). Rattmouth & company did an amazing job transforming Humble Pie into a club in orbit, and the large crowd brought an open, friendly old-skool vibe that lasted, I hear, until 5am. I'm sure some of that energy will carry over to tonight's regular Jazz Anew. I can't do much more for those of you who like to dance than that. [link]

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11.7.02 - You've gotta love the internal Microsoft memo that caused a stir this week by detailing the company's worries about the growing popularity of Linux and other open-source software (OSS). It surfaced in the middle of yet another round of stories about foreign governments and businesses switching to an open source model, and includes the interesting admission that attacks on Linux may be backfiring. This sure doesn't help: A Namibian school supplier just turned down an insulting Microsoft offer with a scathing open letter read around the globe. "Shafted for a paltry US$2000?" wrote SchoolNet Namibia's executive director. "Not in your...wildest dreams." He's sticking with Linux (see pic at right).

And let's not forget Microsoft's heavy-handed attempts last spring to kill a Peruvian bill that would have mandated government use of OSS. As with Namibia, a Peruvian politician's point-by-point rebuttal got wide play. One wonders why the U.S. is lagging so far behind the rest of the world in taking advantage of the cost and reliability benefits here. France, Germany, Venezuela, Norway, Australia and Pakistan have all recently moved away from Windows. Business Week reported recently that India, Korea, Hong Kong and Thailand now have Linux penetration rates of 21 to 25 percent. And China? Hell, China is "emerging as one of the world's strongholds for the Linux operating system."

You'd think U.S. conservatives opposed to wasteful spending would be jumping all over a free bandwagon that weans government from a teat that, er, recently raised its prices, but you'd be wrong. I guess some of them are too busy worshipping Bill Gates as a religious icon to notice that free and open source software is much better suited for government work than a "locked-in" proprietary model. Oh well, at least the Department of Defense seems to be on the ball. A recent report notes that OSS "plays a more critical role [at DOD] than has been generally recognized." Let's hope the same is true at other departments. [link]

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11.7.02 - The backlash against those of us who think the Dems lost Tuesday's election because they sold out their principles has already begun. While it may be true, as one National Review contributor put it, that the Republican sweep resulted simply from "the accumulation of lots of little local breaks in the GOP's direction," the complete failure of national Democrats to articulate any opposition to Cheney's agenda points to an obvious, deeper problem - one the Bowles/Hunt wing of the Democratic Party will almost certainly keep ignoring. Sam Smith at the Progressive Review goes back 14 years to dissect the trouble, pointing the finger squarely at the wealthy conservative "Democratic Leadership Council" that yanked control of the party from rank-and-file members in the late 1980s. He calls the DLC crew "an exploitive, ungrounded, self-indulgent elite that...swept through Democratic politics much like the Enron cavaliers treated the energy industry."

These are the folks who have redefined what it is to be a Democrat. These are also the folks whose heads should now be rolling. It's a nice baby step in the right direction that Dick Gephart - whose presidential ambitions effectively wrecked whatever chance Dems had of blocking Cheney's Iraq resolution last month - had the decency to step down as House Minority Leader yesterday. If Nancy Pelosi wins the contest to replace him, that would be another small step to sanity. The resignation of party head (and big-money Democrat extraordinaire) Terry McAuliffe should clearly be the third. [link]

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11.6.02 - I think I'm the only left-leaning person in America who's laughing today. Try it yourself - it really is great medicine. [thanks to nofundy at Metafilter] [link]

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11.6.02 - I'm going to try to be humble as I discuss the abject failure of the right-wing Democratic strategy in North Carolina this year, but I have to say "Told ya so" at least twice, so...told ya so. It couldn't be more obvious that the problem with Erskine Bowles' campaign was that he tried too hard to appeal to the "mushy middle" instead of locking down the votes of the people in his party who actually give a shit about mid-term elections. Hell, a bartender I know at a local lefty watering hole told me he voted for Dole because - are you ready? - "I don't vote for bankers." Let's hope Jim Hunt and Barbara Allen are paying attention.

The bright spot, of course, is that even after being redistricted into a conservative-leaning nightmare, 3-term Democratic state Senator Eric Reeves still managed to fend off former Raleigh mayor Paul Coble - by only 424 votes, sure, but we'll take whatever we can get at this point.

I'm sure I'm not the only one who's noticed that Bowles lost by more than Harvey Gantt's losing margin against the Antichrist himself - in 1990. Holy Marcus Garvey. In other words, Bowles did worse in North Carolina than a black candidate who ran before the 1993 Forbes "Best Place for Business" award, the 1994 Money "Best Place to Live in America" nonsense, and the many later awards that supposedly drew thousands upon thousands of middle-of-the-road suburban voters to the Old North State.

That sound you hear is the sputtering of the business wing of the North Carolina Democratic party.

Can there be a better example of the idiocy of Democrats doing their best to mimic Republicans while allowing their party to be hijacked by wealthy Charlotte bankers? I don't think so. Earth to Barbara Allen: your Republican strategy depresses turnout while alienating your essential black, gay and liberal base. If you can't figure out a way to win utilizing that base, then perhaps you and Jim Hunt should consider switching affiliations. The conservative strategy didn't do a damn thing to boost your national prospects, even after the much-ballyhooed influx of enlightened Northerners who were supposed to be smarter than the yokels who consistently voted for Helms.

Black voters apparently did stay home (we'll know more on that front soon). As soon as I saw the early returns favoring Donnie Harrison over black incumbent sheriff John Baker, I knew it was over for Bowles. We also lost black incumbent judge Loretta Biggs on the Court of Appeals, for crying out loud. Some of the blame obviously goes to black voters who can't be bothered to get out of the house when the top of the ticket annoys them (even to vote for a qualified black female incumbent judge), but the larger share lies squarely with the state's white Democratic leadership, which continues to take its party pillars for granted.

I think those pillars just gave a huge "Up yours!" to the Democratic Party leadership in North Carolina, although it's not yet clear if the message was received. And don't worry; there's much more election analysis to come over the next few days, after we get a good look at what the predictably conservative and off-base local pundits (Tom Campbell, this means you) have to say. [link]

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11.5.02 - For obvious reasons, I've been deliberately avoiding television for the past two weeks, so I just saw this timely and hilarious Daily Show parody (rm) of the old Schoolhouse Rock cartoons. It's a hoot, but don't let it stop you from voting today. While we're on the subject, have you read the transcript of Jon Stewart's interview on CNN's "Reliable Sources"? His comments about Fox News are a hoot, too:

STEWART: [...] I mean, Fox, let's face facts, is a relatively cynical undertaking, to begin with.

KURTZ: Because?

STEWART: Well, it's basically, it's taken the AM radio mentality and labeled it fair and balanced just to upset you guys.

KURTZ: A lot of people watch.

STEWART: Of course, a lot of people watch. A lot of people watch wrestling. A lot of people watch -- you know, you could put on porn, and I think a lot of people would watch it. But I think they call it fair and balanced just as kind of a dig. I mean, it's not. It's clearly meant to be more ideological and more opinion-based. They took the paradigm of AM radio. By the way, I enjoy what those guys do. I find it fun to watch. It's just not a news network.

I vote for Jon Stewart. And why on earth did no one tell me about John Edwards' recent Daily Show appearance? You people are falling down on the job here. And after all I do for you kids...If anyone has a tape, let me know. [thanks, Ross, for the parody] [link]

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11.5.02 - Remember the news that Durham somehow gave a redevelopment contract to the company of a friend of City Manager Marcia Conner - without putting the contract out for bid? The Herald-Sun reports this morning that Conner left last night's Council meeting in tears. She's apparently changed her story. [link]

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11.5.02 - After the polls close, swing by the free Monkeytime Election Night Commiseration Party at Kings tonight. Discounted drinks and free bananas for anyone with an "I Voted" sticker, regardless of affiliation. We'll keep an eye on election returns with two TVs while watching smart political flicks on the video projector. First up is "Feed", a hilarious collection of bootleg satellite outtakes featuring your favorite 1992 presidential contenders. It's co-produced by the guy behind the brilliant "Atomic Cafe" [wav] and includes shots of Ross Perot talking dirty, George Bush making lame jokes and Jerry Brown being stupid, among other delights. The New York Times called it "Riveting...as cruel a film as you may ever see." After checking in with the talking schmoes, we'll move on to "The War Room," a look behind the scenes of Clinton's 1992 campaign that reveals a lot about modern U.S. politics (the BBC loved it). It's by D.A. Pennebaker, director of the great 1967 Bob Dylan doc "Don't Look Back," and nicely displays the thinking of the sly, manipulative, occasionally earnest political operatives who create the ads that have been insulting your intelligence for the last six weeks. If things get bad enough on the election front, we'll stop everything and put in Terry Gilliam's dystopic future vision "Brazil." Better to get used to it quickly. [link]

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None of the above - white Democrats rarely rally behind black candidates for North Carolina office.

11.4.02 - Anyone else see 60 Minutes last night? The last story was about the Texas Senate race, and seemed obviously tilted to give a boost to Af-Am Democrat and former Dallas mayor Ron Kirk. Kirk has an uphill battle, sure - as the BBC so delightfully hedged last Friday, Kirk "appears to stand a realistic chance of breaking the Republican's stranglehold on the Lone Star state." Love that one. But I couldn't help wondering during the segment how closely the North Carolina Democratic Party was watching this surprisingly tight Senate contest deep in the heart of Bush country. Do you think maybe the conventional wisdom about the statewide viability of black candidates in North Carolina just might be a tad off-base? Do you think that maybe - just once - the business wing of the Democratic Party might want to get behind a black candidate early in a primary?

The anger from some in NC's black community towards the Democrats is worth keeping an eye on. It's best represented by this editorial in the Wilmington Journal - an editorial that comes close to being furious at the Democratic Party for passing out a flyer (complete with stained-glass window on the front) to black churchgoers, asking them to vote a straight Democratic ticket:

[I]t’s no secret that the Democratic Party, in an effort to attract the moderate-to-conservative white vote back into the fold, has been moving steadily away from its base and roots. So afraid are the leaders of the Democrats that they cave in to the Republicans on everything from welfare reform to the war on Iraq. But lately, the Dems have been acting just like Republicans on many issues of concern, thus leaving Blacks high and dry.

That’s the insult, but here is the injury. The Democratic Party expects Black people to blindly vote the full ticket without question, yet they have party higher ups right here in Wilmington helping Republicans this election. In fact, many white, not Black Democrats will be voting Republicans, not Democrats, into office. Just ask Dan Blue, former Chief Justice Henry Frye, and former Charlotte Mayor Harvey Gantt.

Ouch. And it goes on even more harshly from there. Be sure to also read this article from Cash Michaels of The Carolinian, Raleigh's twice weekly black paper. His appearance on Monkeytime last week was a real eye-opener and sparked at least one angry phone call from a white Democrat upset that blacks would even consider staying home tomorrow. Were you aware that the vice-chair of the NC Black Leadership Caucus, N. Carnell Robinson of Dunn, actually stated in a recent essay, “I will not support Bowles"? I sure wasn't. "This writer chooses dignity,” Robinson wrote. Michaels also reports that Bruce Lightner (son of Raleigh's only black mayor, the late Clarence Lightner) warned Party chair Barbara Allen on Oct. 18:

“Back during the summer I tried my best to help you understand the inherent danger and perceptions the Party was entering. Based on numerous messages I’ve received lately and talk on the street, the situation is deteriorating... rapidly."

Guess we'll see tomorrow if black turnout is significantly lower and/or less Democratic [pdf] than it was in 2000.

Personally, I'm holding my nose and voting for Bowles, and wish Robinson would recognize the high stakes and do the same. But I find it really difficult to find fault with any black voter who is tired of being asked to repeatedly vote a straight Democratic ticket when it's clear that white Democrats rarely do the same - even when given a chance to vote for an undeniably qualified black man like Henry Frye for Chief Justice of the state Supreme Court. And, after seeing how close the race is in Texas - Texas! - I'll continue thinking the Dems would have done a lot better to run Dan Blue, "The anti-Bowles," against a candidate like Dole. For a while there, Dan Blue sure was looking good. [link]

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11.1.02 - What a weekend. First Friday at Lump features The Broken Down Mysterious Doors of the Impossible, a collaboration between one of the most famous graffiti artists in the world, Twist (aka Barry McGee), and Andrew Jeffrey Wright, a founder of Lump exchange partner Space 1026 in Philadelphia. McGee's the main draw, of course. His acceptance by the monied - I mean modern - art world (he has drawings in this current MOMA show) is a nice sign that not all of the folks who run wealthy galleries and museums have their heads up their asses. It's also great to see someone obviously staying true to his roots while getting hugely popular. PBS's Art:21 site has some great stuff about Twist, including clips about graffiti history and punk rock and thoughts on working in galleries vs. working on the streets. And don't forget the new $99 Twist toy (above), with detachable head that reveals a shoe polish applicator. Hey, if the rich folks will pay that much...

Update: I just called Lump to see if Barry would actually be there tonight and guess who answered the phone? McGee told me the show is a "painting installation," which means he and Wright have been working directly on the gallery walls. He's got a really nice, soft-sounding voice, btw. If you're not planning on heading to Lump tonight to meet one of the best pop artists working today, you need your head examined (right). [link]

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11.1.02 - What a weekend, Part 2: They're building the airlock as we speak. Humble Pie's being recreated as a space station for Saturday's Halloween Throwdown at the End of the Universe. You get the joke - and should run with it - if you've read the Douglas Adams books, but if you were at last Thursday's Jazz Anew night, you'll probably be at this one, too. The crowd was sick, as the kids say; it was one of the best parties there yet. Face it: the dance music at Legend's sucks, and while I've heard good things about Retail's decor and vibe, whenever I ask about the club's music I always get a shrug and a "Well...it's ok" in response. Guess I'll wait another weekend to check it out. Smart, edgy, funky music draws the smart, edgy funky people. Why is that so hard for local club-owners to understand? [link]

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11.1.02 - As always, Ross Grady's weekly survey of the area's best rock shows provides a sharp overview of the local club rock scene. Tons of great stuff, including Crooked Fingers in Durham tonight and the Sames and Rosebuds (hearing more and more about them lately) in Chapel Hill tomorrow. Oh, and yours truly is hosting the election night commiseration party at King's on Tuesday. We'll be checking returns in between watching great campaign flicks like Feed and The War Room. Anyone with an "I Voted" sticker gets a free banana. [link]