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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 September 19 to October 3, 2002

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10.2.02 - Say hello to your new best friends: Raleigh's baamphf. Saw them at Kings Sunday night and, as usual, was laughing as I got blown away by the aggressively smart, tight music they make. Keep an eye out - two drummers, two guitarists and one bassist, all of whom obviously enjoy tearing the hell out of their constantly-changing songs. I'd call it math-rock, but Susan Humphreys (screaming above) would probably punch me, so we'll just mention they invoke Shellac, Don Caballero, shrieking metal, intricate jazz and the Melvins at various times and leave it at that. Ladderback were great, too. They're from Raleigh, work a similar sound and are apparently scheduled for a tour of Japan soon. (beware, the mp3s at the baamphf site occasionally hung up my browser, not sure if it's me or them) [link]

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10.2.02 - I haven't looked forward to a music show as much as this in a long time. Greensboro's avant-garde jazz/country/noise genius Eugene Chadbourne (is it fair to call him the most well-known free jazz musician the state has produced since Coltrane?) is playing in an improv duo with Gerry Hemingway, the former drummer in Anthony Braxton's most brilliant quartet, at Go! Studios in Carrboro tonight. Yeah, I'm gonna miss that. I previewed this show - a spillover from the ArtsIgnite festival currently underway in Winston-Salem - in last week's Indy. This provided me the smile-inducing benefit of hearing "Hi, this is Eugene Chadbourne" on my answering machine one night. You can imagine the thrill. Local quirk-rockers Cantwell, Gomez, Jordan are opening. How lucky can you get? [link]

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10.2.02 - One of the things I dislike most about the Weblog world is the way bloggers jump on any mention of themselves in the mainstream media. Gay neocon Andrew Sullivan (whose work always makes me think, even if what I occasionally think is, "good lord that's convoluted") is notorious for the speed with which he responds to the slightest mention of his name in the press.

So I hesitate before commenting on the cheap shots N&O features columnist Dan Gearino (left) sent my way in Wednesday's paper, except to note that I've sent the paper a letter asking for an apology from his editor. The difference between the shots I've taken at Gearino in the past and his at me yesterday? Mine were grounded in specific examples of his work. His weren't. That says it all. We'll see if the paper prints the letter. And Dan, here's the attention you were obviously gunning for. You owe me one, pal. [link]

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10.2.02 - Why hasn't Dan Blue endorsed Erskine Bowles yet? This Charlotte Observer article lays out the continuing spat nicely. It's difficult to see how Bowles can win this thing without lots of black support, and attitudes like this aren't helping:

Blue's critics within the party suggested it is odd for him to act as the aggrieved Democrat, given that he spent months bashing Bowles as an elitist who is insensitive to working-class issues, while Bowles consistently complimented Blue and Marshall on the campaign trail.

Oh, come on. "Bashing?" This campaign "wasn't especially bitter," the N&O reported on Sept. 17. Sure, both Marshall and Blue attacked Bowles as a wealthy corporate Democrat, but that's because Bowles, um, is a wealthy corporate Democrat. Not that there's anything wrong with that; I'm sure Dan Blue would've loved to have been able to loan his campaign $1.3 million, like Bowles did in August.

It's not hard to imagine why a man who's been working in state political trenches since 1980 might still be miffed that the national party machinery (and money) stepped in to quickly anoint a businessman who's never been elected to public office. With the editor of Raleigh's black newspaper claiming he's heard black voters say, "I lived through 30 years of Jesse Helms, I can do another six under Elizabeth Dole," the fact that Blue still hasn't endorsed Bowles is a red flag that doesn't bode well for black voter turnout. [link]

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10.1.02 - Huntin' for Nascar-Lovin', Moon-Pie-Eatin', Bluegrass-Listenin', Shotgun-Totin' Democrats You have to see this hilariously revealing NY Times Magazine story about the new "rural white males" strategy that some Democrats - including John Edwards - are using in their campaigns. The idea is that Democrats, who once ruled "the back roads and general stores," now have a "wuss problem" because they're "seen in much of the country as disconnected from - if not contemptuous of - the people who spend their weekends hunting, at church or watching stock cars."

One analyst in the Times article dismisses the idea completely ("If the Democratic Party thinks its future lies with rural white males, they're crazy") but our junior Senator obviously believes he can milk the tactic (until he gets the nomination, anyway); he's hired the two hottest "NASCAR Democrat" strategists to manage his presidential campaign. They were responsible for his appearance at - are you ready? - O Cooter Where Art Thou?, a fundraiser to help former Dukes of Hazzard actor Ben Jones run for Congress in Virginia. Edwards was the guest star - listed just above Deputy Cletus, it should be noted - and now also has his own stock car (right) and a bluegrass group as his official musical act. He'll probably have the sense to stop before campaigning with the Confederate battle flag, but, hey, you never know.

I told you that his campaign was going to be fun to watch.

Don't dismiss this stuff, though. For one thing, Cooter's maverick approach to guns sounds like it could actually work to pry some firearms fans loose from the Republican party. He's a staunch defender of the 2nd Amendment (and with Ashcroft around, who isn't?) but also has the guts to really go after the NRA with statements like, "Bring it on, Chuck, bring it on. You would be surprised at how many people are sick and tired of your outfit."

Can I get a yeehaw from Southern Democrats on that, at least?

Thanks to owillis at Metafilter. And don't worry, arts lovers. This isn't a political-junkies-only blog. You'll be next. [link]

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9.30.02 - Who will win the all-important small black child vote? The ice cream advantage favors Bowles. [link]

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9.30.02 - Election quote of the week "I can't even stomach watching that stuff." - former Charlotte mayor Harvey Gantt, expressing his disgust over the television ads in the Bowles-Dole race.

Right there with ya, Harvey. [link]

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9.30.02 - Oh, for a world in which Erskine Bowles is running TV ads about this: Agency disavows report on Iraq arms - The International Atomic Energy Agency says that a report cited by President Bush as evidence that Iraq in 1998 was "six months away" from developing a nuclear weapon does not exist. "There's never been a report like that issued from this agency," Mark Gwozdecky, the IAEA's chief spokesman, said yesterday. [emphasis added]

That, my friends, is called a "gimmie" - the latest from an administration that apparently feels free to just make up flimsy justifications for sending our friends and family members to die in Iraq. Any Democrat strategist with a few guts should be able to turn this stuff into a good TV ad and aim it at voters who, now that you ask, would kind of prefer not to ship yet another batch of American soldiers to a violent, desolate place where they will get shot at for what looks like years to come. And yet Bowles' Iraq position is almost exactly the same as Dole's. Why is that?

“The Democrats are, for the most part, running with their tails between their legs,” said Scott Lynch, communications director at Peace Action...“If the Democrats got out in front of this and offered some real leadership,” Lynch said, “then they would actually reach” the majority of voters who do not support invading Iraq without international support.

I'm sure Bowles' conservative Democrat marketing team thinks that's a horribly naive view. But what was that line about the people leading and the leaders following? Better catch up, Erskine. Not much time left to excite the voters you need to excite. [link]

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9.30.02 - Here's a deep observation for you According to ABC News' great political roundup The Note, our state's Senate race "has more sports star endorsements than any other." Seems they're crawling out of the woodwork these days. UNC basketball legend Dean Smith is apparently back in the Democratic fold after endorsing a Republican he once coached in the 2000 governor's race. In the other corner stand Duke's Mike Krzyzewski and his wife, who call themselves "Blue Devils for Dole." How completely exciting and relevant. I can't wait to find out who this guy is voting for. And look! Here comes former bootlegger and NASCAR legend Junior Johnson, tanned, focus-grouped and ready, warning Liddy Dole to "cut out those attack ads" linking Erskine Bowles and Bill Clinton.

Can this campaign possibly get any more condescending? Wait, don't answer that. We're going to see Richard Petty stumping for Dole soon, aren't we? I just know it. And with the stakes so high, can there be any doubt that Democrats will pull out their ace in the hole (right) during the last week of the campaign? Who knows - if the candidates are lucky the celebrity-ogling will distract voters from seriously examining those persistent allegations about Bowles' time in the Clinton White House, as well as all those skeletons you can hear loudly knocking around in Dole's closet. [link]

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9.30.02 - Why, no, as a matter of fact, I don't plan to fly any time soon A federal "No Fly" list, intended to keep terrorists from boarding planes, is snaring peace activists at San Francisco International and other U.S. airports, triggering complaints that civil liberties are being trampled...Several federal agencies - including the CIA, FBI, INS and State Department - contribute names to the list. But no one at those agencies could say who is responsible for managing the list or who can remove names of people who have been cleared by authorities.

Paging Tom Ridge to the white courtesy phone. If the Office of Homeland Security can't even tell us something as basic as who's responsible for coordinating a list that singles out Catholic nuns for airport harassment - or how citizens who've been wrongly targeted can clear their names - then what on earth is it doing? [link]

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9.27.02 - Raleigh's red-light recipe for disaster Uh-oh. Major warning signal in yesterday's N&O as Raleigh's Law and Public Safety Committee decides not to give the city's lucrative red-light camera contract to the company that offered the lowest bid. "I think something funny is going on," said one citizen, in the understatement of the week. The company that got the nod is Affiliated Computer Services, which (along with McLaurin Parking) already handles Raleigh's privatized parking enforcement.

Red-light cameras are a huge money generator - for cities, sure, but even more so for the private companies that insist on getting a cut from each ticket. Chapel Hill is considering a contract that would hand 70% of each ticket to ACS. Seventy percent. This despite evidence that lengthening the duration of yellow lights by as little as one second can be just as effective, if not more so, in reducing accidents at problem intersections. Check this San Diego police report (pdf), for instance:

...between 70 and 82 percent of all red light violations happen in less than 1.5 seconds after the yellow signal indication. Longer yellow change intervals serve to reduce red light violations and the potential that they introduce for collisions...The most significant change in the number of violations occurred at the intersection of Mission Bay Drive and Grand (1541) where the yellow change interval was extended from 3.1 seconds to 4.7 seconds. This change resulted in an 88-percent decrease in the number of violations.

Extending yellow light times doesn't rake in any cash, though.

Red-light cameras are a scam. Three months into its contract with ACS, Hawaii repealed the law creating its red-light camera program. In response, ACS is allegedly demanding a $5 to 8 million penalty. Raleigh's decision to use ACS - against the recommendation of its own staff - is a setup for a similar disaster here. The full council will discuss the contract on October 1st. See you there. [link]

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9.27.02 - The almost unbelievably ignorant Franklin Graham spews out some whoppers about Islam in this Asheville Citizen Times interview. Here's my fave: "We in the west have never experienced this kind of behavior, have never seen this before, where religion is driving people to mass murder, where religion is killing innocent people."

Uh, yeah, Franklin. Whatever you say. Try July 15, 1099, the day Godfrey de Bouillon led his Christian Crusaders into Jerusalem. Thousands of Muslims and Jews - including women and children - were slaughtered in a murderous religious frenzy. Check this excerpt from a famous first-person account:

Within this Temple, about ten thousand were beheaded. If you had been there your feet would have been stained up to the ankles with the blood of the slain. What more shall I tell? Not one of them was allowed to live. They did not spare the women and children.

The level of ignorance Graham displays throughout the interview is truly stunning. His broad generalizations about a complex religious tradition would have him hounded off the public stage if he were talking about Christianity. "You cannot name one nation that has an Islamic majority where there is religious freedom," he says, as if that proves Islam is inherently intolerant. But as anyone who's studied Muslim history in the slightest can tell you, at its height Islamic culture was extraordinarily tolerant of other religions - certainly much more so than fundamentalist Christian Europe. According to Sussan Babaie, a scholar of Islamic art and architecture at the University of Michigan, "there were highly sophisticated, extremely tolerant centers of poetry, the arts, philosophy and science in the Muslim world...When Jews were expelled from Spain in the 15th Century, their survival was thanks to Ottoman protection."

Despite what preachers like Graham continue to insist, Islam is obviously capable of the same heights of beauty (and depths of depravity) as Christianity. It certainly contains more than enough seeds for another enlightened age. The signs are everywhere, even if religious zealots in the U.S. are too frightened to see them. [link]

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9.26.02 - Why isn't one of the greatest pianists in the world performing next Friday at UNC-Chapel Hill? Because Chucho Valdes - founder of the influential band Irakere and a man revered as a national treasure in Cuba - didn't have time to go through the lengthy screening process the U.S. implemented last May to combat terrorism. Valdes (above) and 21 other music industry types missed last Wednesday's Latin Grammy Awards, too. As if we needed more evidence there's no real thinking going on at the State Department. Thank goodness last June's amazing Buena Vista Social Club performance in Raleigh hadn't been scheduled for October, eh?

A spokesperson told the Associated Press that Valdes wasn't technically denied a visa; he just failed to complete things in time. But it's hard not to see this episode in light of the long history of the absurd U.S. embargo of Cuba - an embargo which has always extended to artists. It even goes so far as to deny Cuban composers copyright fees if their music is broadcast or sold in the United States:

58. The embargo policy also violates the inalienable right of the peoples of Cuba and the United States to maintain sustained and unrestricted cultural exchanges. Cuban artists have been systematically denied entry visas into the United States of America despite the fact that they were invited by prestigious United States institutions. Cuban artists and composers cannot be paid copyright fees for the playing, broadcasting and marketing of their music in the United States and other countries as a result of the extraterritorial application of the embargo, which violates internationally recognized norms on the protection of intellectual property.

This from the government that passed the DMCA copyright protection nonsense, remember. Will the hypocrisy of our Cuba policy ever end? Rep. David Price seems to have softened his view on the embargo in recent years, but will he ever stand up and say it's flat-out wrong? Just think of all the hip-shaking we're missing here. [link]

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9.26.02 - Apple Computer's "Hot News" section has an interesting article about Wake's City/County Bureau of Investigation, which made the switch to Macintosh digital film processing in 2001. Apple wants the world to know that CCBI forensic photographer Gary Knight overcame prosecutors' worries about digital manipulation of evidence and has cleared out what used to be a backlog of undeveloped crime scene photos. [link] [thanks to Mike]

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9.25.02 - Run, Johnny, Run - It's a few days old, but be sure to read this fascinating N&O story about a fundraiser for Sen. John Edwards in Pinehurst last Saturday. The event featured a Hootie & the Blowfish performance enjoyed by Edwards, Raleigh entertainment lawyer Richard "Gus" Gusler, Attorney General Roy Cooper, Treasurer Richard Moore, Elaine Marshall, Mel Watt and 120 other movers and shakers. The most notable guest, however, was Louisiana Senator John Breaux, whose presence goes a long way toward explaining Edwards' centrist Southern strategy for President. Here's a February 2001 profile of Breaux from the New Republic that nails him nicely:

Don't let the adolescent dick jokes fool you. This man is widely expected to be a key power broker in the 107th Congress. A conservative Southern Democrat with friends on both sides of the aisle, Breaux is considered perfectly poised to serve as the go-to guy for a Republican president in need of bipartisan support to move his agenda through a 50-50 Senate...His positions - pro-life, pro-gun, pro-big oil - are often closer to Dick Cheney's than to Dick Gephardt's...Breaux has made a career of positioning himself as the voice of the pragmatic, rational center on a variety of high-profile policy disputes--Medicare, Social Security, tobacco, tax cuts. He is forever railing against ideological rigidity, and he talks of political compromise as if it were a holy sacrament.

It seems obvious that Edwards' "liberal" label will become increasingly humorous as the 2004 presidential campaign wears - and I do mean wears - on. [link]

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9.25.02 - Edwards' rightward tilt leaves the left end of the Democrat spectrum open to Al Gore, who this week positioned himself as the candidate most opposed to Cheney's war. Yeah, sure. Some anti-war liberals - starved for any crumb from the national Democrat table - are taking Gore's recent speech to mean he's opposed to an invasion of Iraq. They need to get a grip. The full transcript makes it painfully obvious that Gore buys the "regime change" line completely. He just wants to couch the attack in ways that don't appear to violate the terms of international law. Talk about a distinction without a difference.

It's all politics, of course. If Gore wins the nomination before a U.S. invasion, he'll wind up back where he was last February - namely, complaining about leaving the 1991 war unfinished and saying we have to "get it right" this time. Still, the climate in the media - but not the country - is so insanely pro-war that Gore's speech counts as political courage in talking head circles. He's certainly sparked other dormant Dems to wake from their slumber and act on what are supposed to be the party's convictions.. Gore's rhetoric, including sharp jabs at the Cheney administration's trampling of the Constitution, is certainly a helluva lot more courageous than Edwards' recent speech on the subject of war. [link]

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9.24.02 - As the horrible thrill of yesterday's car chase and murder/suicide fades away, questions about the appropriateness of high-speed police chases once again take center stage. I suppose that's fair enough, given the area's history of accidents and deaths and previous questions about local chase policies. But I laughed when I saw that WRAL 5's Web site asks visitors to discuss the question, "How Well Did Authorities Handle The Situation?" but not, "How Well Did Local Media Handle The Situation?"

Seems to me the second question is as fair as the first. Does the massive play local media outlets give to stories like this make them a part of the problem? With police helicopters already on top of things, how much did constant shadowing by WRAL's Sky 5 helicopter contribute to the tension? I can't help but wonder what local police spokespeople have to say about that. I'll make the call Wednesday.

Btw, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1998 that police generally cannot be held liable for injuries in these things, but problems caused by police chases haven't gone away since then (folks outside the U.S. are also concerned). The Los Angeles Police Department is currently reviewing its policy after the tragic death of a 4-year-old girl in June. Let's hope we never see that here. But let's also not forget the chases that end well, or who it is that's really at fault in these things. Honestly, I'm at a loss to understand how police could have handled this one differently. [link]

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9.24.02 - It wasn't local enough to get reported in our mainstream press, but workers in the Triangle's Whole Foods grocery stores will surely feel the effects of a recent vote to join a union by their fellow workers in Madison, Wisconsin. If you have a friend or family member working at Whole Foods (and who doesn't?), you already know the company has lately become much less tolerant of difference. Dyed hair and visible piercings apparently now interfere with "brand consistency" or something. A feel-good lefty company can't handle workers with purple hair? Whatever. More important than piercings, however, are the allegations of unusually low pay at Whole Foods compared to the rest of the grocery industry. Things apparently got bad enough in Madison that workers got organized - and won. This has "national significance," says the head of the Wisconsin AFL-CIO:

"The Madison workers have contacts in most of the other Whole Foods stores, and so it's very likely that serious organizing campaigns will be in a lot more stores all over the country...Most workers at the Madison store are in their early to mid-twenties...This organizing drive is a model for a resurgent labor movement."

Well, one grocery store does not quite "a resurgent labor movement" make, but labor gets so few wins these days we'll forgive the overstatement. And it is true that the vote was a first for the biggest natural foods company in the U.S., which must have infuriated CEO John Mackey, a libertarian and "new age capitalist" who once compared a company with unions to a person with herpes.

Oops. Looks like he just got infected.

Accusations that Whole Foods doesn't walk its liberal talk have dogged the company since it began gobbling up smaller chains - including the Triangle's Wellspring Grocery - over a decade ago, and have continued as the company grew from 43 stores in 1996 to 134 stores today. One summary of the complaints from a few years back even quotes Chapel Hill workers on low pay and morale. The spat between Whole Foods and the environmental group Earth Island over shrimp fishing methods that kill sea turtles (right) is also instructive. Whole Foods defends its decision to not certify its shrimp fishing as "turtle safe" by invoking something called Ocean Trust. Earth Island, however, claims Ocean Trust is a "faux-green group" run by a former lobbyist for the seafood packers industry, and says Whole Foods is simply "greenwashing" its complicity in the killing of sea turtles to protect its shrimp profits. Decide for yourself, I guess, but I find the Earth Island case more convincing.

It's not like there are tons of other places I can go in the Triangle for a wide selection of organic produce, including (mmmm) organic bananas, so I won't stop buying at Whole Foods just yet. But I will start asking more questions of my friends who work there, and waiting to see if any locals run with the ball those workers in Madison have just tossed into the air. [link]

[thanks to the Triangle Free Press for reprinting the Progressive article]

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9.23.02 - Here it comes...The fight to drag Wake County Public Schools' sex ed curriculum into the 20th century (we'll worry about the 21st later) is heating up. Amazingly, the N&O's article fails to note that Wake's current "abstinence-only" curriculum has contained medical inaccuracies for years. It's only through the persistent work of folks like local mother Ann Farmer that blatant misinformation from religious fundamentalists has been eliminated in what students learn about sex. And don't forget that polls routinely show a huge majority of parents prefer comprehensive sex ed to the abstinence-only message:

Americans grasp the public health importance of abstinence-plus education without difficulty. According to a SIECUS poll, 93% of us support comprehensive sex education in high schools; 84% of us support it in middle schools. A recent study by the Kaiser Family Foundation demonstrated that only one percent to five percent of parents remove their children from comprehensive sexuality education classes.

So why is anyone still listening to Wake County fundamentalists with a track record of providing medically inaccurate information to local students? It boggles the mind, really.

After the state made "abstinence-only" the default school curriculum in 1995, Orange and Durham schools went through the required public hearing process to put into place a more honest "comprehensive" curriculum, which some have smartly begun to call "abstinence-plus." The current Surgeon General endorses just such an approach, suggesting that educators stress the value of abstinence and "assure awareness of optimal protection from sexually transmitted diseases and unintended pregnancy, for those who are sexually active, while also stressing that there are no infallible methods of protection, except abstinence, and that condoms cannot protect against some forms of STDs."

That mix is exactly what the fundamentalists don't want to see in Wake County. Unfortunately, they've been very effective in packing meetings and burying any attempt to hold a public hearing. Until now, that is. A town meeting may be held as early as Oct. 17. The always-accessible Wake County School Board would vote Nov. 19. [link]

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9.23.02 - It sometimes amazes me how much of the best Triangle nightlife is the work of just a few dedicated people. Like DJ Marco, whose Honey Machine GoGo Internacionale is happening tonight at Henry's Bistro in Chapel Hill:

NC's only 60s-70s go-go, sitar beat, eurotica, mod, yé-yé, soundtrack, latin soul, boogaloo, kick horn, bossa nova, asian pop, now sound and hammond organ groovy loungecore night...THE HONEY MACHINE! We've got the stax o' wax, eurosleaze flix on video, and the sexadelic light show so all you need to do is be there!

Marco is longtime local musician Mark Weddington, who's been busy creating a network of regular groove and funk nights across the Triangle. If 60's loungecore doesn't do it for you, the Solid! nights at Ringside in Durham and Kings in Raleigh pour on the Latin, funk and soul. I've never had a bad time at one of Marco's parties. [link]

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9.20.02 - Meet the "righteous babes" of the North Carolina Libertarian Party. In a welcome sign of new marketing savvy (or a revealing sign of a disconnect on the issues, your choice), North Carolina Libertarians have just announced their "Ladies of Liberty" calendar. The fundraising tool features Lib candidates from across the country in patriotic and Vargas girl poses. Don't get too excited, though; all of the women wear at least lingerie, according to NC House District 61 candidate Jennifer Medlock. The artist and mother from High Point modestly stops at a tank top, shorts and boxing gloves herself.

The calendars, based on a similar effort in Colorado, are the work of the very glamorous Rachel Mills (above), who's thrown her hat - along with a few other pieces of apparel - into the ring for NC House District 31. Mills works at one of those companies embroiled in scandal, don't you know; she recently got a call from Playboy asking her to pose nude for a Women of WorldCom spread. Mills seriously considered it, but she and party leader Sean Haugh ultimately decided against using naked erotica as a campaign strategy. The state's media mourn the loss.

I'm sure I'm not the only one hoping the soft-core porn trend spreads. Imagine Russell Capps reclined upon a chaise lounge, his robe seductively arranged as he explains to voters why North Carolina has a right to ban oral sex between consenting adults. Or Ellie Kinnaird in a pair of Daisy Dukes and a knotted shirt, setting out her plan for getting that cigarette tax past mean ol' Boss Tobacco. Think of it - we'd actually look forward to election season. If politicians have to fill the airwaves with puppies-and-cream pablum and hateful lies, the least they can do is flash us some skin every once in a while.

I give the country another eight years, tops, before we start seeing seductive shots of half-naked, underwear-clad models in televised political ads. On second thought, make it seven. [link]

[thanks to Jerry for this one]

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9.20.02 - Ok, you tell me if this doesn't sound weird: There's a trial going on right now in Durham, according to the Herald-Sun, in which DNA samples taken from a man accused of rape don't match DNA samples taken from inside the victim. This unusual fact has not stopped the Durham District Attorney's office from prosecuting the man, whose name is Leon Brown. Brown's defense lawyer, Douglas Simons, claimed in his opening statement that there was incriminating evidence against someone else - the victim's cousin:

[Simons] told jurors that Brown voluntarily gave DNA samples that did not match samples from the victim. Nor did pubic hairs surrendered by Brown match...In addition, the victim initially told authorities that she thought her white cousin was the intruder, according to Simons. When the cousin was arrested, duct tape and other incriminating items were found in his car and on his property...District Attorney Jim Hardin Jr. gave the cousin "complete immunity" to testify against Brown, Simons told jurors. "He wanted a deal," Simons said of the cousin. "He got it."

Defense attorneys say all kinds of things, of course - only some of them true - so we have to be careful here. But let's see if we have this right: The white cousin who was initially fingered by the rape victim strikes a deal for immunity with the D.A. in order to testify against a black guy whose DNA doesn't match the DNA found inside the victim? Is that really what this article is telling us? It's difficult to understand why the guy being charged with rape is apparently not the one whose semen was found inside the victim. Prosecutor Tracey Cline told the jury that her evidence will be sufficient to convince them that Brown was the rapist. We'll see if they agree; the trial is expected to end this week. [link]

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9.20.02 - Under the Influence: Celebrating the Legacy of Black Mountain College, a four-day festival honoring the amazing legacy of one of the major intellectual nodes in U.S. history, began yesterday in Asheville. Tonight, famous minimalist Tony Conrad performs, followed by a presentation by Mark Hosler of the sound-collage activist group Negativland. A gently interactive installation by Yoko Ono runs all weekend. Why are you still on this page and not wasting company time with the full schedule?

Everyone knows the most famous folks associated with Black Mountain - John Cage, Buckminster Fuller, Josef Albers, etc - but not many know about the most famous unknown artist in the world, Ray Johnson. He perfected the do-it-yourself dissection of pop culture - taken for granted today as "punk" - throughout the 1940's and 50's. One of my fave poets, Denise Levertov, was also part of the Black Mountain crowd, along with Robert Creeley, Charles Olson and the rest. And the college played host to tons of other very cool and much less famous lights. So much for Friday, eh? [link]

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9.19.02 - Right-wing arguments against a war with Iraq Now that our "liberal" Senator John Edwards has come out in favor of sending Americans to die in Iraq - that is, in favor of setting the wretched international precedent of allowing a group of countries to take over another country's government in a preemptive strike - it's clear that most national Democrats will be useless against Cheney's war. So, just in case Cheney really is as greedy for oil money as his business dealings with Iraq make him out to be, and just in case his shrieking for blood isn't simply meant to distract us from the stench of corruption emanating from the White House, you might want to have handy a few compelling free market arguments against war from the Cato Institute. The capitalist think tank's Top Ten Reasons not to "Do" Iraq is a good place to start. Family members who listen to Rush Limbaugh will thank you. [link]

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9.19.02 The Thinking Man's Guide to Doug Clark and the Hot Nuts is must-reading this week.

Most folks know Clark was the leader of a raunchy Chapel Hill party band that many around here consider legendary, and that the well-liked Triangle native passed away Monday from an "extended illness" (strangely, none of the local papers specify what it was). The Herald-Sun's obit skirts the raunch factor by coyly alerting us that some of the band's songs "were a bit risqué." Yeah, and Jim Black and Mike Easley were "a bit disappointed" they didn't get their lottery referendum. "She sucks on Everybody But Me," "He's Got the Whole World By the Balls" and "Old Saint Nick whipping his dick" aren't "a bit" anything. The Thinking Man's Guide paints a more accurate picture with lots of juicy details about the Hot Nuts' 1961-1969 output. Scroll down for the 1990 Playboy Network appearance--apparently filmed at He's Not Here--at the height of the Two Live Crew craze.

No surprise the Chapel Hill News does a nice job on Clark's life. The N&O (which owns the News but apparently felt the need for separate stories) adds to the fun with quotes from local District Attorney Carl Fox--his sister sneaked Hot Nuts albums into the house--and Town Manager Cal Horton, who says, "Of course now, all of it looks very mild, in retrospect." Well, I'm not sure making records about Santa Claus playing with himself qualifies as "mild" these days, but we'll let that slide in exchange for the image of two of Chapel Hill's top authority figures partying down to "Baby Let Me Bang Your Box."

Detour: The Hot Nuts took their name from a 1936 recording by Lil Johnson, whose bio at All Music was written by Greensboro's own mad musician Eugene Chadbourne, who happens to be scheduled with avant-garde percussionist Gerry Hemingway at Carrboro's Go! Studios on Wed, Oct. 2nd. How's that for a segue? [link]

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9.19.02 - What to do on Thursday nights in Raleigh Matt Routh, aka DJ.exe, is back from Amsterdam with a load of new records to spin at the free Jazz Anew nights he hosts at Humble Pie. As word slowly spreads, this weekly is turning into one of the friendliest club nights in Raleigh. Routh (who's a friend, if that matters) described the crowd as "radically inclusive" in this nice round-up of the Triangle's current electronica scene in last week's Indy, which also mentions the budding TriangleFutureMusic message board for local producers and DJs. [link]

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9.18.02 - No lottery referendum for North Carolina this year. This is rather amazing. I was beginning to think the gambling industry was actually going to pull it off.

I've never liked the moral arguments against legalized gambling, from the left or the right. Sorry, but anything that puts me in bed with the folks who produced this illogical and bigoted argument against equality is immediately suspect. But you can't convince me that North Carolina should be in the business of convincing its citizens to play a sucker's game. Nor can you convince me that seeing this state flooded with hilariously stupid government-sponsored gimmicks like the Georgia Lottery Change Game Coins (above) would be a good thing. Just look at those people.*Shudder* [link]

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The anti-lottery crowd has plenty of problems of its own, however. For instance, it's just plain insulting that House Minority leader Leo Daughtry (left) is one of its leading voices. Lest you've forgotten, Republican Daughtry has been an outspoken defender of the state's video poker business, despite the fact that every sheriff in NC has signed a petition asking the legislature to outlaw video poker machines. As the attorney for the NC Amusement Machine Association, Daughtry represents an industry that contributed $418,000 to state campaigns in the 2000 election, according to the fine folks at Democracy South. Worth remembering, too, that South Carolina banned video poker a few years ago. Here's former SC governor David Beasely--a Republican--telling West Virginia legislators last year that Leo Daughtry's favorite industry is "corrupt":

They get their tentacles into certain members of the House and the Senate, and they ending up owning, I mean owning, some of your political machine. And I mean that in the most corrupt way. I saw it in South Carolina. If I hadn't taken them on when I did they would have been forever in our state.

Hmm. And here's Beasely on SC's half-hearted attempts to regulate video poker:

Every state has to make up its own mind what to do...But if you want to look at the South Carolina experience, we tried to regulate them, and they were unregulatable.

Tell it to North Carolina's sheriffs. Although NC law prohibits machines from making cash payouts, it's a breeze to get around that, especially when the machines are easily hidden from the few cops who have time to examine them.

Welcome to Leo Daughtry's world. And he's lecturing us about Easley's lottery? Whatever. Let's keep an eye on the video poker business, shall we? [link]

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9.19.02 - The Herald-Sun (or Chapel Hill Herald, depending on where you pick it up) ran another story about the deer problem in Fearrington Village today. Discussion about what to do with the rats on stilts (above) has apparently generated tons of traffic at the local Homeowners Association site, but don't bother to go since you not only have to be a resident of FV to post, you have to be a resident just to read it. Yeesh. Talk about your gated communities. Join the Triangle, Fearrington.

The standard line about one root of the deer overpopulation problem--suburbanites invading deer habitat--is no doubt true, but here's a more important part of the story that never gets much media play: Between 1980 and 1993, the state of North Carolina deliberately allowed the number of deer to grow from 300,000 to 1.3 million. Why? To create enough big bucks to keep both hunters and hikers happy. Combine that with the Triangle's explosive growth over the last 20 years and you have a recipe for increasing numbers of car-deer collisions and testosterone-crazed bucks attacking citizens in their backyards. Reports from this year's mating season should start coming in any day now.

Evin Stanford, deer project leader of the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, put it like this:

We were letting our deer herd grow until society let us know when it was time to start stabilizing, We really didn't have a goal in mind...Both hunters and non-hunters wanted to see more deer. Was it a mistake to wait until we were over a million? We don't really have a clue. It's just a judgement call, really.

Now that deer are eating the pansies of wealthy voters and occasionally goring someone out of sex-crazed fear, the judgement now seems to be "get them the fuck out of here." And gun-shy suburbanites may not want to hear it, but controlled hunting by police may actually be one of the more sensible solutions available at the local level. [link]

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Ok, that's enough for now. I won't be writing this much each day, I assure you. More features, including rules for the NC Spin drinking game (anxiously awaited by thousands, I'm sure) will appear with truly stunning speed.