30 January 2008

only in utah?...

this is just too fucking good to be true.

go obama.


22 January 2008

temporary like democritus...

i promised you at the beginning of the year that i was going to try to "take it up a notch"* with regard to the content here on woolgathering..., and since then i feel i've only really been able to do that two, maybe three times. i'm at relative peace with that.

here's my thing: in the profile section of this blog, i've spent some time thinking about how i think about myself-- it's really, if you're both able to be honest with yourself and interested in extended self- examination/ awareness, an interesting exercise. i recommend it. what you say about yourself says, you know, a lot about you.

i've tried to be honest. now i'll admit, i've a bit of an ego. and i'm a bit insecure. i hope my day- to- day resides somewhere in between**.

but back to my thing: i'm, in the next few weeks [or months], going to be examining in detail the things [apostate, relativist, self- defeatist, etc.] i've said about myself. i want to use the profile as a springboard, if you will. some of the examinations will seem self- justifying, some jeremiad. all of it might seem pretentious.

i'll certainly say this: the subtext that will permeate this entire exercise is best summed- up when i describe myself as such: 'well- fed white guy'***.

i embrace this.

i don't think i can be at all honest or objective before i get this out of the way. i am your prototypical well- fed white guy. i am the guy who has not a care in the world when it really comes down to it-- i mean let's have some perspective here. and, to my credit, i think that the majority of my days are spent in a pretty sunny mood as a result. that's not to say that i'm not human and that i don't have my bad days. it's like neil young sings: "though my problems are meaningless/ that don't make them go away" ["on the beach", 1974].

but let's never forget that at the end of the day i'm a well- fed white guy, one who has the free time to type his thoughts on an expensive laptop, and has never had to want for a meal, let alone a place to sleep or warm clothes, ever in his life.

putting aside for a second that it's well- fed white men that have accumulated all the power in, and thereby control, the world, i ask the question: do i even matter? have i been marginalized by society? does nobody take me seriously?

and if so, is it because well-fed white men have accumulated all the power in, and thereby control, the world?

seriously-- further putting aside for a second how put- upon this must sound, i want to know: does the well- fed after- dinner opining of a white guy safely esconsced in his warm san francisco home hold any water or carry any weight with a world that has so been fucked- up by well- fed white men who live in nice warm homes and do things after dinner?

or: do i feel this marginalization, and trivialization, out of guilt? and if so, what is that guilt? it can't just simply be my conscience-- the "better angels of my nature"-- blowing kisses at me. it has to be more than that.

is it maybe that i just so hate the evil that well- fed white men have done through the passage of time, and that, as their unwitting proxy, i feel this guilt so as to avoid some sort of horrible self- fulfilling prophecy? is it then possible that in all the time i've spent railing against closed- mindedness and manichean worldviews, i should have been pointing that finger at myself? that the fatalist in me worries that i'm destined for a life of being rude to the waiter, driving a hummer, and other various forms of knuckle- dragging white guy- dom?

maybe, but i'm not thoroughly convinced. it was a fun little train of thought to let play out, though. what i do think is that there's a little bit of conditioning going on here, a bit of bleeding- heart liberal guilt, a bit of internal hip- checking, and a whole lot of hating the evil that well- fed white men have done through the passage of time [or is that the same thing as bleeding- heart liberal guilt? ah, well, we'll have to save that for some other occasion].

what i'm aiming for through all of this is transcendance, mind you. i don't really feel marginalized. i don't really feel trivialized. but i have-- and i have in the not- so- distant past. like i said, i'm basically a sunny guy who loves his wife and is very lucky and is smart enough to realize he's got it pretty good. hopefully, and chances are, you live somewhere in that vicinity, too.

guilt? in a matter of speaking, i wouldn't fuck guilt with ann coulter's cock. i don't feel guilt.

but again, this is the new me. very seriously, the old me had a lot of trouble once upon a time adjusting to, and feeling comfortable in my own skin about, all of this. and i bet you that's not that uncommon. furthermore, i bet less people than you think have been able so far to come to terms with what i'm talking about here.

to sum up, i want it known that i matter. i want it known that i will not be marginalized. i want it known that i will be taken seriously. being a well- fed white guy doesn't necessarily make me evil. i am not responsible for those who've come before me. and anyone who thinks differently is the close- minded one.

it's always interesting the backwards- ass fighting one does with his- or- herself, and what centuries of oppressing, as opposed to oppression, will do to one's pysche.

i'm now going to shut off my of montreal album and take my so delicious [TM] non- dairy frozen dessert and my nalgene of cold filtered water upstairs and watch american idol in my warm king- sized bed with my beautiful wife****. thanks, as always, for reading.

go obama.


*i realize now that that was a poor choice of words, thank you very much.

**in that regard, i'm pretty much just like everybody else.

***additionally, none of this would be possible if i didn't call myself a 'husband'.

****the perfect well- fed white guy nightcap. also, see 'yuppie'.

20 January 2008

notes from sick bay...

i am writing you sick and in bed with some great news: in now less than one year, there will be a new president sworn in and the reign of fat man and little boy will be over.

additionally, i wanted to remind everyone that the deadline to register to vote is most likely coming up fast if you live in a super tuesday state. get on it.

go obama.

and as always... thanks.


19 January 2008

more lost...



17 January 2008

you can take the boy out of athens...

i've said it before, and i'll say it again: i love living in sf but i miss athens, georgia.

came across this just now and wanted to share it with all of you*. and then that, in turn, made me think of this. hope you enjoy.

special thanks to an aquarium drunkard for once more strolling me down memory lane.


*especially you, big papa. you know who you are.

13 January 2008

31 january can't come fast enough...

for those of you who also have 'lost' in your blood and cannot wait for the two- hour season opener, here's a little something that's sure to even further stoke your anticipation:



10 January 2008

826 valencia in forbes magazine...

some of you may know that i've been doing a fair amount of volunteer work with a non- profit here in sf called 826 valencia [www.826valencia.org, www.826national.org] since i moved back from athens about a year ago. doing so has brought a profound sense of joy to my life, one that i can only begin to put into words. i've made great friends [with the staff, with other volunteers and of course with the kids], made a little bit of money [i now proudly report for pirate store duty every monday-- come visit me], and brushed up on a lot of elementary school math [anything over a sixth grade level and... i have to get help from the other volunteers].

well i'm thrilled to present you all with this article in forbes magazine [forbes magazine?!] all about 826. i hope you enjoy it-- and for those of you that are the least bit flush i hope you'll strongly consider including 826 in your charitable donations for the year.


ps. i should note that i didn't like what the article said about diana [we literally worked together today]'s parents, both of whom i've met. the author's comments seemed hyperbolic and rather editorial to me.

08 January 2008

"to thine own self be true"...

an old friend of mine and i have been having a friendly email debate the last couple of days, a little of which i'd like to share with you. basically it goes like this [my remarks in green, and nothing's been altered other than the omission of a friend's name]:

just out of curiosity, what do you think about the notion that if you don't participate you don't get to complain?

I think there's a name for that logic fallacy, but I can't remember it. I should have paid more attention when I was a philosophy major. Or just hang out with the [name withheld] brothers more often.

But I do have some pat responses: have you ever complained about the
taste of food you didn't make? Have you ever complained about anything that you didn't participate in the creation of, because that's essentially where that logic goes. And to say that not voting is not participating is only one part of the truth -- you're still participating because you're bound by the laws of the land. You've just recognized that the political system in a democracy is essentially a way to focus attention away from the real problems -- who has the money. The ones with the money are the ones that matter, the ones that set policy, control and value currencies, influence the price of goods etc etc. And they aren't elected, they're born.

Politics is the wool pulled over your eyes :-)

Oh yeah and I don't complain much to be honest. The biggest problem in my view is the falling value of the dollar and that's really got very little to do with presidents and congressmen (and the ones it does have to do with aren't ones you can vote for, like say the ones in China). Of course I could be lazy and wrong. who knows?

"you mean my whole fallacy is wrong?"

-marshall mchluan, in 'annie hall'

i hear you... i don't believe that politics is the wool etc. but i hear you.

i guess my thing is that i complain a fucking lot and i feel like i'm only entitled to do so because i'm engaged and i pull that lever every two or four years. you follow? i do, of course, recognize that the aristocracy and subsequent avarice of those individuals in this country is largely the problem, the 'elephant in the smoke- filled back room' if you will. but still, i can't [nor am i saying that you are] surrender to cynicism and it's attendant apathy. 'cause then, in my mind, i'm no better than the hippies in the haight who ask me for money, the hipsters in williamsburg who care only about their next pair of tight black jeans and ironic ms. pac man shirts, or the rich kids who work for nothing and who's very parents we're talking about in the first place. you dig?

never said i wasn't a self- righteous didact, though. you gotta give me that. also you should come out and visit sometime.

he also, in a further email, goes on to say this:

[and] I've been wanting to open a store in Athens, I don't have a name yet but the slogan will be 'for all your hipster needs' and the only item I'll carry is a full line of white belts.

so...what do you think? i'm interested. i've written in the past on my obsessive need to feel engaged. and i do believe that "surrender[ing] to cynicism and it's attendant apathy" is dangerous and to be avoided to at all costs.

but, i can't help wondering: why do i care so much?

in a sense, i genuinely envy my friend, who is by no means unengaged but at the same time does not share my hybrid hope for a better tomorrow/ self- righteous partisan rancor.

he goes on, in an even further email, to say this:

I don't vote, I never have voted and I intend to make it to the end of
my life without voting. Any time someone learns this about me they
seem somehow offended, so here's my reasoning.

I don't vote because I am happier when I don't get involved in
politics. The political system is at its core divisive, pitting an
"us" against a "them," which to my mind is an unhealthy thing to do
and in the end leaves me feeling isolated from, rather than connected
to, the people I'm sharing this planet with. So I have chosen not to
participate. (As a corollary, I also reject just about any 'ism' you
can think of for the same reasons).

As we're all aware, there are plenty of problems in the world and a key
element of the political process seems to arguing about who has the
best solutions, which not only fails to actually implement those
solutions, but further divides us up and draws focus away from the
actual problems (which the conspiracy- minded among you will argue is
deliberate though I personally don't have the heart for such

If we really wanted to solve the problems we would try every idea we
could get our hands on, even if we didn't agree with them. That we
don't do that and instead argue about the solutions has bred into us a
very corrosive cynicism.

So I don't engage in political debate (of which voting is one form)
because it seems counterproductive to its own aims and because it
creates needless division between people when in fact what we need is
to recognize our interconnectedness. At the end of day your political
beliefs say very little about you and frankly, aren't that interesting
-- they're really just a socio-cultural way of acting out basic
mammalian territory disputes.

...which i think, more or less, is a reasonably thoughtful and cool way of thinking about things. and my friend hits on something even more interesting to me when he states, "at the end of the day your political beliefs say very little about you". is that true? [additionally, did i just channel chris farley just now?]

but seriously, is that true? i'm not sure.

so let's recap thus far: why do i feel the almost intractable need to be hyper- engaged, to the point that i'm on news sites ten times a day starving for headlines and analysis? and why do i get so emotionally involved, especially around election time but basically always, with what's going on in american politics? and, finally, what, if anything, does that say about me?

i was thinking about this in the car on my way home from my volunteer gig tonight and was relating our different worldviews a bit to my taste in and love of music, in particular [in this case] mainstream music, as opposed to more fringe-y acts-- coming up with cute little quips like 'while i love both, i'd take the beatles every day of the week over beat happening', etc. but upon further post- tofu dinner ponderance i realize that to do that marginalizes him in a way that i consider neither fair nor accurate. nor does it explain the differences between other, less politically- savvy friends of mine's worldviews who are otherwise way more mainstream than i consider myself to be.

i then thought of my father-- also an extremely engaged actor in the never- ending show that is american politics [though we disagree on mostly everything]-- and wondered if it was a nature versus nurture kind of thing, that i was born into a house where the news simply was always just on and somebody was always screaming at it over something, and that that kind of thing is just in my dna. and that may be a part of it, though chelsea clinton may not be into politics, i don't know, and the bush twins certainly don't seem to be.

but i think it may just come down to this: hero worship. my heroes have always been people like john lennon, joe strummer, 'bloom county', charlie chaplin, r.e.m. circa 'lifes rich pageant' and 'document' , and my father-- outspoken activists all-- and that's who i've at least partially modeled myself on as an adult. what does that say about me? i'm not sure. i'll let you decide.

i guess i've figured out that what i think is cool is to be engaged and outspokenly active because the people who i think are cool were/ are engaged and outspokenly active. like cary grant said: "i pretended to be somebody i wanted to be until finally i became that person. or he became me".

who are your heroes? what did they do with their lives?


ps. special thanks again to my friend scott for humoring me through this [and for the oh- so- true onion link]. like i told him earlier today [via email], "if one- tenth of what i put out there is one- tenth as profound as i was hoping for, i'm basically satisfied." well he helped engender this whole thing today and i'm going to bed smiling.

also i'd like to reprint his hilarious joke:

q: why do hipsters always suck at karate?

a: they always quit after they get the white belt.

go obama.

addendum: i would hope that this goes without saying but it occurs to me to say it anyway-- what i believe to be right in this world has only been infuenced to a certain point by these other, aforementioned, people. it would gall me to think that anyone thought otherwise. there, i said it.

05 January 2008

following- up...

a good friend of mine has written to ask me to expand on* senator obama's key issues, and i thought instead that i would put up this link for anyone who wants to examine the issues more closely. [UPDATED: also see this and this and this.]

but i have a confession to make: while i know the general zip code that the senator's policies reside in, i had never myself looked over the aforementioned page before. and i will be more closely studying these policies in future days-- i don't want to be the person stephen colbert lampoons when he says that he doesn't trust "facts", he trusts "feelings".

that being said, i do hold true to mario cuomo's famous maxim that "we campaign in poetry and we govern in prose" [especially in such a divided congress, where one can't even order a fucking sandwich without aggravating the ire of half the country] and know that to be too caught up in policy wonkery is to miss the point, for i believe that the choice i am making is more symbolic, more cerebral, more illustrative of wanting to feel of my government and of my country at the same time again both proud and cleansed. that [once more, in addition to his bedrock progressive principles, intelligence, and measured judgment] is what i believe support for senator obama yields, in contrast with the other candidates**.

and now, a little rock n' roll.


steven van zandt, 1983

And the river opens for the righteous, someday

I was walking with my brother
And he wondered what was on my mind
I said what I believe in my soul
It ain't what I see with my eyes
And we can't turn our backs this time

I am a patriot and I love my country
Because my country is all I know
I want to be with my family
With people who understand me
I got nowhere else to go
I am a patriot

And the river opens for the righteous, someday

I was talking with my sister
She looked so fine
I said baby what's on your mind
She said I want to run like the lion
Released from the cages
Released from the rages
Burning in my heart tonight

I am a patriot and I love my country
Because my country is all I know

And I ain't no communist, and I ain't no capitalist
And I ain't no socialist
and I sure ain't no imperialist
And I ain't no democrat
And I ain't no republican either
And I only know one party
and its name is freedom
I am a patriot

And the river opens for the righteous, someday


*i just learned, just now, that to use "expound on" rather than "expand on" would have been incorrect. i always thought they were synonymous. thanks f12 key... i wonder how long i've been making that mistake.

**in case you are wondering, senator edwards is my 2nd choice for primary victor, though i will support whomever the democrats eventually nominate.

03 January 2008

barack obama for president...

i am so pleased that senator obama has won the iowa caucuses tonight. last night i was at my first sf obama voulnteer meeting and in the coming weeks i will be phone banking a few nights a week in preparation for the february 5th california primary.

i am supporting barack obama for many reasons. i believe, first and foremost, that he is the most intelligent of all the candidates, and frankly i'd like to see a little intellectualism in the oval office [not to mention a person who can use things like proper sentence structure and multi- syllabic words].

i believe that he will be, to borrow a phrase, "the new way forward" for a country coming off the heels of what will be eight hugely disastrous years of bush imperialism.

i believe, in fact, that he is the anti- bush, and that the need to move beyond bush, and all he represents, is beyond critical. for further analysis of this, and more, i implore you to read this article from the atlantic monthly by andrew sullivan.

my support for senator obama began, let's be honest, with the war in iraq. it pains me deeply that both senators clinton and edwards voted to authorize the iraq war resolution in 2002, no matter what they now say about it. but senator obama displayed his judgment and didn't play follow- the- jingo, his measured position the same as my own: "i don't oppose all wars. what i am opposed to is a dumb war. what i am opposed to is a rash war..." [october 2002].

please see this article by frank rich, one of my heroes, for a good perspective on everything else: the experience argument. it doesn't mean as much as some would have you think, and nothing i could say about it could better what mr. rich has already said in the aforementioned article. again, please take a look.

barack obama for president 2008. thanks for caring.


novus annus dies...

we're back, ladies and gentlemen. we're back and we're here to stay.

i've missed you, all. i've missed all of you dearly. i want you to know this. i want you to know this because it's a new year. i want you to know this because it's a new year and there are going to be some changes around here.

i've really enjoyed this so far. this whole "online column" thing*, i've really enjoyed it so far. but, while there will still be occasional music/film/ show reviews, and i'm sure more nonsensical, non- sequitor rants regarding religion and politics, i would like to announce that i want to take it up a notch.

starting now, i really want to be sharing with you more, and of better quality, my thoughts on the human condition, particularly as it relates to your's truly. not that i feel i've been wasting my time so far, but i know that i could be going longer, diving deeper. the most i feel i've really shared with you so far, in fact, have been my crazy apostate rants and that does not please me. there's obviously way more out there than me taking cheap shots, basically at my mother's expense. i don't regret it, because i learned a good lesson from it**, but you won't be seeing writings of that type or immaturity again.

it's been said that paul mccartney at heart was a dramatist, john lennon a diarist. anyone who knows me knows who my all- time hero is. that type of work-- though i've nowhere near the talent or insight of mr. lennon, rest in peace-- fundamentally is what i hope to further and achieve here.

alright. let me apologize right now for such a long set- up with no definable payoff, but this is going to be it for today. i will leave you with the knowledge that my hair is longer at this moment than it's been in five or so years, and that my xmas holiday was the best i've ever had. i will leave you hoping that this finds you all well, and that you leave me comments letting me know that you're out there. i will leave you now and until next time, novus annus dies ['happy new year'] and we'll see you soon.


*while i will still be using it as infrequently as possible, i've made peace with the word "blog". let's not make a big fuckin' thing over it.

**and obviously i would be remiss if i didn't throw in a good catholic guilt joke here, but the truth is i have had this nagging sense of something hanging over me as a result of those writings. i cannot explain it, though i stand behind everything i said and this is no mea culpa. but we'll get to that later.