Monthly Archives: April 2007

Lucky Chicken

Lucky Chicken

There’s nothing special about the chicken itself — schematic linear outline, on a yellow background. (Yellow is the standard chicken eatery color.) It’s the eggs she’s laying, dollar bill eggs, in solid green no less, that makes her a lucky chicken.


George McGovern

Vote McGovern

George McGovern gets all op-ed ad hominem on Dick Cheney

“On second thought, maybe it’s wise to keep Cheney off the battlefield — he might end up shooting his comrades rather than the enemy.”


The Two Jeffs

Triple Elvis

Has everybody read Calvin Tomkins’s profile of Jeff Koons in this week’s New Yorker by now? I love that Michael Govan is going to get that giant steam engine built at LACMA—it’ll be an Eiffel Tower (Govan’s words) for the LA skyline. This has to be the greatest waste of $20 million dollars ever that wasn’t connected to a war or an executive pay package. (It can even go over budget by $4.9 million and still come in under the Citigroup Chief Executive Charles O “Jobcuts” Prince III’s pay for just last year.) As if the artist needed it, this steam engine confirms, to misquote Jack Donaghy, that “[Jeff Koons] is the greatest [artist] since the Pharoahs.” Continue reading

every one

miranda july

I am probably one of the last people to come across the new Miranda July web site, no one belongs here more than you, that she put up for her new book.

Related: July also has a dead blog, about her movie, Me and You and Everyone We Know.

Speed on Central Park


The Sundance Channel has been playing The Cruise all month. Here’s Timothy “Speed” Levitch’s tour guide commentary on Central Park, wholly denying the contribution of Robert Moses:

“Hello. Can you hear me in the back? Twenty-seven thousand trees are planted. Ten and a half million cartloads of topsoil imported, and a hundred and forty miles of drainage pipes laid, and these are the basic ingredients of the supposedly natural creation called Central Park, and there is nothing natural about Central Park. Welcome.

“Frederick Law Olmstead, the essential landscape architect of this original Central Park, sees a group of boys playing a primordial form of baseball on the lower play lawns in the 1850s, and at that moment outlaws baseball from Central Park. The men who built and designed this park are Transcendentalists. To them Central Park is a place to become one with nature, to focus on trees, to scintillate with grass, to stare into one another’s eyes. No sweating allowed in the original Central Park. No perspiration of any kind. Anyone you see congregating for the baseball game on the left, bicycling, roller blading, jogging, they are not historically accurate. Anyone you see lounging in the sun, having a picnic, or kissing, they are historically accurate.”


The Cruise

Pelosi in Syria


Image: So last week Nancy Pelosi sat down for a photo talking to Syrian president Assad. Note her choice of Western style outfit for a sit-down with a hardline Muslim leader: an above the knee skirt. I’m probably stealing from Colbert, but: The woman’s got balls.* Moving on.

This brouhaha (really, brouhaha is the standard term) over Democratic representatives talking to Syria raises a question that troubles me–no snark today, this genuinely troubles me. Our administration refuses to talk with Syria, because it is a state sponsor of terror. But at the same time, Syria has been a go-to destination for prisoners transferred by Americans through extraordinary rendition: this fact is exhaustively, conclusively, meticulously, redundantly, and redundantly well documented. This means that while the United States denounces the Syrian regime as a state sponsor or terror, on an operations basis we are interacting with their law enforcement and intelligence routinely. We are handing terrorists over to state sponsors of terror.

Even if we accept the value of extraordinary rendition, isn’t that tautologically absurdist? If we don’t trust them to help find a solution in Iraq, why do we trust them to prevent another terrorist attack in America? We have no shortage of other torture-friendly regimes who are ready and willing to abuse our prisoners for information. Why did we need Syria?

It has to be either:

1. We actually do have a dialogue with Syria that, while secret, is built on the American government’s trust that Syria can extract actionable intelligence from suspected terrorists, and then communicate that information back to us faithfully and in a timely manner. As counterintuitive and horrible as this option sounds from a human rights standpoint, at least this reasoning signals a behavior—cooperation and dialogue with Iraq’s neighbors—that is in line with what the Iraq Study Group and Pelosi have urged.

2. American intelligence agents don’t actually give a shit what happens to suspected terrorists after they are handed over to the Syrians. In which case, the publicity of extraordinary rendition to Syria–beware, when we get you, you will be tortured–is the end itself. The whole point was for it to be leaked. This is the worse scenario.

(*Fun fact: Despite its wide and creative instances of denying rights to women and others, Syria does not impose strict religious limitations on women’s dress, such as you might find in practice today in Iraq. Syria is still ten percent Christian, and its constitution guarantees nominal equal rights, though its penal codes and customs perpetuate discrimination. But Ms. Pelosi did wear a head scarf when she visited an historic Damascus mosque during her tour. Syrian-resident blogger Damascus Dreams recently posted a run down of the diversity of Syrian dress.)