Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Mem Day Wknd


On Friday.

I left work at 2:30, rode back north, and packed and worked around the apartment for about an hour before Jess picked me up. We spent the next two hours getting out of Chicago. The back door, alas, failed. Everyone was trying to escape to I-90 through the backdoor along Indianapolis Blvd. The Skyway, by comparison, was free. Jess continued to drive through Indiana and onto Ohio, and we were about to switch off just outside Dayton when the unfortunate (and inevitable, though we didn't know it) happened: as we sat in the drive-thru of a Steak N' Shake, Jess shifted into Park and a rapture of steam ruptured out from somewhere under the hood and white steam billowed out. With some help, I pushed the car into a parking spot, and after an hour of calls to Mr. J, my dad, and my grandma (of all people), we figured out what happened: a radiator tube had split. We pumped in a gallon of water and drove to Budget 8, and crashed for the night after devouring a bag of Doritos and some beef jerky.

On Saturday.

I got up early to take advantage of the continental breakfast (coffee and muffins!) and Jess and I checked out by 11, and my parents arrived just minutes later. My dad and I bought a new tube from AutoExpress, added antifreeze, drove on to Dayton, stopped for Arbies, and drove on to Zanesville. From this point on, the weekend was nonstop business. We met with Mr. J, Jeff, and Chelsea at Wade's to pick out and be measured for our tuxes. From there, to Armco (pardon, AC Steel) Park, where we surveyed the reception site and talked about bathrooms and distances and electricity and the space is this enormous square flanked by trees. Very very green. And then onto St. Nick's. We waited for the Mass to let out (there was a procession at the end, for Corpus Christi), then went upstairs to look at the space. My mom counted pews and we figured out flowers and dimensions. At this point, my parents needed to head out, so we said goodbye. Jess and I rode out to New Concord for pizza with Jess' mom (we met her at the Highway Patrol, after mistakenly waiting at the house for about twenty minutes) and visited with her for awhile. Finally, we rode back to Zanesville, where I abruptly fell asleep after just a couple minutes of SNL's Best of Alec Baldwin. That night I had a bizarre and vivid dream, but not too memorable, because my brain was blank in the morning.

On Sunday.

I woke around ten, and had fallen into and come out of sleep so abruptly that I spent a moment wondering where I was. I spent about a half-hour watching a pathetic Indiana Jones knockoff (that somehow had roped in poor Bob Newhart), then we hurried off to St. Nick's for the morning Mass. It was one of those mornings where I felt very religious, but in a way that involved taking everything in through osmosis, languidly, rather than sharp concentration upon the words said or the sequence of things. Afterwards, we stopped back at the house briefly, than hurried onto Adornetto's for lunch. Afterwards, Jess, Julie, and I went to Jess' Aunt Sue's to look at cakes. Her aunt Sandy offered to give us the cake as our wedding gift if we'd cover ingredients, which is a very, very generous offer. The cake is a surprise, though. Then, it was measurements for alterations, which meant I had to leave. I stopped briefly back at the house, then went for a drive in Zanesville and the countryside thereabouts. When Jess called, I picked her and Julie up at Sue's (while I waited I had a nice conversation with Sue's husband John about his life and experiences in the Navy and as an engineer) and then we went to another cousin Jessica's hig school graduation open house. After that, we dropped Julie off at the house and went on to meet with the photographer, Robyn Cooper, in South Zanesville. We agreed upon a package and were very excited by her projects and portfolio. Finally, we rolled around the countryside a little while before going back to the house for the night. We took the puppy, Brooklyn, for a walk in the fairgrounds with Mr. J, then sat up and talked quite a bit, but I still fell into sleep like a rock when I finally laid down.

On Monday.

The sky had clouded over and it was dense and gray and rainy when we got up. Mr. J and I checked the car over again, and stopped out to see Jess' aunt Polly on our way out of town. We made decent time back to Chicago, with the sky alternating between gray rain and clarity, but it was finally sunny when we rolled up in front of Scholars Corner. For dinner we ate homemade corn dogs, went for a walk around the Kenwood Historic District, and picked up up a coke at Village Foods. Then, UE saved the day. We watched three-and-a-half episodes of My So-Called Life.

And that was my weekend.

And Back in the Banana Republic...


The following Letter to the Editor of the Journal sufficiently explains the situation, and summarizes my views on the issue as well:

Batman would be proud
Tuesday, May 31, 2005

This is exactly what the Flint city police need to concentrate their crime fighting efforts on - basketball hoops ["Hoops no match for cops' night raids," May 14, Page A1].

I mean, if you stop them from playing basketball when they are young, then they can concentrate more on the gang life. They will be more apt to sell drugs and steal cars for resale, and let's face it, that is good for our local economy.

It's a good thing we don't live in a crime-filled city where the police would have to concentrate on murderers and rapists. I feel much safer knowing that the Flint Police Department is cracking down on kids playing in the streets.

For a while there, I felt I couldn't walk down the street without a basketball flying by my head or hearing the laughter of kids when they lower the rims (this semms to be another dangerous epidemic) and dunk on each other.

Batman would be proud of the FPD. Like dark angels working in the shadows of the night, they are making our great city a better place to live.

Lenard D. Randol

Lunas 11, 27.


- I will defer an account of this weekend to another entry; I don't want to spend all morning composing this.
- Weather. This week. Mild.



Scotsman.com News: Work Starts on Giant Medieval Siege Catapult.

Brian Krakow.

What kind of fish would you be?

Friday, May 27, 2005

Faithful Dissent, Part 1


Tasteless, I know. And certainly precedented. But the observation isn't so utterly stripped of truth so as to be pointless, or so recited as to be tired. And for that matter, if I ceded the option of satire, now I wouldn't be much fun at all, would I?

I don't think Pope Benedict is Satan, or even a power hungry monster who shoots lightning from his fingers. I do have strong reservations about his judgment. I also have reservations about the collective judgment of the leadership of the Catholic church, and while I've grumbled about this here and there, I want to open a discussion, or at least outline for myself, what I call problems with the the Church's stance on issues such as the sharing of communion, the ordination of women, the status of minorities of faith, the role of the laity, and ecumenism. These are, broadly speaking, the areas in which my position differs from that the official stance of the Catholic church. I am allowed to do so according to an interpretation of the catechism that insists upon the rule of conscience. Admittedly, (ironically?) there are contrary interpretations, often deferring to the emphasis that Church teaching is supposed to play in the formation of conscience. In fact, faithful dissent is probably as close to a dividing line issue between "conservative" and "liberal" Catholics (not always analogous to the political terms) as someone is likely to find. I'll get into this in a minute.

Essentially, though, before I sound off at length on say, the ordination of women, I should explain why it is not sinful or even objectionable that I should do so... as according to Church doctrine.

* * * * *

Of a number of objections to the principle of faithful dissent, the most cogent and logical is that:

1) Given an admission that the Church's authority and teachings are legitimate, and
2) Given the acknowledgment that our understanding of doctrine as scripturally inspired develops over time, and
3) Given that the faithful, individually, are expected to conform to Church teachings,

the whole idea of faithful dissent is completely dependent upon a specific interpretation of the role of conscience in the catechism.

In other words, this is your standard "house of cards" argument. I am relying on the catechism's definition of "conscience" to justify my dissent from teaching I am supposed to accept. If I am wrongly interpreting that definition, than I am wrongly asserting my right to dissent. These statements are correct.

The problem with the "house of cards" is that it assumes the definition of conscience to be elusive and vague. Rather, masterfully stated in the catechism, concience is precisely evoked as:

1) the divine origin of human morality and ethical initiative, that is, our conscience,
2) our basic obligation to respond to morality.

∙ · ∙

Interestingly, I recently encountered an argument frequently posed against Christianity that follows a similar line. This argument is that Christianity is a house of cards entirely built upon the premise of original sin. While Adam and Eve committed a sin against God by eating the apple, this sin was theirs, and there is nothing in the old testament to suggest that this sin was in any way hereditary. If humans sin individually rather than being born into sin, than there is no need for a Redeemer to expiate the eating of the apple.

This is, honestly, a stronger argument than that posed against faithful dissent, because far from ambiguous, the Bible gives us an account of Adam and Eve's fall from grace but offers only a very spare interpretation, that could be read either way. This doesn't trouble me; it is an argument that I respond to with faith as opposed to reason. There is no logical flaw in either my acceptance of the doctrine of original sin, or others' refutation. But it does affect things somewhat, no?

∙ · ∙

The centrality of conscience doesn't relegate the whole principle of faithful dissent to a "house of cards" any more than the fact that Genesis doesn't cite "original sin" invalidates its presence, and this I can argue on both the force of faith and the power of reason. A house has to have a foundation, right? Conscience is closer to a cornerstone than a card. My line, then, will be to analyze the definition and role of conscience as outline in the catechism, and extrapolate upon it as discussed by the Conference of American Bishops.

Let me know what you think.

To Be Continued...

The Weekend is Isogloss, #2: Something occured to me, as I was crossing the vestubule to leave the apartment, and go to work this morning.


It sticks, like the beginning of John:

In our lives there is routine, and our lives are routines, and we live life through routine.

With so many daily routines, it's been easy for me to lose sight of what a beautiful and spectacular year this has become. I'm living in a gorgeous apartment in a cozy, draughty building, eight stories up, looking out over urban density and lake Michigan. I'm living with one of my oldest and dearest friends, whose also become a thoroughly compatable roomate. I'm living in a dynamic, diverse, exciting environment. I'm working at a job... I can tolerate. But at least I'm working with people I like. I'm on the way up. I've made new friends. With friends I've thrown parties, held events, had thorough cranial plumbing via conversation, the best of convention, planned the Scavenger Hunt, attended the Midnight Vigil, and left the imprints of my footsteps all over Chicago. And I'm moving up. Soon I'll be imprinting my footsteps all over New York, exploring that city while I take classes to write and speak to write and learn to live through writing, all in the heart of a city that, in spite of many nicknames, easily expands to fill the title of that who "never sleeps." But several weeks ago I went home with two friends and we photographed a hidden valley and broken ruins, and that's the other extent. I'm returning to Flint in the future, and I look forward to that. Right now, I'm learning to write the Great American Novel, and it is all three, and it is so thoroughly it will make you all shiver. That weekend, I spent two nights at my parents' and we enjoyed good food, good movies, and good conversation. This reminds me that old times are not irrevocably lost and gone forever. Some of the best practices are retained, preserved. And in two months time, I will marry the girl I've been with for five years, my shimmering spark, and she is so very much that that in and of itself erases cranial blackboards when they get too dusty and cluttered and enables infinite wakefulness, alertness, as many fresh starts as anyone could ever possibly hope. For. You know. Jessica.

The Weekend is Isogloss, #1: This Month's Art


Whenever possible, all images posted here are original.

The pictures posted for Lunas are part of my documentation expeditions around Edgewater Beach. The background is an image of the Foster Street beach. When I arrived, the southern bank of the beach was quite busy, but to the north, it was almost empty except for the three people shown walking along the shore, one of whom was wearing a very long sari that was dragging in the sand. Against this, much closer to me, was a baby's stroller which had evidently been forgotten or abandoned. Recently, too. It couldn't have been out in the weather for more than a few hours. Finally, the foreground and background were cut apart by a long, thin strip of blue tarp. I don't know what the function of this was, either.

The "Blog Game... Cool In..." frame is a selection from a long line of graffiti covering the breakwall just north of this beach. I thought all it seemed appropriate in light of the game this month.

The three frames to the right are all taken from a motel at Sheridan and Catalpa. I originally used a photo of this motel for the background but, as you can tell, the structure is decoratively discordant and the whole thing just looked way too busy.

Lunas 7, 27.


- Everything I said about "guilty pleasures" yesterday must've been heard somewhere. There were complications with the laser and I ended up sticking around until almost six. So it looks like, by the end of today, I might have racked up something almost equivalent to a forty-hour week. Sweet.
- After work yesterday, I resumed photographing Edgewater Beach. So far, I've taken 600 pictures of Lincoln Park, Sheridan Road, the East-West streets between Foster and Devon as far as the Red Line, alley -10X, as well as Kenmore, Winthrop, and alleys -10AX and -11BX between Foster and Hollywood. (The -10X means a north-south running alley ten blocks west of State St.)
- I got home at almost eight, took a short nap, and woke up to Sam, Sky, and Coral making stir fry. We ate, and then Coral and Sky gave Sam and me a ride to B.L.U.E.S. Cover was $7, which is fair, but a bottle of MGD was $3.75, which is an unreasonable price to pay for shitty beer. I had a good enough time, I suppose, but I was tired and fading fast. Plus, the crowd had a touristy bent to it (hailing from exotic places, like NYC, England, and DePaul) which means that the performers gave their act a tourist bent. The act had a lot of soul inflection, sometimes tending toward top-40ness, and when they played straight up blues it was crowd favorites like "Sweet Home, Chicago." That's fine and all, but since I'm just learning about Blues, I'd like to hear some stuff I'm less familiar with. The instrumentals were the best part. Sam wore out sooner than me, and left just an hour after we left. I hung on another half hour, then had the good fortune to catch a train at the moment I hit the track, and got home a little after one.
- This weekend Jess and I are going down to Ohio to work on the wedding. I'll do my best to post something of interest to make up for my absence. Oh ye loyal twenty of you.
- What is the weather going to be like for Memorial Day? Misty, rainy, and/or stormy. All over the midwest. And New England. Sorry.

Lincoln Park.


New York Times: For Senators, a Pact Does Not Mean Peace.


What are you doing this weekend?

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Lunas 6, 27.


- This Week: Guilty Please. But it's not my fault! With Memorial Day approaching, one of our busiest doctors has taken the week off, with the net result that there's been a whole lot less to do at clinic. So... I've been sometimes arriving late and sometimes leaving early. This costs me hours, which costs me money, but I can honestly say there's not much I can do about it. On the other hand, it's hard for me to regret the extra hours I've picked up in an incredibly busy year.
- Yesterday I finished work at 5:30... I was here for ten hours checking in roughly ten patients. It was mind numbingly dull. Today we're only seeing six patients, post-op, and Pam wanted to cover the first two, so I strolled in here at 12:15, (after spending the morning making a spectacular breakfast of potatoes and pancakes, and photographing Edgewater Beach for Euphemism) and am currently prepping tomorrow's twelve, and waiting for patient #3.
- As a sign of this, tomorrow I'm going to B.L.U.E.S. to hear Michael Coleman and Backbreakers. If you'd like to join me, the music starts at 9:30, and cover is allegedly $5. 2519 N. Halsted.
- Weather report: We're in the middle of a glorious spring cycle. Today will be breezy and green in Chicago, with winds piling the clouds and ripping them apart and driving the clear skies out over the lake. Tomorrow, expect rain throughout the day. But it won't stop us from hitting a high of seventy. Weathorr must have been appeased.



WFTV 9 Florida: Senate Committee Considers Indian Apology Resolution.

Wolverine. Fursuit Archive.

Again, ripping off Whet. What are your five favorite instrumentals?

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Lunas, 12.



Cycle 1.
~5/20/90 - ~6/20/90

Detail Level: II
Interest Level: IV

There are only a couple details I clearly remember of this important, frenetic month. As the deal on our house was signed to paper, and I realized that leaving was inevitable, I was incredibly attached to Flint. I now knew the name of my neighborhood, East Village, and while I didn't know all the street names, I was determined to find them out, and took my bike from Longway and Crapo all the way out to Meade and Dort. I was discovering the cement bridge that hid Gilkey Creek underground, and I was discovering girls in more than a sidelong, superficial way.

Meanwhile, the weather improved. I have a few, very distinct memories of this month.

During the last few weeks of May and the beginning of June, when the sky was clear and it was warm out, my two groups of friends converged at twilight. We'd play hide-and-seek until well after eleven. For whatever reason, our mothers didn't think it necessary to split us up any sooner. We'd play mainly on the blocks bordered by Tuscola and Glendale, Hastings and Lafayette. At least once, I hid to the north, across Tuscola. We played the extreme version, in which running along lowset garage roofs and dodging dogs was perfectly acceptable. The group consisted myself, my brother, my sister, Victor and Michael, Bill and Elizabeth, Jeff, Charlie and Alan, Brian Teslar, and anyone else we could persuade or strongarm into the game. Once or twice, we tried this with Capture the Flag.

On our last morning before moving, I finished out my paper route, walking the route with the girl who was to take over for me (I don't remember her name, but was either my age or just yonger, she lived in a kitchen yellow house down on Meade and 2nd), and our moms. It was a Saturday morning, I think. I realized how much I'd come to love that paper route, and how much I'd miss it.

On the first day in Flushing, I was bittersweet about moving, and I missed my friends; especially Victor, who I'd seen nearly every day. On the other hand, I now lived very close to Eric Porn, and he was telling me about the haunted back woods, over across McKinley. He made up some ridiculous stories about paralyzing terror and mass-murder back there which I accepted entirely at face value. We explored back by the river and inside my family's newly acquired barn. That first night, I stayed up with my mom after Caitlin and Cody had gone to bed, and we watched the season finale of Quantum Leap.

A week later, we celebrated Caitlin's birthday by erecting a tent in the backyard and having a dinner with the relatives... I wasn't at home in this place yet, but at least it was getting familiar.

Amber's Blog Game: Oculine


"Let me try to give a schematic plan, with just a few snapshots...because I'm sure I couldn't summon up all of the magical millions of moments, and then headcreep, well, you might be disappointed that I'd left something out. :) I assure you, I'm appreciative of it all. I just want to be moderately attentive to my audience's patience. Also, some things are just ours, you know?

Chris drove all the way from Maryland, only to pick me up and ferry me to New Mexico, back to Chicago, and then roll back to Maryland on his lonesome. I may as well dote, since that's just stupendous...and he really scripted the oozingly beautiful thing we shared.

We/he drove the whole way...through Missouri (gawwwwwd...Meramec Caverns, anyone?), Oklahoma (how many Red Rock's ARE there in the US?), Texas (Kenny!!!), and New Mexico. We slept in cheap motels, a gloriously welcoming guest pad at the aforementioned dude's, and one very much-loved, Jeff-colored, and bandy-legged tent. I can lie in bed, still, looking up at my ecru ceiling, and recall, in half-sleep, the roof of the tent fluttering over my head, and the feel of Chris's
warm self sleeping next to me...and hogging all of the blankets! :D

But that's okay, because I made him drive me to the campground's "facilities" in the middle of the night.

Missouri was long. And St. Louis can suck it. It's just like Indianapolis, except that some people deludedly believe that it's cool. The arch was neat, in a sort of "objects can confront us, and leave us out, blah blah high modernism" kind of awesome way. The arch can stay. The rest of Missouri should black hole out of existence, pinching the earth, and drawing me one gynormous state closer to the
windswept, western expanse.

We spent a day in Oklahoma. There were Red Rocks and swampy, dried-up ponds to look at from a few trails...and racing molds that had infiltrated the you-are-not-allowed-here vista over the state park! It was hot and bright and dry...and we ate breakfast at Zona's! Zona's was the -real- deal, and, I should mention, a bizarre parallel to my own Zelma's in Indy. Same weird booths and faux grain tables, same
big-hair, crusty waitresses and their daughters ordering AND cooking your food, and [!EXCITEMENT!] same squirt-butter for your toast. :)

The place brought the grammatical plural of "hashbrowns" into question by serving us each one greasy, brown briquette. Woohoo! I loved it.

Texas was remarkable, too (okay, Kenny, you were right), and was where we spent the most time. Amarillo kind of blew (especially when the fantastic looking, pan-Asian cafe was mysteriously well-lit and staffed, but locked, during lunch...and when the thrift store blew blue chunks), but Lubbock was as sweet as was promised...it's like
Indianapolis, too, only it IS cool. We were, I repeat, happily hosted and toasted...I had the privilege of meeting some very Special friends of Kenny's, as well as his father, and another... and seeing the spaces! In case you couldn't tell, this was a big deal...and very, Very happy-making. :) We spent an evening munching some objectionable Vietnamese food and visiting new and old friends, and the next day we made some ruckus at a Goodwill. I hotsed up in a ratty old wig that
matched my natural color eerily, and Chris dressed his way into an upcoming cameo on That 70's Show (narrative hyperbole--pay it no mind). I let myself be talked out of buying a pink ballet dress. The universe is thankful.

After bidding bittersweet good-bye to my long gone friend (!), we hied to the Carlsbad Caverns...but not before driving by the GYNORMOUS CROSS one more time. Oh. Dear. God. :D There's this huge, gray, sheet metal and steel cross out in the middle of nowhere--"biggest cross in the Western hemisphere." And it's got a monument to all of the unborn victims of abortion! It's a tombstone with little copper hands extending a little copper fetus! And there's a freestanding, near-life
sized statue of Christ, weeping over a fetus in his outstretched palms, too!!! I cannot exclaim enough! Just go see it. Do it. It's incommunicable, the wonder.

The caverns were cool, winding, and long...and covered in bat shit! Wow, it reeked. I'm assuming that the rest of spectators were unaware of this, since I was the only one shouting in horror. :) We saw some neat SPELEOTHEMS, and listen to some annoying babies wail...and got indignant as people kept ruining the natural phenomena with their flash cameras...and then couldn't keep ourselves from photographing a fantastic, tit-shaped stalagmite rising from the ground. It was such a tit! I wanted to go caress it or something. :D Well, it WAS. I have
the picture to prove it.

White's City is annoying. Yargh. But caves are cool...especially ones with a freakish underground cafeteria and gift shop hewn into their very core. Wow! :) I stole a postcard, since no one was around to ring it up for me.

AND THEN. WHoa, Nelly, and then. Things got beautiful. I saw the kind of nights that schmucks paint onto plates and sell in flea markets (with a wolf on them, as I remarked to Chris, with the happy result of his amusement...but now that I reflect, it was probably a coyote). ...and scrub! So much scrub, and cactaceae! It was hard to tell whether the plants were all dead or just really, really mean. :) They were delightfully ornery. The vastness was familiar, thanks to an Indiana childhood...familiar, but like your best friend's dad is familiar. You know the little version well enough to not be surprised by the big one...but it IS bigger. :D

And we climbed a mountain. ! Not THE mountain.. 'cause we were idiots, and didn't realize that it takes a day, not an afternoon, to climb a friggin mountain. But we did get to top of a mountain NEXT to the famed Guadeloupe Peak (highest friggin hump in Texas). It was a long, hair-pinny trek to the top, full of lots of neat stuff to stare at whenever you didn't want to admit that you were stopping 'cause you were exhausted. :D Also, well, it really was stunning. And stunningly dangerous! I was terrified one of us (Chris) would trip over a rock, tumble over the side, and meet the other a long walk down and many years later. But we made it--made it a 3rd of the way through the trail, that is, having had to hurry and turn back in order to save enough daylight for the climb down. We got just far enough to taste mountain air--to feel the spiky brambles and brushes bow to the pine trees and cool air. It was so clean, and quiet enough to hear the old hikers a few legs of the trail away (they were probably 3 times our age, and were coming down from the top! :) we suck). The hawks still flew overhead, though. We climbed to where we could see from one side of the face all the way across the plains... and turned on the trail to look over the valley, populated by the only trees within, well,
some unit of land measurement too great for me to muster. It was bounded by sheer, straight cliff, shaping the sky. We could see so far! :) And man, were we proud. And happy. Much hugging was shared, and much regret at the inadequacy of our one disposable camera. It was dizzying up there, but steadying too. I wish I hadn't had to come down.

But down was lovely too...particularly down on the ground, under a tent and a mountain of blankets...in flannel pjs and near-solitude. Solitude WITh somebody.

We made a joy of the return, too. :) The car, for instance, presented a moment of comedy and comedic disgust. It stank to the high heaven. We thought, for a day or two, that it just our socks...until the unbearableness of the situation demanded action. At that point, a suspicion of mine was confirmed and alleviated ... thankfully by Chris, rather than myself. A cooler whose ice had melted, probably, the second day of the week-long trip, still contained the block of cheese it had held since the beginning. Not only was there rotting cheese stinking up the car...but there was rotting cheese WATER. The water hadn't drained, but had made a little bath tub of the cooler for the soaking cheese...which Chris thankfully drained while I waited in the car...writing a surprise message for him on his visor, which I ended up pointing out to him anyway. :P [happy sigh]

Also, we ate at a place called the No Whiner Diner...although its second sign called it The Whiner Diner. Go fig. And Chris played Ninja Gun. Twice! In two different places! And we drove through Roswell! and stopped in a bike store! that had old Schwinns! and an "oldebikes" t-shirt with a logo whose wheels wittily poked fun at the boobies beneath it!

All in all, it was a great success. One couldn't ask for more...as unforgettable, perfect, spiritual experiences go. Which reminds me! On our exhausting way up the mountain, as I fretted for my small amount of water (which, incidentally, I did a lot during the trip, originating the "I need to pee" joke which is really only a joke between me and one other person, but which will become fabulously well-known once I get my tee-shirt...>:)), we found... can you believe this... SERENDIPITOUS WATER. There, just waiting for us a few steps off the trail, was an unopened plastic jug, full of water. :) You see?

The whole trip was magical.

So. There you go. :) I had a real spring break.



Lunas 5, 27.


- Yesterday I bore down at work and did all of the honest work to be done in an effort to count some hours, but in the end, I still left at 1:30. It remains to be seen how long I'll be here today. There are only ten patients, but they are spread out all over the day, so they might ask me to leave early. Anyway, once I'd gotten home from work, I took a nap, drank some coffee, and did a quick read on Edgewater from my triumverate of guides to Chicago (Michelin's Chicago, Wild Chicago, and Ethnic Chicago. At one time it was my goal to thoroughly explore all 77 of Chicago's neighborhoods. This would have been a possible, if daunting, undertaking if I'd started four years ago. With two months left, however, and two busy months at that, right now I'm just trying to cover downtown, Hyde Park, and Edgewater. Maybe a couple more, time allowing (if so, they will be Pilsen, Uptown, West Town, Rogers Park, Roseland, and Pullman. That's extremely optimistic). I spent just over three hours in the evening photographing roughly half of Edgewater Beach. I think I should be able to polish off Edgewater in several more brief expeditions. When I got home, just after dusk, I talked to Jess on the phone and then visited with Sam, Skylar, and Bill when they got home. I didn't stay up incredibly late. That is, five-and-a-half hours of sleep.
- Evidently Americans care more about gas prices than they do the filibuster issue. My heart goes out to anyone driving an import in a city with limited public transit. That rules out most of the cities I'm familiar with, including Flint. Maybe I was too harsh on the Democrats. I guess sometimes people get what they deserve, right? No.
- Nothing new for Chicago, weather wise.

Near West Side.


The New York Times: Justice Choice Could Rekindle Filibuster Fight in the Senate.

Yellowjacket. Kamungus.

If you were an insect, what kind of insect would you be?

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Still (Not) News in Flint


The following headlines made the front page of the Flint Journal's Sunday Edition this week, instead of a public housing debacle requiring immediate attention.

Get plenty of sunshine, doctor says
Fenton man is still a guy's guy despite loss in contest

215 families are losing their housing subsidies they've already been promised due to mismanagement by the Flint Housing Commission (which does not even leave a phone number at which to be contacted). There has been no reportage of any action by the Housing Commission, such as scaling back rather than revoking vouchers, or limiting utility access as a means of avoiding eviction. 215 families could represent well over 1% of Flint's population, but there has been next to no coverage of this critical story. There have been two brief articles and a staff editorial since the story broke almost two months ago.

Three things residents and nonresidents can do to help:

1) Complain to the Flint Journal about the lack of coverage.
You can send your tactful but emphatically expressed sentiments to Mary Ann Chick Whiteside at mwhiteside@flintjournal.com

2) Contact the City of Flint at http://www.cityofflint.com/emailus/e_mail.asp and insist that funds be allocated to restore vouchers or otherwise accomodate those families deprived.
You can also complain that there is no contact information listed for the Flint Housing Commission.
You can also complain that area nonprofits have been indefinitely deprived of state funding due to blocks applied by Mayor Don Williamson's administration.

3) Make a donation by cheque or money order to:
Salem Housing CDC
3216 Martin Luther King Blvd.
Flint, MI 48505

This is an innovative and resourceful area nonprofit that is debatably providing more and better low-income housing than the HUD supervized FHC.

~ Connor

PS. This post will be repeated weekly, until this problem is dealt with.

Politically Livid


Yesterday, I wrote that the "Republican party this day is perceived as active, robust, and muscular, as opposed to a Democratic party that is always on the retreat, entrenched in big cities surrounded by seas of red. At some point (because this is a democracy), if democrats are to win back the influence they've lost, they're going to have to be seen as willing to fight for their constituencies."

"Even if they stay up all damn night."

I guess our senators were feeling a little sleepy.

I'm disgusted right now. I'm hope, hope for a Dantè's afterlife, where Byrd and Lieberman will encounter a frowning FDR and a grimacing Truman. Oh, it's not like they were so over-the-top progressive. But they certainly realized that victims cannot effectively bargain.

EDIT: These "compromising democrats" are behaving like short-sighted idiots! What assurance has this got them? According to the Times, Frist said '"bad faith and bad behavior" would force him to bring back the nuclear option.'

And then there's Ohio's DeWine:

"If an individual senator believes in the future that a filibuster is taking place under something that's not extraordinary circumstances, we, of course, reserve the right to do what we could have done tomorrow."

Well, how nice that the majority party now has the right to define what's extraordinary.

Meanwhile, Lieberman is bragging that "in a Senate that's become increasingly partisan and polarized, the bipartisan center held." What a comment on the nation: when the bipartisan center holds, the upshot is that prominent democrats give the green light to ultraconservative judges.

When, by the way, was the last time the Republicans voluntarily curtailed and quartered one of their 133 year old political levers?

Fight, will you?!
Will you fight?!

EDIT: I don't follow baseball that closely, but when a team with considerable resources finds that there are important things that its players cannot or will not do (like hit or catch the ball), they generally try to trade for better players.

Keep this in mind as the next primaries approach. Keep a sharp eye out for new players.

We seem to be struck with the '03 Tigers today.

Actually, I take it back. The Tigers won a few games at the very end.

Lunas 4, 27.


- Yesterday, in the end, was somewhat interesting. I got home from work. I finished The Man who Outgrew his Prison Cell, by Joe Loya. It is the first time I've read a piece of finished, extended prose by a friend, and I was struck repeatedly by the fact that I knew the voice behind the words. It's a strange feeling for me... The rest of the evening, I tried to get wedding planning and financial aid planning accomplished, with the sole and single victory that they're going to have to be lumped together. Ultimately, Jess and I will have $X through the beginning of September, which we'll apply towards Y and Z... ultimately the wedding and New York / grad school. If $X < $Y + $Z, we'll borrow the remained. It might not be pretty. Sam fixed rice, peas, and some amazing fish for dinner. James came over to work on computers with Sam. I walked to Foster Ave., because there was allegedly a party goin' on, but it'd cleared out when I got there. Back home, I uploaded the pictures for the engagement notice in the paper. Now I just need the go ahead from Jess. I fell asleep to a track from the Stigmata soundtrack.
- Weather. Nothing new. That is, the Jet Stream is a jagged toothy smile, the southwest is warmer than average, the northeast is cooler than average, Mexico is cloudier than average, and southern central Canada is wetter than average, but here in Chicago, we're just chillin'. A little on the brisk side. Maybe.



The New York Times: Bipartisan Agreement in Senate Averts a Showdown on Judges.

Gecko. Glass Line Magazine.

Where were you in 65?

Monday, May 23, 2005

Still Feeling Filibustrous...


Maybe this is a bit of a cop out of an opinion, but I don't see what's so complicated about the solution.

This situation: yes. I certainly agree. In short, the Democrats have been filibustring many of Bush's judicial nominees (significantly, not as many as the Republicans filibustered among Clinton's). (Note: Anyone whose wondering, filibustring is the right to debate any topic without end, essentially making a yes-no vote anywhere from impractical to impossible. Right now, advocates of the filibuster (ie. almost all Democrats) are saying it's a necessary check-and-balance as part of congress, to ensure that a majority party is less capable of stacking the courts. Opponents (ie. almost all Republicans) of the filibuster, say that it is an affront to democratic process, since the majority party is so because of the will of the public, and so should be able to render approval to judicial appointees.

While I think that the filibuster itself it conceptually obnoxious and in realtiy, unwieldy, I think it's absolutely essential to have a check on the power of the majority party to dictate judicial appointees. Also, while I believe this check to be important in principle, regardless of which party is in power, I believe it to be particularly important right now, at a time when the country is closely divided, but one party is inostensibly in control of one branch of government. In short, I am a strong advocate of the filibuster.

To continue the complicated situation: Republicans have become frustrated at the blocking of judicial appointees. There are several possible developments, as outlined by the New York Times.

First, a compromise could be reached. This would have to take the form enough Democrats and Republicans dissenting from their respective party lines so that the democrats would lack the 60% majority needed to maintain a filibuster, and the Republicans would lack the simple majority they would need for the "nuclear option" (see below). The new result of this would be that one or a number of the Bush appointees would slide through on a simple majority, but the filibuster would be left intact as an option later on.

Second, if no compromise is reached, then we enter the "nuclear" scenario. The New York Times outlines this as follows:

If fewer than 60 senators vote to end the filibuster, it would remain in effect. Customarily, that would mean there would be no immediate prospect for a yes-or-no vote on [the candidate].
However, Frist has said he would make a point of order in that case that debate on a Supreme Court or Appeals Court nominee should be limited, in effect negating the ability of Democrats to filibuster.
The Senate's presiding officer -- possibly Vice President Dick Cheney -- would issue a ruling on the point of order. Since the presiding officer in the Republican-controlled Senate is a Republican, the ruling would be the one Frist wanted.
There may be debate on the ruling, but at some point Frist or another Republican would appeal it. This is purely a procedural motion, designed to allow all 100 senators to decide the issue. There may be additional debate, but eventually Frist would propose tabling the motion to appeal.
Under the rules, no debate would be allowed on that proposal.
If a majority sided with Frist, the Senate would have created a new precedent under the rules, and filibusters would no longer be allowed on Supreme Court and Appeals Court nominations. Republicans hold 55 seats, to 44 for the Democrats and one independent. Cheney is allowed to vote in the event of a tie.

The nuclear option is a gamble, and the is largely the premise of my own position on this issue.


First, the Republican party this day is perceived as active, robust, and muscular, as opposed to a Democratic party that is always on the retreat, entrenched in big cities surrounded by seas of red. At some point (because this is a democracy), if democrats are to win back the influence they've lost, they're going to have to be seen as willing to fight for their constituencies. While it does appeal to a practical sensibility (especially when one feels besieges) to bet low in the hopes of holding out long, a refusal to takes risks almost guarantees that ground will be lost. A party the gives up their battles one after another, or satisfies for disadvantageous stalemates are going to neither mobilize their base nor capture the imagination of moderates and swing-voters.

And any compromise here could only be read as a disadvantageous stalemate. If the Democrats, representing the just-under-50% of voters who supported them in the most recent election have an obligation to block, by any legitimate means, the appointment of one of the most conservative judges from one of the most conservative federal circuit courts, who has consistently voted in favor of big business and has deplayed the same "judicial activism" that conservatives and president Bush claim to abhor. The Republicans, when they were in the same position with regard to Clinton appointees, blocked and almost identical number as the Democrats are blocking today. And lastly, for the Democrats to bend before the threat of a "nuclear option," is to acknowledge such an option's legitimacy. What's to keep Republicans from utilizing the option whenever an appointee is blocked? Probably some lower level of public tolerance, but should Democrats concede so much of their constituencies interests? Such would be like a union that does not strike: ceremonial resistance. Or to paraphrase Dave Yettaw, you do not deal with a power like the Republican Party from a kneeling position.

Second, the nuclear option itself is irrational and illegitimate.

The fact that such a loophole can become defining on such a pivotal scale (as opposed to the filibuster, which does function more-or-less as it was intended. The filibuster was created precisely as a check against the overweening power of the majority in congress. This was a concern of the founding father, and many simple democracies have foundered over a lack of provision of minority rights. Quite simply, even given the checks-and-balances among the three branches of government, there is naturally nothing from allowing the composition of one to dictate that over another. The filibuster is an additional check to ensure that the policies of the majority are examined rigorously... that they are not simply the default.

Now consider that the filibuster is intended to prevent a simple majority from railroading appointees through a strong minority opposition, and that for this reason, can be ended only through a majority of 60/40. On what planet does it make sense that the institution of the filibuster should be negated by a simple majority? And this is a dangerous precedent... I don't have to give a theoretical argument. The nuclear option would allow the party that occupies the white house and dominates both houses of congress to pass without minority scrutiny appointees consistent with its ideological priorities. In short, to generalize a little, 51% of the country would determine 100% of major levers in the federal government.

Third, we have to play this game long term.

The Democrats shout not derive comfort from the fact that they can still theoretically filibuster (when the public is completely behind them, and when the congressional majority gives them permission). Nor should they derive comfort from the idiotic hope that Republicans will simply keel over and die. There's no good precedent for that either. Democrats have to depend, whether they like it or not, that there is a center of the American public who will be willing to shift their priorities to the Left, and this can only happen when Left asserts its own capable leadership as the right demonstrates over and over again their own inconsistancy.

I'd still describe the tone of America as predominantly conservative, but there are signs that the tide might starting to turn. Nobody, it seems, is a fan of Tom DeLay, even among those who used to support him. Ann Coulter has become as much a focus of derision (or more) for her comments on the gay marriage debate as Michael Moore was for his 9/11 arguments just a year ago. More tellingly, in questions of judicial control and social security reform, Americans have shown reactions from guardedness to alarm, even in the face of soothing lullabies from the president, the vice president, and the nation's most priminent conservative. Didn't everyone think Bill Frist was a really reasonable guy not that long ago.

The Republican Party, as an organization if not a set of beliefs, has been robust this decade. But robustness has led to arrogance and cockiness, and they're starting to come across as a little grasping... as afflicted with tunnel-vision.

The Democrats have to reassert before this. If they do, there is no way they can really damage themselves.

If the Democrats withstand the nuclear option, than they gain in the short and long run, for obvious reasons.

If the Nuclear Option prevails over the nuclear option, than the Democrats lose in the short run but they still gain in the long run, because Republicans publicly establish themselves as "for" and "against" judicial activism, as "for" and "against" local control, as "for" and "against" checks-and-balances. They highlight the inconsistency of their own approach. Americans aren't the most politically conversant beasts, but the gaffes are becoming more and more public.

I don't want the Democrats to buckle or fold.

I don't want the Democrats to bend.

Not tonight.

Even if they stay up all damn night.

Frivolous Feelings about the Big Apple


I've tried writing this post several times, but each time I start to hate the way it begins to sound.

Something I'm dealing with among all the other chaos in my life right now it trying to reconcile the choice to live... the willingness to go to great lengths to live... in a city I've been continually lambasting for the last eight years. I know I'm unfair to New York. I haven't always been. I loved the place when I went for the YPC conference in July 1997, and couldn't help loving it again in December 2000.

There's just something all-too-tangible about the U of C New Yorkers specifically. They seemed to epitomize the sort of smug attitude and condescension, undoubtedly borne of growing up along the East and West eighties and nineties, getting rejected from all of the Ivy league picks and, of course, belovèd Columbia, and forced into an unhappy relocation to the provincial midwest.

I already had my hands full. I was nineteen, puffed full of pride for my own city state. I had my hands full with Chicagoans asking if I ate rabbits. I had no time to deal with being declined a Coke because I refused to call it a 'soda' (the Shoreland snack shop, which subsequently got shut down for illegally selling Indiana purchased cigarettes). This was the foot I started out on. Through the years, I've known New Yorkers to say with only a superficial irony that Chicago was "not even a city," that they liked to slow down when they're in the "country," and to essentially proclaim that their city was the "capital of the world." It bothered me that, in a city so defined by its multinational status, one could be so quick to forget Tokyo, Mexico City, and Seoul, all of which trump the Big Apple for size by a considerable margin. On the whole pop vs. soda debate*, it bothered me that the place responsible for incubating jazz during lean times and birthing hip hop, there could be such a casual contempt for American vernacular (they're both vernacular, by the way). And it bothered me greatly that on account of its population and prominence, New York came to stand for the whole array of social ills: poverty, crime, and so on... when in fact the most troubled of New Yorks burroughs (the Bronx) really doesn't hold a candle to Chicago's South Side, or any part of Detroit.

I think that my response was, in large part, frustration at trying to nurture my own sense of civic pride, where such an effort took all of my honest imagination and initiative, and running up against a wall of people whose civic pride was so expansive that they were out-and-out dismissive about everybody else: "We're the best in everything. You should just go home now."

And Chicagoans, and especially South Siders, are incredibly proud of their home, but part of that pride is a low-keyness about it... they're comfortable in how wonderful their town is (granted, a few have gotten on my nerves now and then... like a woman in medical records three years ago who told me Flint wasn't even a suburb of a suburb.) If you ask about it, they'll open up, and they do hope for recognition. But I see more humility in Chicago's perspective. Conversely, the Los Angeleans often seem to hold that their town is best of all, but their opinions are so inward-directed and obsessive that they rarely contest it with anyone else. For that matter, I've had Detroiters inform me that there's nothing to Flint, that it's a speck, a jealous Detroit Jr. And as Flint has painfully pulled itself out of the poorest, grossest, meanest 1% of cities, it's strange to note that we don't know what to brag about anymore.

In my heart of hearts, I still know that Flint is the greatest city in the world.

But it's a shame if that fact, and my acquaintance with some puffed up New Yorkers would ruin one of the most electric and dynamic settings in the world for me. Especially considering how much time and money and energy I am currently putting into living there.

So I'll try hard to give New York a chance.

I already have to thank several friends (Gemma above them all) for talking reasonably on this subject many times with me, and showing me what I might be missing in my frustration and insecurity.

This has been a rant.

But it's good to get out of the system.

Better to learn to love the place now than as I'm moving away.

* from Dictionary.com on tonic:
Regional Note: Generic terms for carbonated soft drinks vary widely in the United States. Probably the two most common words competing for precedence are soda, used in the northeast United States as well as St. Louis and vicinity, and pop, used from the Midwest westward. In the South any soft drink, regardless of flavor or brand name, is referred to as a Coke, cold drink, or just plain drink. Speakers in Boston and its environs have a term of their own: tonic. Such a variety of regional equivalents is unusual for a product for which advertising is so aggressive and universal; usually advertising has the effect of squeezing out regional variants. On the other hand, there are so many types and flavors of soft drinks that perhaps no single generic word has ever emerged to challenge the regionalisms.

Still Feeling Frivolous...


Please, for goodness sake, all of you: STOP TALKING LIKE YODA!

It's an old joke.

It isn't funny.

It never was, frankly.

It's ancient, like the French surrendering, or that whole thing with your mother last night.

Feeling Frivolous Today...


I took the political quiz at http://www.politicalcompass.org/. My score put me well to the left, economically, and strongly in favor of personal freedoms, socially. Internationally, I was closest in proximity to the Dalai Lama, with Nelson Mandela a close second. Not bad, on a graph that includes both Bush and Mugabe.

How d'you do?

~ Connor

Lunas 3, 27.


- What an extraordinary weekend!
FRIDAY , I got out of work at 5:15 after no lunch; no complaints, but pretty busy for a weekday. I rode to Hyde Park and stopped at 57th Street Books to pick up the Michelin Green Guide to New York City. They're far-and-away my favorite travel guide series. From there, I walked two blocks to Uncle Joe's, and ate some vegan rice dice and down a large coffee. Ashley lend me three dollars in the endeavor. I paid her back later that night. From there, I walked two more blocks to the BSLC for the Scavhunt Slide Show, which lasted about fifteen minutes. From there, Jess and I went back to her place for dinner (pizza!) and from there to Colin's for the post-Scavhunt party. The was a volcanic event that began building pressure early (Jess and I arrived around 10:00, and were within the first twenty arrived), mounted to a crescendo over many hours (the party seemed to peak at around 1:00 with well over a hundred), and we rode out the eruption (Jess and I left around 4:00, and were within the last twenty departed). Within that frame of six hours, there were, in addition to every you'd expect of 100+ twenty-somethings (mostly single) congregating at an apartment named Moomers on a balmy Friday night in May, there was dancing, a walk to the point for the Ye Olde Spin N' Sit N' Run N' Hug, a rap battle, toasts, general frivolity, and an extended conversation in Romanian with a member of the Fist road-trip team (his parents were from Bucuresti, and he patiently tolerated all of my misteps. I managed to get a grass stain on my khakis.
SATUDAY, I got out of bed at 1:30. I changed into a clean pair of kahkis. Lunch was more pizza, then Jess and I walked to the Point for Sara's birthday party. A lot of people had gather on the southeast bank overlooking the picturesque skyline of Gary. I got to talk to Yotam and Evelina for the first time in months, and we ate burgers and ribs, and passed some game with only two rules that nevertheless felt extremely complicated. Essentially, one'd have to pass a ball to someone else whilst "it" tried to retrieve it. If "it" tagged you, however, you were frozen until you'd caught the ball. This makes for more difficult-than-you'd think strategy, as on either side you can either go for limitaton (freezing/unfreezing as many people as possible) or simple exclusion (pass-the-ball/get-the-ball). The trick isn't in committing 100% to either approach but to anticipating your opponents change in tactic. I managed to get a grass stain on my khakis.
Whatever. After several hours of such fun, we drove downtown to get Jess' passport, failed at this (because the USPS website had the wrong times posted), and returned to Hyde Park for Cate's birthday party. This party featured many of the same people as Sara's and amazing good food (which is usually something you get when visiting Cate anyway). I hung around for about five hours, and even though the party was going strong, I was exhausted, so I went home an crashed. I woke up briefly later when Jess was going to give Gemma a ride back to Andersonville. I came along for company and the ride.
SUNDAY, I got out of bed at a shimmering 10:00. I spent two hours washing grass stains out of my khakis, and decided to give up the ghost, and miss church. I know! I'm a bad Catholic! Jess and I had a breakfast of French Toast and eggs, than hurried off to Jimmy's for our Harry Potter discussion group, which meets about once a month. We talked about adolescent development in the books, and I left a little early to attend Lisa's first recital. It was a fun experience; everyone was making (what seemed to my virgin ears) bold choices and even though nobody was perfect, people seemed to enjoy performing, whether or not they were used to it. It was also at Lutheran Theological Seminary, which I've walked past for years but have never entered before. The outside looks like some post-industrial spaceship, but on the inside, it's a very beautiful, clear, and clean-feeling space, filled with Lutheran perpendiculars, of course.
After the recital, Jess met Lisa and I at Botany Pond and we took about 200 photos for the engagement announcement. Coming soon to a paper near you. As a 'thank you,' we took Lisa out for a late dinner at the Snail, and dropped her off at her car around 9:00. I had a nice, long talk with my mom, and watched the season finale of Desperate Housewives before going to bed.
- Weather. This week will be pure late May.



The New York Times: Supreme Court Agrees to Hear Abortion Case.

Salamander. Mona Caron - Illustration & Murals.

Who is your favorite villain from a work of fiction?

Friday, May 20, 2005

"I'm late," I said to St. Brendan


I'm a couple days late, but this past Monday, the 16th was the day of my patron saint, Saint Brendan the navigator.

Aside from being a somewhat scary looking guy, Brandan was an old sea dog, and probably a prolific storyteller. If we take him at his word (which I do not necessarily recommend), he and his monks discovered the Americas. They also camped upon a floating whale, not knowing what it was until they set a fire.

I'm very proud to be associated with this guy. Not only does he embody the restlessness imbued in that Bjork lyric I quoted two days ago ("If travel is searching and home what's been found, I'm not stopping,") but he also suggest that just because one is a saint doesn't mean he can't have any fun. St. Brendan was Irish, he was a sailor, and clearly enjoyed good company. Whoever said that saints can't cause any trouble?

Within the next week, I'll be celebrating St. Brendan by taking a long, long walk toward un unknown destination overnight. If you're interested in coming along, send me an email and we'll conspire together!

Oculine 30, 27.


- Looking for Scav Hunt '05 resources? They are posted here.
- Yesterday, and especially last night was bizarre and productive. I spent more time and energy reviewing Star Wars than I ever expected to, but I really felt I was onto something, and also did some work for the wedding and grad school, and straightened my room. Sam fixed stir fry and rice, so we had a nice meal, and I feel bad for not doing the dishes. When I went to bed, I opened the windows all the way and started the fan on 'high,' so of course, my room was immediately freezing. And I fell asleep to the Swans. And I'd had three cups of coffee. It's a great way to guarantee delicious, messed up dreams.
- Sam wrote a comprehensive response to my arguments about Star Wars. I'm kind of exhasuted from talking about this yesterday, but I'm just going to address a couple points real quick.
1) Instead of saying "Bad CGI" I should maybe have said "Overabundant CGI" (which doesn't have the same zing). I understand why the graphics may have been necessary for, say, Yoda, even if I was unconvinced, and while I can't credit the dogfight (having missed the first minutes) I haven't really criticized it either. I would have been more forgiving if the device was used more sparingly.
2) Also, my CGI criticisms are not "nitpicking." Atmospheric effects and the like are important only because every time I see a computer generated landscape I immediately think, "that's not real." If the special effects in a movie made for special effects can't even allow a basic suspension of disbelief, the power and sophistication of the technology is lost. Or to put it another way, why would I care if Yoda's pupils dilate if I always feel like I'm watching a hologram. Or more to the point, why should they conjure up a fake-looking pretend collonaded hallway when their are hundreds of real collonaded hallways to choose from?
3) On everything else, Sam and I either disagree on point of logic/taste, agree, or are perhaps talking about different things.
- Weathorr Report. WE HAVE FOG!
- This weekend will be warm, dry, and fair.

Near North Side.


The Flint Journal: Board approves budget despite criticism.

Stupid Beach. explodingbeach.

Okay, let's just get all the Star Wars crap out of the way.
What is your Sith name?
This one process self-invented, so apologies if it sucks. (There weren't really any good options online)
First... run your first and last name together.
Second... for letter #1, select the last consonant. For letter #2, select the first vowel. For letter #3, select the second-to-last consonant. For letter #4, select the second vowel, and so on.
Third... proceed until you run out of letters alternating vowels/consonants, or you create three syllables.
Fourth... At this point, you may, at your own discretion, add any remaining vowels to form dipthongs, or eliminate vowels that seem superflous. 'Y' is a vowel at your discretion. The number of consonants is constant, however.
Five... frefix the result with the word 'Darth'.
Six... pronounce in the most diabolical sounding manner.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Star Wars. Episode Three: Revenge of the Sith


What a compelling, challenging, and quixotically problematic film! I've observed to several friends since I saw I Revenge of the Sith at midnight Central Standard Time last night that the most striking feature of the movie, above its many successes and failures, is an increible bravery. This is an very courageous film, almost foolhardy, and because of choices it makes, may come to take on an importance that transcends any question of its status as a work of art.

But that sounds like a good wrap-up point, so I'll start by talking about the movies considerable flaws.

NOTE: I'm not claiming that this is spoiler free; in order to make any substantive point about the film I have to reference specific moments. I've tried to identify these events without "giving them up." If you are willing to accept a few things as a given (hint: for example, there is an/two apocalyptic battle(s) which I will refer to as such and nothing more), this post will not ruin anything for you.

Lucas has said that the harsh reviews of Episodes I and II are due mainly to a divide among his fans at around age of twenty-five, the younger half enjoying the new movies and the older half (with presumed media and critical clout) hating them. As someone straddling that line, and knowing people on both sides, what straight up bullshit. Comments like that can only make me wonder if this man is as divorced from reality in the rest of his observations.

The only "group" that preferred the newer movies were the under-twelve set (when Episode I came out) who were coaxed in with the bubble-gum effects and mentally molested by the likes of Jar Jar Binks. I think, when I was eight to twelve, I might have fallen for this. Ironically, Lucas will lose favor with this audience with Episode III, as the movie will probably give many of them nightmares.

Older fans (ie. older than twelve) might disagree on everything else (I still maintain that Return of the Jedi's the best so far), but we generally and genuinely agree that Episodes I and II suck.

Here are some of the reasons why Episode III might suck as well.


1. Bad CGI.

I'm a stickler here.

Human civilization has had five thousand years experience (at least) with puppets and detailed sculptures and, to this day, I find both are very convincing in the initial series. The Star Destroyers and X-Wing fighters all have a very tangible and three-dimensional presense on screen, however "archaic" their construction, and likewise, a physically present yoda, for whatever awkwardness he might retain (I can't imagine him wielding a lightsaber, for example) had the quirks and nuances of human movement.

On some level, I don't care if Episode III features the most sophisticated graphics used to date. We aren't being asked to believe in a synthetic world, a distinction that leaves Episode III inferior in this regard to such relics as Disney's Tron. We're being asked to suspend belief and see this universe as if it actually exists. That being the case, I expect to see the effects of humidity, the sporadic accumulation of dust or wind on buildings, and the exact response of physical actors to physical objects. It's been done in the past, and sometimes with revolutionary effect. Who Framed Roger Rabbit is an excellent example. The original Matrix is another. Even by now, however, Lucas hasn't convinced me. And if I'm not convinced, then I'm not convinced. Bad effects are really no better than bad acting.

Ahh, bad acting...

2. Bad Acting

If you have this much money in which to make a movie, you can afford a decent screenwriter. You do not have to write lines that are like a bad Japanese-to-English translation video game.

Moreover, if you don't have a gift with exceptionally talented and occasionally vanilla actors, than let someone else handle the non-battle scenes. Especially if they deal with young love. (I'm admittedly still baffled by this, since Lucas was certainly in his element with American Graffiti, but there you are).

I don't have to say anything else here, as the movie speaks itself.

3. You Can Have Too Much of a Good Thing

Lightsaber fights followed the tenth-of-a-second rule. If they lasted more than a tenth-of-a-second, they'd go on for five minutes. There was no gradation martial ability, and it had the effect of making all foes equal, kind of like the minibosses in later MegaMan games. Also, I can't imagine after the gymnastic-martial-supernatural-prowess of Episodes I through III anyone would revert to the dull swashbucklery of IV through VI.

Likewise... dramatic settings. The locations of the final confrontations in the were badasssweet. They would've been even cooler if not diluted with cursory settings in spaceships, jungles, mountains, and so on. Three major settings sufficed in each movie in the orignal series. The think five or so would've been sufficient here.

4. Too long.

This movie was two-and-a-half hours long. Twenty of these could have been shaken off and redistilled as suspence. That way, there's no time for your midnight audience to doze.

5. Insufficient development of characters along certain lines.

Some critics have alleged that Anakin's motivations are too shallow and two-dimensional to justify his rather drastic actions (particularly after the scene with Mace drama, which one might explain away by saying Anakin acted impulsively and without the chance to reflect).

I disagree, but the comment is well-observed. In short, his motivations are not developed sufficiently. This is an area in which minutes siphoned away from galactic battles and lightaber fighting could have been reallocated to a very real ethical dilemma, and more importantly, the way a character interprets the role of destiny and choice in his life.

This problem can also be largely chalked up to problem #6.

6. The prior two movies.

Maybe this criticism is out-of-bounds, but the logical lapses and gaps in Episodes I and II really gave this movie a lot of explaining to do. If nothing else, these were liabilities that required time and energy to reconcile. Episode III could've made itself a lot cooler if it didn't have to spend so much to unsuckify its predecessors.


And there were some good points as well:

1. Imaginatively Conceived Settings

Even if there was an overload of settings, the locations themselves were spectacular. The symbolic resonance of setting in the two (simultaneously occurring) apocalyptic battles was not lost, and in no way detracted from the drama of the climax itself.

2. Timing

Many sequences lasted exactly as long as they should've. Despite its one cheesy moment, everything that happened after the apocalypic battle(s) seemed chosen and played out with great precision. Many other of the most dramatic moments, such as moment of Palpatine's transformation and the moment in which Anakin is irredemably lost to most of us, took up just as much screen time as was needed. This created genuine suspense.

3. Good Acting!

McDiarmed was downright sexy, and I have a hard time imagining that anyone in his confidence would be able to resist for long. Hell, I might become a Sith lord myself. I would go so far as to say the McDiarmed inspired in Christiansen what Portman never could... genuine, unaffected emotion. The mental striving of these two character, and the knowledge that poor Anakin is both mentally and emotionally outgunned, made their interaction the single most compelling aspect of the movie's first half.

Other characters that seemed better than before were... Jackson as Mace and Oz as Yoda?! In the past two movies, the Jedi Council was able to establish itself as a credible entity to be reckoned with... almost like a monastic tradition in the spirit of the Catholic Church that didn't make mistakes like, say, the Inquisition. But in the last too movies, this respect for the Jedi was more established through default and appearance. Many of the conclusions they drew seemed superficially flawed and a little irrational. Thinly disguised plot devices. In Episode III, the political maneuvering of Palpatine on the one side and the Jedis on the other felt more like the chess match it should've been all along... brilliant leaps of insight and unfortunate but understandable errors.

4. Political/Historical Cogence

A challenge in the entire Star Wars franchise is to embody the realities of the sources that inspire it (to be simple, let's just call these Eastern mysticism and the history of the Ancient Rome) with its own fictitious and imaginative signature. The whole series, and especially Episodes I and II, have erred far toward the latter. Episode III, better than any of the other movies, reconciles Star Wars' political and historical roots with its own stamp, and this is extremely compelling. With our own reference points of Crystalnachts and coup d'etats, we can thoroughly understand the entanglements that lead to the developments in Episode III, and we respect just how entangled they are. We don't, however, forget for a moment that we are "a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away."

5. Darth Vader

But if I have to set aside one solid artistic achievement of this film, it is the reconciliation and development of Darth Vader. Any other character explored in the original series (Obi Wan, Yoda, the droids and Wookiee) are essentially unaltered in our eyes by their appearances in the prequals. In fact, this is a good argument that many of these characters are a somewhat two-dimensional.

Where Darth Vader is concerned, however, Episode III changes everything. The transition from anger and ambition to hatred and evil is in the end effected in a genuinely disturbing way. Anakin is more than the tragic hero, and Darth Vader is more than the bad guy who finally redeems himself. This is the installment where most of the important changes take place and the treatment of Darth Vader himself is alone almost sufficient to redeem the film of is flaws.

Darth Vader has always been one of the most striking and powerful villains in science fiction. I actually put in him first place, barely edging out Lynch's interpretation of Baron Harkonnen. It is a great achievement of Episode III that he takes the final steps to be come a true Hannibal Lecter or Tetsuo... maybe even a true Macbeth.

* * * * *

If I weighed my praises against my complains, I'd ultimately describe this as a movie I thoroughly enjoyed. Some of the flaws are pervasive and unforgivable, but many choices are sufficiently challenging, compelling, and thought-provoking to lift the film out of the mire.

Ultimately, however, the context of the film is one of its most remarkable features. This is an incredibly braive film in several very concrete ways.

For starters, holy shit, what a downer! Seriously. As the film that will cap off (at least for the moment) one of the most successful and influential movie franchises, Lucas plays played a very serious gamble that seems to risk losing both sides of the aisle.

Any kid who genuinely (and I don't mean in a momentary burst of sugar induced giddiness) loves Jar Jar is going to wet his pants at the sight of Sidious vs. Mace. I might have wet my own pants at that point. The evil is so palpable and powerful in this film, so utterly overwhelming, than any of Lucas' newly-acquired "younger" fans will have to keep a quick footing to draw from this installment what they drew from the others.

This is where his base would normally come in to support him, one would expect. But wait... they're already alienated by dreariness and silliness of Episodes I and II. He has to win them back somehow.

But Episode III isn't just grim or dark... it's a relentless darkness that only marches and grows, and the ending of The Empire Strikes Back is downright cheerful when held against the final resolution here.

The movie it isn't just courageous for setting its own course whatever the commercial consequences. Episode III also places itself boldy and unashamedly in the political sphere. There's Padme's loaded line following Palpatine's grand announcement. There's an acknowledged parallel between the disollution in the Republic and current American politics. Most dramatically and contentiously, there's Anakin (long after the fall) essentially paraphrasing Our Beloved Leader. Wow. Never thought I'd see in a sci-fi blockbuster during the War on Terror. And if my interpretation seems too out of left field (on several counts), I'd point to the connections exploited this week by MoveOn.org and Michael Moore, and also by George Lucas in interviews.

This film is an attempt engage political questions through popular media, and while the angle is undoubtedly critical of the present administration, the effort probes questions rather than disemminating answers. It will be inyterested to see if this is picked up by the public at large, and if so, how conservatives will respond.

These are two ways in which the bravery and audacity of its conception had a positive effect. And of course, many of my criticisms can be attributed to the same things: audacious risks. It's a given that, if you take a bunch of audacious risks with a film, many of them will fail with spectacular consequences. That's what makes a risk audacious. This spirit of risk-taking, however, elevates the film above would otherwise be.

Overall, I'd rank Episode III at least a solid fourth out of six, and possibly even tie it for third. But the film has excited my admiration. If viewed as the attempt to tell a story on its own terms, to make a Space Opera more than just a Space Opera, it can only fall second to the orignal Star Wars.

Oculine 29, 27.


- Looking for Scav Hunt '05 resources? They are posted here.
- Yesterday. Whew. I'm too tired to go into it in detail. I got off work at about 5:00, got home by 6:00, worked on my website for about an hour and drove down to Hyde Park at 7:30. Jess and I went to the Scavhunt postmortem from 8:00 to 11:00 then went to go see Star Wars. But the keys were locked in the car. Oh no! Fortunately, AAA arrived and let us in. We got to the movie just fifteen minutes late. The movie didn't let out, however, until after 2:30. Consequently, I am very tired.
- There's a lot I'd like to write about Star Wars. So much, in fact, that I don't think I can cover it all here...
- Weathorr Report. WE HAVE RAIN!



The New York Times: Fight on Judges and Filibusters Opens in Senate.

Darth Vader. Skinz.

What is your Jedi name?
To get the first part of the name, place the first two letters of your first name after the first three letters of your last name.
To get the second part, place the first three letters of your hometown after the first two letters of your mother's maiden name.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Oculine, 12.



Cycle 1.
~4/20/90 - ~5/20/90

Detail Level: II
Interest Level: IIII

Our house on Gold Ave. had finally, sold, or the sale was nearing completion at this time. During the last several months there, the walls were all painted a creamy white (over the rich golds and greens I loved and remembered) and the distinctive Roseville vases were taken off of the shelves and out of the cupboards. I realized that selling a house is just as much making it neutral, a flat canvas, as it is fixing things up.

I was working my paper route.

I was also devastated to be leaving. I was old enough that the big boys with the Spencers and the Teslars had stopped picking on me. I'd made peace with Jeff, across the street. I'd also finally developed a network of close friends through the neighborhood and church: Victor, Bill, Paul, and Eric were the core of these as opposed to my two (Eric and Tim) in Flushing. I'd even developed tenuous friendships with a couple of girls from church. In fact, I'd been steadily nursing an infatuation with a girl, Jill, who I'd met through my paper route. I had only two close friends in Flushing, One day, she'd even walked to my house following the route with her sister, and I showed the Pedlar, our Irish wolfhound, who would place his front paws on the driveway gate and lift his head seven feet off the ground.

In retrospect, I probably didn't stand much of a chance, and since this was the closest thing I'd had to a "real" crush (I was eleven, almost twelve), moving away may have been a more merciful answer. I walked along the route with my papers in a red wagon, and I never threw them on the porch... I walked up and set them down, neatly. My emphasis was on precision, not speed, and I spent two hours on this route each day.

I didn't dread public school... I'd enjoyed much of home schooling, but I felt that I wanted to expand my horizons in a way that wasn't accessible by my bike from Gold Ave. Elms Elementary was starting to sound like a downright exciting place.

I think that this was around when my mom had first taken on the job of RE director at the UU church... she had an office in the old wing, and we went to church often to make colorful banners or run around in the half-lit halls of the new wing.

And one sunny evening, we invited Chuck Coggins over for a taco salad dinner, and we all sat and talked for hours on end. This was when the leaves had flowered in the backyard, and I was deeply engrossed in Moraff's Revenge. Later that evening, I beat Ninja Gaiden for the first time.

Oculine 28, 27.


- Looking for Scav Hunt '05 resources? They are posted here.
- Yesterday, I was all but useless. Well, not really, if you define useless as things that "needed to be done, anyway," but certainly useless in the "visible progress on necessary projects" front. I got home around six, after abnormally long commute, and promptly took a three hour nap, which I followed by a couple hours awake, followed by a full night of sleep. The only interesting thing I did was reading Joe Loya's book, which I am enjoying very much.
- The News of the Day today enjoys some personal significance, which a few of you are in on. Here's a clue: it's not worth getting all torn up over.
- Weathorr Report. It's not that the weather reports are wack, it's that they're all wack for Chicago this week. Seriously; you head forty miles into Michigan or forty miles south into Illinois, and you get some predictability. But essentially, since the jet stream is cutting its swatch above Chicago, with col winds tearing down from the north and northeast (of all places) and beating against the warmth from out south, how can we know what to expect. We can, actually. Not in terms of temperatures, but in terms of volatility. That's right kids, expect a storm, and storm tonight, and then um... who knows? We must bow in appeasement to this dark god of the skies...



The Flint Journal: Coney Island's owner facing charges for fire.

Flint's Aristocracy. The Old School. #1. Dallas Dort. New College of Florida.

Derived from Moacir and Whet:
5 Lyrics that Move Your Heart*?

*If you don't have the 10-40 minutes it may take to answer this question, feel free to supply 1 or 2.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Where Should Connor and Jess Look to Live in NYC?


We're looking for an "affordable" studio or 1-bedroom by late August. According to the Newcomber's Handbook and www.newyorkmetro.com, here are some breakdowns:

in Manhattan: Chelsea, East Village, Hamilton Heights and Morningside Heights, Harlem, the Lower East Side, NoLita, and NoHo.

in Brooklyn: Boerum Hill, Brooklyn Heights, Carroll Gardens, Clinton Hill, Cobble Hill, Fort Greene, Greenpoint and Williamsburg, Kensington, Park Slope, Prospect Heights and Windsor Terrace, and Red Hook.

in Queens: Astoria and Long Island City

in Manhattan: Gramercy Park, Greenwich Village and the West Village, Hell's Kitchen, Lower Manhattan, Murray Hill, SoHo, Sutton Place, TriBeCa, the Upper East Side, and the Upper West Side.

in Brooklyn: DUMBO

(we don't have any rental rate information)
in Manhattan: East Forties and Fifties, Flatiron District, Inwood, Lincoln Center Area, Midtown, Roosevelt Island, Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village, Yorkville

in the Bronx: City Island, Pelham Parkway, Riverdale, Spuyten Duyvil

in Brooklyn: Bay Ridge, Flatbush, Fort Hamilton, and Stuyvesant Heights.

in Queens: Bayside, Douglaston, Flushing, Forest Hills, Jamaica Estates, Kew Gardens, Middle Village, Rego Park, Richmond Hill, Ridgewood, Sunnyside, Whitestone

on Staten Island: Grymes Hill and Silver Lake, St. George, Stapleton

in New Jersey: Bayonne, Cliffside Park, Englewood, Fort Lee and Edgewater, Hoboken, Jersey City, Leonia, Montclair, Ridgewood, South Orange, Summit, Teaneck, Tenafly, Weehaawken, Westfield

Elsewhere: Bronxville, Dobbs Ferry, Edgemont, Garden City, Great Neck, Greenwich, Manhasset, Mamaroneck, Mt. Kisco, New Rochelle, Norwalk, Old Westbury, Pelham, Port Washington, Rockville Centre, Scarsdale, Stamford, Tarrytown, Westport, White Plains

(we don't really have any information on these places... should we?)

in the Bronx: Co-Op City, Fordham, Highbridge, Hunts Point, Mott Haven, Parkchester, Throgs Neck, Tremont

in Brooklyn: Bedford-Stuyvesant, Bensonhurst, Brighton Beach, Bushwick, Coney Island, Canarsie, Crown Heights, East New York, Gravesend, Sheepshead Bay

in Queens: Arverne, Belle Harbor, College Point, Far Rockaway, Hammel, Hollis, Howard Beach, Jamaica, Little Neck, Maspeth, Ozone Park, Queens Village, Valley Stream, Woodhaven

on Staten Island: Great Hills, Howland Hook, Huguenot, Mariners Harbor, New Dorp Beach, New Springville, Port Richmond, Richmondtown, Rosebank, Tottenville, West New Brighton

And now you get to put in your two cents, if you have such. Where should we move, and why?

Dave Yettaw


Ladies and Gentlemen, Mr. Dave Yettaw.

January 8th, 1947 - April 14th, 2005.

If you aren't from Flint, or are not involved in union politics or the UAW, then you may not have heard of this guy. He was a driving force in the reform wing of the UAW (known as the New Directions Movement) for the last twenty years, once president of Flint's powerful and militant Local 599 (to which my father belongs), and an emphatic voice in local politics. He figures into Flint story in a similar manner to such galvanizing figures as Ruth Mott and Woodrow Stanley. Like these figures, Dave strove to direct the evolution of Flint in a specific direction, not through the vague approval of the public and private sector, but through the rigorous pursuit of his own philosophy, through conflict, contention, and controversy, and with concrete objectives.

Personally, I have no personal experience with Dave Yettaw, and little I could consider to be an objective foundation of knowledge concerning his achievements. On the local level, such things are not as carefully documented. There is, however, an obituary that was written by the Flint Journal (in one of their better moments of reporting) that suggests the man's passion and charisma, a very maudlin memorial written by the Uncommon Sense and, most succinctly, the following obituary posted by Yettaw's family:

YETTAW, David Edward - Age 58, of Oscoda, formerly of Mt. Morris, died Thursday, April 14, 2005 at his home in Oscoda. His Life Tribute Ceremony will be held 4PM Sunday, April 17, 2005 at the Miles Martin Funeral Home in Mt. Morris. David's family will be present to receive friends on Saturday from 12-8PM and Sunday from 9AM until the time of service at 4PM. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be considered for David's grandchildren's college fund. Envelopes are available at the funeral home. David was born January 8, 1947, in Mt. Morris. Upon graduating from Mt. Morris HS, he enlisted with the US Army and served for 3 years in Vietnam and in Ft. Bragg, North Carolina. While in North Carolina, he and Linda Gramer would unite in marriage on March 24, 1966. In the late 60's they would move back to Michigan and David began his career with GM. He worked for many years with Buick and would go on to serve as Committee Man, Educational Director and serve 3 terms as President of Buick Local #599. He retired in 1997 and soon moved up north. David's passion was helping the underdog and ensuring that the rights of the workers and the standards of the union were upheld. Left to cherish his memory are his wife of 39 years, Linda, 2 daughters, Kimberly Yettaw and Shawn Haubenstricker, 2 grandchildren, Sheldon and Ashley Haubenstricker, mother, Maunee Yettaw, 2 brothers, Liland and wife Donna Yettaw, Harold and wife Gloria Yettaw, sister, Marilyn and husband Fran Reed, many family members and friends. Friends may share memories, prayers and stories online at www.martinfuneralhome.com.

* * * * *

It is difficult to determine what Yettaw's lasting influence will be, and there should be more objective discussion on that question, since the answer will be important to Flint, General Motors, the UAW, and the relationship between all three. Even with plenty of friends and family as members of the UAW, I find its inner workings a little arcane, but I'll try to sketch out a profile of Yettaw as I understand him.

The eighties were probably Flint's lowest point. In twelve years local GM employment plunged from from 78,000 to under half that number. Downsizing coincided with the continued advent of import cars. Meanwhile, due to the priveledges of seniority, among other factors, the economic ills affected some populations, such as recent black and white migrants from the south, worse than others. The city became increasingly segregated and divides in the school district, among city offices, and between the North Side and the rest of the city were exacerbated along racial lines. Flint experienced its worst years for crime, and was also identified with many high-profile failures such as Auto-World and Windmill Place. Roger and Me came out in the 80s. While the city has continued to shrink and suffer from deindustrialization through the subsequent decade-and-a-half, the eighties, situated almost within grasp of Flint's glory days were particularly bitter.

If there was a prevailing emotion that united these developments, it was one of retreat, withdrawal, reluctance, entrapment, and ultimately, desperation. Flint's government, crippled by internal loggerjams, typically responded to GM's withdrawal by offering huge tax incentives, even at the expense of smaller industrial firms eager to take advantage of a ready-prepared infrastructure. The UAW struck a more conciliatory note, urging worker concessions in the hopes of making GM more competitive. I haven't the economic or historical background to pursue any of these statements to a full conclusion, but whatever the intentions of these organizations were, they were clearly playing a defensive game, and were even more conscious of the uneven odds.

This automatically set the stage for Dave, who personified the opposite of "retreat, withdrawal, reluctance, entrapment, and desperation" to offer a unique and inspiring voice, and one that would be deemed reckless and discordant with prevailing wisdom. Among those who knew him, he was loved or reviled.

The New Directions movement emerged out of the embattled 599, one of Flint's most powerful locals, including the Buick City complex and representing tens of thousands of workers. Yettaw had already represented this local for two years, and now asserted that the leadership of the UAW was somewhere between incompetant and corrupt and that the union's tactics of accommodation, even with the very best of intentions, only invited General Motors to abuse the union. The UAW, he asserted, should not back down in negotiations and that UAW leadership should more accurately reflect the makeup and beliefs of the rank-and-file.

New Directions, as it continued to develop under Yettaw, also envisioned a hard-sell "long term" view, that called upon American workers to expect to make sacrifices, not in the hopes of appeasing the auto industry, but to encourage unionization in the developing world. In Dandaneau's book A Town Abandoned (a verbose and frustrating read, but maybe worth it for the useful results of interviews), Yettaw effectively argued that a global union movement could adjust to and influence the viscittudes of a global economy.

* * * * *

The two most dramatic moments of Yettaw's career both occurred during his association with New Directions, one involving an important success, and one involving an important failure.

The important success took the form of the 599's strike in 1994, which happened against the advice of UAW leadership. Considered an "offensive strike" in that it demanded GM hire more workers to relieve the increasing demands and tempo of work, the move was particularly effective because Buick City, at the heart of the 599, was a cricial link in a number of assembly processes, and was thereby crucial to numerous of other facilities. Of course, critics turn this strength around to observe that exploiting such a status made Buick City a liability to the corporation. The union won the strike in four days.

The important failure involved Yettaw losing the presidency of the 599 in 1996, in part based on allegations that GM would seek to close Buick City if a New Directions slate was elected. New Directions lost. GM announced the closing of Buick City just a couple years later. Today, what was Buick City is the nation's largest brownstone project, a treeless, lunar landscape of rusting fence and chunks of concrete, two miles long.

* * * * *

Of course, many of Yettaw's critics have cited a belligerance and an arrogance on his part. In some cases, his tone may have turned willing listeners off to perfectly reasonable ideas. Specific examples, such as the subversive wording of a vote on striking (those who voted against the strike were labeled "lily-livered" on the ballot) or Yettaw's choice to hang the portrait of the UAW president facing the wall, in a closet (again, from Dandaneau, if I remember correctly), and general, such as extended rants at meetings and conventions, certainly alienated much of the UAW's leadership.

To Yettaw, there was no shame in this, since he was merely expressing his view, and in one sense, he was applying his philosophy of how the UAW should deal with GM in his own relationship to a leadership that he felt poorly represented the rank-and-file. That said, he did not maintain his support from below. At best, the ends only justify the means so long as the means are achieved. There is ample evidence that Yettaw may have gone needlessly far in his disregard for convention and respect, and that his liberties may have damaged the perception of New Directions among many possible supporters.

Yettaw remained an active voice in the UAW, and by extension, Flint, until he died. He was fifty-eight years old.

Myself, my knowledge is sufficiently limited that I can't form a complete opinion on Yettaw. Based on his comments in Dandaneau's book and scattered about the web, I am inclined to agree with a lot of his arguments. That said, I can't account for a level of excess in his words and actions. "I do not feel that you deal with a power like GM from a kneeling position," Yettaw said. A worthy response may be, "nor will any power listen when you simply spit on their shoes."

Nevertheless, Yettaw was a visionary his whole life and embodied much of the life, energy, and force both the UAW and Flint have lost over the decades.

It is for his life, energy, force, and vision that he will be remembered.

* * * * *

Bear in mind that I pieced together these information from a number of sources, and in some cases I'm relying on my own faulty memory. In this spirit, I not only invite comment and dissent, but correction. Please let me know if any of my citations are in error and direct me to more reliable information.