2004 Index, NEWSLETTER ARCHIVES,Welcome Page

April 24th, 2004

The Original Bones


" I wish people who have trouble communicating would just shut up."
Tom Lehrer


Dear Folks,

I've just returned from the National Folk Festival and the Rhythms in the Outback Festival in Kalgoorlie. If you've never spent time in Kalgoorlie, Australia's largest outback mining city, make sure you put it in your diary. I had a brilliant time and look forward to returning. Besides doing some exciting shows, I also spent some time with Kevin 'Bloody' Wilson, Kalgoorlie's favourite son, as well as descending in a closet-sized elevator into the bowels of the tourist mine, with old seasoned mining salt, Les Dowson, who explained the history and tos and fros of life underground. Once you've been down in a real mine, friends, you will NEVER listen to stories and songs about miners the same way again, trust me. I also visited the Superpit, Australia's largest goldmine (850,000 ounzes annually) and strolled down Hay St, Kalgoorlie's legendary brothel neighborhood. One of the oldest red light houses, the Questa Casa! (what a house!), had a sign out front, 'Although we have renovated, we still have the original bones - if these walls could talk!' Apparently during the peak goldrush days, miners would line up around the block. I had a few beers with a nickel mining crew, straight out of the sci-fi film 'Armageddon', and I met Peter, an eccentric and beautiful engineer, also working on his Phd, who carefully explained all the technical mistakes they made in the Armageddon film, perplexed as to how they could possibly drill into an asteroid without using water. (My kind of people!)

Not much politics in this week's issue. I thought I would reprint Mark Morford's extraordinary critique of 'The Passion of the Christ,' for you in its entirety as I agree totally with him and am glad someone finally had the courage to say it like it is.

Michael Moore

Michael Moore's site has a great new look and a lot of added features. His new film, 'Fahrenheit 911,' has just been chosen as an Official Selection of the Cannes 2004 festival - the first documentary to do this since - well, since . . . . . . his last film, 'Bowling For Columbine!' Moore is a force to be reckoned with and I look forward to seeing his latest effort. www.michaelmoore.com

Joke for the Day

Why did the mushroom go to the party? Because he was a fun guy. (boom boo . . splat . . . ow!!!)

Favourite Porn Spam Subject Heading of the Week

From: Awn   Subject: I put things inside myself while people watch.

(Note: Reminded me of recent dinners with friends.)

Thoughts of Steven Wright

Always borrow money from pessimists. They don't expect it back.

I was once arrested for resisting arrest.

What's the youngest you can die of old age?

I planted some bird seed. A bird came up. Now I don't know what to feed it.

I'm not afraid of heights. I'm afraid of widths.

I invented the cordless extension cord.

Every so often, I like to go to the window, look up, and smile for a satellite picture.

In Vegas, I got into a long argument with the man at the roulette wheel over what I considered to be an odd number.

I went to the hardware store to buy some batteries, but they weren't included, so I had to buy them again.

I once put instant coffee in a microwave and went back in time.

One time the power went out and I had to use the flash on my camera to see my way around. I made a sandwich and took fifty pictures of my face. The neighbors thought there was lightning in my house.

I got pulled over by a cop, and he said, "Do you know the speed limit here is 50 miles per hour?" So I said, "Oh, that's OK, I'm not going that far."

I took a course in speed waiting. Now I can wait an hour in only ten minutes.

How To Gag On 'The Passion'

Nine fun-filled ways Mel Gibson's brutal snuff film makes a mockery of true belief.
By Mark Morford
SF Gate Columnist

Perhaps you, like so many across the planet, are more than a bit baffled by the runaway success of "The Passion of the Christ."

Perhaps you, furthermore, are more than slightly disturbed that millions have flocked to this bizarre ultraviolent blood-drenched revisionist flick and that so many actually believe its story to be absolutely true, and that it just surpassed "The Return of the King" in total box office and is the No. 8 most successful film of all time and it was No. 1 again across BushCo's flyover states during Easter weekend and has sold 650,000 books and 125,000 creepy pewter nail necklaces and you find it all just incredibly warped and disheartening and what the hell is the world coming to.

You are not alone.

I have seen the movie. I have endured the spectacle so you don't have to. Here, then, are some counterthoughts. Nine random points of spiritual contention and pointy perspective check, a small pile of juicy karmic stones to toss at the next utterly depressing screening of 'The Passion' and perhaps at Mel Gibson's very sad and deeply tormented ego.

Why? Because he deserves it. Why? Because this is not a movie. It is a sad phenomenon. It is a gross spiritual emetic. It is, clearly, a cry for help.

1) It lasted more than a full half hour, the central beating scene, wherein a squad of monosyllabic demon Romans chain Jesus to a stone and feverishly flay him to oozing pulp on one side, then casually flip him over like a veal cutlet and thrash the other side until he is nothing but a puddle of dripping stage blood and flappy flesh and cavernous moans.

You catch glimpses of this revolting cartoonishness through barely parted fingers and you think, goddammit, there goes half an hour of my vital life force that I will require much sex and vodka and Buddhism to recover. And you realize, with a sort of perfect and holy divine clarity, that Mel Gibson is utterly, thoroughly insane.

2) You are not stupid. You have read The Da Vinci Code. You know damn well that the truth about Mary Magdalene -- along with all juicy goodness of the divine feminine in general -- has been beaten out of Christianity like joy is beaten out of American teenagers.

And you know that if Mary Magdalene looked the slightest bit like Monica Bellucci, who plays her in this film, well, Jesus would've been preaching a lot more of the gospel of oh my freaking God look at those lips. Instead, Mel focuses on nothing but endless pained female expressions and Satan as a sallow woman with wicked cheekbones. Touching.

3) You wail, you scream, you nearly call an ambulance when you burn your finger on the stove while making popcorn. You know for a fact that no human body, no matter how divinely inspired, could ever withstand so much gleeful ultraviolent comical blood-drenched flesh rending as poor ol' Jesus does in the Jerusalem Chainsaw Massacre and not instantly pass out and/or immediately demand three quadruple Martinis and a fistful of holy Vicodin. I mean, please.

4) There were children. Small children, most of them under 10, in the theater where I endured this spiritual mess, their grim parents apparently believing Mel's R-rated bloodbath would offer up some sort of constructive lesson, something deep and divine and unforgettable.

And then the whips rended and the blood gushed and the sadomasochism amplified to a fever pitch and the families all sat there, stone faced and lost, apparently convincing themselves they were seeing something glorious and profound, as the hapless kids stared down a future full of bloody Jesus nightmares and psychotherapy until many years and many prescription meds later when they finally realize, damn but that movie messed me up.

Remember "Jaws"? Remember how that flick traumatized the entire Boomer generation back in '75? Same thing. "Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the church ... WHIPWHIPTHRASHARRRGGGH."

5) Oh right. The nails-through-the-hands thing. Like that's important to fetishize so explicitly, Mel. You sure you couldn't get the camera a little closer? Maybe more blood splattered directly on the camera lens as the mallet slammed down? Maybe you could've jammed one of those tiny medical cameras inside the bloody hole itself and really hit your point home, so to speak? Mel, I'd like to introduce you to my close personal friend, perspective. Here, have a pamphlet.

One tiny anthropological point: You cannot drive a nail through the human hand and hang a body from it and not have it tear away like some sort of disgusting hamburger. Did you think of that, Mel? I bet you did. I bet you wished with all your might you could've filmed Jesus' body being torn from the nails and falling to the ground in gruesome slo-mo. Man, how much more fake blood and pig guts you could've poured over poor James Caviezel! Whee! Two words, Mel: Zoloft. Now.

6) Many argue that, despite the truckloads of blood and unchecked violence, Gibson's heart was surely in the right place and his objective was pure. But let's just say it right here and now: bull. You could feel Mel's fetish for torture veritably oozing off the screen like visual razor blades. There was no loving intent in this film. There is no tender message. There is no deep desire to move and inspire and uplift.

There was only, I believe, copious gobs of curiously sad intent to decimate any notions of gentle divine intimate open-hearted mystical love and forgiveness you may have once believed Jesus was all about, and replace them with one very disturbed and sadomasochistic B-grade actor's very disturbed and sadomasochistic vision of old-school Catholic brutality and anti-Semitism and blood-soaked guilt. In a nutshell.

7) The answer is, if I recall, about eight. The question is: How many times can you watch Mel's whipped, blended, frapped, pureed Jesus, his body rife with so many oozing crimson gouges it looks like some decimated animal you ran over with your car, twice, with snow tires -- how many times can you watch Jesus fall to the hard gravel ground with a long, low moan in terrible blood-drenched slow motion without, finally, stifling a laugh?

8) This is not Christianity. This is not a message anyone needs. This is the exact opposite of spiritual progress or insight or gentle divine heat and if Jesus came back right this minute and was made to sit through this film, he would sigh gently, shake his short, shaggy hair (long hair was forbidden by Jewish law -- wrong again, Mel), and, you know, hold a nice seminar or something.

You think this is how I want to be remembered? This is what he'd say, calmly and lovingly and more than a little sad. You really think this was my message? You believe this is what I want the world to focus on, two hours of deranged apocryphal torture and close-up butchering? Is really where humanity is still stuck, in bloodlust and shallow emotional manipulation and cheesy movie tie-ins and $17 popcorn? And then Jesus' gaze, it would slowly drift away as radiant images of Monica Bellucci floated before his sparkling eyes.

9) And, finally, Jesus, he would absolutely agree with the following: If you must see this movie just to see what the fuss is all about, do what I did: Sneak into it after seeing some other, wildly superior film -- like, say, "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" -- so as not to contribute one dime to the Mel Gibson Fund for the Spiritually Hysterical.

Rest assured, Jesus would've wanted it that way.
Bush Watch

George W Bush got into the car and discovered that the steering wheel was gone, the radio was gone, the accelerator and brake pedals were gone. He was just about to report it to the Secret Service agents when he remembered he was in the back seat.
Bad Literature

The rhythmic breathing of my companion was interrupted violently by a fit of coughing, causing the peace of the early morning to be ripped from me as if Richard Simmons had charged into my bedroom in his be-sequined health fervor and started Sweating to the Oldies on the end of my bed. (A. Caywood, Hermantown)

It wasn't the desolate remoteness of the campsite that bothered him, or even the terrifying roar of the rapids beating themselves against solid granite below, so much as the eerie sound of pigs squealing in the distance and the fact that, in this light, cousin Billy looked disturbingly like Ned Beatty. (Cindy Erickson Gilman, Mission Viejo)



Have a look at the website of the American restaurant, THE FRENCH LAUNDRY, and its brilliant chef, Thomas Keller. I just bought his $150.00 cookbook. Food critics are calling it, 'the most exciting place to eat in America.' - Ruth Reichal, The New York Times

Here's one of Keller's ideas:

Parmigiano Reggiano Crisps with Laura Chenel Goat Cheese Mousse

Here, these easy Parmesan crisps form small cups for a creamy goat cheese mousse. It's best to bake only half the crisps at a time, because they may harden while you're working.
Preheat the oven to 325 F.

1 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (from a moist piece of cheese)

6 ounces fresh goat cheese (or other soft goat cheese)
4 to 6 tablespoons heavy cream
1 tablespoon minced Italian parsley
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
A clean egg carton

Line a baking sheet with a nonstick baking sheet. Place a ring mold in one corner of the sheet and fill it with 1 tablespoon of the grated cheese. Using your finger, spread the cheese into an even layer. Repeat to make 8 rounds, leaving at least 1 inch between them. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the crisps are a rich golden brown. Remove the pan from the oven and let cool for about 30 seconds to firm the crisps enough so you can remove them with a spatula. One by one, remove the crisps and gently press each one into a hollow in the egg carton to form a tulip shape. After a few minutes, remove the cooled crisps from the carton and make 8 more crisps.

Place the goat cheese in a food processor and process (depending on the cheese used, it may look smooth or crumbly). Pour the cream through the feed tube and continue to process until the mixture is smooth but will hold a shape when piped; if necessary, add a little more cream. Add the parsley and salt and pepper to taste and mix just to combine. Taste and adjust the seasoning. The mousse can be refrigerated for 2 to 3 days; let stand at room temperature for about 30 minutes to soften slightly before piping. Place the mousse in a pastry bag fitted with a medium star tip. Pipe 2 to 3 teaspoons of mousse into each Parmesan crisp and serve.


Remembering the Life of Pedro Pietri
Renowned Puerto Rican Poet & Playwright

'To take you back, I was born in 1898, during the climax of the Spanish/American War. I say 1898 because that was the year that the U.S. invaded Puerto Rico, the year when they colonized us. Now, I was born again in '44 to my mother in Ponce, Puerto Rico and again in '47, at the age of three, when my folks migrated to New York City through the epic of Operation Boot Strap. We're all part of the casualties of the Inquisition, the American Inquisition.' - Pedro Pietri, interview February 2004 -La Prensa, San Diego)

After bravely battling stomach cancer, El Reverendo Pedro Pietri passed away at the age of 59, on March 3rd 2004, en route from Mexico to New York. Pietri, renowned poet and playwright, was one of the most emblematic voices of the Puerto Rican diaspora. Born in the Cangrejos neighbourhood of Ponce, Puerto Rico, his family migrated to Harlem, New York in 1947.

Pietri began writing poetry in high school. He served in Vietnam from 1965-67 and returned fiercely opposed to the war. In the 1970s, he helped start the legendary Nuyorican Poets Cafe on the lower East Side. He was one of the quintessential Nuyorican poetic voices combining acidic wit, a sense of the absurd and the sublime, and scathing criticism of imperialism, colonialism and racism in Puerto Rico and the world. Pietri made a phenomenal contribution to poetry and theatre with over 22 books of poetry and 24 plays translated into numerous languages. His works include his most famous epic poem, Puerto Rican Obituary, Invisible Poetry, Lost in the Museum of Natural History, Traffic Violations, The Masses Are Asses, Illusions of a Revolving Door, and many more.

Pietri is survived by three children, Diana Mercedes, 22; Ivava, 19, and Speedo Juan, 8. And also by a sister, Carmen Pietri-Diaz, and a brother, Jose, all from New York. He will be deeply missed by his friends and co-conspirators all over the world and those of us in Toronto whose lives Pedro touched send our warmest thoughts to his family during this time. (thanks to stefan abeysekera)


Welcome to the 21st Century

'I know you heard this before,
but the airplane really didn't take off
so remove the overcoat, scarf,
sweater and wool gloves and put on
supernatural straw hats and teach yourself
how to dance the way your ancestors knew how,
their house is still your house,
their heart is still your heart,
their hands are still your hands,
their land is still your land,
their soul will always be your alma,
mountains have flawless memory,
there is no hiding from the sun,
or swimming away from the ocean
where emotions are first discovered,
the past is your future lover
who you must, will and shall
invite to dinner in the town
you were born in...

Even if you were born somewhere else
it states on your birth certificate
you and you and you and all of us
were born there within reach of that tropical beach
where we practice what we preach,
naturally, so help us the climate,
and even though some of you have sworn
to never again return again
at the end of your performance as a human being,
you will learn you have never left the town
that has kept you alive for so long

WE WON because we didn't lose our self respect and self-esteem.
WE WON because we didn't separate reality from the dream after waking up.
WE WON because we didn't stop dancing when the record was changed to listen to something else.
WE WON because we have been found NOT GUILTY of defending our dignity by parents who live forever.
WE WON because we are the ones that took-off,
the airplane stayed behind,
New York City is a state of mind
and where did we go?


Pedro Pietri

2004 Index, NEWSLETTER ARCHIVES,Welcome Page