Monday, June 01, 2009

Missed me?

I intended to stay away from blogging for maybe even the whole summer. I've got a new project that's consuming much of my writerly energy. But that's no excuse to let certain things pass by without a comment or two. For those that said they hoped I'd get back on the horse, I say thank you for being so kind. For those that come across this blog randomly, I say that for over 4 years I put up a mix of stuff that incorporated politics, arty reviews, random goofiness, and lots and lots of cute shots of my daughter, Maya. Two recent events have dragged me back in. So before getting back to the business of letting my opinions be known, I'll start with an admission that I'll be changing the overall look of things this month. Please let me know what you think as you see things progress.

George Tiller's murder is a difficult story for me to comment on without bias, as anyone that knows me will understand. Thereby I feel the need to pull back a bit and add some protective vagueness. We haven't seen a high profile murder of a doctor since Barnett Slepian was shot through the kitchen window of his house outside Buffalo while making dinner for his family in 1998. I can only assume that the bloodthirsty pro-life fringes have been disappointed by the subsequent era of such acts being taken off the front page of our cultural discourse. The man that murdered George Tiller has an increasingly well documented past. Mental illness. Anti-government protesting. Abortion protesting. And on the sixth anniversary of fellow murderer Eric Robert Rudolph's capture while dumpster diving in North Carolina, it appears that this man chose to kill someone. Still, I won't be the least bit surprised when he is held up as a hero by his ilk. Shoot an usher in a house of worship and receive plaudits and prayers? That's the world this terrorist came from.

Secondly, today General Motors declares bankruptcy, declares that it owes creditors $172B that it wants out of paying, gets delisted from the Dow Jones Industrial Average...and the stock market jumps up a few hundred points? Wowza, are we off the rails. I grew up in a small town culture where my relatives and everyone I knew until way into my teens often defined themselves by which American car company they went to every few years to buy into "planned obsolescence" (as Michael Moore so appropriately pointed out this morning). I remember when one of my father's best friends died a handful of years ago and I was home overhearing a coffee break conversation lamenting his passing with other friends. The most agreed upon compliment was that this man had always driven American cars. In short, I think this is a page-turning day in American history. People still talk about the Chrysler bailout under Lee Iacocca in the 70s as if it was a sea change in American bizness. This GM situation makes that look like taking out a second mortgage on a Quik-E Mart. The out of balance aspect of our monetary culture is equally as out of balance as justifying killing a doctor in his church because of your stance on abortion. The madness is deafening.

All the while, captivating culture swirls around us. The new "Star Trek" was wonderfully entertaining - my rating a solid A-minus. No better update has been crossed-over to the screen since the era of gratuitous cross-overs began. Sure, the story is a complete jumble and the physics made me fear for high school science teachers across the land. But, man, if you like popcorn, get your ass to the theatre. And I've found a few new musical guilty pleasures - Empire of the Sun is an Aussie duo that has constructed one of the most entertaining cheesy pop parades that I've heard in quite a while. I also love the varied weirdness to brilliance ratio of the new Animal Collective album. Respectively, my ratings are B-plus and A-minus. So listen to them, please.

And if you're still interested in what I've got to say even though I disappeared for over a month, check back. I'll be writing a bit, posting some new delightful photos of Maya, and generally trying to get the country's soul back on track. Hope your own personal missions also include finishing a novel in the near term. Rock on.

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