Thursday, March 27, 2008

Berkeley Breather, or: Beck and Moby Walk Into a Journalism Conference

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I write this in the midst of a weeklong journalism conference that takes me far from home to Berkeley, California. This is the West Coast. I've never been on this side of the continent before, so it's like I'm a baby, only I can feed myself and hold myself upright and am very large and have hair and teeth and the power of speech and thought and can drive a car and buy cigarettes and eat things with bones in them.

They do things differently on the West Coast than they do back east. For example, while on a morning jog I saw a put-upon fellow empty what looked like a coffee cup of urine into some bushes. But back home, we have much different kinds of plants.

Very many homeless people call Berkeley their home. And so since Berkeley is their home these people aren't actually homeless after all, it seems. Problem solved.

Yesterday, we listened to a multimedia lecture by two people from the Las Vegas Sun. One looked like Beck, and the other looked like Moby. They were quite smart and helpful, but their musical abilities have yet to be proven. Then we ate a meal comprised entirely of food in bite-sized pieces. It was delicious. After the dinner, we heard from a man from Kansas who had a deep voice. “Stop cutting jobs and reinvest,” he said. Hear hear! I’m going to pack him in my suitcase and bring him home to my editor.

During the last portion of the evening, the guy who looks like Moby had vanished somewhere but the guy who looks like Beck was still hanging around. He sat at my table, Beck, eating a pasta salad and fiddling with his iPhone. I wondered where Moby'd run off to. I'd heard he was reclusive and difficult but hadn't believed it until now.

After the fellowship was over for the night, all of the fellowshippers walked home through the UCB campus using "The Buddy System," as apparently there are wild bears roaming around on campus. I keep seeing signs for them all over the place: "Go, bears." I made it back to the hotel in one piece and rode up in the elevator with the guy who looks like Beck and some other people. Beck invited people out to a bar to party with him, and presumably his entourage of other white, slightly geeky musical friends, like the guy from Weezer and Jack White. I didn't go with Beck, though. I haven't kept up with his music the last few years. It would've been awkward if it had come up.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

If by some chance you ever see me wearing a Mickey Mouse hoodie, please do me the courtesy of kicking my ass

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Promise me you'll put me down like a lame horse. Use whatever means you feel are necessary to accomplish this. Dropkicks, lengths of pipe, sand in the eyes -- whatever. Just put me down on the ground, and put me there to stay. Because something horrifying has happened to me if I'm wearing a Mickey Mouse hoodie, something terrible that can never be reversed. Then when I'm moaning and squirming around in the dirt, rip this Mickey Mouse hoodie off my back and show it to me. Shake it in my face, shouting, "For God's sake, man! You were wearing this! Look at it! Just look at it!"

If I manage to roll over and gurgle that I thought it was OK because it's a Mickey "with attitude," remind me that that only makes it worse.

Don't hold back. It won't be me in that Mickey Mouse hoodie. It'll be someone else -- someone who deserves a royal ass-kicking. And deep inside my shirtless, broken body, the man I once was -- the man I was before I thought it was a good idea to pay $34.50 for a Mickey Mouse hoodie and wear it proudly in public -- that man will be grateful.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Which fringe candidate are you?

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Hello! Are you one of the fringe candidates for president of the United States of America? Take this handy quiz and find out!

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Your likes:

• building kitchens and baths
• winning the war on terror
• Arctic drilling
• complaining about the "legal system"

Your dislikes: You're upset mainly about how many lawyers there are in politics -- for instance, "The Judiciary Branch is made up of 100% attorneys."

Presidential experience: "To mention one, a 6000 square foot home built for a nationally prominent individual was one of seven projects in Texas to receive a design award from the Texas Society of Architects. An unsuccessful competitor on this project later built the home of President George Bush."

You are: Vern Wuensche! You are Texan and support the teaching of "intelligent design." You'd also allow "teaching by recognized experts with no education degree" and are considering abolishing the Department of Education. You like the flat tax, hate immigrants, and have a last name that looks to be pronounced "wench," or possibly "wenchy."

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Your likes:
• running for president, over and over and over
• chatting about fundamentalist Christian ethics
• not much else

Your dislikes:
• the "gay agenda"
• gay people
• the gays

Presidential experience: You say it best: "We think economics is about money. No, it's not. If you really understood it, you'd realize money is not economics." Also, about pornography: "People think that it's about homosexuals, but it's not."

You are: Alan Keyes! A perennial Republican candidate, you were some sort of underling in the Reagan administration. You enjoy referring to yourself, mysteriously, as "Dr. Keyes." You seem to have trouble finding 5,000 people to sign a "pledge" on your Website, but tout a reputation as a persuasive orator.

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Your likes:
• writing poetry
• "playing fair"
• being thoughtful

Your dislikes:
• nuclear weapons ("zero tolerance")
• "drug lords"
• abortion, sort of, but not really

Presidential experience: You "seem to care about the United States and the world as well." You have "some thoughtful ideas for our country." You've also run for office several times, including the presidency, and got "26,000 votes one time."

You are: Ole Savior! You are a progressive but not, you know, rude about it. You think gas should cost 99 cents again and that people shouldn't be poor. You say if people can't afford prescriptions, the pharmacy should just shrug its shoulders and give medicine away for free instead. Also, you're not sure how any of these things will occur.

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Your likes:
• kicking ass
• taking names
• making your own rules

Your dislikes:
• the Iraq war
• suppression of free speech
• The Man

Presidential experience: You're pretty familiar with the Founding Fathers, and you bandy about terms like "totalitarian oligarchy" with impunity. Then there's the ass-kicking. It's been said of you, "Watch out for his feet. He can kill you with his feet."



You are: Tom Laughlin, from the movie "Billy Jack"! Your first order of business as president: get out of Iraq. You plan to do this by putting on a denim jacket, Native American hat, no shoes, flying to Iraq and giving every al-Qaida terrorist a roundhouse kick to the face until the whole lot of them leave town. You can do it, too. You've been ganged up on by at least a dozen men and they've tasted the sweet fury of your heels. You have my vote. Just don't beat me up. Please, Billy Jack. Please.
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