Cartel of Defiance

cartel of defiance (noun): 1. In medieval combat, a formal declaration, delivered by herald, of a combatant's intention to fight and refusal to submit. 2. An electronic assemblage of engaged and enraged citizens. 3. An intertextual mode of reading, writing, and thinking that puts the current political, cultural, and personal moment in dialogue with text/art from the past in counterargument to the ahistorical Memory Hole into which America seems to have slipped.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

The Conspiracy

You send me your poems,
I'll send you mine.

Things tend to awaken
even through random communication.

Let us suddenly
proclaim spring. And jeer

at the others,
all the others.

I will send a picture too
if you will send me one of you.

--Robert Creeley, who died today.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005


"Obviously, there's concern now I read about that-- I'm occasionally reading, I want you to know, in the second term, your stories that is-- that, you know, they haven't formed a government yet. But I take a different look. First of all, obviously, there will be a government formed. But I think it is interesting to watch the process of people negotiating and worrying about this and worrying about that, and people seeking out positions as to their stands on issues that'll be relevant to the future of Iraq. It's a wholesome process and it's being done in a transparent way. I mean, you've got the press corps all over them, watching every move, which is a positive example for others in the region, and that's important. It's important for people in that region to see what is possible in a free society."

-- G.W. Bush, March 16 press conference

"BAGHDAD, March 29 -- Iraq's attempt to fill the first posts in a national-unity government erupted in shouting and factional strife Tuesday, as what politicians described as last-minute power plays overran a Shiite- and Kurd-led effort to form a coalition with Sunnis. . . Assembly leaders abruptly ordered news cameras out of the hall after 22 minutes. For the Iraqi public, television broadcasts of what was only the second session of their new parliament snapped to black, then went to a Saddam Hussein-era-style tape of a popular singer warbling an Iraqi national anthem."

-- Washington Post, Effort to Form Iraqi Government Collapses

"Whence it follows that God who possesses supreme and infinite wisdom acts in the most perfect manner not only metaphysically, but also from the moral standpoint. And with respect to ourselves it can be said that the more we are enlightened and informed in regard to the works of God the more will we be disposed to find them excellent and conforming entirely to that which we might desire."

G.W. Leibniz, Discourse on Metaphysics, 1686

Monday, March 28, 2005

What is it like to be Bush? (#2)

On ongoing series of close-readings of Bush utterances:

At an event in Denver last Monday, [Bush] mused that sending out quarterly statements for the individual investment accounts he wants to add to Social Security could encourage people to pay more attention to government but then chuckled that investors might conclude from tepid returns that "maybe we ought to change presidents or something."
--New York Times, "President Bush's New Public Face: Confident and 'Impishly Fun'" (3/28/05)

How revealing is that?

First, the entire remark is premised on the presumption that the more scrutiny to which he and his policies are subjected, the more likely it is that voters will see that they've been duped. His whole politics is founded upon an assumption of voter (and press) inattentiveness, and, just as his father would famously read out his own cue-card instructions ("Message: I care"), here Bush raises subtext to the level of explicit statement. The only question is whether this is because he is incapable of dissembling sophisticatedly and can't help telegraphing his own cynical motivations and self-awareness, or whether, as the rest of the article seems to imply, he just doesn't give a crap anymore.

And second, it represents an explicit admission that the economic argument for dismantling Social Security is bankrupt, since it recognizes that the actual, inevitably disappointing investment returns of "personal accounts" are liable to be a serious political problem for some President in the future. But it won't be an issue for him because, as he likes to point out, by then "We'll all be dead."

Sunday, March 27, 2005

for once, then, something

How much time went by after that I do not know. But at one point something happened that I would never have imagined. The light of the sun shot down from the opening of the well like some kind of revelation. In that instant, I could see everything around me. The well was filled with brilliant light. A flood of light. The brightness was almost stifling. I could hardly breathe. The darkness and cold were swept away in a moment, and warm, gentle sunlight enveloped my naked body. Even the pain I was feeling seemed to be blessed by the light of the sun, which now warmly illuminated the white bones of the small animal beside me. These bones, which could have been an omen of my own impending fate, seemed in the sunlight more like a comforting companion. I could see the stone walls that encircled me. As long as I remained in the light, I was able to forget about my fear and pain and despair. I sat in the dazzling light in blank amazement. Then the light disappeared as suddenly as it had come. Deep darkness covered everything once again. The whole interval had been extremely short. In terms of the clock, it must have lasted ten or, at most, fifteen seconds. No doubt because of the angles involved, this was all the sun could manage to shine straight down to the bottom of the hole in any single day. The flood of sunlight was gone before I could begin to comprehend its meaning.

--Haruki Murakami, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle

Friday, March 25, 2005

american democracy: an allegory

Thomas Eakins,
Thomas Eakins, The Gross Clinic (1875)


Thursday, March 24, 2005

The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down

E G A B7
E G A B7

Now when the rumor comes to your town,
It grows and grows.
Where it started; no one knows.

Some of your neighbors --
Will invite it right in,

Maybe it's a lie --
Even if it's a sin,

They'll repeat the rumor again.

Close your eyes, hang down your head
Until the fog blows away, let it roll away. . . .

Big men, little men
Turned into dust,
Maybe it was all in fun, they didn't mean to ruin no one.
Could there be someone?
-- someone here among this crowd? --
Who's been accused,
had his name so misused
And his privacy refused?

Close your eyes, hang your head
Until the fog blows away, let it roll away . . .

The Band, Stage Fright, "The Rumor"

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

we fight on that lie

Don't matter who did what to whom. The fact is, we went to war. Ain't no going back. If it's a lie, then we fight on that lie, but we got to fight.

- Slim Charles
The Wire

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

what rough beast

A lion met America
in the road
they stared at each other
two figures on the crossroads in the desert.

America screamed
The lion roared
They leaped at each other
America desperate to win
Fighting with bombs, flamethrowers,
knives forks submarines.

The lion ate America, bit off her head
and loped off to the golden hills
that's all there is to say
about america except
that now she's
lionshit all over the desert.

--Allen Ginsberg, "Making the Lion for All It's Got--A Ballad" (1958)

Sunday, March 20, 2005

C-Span Horror Show

The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands, whether of one, a few, or many, and whether hereditary, selfappointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny.

-- Publius (James Madison), Friday, February 1, 1788.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Bloody constraint

Williams: But if the cause be not good, the King himself hath a heavy reckoning to make, when all those legs, and arms, and heads, chopp'd off in a battle, shall join together at the latter day and cry all, "We died at such a place" -- some swearing, some crying for a surgeon, some upon their wives left poor behind them, some upon the debts they owe, some upon their children rawly left. I am afeard there are few die well that die in a battle, for how can they charitably dispose of any thing, when blood is their argument? Now, if these men do not die well, it will be a black matter for the King that led them to it.

--The Life of Henry the Fifth, Act IV, scene i. William Shakespeare

Thursday, March 17, 2005


"It's not a secret. I care a lot about the spread of freedom and democracy," Wolfowitz said. -- 27th and 28th sentence, Wolfowitz Picked for World Bank , Washington Post, March 17 ("President Bush said yesterday that he has chosen Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz, a key architect of the Iraq war, as the U.S. nominee to head the World Bank.")

In Egypt, he alleges, he was hung by his arms from hooks, shocked, nearly drowned and brutally beaten. -- 38th sentence, CIA's Assurances On Transferred Suspects Doubted , Washington Post, March 17 ("The system the CIA relies on to ensure that the suspected terrorists it transfers to other countries will not be tortured has been ineffective and virtually impossible to monitor, according to current and former intelligence officers and lawyers, as well as counterterrorism officials who have participated in or reviewed the practice.")

my 3 AM parakeet

only the speaking of my voice in an empty room I thought
could bring out the singing bird, my 3 AM parakeet,
could send me drifting on a huck raft south to Brooklyn.
there, at the confluence of steel drums and sunrise
my throat veins would flute a new reply to waking.
"don't sleep," the dug out eyes, sand-bagged in wordy junkyards,
don't dream of flashing Pepsi-Colas or
red blood flowing through the tunnels of your city.

and so I drifted, chattering, south on the East River,
beneath the cables and the stones of someone else's crossings.
I hung an orange sun across the painted glass that
was my sky and my awakening.
I wait the strangers.
I wait messengers to bring me holy words.
to bring the A train of the city I desire.

paul delehanty / kid oakland © 1987

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

dissent from victory

“Nobody these days holds the written word in such high esteem as police states do,” Arkadian Porphyrich says. “What statistic allows one to identify the nations where literature enjoys true consideration better than the sums appropriated for controlling it and suppressing it? Where it is the object of such attentions, literature gains an extraordinary authority, inconceivable in countries where it is allowed to vegetate as an innocuous pastime, without risks. To be sure, repression must also allow an occasional breathing space, must close an eye every now and then, alternate indulgence with abuse, with a certain unpredictability in its caprices; otherwise, if nothing more remains to be repressed, the whole system rusts and wears down. Let’s be frank: every regime, even the most authoritarian, survives in a situation of unstable equilibrium, whereby it needs to justify constantly the existence of its repressive apparatus, therefore of something to repress. The wish to write things that irk the established authorities is one of the elements necessary to maintain this equilibrium. Therefore, by a secret treaty with the countries whose social regime is opposed to ours, we have created a common organization, with which you have intelligently agreed to collaborate, to export the books banned here and import the books banned there.”

“This would seem to imply that the books banned here are allowed there, and vice versa….”

“Not on your life. The books banned here are super-banned there, and the books banned there are ultra-banned here. But from exporting to the adversary regime one’s own banned books and from importing theirs, each regime derives at least two important advantages: it encourages the opponents of the hostile regime and it establishes a useful exchange of experience between the police services.”

--Italo Calvino, If on a winter's night a traveler (1979)

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Orwell #4

When we got into London we had eight hours to kill before the lodging-houses opened. It is curious how one does not notice things. I had been in London innumerable times, and yet till that day I had never noticed one of the worst things about London -- the fact that it costs money even to sit down. . . . By four we had stood five hours, and our feet seemed red-hot from the hardness of the stones.

-- Down and Out in Paris and London

Saturday, March 12, 2005

brutal pasta

a recipe for one

it must be friday night. (but other nights can substitute)

go to the store and buy a red pepper, garlic, 3 shallots, and five individual mushrooms.

go home.

boil 1 qt. of water with olive oil and salt.

put some butter in a skillet, cold.

mince, don't chop, mince, two cloves of garlic, add them. no heat.

cut the outsides off the shallots. but leave them in their rounded, oval shape. put them in the skillet. still no heat.

cut off 1/3rd of the red pepper. (put the rest in a ziploc, too fucking expensive to waste that shit.) chop it into thick chunks and pour the chunks into the skillet.

turn up the heat. way up. basically, you are gonna break down every flavor giving element in your skillet ingredients. beat 'em up. (did I mention you should have 1 cup of quality store bought pasta sauce on low in a mini sauce pan....well, I should've.) after about one minute on heat, add a bunch of salt to the skillet.

chop the mushrooms into big chunky mushroom shapes. cross section the fuckers.

when you smell that the garlic, onions and peppers have broken down from being acrid...and are beginning to be sweet...add the mushrooms to the skillet. this would be a good time to put ONE CUP of penne pasta into the boiling water. set a timer to 9 minutes. exactly. anything more is too much.

now is the moment where the mushrooms are coated with all the flavor exsecrence your skillet has to give. those oval shallots should be sweating. BREAK THEM APART with a wooden spoon. keep cooking the skillet ingredients till some of the corners of start to turn black. (should be about 5 minutes on the timer.) add more salt.

at that point. take about one Tablespoon of White Balsamic vinegar and pour it in the skillet. watch it turn the black parts more black. make smoke. the skillet ingredients should make high pitched cooking sounds.

Pour the skillet ingredients into the simmering pasta sauce and leave them on top. They should be a thick mass of blackened, smoky vegetables. They should smell good. Sweet and salty.

When the timer goes off, wait fifteen seconds and pour the penne into a colander without testing it. 9 minutes plus a pause is MORE THAN ENOUGH time. Anything more is TOO MUCH. The penne must be al dente....chewy, firm, salty little cylinders of the gods.

Shake the colander...and pour the pasta in a bowl. NO FUCKING PLATES. A bowl. Shred some sharp cheese on it. Grind some pepper over it. Pour some olive oil on it. Then pour the sauce on it. Put more cheese on the sauce. Put more pepper on the cheese on the sauce.

The bowl of pasta should look like it just got hit by a train. Thick, blackened, sweet and salty chunks of vegetables drenched in red hiding a pile of penne. Eat it with a fork and drink some wine.

You can eat it hot...or cold. It will taste good.

There are other things to do in the night. But brutal pasta is the way to go. If you ask me.

--posted by kid oakland

Friday, March 11, 2005

Blue State Decadence

I saw with alarm this morning that a new series of Vermont-produced (Fmr Gov. Howard Dean; Rep. Bernie Sanders) Ben and Jerry's ice cream flavors are being rolled out in the supermarkets of California (Sen. Barbara Boxer; fmr Rep. Ron Dellums; fmr Gub. candidate Upton Sinclair). Some of the more suspicious flavors include:

Dave Matthews Band's Magic Brownies: Vanilla Ice Cream with Fudge Brownies and Raspberry Swirls

The Gobfather: Chocolate Ice Cream with Fudge Covered Almonds & a Nougat Swirl

Fossil Fuel: Sweet Cream Ice Cream with Chocolate Cookie Pieces, Fudge Dinosaurs & a Fudge Swirl (note clear bias toward evolutionary "science" here)

Have taken home pints of each to investigate further.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

i hear america singing #1

Why reclining, interrogating? why myself and all drowsing?
What deepening twilight--scum floating atop of the waters,
Who are they as bats and night-dogs askant in the capitol?
What a filthy Presidentiad! (O South, your torrid suns!
O North, your arctic freezings!)
Are those really Congressmen? are those the great Judges?
is that the President?
Then I sleep awhile yet, for I see that these States sleep, for reasons;
(With gathering murk, with muttering thunder and lambent shoots
we all duly awake,
South, North, East, West, inland and seaboard, we will surely awake.)

--Walt Whitman, "To the States, To Identify the 16th, 17th, or 18th Presidentiad" (1860)

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

46th and 1st

"Give me your hungry, your tired, your poor.
I'll piss on em."
That's what the Statue of Bigotry says.
"Your poor huddled masses, let's club em to death"--
And get it over with.
And just dump em on the Boulevard.

Outside it's a bright night.
There's an opera at Lincoln Center.
Movie stars arrive by limousine.
The klieg lights shoot up over the skyline of Manhattan,
But the lights are out on the mean streets.

A small kid stands by the Lincoln Tunnel
He's selling plastic roses for a buck.
The traffic's backed up to 39th Street
The TV whores are calling the cops out for a suck.

And back at the Wilshire, Pedro sits there dreaming,
He's found a book on magic in a garbage can.
He looks at the pictures and stares at the cracked ceiling
"At the count of 3" he says, "I hope I can disappear."

And fly fly away . . .

-- Lou Reed, "Dirty Boulevard"

Friday, March 04, 2005

A god of fire

A god of fire sprang from the peak of Ida
And swift as a glance with news of the fall of Troy
Alit in flames on Hermes’ crag -
The tip-top height of Lemnos, Leapt again
And landed on Athos. There in a flash,
The rock of Zeus was ablaze -
And my watchers were ready to feed it,
Then that flame took off, in a frenzy,
With a single stride it crossed the Aegean -
One giant wingbeat of lightning,
Showering the sea with glitter,
Bringing fish up out of the depths to be dazzled -
It landed on the heights of Makistos.
The watchman there was awake, he refreshed it
With a gloomy stack of timber,
And flung its fiery word, like a meteor,
Over the dark lands
To the channel of Euripus,
Where the Messapian guards were waiting for it.
They fed it with heath and thorns,
Stronger than ever, in a single bound
It crossed the plain of Asopus
And landed like the glare of the moon
On the crags of Cithaeron. The watchman there
Urged it on, with a crackling explosion,
From a tower of conifer trunks.
It soared over the swamp of Gorgopis
To the mountaineers awake in Aegiplanctus -
Overjoyed they heaped their beacon
With everything that would burn.
Then the far-travelled flame, redoubled,
Shook its tongues and leapt
Across the headland by the gulf of Saronis,
Touched the crag of Arachne
That overlooks us in Argos, and at last
After its huge flight - the flame descended
Direct from the flames of Troy -
Alit here, on the roof of this palace.
This was the relay race of my torchbearers.
And this is my proof - this flame. Sent to me
Straight from burning Troy by Agamemnon.

spoken by Clytemnestra to the Chorus
Aeschylus, Agamemnon 458 B.C.
-trans. Ted Hughes

Thursday, March 03, 2005

making nothing happen

So the giant slabs of material
Came to be, and precious little else, and
No information about them but that was all right
For the present century. Later on
We’d see how it might be in some other
Epoch, but for the time being it was neither
Your nor the population’s concern, and may
Have glittered as it declined but for now
It would have to do, as any magic
Is the right kind at the right time.
There is no soothsaying
Yet it happens in rows, windrows
You call them in your far country.

But you are leaving:
Some months ago I got an offer
From Columbia Tape Club, Terre
Haute, Ind., where I could buy one
Tape and get another free. I accept-
Ed the deal, paid for one tape and
Chose a free one. But since I’ve been
Repeatedly billed for my free tape.
I’ve written them several times but
Can’t straighten it out—would you

--John Ashbery, "Litany"

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

activist judges

“But what did the Dormouse say?” one of the jury asked.

“That I ca’n’t remember,” said the Hatter.

“You must remember,” remarked the King, “or I’ll have you executed.”

The miserable Hatter dropped his teacup and bread-and-butter and went down on one knee. “I’m a poor man, your Majesty,” he began.

“You’re a very poor speaker,” said the King.

Here one of the guinea pigs cheered, and was immediately suppressed by the officers of the court. (As that is rather a hard word, I will explain to you how it was done. They had a large canvas bag, which tied up at the mouth with strings: into this they slipped the guinea-pig, head first, and then sat upon it.)

“I’m glad I’ve seen that done,” thought Alice. “I’ve so often read in the newspapers, at the end of trials, ‘There was some attempt at applause, which was immediately suppressed by the officers of the court,’ and I never understood what it meant till now.”

“If that’s all you know about it, you may stand down,” continued the King.

“I ca’n’t go any lower,” said the Hatter: “I’m on the floor as it is.”

“Then you may sit down,” the King replied.

Here the other guinea pig cheered, and was suppressed.

--Lewis Carroll, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1865)

Man (1938)

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