Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Identity Politics?

I think Eugene Robinson is pretty much in the right of it. Conservatives largely see white and largely see male as the objective standard instead of just another form of identity with its own biases and notions. If anyone outside of those narrow parameters...well, being male is half the population of the world roughly so it isn't that narrow, references their identity it is seen as something off limits that shouldn't be a factor, never acknowledging that who they are is also a factor.

Gion Matsuri

It's that time of year.





Sunday, July 12, 2009

O R They?


Saturday, July 11, 2009

UFC 100: Man in the Mirror

Tom Lawlor

Maybe it was in poor taste for Commissioner Dana White to stroll to the podium sporting a "Michael Jackson is Dead and I Don't Feel So Good Myself" T-Shirt. I prefer to think of it as whimsical. He addressed the crowd, "Is this really the 100th UFC? I ask you, 'Did the world really start on year 0? And if so, how did it know?" He skewed one eyebrow, raised a hand, palm upwards and stepped slowly back as the Re-birth Brass Band came tooting through the audience followed by the Harlem Globetrotters, throwing buckets of confetti on all in attendance.

Matt Grice vs. Shannon Gugerty: Really, I care a whole lot. Both have impressive records coming directly off of loses. Is it the step up in competition? Who knows. Gugerty by sub in the 1st.

CB Dollaway vs. Tom Lawlor: I had Dollaway by wrestling, but seeing Lawlor's tribute to the early days of the UFC, complete with Carlos Newton shout-out, I am going, spiritually, with Lawlor. But in a more real way with Dollaway by boring wrestling and sloppy striking.

Dong Hyun Kim vs. T.J. Grant: T.J. Grant is rumored to have great MMA wrestling. I dunno, I think Kim has great balance an real power and pounds on Grant for a TKO in the 3rd.

Jon Jones vs. Jake O'Brien: I was going to begin a betting strategy based around this fight, but I have no idea how to actually bet money. Jon Jones is a great, exciting prospect. He is probably the funnest fighter to watch right now. He picks up moves off of Kung-Fu movies and then has the ability to use them. However, it seems to be overlooked that his most recent fights have been decisions. Jake O'Brien is the king of decisions. Boring decisions. This fight could easily go that route and we know nothing of Jones' guard. I would wager he has one, but do we know that? I would bet on O'Brien by decision but I am pulling for Jones by TKO in the 2nd. Hopefully he will pull a suplex as well.

Mac Danzig vs. Jim Miller: If I am picking fighters who I would probably get along with, it would have to be outspoken vegan Danzig, who is also a good photographer and all aorund rad guy. If I am picking fighters that I would bet on to tear part of your body off, I would pick Jim Miller. Danzig has a tight, but not explosive striking game. He has a slick, slick ground game. His wrestling is sub-par. That includes wrestling defense. His stamina is good in many ways, but he isn't a physical specimen, he is more of a self built athlete, so fighting someone stronger tends to wear him down. I like Miller as a fighter also. He is a brutal submission grappler with clever takedowns. His subs aren't tricky or subtle. They are powerful and destructive. I think he wears Danzig down and gets a late sub when Danzig can't hold him off any more. I would be happy to see them both successful.

Mark Coleman vs. Stephan Bonnar: While Lawlor does a tribute to the early days of the UFC, Mark Coleman is the early days of the UFC. Even in his heyday, Coleman was a one-sided, if brutal fighter. No one as ever accused him of being a smart fighter, or a smart trainer either. I think Bonnar is often underrated. His boxing is solid, and technical, even if he isn't a real power guy. He is also a Gracie jiu-jitsu product with long limbs and solid skills. Coleman can probably get a takedown or two, but to what end? Is his ground and pound that brutal? Each takedown he goes for, win or lose, takes away his stamina points like he was a Nintendo game. I can't see a way for Coleman to win this. Bonnar should stick and move for the 1st round, lay it on in the 2nd, and abuse Coleman for a 3rd round KO.

Yoshihiro Akiyama vs. Alan Belcher: What to do about this one? How do we rate this. Every time I count Belcher out, he does well. He has a Johnny Cash tattoo, but it is the worst tattoo known to man. He is from Mississippi, but Akiyama is fom Osaka and is married to a chick named Shiho. Decisions. Akiyama is the better physical prospect. He is a world class athlete. His kickboxing skills are solid, if less fluid than Belcher's. Akiyama can get takedowns out of the clinch all day long, but does Belcher give him the clinch? Can Akiyama iniciate it? It is in a cage. Not wearing a gi limits Akiyama's subs but he has enough in reserve. I am going to go with Akiyama by KO in the 2nd, but this one is too uncertain.

Dan Henderson vs. Michael Bisping: I have said this over and over about both of these fighters. Bisping is the most athletic guy you know, Henderson is a real athlete. Bisping has gone a long way to proving me wrong. Dropping to 185 has made him look a lot more physically capable. Bisping fights hard, fights smart and trains well. His striking is technically better but is very Rich Franklin like. Meaning; he isn't going to get a big KO. Bisping's wrestling may have gotten better, but better doesn't mean good. I still believe that Henderson might be the best pure athlete in the sport. He also, as I have said before, is one of the dumbest fighters in the sport. Not that he himself is unintelligent. He just seems to like fighting better than training or thinking about fighting. He gets in a fight and just runs around like he has to teach someone a lesson right now. He has a huge right and an iron chin, but he needs to put them in his pocket and wrestle. For Christ's sake wrestle! If he does, he lays Bisping on the ground and makes him into mush. Henderson TKO in the 3rd.

Jon Fitch vs. Paulo Thiago: Fitch is a superhero in the cage, Thiago is a superhero outside of it. I don't bet on anybody beating Fitch, which is why GSP destroying him was so impressive. Fitch, all day. Sub in the 2nd.

Georges St. Pierre vs. Thiago Alves: The real headline fight. This is also the cornerstone to by imaginary betting strategy. I don't think that Alves will win as much as I am curious about the chances being higher now that he is the guy that could beat GSP. Alves is huge for the weight class and probably the most powerfull fighting at 170. He is ridiculously explosive and has great takedown defense. GSP has shown he can be beaten with a quick knock-out. I don't think the odds are in Alves's favor, but I don't think they are totally against him. He can win with a well timed knee, shin or fist. That being said, GSP will go for his usual string of lightning quick takedowns and excellent top positioning. This fight is the real deal. If you are betting, take a flyer on Alves, but I think it will be GSP by devastation. Maybe Alves toughs it out through 5.

Brock Lesnar vs. Frank Mir: Ugh. Mir isn't great. He is better than he used to be. Lesnar isn't great, but he is clearly the nuttiest physical specimen to enter the eighthed circle. If you were to make an MMA video game, and I am told someone has, Mir's stamina rating would read "n/a." Whatever happens in this fight needs to happen quick, if it is going to be to Mir's advantage. Lesnar's striking isn't impressive from a fundamental viewpoint but it is brutal. He could get a KO anytime the factors add up. To his disadvantage, one can't become submission savvy in a matter of a few years (in most cases) much less months. The leg-lock that Lesnar fell prey to last fight will still be vulnerable now. Leg-locks aren't something that you can just become used to. Mir seems to have the knack for them. Wrestlers seem to suck at them. I hope Mir pulls one out... I don't want to call this fight for Lesnar. Let's say.....Snuka off the top rope!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009


The stupid is burning me! Get it off!!!! AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Gold CUp

America is off to a running start in the Gold Cup. After an insane run at the Confederations, which saw them succumb to a Brazilian tidal wave that would have overrun most any team, the USMNT is back on home soil and led off with a 4-0 disciplining of Grenada. Let's hope they keep their foot on the accelerator and develop a taste for finishing. I would like to see Freddy Adu make this his tournament and come out with a secure role as a bench scorer for the World Cup team.


Sorry I missed the 4th of July. I finally took the Japanese Proficiency Exam and forgot everything else. It is done now. I tried to think of another America song that I like as much as this one This still takes it.

Rhodes scholar, weed smokers and heroin addicts singing a song about a train.

Find a Fish

This is also rad, even though I don't like what it has to tell me. Namely, that the fish I like to eat, I shouldn't be eating.

Turbulence Report

My new favorite thing ever. As an enemy of human flight, I feel this makes me more a part of the process. If I can look at turbulence as a scientific phenomena, related to the weather and other factors, that changes day by day, then maybe I can feel more like I am participating, then being a victim.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

The Great American Bubble Machine

I meant to put this up on Friday. Some of you have probably already read Matt Taibbi's piece from this month's Rollingstone. Can I say "must read" ? It's a must read. There's this episode of 30 Rock where Tina Fey asks Alec Baldwin, "Can you teach me to do that thing where people with lots of money turn it into even more money?" This is that thing. Sometimes I feel like I am on the plywood porch I built for my trailer wearing a "Put a Yankee on a Bus" hat when I decree that most institutions and the people in charge of them are just leeches sucking on the system, but it does appear that that is largely how things work. I think the Rosetta Stone of all of this was Moneyball. Which, ostensibly was about baseball but pointed to so much more. Where scouts glommed onto baseball and then convinced everyone that the game couldn't function without them while doing everything they could to make sure the game wouldn't function without them. Their benefit to the sport itself, their knowledge of it, was somewhere south of statistically probable. Can we refer to these kind of systems as too big to fail; meaning totally dysfunctional but with no idea how to, or no inclination to solve their problems.

In the end, the people in charge of things are geniuses in the way the media refers to Karl Rove; they are bad people who are willing to throw out and ideas of mutual sacrifice and brotherhood. They are willing to roll around in their own shit and then tell us all how great they smell.

On a similar note: If you haven't been listening, This American Life has been doing excellent work on the state of the economy. Their archives can be found here.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Avoiding the Rush

Last week everyone at school kept mentioning to me that Michael Jackson had died. I mean, not mentioning it in general, but mentioning it TO me. As if it had some special bearing on me, emissary of foreignness. As such my general response was "Are you really surprised? Did he look long for this world? Did you think he was well?" I wasn't just putting up a facade. I felt no shock and little sadness at all, except in a general way about the plight of mankind and our broken spiral towards the grave.

If you had to rate death pains on a scale of 100, with the areas above 100, reserved for friends and family, who really can't be measured and some special system of colored shading for people who aren't famous but you feel bad about how they died, then Michael Jackson's death was, sadly, somewhere in the low teens for me. I know what you are thinking, the low teens sounds right up your alley. Touche secret part of my brain that tells the unvarnished truth like you live in a sawmill. But, no, it was a hollow death and I forgot about it off and on across the span of the day. Lance Hahn, now there was a 99 on the scale if ever there was one. Joe Strummer and Jam Master Jay, kicking off together on that long walk home are hovering in the mid-nineties. Paul Wellstone? Right there with them, but up to a 98 maybe for the shock of reading the news in my room of a Senator who had died, "As long as it isn't Paul Wellstone" I thought. In the 80's lurk Ralph Wiley and Steve Gilliard, who I always looked forward to reading daily and whose mutual voids have never been filled. In the 70s? Maybe Norman Mailer and Hunter S. Thomson, who were beloved but not unexpected. They had each had a hand in the cookie jar for a long while. 60s? Those special celebrities, JFK jr, and Princess Di, who I never cared about in life and felt awful over in death, much to my own chagrin. May I jump back into the 90s and place Walter Payton whose death hurts right now as I think on it and who earned his fame far more than the two I just mentioned. In the 50s it starts to get random. Maybe those dudes from For Squirrels whose story seems so sad that you can't look away from it, earning their record deal and then crashing their car on the Georgia/Florida border. Music is mired with them. The 40s gets foggier. Curtis Mayfield was truly a shame but it played out for so long and then end is only the conclusion that was told at the beginning. The 30s could be Stevie Ray Vaughn who started much higher but faded quickly. No fault of his own. In the 20s would could place Rodney Culver who died on ValueJet. Why did he fly ValueJet? We will leave that for all downtrodden football players. Mike Webster and Lyle Alzedo maybe. 0 we will reserve for Lee Atwater, who at least repented. And just above him was how I felt about Michael Jackson last week.

But an odd thing happened. Something very democratic and populist and in that sense beautiful and touching and appropriate. There is a strange word in celebrity death. I was engaged to go to a friend's birthday party Friday evening in Osaka which quickly, through no fault of my own, degraded into a night of rare debauchery. The Japanese owner of a cigar bar , picked up a karaoke mic and started singing something slow form the mid eighties. Something I can't even remember now. And I thought, "I'm drunk." I also thought, "That WAS a good song."

My strange evening stretched out past the last traina nd I was drug into an underground club, packed with the foreigners I try so hard not to meet. Somewhere into the evening, between beer cocktails and tequila shots, the DJ began spinning his Michael Jackson tribute and I jumped back a few years to Ed's apartment in Kawaminami planning out the first disco we would DJ and trying to get a copy of "Wanna Be Starting Somethin'" which I remembered a DJ playing at Twisters in Richmond my first year in college. The bit about 4:45 in. You know the part. Is about the best track a DJ can posses.

Although "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough" is probably the better track.

As a DJ though, I would have to say that the real money melon is "Blame it on the Boogie." If asked, people probably aren't that into it, but they will loose their shit over it if you drop it in a set. True. Strange.

Most Jackson 5 stuff I credit to having on of the most insane backing bands of all time, so I won't go to much further into their stuff. But in the middle of this raucous night, even as Slash's "Black or White" guitar lick played out, Michael made his way up my death-o-meter. I realized it was just that the wrong me had been trying to feel it. It was the me that wonders if a song as relevant as "White Man in Hammersmith Palais" will ever be written again. Not the part of me that knows that You can mix "All Fall's Down" seamlessly into "Beautiful" if you keep mixing in the intro vocals when the music fades. The me that loves Michael Jackson was somewhere in a smokey club in Japan that I had to be talked into going into having fun despite myself with friends that I miss and waking up in a fountain somewhere feeling bad about things but smiling. Or it was the me with my records walking home alone wondering if there was an equation for what it takes for a DJ not to get laid and trying to figure out how I had perfected it. So Mike, may I call your crazy dead ass Mike? Thanks for those times. It isn't that rare for a talented person to be crazy, but it is rare and crazy to be that talented.

Crayon Tattoos

I don't so often see a tattoo artist whose work is so strikingly original. This guy's stuff is rad.

attempting to silence the voices in my head.