Tuesday, April 30, 2013

That's Not Funny!

Okay, so today on our recurring "That's Not Funny" segment is something that is, actually, funny. Hilarious, in fact. Compliments of a link from Patton Oswalt to a Tumblr account called "Liartown USA" comes what could be the most epic, detailed parody of Jezebel -- which itself reads like a nonstop parody of a very specific and insufferable brand of joyless, perpetually outraged feminism -- ever committed to the internet.

Liartown USA: Abusive, Insane Twitter Rant Posted, Aimed at All "Biches"/4/.29.13

Your Argument Is Invalid

Today's Daily Banter column is all about Alex Jones and the fucking idiots who follow him like he's the pied piper of the clinically insane and the galactically stupid.

Here's a small excerpt:

"So what's the result of all this groundless conjecture, this paranoid insanity passed off as information that truly deserves to be taken seriously? The world of the conspiracy theorist, the place where ignorance and arrogance meet, since there's no bigger idiot than a guy who believes that the Boston Marathon bombing never happened, and that guy ironically always thinks he's the smartest person in the room -- what happens when that begins bleeding into the real world? Well, for some, it truly does become tough to tell what's real and what isn't anymore. It's not the government, with its supposed secret machinations and subservience to the Illuminati or whatever-the-hell, that winds up clouding reality and leaving those who only skim the news trying to figure out what's up and what's down; it's the sensational, irrational bullshit dispensed by Alex Jones and his mentally unhinged shock-troops.

And good luck arguing with them. Trying to make someone see reason who considers it a point of pride that he's unwilling to believe anything his eyes see and his ears hear is like trying to explain how the Large Hadron Collider works to a four-year-old. If you honestly think that chem trails are for real and that 9/11 was in inside job, there's just no hope for you. Debunking your views one-by-one would be useless, since the beauty of a conspiracy theory is that it's a self-reinforcing delusion. Best to just laugh at you or call you a fucking idiot to your face and be done with it."

Read the Rest Here

Listening Post

This is really great stuff. It's Edie Brickell, who had a huge hit back when I was in college, teamed with Steve Martin on the banjo. The result is kind of magical.

Here's Love Has Come for You.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Quote of the Month

"You’re an asshole. And so is Alex Jones."

-- Unidentified Boston resident who took it upon himself to verbally annihilate InfoWars pretend reporter Dan Bidondi today

You have to see this. It was only a matter of time before somebody did something like this to these fucking morons.

Sir, I have no idea who you are -- but you're a goddamn hero.

That said, if you want to continue to be depressed by how stupid some people are, click over to YouTube and read the comments for this thing.

Hack Attack

Right on cue, the big and big-in-their-own-minds names within the Conservative Entertainment Complex are coming out of the woodwork to priggishly dismiss the importance of Jason Collins's decision to make history by being the first major pro-sports athlete to publicly admit he's gay. In the latter category -- the ones who aren't really important but who merely think they are -- is 'tweeny Breitbart.com pretend-agitator Ben Shapiro. He's spent most of the morning on Twitter trying to downplay Collins's stats and other attributes as a pro basketball player in the hope of diverting attention away from what's really a pretty historic moment in sports -- all because he's an obnoxious little twat.

Anyway, among his rants is one proclaiming that anyone who considers Collins a "hero" for having the balls to come out of the closet in an environment that can be infamously homophobic has simply lost sight of what a real hero is.

And that's where Mediaite and Gawker proceed to shred him. If Shapiro had the ability to actually be embarrassed, he'd be embarrassed about this.

Mediaite: Surprise! Some Brietbart.com Guy Reacts Like a Buffoon To NBA Player Coming Out as Gay/4.29.13

Good Sports

If you're a conservative Christian, this is the day you've been dreading, the one you can mark on your calendar that begins you and your family's inexorable move into the doomsday shelter you built in your backyard. Yes, Armageddon has begun.

In one day, an NBA player has come out of the closet and the Jets have cut Tim Tebow (after just one season).

In other words, what most of us already knew has finally been made abundantly clear to everyone: A) There are people in professional sports who are gay, and B) Tebow is a shitty quarterback.

Have a nice day, everyone.

Listening Post

After what seems like forever, Daft Punk finally returns with a new album on May 21st.

Here's the first single from it, with Pharrell -- this is Get Lucky.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Sunday Sacrilege (Scary Version)

Supposedly from a private school in South Carolina, a portrait of a doomed kid.

(via Christian Nightmares)

Sunday Sacrilege (Funny Version)

(via Christian Nightmares)

Saturday, April 27, 2013

In the Crossfire

Salon's Alex Pareene, who remains one of a very select few reasons to force yourself to read anything at that site, put together a nice little piece on the possible rebirth of CNN's Crossfire. He echoes the same points I made on the podcast this week, namely that with the rise of the Fox and MSNBC model of cable news, a show like Crossfire is completely irrelevant. He expands on that point, though, using it as a means to show why CNN, as he says, still just doesn't understand why it's unable to succeed in the new cable news culture.

By the way, he also echoes something I brought up a few months back at Banter: that Fox News's stable of "liberals" is basically made up of tomato cans its hyper-conservative "Alpha Males" can easily bully.

Take a look. It's good stuff.

Salon: CNN’s “Crossfire” Talk Shows CNN Still Doesn’t Get What’s Wrong With CNN/4.24.13

Listening Post: In Memoriam Edition

When a 22-year-old Divinyls record showed up in the section of iTunes normally reserved for new releases earlier this week, my first thought was that somebody in the band must've died. Unfortunately, I was so busy that I didn't bother to go looking for any possible information on it. Then, yesterday, my girlfriend and I were out and I heard I Touch Myself being played in a bar in Hollywood, so I turned and asked, "What, did Chrissy Amphlett die or something?" to which my girlfriend of course responded, "Yeah, breast cancer."

I never liked the Divinyls' biggest hit. I thought it was silly and gimmicky and was sure to diminish all the other great stuff the band had done simply by virtue of making them an inevitable one-hit-wonder. The Divinyls had a long career before I Touch Myself broke them big and most of it was due to the coolness and sexiness of Chrissy Amphlett and her distinctive rasp. To this day, the band's 1988 gem Temperamental is a record I go back to over and over again because almost every song on it is spectacular.

From that album, here's Punxsie.

In high school, my best friend and I had an unusual hero for a couple of idiot kids from Miami: George Jones. Why? Because of the lawnmower story. It was the stuff of country legend and still is. For those who don't know it, it goes like this: George drank -- a lot. And so one night back in 1966, he had gotten so drunk that his wife decided she needed to force him to finally sober up. She cleaned out all the liquor in the house and took the keys to the car so that he couldn't drive to the nearest liquor store, which was about eight miles away. But since any good drunk knows that its when you take his booze away that he suddenly becomes as resourceful as MacGuyver, George went outside, hopped on his riding lawnmower and rode it all the way to that liquor store. And that, my friends, is why he was a hero to me and still is.

George Jones died yesterday at the ripe old age of 81. In 1996, long after my high school days, he wrote a song about the lawnmower story, but this one about drinking is even better. Here's If Drinking Don't Kill Me.

Friday, April 26, 2013

(Mis)Quote of the Day

"It reminds me of the Shakespeare line, 'Thou protestest too much.'"

-- Michele Bachmann, idiot, on the House floor this morning

As Mediaite said, no one's saying you need to know Shakespeare by heart, but for God's sake, if you're going to bother quoting him.

Eh, it's not like anyone who voted for her will know she monumentally fucked it up anyway.

We're Cursed

As has been the usual lately, this was posted last night but I'm linking it here today. The new piece for Banter takes a look at A.J. Clemente -- the kid who swore his way to fame and fortune.

Here's the opening shot:

"I truly hate who we are these days.

By now there’s a pretty good chance you know A.J. Clemente so well that it feels like he’d get an invitation to your next family reunion. Over the past few days, the guy has been everywhere — from your e-mail inbox, to your 'suggested videos' column on YouTube, to every late-night and morning show on network and cable television — all because he did something stupid in front of a camera and consequently became our country’s latest instant pop culture fascination."

Read the Rest Here

Listening Post

Alright, so this is really cool. It's a cello group called Break of Reality doing the admittedly awesome Game of Thrones theme song.

Happy Friday, kids. And for your own good, always remember that dragons aren't slaves.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Quote(s) of the Day

"When Bush first appeared on the political scene, and especially during the apparently successful first couple of years of his presidency, his defenders swatted away questions about his mental acuity by pointing to his success. If he’s so dumb, how has he achieved so much? Well, he didn’t. He oversaw a disastrous administration for precisely the reason his critics always grasped: Bush was an intellectual simpleton, a man who made up his mind in absence of the facts, who swatted away inconvenient realities as annoyances."

"The core of (Jennifer) Rubin’s defense is that Bush was terrific if you exempt him from any blame for the disasters that occurred during his presidency, and credit him entirely for the non-disaster periods. This sentence is a particular masterpiece: 'Unlike Obama’s tenure, there was no successful attack on the homeland after 9/11.' In fact, it is not true — there were small terrorist attacks on the United States, both abroad and at home, after 9/11. But exempting the most disastrous attack on the United States from Bush’s record of avoiding terrorism is a feat of propaganda that, while common, continues to boggle the mind. Emperor Honorius Kept Rome Safe, except that one time it was sacked by the Visigoths."

"The failures of Bush’s governing method — the staffing of hacks and cronies, the disdain for evidence — was perfectly reflected in the outcomes. The Bush presidency was a full disaster at home and abroad, and whatever small accomplishments that can be salvaged barely rate any mention in comparison with the failures. The general reckoning of Bush is not too harsh. It is too kind."

-- Excerpts from Jonathan Chait's essay, "Yes, George W. Bush Was a Terrible President, and No, He Wasn’t Smart," in New York Magazine online today, the day of the official dedication ceremony for the George W. Bush presidential library

George W. Bush was easily the worst president of my lifetime -- and I was born during the Nixon administration -- and may very well be the worst president this country has ever seen. The revisionists can try to spin him all they want, he was an unqualified, unmitigated disaster and that's how he'll be remembered.

Where Is My Mind?: Seven Years Later

Today marks the seventh anniversary of the event that led to my starting this site.

Seven years ago today, I was preparing to enter Cornell Medical Center in New York City to undergo the surgery that would remove a pinball-sized tumor from deep inside my skull. It's indescribably overwhelming to try to mentally sort through the ways in which things have changed for me since that initial diagnosis, that surgery, the early recovery period following the operation; my life, my surroundings, and, most importantly, I myself would feel completely unfamiliar and alien if I tried to compare them against what they all once were.

In the past seven years, I've lost a wife, had a beautiful daughter and then almost immediately lost my future as a full-time father, lost quite a bit of idealism -- an evolved, more tempered version of which has only recently begun to trickle back into the picture -- and lost the person I used to be. On the other hand, I've gained quite a bit of wisdom, a sense of freedom and fearlessness that I could only pretend to have years ago, a new life in a new (old) city, a new relationship with someone I love very much, a new appreciation for what I have and who I am at this stage of my life, and a new kind of quiet contentment in the knowledge that my daughter is growing into a remarkable little girl, whether I'm around to see every second of it or not.

Throughout it all, though, there remains little doubt that the surgery to remove the uninvited guest in my head changed me -- the person I am at my core -- dramatically and fundamentally. I know that my "recovery" from the damage the tumor initially caused and all the brain-scrambling that it left in its wake is far from over and may never be.

As has become a kind of tradition on this day, I'm republishing the two pieces I wrote back in late 2006 which dealt with my surgery. The story -- which is essentially about survival -- admittedly reads like an odd little time capsule given how much of it centers around my love for and devotion to my wife at the time. Those who know the details of what was really going on in our marriage in April of 2006 -- what I knew and the secrets that were being kept from me -- also understand the irony of my professions of trust and loyalty. But that was forever ago and it all hardly matters anymore.

I survived. I'm still here. That's a pretty happy ending, I'd say.

"Where Is My Mind?" (Part One, Originally Published, 10.12.06; Part Two, Originally Published, 12.26.06)

The First Night

"Hi. My name is Piper; I'm going to be your nurse tonight."

The voice seems to come from out of the endless darkness.

"How are you feeling?"

More than hear myself respond, I simply feel the groan bubble up from the back of my throat, creating a harsh tremor; the vibration makes my head pound harder. I'm having trouble keeping my eyes open, so I can barely bring the lithe image into focus as it glides around my bed -- careful to avoid the machines, and the tubes which hook me to them.

Once again the voice comes from nowhere.

"Are you in pain?"

I exhale and somehow manage a feeble word.


"How bad -- on a scale from one to ten?"

I have no idea how to answer that. Much worse than a bad hangover; slightly better than if I'd just been shot in the head storming the beach at Normandy. I'm not quite sure how that translates into a numerical figure.

"Seven," I say.

I open my eyes a little wider and the hazy blur sweeping around me comes into focus. I can still barely make out the features though: Short, young, possibly attractive, long hair; a girl -- the kind I'd rather not have seeing me this way. I'm not sure exactly how I look, but judging by the blasts of crimson on the neck of my gown and the crusted blood on my chin, I doubt I'm ready for the cover of GQ.

For some reason, there's an image in my head I don't understand -- a view of the 59th Street Bridge lit up at night; a view of the FDR running perpendicular to it.

I let my eyelids drift downward and allow the world to go black.

"Okay, I'm going to give you a shot of morphine," comes the voice again.

Everything seems to disappear for a moment; there's silence -- followed by a sudden thrust of liquid fire which consumes my arm from the inside out. I gasp loudly and my body jerks up from the bed, pulling the IV tubes taut. My eyes are open wide. My heart begins racing violently. I can hear the beep of the electronic monitor sounding faster and faster -- keeping time with each pulse of blood through my veins.

"What's happening?" I can barely get the words out.

Piper has her hand on my chest now, trying to push my body back down onto the bed. "You're having a reaction to the morphine. Just give it a minute."

I can't breathe; I'm trying, but I can't.

I look directly at the young nurse's face, which I can still barely make out, despite being just inches from mine. Her head is now nothing more than a black silhouette against what looks like an empty gun-metal sky. Wherever I am, there's very little light. Even with my eyes open, all I see are slightly differing shades of muted grays and blacks -- except for that view.

"Help me," I cough. "Please."

Her hand still pushes gently on my chest, as my heart-rate begins to slow -- the beeping of the monitor subsiding with each pulse. My body relaxes back onto the bed; I take a deep breath. I'm numb. The pain is gone.

"Can I ask you something?" I manage.

"Of course."

"Am I alive?"

The silhouette remains inches away from my face. After a moment, a sliver of gray seems to grow in the center of it; it takes me an eternity to realize that it's a smile.

"Yes, you're alive."

I close my eyes again and fall back into the blackness.

Eight Hours Earlier

My eyes flutter open; the room spins briefly, then comes into a soft focus. I hold my hand up to block out the bright light streaming in through the waiting room windows. Outside, the sun is rising over the East River and New York City is waking to what will surely be a gorgeous day. I unfortunately will be having none of it; my schedule's full for the next several hours.

I stretch slightly -- rolling my shoulders -- and turn my head to the left. The softness of my wife's hair envelops my nose and I breathe deeply, reaching my right hand around her face and running my fingers through the dark brown tousle. I can feel her breath on my arm as her head continues to rest on my shoulder. Across the room, my mother and father sit facing me; they're wearing anxious smiles.

"You were out pretty good there," my father says.

"Yeah, I suppose so."

"Can we get you anything?"

"How about a ride home?"

"Nope. Can't do that, son."

I lift my arm to glance at my watch and it pulls the line on the IV I'm attached to; I'd better get used to this kind of restricted movement. It's just after 10:30am; I've been waiting here along with my parents, my wife and her parents for the past four hours. My surgery was scheduled to begin just before seven. So far the only eventful things that have happened to me since my arrival involve me trading in my clothes for a flimsy hospital gown, getting hooked up to a saline drip and answering some questions about my past drug use. I fail to see how anything I did to destroy my mind and body six years ago has anything to do with why I'm here today. Then again, I was stupid enough to carpet-bomb my bloodstream with an awe-inspiring arsenal of opiates for an extended period of time; I'm obviously not very bright.

My wife nuzzles her head into my neck and turns to look up at me.

"Are you alright?"

I pause for a moment, realizing that I have a responsibility to be steadfast -- strong. "Yeah, I'm okay," I say with an easy smile -- one which I hope distracts from the terror in my eyes.

I'm having a brain tumor removed today.

It's approximately the size of a pinball and has rested itself directly atop my pituitary gland, where it's begun destroying the nerve-center which controls my body's hormone output. My entire physical being has essentially been going haywire since it moved in and decided to do to my head what The Who used to do to their hotel rooms.

I became aware of the unwanted guest in my brain about three weeks ago; that was when the headache began. It was manageable at first -- although unusual because a full-night's sleep did nothing to make it subside. I took Advil. I went to work. I tried to ignore it. And then it got worse -- much worse.

By just after noon, I could barely move; it felt as if someone were hitting me in the face with a sledgehammer each time blood pumped into my brain. I slowly shuffled over to my supervisor's office and explained the situation to him -- that I was in excruciating pain. I told him that I was going home.

The following eighteen hours were indescribable. The headache continued to get worse, no matter how many Advil I took or how much I tried to relax. By the time the sun went down and my bedroom was submerged in darkness, the pain was so bad that it felt like my sinuses were being eaten by bacteria from the inside out. I truly assumed that at some point I would reach up and find a new hole in my face -- the escape route for whatever was devouring my flesh.

I moaned loudly during the night, unable to sleep and instead counting off the hours to sunrise -- when I could drag my racked body into Lower Manhattan to see my doctor. I had convinced myself that a trip to the emergency room for a headache would simply end with a six-hour stay in a busy waiting room; it would do far more harm than good.

As it turned out, my doctor did little to help me; she gave me a prescription for a codeine painkiller and ordered a CT scan for the following day.

When I got back home from her office, I downed six of the pills and drifted off -- the pain ebbing only slightly.

The next day, the suffering continued. The CT scan showed nothing.

It was the day after that -- the fourth day of extraordinary agony -- that I was sent in for an MRI.

It was then that I finally found out what was happening to me.

"Well, I can tell you what's wrong with you," the technician said.

I just stared at him -- my eyes opening and closing in slow-motion. I seemed to be fading in and out of consciousness as my body tried to shut itself down to escape the perpetual torture.

"You've got a brain tumor," he continued. "And it's hemorrhaging into your head."

"Am I going to die?" I asked.

"Probably not. It doesn't look cancerous."

Two hours later, my wife and I were at New York Presbyterian-Cornell Medical Center on the Upper East Side. She was in tears; I was being prepped for surgery. It was only at the last minute that a young doctor in a smart suit pulled aside the curtain to my little room, took a look at my MRI and brought everything to a grinding halt. He said that I was a perfect candidate for a minimally-invasive tumor removal technique which would involve neurosurgeons entering my head through my nose rather than cutting open my skull. He ordered me put on blood-platelets to stop the hemorrhage, Vicodin to kill the pain, and steroids to shrink the tumor as much as possible. He scheduled me for surgery in three weeks.



In the far corner of the waiting room there's a young Orthodox Jew and his mother, sitting and filling out paperwork. Moments ago, she was casually brushing off his shoulders as he rocked in his seat -- reading the Torah, probably for the twentieth time this week. He tried to pull away from her, but she refused to relent -- no doubt wanting him to be clean and presentable, should he wind up face to face with Yahweh in a few hours. It was the kind of stereotype which is always associated with New York City, but which is hard to believe actually exists.

My parents and Jayne's parents seem to be enjoying the surreal distraction.

It's then that the doors open, and the nurse walks in and calls my name.

My wife begins to cry as I stand up. My family walks toward me and, one-at-a-time, gives me what I can only hope will not be one last hug. I pull away and shuffle toward the door, my wife holding my hand. She turns my head toward her face a final time and allows me a parting look at her smile -- the view I'll take with me into oblivion. She looks like she's about to collapse, so I put my arms around her, once again pulling the IV line, and hold her tightly.

"I love you. Don't worry. I'll see you in a few hours."

She runs her hand down my face. "Come back to me," she says.


I squeeze her hand one last time, wave at my family, and allow the door to the waiting room to close behind me. I follow the nurse down the long hall -- concentrating on the little swishing sounds my hospital-provided footies are making on the tile floor. I try to think of my wife. My heart is beginning to pound. I take deep breaths.

"Don't I get a gurney or something?"

The nurse glances over her shoulder. "No, we need to keep you awake and alert to go over the final paperwork; you need to sign it before we can get underway."

"Lovely," I say. "So I guess a shot of liquid Valium is pretty much out of the question then?"

"We'll get you something as soon as we get you into the O.R."

WE'RE not the ones who are about to have a fucking brain tumor cut out of OUR head, lady.

After a few more steps, we arrive at a set of angry, steel double-doors. Yellow and black stickers warn potential interlopers that they are about to enter an operational neuro-surgical theater, and should proceed with caution. Abandon all hope ye who enter here.

I'm reading the warning when I feel something brush against my arm. I glance down and see a manila file folder open -- several thick sheets of paper visible within.

"I need you to sign where marked please."

The blood in my veins feels as if it's being pumped through a firehose; it's making my whole body shake. I'm terrified beyond words. Without paying any real attention, I numbly sign each slip of paper and hand the folder back to the nurse. She gives me a carefully rehearsed smile and turns to face me completely.


I say nothing.

With that, she spins briskly around and the steel doors open inward -- revealing a sight which causes me to immediately fight the urge to vomit. I can suddenly hear the blood thrumming in my ears as my heart pumps it at a painful rate. I begin to shake uncontrollably.

The operating theater is massive. It has a high ceiling from which hang rows of halogen spotlights. They augment the long fluorescent bulbs already bathing the entire room in harsh white light. There's movement everywhere; technicians and nurses busy themselves in preparation for the procedure -- adjusting electronic machinery, placing vials of chemicals in rows and lining up trays of scalpels and knives whose blades gleam in the bright light beaming down from above.

I see the computer monitor which will be used to track the progress as the surgeon inserts the camera and micro-instruments up toward my brain. It sits at the head of the room's centerpiece: a large bed, with padded arms that extend outward so that the entire thing resembles a crucifix -- or the bed on which death row inmates are executed by lethal injection.

I'm shaking to the point where it's now visibly noticeable.

"We'll give you something to calm you in just a second," one of the attendants says as he brushes past me.

I'm about to collapse onto the cold floor.

I hear someone ask where my neurosurgeon is; no one seems to know.

I want to close my eyes and disappear.

A nurse seems to appear from out of nowhere on my left and touches my arm. "We need to get you up on the bed; are you ready?"

I don't answer, choosing instead to simply crawl onto the crucifix and lie down on my back like a good little martyr.

"Spread your arms, please," I hear someone ask.

I do as I'm told -- taking a deep breath and somehow pulling a few small words up from deep inside of me.

"Can I please have something to calm me?" I say, barely above a whisper.

A nurse on either side of me grabs one of my arms and straps it down to the furthest end of the transom until both are secure. I can literally hear the sound of each powerful heartbeat.

Someone touches me -- straightening out the fingers of my left hand. "Take a deep breath. This is going to hurt," he says -- and then slides a needle into the soft skin of my wrist. I clench my teeth and muffle a scream. The chaos and movement continue around me, seemingly oblivious to my presence. I just want to vanish from here. I just want to sleep.

I glance over to my left again, and there's a heavy IV line protruding from the needle in my wrist; I can see the shank deep inside my vein. The person who just inserted it seems to be examining his handiwork.

He turns his face toward me.

"I'm going to give you something to relax you -- okay?"

I turn my head away from him and face forward -- toward the ceiling. The brightness from the halogen bulbs burns my eyes; I close them and think of my wife's face. I wish she were here.

I suddenly feel something cold push into my vein, beginning at the wrist and moving quickly up my arm.

I see my wife's face.

The light begins to burn my eyes once again -- only this time my eyes aren't open.

I float for a moment. The chaos and noise around me disappears. There's complete silence.

Everything stops.

I see my wife's face.

Somewhere, the order is given for the Faster-Than-Light jump.

The world goes white in a blinding flash.

I feel the bed shake as it slams through a set of double doors. I'm coughing violently and I can't breathe through my nose. I see my wife's face, only now it's speaking to me.

"You're alright. You made it," it says. "We have to go. They say we can't stay through the night in ICU." I'm not sure who she's talking about. I have no idea where I am. She kisses me and then disappears from sight.

The bed jolts as it hits another set of double doors and enters a darkened room, coming to rest directly in front of a large floor-to-ceiling window. The view beyond is spectacular -- if it's actually real and not simply my imagination. It's a bridge, and a highway with cars streaking along it. The sun has just set, and the skeletal structure of the bridge has come alive with pinpoint lights.

I hear several voices speaking -- the volume of their words rising and falling. I get only bits and pieces.

"...a history of drug use..."

"...successful operation..."

"...should be alright..."

Then there's silence. I'm alone with only the view of the bridge and the highway, the beeping of the machines and an unmistakable song floating through my head. It's Radiohead's Lucky.

An eternity goes by.

I hear someone approach from out of my view -- feel the almost imperceptible changes in the air.

I close my eyes.

The voice seems to come from out of the darkness.

"Hi. My name is Piper. I'm going to be your nurse tonight."

The Next Morning

"Well they encourage your complete cooperation. Send you roses when they think you need to smile. I can't control myself because I don't know how, and they love me for it, honestly, I'll be here for awhile."

I'm counting the holes in the ceiling tiles.

I'm listening to the quiet pulse of the heart monitor.

I'm desperately in need of sleep.

About an hour ago, the heavy bed that's held my racked body since the faster-than-light jump that swept me from the terror of the operating table to the Neurosurgical-ICU was wheeled up to what they call the "secondary" intensive care unit. My picturesque view -- the glowing bridge and highway -- is gone, replaced by an immeasurably less picturesque view of a man named Miguel. My bed has been planted -- monitors and all -- directly across from his so that we now face each other. It should be easy to stare him down should it come to that, being that whatever happened deep in the recesses of Miguel's brain has left him unable to open his right eye. It remains folded shut in an eerie, perpetual wink.

I realize that I've lost count of the holes.

I feel my eyes close and try one more time to drift off to sleep, knowing full-well that it's impossible right now. If the half-dozen tubes restricting my movement weren't enough to prevent me from getting comfortable enough to truly rest, then the hydraulic wraps around my calves which inflate every sixty seconds to push blood through my legs would do the trick nicely. The pressure from the leggings prevents my blood from clotting and me from consequently going into cardiac arrest and dying in this bed -- with Miguel giving me one final devilish wink to send me on my way to oblivion.

I silently wish to be back in the quiet ICU room with the astonishing view. I'm going to be in pain either way; better I be in pain in near-silence.

I don't know at what point it dawned on me exactly what it was that was spread out so beautifully outside of my window -- at what point I regained even a sliver of true lucidity. I now know though that from that room I watched as the darkness enveloped the 59th Street bridge. I watched the headlights of the cars speeding under it along the FDR -- watched them thin as time passed and New York City fell deeper into the night. I counted the minutes until dawn, hoping that at some point sleep would come -- but it never did. Instead I stayed awake throughout the entire night, terrified and alone -- the steely taste of my own blood dripping down from my punctured brain, through the cotton compresses plugged deep into my sinuses, and into my parched mouth.

Every half-hour or so, the young nurse -- Piper -- would enter my room from a door I couldn't see, take my vitals and ask me if I needed anything. I asked for water. I asked for morphine, despite the frightening reaction my body seemed to have to it. At one point she placed a warm blanket over me and I realized that it did nothing to stop my uncontrollable shaking; my entire being seemed to be spasming, and wouldn't stop. I asked her for another blanket -- and another. I was cold. I was shaking and shaking and shaking and nothing would stop it. Nothing. I was scared. I was terrified. I wanted someone to hold my hand. I wanted someone to tell me that everything was going to be alright. I wanted to close my eyes, get up, and slip through that giant window like a ghost and float away into the night -- over the city, to someplace far away. I wanted to fly. I wanted to disappear.

But then there would be the rhythm of the monitor -- the whisper of the leggings inflating. There would be the sudden awareness of the painful needle shanks in my veins and arteries and the taste of the blood and the feel of it on my cracked lips and the fear would return, and I would return to the bed that held me trapped. I'd ask for more water, and more blankets and more morphine. I'd ask Piper to talk to me -- to reassure me. I'd once again be able to make out just the slightest hint of her smile in all that endless darkness -- with just the electric light from outside to bathe the room in a hint of color -- and she'd tell me that I was doing fine.

She'd tell me that the operation was a complete success.

The tumor that had been eating away at my brain was gone.

"How are you feeling?"

A nurse's voice brings me back to this moment. I'm in the secondary ICU. I can't sleep.

"Peachy," I manage -- barely. "I'm tired."

She whisks around my bed and begins checking the readouts on the various machines to which I'm hooked.

"Do you know where you are?" she says as she adjusts my IV.

"Nowhere I want to be," I say, then thinking the better of it -- "Hospital. Cornell Medical Center." Despite the languid ebb and flow of my awareness, I'm cognizant of the fact that this woman deals with enough shit -- figurative and literal -- that antagonizing her is neither fair nor wise. Thankfully, when she comes back into my field of view again, I notice she's smiling slightly.

"Do you know what day it is?" she asks.

I glance slightly to the left of her as she picks up the chart attached to the foot of the bed.

"It's April 28th, 2006."

"Yes it is," she says without looking up from the clipboard.

"I know that because it's written on the rotation board to your right."

She smiles -- checks off points on the chart.

"Very good," she says. "Can you tell me who's president?"

"Fucking idiot," I say, actually managing a hint of a smirk.

"I'll count that as a yes," she responds, placing the clipboard back on the hook at the foot of the bed and -- in the time it takes me to slowly close my eyes and reopen them -- appearing at my bedside.

She shines a bright pen-light into my eyes; it feels like it's burning a hole through to my sore and damaged brain. She clicks it off and I can still see the purple and black sun seared into my retinas. Somewhere behind it she holds up her index finger.

"Follow my finger without moving your head. Eyes only."

I do as I'm told: side to side, up and down.

"You seem to be doing well," she says. "Are you in any pain?"


"How much?"

"My head's pounding." I whisper now. "Needles hurt."

She pushes past another nurse who's come to fill a tiny styrofoam cup on my sliding table with water. Before I can even react, she's pulling the surgical tape from the heavy IV line which was inserted into the tender skin of my left wrist just before the surgery -- before everything went white. I feel the soft hairs being ripped away. All I can manage is a pained whimper.

"Okay, hold on tight," she says. "We're going to pull your A-line. This runs directly into your artery. You shouldn't need it anymore."

I have nothing to hold on to, but I close my eyes tightly and try to will myself away from here. In one sudden motion, I feel the shank deep in my vein slide out and the excruciating pressure from her thumb as it flattens a cotton ball into the open wound. Flashes of color dance behind my eyelids. I exhale stale air through clenched teeth. She wraps new surgical tape around my wrist.

I allow my eyes to relax without opening them, and the strange shapes projected against the inside of my eyelids seem to diffuse, then vanish. I finally fade away.

"So give them blood. Blood. Gallons of the stuff. Give them all that they can drink and it will never be enough. So give them blood. Blood. Blood. Grab a glass because there's going to be a flood."

I feel something gently stroke the inside of my palm -- a light touch. I slowly open my eyes to see a face. It's glowing bright white. As it comes into a wet focus, I realize that it's my wife. The light is coming through the window next to my bed and illuminating her soft features. She smiles.

"Hi, baby," she says. "How are you feeling?"

What begins as a groan evolves into actual words: "Better now." I smile as best I can.

I can see tears beginning to pool in her eyes. I reach up and touch her face; her skin is soft -- even softer than I remember. I look over her shoulder and realize that my mother and father are standing behind her; they're both wearing reassuring smiles. Before I can even find another word, my eyes drift downward. The room blurs. Sound tunnels away. Everything goes black.

The next thing I hear is a voice. It comes from somewhere in a dream.

"Chez," it says. "Chez. You have to wake up."

A slightly darker room than the one I remember emerges from the pitch blackness. To my immediate left, the sun is setting over the East River. My wife is still at my side, but it's the nurse's voice that's dragging me -- kicking and screaming -- back to the waking world.

"I have some bad news," she says. "The doctor wants us to begin taking blood from you every four hours. We need your arm."

Before I'm even awake enough to know what's happening, I feel the latex strap (they asked me if I'm allergic to latex, didn't they?) tighten around my arm; the cold swab of alcohol is rubbed into the crux of my left arm; the needle slips in. I wince -- curse -- awaken fully.

"I have all these tubes in me. There isn't one you can just plug into?" I seethe.

"Well, that's the bad news. We removed your A-line, so that means that we have to find a new vein each time. The rest of your lines are for putting fluids in, not for taking them out."

I turn over slightly, attempting to bury my face in my pillow but unwittingly pulling my IVs taut -- putting me in even more pain.

"You're kidding me," I moan into the pillow.

"I wish I was."

The nurse folds my arm, squeezing a fresh cotton ball into place. "Motherfucker," I whisper. I glance over to see my wife's face; her expression is a concerned pout.

By this time tomorrow, they will have practically run out of places to insert a needle into me. I'll overhear the nurse saying that several of my veins are in danger of collapsing.

Day Four

"A celebrated man amongst the gurneys. They can fix me proper with a bit of luck. The doctors and the nurses they adore me so, but it's really quite alarming 'cause I'm such an awful fuck."

I've devised a plan; I'm going to get out of here.

My arms are bruised black and blue from needle punctures. Last night at around 3am, I was awakened by a large black man with a picnic basket full of test-tubes and needles and the bedside manor of Ed Gein. He attempted to physically roll me over and put a syringe into my arm, but I managed to knock it out of his hand. "I can get security in here if I have to," he said. "You better hope they're armed," I returned with a furious sneer. This exchange was promptly followed by a blackout, which was promptly followed by my coming to just in time to see a nurse inserting something into my IV.

"What is that?"

Before she could even answer, I felt my arm catch on fire -- felt it spread throughout my body. I was being burned alive from the inside out. I opened my mouth in a grisly silent scream. There was molten lava flowing through my veins -- boiling my blood as it consumed me whole.

"Magnesium," I heard her say over the sound of every molecule in my body exploding, one after the other.

Now it's morning again and I'm being allowed to shower for the first time in four days. I'm unhooked from the monitors -- wondering for a moment if the nurse's station will suddenly light up like a pinball machine at word that one of the patients' hearts has apparently stopped cold -- and am marched off to the bathroom, along with my IV stands and catheter. If there's a more pathetic or embarrassing situation short of shitting yourself, I'm unaware of it.

I somehow figure out a way to shower and shave, ridding myself of both the smell of stagnation and the ratty castaway-chic beard I've been cultivating for the past several days, then return to my bed to find one of my nurses -- unfortunately, a young, attractive one -- waiting for me with a forced smile on her face.

"What'd my payment not go through?" I say as I lie back down.

"Nope. Time to take your catheter out."

One of the few true blessings in all of this is the fact that I was knocked out when they inserted both a lumbar puncture into my spine, and a catheter into my penis. For this, I will always be thankful.

"You know, I haven't looked at it once."

"The catheter?"

"Nope. God knows if there's one image I don't want lingering in my brain, it's my shriveled wee-wee with a tube sticking out of it," I say. "Couldn't they have at least sent one of the seventy-year-old nurses to take this thing out? Spare me the embarrassment?"

"Sorry -- I'll have to do," she says with that synthetically sweet smile. She reaches down along the side of my bed as I close my eyes and begin thinking about kittens and butterflies and long, white beaches and star-filled skies and Liverpool's 2005 victory over AC Milan in the Champions League finals and the new Shelby GT and Maria Bello in leather pants in Coyote Ugly and Pearl Jam's cover of the Who's Baba O'Reilly and my wife stepping out of the shower in the morning and any other goddamned thing I can call to mind to distract myself from the twelve inch tube and deflated balloon that's about to be pulled through the end of my dick.

I hear her say the words, "Hang on," then feel razor wire shred my urethra.

My pelvis jolts forward and I muffle a scream which degenerates into a cruel laugh.

"Oh you're fucking evil," I hiss.

"Had to be done," she returns with a look that borders on satisfaction. "Now comes the fun part. If you don't urinate within the next few hours, we have to put the catheter back in." As I furiously try to rub the pain out of my wounded penis, she looks right into my eyes -- no doubt to lend the necessary gravity to her next statement. "That's going to hurt -- a lot."

I reach over and grab a plastic bottle which is now hooked to my bedside, put it under the covers and begin pissing like I've just downed a gallon of iced-tea. It burns like hell.

"I guess that settles that," I say, looking directly at her.

"I gave you blood. Blood. Gallons of the stuff. I gave you all that you could drink and it has never been enough. I gave you blood. Blood. Blood. I'm the kind of human wreckage that you love."

With my shower and shave behind me, I now look presentable for the various doctors who see me intermittently throughout the day and night -- the doctors I'm now trying to actively convince to allow me to leave the hospital so that I might be able to go home and get some real sleep. I've memorized their rounds and make sure that I'm always chipper and alert when they show up at my bedside -- typically in small packs -- to stare in fascination at their prize monkey. In the moments before they make an appearance, I sit up straight, open my laptop and slip in an episode of Firefly on DVD. I smile wide when I see them. I tell them the truth: I feel surprisingly good -- especially for somebody who had brain surgery four days ago.

Across from me, I see the typical lethargic movements of Dead-eye Miguel -- his right eye now held open by a piece of surgical tape which secures his eyelid to his brow. Across the top of his head -- running from ear-to-ear -- is an unbroken line of dull metal staples. Next to him is a newcomer to our little melting pot of brain stew. His name is Mr. Yu. He's a diminutive Asian man who smiles constantly and doesn't speak a word of English. His family tends to visit in groups of seventeen at a time, which means that at least twice a day, the secondary neurosurgical-ICU at Cornell Medical Center is transformed into an episode of MXC, complete with the requisite high-pitched squealing and howls of surreal laughter. All that's missing is a monitor lizard and young girls in bikinis with raw meat taped to their legs.

"You're going home in the morning," Nurse Cockripper says as she suddenly appears at my bedside. "Doctor Schwartz just cleared you. We're moving you to a private room for the night."

"But I'll miss happy fun sexy recovery party!" I say with a deliriously exaggerated smile.

She responds to my obvious sarcasm with a wan smirk and begins unhooking my monitors, eventually leaving only the saline drip which is plugged into my right arm.

"Can I ask you a kind of personal question?" I say as she begins to walk away. She turns around and faces me, putting a hand on her hip like a greasy-spoon waitress who wants to rid herself of a last, loitering customer.


"I couldn't help but overhear you yesterday, talking to the other nurse about some problem you were having with a guy you were dating -- how he didn't understand your job." If there's one thing I have plenty of time to do, it's listen to what's going in the world beyond the partially-drawn curtain that separates my bed from the others. I'm not sure how to specifically ask what I want to ask, so I make a quick decision that I should probably just spit it out. "How can you even look at someone in a sexual way?" I say.

Her face softens. Her posture seems to relax.

"What do you mean?"

"Well," I say, sitting up slightly, "you deal with every type of gruesome bodily function there is. You witness every horrid thing the human body can do -- and you're usually the one called on to clean it up. You stand waist deep in death and decay every day. So, how can you possibly leave this place at the end of each shift, go out on a date, watch somebody take off their clothes and put all of this out of your mind? How can you think of the body as something beautiful -- something you actually desire?"

Her eyes widen slightly. I'm fully aware that the line is at least a good ten to twelve steps behind me. It feels as if all the ambient sound has been sucked out of the room -- the single act of such impertinence creating its own vacuum. She tilts her head slightly -- her hand reaching up to reassuringly touch the ends of the long blond hair which rests gently on her chest. She hesitates, then speaks.

"It's capable of all that awfulness -- it can break down completely -- and then it can heal itself. It's the most incredible machine there is. You don't think that's beautiful?"

Sufficiently put in my place, I smile.

As if on cue, there's the squealing sound of sneakers on tile -- the chaotic tromp of young feet across the hospital floor. I look past the nurse to see two children -- a boy and girl -- plow into the ward with unruly abandon. "Papi! Papi!" they shout as they make a bee-line for Miguel's bed, jumping onto it and wrapping their arms around their father from either side. It's now that I notice that Miguel is wearing a dark, pirate-style patch over his uncooperative right eye and an oversized Yankees hat on his head to cover the grisly row of staples. He moves slowly and carefully -- his reaction to the presence of his children delayed by several seconds. It seems to take an eternity for him to fully comprehend that he's at the center of an epic group bear-hug.

Finally, a weak and sluggish smile spreads across his face. He says something in Spanish. His words are a slurred jumble.

A woman about Miguel's age comes into view and takes her place at his bedside, pulling up a small chair. After a moment, he turns to her -- acknowledging the loving touch she gives his hand.

"What happened to him?" I ask quietly, without taking my gaze away from the strange and heartbreaking sight directly across from my bed.

"He had a tumor in his head," I hear the nurse say. "The same kind you had."

I immediately turn my head and face the young nurse, looking at her with an intensity I wasn't sure I was capable of right now.

She says nothing.

I say nothing.

A few feet away, Miguel's little children laugh for reasons all their own.

The next morning, I'm released from the hospital. I walk through the revolving door and out into a brisk morning in Manhattan. I look up to see the sunlight being split apart by the fresh spring blossoms as they begin to adorn the trees along the street.

I close my eyes and take long deep breaths.

(Lyrics from My Chemical Romance, Blood)

The Bob & Chez Show After Party, 4.25.13

Join the After Party

This Week: DeNiro and Jerry Lewis in The King of Comedy; Iron Man 3; The obligatory mayhem before a big trip; Dogs Wearing Pants and the ‘Cone of Shame’; The marble-mouthed news anchor who totally fumbled his first newscast; Ryan Lochte is a Magnificent Idiot; Jeah; The Today Show treats everything like it’s important; Rush’s Alex Lifeson delivers the best acceptance speech ever; We say farewell to the great Allan Arbus, aka Dr. Sidney Freedman from M*A*S*H; and much more.

The Bubble Genius Bob & Chez Show, 4.24.13

CNN is hurting America by resurrecting Crossfire; Perhaps Jeff Zucker still works for NBC; Rand Paul doesn’t know what the hell he thinks about drones; Republicans blame Boston Marathon bombing on the president; Republicans blame Boston Marathon bombing on welfare; Neil Cavuto’s Hot Tub; Faith Healing and Negligent Homicide; and much more. Brought to you by Bubble Genius and the BobCesca.com Amazon Link.

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Listening Post

Jimmy Eat World's Bleed American is one of those records that got me through the period immediately following rehab and 9/11 and the one that followed, Futures, was actually even better. I kind of feel like the band peaked there, but I still have a fondness for them.

Here's their new single, which sounds quite a bit like every other one of their singles form the past couple of records.

This is I Will Steal You Back.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Quote of the Day

"After the establishment media called me abhorrent for talking about the ‘Family Guy’ clip and Fox pulled that episode, that was all the evidence I needed that I had stumbled upon the truth. In fact, I discovered the United States government had this false flag attack planned way back in the 1940s, when the Road Runner and the Coyote were created. Let’s look at the facts: the Coyote is this loner, a pathetic loser who is always trying to kill and maim the Road Runner with dangerous explosives he got from the ACME Corporation, which sounds just like the American government. You have to be a low-grade moron to not see parallels with these two Chechen kids, these losers who supposedly carried out this bombing; and the runners -- the Road Runners -- in Boston. Only this time, after many failed attempts, the Coyote was successful."

-- Alex Jones on the Boston Marathon bombing, according to the Daily Currant

Yeah, the Daily Currant is a satire site. But be honest: Could you really tell by this quote?

To Protect And Serve

You all know how much I love Falguni Sheth; she's really the perfect Salon contributor, seemingly engineered in a lab somewhere in the darkest recesses of Glenn Greenwald's Brazilian compound. Over the weekend she published a piece both at Salon and at some blog called "Translation Exercises" about how the "surveillance state" boogeyman that terrifies the shit out of professional liberals didn't work in preventing the Boston Marathon bombings. It was one of those rare occasions where even the basic premise of a column had me shaking my head because I couldn't quite fathom how the need to make hay out of a pet issue could so blatantly override basic logic and reason, that being: No, the various cameras and social networking tools that occasionally seem to indeed put us on the wrong side of the glass in Bentham's panopticon didn't prevent the bombing in Boston, but it damn sure helped lead to the very swift killing and capture of the guys who did it. But hey, don't let the facts get in the way of the political point you need to score.

In addition to the wailing and gnashing of teeth over the scary surveillance state, there were of course the requisite complaints leveled at the press and the general populace, who, in the opinion of Sheth, allowed themselves to be herded like sheep by the commands of the police and the feds. See, in the world of pissy far-left liberals, the dreaded "state" isn't made up of actual people and is therefore always to be eyed with suspicion; when the police instruct you to do something during a crisis situation in the name of trying to keep your ass out of the line of fire, you should immediately stand your ground and shout, "Fuck you, I won't do what you tell me, man!" Of course nobody's saying that you should blindly follow every order you're given for as long as you've given them, but it's stupid as hell to assume that everything the police tell you is part of their secret cabal aimed at keeping you imprisoned in your home indefinitely so that the state can institute martial law. That's Alex Jones territory, proof that the political spectrum isn't a line but a circle and the far ends of the left and right most certainly meet.

Anyway, all of that brings me to the picture above. It's of a Boston police officer named John Bradley taking milk to a family during the citywide "shelter in place" request last Friday. I'm not saying that every cop is a doll, but by the same token, not every cop is some dangerous thug -- in fact, the vast majority of them really are fine men and women committed to public service. They don't issue requests or commands just for the hell of it, particularly not in crisis situations; they're actually interested in keeping you safe. There's no shame in not being a contrarian asshole and just listening to what the cops and feds have to say instead of proudly boasting about how you're not one of the "sheeple" and will do whatever you want because you don't trust the man. In other words, there's no shame in not being an asshole like Falguni Sheth -- far from it.

True Believers

There seems to be a pattern developing and I guess it's a good one when you consider that I can get twice the promotion by posting a pair of links instead of just one.

Last night I published a new column over at the Daily Banter and now I'm pushing it here. Today's piece once again has to do with religion, and a Philadelphia couple accused of praying over their sick child instead of getting him medical attention. You can guess what happened.

I'm not going to excerpt anything from it, just have a look for yourself. Suffice to say there's a twist to the story that will likely infuriate you, and no, it's not that this couple very likely killed their 8-month-old baby -- it's that they never should've been put in a position where they could.

Read the Story Here

Listening Post

There are a million reasons why I don't want to like these guys. A million and one if you count their connection to the insufferable Lena Dunham.

But then there's this song, which I can't deny is pretty terrific.

Here's fun. -- Carry On.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

There Ain't No Sanity Clause 2: Boston Boogaloo

Last week I posted a link to a Facebook conversation between a bunch of lunatic conspiracy theorists and a friend of mine, Josh Olson, who had proceeded to tear them apart piece by piece. These people were of course alleging Alex Jonesian nonsense in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombing, crap like the ever-popular "false flag" terrorism claims and the ridiculous and easily debunkable rumors of a "controlled explosion" on the day of the blasts.

As I said at the time, the world of the conspiracy theorist is where ignorance and arrogance meet, because these morons truly do believe that they're the only people who really know what's going on and the rest of us are the stupid ones, when in reality it's of course exactly the opposite. Under normal circumstances, it'd be best to ignore the Alex Jones crowd completely, because there's simply no arguing with someone who will not accept reality, who won't believe what their own eyes see and what their own ears hear and who are convinced that there's some dark secret lurking behind the veil of every single fucking thing they experience. But the problem is that, thanks to social media, these clowns now have a voice and thanks to the sheer volume of media outlets these days they have the ability to occasionally subvert respectable journalism and inject their insanity into the mainstream. Case in point: what happened last week at a critical news conference in the immediate wake of the bombings, when Info Wars "reporter" and raving dipshit Dan Bidondi hijacked the spotlight by bombarding Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick with questions about false flag terrorism and government cover-ups.

Anyway, the same people Josh took down last week are still at it -- and so I once again invite you to put on your tinfoil hat and immerse yourself in the mentally unbalanced "reality" of the people who believe not only that the Tsarnaev brothers were unwitting patsies set up by the government, but who actually think that the victims of the attack were wounded beforehand because they would've died had they lost limbs like that, and that, in fact, there may not even have been a bombing.

Pay special attention, by the way, to the craziest and balls-out stupidest person you'll ever come into contact with: Wren Tyree.

And once again marvel at how Josh won't tolerate any of that shit.

Facebook: Christine Robert: "What's the Agenda of the Person Feeding You 'Facts?"/4.22.13

The Immigrant Wrong

Today's column for the Daily Banter takes a look at the debate over the use of the term "illegal immigrant."

Here's the opening shot:

"Unfortunately, you can probably set your watches and begin the countdown to the cries of 'white privilege' showing up in the comment section or getting aimed at me on Twitter, but here goes nothing: There isn’t a thing wrong grammatically or journalistically with the term 'illegal immigrant.' Sure, I understand that some very well-meaning people find “illegal immigrant” personally offensive and feel that it shouldn’t be used by any reputable media outlet, but the issue they have with the phrase is, yes, personal and is in no way related to whether it holds up as proper English, no matter how much anyone would like to make you — or him- or herself — believe otherwise."

Read the Rest Here

Listening Post

Listening to a hell of a lot of this band right now because it features José González and I could listen to him sing the phone book.

Here's Junip -- Line of Fire.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Listening Post

Black Sabbath return with their first single in pretty much forever.

Here it is: God Is Dead?

By the way, sorry the absence, kids. One more day of being MIA and I'll be back in action.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Listening Post

I like Jessie Ware. She's got a really nice voice and her songs take her a couple of steps down the Adele road without going too far.

Here's Wildest Moments.

By the way, I'm going to be up to my neck in work over the next two days so don't expect much around here. There's a new piece up for today over at Banter so have at it.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Me of Little Faith

Today's column over at the Daily Banter once again has to do with religion, namely it seeks to understand why some turn to God in times of great tragedy while others, myself included, see tragedy as more reason than ever not to have turn to God.

Here's the opening:

"On the morning of September 11th, 2001, as the unimaginably horrific sight of bodies raining down from the upper floors of the World Trade Center was being beamed out across the country and around the world, my grandmother sat on the couch in my parents’ living room taking it all in. She was an elderly woman and a devout old-school Catholic, so with her eyes fixed on the televised images of the agonizing carnage unfolding in New York City, she reacted the only way she knew how. She swallowed back a despairing gasp, brought her hand up to nearly cover her mouth, and said, 'God love ‘em.'

I remember my reaction like it was yesterday."

Read the Rest Here

Listening Post

Here in Southern California, we're right in the middle of the two weekends out of the year when thousands of very high kids in very little clothing descend on the desert in Indio to get even higher, have sex with people they've never met, and watch dozens of bands very few people have ever heard of (and maybe six that people have). Yes, it's Coachella.

From last weekend, here's Phoenix and a surprisingly non-urinating R. Kelly doing 1901.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Serially Stupid Strikes Again

Before anyone else drops it into my e-mail, yes I've seen David Sirota's new column running over at Salon, what's really his masterpiece. There's little doubt that an essay called "Let's Hope the Boston Marathon Bomber Is a White American" would be anything but shamefully repugnant troll-bait of a grade impressive even for Sirota, and that's exactly what the piece is.

No, I'm not going to link to it and no I'm not going to comment on it at length, because that's what he's desperately looking for: people to pay attention to his idiotic antics, his pious public self-flagellation aimed not at absolving him of his white liberal guilt but of showing it off and wallowing in it because his martyrdom is what makes him such a great person. It's fucking tragic that a liberal -- someone who claims to care intensely for his fellow man and who purports to provide a contrast to the callousness of the American right -- would be the one to write the most offensive full-length response to the Boston Marathon bombing, to make the most cynically conspicuous leap into partisan political point-scoring under the guise of fearlessly saying what needs to be said, and to do it the soonest after the bodies had begun to cool.

This is why Sirota is a piece of crap. This is why, as I've said many times before, he doesn't deserve to be taken the least bit seriously.

Fuck him.

There Ain't No Sanity Clause

Cesca eviscerated the Alex Jones-fueled conspiracy theorizing that immediately cropped up in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombing in his piece at Banter this morning. He did it by presenting actual, you know, facts.

I on the other hand didn't even bother. I just called those circulating and buying into wild tales of false flag terrorism, "controlled explosion" bomb drills, and TSA sporting events crackdowns fucking lunatics -- since that's what they are.

The thing about conspiracy theorists is that they're impossible to make see reason because the more you shoot holes in their inane rants and nonsense beliefs the more they become convinced that you're just part of the conspiracy. Or you're just another one of the sheep who refuses to see what's really going on. Or some shit.

Best of all, they truly do think they're the smart ones. That's the beauty of a conspiracy theory: It allows the most ignorant, delusional and just plain fucking stupid among us to believe they're secretly the only ones with a clue as to what's really going on. The world of the conspiracy theorist is right where idiocy and arrogance meet. You've known people like that almost your whole life, likely dating all the way back to the special breed of ironically pompous social outcast of high school, and they've always been worthy of laughter and mockery.

With that in mind, I give you this link. It's going to make your brain hurt, sure, but watch as a friend of mine, Josh Olson, just rips the shit out of the person submerging herself neck-deep into Alex Jones's morass of horseshit. Remember, don't drink the Kool-Aid -- and namaste.

Facebook: Christine Robert: "As Yet Unreported"/4.16.13

Quote of the Day, Jr.

"Why were two bombs set yesterday? Why did they hurt so many people who were just out to enjoy the beautiful day and take refuge in beauty of the human body’s endurance and athletic prowess? Why were they set up to hurt -- not just physically but psychically -- so many people who were visiting Boston from around the world? Time may give us some answers to those questions, but it may also withhold them until we are ready -- finally -- to see what those answers are. I fear that what we will find is that the hate reflected in the destruction of so many lives is nothing but a mirror of our own -- of hate reflected in American domestic and foreign policies that have engendered so much destruction -- for (GITMO prisoners) Samir Naji, Shaker Amir and their fellow prisoners and families, and the destruction of so many innocent families around the world."

-- Falguni A. Sheth, a professor of philosophy and political theory at Hampshire College and a self-described writer about politics, race, and feminism, writing for Salon today

Well, I have to give Salon credit: It managed to make it through 24 whole hours before publishing a piece that conflates the Boston Marathon bombing with U.S. foreign policy and essentially blames us for it. That's progress, I suppose.

Incidentally, if you're unfamiliar with the work of Falguni, she was behind this gem from a couple of months ago. In other words, she was practically engineered in a lab somewhere to be the perfect Salon contributor.

In Memoriam

8-year-old Martin Richard, who was killed yesterday in the Boston Marathon bombing along with two other people.

He was right.

No more.

Quote of the Day

"When Martin Luther King Jr. called on the nation to 'live up to the meaning of its creed,' he heard an echo from a thousand pulpits. Treating black folks decently was consistent with what Christians had been taught. Dr. King was pushing against an open door. Priests and pastors marched for civil rights. Others preached for civil rights. But if the gay rights agenda is imposed, we could have priests and pastors preaching not acceptance but principled rejection. Prelates could be declaring from pulpits everywhere that the triumph of gay rights is a defeat for God’s Country, and the new laws are immoral and need neither be respected nor obeyed."

-- Pat Buchanan, warning of possible civil disobedience by the religious and religious leaders if gay marriage becomes legal across the United States

This is exactly what I was talking about in the Daily Banter column on religion that I wrote over the weekend. A person's supposed right to adhere to the tenets of his or her faith -- which, if that person is a voter, often winds up being inflicted upon the rest of us -- is in no way equal to the right of living, breathing human beings to be treated the same. Or at least it shouldn't be equal. I don't care whether you feel discriminated against because the law is siding with what gay men and women want over what your imaginary friend wants, but reality should win in any case where it collides with faith.

Also, how much do you love Pat Buchanan pretending to give a shit about black people?

Ripped Apart

Today's Daily Banter column wonders whether we'll ever be able to truly come together as a nation again. Because while there are plenty of people who are trying to remember what the tragedy in Boston is really all about, there are so many others for whom this is yet another excuse for hucksterism, partisan hackery, and conspiratorial lunacy.

Here's the opening shot:

"I always feared this day because I always feared being proven right. A couple of times since the election of Barack Obama and the consequent collective freak-out of the American Right — a freak-out so mind-boggling and profound that the extent and potency of its shockwaves continue to surprise, despite how used to it we should be by now — I’ve openly wondered how our nation might react if we were hit with another terrorist attack."

Read the Rest Here

Also, very worth mentioning here is Cesca's column at Banter today, on the despicable ridiculousness of Alex Jones, who of course hijacked and exploited this horrific event, using it as an excuse to spew his special brand of horseshit all over his delusional acolytes. One of those acolytes, Dan Bidondi, turned yesterday's Deval Patrick press conference into a circus by shrieking about "false flag" terrorism and how our civil liberties are being threatened, or something, and you'll be interested to know that he's also responded to Cesca's piece in the comments section. The results are -- entertaining.

Listening Post

Open your hymnals and sing along.

It's Manchester Orchestra's River.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Listening Post

Fiery and ferocious, it's Cruel Black Dove.

This is Love Song.

Friday, April 12, 2013

I Give Up

It's rare that I'm left truly speechless. This, however, just about does it.

I feel stupider for having watched this. I'm one giant gringe. One huge douche-chill.

Jesus, the fucking white upper-middle-class condescension. The embarrassing display of just-not-getting-it. The not even slightly subtle dig at both hip-hop and hip-hop culture. I've watched so many examples of so-called "Republican outreach" fall flat on their face in the months since the GOP got the floor mopped with it back in November, but I'm not sure I've seen a better example of how, no matter how hard conservatives try, they're never going to be able to connect with anyone but the giant gated community of WASPS and the underbelly of unsophisticated yokels that are their base. Any attempt to be anything but what they truly are is just going to fail as spectacularly as Dana Perino rapping a response to Jay-Z's trip to Cuba.

Listening Post: Bonus "Let the Weekend Begin" Edition

I already posted this song the minute audio for it was made available, being that these guys are one of my favorite bands in the world. Well, now there's a video for Black Rebel Motorcycle Club's Let the Day Begin, a cover of an excellent song from one of the most underrated groups of the 80s, the Call.

The late father of BRMC's Robert Levon Been, Michael Been, was the Call's brilliant frontman -- and doing this song is a great choice for the band, since it's wonderfully uplifting and a great tribute to the elder Been. The video reflects the joy expressed in the song perfectly. It also, I have to admit, kind of lets you know that this song is going to inevitably end up as a beer commercial or something like that.

Anyway, here's Let the Day Begin.

Tweet of the Day

Perfect. Just perfect. I've gotta give Stockman credit: He manages to push two GOP articles of faith in one simple sentence and create an image of a kind of conservative utopia, where abortion is impossible and even the unborn are armed.

Stockman, by the way, is a special kind of raging idiot, even among Texas conservatives, who as you know have raised raging idiocy to a transcendent art form. He's the one who took Ted Nugent as his date to the State of the Union address earlier this year; he's vowed on more than one occasion to try to impeach Barack Obama; and he recently invited any gun owner who feels "persecuted" by his state to move to Texas, an idea that I have to admit I'm all for. By all means let's concentrate them in the one place they're all already pretty much concentrated in, then maybe build the 50-foot-high electrical border fence they've all been clamoring for and cut the whole fucking place loose as its own post-apocalyptic wasteland.

Seriously, Texas is the stupidest goddamn place on Earth.

Adding: Oh, hey, look. No sooner had I posted the above than I came across this tweet from Barry Smitherman, whom Rick Perry appointed as the top Texas oil and gas regulator. Basically, Smitherman is all outraged over Republican lawmakers who either support sensible gun control or who apparently aren't fighting hard enough to defend unimpeded gun access -- so of course he circulates a picture that accuses them of being guilty of "TREASON" and hangs a noose next to their names. Not only are these people stupid and crazy, they're also really fucking dangerous.

Listening Post

One of my favorite things on YouTube at the moment comes from a Ukrainian musician name Oleg Berg. He takes popular songs and reverses their original major key to minor, or vice-versa. The result is something truly unique and endlessly fascinating. Here now are two of the songs he's created. Above it's the major key version of Smells Like Teen Spirit and below it's Yesterday in minor.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Bob & Chez Show After Party, 4.11.13

Join the After Party

Here’s What You’re Missing This Week: Possibly Our Best After Party So Far; How to Train Dogs to Stop Barking; Kansas Republican Says ‘Nigger-Rigging’; Brad Paisley’s ‘Accidental Racist’; Why Racism Didn’t End with The Civil War; Rand Paul Botches His Speech to Howard University; Libertarians Are Well-Spoken Idiots; Noah’s Ark and the Climate Crisis; Margaret Thatcher on Global Warming; Our Tribute to Roger Ebert; The Fear and Bravery of Facing Cancer; Celebrities Dying in Sets of Three; Bob’s Weird Eating Habits; Does Size Matter?; New Mad Men Episode; Lesbians Talk About Penises; and much more.

The Bubble Genius Bob & Chez Show, 4.10.13

President Obama’s Social Security Cuts; Chained CPI; Very Serious Budget Hawks; The Gun Control Bill Keeps Moving Through Congress; Regulating Knives; Ted Nugent Still Talking About Shooting People; Chickhawks; Pretending to Be In the Military; Mitch McConnell, Ashley Judd and the Mother Jones Tape; and much more. Brought to you by Bubble Genius and the BobCesca.com Amazon Link.

Listen and subscribe on for free on iTunes

Download the mp3 (55 minutes, 23mb)

Bob & Chez Show Archive

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Listening Post

Last Saturday night, my girlfriend and I sat front-row-center for a really unique and wonderful show at the Orpheum in downtown L.A. Performing with the Sonos Quartet and several other damn good musicians was film composer Clint Mansell. Over a period of an hour-and-a-half he went through some of his most well-known work from movies like Moon, Requiem for a Dream, and The Fountain. It was intimate, it was lovely, and it put into perspective just how far Mansell has come since his days in the British indie band Pop Will Eat Itself.

What really excited me about the show was that playing drums for him was Chris Vrenna, who's played with Nine Inch Nails and Manson but whose ongoing side project, Tweaker, has quietly released some of my favorite music of the last decade or so.

So, above it's Clint Mansell's Stay With Me, from The Fountain -- and below it's Tweaker's Linoleum, with the great David Sylvian on vocals.