Hypocrisy aside, I like the guy now that I've read his deeply captivating love letter emails. Finally, one of those Republicans seems to feel genuine emotion, like their distant cousins, the humans.
Who would have thought we'd ever see the head of the GOP Governor Association pen the words: "Please sleep soundly knowing that despite the best efforts of my head my heart cries out for you"? I mean, the dude quoted Corinthians -- and the Thorn Birds! Good for him.
Although when Sanford tenderly reveals that he relaxes on island idylls by curling up with Alan Greenspan's "The Age of Turbulence" and then takes a break from his romantic break to recommend it to his mistress, you remember that, Oh right, this is also the guy who took a stand against the "tyranny" of Obama's economic stimulus by refusing to accept money for poor people in his state. Maybe that's what happens when are you so in love the rest of the world just doesn't matter...
It's true: the mercury made Boston Corbett crazy. But not before he shot the man who shot Lincoln. On April 26th, 1865, he was among the 16th New York Cavalrymen sent to track down John Wilkes Booth. Corbett got a shot through a crack in the barn and took it. Secretary of War (as the used to more honestly call the office) Henry Stanton wanted Booth live, but Corbett said he shot Booth because either A) Booth was armed and dangerous, or B) God told him to do so.
God talked to Corbett often. A few years earlier, Corbett had grown his hair long to emulate Jesus. Oh, and he also castrated himself with a pair of scissors. Yup. So as to not succumb to the temptations of prostitutes. Seems like finding a ladyfriend would have been a simpler solution. Or maybe he just REALLY liked prostitutes. Years later, Corbett dug a hole in a hillside and lived in it. And yet, he was still able to get a job at the Kansas state house. That lasted until he brandished a revolver and started charging around like a bull because someone made a joke about prayer. He died in a fire.
The game, organized for kicks by Brent as a DVD menu, took on a life of its own as a performance art critique on US border policy. By which I mean it was a chance for me and Brent to knock the rock in the name of America! U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A! Want to find
out who wins? Watch the whole thing! It's short. And has some awesome
freaking saves. By me. Oh, and also worth seeing is my colorful dispatch at the time of the game for the LA Weekly:
most desolate and unknown beach is desolate and unknown for a reason.
It has no name, no facilities, no parking lot. There are no signs for
it inside Borderfield State Park. There are no signs for the park
either. To get there, you depart the 5 freeway 10 miles south of San Diego, follow the roads to where the gas stations give way to horse stables, get lost in the overgrowth and streams of the Tijuana River delta, and from there walk the dirt road two miles through coastal dunes to emerge at the Pacific.
This is a filthy beach, where the Tijuana River deposits human
waste, heavy metals, toxic poisons and other industrial effluvia from Mexico into the ocean. “CONTAMINATED WATER; DEEP HOLES; RIPTIDES; NO LIFEGUARD; NO SWIMMING!” the signs announce.
This is also a geopolitically divided beach, purposefully hidden, a DMZ in miniature where the men and women of the U.S. Border Patrol
would prefer no distractions as they monitor the fence of metal pylons
that draws a 20-foot-tall line in the sand all the way into the sea.
It is the perfect beach, in other words, for the world’s first game of international border volleyball.
This is the idea, at least, as I trek to the beach with no name to meet Brent Hoff
and three other collaborators who plan to stage the match. There, under
the noon sun, are a lone umbrella, some towels, lots of water and a
brand-new volleyball. Hoff is the editor of Wholphin, a new DVD
magazine published by McSweeney’s. For the DVD’s menu, Hoff wants to
film a game of beach volleyball using the border fence as the net.
Through the pylons we can see hundreds of people — families, kids,
ice-cream vendors and fishermen — all hanging out on Mexico’s side. The
fence itself has kind of a beach vibe here: It’s broken in parts, and
Mexican nationals wander back and forth, left alone by the
border-patrol units perched up on the hill unless they happen to wander
a bit too far.
“Why not use this no man’s land as a real beach,” Hoff adds, now
spinning the volleyball in preparation, “and see if we could strike up
a friendly pickup game? There’s no law against that.”
Or is there? Hoff suddenly wonders if hitting the ball back and
forth constitutes a violation of U.S. Customs law, since goods are
technically being transported across an international border. “Does a
nice volley amount to three strikes? Can we all get thrown in the
slammer?” One friend of Brent’s refused to come down because he thought
we’d all get shot.
We decide to take our chances. Here we are, under the perfect sun of
San Diego, where beach volleyball reigns, so why should that be any
different just a few miles south?
With Hoff’s three collaborators filming, he needs a second, and so I am volunteered to be the other half of Team USA.
By chance, we are both wearing white tank tops, beaded necklaces and
swim trunks — just the right uniforms for Team USA to show everybody
who’s boss. (U-S-A! U-S-A!) Hoff’s shades are yellow and mirrored for a
nice finishing touch. We approach the fence. Within seconds Team Mexico
is formed, and the match begins.
Beach volleyball is a much different game when played over two-story
metal pylons. Strategy and nuance go out the window. There are few sets
and certainly no spikes. Mostly, it’s tit-for-tat power bumps that send
the ball in 30- and 40- and even 50-foot arcs. The ball hangs in the
air so long that a lot of time is spent looking skyward, bracing for
another bump that hopefully goes in the right direction. As I wait for
one good knock to fall from the blue, it occurs to me that our entirely
new sport makes for some extreme, if inadvertent, political theater.
Despite the difficulty, the game is fun — and surprisingly
uninteresting to the border patrol, who zipped down at the drop of a
hat several times earlier but now seem content to observe us with
Spectators line up on the other side too. Beachgoers watch the game,
and a bunch of kids doing a college art project film us as well. We
learn that our opponents are two guys named Jerry and Larry. Jerry grew
up in El Monte. He’s in Mexico because he “made mistakes in his life” — I notice a big “EMF” for the El Monte Flores
gang on his arm. But now, he says, he’s on the right path. Larry is a
student with long, rocker hair; he’s wearing a black shirt and jeans.
Although we’re not really playing for points, it’s clear we’re
losing. Hoff makes heroic dives, and I’m (sort of) pulling my weight in
the volleys that develop, but Jerry and Larry have strength and
stamina, despite the fact that Jerry is older and wider than me and
Hoff combined, and Larry looks like he should be melting.
After an hour or so, we call it quits. Our wrists
are red and raw as we go to the fence to shake hands. A crowd gathers
for this moment of cultural exchange, which turns into a photo
opportunity. Like China’s
pandas, Hoff and I are goodwill ambassadors. See how furry and friendly
we really are? We’re not all saber rattlers up here! We take pictures
with Jerry and Larry, with the art-school kids, with some tourists from
Canada who are marveling at the whole thing.
All this activity finally brings down the hammer of the border
patrol, and a jeep shows up to separate us. The officer is friendly but
firm. He’s just come on shift and has no idea we’ve been playing
volleyball over the fence for the past hour.
He tells us that a daredevil launched himself across the border in a
cannon a while back, but that ours was, in fact, the first-ever game of
international border volleyball.
“And it worked over that tall fence?”
“Yup,” we say. “We’re up for one more round if you want to play.”
Star Trek + JJ Abrams = awesome. Star Trek + Daniel Martinico = also awesome. In honor of the commercial and artistic achievement that is the new Star Trek, let us pause to reflect on the purely artistic and deeply fascination achievement that is The Wrath of Khan!, a show a while back staged as part of Mark Allen's ever-enlightening Machine program. It is a lesson in transformation. See how to go from this:
Shocker: "Up" nearly broke $70m, despite the drumbeatmedia coverage about how the supposed lack of interest from younger boys and no female lead would not interest audiences. Most egregious was the NY Times piece, which built its jittery thesis on a seemingly fundamental misread of the relative box office success of Pixar movies. That was also where we had to hear from one Richard Greenfield, of Pali research, going on the record to downgrade Disney stock because he thought "Up" couldn't connect. Woops! Then as now, I don't understand why anyone, much less a media reporter, would put much value in what an errant Wall Street analyst has to say about movie marketing. These are people who couldn't understand their own financial instruments, and pretended like all was well as they followed each other off a cliff. So we should we expect them to know how to value movies? Answer: we shouldn't.
The Zombie Zeitgeist A full scale movement is on the lurch. But why the best zombie movie ever made a video game?
Believer interview with Mark Allen Digital artist and awesome gallerist Mark Allen talks about Tekken Torture Tournament and other projects where people were wired to machines and did strange things in public.
Believer interview with Marjane Satrapi Enlightening Q & A with the Persian cartoonist, memoirist, quick conversationalist in which she declares: “THE WORLD IS NOT ABOUT BATMAN AND ROBIN FIGHTING THE JOKER; THINGS ARE MORE COMPLICATED THAN THAT.”
Yeti Researcher Yet another 100-page issue of the world's top academic journal devoted scholarship about the Yeti, Bigfoot, Sasqatch, and other mystery primates worldwide. For researchers and lay audiences alike, the latest YR features a history of Sasquatch sightings in southern California, an update on the wily orang pendek of Sumatra, and a new look into Teddy Roosevelt's obsession with bagging a Bigfoot. As Editor-in-Chief, I promise you won't be disappointed.
Panda PowerPoint! I guess I don't mind being "the entertainment" when it's at Mark Allen's second annual Holiday Fry-B-Que. Presented: preliminary findings from my ongoing research into the most charismatic megafauna of all: Giant Pandas.
McSweeny's Presents: The World, Explained | Dec 9, 2006 For those who missed it, there will be more. World, Explained is going strong! Money was raised, laughs were had, and for those paying attention, small amounts of useful information about things like the aurora borealis were transmitted. Plus: Michael Cera = lovably funny. And Nick Diamonds' renditions of Dumb Dog and Hanging Tough are still in my head. As is that horribly catchy Fresh Step jam.
Jest Fest at Skylight Books Somehow I wound up hosting the 10th anniversary jubilee for Infinite Jest at Skylight Books. Because who doesn't love a jubilee, right? Despite being delirious with Hepatitis A (that's the mild, non-lethal kind; I'm not at risk for Hep B since I always go the needle share and choose clean-looking prostitutes), I managed to not mis-pronounce anyone's name and make an erudite joke and poke gentle fun at Michael Silverblatt.
McSweeny's Presents: The World, Explained | June 10, 2006 Number Three! Last one was sold out so we moved to a slightly larger theater. Andy Richter hosted, and his opening exegesis of CSI: Miami warmed the people up right. Evany Thomas presented her very scientific findings on the Secret Language of Sleep; Starlee Kine bared her neuroses to the world (or at least the 300 people in the audience); Josh Davis showed video of his 135-lb self sumo wrestling a 550-lb opera singer from San Bernardino; and Davy Rothbart closed it out with some Found Magazine magic. Grant Lee Phillips, Sam Shelton and Zooey Deschanel provided the music punctuation! I can still hear their rendition of We Are the Champions.
McSweeny's Presents: The World, Explained | Feb 11, 2006 The second in our series of precision comedy and fact-based entertainment extravaganzas benefiting 826LA. Patton Oswalt was kind enough to host, and Jon Brion joined in on the piano and guitar as thematic accompaniment. Presenters included: David Rees, Michael Colton, John Hodgman (along with his hirsuit troubadour, Jonathan Coulton), and me. Plus: a fashion show of exciting multi-user garmentry.
Little Gray Book Lecture at Galapagos How to Observe President's Day. Jonathan Coulton's technical wizardry has made this entire show available online. The summary from PRX: Sarah Vowell, John Hodgman and Joshuah Bearman on Presidents' Day, along with a fifteen-piece marching band and a new song about all forty-three presidents. My contribution? Yes, from Yeti Researcher. Again. Actually that was the first one. So I have only five stories!
July 25: TJ to LA -- A Night McSweeney's Readings I was honored to be part of a strange triptych along with Salvador Plascencia and Josh Kun. Sponsored, somehow, by La Ciudad magazine, we all packed into Beyond Baroque with no air conditions. 150 people showed at 7 o'clock on a Friday evening, which we took as a good sign of something. Sal held up and anxiously discussed drawings from his novel, Josh delivered an essay on the Dr. Moreau of Tijuana, and my shtick (again) was Pac Man and metaphysics, this time with fun slides.
October 8th: Skylight Books w/Stephen Elliott Fun times were had by all. Someone in the audience actually mistook me for an expert on the psychology human character. We ate shrimp cocktail and drank cheap wine and laughed at Bush and celebrated the certainty of right besting wrong in American democracy. A lot of good that did.