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Archive for June, 2007

War… and Peace?

I was randomly surfing through Boing Boing’s insanely cluttered roads whilst pretending to look busy at work, when i came across one of the most deeply moving articles on the Iraqi War.

The article, aptly titled “Last Photographs” was written by Ashley Gilbertson and printed in the Summer 2007 issue of the VQR Journals. As the title suggests, this was a write up on the last photographs taken by the photograher before the individual characters met with their death. Gilbertson’s thoughtful article stands out because he concludes his write up on a very personal level. And that in my opinion is what jounalism should be all about, stories to pique the imagination, with apt photos that offer a glimpse into the conditions so far from home.

doggone

As Gilbertson says:

Covering the war used to make me feel like I was doing something important, but I have grown to accept that Americans will not stop dying because I take their pictures; sectarian violence won’t end because I photographed one woman’s death; and abuse won’t stop because I witnessed the aftermath of one interrogation. I’m just recording history now, documenting the decline, in the hope that the people who don’t recognize it now may one day look back at my pictures and see the war for the mistake-riddled quagmire it was—and is. In the meantime, I’ll continue to struggle with how to define the conflict in Iraq without letting it define me.

So, if you have 10 minutes to spare, you can read the article here.

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Ok … maybe the politically correct title should be “To Believe in Humankind”.

I was watching Boston Legal this mundane Monday evening when Alan Shore (Yes, the smarty pants one) delivered a closing statement regarding the belief in/of God. This was what he had to say:

You know, I—I want to believe in God. Not because of any words in the Bible or claims made by Gospels but because, I suppose, with our planet being polluted into extinction while country after country develops nuclear bombs, coinciding with an unprecedented escalation in hatred, while an entire continent is dying from AIDS and starvation, as the rest of the world pretends not to notice. It’s not that easy these days to have faith in man. But if we don’t believe in God, then our only alternative is to believe in man. Well, I’m not sure if I do believe in God, and even if I did, I’m not sure He’d be the same God *pointing at a juror* you believe in, or you believe in *points to another juror*. But in the throes of doubt, I still do believe in man. I believe in man’s innate sense of humanity, his potential for compassion, reason, righteousness in his heart.
– Boston Legal episode 3×16: The Good Lawyer

Ditto.

This episode piqued my interest and deserved a mention simply because Alan’s statement echoes (almost completely) my attitude towards God and the mortal world.

Human beings are constantly inflicting so much hurt onto everything and each other. Yet, at the same time, we are constantly reminded and aware of just how much good exist within the human race. My friends tell me that this good only arose because there are people doing “god’s work”, but I’d much rather think that there’s a little bit of godly-ness in everyone of us.

Et in Arcadia ego

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If we take that phase as a personification of death’s “I am also/even in Arcadia”, we realize that human mortality is inevitable even in a Utopian vision. Therefore, while Utopia will always be an unrealistic ideal, it is a vision that we, as human beings, should continually strive towards. After all, like I said before, there’s a little bit of godly-ness in everyone of us.

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Recently, I worked with a colleague who’s was doing a history phD thesis on the Shangri-Las. Talk about having fun doing work… I think we arts people are pretty much living the good life, being able to pursue the things that others can only do as hobbies. All the same, she told me about how she had just returned from New York, having given a well received seminar on the Shangri-Las, “Leader of the Pack” with regards to motorbike culture in the US.

Shooo interesting right??

Since I’m quite a big fan of the 1960s teenage angst movies, like James Dean’s “Rebel without a cause” and Marlon Brando’s “The wild one, i went rapturous just listening to her. So anyways, i decided to put the lyrics to the Shangri-Las’s “Leader of the Pack” here as tribute to the motor gangs of that time.

A time where boys wore tight pants and lived by the motto “Live Fast, Die Young”. When good little blond haired blue eyed, ribbon clad, daddy girls went out to diners each week and danced their lives away. With shows like grease and such, how can any of us not find that life so much more exciting over the mundane one we lead.

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LEADER OF THE PACK
(G. Morton – J. Barry – Ellie Greenwich)
THE SHANGRI-LAS (RED BIRD 10014, 1964)

[spoken]
Is she really going out with him?
Well, there she is. Let’s ask her
Betty, is that Jimmy’s ring you’re wearing?
Mm-hmm
Gee, it must be great riding with him
Is he picking you up after school today?
Uh-uh
By the way, where’d you meet him?

I met him at the candy store
He turned around and smiled at me
You get the picture? (yes, we see)
That’s when I fell for (the leader of the pack)

My folks were always putting him down (down, down)
They said he came from the wrong side of town
(whatcha mean when ya say that he came from the wrong side of town?)
They told me he was bad
But I knew he was sad
That’s why I fell for (the leader of the pack)

One day my dad said, find someone new
I had to tell my Jimmy we’re through
(whatcha mean when ya say that ya better go find somebody new?)
He stood there and asked me why
But all I could do was cry
I’m sorry I hurt you (the leader of the pack)

[spoken]
He sort of smiled and kissed me goodbye
The tears were beginning to show
As he drove away on that rainy night
I begged him to go slow
But whether he heard, I’ll never know

Look out! Look out! Look out! Look out!

I felt so helpless, what could I do?
Remembering all the things we’d been through
In school they all stop and stare
I can’t hide the tears, but I don’t care
I’ll never forget him (the leader of the pack)

The leader of the pack – now he’s gone
The leader of the pack – now he’s gone
The leader of the pack – now he’s gone
The leader of the pack – now he’s gone

To a large extent, these movies really made the classic “Bad boy” of cinema as we know of today. I mean … take a look at Jamesy here.

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Swoon-some isn’t he?

So what was I saying again? Bikey gangs. Right.

Bill Barich calls that potential escape from the everyday world a “tear in reality,” a flight to places where people are free to be irresponsible, and where they can experience whatever might be missing from their lives. For some men life as an outlaw allows them to compete and sometimes win on more even terms. They can display their toughness and independence, important attributes of masculinity. Similarly, escape may be a response to a perception they have failed (or do not wish to succeed) as civilized men.

I suppose motorcycles inspire a longing for the open road and life without responsibility. So typical of men eh. hah. Just as Harley–Davidson was for many years the only American–made motorcycle, a patriotic anachronism in a high–tech world of Japanese imports, bikers are among the last American individualists.

And i guess, that’s the most attractive element of bike culture.
That ability to pursue whatever you want, free from social customs, and in whatever way you choose.

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Folktales

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We tell stories because, in order to cope with the present and to face the future, we have to create the past, both as time and space, through narrating it.
– W.F.H Nicolaisen

We all have stories to tell, but whether we have the means to carry that out is another thing altogether. If I had but one wish, I guess it would be for everyone to possess the ability to express themselves freely and easily. That speech will cease to be limited to cumbersome words, but become sufficient to truly express all that is felt.

Because … words shouldn’t fail.

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As if Sam Beam’s (Iron and Wine) lyrics aren’t already stirring enough, his “whispery, aspirated style” of singing brings out the beauty of everyday life, of a “passing afternoon”.

Although the singing and content may appear too bland to some, artistically speaking, this is a masterpiece in my terms. Simply because it grips the listener emotionally. Don’t we all know of some mundane afternoon where you look out the window, with nothing to do but reminisce of the good ol’ days gone by.

PASSING AFTERNOON
by Iron and Wine

There are times that walk from you like some passing afternoon
Summer warmed the open window of her honeymoon
And she chose a yard to burn but the ground remembers her
Wooden spoons, her children stir her Bougainvillea blooms

There are things that drift away like our endless, numbered days
Autumn blew the quilt right off the perfect bed she made
And she’s chosen to believe in the hymns her mother sings
Sunday pulls its children from their piles of fallen leaves

There are sailing ships that pass all our bodies in the grass
Springtime calls her children ’till she let’s them go at last
And she’s chosen where to be, though she’s lost her wedding ring
Somewhere near her misplaced jar of Bougainvillea seeds

There are things we can’t recall, blind as night that finds us all
Winter tucks her children in, her fragile china dolls
But my hands remember hers, rolling ’round the shaded ferns
Naked arms, her secrets still like songs I’d never learned

There are names across the sea, only now I do believe
Sometimes, with the windows closed, she’ll sit and think of me
But she’ll mend his tattered clothes and they’ll kiss as if they know
A baby sleeps in all our bones, so scared to be alone.

Mmmm … poignantly luurveerly.
Sighest.

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Nerds Gone Wild!

I was at Empire Toys recently and i picked up one of these mags, then quickly shoved it into my roomy tote for fear of being geeked out.

But when i took it home for closer inspection, this mag is totally hilarious. And to top it on the geek-o-meter, its available online for downloads. So if you’re bored and want something to read, try it. It’s geekchic.

I’ll leave you with a comment by one of the readers.

“Jesus H.G. Christ I need this magazine! I’ve pulled/sprained something from the hilarity – it hurts like shit and i want more. I haven’t laughed so hard since I found out that you can watch the entirety of Galaxy Quest in the Thermian.

I will remember this day as a close call – I almost died … I almost died from it … Please give me more. Where do I get it? I found it at work (bookshop), someone left it … probably because they had to be taken away by the paramedics.

If I don’t get another I will surely die. And how do I get the back issues? I need them and I need to give them to friends. Now please excuse me I must change out of some soiled clothes.”

– Matt

So yes, be prepared to unleash your inner nerd.

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yakkymm

I have some of the kindest friends in the world.
Hrrmmphh.

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