Jangle guitars.

Big news out of Georgia yesterday: R.E.M. (or is it REM? Periods or no periods?) is breaking up. To touch on yesterday’s discussion, this seems like the sort of iconic news event for whatever the phenomenon is where you hear something like that and think, “Huh. I thought they were dead.”

I didn’t think R.E.M. was dead, but one of them had some health issues a while back — brain tumor, maybe? A quick glance at the indisputably authoritative Wikipedia says no, it was a brain aneurysm, it was Bill Berry, and he left in 1997, at which point it’s safe to say I was no longer paying attention. “Green” (1988) was the last album I bought, although I think “Automatic for the People” (1992) is lying around here somewhere. A guy I knew in the Fort had a one-night fling with Michael Stipe when they passed through Bloomington on tour.

And when I reread those two paragraphs, I am reminded why one should never tattoo one’s enthusiasms on one’s body. There was a time when I wore the grooves down on “Murmur” and “Reckoning” and the rest of the early catalog, and if the tattooing thing had had any traction then, I might have opted for a discreet “Radio Free Europe” inside an ankle. They were my favorite band in the last time in my life when I thought I needed to make such a designation. Such things are only evident in hindsight, and thank heavens for that, eh?

As (a very small) part of this enthusiasm, J.C. and Sam and I day-tripped to Athens when I visited them in Atlanta one year. We made the drive noticing all the parallels between Georgia’s Athens and Ohio’s, which is where J.C. and I became friends: It’s a college town about 90 miles east of a large city. The road there starts out a traditional interstate, then becomes a plain old four-lane. And once you get there, well, you’ve got your traditional college town, which immediately sets off the ache of nostalgia and familiarity in anyone who ever spent time in one. You want to stop the students on the street and tell them savor every moment and stop snoozing through your comp lit class and you’ll never live like this again (nor want to).

And then we visited the Uga graves — that’s pronounced “ugga” — and the Tree that Owns Itself and ate in one of those places every college town has, probably a vegetarian/locavore/Moosewood hippie trough, and visited a bookstore. Then, while near a courthouse-lawn cannon, Sam said she thought the guns still had some mobility to them, so I put my hands on the barrel of one and pushed down, and whaddaya know, it moved, and poured about a gallon of accumulated rainwater, no doubt mixed with discarded beer and frat-boy pee, onto my shoes.

Then we went home. Now that I think of it, I was probably already pretty much over R.E.M. by then.

The other big news out of Georgia yesterday was the execution of Troy Davis, of which you have probably heard enough to at least make up your mind about the morality of the act. I have rather studiously avoided death-penalty arguments over the years, although I have my opinions about it. In general, I think: Some form of it will always be with us, because Americans are bloodthirsty people. We have almost certainly executed innocent men and women, and we will almost certainly do it again, and maybe the people of Georgia did it last night. And I’m against it, not enough for the Full Prejean but enough that I admire those who make its opposition their life’s work.

My ambitions are more modest — to get people to stop using “electrocute” as a synonym for “shock.” No one recovers from an electrocution.

OK, so: Speaking of Helen Prejean, which makes me think of movies, it’s now September, which means the list of movies I must see is already growing. So far: “Contagion” and “Drive.” Anyone with fewer weekend commitments seen them yet? What am I missing? I was going to avoid “Contagion” on general Paltrow-ish principle, but it’s my understanding she dies early and the rest of the film is “Traffic”-esque, which I loved.

We haven’t discussed the post office here, have we? You’ve probably heard about the organization’s financial problems, which set off the usual clamor in the well-paid flying monkeys of the conservative chattering classes (Roy’s got you covered there). It so happens I needed to get something in hard copy to the other side of the country in a two-day time frame not long ago, and alas, it was a Sunday. (This was a parcel consisting of about 100 pages of paper, letter-size.) My first stop was FedEx, thinking that was my only alternative. No, they couldn’t absolutely, positively get it there overnight, but they could get it there by Tuesday, for … the lady put it on the scale … $54.

“Are you kidding me?” I gasped. Of course not. I rechecked my requirements, found I only needed it to be postmarked by Monday, so I went to the post office the next day, and Express Mailed it for $18. It got there Tuesday, same as the FedEx package would have, for $36 less. Just so you get a sense of what we’re in for, in a USPS-free world.

Everybody saw this yesterday, but just in case you didn’t: Elizabeth Warren, bringing the Awesome.

Alas, work beckons. And the lawn-service trucks just pulled up outside, which means soon I won’t be able to hear myself think, let alone think of jangle guitars. Happy Thursday.

Posted at 9:51 am in Popculch, Same ol' same ol' |

73 responses to “Jangle guitars.”

  1. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on September 22, 2011 at 9:58 am

    She’s awesome, but there’s a sexism factor (sorry, Boston buddies) that’s going to be very difficult for her to overcome. Coakley had a tone/affect problem which probably buried her, but Massachusetts just doesn’t like voting for women.

    Not that I think Ohio would do much better in a similar circumstance. Good luck and strong tailwinds to her, though.

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  2. nancy said on September 22, 2011 at 10:07 am

    I need a cite on that Bay State-hates-women thing, Jeff. It loved Kennedys for so long they were like a black hole of gravitational pull, and with the death of Teddy things are still sorting themselves out. I could easily see her punishing Scott Brown, but obvs I don’t know much about Massachusetts.

    (But Prospero/April does! Ducking for 15-post string of comments.)

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  3. Deborah said on September 22, 2011 at 10:12 am

    My favorite REM tune of all time is “Night Swimming”, I played it over and over in my car when I used to drive a lot in St. Louis.

    I was disgusted about the Troy Davis execution. I can’t wait until all of that finally stops. If ever.

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  4. Jen said on September 22, 2011 at 10:21 am

    I haven’t seen “Contagion” – I want to because I love a good thriller, but I’m afraid that I will have to lock myself in the house after watching it! But I did see “Drive” on Sunday, and it was excellent. It was definitely not a movie for everybody, because if they walk in expecting a traditional action movie they are going to be sorely disappointed. It has a very different pacing than many movies. It’s artistic, and it’s intense. Though, if you’re bothered by brutal violence, there will be a few scenes that will really bother you.

    If I remember, Nancy, you have good taste in movies, so I’m guessing you will like “Drive.”

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  5. Lex said on September 22, 2011 at 10:28 am

    R.E.M. was the last thing to change my life besides becoming a dad.

    Re Troy Davis: I’m pro-capital punishment, and at this stage of my life, I figure that’s not going to change. But what happened in Georgia last night was a travesty. I don’t know whether Troy Davis was innocent or guilty, and I’m not even certain there was reasonable doubt, although with seven of nine witnesses having recanted, I think there probably was. But there absolutely, incontrovertibly was enough doubt that he shouldn’t have been executed, and if this case is any example, then maybe capital punishment is too important to be entrusted to human beings.

    There’s a statue of my great-grandfather, Hooper Alexander Sr., in front of the DeKalb County Courthouse in Decatur, Ga. (metro Atlanta for those of you who don’t know the area). He got involved in the Leo Frank case in 1915 — while U.S. Attorney, or chief prosecutor, for northern Georgia, although he did this in his personal capacity because the feds had no jurisdiction in the case. His efforts to prevent the railroading of an innocent man cost him what had been a promising political career. He was no saint — he was virulently racist, among other things — but I cannot help thinking he would have been appalled by what happened last night.

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  6. brian stouder said on September 22, 2011 at 10:36 am

    …but there’s a sexism factor

    In all seriousness, I’ve been pondering this very thing recently, with regard to the presidential field. Imagine Rick Perry saying the things Sarah Palin or Michele Bachmann say, out on the campaign trail. This is not hard to do, because their rhetoric is largely interchangeable. Yet, Perry is a front runner? His main asset – physical beauty – is just the same as Bachmann or Palin, but the latter two get dismissed as superficially attractive, whereas Perry gets automatic (and artificial) gravitas from it; “he looks presidential”.

    Bottom line: Go Elizabeth Warren!!

    ps – watched “Something Borrowed” last night; the rom-com made me mad, but I was too wiped out (did the platelet thing at Red Cross) to leave the sofa and go to bed

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  7. Jeff Borden said on September 22, 2011 at 10:41 am

    I am no fan of the death penalty unless there is absolutely incontrovertible truth or a confession from the killer. But I also agree we are a country that loves the Old Testament “eye for an eye” thing and it seems unlikely to vanish entirely, particularly in states where goober’s like Rick Perry reap electoral advantage along with the Grim Reaper.

    When I was a police reporter in Columbus, there were a series of dozens of rapes in one particular part of the city, which happened to be where Nancy and I lived for awhile. Dubbed (incorrectly) the “Grandview rapist,” this creep had a particular M.O., attacking single women residents of first-floor apartments. One day Columbus police towed an illegally parked Mercedes-Benz. On the front seat was a yellow legal tablet that, amazingly, listed every single one of the bastard’s crimes. The perpetrator turned out to be a well-regarded physician in the black community. His arrest and subsequent conviction led to the release of a man who had served something like five years for rape after being convicted based on eyewitness identifications. Do I need to tell you he was almost a dead ringer for the rapist doctor? Even his last name was the same.

    There’s no doubt in my mind that the eyewitnesses acted in good faith. So did the police and the prosecutors. It was a slam dunk except it wasn’t. The innocent man was freed, of course, but he’d just lost five years of his life because of well-intentioned mistakes.

    This case always resonates with me when we have a death row inmate who is there largely because of eyewitness accounts and circumstantial evidence. Whether or not Troy Davis was innocent –the wife and children of the murdered police officer certainly do not think he was– it seems there was more than enough anecdotal evidence to at least stay his execution and reopen the investigation.

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  8. Peter said on September 22, 2011 at 10:51 am

    First off, kudos to Brian for giving up the platelets.

    Next, Brian, I’d like to agree with your point about Rick Perry, but I’m wondering: perhaps even the Tea folks realize that Snowzilla and O’Bachmann couldn’t organize a two car funeral, whereas Perry has some experience actually running something and sticking with it (although so did Bush, so there you go).

    And as far as the death penalty is concerned: I did think there are some crimes or individuals so heinous that the death penalty is warranted. But what does it accomplish? I know it costs a lot to keep someone in jail; but look at what they spend on trying to execute someone. I thought the government’s job is to mete out justice, not revenge.

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  9. Julie Robinson said on September 22, 2011 at 10:57 am

    This has been a crazy-busy week with our daughter home but there’s a brief pause and I’m trying to catch up just a bit. And confess that when I heard REM had broken up, my question was, when did they drop Speedwagon from their name? Good thing Sarah was here to set me straight.*

    It doesn’t matter that Elizabeth Warren is female, it matters that she speaks common sense, which is the kiss of death in politics today.

    Dorothy, it’s great to hear that your surgery was successful and you can knit again. A family friend is having a rough recovery from knee replacement surgery, though from what I hear, that’s par for the cour

    *Ask me about classical. Ask me about Broadway. Just don’t ask me about rock.

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  10. coozledad said on September 22, 2011 at 11:04 am

    I’d worked for a couple of businesses before I worked for the Postal Service, so when the clowns in management said they were going to run it like a business, I knew it would sink like a rock. In addition to the anti-competetive restrictions congress placed on it, the postal service takes up a good deal of its competitor’s slack, delivering a pretty fair number of packages for which UPS and Fed Ex get the up-front payment.
    Republicans are all about the Constitution, until it comes to reading it, and it’s that purblindness that’s always informed their ludicrous judgement regarding an essential service.
    Nabokov said that even in societies that had gone off the rails he could always count on getting a letter out or in. This would include Civil War Russia, the gooberization of Germany, and the fall of France.
    If you need any more evidence that the right is batshit, and is going to keep maliciously fucking with the standard of living in this country, you don’t need to look any further than their steady dismantling of the mail service. You rurals who voted for these assholes are going to get it good and hard, and you’re going to get it first.
    It actually does my heart good to think of all the rightwads to whom I used to deliver Investors Business Weekly and Soldier of Fortune who will now have to take the lipocycle out to the truck and then pay for their own gas to drive to a Fas-Mart and bitch about their mail to someone who is 95% less likely to have gone through the training required to resist calling someone a pig-ignorant snuff-dribbling fuck when they richly deserve it.
    And when they fall in the ditch while string-trimming around their lawn jockey, there won’t be any rural carrier to notice they’ve been there a couple days and are starting to go all mucky. Or that local teens are hosting an impromptu yard sale of their personal effects while they’re down at the Klavern. Or that Grandma ain’t been out of the trailer sunning in her underwear on the stoop.

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  11. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on September 22, 2011 at 11:05 am

    Nancy, here’s one from “The Hill,” and I know I’d read a longer analysis in Politico.com but it’s not showing up on a quick search:


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  12. nancy said on September 22, 2011 at 11:07 am

    Cooz, refresh my memory on how that works — the “last leg” deliveries the PO does for the for-profit carriers. I read about that some time back, and found it jaw-dropping. Essentially, the post office delivers the UPS/FedEx packages to areas they find insufficiently profitable, right?

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  13. april glaspie said on September 22, 2011 at 11:25 am

    No periods. The great thing about REM is that they served as a perfect antidote to pompous-ass U2, and Pete Buck didn’t need a guitar tech to hand him some wierd tuning instrument for each new song. And the cannon is double-barreled. How in the world does an out of towner find the Tree that Own’s Itself? And Athens is only (unfortunately) 60 miles from Atlanta to Athens, depending on where or which side of the grotesque Atlanta sprawl you’re coming from. If I had $10 for every time the Atlanta J/C called REM an “Atlanta band” I wouldn’t worry about Paul Ryan reaming Medicare.

    The whole jangle guitar thing was an overdone critic’s trope. Where’s the jangle in this, REM’s most overtly political song? This is propulsive rock’n’roll with an angry attitude and amazing bass-playing and brilliant backup singing by Mike Mills. REM has also been extremely active in civic affairs in Athens for years, and is a community pillar that shows up when needed financially and personally for food banks and other social safety net and cultural efforts. I’ve got the last two albums, Accelerate and Collapse into Now (title by Patti Smith), and I’ll buy Cat Butt if they ever make that. These latest two are very good, and if the alternative these days is Bon Iver and Fleet Foxes, or Lady Freaking Gaga or Lil Wayne for God’s Sake it’s a Bad Day for popular music (fuck you W).

    Martha Coakley was possibly the worst political campaigner of all time. She could not have beaten an indicted ham sandwich with the effort she put forth against Brown. Had Caroline Kennedy run, Mr. Centerfold would be working for the Jeff Guckert Escort Service these days. There may be some Massachusetts aversion to female politicians, but if there is, it’s in good ole boy redneck bastions like Southie and Charlestown, where the Teabangers are likely to thrive anyway and they have home altars with Louise Day Hicks icons to this day. In the rest of the blue collar state, Cambridge, Worcester, Springfield, Pittsfield, Scotty Boytoy would most likely “get treated pretty ugly” these days.

    Traffic was a terrific movie, but for that single gun theory, LSD-influenced, strings being inexorably pulled together by the time the acid wears off, everything is everything form of story-telling, I think Babel is better.

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  14. Scout said on September 22, 2011 at 11:27 am

    I still love R.E.M. Up until and including Automatic For the People they could do no wrong. I also love Stipe adding vocals to the Indigo Girls’ Kid Fears. Hard to believe, but that era is now in my “classic rock” music section. Seems like just yesterday it was current.

    The Troy Davis execution was a travesty of justice. That case needed to be reinvestigated thoroughly before anyone got the needle. If they weren’t willing to reopen the case after most of the eye witnesses recanted, then they should have stayed the execution. It felt so wrong on so many levels.

    Elizabeth Warren rocks. I’d love the chance to vote for her. Getting a candidate of her calibre in AZ is as likely as Martians stopping by for tea and crumpets. Our short bus Sheriff, Joe, has just announced he is organizing a “posse” to get to the bottom of the Obama birth certificate fakery. He’s in Orly Taitz territory of crazy, obviously, but the gun lovin’, Messican hatin’ rubes in rural AZ just love them some Sheriff Joe. It’s like another planet. Most Phoenecians don’t get it at all.

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  15. Suzanne said on September 22, 2011 at 11:36 am

    Coozledad @10
    Not to mention, what will angry and bored rural teens blow up when all the rural mailboxes are gone? Watch your chickens, people.

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  16. coozledad said on September 22, 2011 at 11:39 am

    All I can tell you Nancy, not being involved on the clerk side, is around Christmas, about 1/4 of my packages bore UPS and FED-Ex marks. The address labels would have indications of repeat misdeliveries scribbled by irate people with Sharpies. “Cant you read?” etc.
    UPS delivers once weekly in rural areas. It would take you about five years at that rate to even get an idea of who lives/has lived on the route. That sequential numeric/name map in your head is useful for stuff like that, if nothing else.

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  17. moe99 said on September 22, 2011 at 11:45 am

    It’s my understanding that the cost of a death penalty case far exceeds what the cost would be to keep the convicted individual in prison for the rest of his/her life. So the money argument fails.

    As far as movies to see, I recommend 50/50, coming out Sept. 30. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1306980/

    As someone who has been there, I think Joseph Gordon Leavitt does a superb job of conveying what one goes through when you get hit with a cancer diagnosis out of the blue. Based on a true story, involving a scriptwriter for the Ali G show. Seth Rogen was actually this guy’s friend so the role he plays is based on himself. It isn’t too Hollywood, or at least wasn’t for my taste. I thought the supporting actors were excellent as well.

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  18. april glaspie said on September 22, 2011 at 12:15 pm

    The actions of the Scalia Court (that’s what it is, plain and simple; Roberts is a tool and a toady and Canned Duckhunter originated the brilliant all-American legal theory that proof of innocence is insufficient to overthrow a conviction) is another fine example of the dangers posed to the USA by Teabangers specifically and GOPers in general. Think about potential Perry federal court appointments.

    Actually, on the REM/R.E.M. question, it’s like Keith Richard/Keith Richards. Depends what album you look at. Or Jim and Roger McGuinn.

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  19. Jeff Borden said on September 22, 2011 at 12:22 pm

    The USPS will probably die –condolences to you, Ben Franklin– because we have passed through the mirror and now everything the government does except the Defense Department, of course, must turn a profit.

    There’s something of a love-hate relationship with the post office in our house. The post office in our neighborhood is one of the worst in Chicago, staffed by some of the slowest, laziest and mouthiest assholes to ever don the blue uniform. I’ve spent hours seething in line while only one of the four windows is manned while the other clerks congregate in one corner, chatting and enjoying their coffee. Yet our mail delivery guy is unfailing efficient and friendly. He even rang the bell and waited for me to answer last week when my wife received some plant bulbs because he thought they might need to go into water quickly.

    Cooz is right, as usual. The very blockheads out in outer slobovia who voted straight Republican tickets will take it in the ear. This liberal Democatic city dweller will still be able to walk to a local UPS or FedEx store to do business, an option most Americans will not enjoy. Karma is a bitch, folks.

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  20. Linda said on September 22, 2011 at 12:27 pm

    The Postal service’s best years were when they were a backwater, full of politically appointed hacks that in no way tried to be a business. Sorry, but that’s the truth.

    But the service I get–in the store and out–is lots better than I get at a lot of private enterprise places. That’s also the truth.

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  21. Julie said on September 22, 2011 at 12:27 pm

    Just stopping in to say that you’ve got a faithful reader in Athens, GA (been there 21 years now), and you capture the essence. A blue dot in a red state, and a perfectly wonderful place to live. Come back any time!

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  22. Peter said on September 22, 2011 at 12:55 pm

    Jeff, I didn’t know we lived in the same neighborhood – I’d have more success finding an all you can eat buffet in North Korea than I would getting service out of my local post office. And for my local mail carrier – sheesh – I still have to go to the post office to get mail from my previous address that hasn’t been forwarded to my new one – THIRTY FEET down the same street.

    Even with that, I recognize the need for the mail service.

    But what do I know? Let it die. Then we will officially be more screwed up than Haiti.

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  23. Joe Kobiela said on September 22, 2011 at 1:12 pm

    Your letter was probley carried on a fedex plane.
    As for the Post office maybe than can cut back 3-4 days a week.
    Pilot Joe

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  24. april glaspie said on September 22, 2011 at 1:24 pm

    Jangle rap with KRS-1. We still listen to Out of Time frequently. The descant backup vocals by Mike Mills are unique in rock music.

    Citizen musicians, according to the local paper.

    Considering differences in cost for service, USPS is so much better than FedEx and UPS, they may as well operate in two different universes. Over the years, criticism of USPS has been mostly anecdotal, most of it probably apocryphal, and constant whining about escalation of stamp prices has always seemed like knee-jerk right wing bizarro bullshit.

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  25. Julie Robinson said on September 22, 2011 at 1:25 pm

    Our mail carrier provides great service and always brings packages up to the house. One time he even paid the postage due on a birthday card. He’s a sweetheart.

    My brother-in-law was a carrier walking a route in Pasadena and his income took a hit when he wasn’t allowed to receive gifts from his customers any more.

    But about that Chicago PO: Back in college my parents never got about half of the letters I sent them, which led to a few bad feelings. About 20 years later a huge cache of undelivered mail was discovered in the bowels of the main building. And I was vindicated.

    The stock market is sure unhappy again today. Capitalism is killing our 401K.

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  26. april glaspie said on September 22, 2011 at 1:35 pm


    If I may ask, what brought you to Athens? And what neighborhood do you live in? Have you been to the Georgia Theater since it reopened? A wonderful place to live. Do you go to Town & Gown plays? Botanical Gardens?

    Did you know that official state records in 2004 showe W beating Kerry in Clarke Co. by nearly 10%. Mighty fishy.

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  27. LAMary said on September 22, 2011 at 1:42 pm

    I had one terrible mail carrier for three years. I think he finally got fired or someone offed him. He was that bad. The guy we had before him and the woman we’ve had after him are great. The post office should not have to make a profit or even break even. It’s the freaking post office. It provides a useful service, a good, a benefit, for everyone. Schools, roads, mail delivery are things that improve the quality of life for everyone and can be best run by the government. I’ll throw in health care, libraries and parks too. Can we stop thinking of everything as a sink or swim financial venture?

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  28. coozledad said on September 22, 2011 at 1:45 pm

    One thing that’s always puzzled me about the shift to the “we need to behave more like the private sector” philosophy in the Postal Service, was the accompanying appointment of moribund postmasters who rarely exercised their most important function, which was public relations officer and commercial outreach facilitator in the community. Our capable Postmaster (a very sharp woman, former Army Officer) was replaced by a paranoid shitsack who, on the rare occasions he ventured from his office, slowed the progress of the mail by asking us to join in prayer, or wormed up to the front desk, whereupon the local populace on more than one occasion threatened to break his oily pate with a cane.
    Around the same time, the male supervisors began to sprout pussy-ticklers of such unvarying color and shape I began to refer to the style as “the Raleigh”. I never knew if it was mandatory, but it sure seemed that way.

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  29. Merrill Morris said on September 22, 2011 at 1:48 pm

    Another faithful Athens reader here who never has time to comment. The cannon has two barrels because the Civil-War-era inventor thought you could blast out two cannonballs connected by a chain at once, and gee, wouldn’t that be a great way to mow down the Yankees. Didn’t work, because they couldn’t make the two barrels go off at exactly the same time, but now it’s our town symbol.

    I was working at an alt-weekly in Athens in 1981, and I got assigned a story on new bands in town. Somebody told me to interview REM. So I met them at a local club where they were supposed to play later that night and talked to them for a while. They were very serious and polite, and at some point, one of them said, well, you want to hear us? I said, yes, and they got on stage and played Sitting Still. I was stunned at how good they were.

    They were good for Athens, too. I lived in Bloomington for a while during grad school at IU, and I think it’s a better place to live, but Athens isn’t bad. I must be a Hoosier at heart.

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  30. Cloy said on September 22, 2011 at 1:48 pm

    Ah yes, Elizabeth Warren. Where the Grasshopper explains why she really IS entitled to the grain of the ant she didn’t harvest. Brilliant.
    Even more brilliant, that time-honored Liberal screed where we pretend schools, roads, and cops didn’t exist before Teddy Rooseveldt instituted the income tax in 1913. Before then, America was a 143 year nightmare of anarchy.

    Yes, Elizabeth Warren, we all came up with a great idea.

    Yes, Elizabeth Warren, we all put together a great business plan.

    Yes, Elizabeth Warren, we all told our spouse that we were quitting our steady day job for a risky business venture.

    Yes, Elizabeth Warren, we all sat in the chair in the bank and signed the loan that may very well bankrupt our family with a sweaty grip on the pen.

    Yes, Elizabeth Warren, we all sat at the folding ironing board in the back of our trailer home and typed out “Carrie” on a broken Selectric.

    Yes, Elizabeth Warren, we all took what little cash we had on hand to Vegas to make our second payroll before we almost went under, ala Fred W. Smith.

    Yes, Elizabeth Warren, we all lived in the school computer lab working out the skills and plans for an operating system that would change the world.

    But no, you’re wrong about the education you gave my workers. I had to get them from Poncherry because since Education was nationalized the locals are too fucking stupid to code Linux.

    But no, you’re wrong about the roads because 84% of the taxes that built these roads came from long haul truckers, the ones driving through our state to drop off supplies at my loading docks.

    But no, you’re wrong about the cops protecting me because this is Detroit/Chicago/Newark/New Orleans/New York and the cops don’t respond to my alarms. I had to hire private security for my factory.

    Other than that… Spot on. Just spot on.

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  31. brian stouder said on September 22, 2011 at 1:52 pm

    The Postal service’s best years were when they were a backwater, full of politically appointed hacks that in no way tried to be a business. Sorry, but that’s the truth.

    The young postmaster in Illinois named A. Lincoln leaps to mind; he took advantage of the opportunity to read all the various newspapers that people in his district subscribed to, and to network.

    Even today’s tea-party types might agree that the USA did well on that investment of public funds………..or maybe not, come to think of it!

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  32. LAMary said on September 22, 2011 at 1:55 pm

    Off topic: bunny news for Ruby


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  33. Bitter Scribe said on September 22, 2011 at 2:23 pm

    Dahlia Lithwick (sp?) at Slate thinks the Davis execution is going to tip the opinion scales against capital punishment. If only. I’m with Nancy–there’s too much blood lust in this country.

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  34. Dorothy said on September 22, 2011 at 2:32 pm

    My niece who is opening the new bookstore (very soon) lives in Athens, in Addieville. She sees Michael Stipe once in awhile around town. She got her master’s degree at UGA but her bachelor’s at NYU.

    Thanks Julie. I’m sorry about your friend who had the knee replacement. I have arthritis in my left knee, but I think I’d have to be pretty darn bad to have a replacement. That scares me. But I know plenty of people who have had it done to their great satisfaction. My cousin Maggie had both done – she is an avid bicyclist. I don’t think she had much of a choice – her knees were shot.

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  35. Jeff Borden said on September 22, 2011 at 3:09 pm

    If Elizabeth Warren can get a few of these Galtian shitbags to stop talking about how special they are, I will send her mucho dinero. The GOP is the selfish party. . .the party of ME, ME, ME and fuck you loser. . .so any antidote to their ongoing quest to qut the middle class and turn America into a banana republic should be applauded and supported. Scott Brown is an empty suit and should be reasonably easy to pick off, though among the current crop of nutsacks wearing an R after their names in the Senate, he’s actually pretty low key.

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  36. Sue said on September 22, 2011 at 3:12 pm

    ‘the grain of the ant she didn’t harvest’?
    Cloy, you can make any self-righteous, hostile argument you want, but until we love you like we love Joe K, everyone’s going to jump all over you for that little style glitch rather than the outrage you’re hoping for.

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  37. brian stouder said on September 22, 2011 at 3:13 pm

    Sorry for the extra-bulky link, but check this out – if only for the photo of Michele Bachmann, who looks like a flasher on the prowl at a meat market


    (and, not for nothing, but on the roundup of stories headed by the Bachmann headline“Bachmann says food industry overregulated”, the third story down is headlined “Contaminated food kills three children”, datelined Peru

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  38. Dexter said on September 22, 2011 at 3:18 pm

    I have had this bookmarked forever.

    I was facebooking Tuesday late-night with a friend on Long Island who had earlier on an XM radio station declared REM to be his fave band of all time; I told him they were right up there for me, too…and then…the message appeared a few hours later.

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  39. Jeff Borden said on September 22, 2011 at 3:21 pm

    If you had a faltering computer company in need of new direction, would you really hire a loony tune narcissist who spent $141 million of her own money in an effort to become governor of California and was known as “Evil Meg” at her previous company? It looks like the board of Hewlett-Packard is tapping fellow board member Meg Whitman to direct its revival.

    So far, the markets hate this idea.

    Is Cloy the new monicker of Dwight? Sheesh.

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  40. susan said on September 22, 2011 at 3:27 pm

    I send fresh fruit to family every summer, 10 lbs in a 2 lb tape-swathed box. I used to use two-day Fed Ex, until about four years ago when their rates about doubled. Whereas it used to cost about $28 to send a 12 lb box, the cost had doubled and now is even more than that, almost TRIPLED. In horror at paying 60-70 bucks for a two-day service, I checked with the truly helpful people at my P.O. Not only do lots of people mail fresh fruit from here, it costs less than that OLD FedEx price. This year it was $26.55 for a 12 lb box of fruit, sent priority mail. The only conceptual difference between that rate and Fed Ex’s two-day, is that the USPS tell me the package will get there in two to three days, instead of the FedEx guarantee of two-day delivery. In the four years I have used USPS priority mail for these boxes of luscious apricots, they have ALWAYS arrived on the second day. Mailed late Monday afternoon, arrived at destination Wednesday morning. I really love the US mail; I really hate the GOP, who are destroying everything good about this country.

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  41. MarkH said on September 22, 2011 at 3:35 pm

    Cloy! Welcome to the fray…

    I’m sure Nancy will reveal if it’s Dwight. I suspect not, but…

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  42. Sue said on September 22, 2011 at 3:43 pm

    Put me in the Not Dwight camp. Dwight was more smash-and-grab. Way too many words for Dwight.

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  43. MaryRC said on September 22, 2011 at 3:48 pm

    Roger Ebert makes “Moneyball” sound appealing.

    But if you think you might want to see a French thriller called “Love Crime” and you don’t appreciate spoilers, don’t read Roger’s review of it. He’s really egregious when it comes to spoilers, but this time he writes “I must reveal (inserts spoiler here)”. No, Roger, there’s no “must” about it. You’re capable of writing a review that tells people what the movie’s like and how you feel about it and that’s all we need. I always feel that it’s unfair to the filmmaker as well as to audiences to reveal plot twists and turns. The movie loses its impact when you know what’s coming.

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  44. paddyo' said on September 22, 2011 at 3:51 pm

    April @ 24: Interestingly, your “Citizen Musicians” link is to an Athens site that spells it R.E.M. I wonder if these are Athenian periods only?

    Post Office-wise, I’ve been going for some years now to Denver’s central mail-sorting-and-shipping facility out on the edge of what used to be Stapleton International Airport. They’ve got a bank of half a dozen windows, and even in late hours (they typically stay open until 9 p.m., but they USED to have a 24-hour-a-day window) you can always find at least two or three open. The place is always jammed at holiday time with frantic last-minute shippers/card mailers (when was the last time you sent Xmas cards, anybody?). The sound of shipping tape screeching off the roll and onto cardboard boxes is their form of Xmas carol.
    But I suspect their pretty good service will be a fond memory sooner than later. They already quit being open on Sundays (last year). The nerve!

    Fall movie-going? I’ll toss out one I’ll be catching. It ain’t profound or Sundance-worthy, let alone Oscar-buzzy, but it might be fun. My friend and ex-colleague from my Denver Post days, Mark Obmascik, wrote a fine regional bestseller a few years ago about three men, birders all, who went head-to-head-to-head to see who’d see/hear/record the most bird species in the U.S. in a calendar year. In birding circles, this is known as going for a “big year.”
    Well, The Big Year comes to a theater near you on Oct. 14, with a pretty good cast. Steve Martin, Jack Black, Owen Wilson and a mess of other notables are playing it mostly for laughs, as it is “inspired by” the book. Whether the movie’s a hit or a dog, the book’s still fine, and in paperback.

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  45. april glaspie said on September 22, 2011 at 3:57 pm

    Double-barreled cannon.

    Son of Tree that Owns Itself.

    The Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1944 authorized designation of a 40,000-mile “National System of Interstate Highways,” but did not establish a program or special funding for construction. Original funding came under the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1952, which authorized a token amount of $25 million a year for the Interstate System in Fiscal Years (FY) 1954 and 1955. The 1952 Act retained the standard matching ratio (Federal share: 50 percent). The Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1954 authorized $175 million a year for the Interstate System (FYs 1956 and 1957), with a Federal-State matching ratio of 60-40. The increased Federal share reflected the common understanding that the Interstate System is vitally important to national goals, particularly national defense.

    When Eisenhower began to promote the Interstate Construction Program, the states objected to increasing State taxes to pay the additional matching funds for the national program. Therefore, the President proposed to increase funds for the Interstate System, while boosting the Federal share to 90 percent. Under his proposal, the States would continue paying the same amount in matching funds for the Interstate System that they had been paying under the 1954 Act. When the program took shape in the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956, Congress retained the Federal-State matching share of 90-10. (In the western States with large amounts of untaxed public land, the Federal share could be increased to 95 percent.)

    Fees and taxes paid by long haul truckers were imposed to retire the debt incurred by Interstate system construction, and to maintain the interstates. The original funding amounted to an immense subsidy to the trucking industry, pushed through in large part by influence of those famous union thugs, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. User fees, some tolls and gasoline taxes. Nearly $500bill has been spent, almost all of it paid from taxes on every gllon of automotive fuel and diesel fuel. In my view, this spending subsidized the trucking industry to the detriment of rail transportation, clearly not entirely for the better.

    None of this funding history is preventing the reactionary state government in VA from contemplating installing tolls on I-95, without statutory approval from Congress, apparently because Cuccinelli thinks it’s legal. Now that sounds like a class warfare tactic to me.

    This is information I distilled 20 years ago from a variety of sources for a paper in my Masters program (public management); the chief text was a book called Divided Highways: The Interstate Highway System and the Transformation of American Life by Tom Lewis. Still have the paper (Taxation, Spending Government and the Commonweal), still have the book. I wouldn’t bet my condo that it’s 100% accurate, since it’s two decades old, but as far as the original funding of the Interstate System, I’d vouch for that for sure. I’ve retained this academic knowledge specifically because blithe and unattributed statements like 84% of the taxes that built these roads came from long haul truckers annoy the shit out of me.

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  46. Sue said on September 22, 2011 at 3:58 pm

    But while I’m thinking of CloyDwight, I’m just wondering:
    *Was the school where the computer lab was located publicly-funded in any way?
    *People who ‘tell’ a spouse that they are risking their future, and then sit in a bank because they are willing to sweaty-handedly bankrupt the family to make a personal dream come true, shouldn’t be basking in self-praise, they should acknowledge that this is the very first step in the road of not doing it by themselves. The first people to help them were the family members who supported them, willingly or not, in what in CloyDwight’s case at least seems to be a personal decision.
    Or perhaps CloyDwight might like to rephrase his argument without accidentally putting himself, shining brightly, in the center of it.

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  47. coozledad said on September 22, 2011 at 4:01 pm

    I had to get my workers from Poncherry? Does he mean Pondicherry? Like in India?
    I learned how to spell that motherfucker in a public school while the poor schlubs who went to Pastor Whitey Praise’s Christian School and Tobacco Picker’s Temp Agency were learning the Quija board is a tool of the devil.
    EDIT: BigHank53 said it best: A plane ticket out of the US is cheaper than those taxes you’re whining about. Leave.

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  48. april glaspie said on September 22, 2011 at 4:27 pm

    Avid Bookshop, Athens, GA. We’ll visit in November before the Auburn home game if the shop has opened.

    Congress micromanagesUSPS, holds price increases statutorily to inflation rates, then bitches about budgetary shortfalls. Quelle horrors. Peg postal fees to half of FedEx rates, and watch how fast the budget problems are solved. And how fast Fed Ex profits drop off.

    I was trying to figure out what a John Galt screed had to do with Eric Estrada. Thanks for clearing that up, Cooz. And all those hedge fund cowboy “job creators”, none of them ever created job, nor did they risk bankruptcy for anybody other than the doofuses they hoodwinked.

    I recently had to look up how to replace my voter registration documentation. Seems the Beaufort Co. SC election board office is in an industrial park on John Galt Rd., next to the Kazoobie Kazoo factory. Holy shit, a Randian Captain of Galactic Capitalism manufacturing kazoos. So I looked up Kazoobie and find they make electric kazoos with humbucker pickups, and nose flutes. Sounds like some dang hippie shit to me.

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  49. Dexter said on September 22, 2011 at 4:37 pm

    What’s the Frequency Kenneth?

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  50. april glaspie said on September 22, 2011 at 4:58 pm

    Absolutely Dexter. A great song, that apparently got Dan Rather’s briefs in a bunch. That song cracks me up every time. Besides that, it’s rip-roaring rock ‘n’ roll. I love the whole album. particularly the lyrics and the amazing reverb on Crush with Eyeliner. I don’t know how many people understand how great these guys were in person. No frills, just immense energy and power, and pretty damned loud when they wanted to. I Don’t Sleep, I dream is also a favorite of mine.

    Paddy’o: I’ve got albums with it both ways. As I said, I think it’s like Keef’s last name.

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  51. coozledad said on September 22, 2011 at 4:59 pm

    I’m still picturing a bunch of Desi employees daring each other to get the boss to say Rawalpindi, or Uttar Pradesh. Then they go back to their cubicles and laugh and laugh.

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  52. mark said on September 22, 2011 at 5:14 pm

    Another fine post, Nancy.

    I’ve been against the death penalty since at least ’76, when I won a state high school debate championship with a case arguing for abolishing it. Guess I was convinced by my own arguments. Later I realized I wouldn’t want to answer in the after-life for pulling the switch on a restrained human being. I’ll admit, though, that I have largely had the courage to ignore my conviction, and don’t often lose sleep over the issue.

    There wasn’t much coverage of the other execution yesterday- Brewer, the White Supremacist who was the impetus for many hate crime laws for dragging James Byrd behind a pick-up truck until Byrd died. The opposite extreme from Davis in many respects.

    I know every day is a good day to vent a little hate on the “right-wingers,” but a CATO article on privatizing the post office is the libertarian position, not the conservaive one. Competition and the internet are killing the postal service, and some changes will probably have to be made. Cell phones did in pay phone booths and internet bills and greetings are removing the bread and butter postal business. I’m not aware of any big Republican/conservative push to Amend the Constitution and kill the post office, though.

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  53. Suzanne said on September 22, 2011 at 5:30 pm

    Paddyo’ @44
    I’m just now delving into The Big Year which someone loaned me a loooong time ago. So far, it’s a great read.

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  54. MaryRC said on September 22, 2011 at 5:42 pm

    Sue, I’m trying to imagine the Koch brothers or Donald Trump getting sweaty-handed over embarking on their business ventures. All they had to do was wait for dear old Dad to hand it over. Or as someone said of George W. Bush, “Born on third base and thinks he hit a home run.”

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  55. moe99 said on September 22, 2011 at 5:42 pm

    I’d be happy to see what would happen if the Post Office got into cable. Couldn’t be much worse than the monopoly players we have now.

    Cloy just reaffirms that there are a number of misogynists out there ready to take ad hominem whacks at qualified, smart females. Got tired of it with Hillary (though in the end I supported Obama over her) and this is no different.

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  56. alex said on September 22, 2011 at 6:01 pm

    I recall when Northwestern students started uncovering the utterly astounding fraud perpetrated by prosecutors and law enforcement in numerous capital cases in Illinois, resulting in the exoneration of many of that state’s death row inmates.

    What troubled me then and troubles me today is that these abuses by officials went unpunished. Mayor Daley, a former prosecutor himself, had egg on his face and blood on his hands but insisted that the correct verdicts had been reached in any case he ever won and how dare anyone suggest otherwise.

    I’m no fan of the death penalty, but I’d be perfectly willing to abide it if there were stiff penalties for any prosecutor or law enforcement officer knowingly withholding or suppressing exculpatory evidence resulting in a wrongful conviction.

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  57. coozledad said on September 22, 2011 at 6:10 pm

    moe99:Cloy’s post is a kind of “footprints in the sand” from the Beck denomination. It even has that “Nobody helped me when I was on food stamps” tone deafness. My wife just reminded me Linux is open source software, developed by a socialist, from a socialist country with socialist healthcare and a socialist educational system. So Cloy isn’t only neck deep in debt to US taxpayers, he’s been skimming off the people who have to wear sweaters all year. His workers come from a country whose educational system was developed largely under socialist rule.
    Mostly it’s just the kind of blather wingnuts repeat without analysis.

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  58. 4dbirds said on September 22, 2011 at 6:11 pm

    Contagion is worth it if only to see Gwyneth lying on the morgue table and the ME peeling her face away from her skull.

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  59. 4dbirds said on September 22, 2011 at 6:14 pm

    Alex, I know I’m going to get this wrong but I heard someone say there should be a 3 strikes rule for prosecuters. Once the third innocent person is put to death under their watch, the prosecuter is executed.

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  60. coozledad said on September 22, 2011 at 6:33 pm

    4dbirds, Alex: I say two eyes for an eye. Make the governor liable as well as the prosecutor. You can bet there’d be a sea change in police work.

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  61. april glaspie said on September 22, 2011 at 6:54 pm

    I’m waiting for J. Edgar to see DiCaprio’s dresses. Footloose remake? Holy shit, WHY? Hugo sounds good to me, based on the brilliant book Invention of Hugo Cabret, directed by Martin Scorses (a departure, for sure, into fantasy), but the presence of the idiot Sacha Baron Cohen in the cast is worrisome. Might go to see Meryl Streep play Thatcher, to throw shit at the screen and make loud rude comments. the first guy Ritchie/Robert Downey Sherlock movie was quite entertaining, so I’ll probably see the second (although this could be another Pirates situation), and it does have Noomi Rapace in the cast. Undecided on the Fincher version of Dragon Tattoo. Everyone said the American version of Let the Right One In would be bogus but it was very good, and different enough from the original to be worthwhile.Carnage is from a broadway play, has both Jodie Foster and Kate Winslet, and it’s directed by Roman Polanski, so probably.

    How much fun is playing football? Watch and listen to Lions QB Matthew Stafford. For anyone that knows how much fun it is to play, and for those that can’t imagine it.

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  62. Julie said on September 22, 2011 at 7:07 pm

    April, I came for a job at the public library, thought I’d stay 2 years, and wow, 21 have gone by. Live in Five Points, walk everywhere, except to my job, which is now in Atlanta, sigh. Dreadful commute, but not enough to lure us to move. Have a child the same age as Nancy’s Kate at Clarke Central, and he’s a thoroughly Athens kid.

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  63. LAMary said on September 22, 2011 at 8:02 pm

    Ann Richards said that line about Bush senior, but I suspect Molly Ivins wrote it for her. They were good friends.

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  64. april glaspie said on September 22, 2011 at 8:16 pm

    Complete absence of physical evidence should preclude the death penalty by statute. Appeals should be automatic in such cases when most of the eyewitness testimony is recanted, particularly when the witnesses say they were coached or coerced by the cops. Seems to me this would be a no-brainer even to the patriotic American whackos whose attitude is “Well maybe he didn’t do this one. but he’s brown, so there is no doubt he must have done something to deserve it along the way. This sentiment is rampant on the net today. People that think that way deserve to wake up in a Kafka novel. Prosecutors that refuse to credit new evidence or reconsider verdicts are exactly like people convicted on the basis of appearing to flee. They don’t want to face the music.

    The Texas racist murderer actually owned to his crime with pride in open court, so anybody essaying a comparison with the Davis case has some sort of racist agenda in the first place.

    Julie, both Five Points and the Athens PL rule. When I was first married we lived in a beautiful little white house on Oakland Way. I worked in the GPTV studio at the Georgia Center, best commute I’ve had in my working life. My cat Jack, who acted more canine than feline, used to come all the way to Milledge to meet me on my way home. That’s a great food market there where Bells used to be. Is Hodgson’s still there? Great Sunday ice cream cones. I’ve spent hundreds of hours in the library. I used to walk down to Steverino’s for lunch from work and sometimes went to the Catholic Center for early Mass on the way to my job. Coming to Athens thinking it’s temporary and staying a long time is not unusual at all. It’s a wonderful place to live.

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  65. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on September 22, 2011 at 9:23 pm

    Prospero, I’d agree with you, but as a pro-life conservative, I don’t think governments should engage in capital punishment even when it’s clear & unambiguous and the offender is asking for it . . . make that *especially* when the offender asks to be executed.

    You make a good proposal for a step towards abolition of the death penalty, regardless. On that basis, I’d vote yes.

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  66. april glaspie said on September 22, 2011 at 9:50 pm

    Jeff, I think the death penalty is a soul-killing abomination. I would say that even if society insists on it, those minimum safeguards need to be etched in granite.

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  67. Crazycatlady said on September 22, 2011 at 11:46 pm

    Why does REM’s ‘Shiny Happy People’ make me want to kill somebody??? Humbug!

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  68. Brandon said on September 23, 2011 at 12:38 am


    After googling “Poncherry” I figure it’s an uncommon alternate spelling used as a truncation, maybe like “Frisco” (San Francisco).

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  69. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on September 23, 2011 at 6:51 am

    Y’all missed Rick Perry last night coming out in favor of same-sex marriage, or something like that. The problem was that he wanted us to visualize Herman Cain & Newt Gingrich having a child together, which caused all of America to scream, and claw out our eyes to try and expunge the image from our minds.

    Lots of people will be struggling to find their bearings this morning. Be kind. Help folks cross at corners – there aren’t enough white canes to go around.

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  70. alex said on September 23, 2011 at 7:59 am

    Herman Cain and Newt Gingrich. Now there’s some true devil spawn if there is such a thing.

    So would they stir their spunk together in a cup and baste Calista with it?

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  71. brian stouder said on September 23, 2011 at 8:02 am

    I think you’d end up with a pizza sauce that makes one rotund and irrelevant

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  72. coozledad said on September 23, 2011 at 9:07 am

    Been done before. They call it Gary Coleman.

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  73. Lex said on September 23, 2011 at 3:52 pm

    @4dbirds: That was me, and it was one strike.

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