Convention Notes: Aftermath

Saturday afternoon: Even though I didn’t vote with the pro-Nader folks, I did attend a “Greens for Nader” confab that took place immediately after Cobb accepted the nomination.

The energy in the room was weird, to say the least. These Greens were going to continue working for Nader even though he didn’t get the endorsement of the Green Party. Almost as soon as I arrived, a Cobb supporter started bellowing, “What happened to unity?” He was very loud; he almost seemed drunk, though I don’t think he was. The Nader supporters immediately responded: “Why didn’t you support our unity proposal?” — that is, the dual endorsement proposed by Camejo.

One Nader guy got the Cobb guy to quiet down, and was talking to him earnestly, when some other people decided Cobb supporters had no place in this meeting. They approached the Cobb guy and asked him to leave. The Nader guy who was already talking to him got agitated: “Leave him alone! I don’t like people acting like a mob! What happend to free speech? Don’t touch me!” When the others told him to leave too, he got angrier: “I’m a Nader supporter!

This mess was resolved in relatively short order, and the Cobb guy joined the long line of people who were each allotted one minute to speak.

A French-Canadian woman at the head of the line spoke her piece, and said that Nader and Camejo had given her a “political orgasm.” A few more also got to speak, then the group deferred to Nader’s vice-presidential running mate, Peter Camejo.

I was worried that Camejo might denounce Cobb or question the legitimacy of the nominating process. He didn’t, at least not directly. But he did make several dark allusions and hints. “I could say some things, but that would make people angry.” He referred to “hanky-panky” in the process, but he did not elaborate, stressing that now was not the time for that.

It was, Camejo noted, a “peculiar” situation. After all, if Cobb had lost the nomination, that campaign would have ended; but since Nader was running as an independent, his candidacy would continue. This was a disappointing day, but it was not a disaster. Instead, it was a “speed bump,” and the thing to do was to “analyze that bump.” In part, it revealed a new development, that “political currents” now existed in the party. Greens embrace diversity in many forms, and now we need to start thinking about how to embrace political diversity, too.

Mainly Camejo spoke against Kerry and the Democrats. The crowd applauded him again and again.

I looked across the room at Art and Robert, my fellow delegates, firmly in the Nader camp. Would they leave the party? Would we still be friends when we got back to New Orleans? What of the hundreds of other Nader delegates, and the thousands of pro-Nader Greens across the country? Would they accept and respect the democratic process, however flawed, that led to the Cobb nomination, or would they split from the group? Clearly, there’s a rift here. How deep is it?

Convention Notes: 2nd Round

Saturday afternoon: We walked a few blocks to a shop that sold Fair Trade coffee. We got some sandwiches. We ate. And we tried to figure out what would happen next.

The field would be narrowed in the second round of voting. Only candidates who had submitted a letter of intent, stating that they would accept the nomination, would remain in the running. Cobb was the only person known to have submitted such a letter. Nader would not be an option. Of course, the “no nominee” option would be there, and if “no nominee” prevailed, we would have the option to endorse a candidate, including Nader, which would be decided via instant runoff voting.

I ran into Kent Mesplay outside the coffee shop, and he told me he had submitted a letter and was still in the running. The joke began circulating that Mesplay was a “spoiler.” I emphasize that this was said in jest!

When we got back to the floor, Matt announced the field had narrowed to four options: David Cobb, No Nominee, Kent Mesplay, and JoAnne Bier Beeman.

We were now free to vote our consciences, as virtually all delegates were “released” after the first round.

Cammie offered Dan a backrub if he’d vote for Cobb.

Robert asked the pro-Cobb people in our delegation to make one last pitch for why he should vote for Cobb. Then Robert gave us a very good pitch on why we should support Nader.

Robert took Jason and Dan and me off the floor to talk briefly with Jason West, the young mayor of New Paltz, New York. He’s something of a hero within the Party because he started performing marriages for people who happened to be of the same sex. He was also named one of the “50 Hottest Bachelors” by People magazine. (Hm, come to think of it, didn’t the Bay Guardian name Matt Gonzalez one of the sexiest people in the Bay Area?) Jason to pitched the dual endorsement idea to us.

I was starting to find dual endorsement somewhat appealing, but the road to getting there was problematic. We would have to vote for “No Nominee” now, with no assurance that a dual endorsement would actually carry the day.

With substantial misgivings, I wrote “David Cobb” on my ballot. I almost wrote “No Nominee.” But I couldn’t bring myself to do it. Was I making a mistake? Was I thinking to much about my party and not enough about my country? I couldn’t get past my same simple-minded objections: Nader could have sought the nomination, but he didn’t. In fact, I realized, I hadn’t really changed my mind since January, when Nader announced he would run as an independent. Was I being small-minded, petty? I really like David Cobb. But was I really voting for him, or was I voting against Nader? I’m not trying to be coy with all these questions; they were bouncing around in my head at the time, and I still don’t know what to think.

The second round of voting was much more matter-of-fact and less flamboyant than the first.

When Minnesota turned in a large Cobb vote, Art remarked, almost under his breath, “I thought Minnesota would have been more left.” This offhand comment really got my attention. I felt that it encapsulated the divisions that had emerged in the run-up to this moment. Was this really a battle between leftists and moderates within the Green Party? I honestly don’t know.

Our delegation was split: five votes for No Nominee, four for Cobb.

Soon the votes were in. Final tally:

Cobb 408
No Nominee 308
Mesplay 43
Beeman 8
abstain 3

Thus, Cobb secured the nomination. There was plenty of cheering and jubilation amongst the Cobb camp. The Nader camp was pretty dejected.

Cobb took the stage as “Fortunate Son” blared. He began by saying that “as a white person, I have to acknowledge that white privilege exists, and male privilege exists,” and with that he introduced his running mate, Pat LaMarche. She spoke briefly. Sadly, all I can remember was her joke about blow-drying her hair for the first time in years. Then Cobb gave his speech, leading off with how Nader had more influence on him than any human being outside his family.

All I could think was how odd it felt to vote for a winner. I’m used to voting for righteous losers, but here was the guy I voted for doing a victory dance. That felt funny and not entirely good. I’m experiencing voter’s remorse! It kind of makes me wish I’d voted for Kent Mesplay. However, I take some consolation in knowing that, in four months, Cobb will lose the big race, and I can continue to gripe about whoever wins.

I think the party made the right decision, but time will tell if Cobb can make good on his promise to help local Green parties and candidates, given his limited resources and relatively low profile.

This write-up of mine is pretty lame, but I hope it at least serves as an accurate record of one person’s experience. Here are two much better articles that reflect on what happened in Milwaukee from two very different perspectives:

See also: The aftermath.

Convention Notes: 1st Round

Saturday morning: After breakfast at the Midwest Diner, Debbie and I walked over to the massive Midwest Airline Center, where the Presidential Nominating Convention was to take place. I registered and got my delegate credential. The other members of our delegation were already there, including Art, who was working at the Solidarity table. Talk was circulating amongst the pro-Cobb camp, warnings of expected disruptions on the floor from the pro-Nader camp. I wonder if similar talk was circulating amongst the Naderites?

After a bit of milling around, we each made our way into the big ballroom and onto the convention floor. This was my first political convention ever, but I found myself familiar with the general milieu, I guess from watching the Democrats and Republicans on television. Of course, the Green Party is much smaller, so there were hundreds of delegates on the floor rather than thousands. But there was a general sense of excitement and anticipation.

Soon things were rolling. Matt Gonzalez was the elections manager and presided over the process. On the San Francisco Board of Supervisers, he’s one of the most important Green officeholders in the land, but more importantly he’s the brother of Chuck Gonzalez, who rocked such great Bloomington bands as Stranded at the Drive-In and Lessick’s Kid.

Each of the candidates addressed us in turn. Not Nader, of course; he wasn’t in Milwaukee, but Peter Camejo spoke on his behalf and encouraged us to support a dual endorsement. A Cobb supporter yelled something at him. Later, Jason stood and applauded Camejo, as if to show that not all Cobb supporters were assholes.

Cobb spoke, and he concluded his speech with the news that he’d been endorsed by the newly-formed Black Caucus. Immediately a couple of African-American delegates near us stood up and protested: “That’s not true!” A general hubbub arose, then quieted quickly as the next candidate took the stage.

Carol Miller from New Mexico gave an angry, strident speech. “It is the United States government that is the enemy of the peoples of the world.” Now there’s a sentiment you won’t hear at the Democratic or Republican conventions. She also made a damn good case against Cobb’s campaign strategy, perhaps the best case I’d heard yet.

Lorna Salzman, Kent Mesplay and several others gave good speeches.

A guy named Richard Campbell spoke on behalf of No Candidate/No Endorsement. He ran for office in Maryland and lost by 80 votes. A fellow Green he worked with lost another race by 20 votes. His point was that we need to concentrate on local races we can actually win rather than pissing off a lot of friends running a race we can’t win. I was impressed by the sincerity of this argument. It’s pretty fuckin’ cool to have someone speaking up on behalf of None of the Above.

After the last candidate had spoken, the leaders of the Black Caucus appeared on the stage to correct Cobb’s statement and offer an apology on his behalf. It seems a caucus member had miscommunicated to Cobb; in fact the Black Caucus had endorsed the D.C. Blue-Green Voter X-Change Project, which requires a Green candidate, but they hadn’t been any more specific than that.

Ballots were distributed. I marked mine for Jonathan D. Farley, as I was bound to do. I was elected at our state caucus, remember?

Finally the main event began: the tallying of votes. Each delegation, standing beside its state placard and surrounded by cameras and microphones, gave its official vote count to the Matt, with a side order of pomp and circumstance. Again, this was something I’d seen on television. But the Greens did it a little differently.

Alabama went first. “The state of Alabama has four delegates… We are, in the Alabama Green Party, proud and privileged to cast all four votes for David Cobb and Pat LaMarche.”

I think California was the biggest delegation with 132 delegate votes, and they came out heavily in favor of Camejo, with 80-odd votes for him. That’s a lot — nine times the total number of votes Lousiana has. What if Camejo won? This was a mystery to me. After all, Camejo had stated repeatedly that he was not running for president. He’s Nader’s running mate, but Nader was not seeking the nomination. So what would a Camejo victory mean, exactly?

When my Hoosier homies took the mic, we learned that the great state of Indiana stretches “from the shores of polluted Lake Michigan in the north to the clear-cut banks of the Ohio River in the south, with many other sins in between.” [This quote got picked up by the New York Times and some other newspapers.]

When Leenie gave our votes, she affected a Southern drawl, or some kind of weird country twang. This was strange, since she grew up in Baltimore, and since people in New Orleans don’t really talk like that. She took note of Louisiana’s vanishing coastline, and proclaimed that we were the “saggy pants capitol of the world” and that we now had the “most liberalest or Greenest” ballot access laws in the country. “Us Louisiana Greens proudly present these votes.” We cast three votes for Camejo, three votes for Cobb, and three for Jonathan D. Farley. These three votes were the only ones Farley got. I’m sure many people were wondering who this guy was. I hope they remember the name.

Eugene Debs got one vote from the Minnesota delegation.

The Mississippi delegation gave one of the most rousing deliveries, impassioned and angry. Some parts I couldn’t make out because of the cheering of the crowd. “Mississippi, the Magnolia State. With all due respect to our brother and sister states, the greatest state in the union! We’ve given this nation its highs, with musicians like Robert Johnson, Elvis Presley… and also its lows, with Emmett Till… and Edgar Mevers. A state where compasssionate conservatism means kicking 65,000 of our most vulnerable citizens, elderly and the poor, off the Medicaid roles, in an example of what happens when the Frick Republican Party meets the Frack Democratic Party, in a conspiracy to deprive working men and women of justice… and a fair standard of living. We are proud to cast our four votes: Three for Pedro Miguel Camejo, and one for David Cobb.”

(I’d met the lone Cobb delegate from Mississippi the night before, an older gentleman named Sherman Lee Dillon. He ran for governor of that state last year.)

I was moved by these little speeches given by people from all over the country. I almost choked up once or twice. But soon it became clear that no one would take a majority of the votes in the first round. 385 were needed to win, and Cobb came closest with 308. That meant we’d take a break for lunch, then come back and vote again. Anything could happen; the situation was complex and way too close to call.

Tallies for the first round:
Cobb 308 (385 needed)
Nader 117.5
Camejo 118.5
No Nominee 74.5
Mesplay 23.5
Salzman 40
Miller 9.5
NOTA (None of the Above) 35.5

…I don’t have the numbers for the other candidates such as Shiela Bilyeu but I know Farley got three and Debs got one.

To be continued!


Friday: After a sleepless night, I got up at the godawful hour of 4:00 AM, had breakfast with my parents, then drove to Union Station in Indianapolis. Xy took the car to Bloomington, and I waited for my train to Chicago.

And waited. And waited. The train was supposed to leave at 6:00 AM, but was delayed about two hours. The car was packed; a church youth group was on board. I sat behind two high school couples, decidedly not with the church group, who were bound for a weekend of shopping, underage boozing and enthusiastic teenage sex in the big city. We encountered further delays on the tracks, and some of us were switched to the sleeper cars because of a mechanical problem that I never fully understood.

I spent a couple hours kicking around Chicago, then caught a train to Milwaukee. Kelly Kuglitsch (nee Slinkman and formerly seen on ROX) picked me up from the train station; she and her husband, Paul, gave me a quick tour of the city. Paul is a jeweller. We met her husband’s brother for dinner: a traditional Friday night fish fry at Clifford’s Supper Club. Anyone who visits the city should check out a fish fry. Clifford’s is a giant dining hall with long, communal tables and all the fish you can eat.

Afterward, we went to Greendale for some Wisconsin custard. This is an extra rich dairy confection that is prepared on a refrigerated marble slab. Indeed, it was so rich, and my belly so full of fried cod, that I couldn’t finish it. As for the Village of Greendale, it’s one of the Greenbelt Communities built by FDR during the Great Depression. Twenty-five were planned, but only three were actually built: Greendale, Wisconsin; Greenhills, Ohio; and Greenbelt, Maryland. The architecture and layout of Greendale are pretty cool. There are lots of forested areas with walking paths to get you around. Paul’s grandfather was one of the village managers; they’ve got a street named after him.

I had to cut short my visit in order to catch up with the Louisiana delegation. I met Leenie, Cammie, Debbie, Jason and Lee in front of the Marquette University dormitory where we were staying. Already the air was fairly charged with tension. The hardcore Naderites in our delegation were staying elsewhere; the Cobbites in our delegation told me stories of furious harangues and ratcheting rhetoric and old friendships at risk.

There was a Nader/Camejo rally that night; we watched Michelle Shocked perform at a street dance instead, but we stopped by the rally afterward and spent some time talking with a couple pro-Nader guys from New York. As always, I found myself very sympathetic to their arguments. When I asked why Nader wasn’t seeking the nomination directly, I heard the story (again) that he was dissuaded by the Green Party leadership. Ultimately, I found myself unconvinced.

We also talked a bit about a new proposal raised by Nader’s VP running mate, Peter Camejo. He called it the Unity Proposal, and the idea is dual endorsement — that is, a scenario in which the party endorses both Nader and Cobb. When a pro-Cobb member of our delegation heard about the proposal, he remarked, “They must not have enough votes.” Some of us found the proposal appealing, or at least intriguing, but I was a little distressed to find such challenging ideas introduced so late in the process.

We ran into Robert there. It was becoming clear that our delegation was divided almost evenly, with four votes leaning toward Cobb and four toward Nader. (I won’t dwell on the intricacies of alternates, observers and proxies, other than to note that two of our group bore double votes for delegates who couldn’t make it to Milwaukee, while another two could not vote at all, which imparted a further layer of complexity to the affair.) Dan is the only person who’s inclination is not known; he’s flying in at midnight to join us.

Springs Valley

Xy and I spent the last two nights in French Lick. I highly recommend it. French Lick is about 45 minutes south of Bloomington, and it sits right next to its twin city, West Baden. The area is sometimes called Springs Valley because of the abundance of mineral springs. Those same springs, and the seven casinos that used to be there, made this area the party hotspot of the Midwest back in the early twentieth century.

We went there for our honeymoon ten and a half years ago, and we saw the ruin of the West Baden Springs Hotel. It was the largest free-standing dome in the world until the Astrodome was built, and it was spectacular. We also visited five and a half years ago and saw the dome in partial restoration, a massive project funded by Historic Landmarks of Indiana and the Cook Group. Now we saw it complete, and it is stunning. Tours are given every hour between 10am and 3pm. It’s worth the trip.

Of course, French Lick Springs Hotel is also worth checking out. That’s where Xy & I stayed on our honeymoon, as seen briefly at the end of a certain episode of ROX. It’s simply massive. Visitors are advised to seek out the historical display hidden in the basement. (Why do they hide this stuff in the basement?) Also keep an eye out for all the cool devil imagery, produced by a confusion of the Christian conception of the devil with the Roman god of the underworld, Pluto — patron of the mineral spring here.

I took a mineral bath. Not because I believe the waters have any curative powers, but simply for the experience, since that (and the gambling) was what so many people did a hundred or so years ago. It only cost $20, and it was kind of fun.

And, as we drove north to Monrovia today to visit my parents, we stopped by Orangeville to check out the Orangeville Rise. That’s where Lost River pops back up again after traveling underground for ten miles or so. It’s a Registered Natural Landmark!


Something about traveling turns me into a tightass. I mean my bowels clench up and don’t want to move in a timely and convenient fashion. I’m usually a pretty regular guy, but traveling puts me off my routine. The result is that yesterday I was taking little mini-craps in nasty-ass toilets at gas stations and rest areas across the South and the Midwest.

We made it from Decatur to Bloomington without incident. We did run into some standstill traffic on 65 somewhere in Kentucky. That probably slowed us down for an hour or so.

We stayed with Xy’s family last night. Dined at the Uptown. Seemed as if everyone we ran into (and of course we ran into people we knew at every turn) was going to see a political documentary about the September 11th attacks which was showing at the Buskirk-Chumley. It was not Fahrenheit 9/11, but a film called Hijacking Catastrophe: 9/11, Fear & the Selling of the American Empire. Pretty cool that they’re showing films in the theater; I remember being pissed off when Kerasotes deeded the place to the city because there was a stipulation about never showing films there. I’m sure if we lived in Bloomington we would have gone to see the film. Instead, we watched “Fat” on DVD.

I’ve been surprised at the coolness of the air, even in northern Alabama. It’s been so steamy in New Orleans that I couldn’t conceive of such temperatures, and I failed to bring a long-sleeved shirt. So this morning I drove out to the mall and and bought a sweatshirt at Sears.

On the Road

Yesterday we drove from New Orleans to Decatur, Alabama where we spent the night. They don’t sell liquor in this county on Sunday, even in restaurants. The next county (Cullman) is completely dry, I think. Since this area is halfway between New Orleans and Bloomington, we’ve stayed around here quite a few times. If you’re ever in Decatur and feeling hungry, Princeton’s has good food and bad music.

Speaking of music, every time we turned on the radio we seemed to hear something weird and disturbing. In particular, one station seemed to specialize in nasty old-school cheating jams. The lyrics were decidedly raunchy, like this duet:

Him: I swear, she was just giving me a shoe-shine
Her: Then how did her lip get stuck in your zipper?

This was repeated over and over just in case you didn’t get the point. After the song, a child called in to give a shout out to her daddy for Father’s Day. This was followed by a song with the memorable refrain “Whoop That Thang on Me,” which was also about cheating, and explicitly sexual. Immediately after, the DJ’s elderly mother calls in to say hello.

We also listened to some good old-fashioned preaching and learned all about the evils of the corrupt Roman Catholic Church and the pre-tribulation rapture.

Nader or Cobb?

Greens all around the country are gearing up for the national convention this week, myself included.

My first-round vote is committed to Jonathan D. Farley, but it’s clear at this point that Farley does not have enough delegates to win the nomination.

The choice seems to be narrowed to Cobb or Nader or no one.

Four years ago, we heard the refrain “A vote for Nader is a vote for Bush.” Now I’m hearing that “A vote for Cobb is a vote for Kerry,” that is, that supporting Cobb means you’re a crypto-Democrat. The idea is that since a Cobb candidacy would undoubtably be far weaker than a Nader candidacy, it helps Kerry by diminishing the “spoiler” effect. Some Greens might agree with this, and I can’t say I entirely blame them. Bush is dangerous; Bush must go. But that has nothing to do with my opinion on Nader.

I feel the best and most balanced article on the subject is “Time of Testing for Green Party.” Ted Glick lays out the positives and negatives for both Nader and Cobb. He doesn’t come to any conclusions, which is a luxury we won’t have at the convention. I’d encourage everyone interested in the question to read it and weigh his points carefully.

Here’s my personal opinion:

I would really love to believe in a Nader candidacy. After all, I supported Nader the last two times he ran for president. All the positives in the Glick article apply, and I agree with that assessment.

But I keep coming up against the same objection. Nader could have sought the nomination of the Greens, but he did not. He could have announced his independent candidacy and still sought the Green nomination, but he didn’t. Furthermore, despite a rather sizable effort within the Greens to draft Nader, he has stated repeatedly that he will not accept our nomination. He’ll accept our endorsement if we decide not to run a candidate of our own. The distinction between nomination and endorsement is significant.

Why has Nader chosen this path? The answer seems obvious to me. He is more interested in running an independent campaign in 2004 than building a party for the future. I disagree with this strategy. Greens need to think long-term. That means building the Green Party identity in this country as a movement that people identify with our values. And that, in turn, means not running the same candidate every four years.

Therefore I’m inclined to be skeptical about working with Nader in 2004. I think it would be better for the Greens to run one of their own. Practically speaking, that means Cobb.

There’s so much more I’ve been thinking about. The rhetoric is really ratcheting up and there are lots of ugly rumors circulating. But right now XY and I need to hit the road and start the long drive north. I wanted to at least record some of my thoughts before the convention.

Me, Me, Me

July 7th, 2000. That’s when I had my driver’s license photo taken. I weighed 200 pounds and I was letting my hair grow out. It wasn’t pretty.

2000 Drivers License

My license expired in January. I tried to renew it in April and failed. But I didn’t give up. I persevered. I had to lie and cheat. I had to risk life and limb. But at last, today I renewed my driver’s license.

2004 Drivers License

The sweat stains on my shirt are because of the fact that it was something like 107º with the heat index today.

After my harrowing bicycle trip to the DMV, I stopped by the barbershop for a haircut. David, the sketch artist, drew my picture, using my new license as a model.

2004 Sketch

My barber and I have reached a new level of understanding. Today he didn’t ask me how I wanted my haircut, and I didn’t tell him. We exchanged not a single word about it, yet I got exactly the haircut I wanted.

Murder Times Six

There were so many murders in New Orleans yesterday that a shooting near our house didn’t even make the news. Xy heard shots fired around 5pm. Apparently no one was hurt. A few hours earlier and just a few blocks further, a thirteen-year-old boy shot a sixteen-year-old boy in the face by accident. He’s in the hospital and not doing so well. Meanwhile, six people were killed in four separate incidents throughout the city.

Later in the evening, Xy and I walked to our favorite ice cream shop, which is about ten blocks from our house. We went out of principle as much as anything. Hiding in our house won’t solve any problems. Going to the ice cream shop doesn’t accomplish much either, but at least we’re out and about in the neighborhood.

Update — The boy who was shot in the head died, and two more people were killed overnight. That brings the death toll to nine in just 28 hours.

My Viewing Pleasure

I recently bought a DVD player so that I could watch the DVD-Rs that I’m burning. I got a Cyberhome CH-DVD 300/S — only $30 after rebate!

Of course, once I had a functioning DVD player in the house again, I wanted to watch some movies. So I reactivated my old Netflix membership. Last week Xy and I watched Shattered Glass, the first six shows in The Office series, and American Splendor. Edifying stuff.

Over the last few years I’ve kept a haphazard list of films I want to see. Netflix seems to have expanded their selection quite a bit since I last used the service a few years ago, and they now have a lot of the films on my list (about two-thirds, I’d guess). So I’ve been obsessively adding them to my Netflix queue.

Just in case anyone’s curious, here are the 284 items currently in my queue, which I’ll try (somewhat haphazardly) to link to IMDb:

3 Women
A Double Life
A Hard Day’s Night: Collector’s Series
A High Wind in Jamaica
A Man for All Seasons
A Place in the Sun
A Private Function
A.I. Artificial Intelligence
Aguirre: The Wrath of God
Andy Kaufman: Hollywood / Breakfast
Apartment Zero
Atlantic City
Battleship Potemkin
Best Seller
Big Deal on Madonna Street
Big Trouble in Little China
Big Trouble
Birdman of Alcatraz
Born Yesterday
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
Catch Me If You Can
Chasing Amy
City of God
Company Business
Cook, the Thief, His Wife, Her Lover
Cops and Robbers
Crimes and Misdemeanors
Curse of the Demon / Night of the Demon
Death of a Salesman
Depeche Mode: 101: Disc 1
Dinner for Five: Season 1: Disc 1
Down by Law
Dr. Seuss’s The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T
Dreamscape: Special Edition
Dressed To Kill
Drugstore Cowboy
Easy Rider
Eating Raoul
Friendly Persuasion
Gigantic: A Tale of Two Johns
Going in Style
Gosford Park
Hard Times
Heart of Glass
Hearts and Minds
Heavens Above!
Heavy Traffic
Hercules in New York
Here Comes Cookie / Love in Bloom
Hidden Agenda
Hidden Fortress
High and Low
Hiroshima Mon Amour
Hope and Glory
How Green Was My Valley
How to Get Ahead in Advertising
I Am Curious: Blue
I Am Curious: Yellow
I, Claudius: Disc 1
I, Claudius: Disc 2
I, Claudius: Disc 3
I, Claudius: Disc 4
I, Claudius: Disc 5/The Epic
Igby Goes Down
In a Lonely Place
In Cold Blood
In the Heat of the Night
In the Realm of the Senses
Invaders from Mars
Invasion of the Body Snatchers
Irma La Douce
Is There Sex After Death?
It Happened Here
It Happened One Night
It Happened Tomorrow
It Should Happen to You
Ivan the Terrible: Part 1
Ivan the Terrible: Part 2
Joe Versus the Volcano
Ken Burns’ America: Huey Long
Kind Hearts and Coronets
King of Hearts
Laurence Olivier’s Hamlet
Le Cercle Rouge
Lightning Over Water
Local Hero
Lola Montes
Long Day’s Journey into Night
Look Back In Anger
Lost Horizon
Love Affair
Love and Death
Love at Large
Man of Aran
Man with the Movie Camera
Marat / Sade
Masque of the Red Death / Premature Burial
McCabe & Mrs. Miller
McKenzie Break
Medium Cool
Melvin and Howard
Mon Oncle
Monsoon Wedding
Mountains of the Moon
Mr. Deeds Goes to Town
Murder by Death
My Man Godfrey
Mysterious Island
No Mercy
Number 17
Odds Against Tomorrow
Once Upon a Time in America
One, Two, Three
Only Angels Have Wings
Peeping Tom
People Will Talk
Picnic at Hanging Rock
Postcards from the Edge
Pretty Baby
Prizzi’s Honor
Punch-Drunk Love
Quest for Fire
Richard III
Richard Pryor: Live in Concert
Road to Zanzibar
Robin and Marian
Room at the Top
Ruthless People
Saturday Night and Sunday Morning
Savage Messiah
Scenes from a Marriage: Disc 1 (TV)
Scenes from a Marriage: Disc 2 (TV)
Seance on a Wet Afternoon
Separate But Equal
Separate Tables
Seven Samurai
Singin’ in the Rain
Smiles of a Summer Night
Streets of Fire
Style Wars
Sullivan’s Travels
Sunday Bloody Sunday
Sunset Boulevard
Swann in Love
Sweet Smell of Success
Tabu: A Story of the South Seas
That Obscure Object of Desire
The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai
The Andromeda Strain
The Beguiled
The Bride of Frankenstein
The Bridge on the River Kwai
The Browning Version
The Captain’s Paradise
The Collector
The Comfort of Strangers
The Cooler
The Court-Martial of Billy Mitchell
The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys
The Decameron
The Deer Hunter
The Devil and Daniel Webster
The Draughtsman’s Contract
The Dresser
The Duellists
The Eagle Has Landed
The Element of Crime
The Entertainer
The Freshman
The Guns of Navarone
The Heartbreak Kid
The Homecoming
The Iceman Cometh: Disc 1
The Iceman Cometh: Disc 2
The Importance of Being Earnest
The Importance of Being Earnest
The Ipcress File
The Kid Stays in the Picture
The Killers (1946): Disc 1
The Killers (1964): Disc 2
The Knack…and How to Get It
The Lady Eve
The Last Hurrah
The Lavender Hill Mob
The Leopard (Original Italian Version)
The Lion in Winter
The Long Good Friday
The Long Walk Home
The Maids
The Man in the White Suit
The Man Who Fell to Earth
The Mystery of Picasso
The Naked Kiss
The Odd Couple
The Office: Series 2
The Old Dark House
The Pawnbroker
The Philadelphia Story
The Point
The Pornographers
The President’s Analyst
The Prisoner
The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes
The Professionals
The Return of the Secaucus 7
The Right Stuff
The Russians Are Coming …
The Rutles
The Singing Detective: Disc 1
The Stranger
The Stunt Man
The Sunshine Boys
The Tall Guy
The Testament of Dr. Mabuse
The Thing
The War of the Roses
The Weather Underground
The Whales of August
The Winslow Boy
Tiger Bay
Time After Time
Tin Men
Tom Jones
Tomorrow the World
Topper Returns
Touch of Evil
Trouble in Paradise
Truly, Madly, Deeply
Tuck Everlasting
Two-Way Stretch
Under Fire
Uptown Saturday Night
Vampire’s Kiss
Vampires in Havana
Victor / Victoria
Waking Life
Wall Street
War and Peace: Bonus Disc
War and Peace: Disc 1
War and Peace: Disc 2
War and Peace: Disc 3
War and Peace: Disc 4
War-Gods of the Deep
Young Frankenstein
Young & Innocent / Cheney Vase

I’m guessing that there’s maybe 150-200 films on my list that Netflix doesn’t have, so I’ve been looking around at other DVD rental services like GreenCine, which appears to list about half of my remaining films. (That’s a little misleading, since GreenCine lists out-of-print titles which they don’t actually have available for rent.) The other half are just not available on DVD yet. I might subscribe to GreenCine for a while and compare the quality of service, but I am pretty sure Netflix is going to be faster because they have more distribution centers; GreenCine is focused on the West Coast, and I don’t live there. When you’re paying a flat monthly fee, turnaround and delivery time is an important factor. I like GreenCine’s attitude, but I have to confess that I much prefer the design of the Netflix website.

Update — June 30, 2004: I mailed in my $10 rebate coupon for the DVD player, with a photocopy of my receipt and the UPC symbol from the box. They say I should get my money in eight weeks.

Update — August 16, 2004: Got my check for $10 from Best Buy.


After years of procrastination, today I finally sent in the necessary papers to enroll in the Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association and College Retirement Equities Fund, commonly known as TIAA-CREF. The university will match my contributions up to 6% of my salary, so if I was feeling particularly masochistic, I could calculate how much money I threw away over the past four years (since I became eligible) by not enrolling before now.

I can pick how I want TIAA-CREF to invest my money, so I called my dad the other night and asked his advice. He doesn’t know much about mutual funds, but he does know the stock market. He recommended putting 100% into growth stocks. I was a little surprised at that, since those represent the greatest risk. But Dad said that “the blood has been let” from the market over the past few years, and he’s confident that stocks remain the best long-term investment. Since this is a retirement fund, long-term thinking seems appropriate.

I followed my father’s advice and put 75% into growth stocks and 25% into the Social Choice fund. According to TIAA-CREF, this is a fund “holding stocks, bonds and money market instruments issued by companies… that pass two sets of social screens,” but they don’t say what they are screening for. I did find some information at BusinessWeek Online that indicates it

does not invest in tobacco, alcoholic beverages, weapons, gambling, nuclear energy, companies that significantly damage the environment, or those operating in Northern Ireland without hewing to certain labor standards

…which sounds good to me. I have no moral problem with alcohol, but I’d just as soon not invest in it. Not sure why Northern Ireland gets special mention, though. Does that mean union-busting in the rest of the world is A-OK?

Anyway, this whole thing makes me feel very bourgeois, in a good way; that is, it makes me feel like a member of the middle class. Just so long as I’m not marked by conformity to the standards and conventions of the middle class, as long as I’m not preoccupied with respectability and material values, I’m happy to be bourgeois. In my fantasy of a classless society, we’d all be bourgeois.

Random Stuff

I got my hair cut today. The barber has let a sketch artist set up a table in front of his shop. He’ll make a sketch of you for $5.00. This seems odd because there’s much foot traffic at that location. Anyway, the entire time he was cutting my hair the barber was explaining to the artist that, “No, you can’t bring your baby sister here with you all day. This is a place of business. It’s not a babysitting place. Anything could happen. I’m not saying anything will happen, but I just don’t want to take that chance.”

I guess the new Harry Potter movie is opening today. Our administrative assistant is excited. She has her robe and wand and uniform and everything she needs to watch the movie in full costume.

I’m pissed off at Where Y’at. I was leafing through their latest issue Wednesday morning and I saw that Jonathan Richman was playing at One Eyed Jacks Thursday night. Xy and I made plans to go. But on Thursday, when I checked the Web, I found out that Jonathan actually played there Wednesday night. What a fucking pisser. This is the second time Where Y’at has screwed me. Three years ago they published an incorrect parade map that made me miss Zulu.

Five More Years

Today marks five years that I’ve been working at the University. That means it’s also been five years (plus a few weeks) since I moved to New Orleans.

Somehow that seems significant, mainly because I am human, and humans normally have five fingers on a hand, which is why we use base ten, which is why a decade is ten years. Five years is exactly half of a decade, which is why five years seems significant.

But I digress.

These last five years have been pretty good, I guess. I’m trying to imagine where I’ll be five years from now. I’ll be 42. Bush will no longer be president. Other than that, little is certain. I imagine myself still living in New Orleans, still working at the University, still hanging with Xy, still producing ROX.

When you put it that way, life just doesn’t sound very exciting. But there are bound to be plenty of surprises too. And if things get too boring, I’ll just have to start some trouble.

Today is also the official start of hurricane season.