Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

  • Had tea with the fabulous Heather Weathers at Bayou Coffee.
  • Painted the alcove off our hallway a bright blue. There’s actually a long story here, but I think I can boil it down to this: Xy tried to give the alcove a porcelain crackle finish this summer, and it didn’t work out, so I’m remediating.
  • I did not take the neighbor girls to Six Flags, even though they asked me. But Xy did. First she made them promise they’d help her grade papers anytime she needed them during the school year.
  • Played frisbee with Xy by Bayou St. John. (It went in the bayou thrice but we fished it back out. We laughed so hard our sides ached.)
  • Had a fried oyster po-boy, dressed, at the Parkway Bakery & Tavern. Mmm.
  • Watched the women’s Olympic gymnastics competition.
  • Restored a lot of media files to the rox.com site. There are now 135 audio and video files available on our new media server. That means there are still 57 files which are indexed in our database but still not available on the new server. In most cases the files have been uploaded, but I’m re-evaluating some of this stuff, trying to figure out what’s worthwhile and what’s not.

Crafting

Xy got a call last nite from “Crafting Coast to Coast,” which is a show for HGTV that is currently in production. Apparently they go around from city to city exploring people’s craft projects. They originally got turned on to Xy through Greg “Pretty Pony” Der Arnanian.

Funny thing is, this is the third time we’ve been contacted by them. Each time has been by different people, none of whom seem to know anything about the others. The first guy asked us to e-mail some pictures of Xy’s crafts. (We did so.) In March we got an e-mail from a woman asking us where our video was, and that the New Orleans deadline was fast approaching. We shot a video and posted it on the Web. Then last nite we got a call from another guy who doesn’t know anything about the video.

Got to wonder where it will all lead…

WTF?

So last night around 9 p.m. I mixed myself a drink and went downstairs, thinking that I would veg out watching some television. Xy was doing schoolwork and watching ER, not my favorite show, but then again there’s nothing better on, so I didn’t complain. I scooped a cat onto my lap, turned off my brain and settled down into a comfortable chair.

Just as the tube and the alcohol were producing the desired sedative effect, a lingerie commercial came on. It was the typical mildly titillating stuff you expect to see on such a commercial: supermodels in lacy undergarments slinking around Venice. Sounds like Dylan on the soundtrack, which is a little disturbing, but hardly a surprise in an era when Rage Against the Machine is used to sell cars.

And then I saw something which shook me from my stupor and threatened my very sanity. Stepping out of the shadows, there’s a man who looks very familiar. Why, he looks just like Bob Dylan. “Is that Bob Dylan?” Good God, it is Bob Bylan!

Has the world gone mad? What the fuck is Dylan doing in a Victoria’s Secret commercial?

Noting the date, I wondered briefly if this was an April Fool’s prank. But it’s not. It’s a strategic partnership that includes selling Dylan CDs at Victoria’s Secret.

Dylan fans will decry this as a sell-out, and I suppose it is. But that’s not what bothers me. He’s a counter-cultural icon, for Christ’s sake, a symbol of the anti-establishment 60s. Using him to sell sexy lingerie strikes me as a remarkably bad idea. Dylan is not sexy; he’s repulsive. Perhaps he was sexier 40 years ago. If the man has any sex appeal left, it’s an earnest, earthy, grungy kind of mojo. Victoria’s Secret, on the other hand, represents glamor and artifice and gloss and bulimia.

To see Bob Dylan shilling for Victoria’s Secret — well, it’s just plain wrong, and it almost snapped me back into sobriety. Thank God commercials are short.

Double Whammy

I’m suffering from radio withdrawal because it’s pledge week on both the local NPR affiliate (WWNO). Normally I would just switch over to Tulane University’s radio station (WTUL) for the week, but guess what? They’re in the middle of their annual “Rock On Survival Marathon.” In other words, it’s pledge week there too. Damn!

I give money to both stations. And I really don’t mind pledge week. It’s a necessary evil. Actually it’s a blessing in disguise, because it makes me turn off the radio, which I listen to compulsively. I mean, it’s great to stay informed and all, but I probably listen to news programs on NPR from three to four hours a day. I think all that information may hazardous to my mental health.

Traffic

CONTAINS SPOILERS

I saw Traffic on cable last night, and I can’t remember when I’ve hated and loved the same movie so much.

What I liked: This was a serious movie dealing with an important topic, a topic that always fascinates me. It attempts to depict the complexity of the situation and the fruitlessness of America’s War on Drugs. The brutality of organized crime, the corrupting influence of the drug trade, and the impossibility of effective interdiction… It’s all there.

Toward the end, when Michael Douglass as the US drug czar has a crisis of confidence at a press conference, he sums it up very nicely by saying something like: “The War on Drugs is a war on our own family members, and I can’t do that.” Then he just walks away, quitting his job. Very unrealistic, but a point nicely made.

The film also indicates (correctly) that our drug policies are weak on treatment, focusing instead on interdiction. Why do we focus on the supply from outside of our borders instead of on demand from inside our borders.

What I disliked: The scene where Douglass’ (white) daughter gets fucked (literally) and hooked up on smack by her (black) drug-dealer boyfriend really made me wanna puke. I really felt the movie fell down in the depiction of drug use. In a way, it was cool that they primarily showed privileged upper class white kids using drugs, as that really dramatizes the quandry. But all the film’s depictions of illicit drug use are so extremely abusive in nature — I feel this misrepresents things. It’s my understanding that the majority of cocaine use (cocaine being the big focus in this movie) is fairly benign and casual, just like the majority of alcohol use. Addiction is a serious issue, but it’s also something that happens to a minority of users. Thus, again, the absurdity of the drug war. Traffic seems to reinforce the idea that drugs really are destroying this nation’s youth, which I think is an overblown myth.

Other gripes: Douglass asks who has his job in Mexico, and seems shocked when told there is no analagous position — yet. But that shouldn’t be a shock. The “drug czar” position is a very weird and uniquely American appointment, and Douglass would have to know this. The drug czar has little power, anyhow; I believe he’s more of a figurehead, who’s merely supposed to coordinate the efforts of the various gov’t anti-drug forces.

Also, many of the questions posed by the film (like why we focus on interdiction so much) are unanswered, even though the answers are not that hard to find.

Of course, if Traffic gets people to think, to ask questions, then so much the better.