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ebogjonson's October 2005 archive

October 31, 2005

thanks for nothing, jim

Critic J. Hoberman recaps 50 years of village voice film criticism.

Posted by ebogjonson in mediascreened at 8:22 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)

October 28, 2005

belated


From the Village Voice:


Thanks to the Daily News' beyond-fabulous sepia-tone mug-shot memorial cover, Parks, the bespectacled seamstress-NAACP activist of 1955, is now officially a Thug Immortal, the original ride-or-die chick. So gangsta, so About The Black, she moved all the way to roughneck Detroit as Montgomery fast turned life-threatening. The News' cover choice has upset some in the cult-nat ranks, but I applaud it lest we forget the freedom road is paved with jailed revolutionaries and that liberation rhymes with incarceration when not death. Tain't but a hop, skip, and a jump from Parks to Angela and Assata on the FBI Most Wanted lists. And unlike the women of the Weather Underground who had to blow some shit up to get there, all these Black women had to do to register as threats to kracka supremacy was to make a federal case out of saying No.

What Greg Tate said.

Posted by ebogjonson in memory at 12:11 PM | Permalink

October 14, 2005

what is B.O.G.? part 1



This meme is picking up steam in my circle of friends. (You can buy the shirt here if so inclined.)

More comments later when I'm done with some work.

Posted by ebogjonson in what is B.O.G.? at 3:27 PM | Permalink

October 7, 2005

lady and cat



lady gives cat love; sauces seem sad

Posted by ebogjonson in brain maintenance at 9:58 PM | Permalink

October 5, 2005

dust - a dream

wherein i dream about dust, new lofts, moving, martian terraforming and the logistics/ethics of taking advantage of an invisible woman

I dream that I move into a new apartment, a smallish but nicely appointed loft. The building is in a sketchy commercial zone in what feels like an American any-metropolis, and it sits straddling the top of an irregular hill, at the curved tip of a sharp, eyelet bend in a road. While my section of the building is residential, the structure itself is largely made up of empty commercial spaces, like an abandoned factory or warehouse. The abandoned spaces are accessible from my apartment if I crawl out a window and across a dangerous rooftop made of thin metal panels that look like re-purposed aluminum siding. The panels don't seem like they should be able to support my weight but I crawl across them anyway in order to explore the empty spaces they connect to, which are huge, spooky, gorgeous. Although I've only just moved in much of my building seems slated for demolition. The building super is constantly at work taking rooms down with a wrecking ball while I explore. It's a bit of a race against time, but I'm not sure what I'm looking for or why.

At one point, for reasons I can't explain, I put a raw Purdue chicken onto the end of a folding wooden measuring stick. I unfold the measuring stick to about broomstick length and I swagger around with the chicken and stick on my shoulder like some kind of comic-strip hobo. At other times I extend the measuring stick to its full length (72 inches?) and walk around with the chicken bobbing in front of me like an alien probe or a grotesque, slowly decomposing strap-on. This all greatly amuses me in the dream, but it nonetheless feels observed, like play-acting. A put-on.

Disaster! It's not that the fully extended ruler cracks but that the raw chicken slips off the end and disappears into the gloom. Try as I might I can't find it. The super appears just then with some other tenants. Everyone is chatting about nothing and I slyly search the room for the chicken, hoping not to draw any attention to myself. I worry that the chicken will rot and that they'll smell it and that I'll get into some kind of trouble.

I can't find the chicken. It occurs to me that if I can't find it, neither can they. The room is so full of dust that I imagine the chicken lying somewhere encased completely and hermetically and safely in viscous, dry muck. I picture frying the chicken in the flour-like coating, then I scratch that, picturing instead the dust as a perfect, odor-trapping sealant. An embalming agent. The chicken would rot away to nothing and leaving a fragile tri-d shell of dust behind for someone to discover years hence and ruin with a curious breath.

The super and the other tenants and I leave the room and walk across one of those fragile metal roofs. They walk and I crawl, slowed by my twinned terror of falling off or through. Soon the group has completely outpaced me, left me far behind and alone. I'm barely moving, my crawl is so slow. I start showily working through my fear - talking loud to myself about putting one foot in front of the other and such- when I notice there's something wrong with the visuals. Instead of being outside on a roof, it looks as if I'm on a cheap, enclosed set, the sky and the roof edge painted-on optical blurs designed to fool cameras but not human eyes. The more I look I realize there's nowhere to fall and that the fragile-seeming metal panels are more floor covering than rooftop. I get up, walking stage left and then out of frame in pursuit of the super.

I find the super (the other tenants have vanished) and the dream changes genre and locale just then. Now I'm an avatar in a virtual colony on Mars and he's the colony headman. The context for this is unclear, but I imagine it has something to do with distance labor - the experiences I have with my avatar in this virtual world, the work I do, all manipulating a machine that is actually on Mars busily turning the red desert into a green human paradise.

I'm new to the colony so the headman is giving me the mandatory tour. He takes me back all through the loft building I'd just been exploring (and that he had been demolishing) and he re-explains its architecture to me as the stuff of extraterrestrial homesteading - living quarters here, storage there, med center, machine shop, Martian water extractor, and so science-fictional so on. He gives me a lazy layman's history of virtual colonization, perks up slightly as he goes over this particular colony's charter, waxes a little philosophical as he explains that the logic of the virtual world is Matrixian: (yackity) die here your real body dies (smackity) there.

It's boilerplate. I nod politely while he dutifully prattles. I stare discretely out the windows at the Martian landscape. It's beautiful, vivid like a View Master.

At one point the headman startles me back to virtual reality by carefully informing me that there's an invisible hacker bedeviling the colony and colonists. Initially the hacker had only indulged in pranks, hiding things or spraying graffiti or setting up petty conflicts between colonists, but they'd since moved on to dangerous sabotage and physical attacks. So far he'd been unable to purge the colony's database or systems of the hacker. He admits this with some embarrassment, shares that the other colonists are at bit angry with him and his inability to deal with the situation.

We are in an elevator when gets to explaining all this. I look him over. He's staring pointedly away from me to hide his shame, and although I'm inclined to say something politely encouraging, the more I look the more convinced I become that the angry colonists are right, that he could be doing something more. His avatar, which could technically look like anything, is a sloppily dressed and haphazardly thrown together reproduction of the super from the first part of the dream, gut and two-day shadow and bald-spot and all. His clothes are dirty and gray, low-resolution. The code in his toolkit, which hangs around his waist on a workman's belt, is a confused mass of out-of-date versions and shareware.

He's either over-matched or doesn't care. I wonder what I've gotten myself into.

Just then, right on cue, the elevator slams to a stop and the headman starts grabbing for his own throat, choking. There is a thin, translucent cord looping around his neck, garroting him. I can't pry my fingers between his neck and the cord. I try to reach around behind him but I'm grabbing at air. What I am assuming is the hacker sees me coming each time and expertly twists away from me like an unseen bullfighter, turning the headman this way and that. The headman's eyes start rolling back into his head and his fingers start losing their grip on the invisible hands and cord choking him. I decide to stop trying to grab what I can't see and instead lower my shoulder and slam into the headman. He falls backward towards the elevator wall but stops short of it, cushioned by (and in the process crushing) an invisible layer of hacker. I keep slamming myself into the headman until there's a groan that isn't his and the invisible cord and choking hands release, allowing him slide gasping to the floor. While he lies there catching his breath I pad carefully around him on the constricted elevator floor but don't find anyone, just a vividly green length of electrical cord, abandoned and therefore now visible.

Once the headman is back on his feet the tour and dream quickly proceed as if nothing had happened. He leads me down a corridor to an anteroom where some children are playing on the floor in front of a closed set of double doors. Beyond the double doors is a large, ornate meeting space like a legislative hall or an Ivy seminar room. A dozen or so people sit surrounded by a sea of fixed, front-facing chairs. The entire colony is here and they're holding an impromptu town meeting. It's about replacing the headman.

I'm new here, so I sit back and away and listen to the long litany of complaints. The hacker turns out to be only one of many things the headman has been doing wrong. I feel a mounting sympathy for him as the meeting progresses. His inadequacies seem to be mostly political and personal. His people don't seem to like him much and doesn't know to hide the fact that he likes them even less. Moreover, with the exception of the hacker, the strikes against him are largely luck-of-the-draw snafus, inevitable glitches of the sort that always arise during the build phase of any large project. The next headman - and by the way this meeting is going, there is going to be a next headman - will inherit a reasonably well-crafted, well-run colony and a clean political slate. He or she will do half the work of the headman and look like a managerial genius.

My eyes drift out a window to the red desert and I see the children. They've left the building and are out in the middle of nowhere. Their hands are linked and they're being dragged laughing across the Martian landscape in a little V-formation, except that the tip of the V is missing, invisible. They're moving fast enough that a contrail of dust has been kicked up behind them, the incomplete V and the line of dust behind it pointing directly at a cliff.

I jump out the pane-less window (no need for glass in this simulation?) and race after them. Behind me I hear sounds of confusion among the colonists, then the screams of mothers. I'm strangely pleased to be running, running, running across Mars. I'm thinking about what Morpheus tells Neo in the Matrix: there is no air, I have no legs, I can run as fast as I want to. My mind keeps drifting off to contemplate the virtual landscape. It's too beautiful, I think, more beautiful than the actual Mars must be. I wonder how the sensor data from the terraforming machines on Mars is being converted into this scene, trying to deduce how much of it is utilitarian and how much is simply aesthetic excess and pixel-jock doo-dadery. I try to deduce how much of this is being filled in at the whim of the graphics engine and how much of denotes actual Martian topography. I wonder if there's any lag between here and Mars and if the simulation is smart enough to fill the gaps in with incident and narrative and action.

I reach the children and the hacker just before they reach the cliff. I aim at the invisible tip of the V and throw myself. My arms clamp around a waist and hips that are unexpectedly soft and I tumble once, twice - uh-oh; I've miscalculated - three times and then the gravity variable gets dialed down to nothing. Free fall.

Over the edge of the cliff a world of slow-motion, strobing contrasts is hiding. An elbow persistently smashes itself into my jaw. My face is swept by long strands of hair that smell like calendula and peppermint. The cliff face is striated with thousands of lines, faked millennia of sediment appearing out of nowhere. There's no sound of air rushing past until I notice its absence and bring it into being. There's a knee in my gut.

I hit the ground. I'm a little chastised when I realize the drop wasn't nearly as far as I'd imagined it to be, the slightly paltry distance putting my heroic leap and race in a less impressive light. I over-reacted; none of the kids would have died. While I'm thinking all this through the hacker is busy rolling away from me and getting onto their feet. They're good and fast and now there's a boot in my face. They're good and they're fast but today it seems I'm lucky. The blow from the boot is glancing and mostly just turns my head, the better to spy another boot nearby covered in dust. This other boot is planted, taking weight. I can see it well enough to imagine sweeping it out from under the hacker and then I decide to do just that and then there's nothing. I lie there wondering if I've missed or if the hacker has pulled another disappearing act when there's the sound of skull hitting rock like a clap of little thunder - more luck for me. Then there's just confused groaning and a settling cloud of dust.

The dust is like breath magically revealing the traces flesh leaves on cold glass: unmistakable, informative, temporary.

The dust tells me that boot I just kicked out into the air is a stiletto boot.

The dust tells me that the boot (when stared at long enough) resolves into a long calf just above a slim ankle. The dust settles on the hacker like a kind of substantiating strip-tease; the hacker writhes in pain, kicks up more dust. The cycle allows me to follow an outline that slopes into what has to be a strong, thickish thigh. The thigh morphs into a generous curve of buttock, and when the hacker writhes again the buttock arcs radially into a hip that flares into a flat belly like an incoming tide. The tide recedes before the daunting rise of breasts, and the vagaries of dust keep bringing the hacker in and out of focus, and in and out of focus until I can piece her together from memory.

Right. Her. She is a she.

She is also just shy of completely knocked out. I doubt the authors of this simulation would have cause to code in the possibility of an avatar skull fracture, but either way the story logic in effect will likely keep her out of action for a bit. For all I know she could be sitting there on her end desperately trying to will her avatar to rip my face off and instead all it does is groan and clutch at the back of her invisible head. There's blood there, substantiated now that it's outside her simulated invisible body, and it mixes with the Martian sand into an ochre plaster-of-Paris that brings fingers and strands of hair into sudden relief.

She's rolled in a way that's getting dust on her lips and into her mouth. It's a fine, sparkling dust, sprinking her tongue like eye shadow.

I take a deep breath. I look down at her moaning and tossing and decide she's wearing a cat suit, super-villainess like, or maybe like a dominatrix. Then it occurs to me that she might be naked, that the boots and the dust might be her only costume. I wonder about then if this dream is about to shift genre under my feet again. I ponder the technical and aesthetic conundrum of fucking an invisible woman. Would I look down and see my own cock thrusting at nothing? Would the places where her wet surfaces had met mine linger, visible and disquietingly anatomical? What about the problem of the cum shot, both internal and external? Also the emotional logic of this particular turn vis-a-vis my dream character. She's incapacitated, after all; is it a rape if she's invisible, simulated, a hostile hacker, the figment of my dreaming imagination, all of the above?

It turns out not to be that kind of dream, though, because what happens next is that I throw her over my shoulder and turn back towards the colony. Just before I wake I think, they'll make me the headman for sure now. The dream ends before I can decide whether or not I want the job.

[eNd]

Posted by ebogjonson in dream log at 1:21 PM | Permalink

October 4, 2005

deleting comments

So I just deleted my first set of comments. I don't mean comment-spam, but genuine response comments that said things I didn't like. The comments were in some of the Katrina posts and they were from a single right wing moron who was intent upon using my bandwidth to spew at me and mine.

I deleted some posts and also left some of the idiot's comments up, triaging on the logic that while I can eliminate hate speech in good faith, I should let bad ideas fend for themselves. I don't see a point in subsidizing (even at micro-cost) right wing racism, but I also don't want to sanitize anything.

So basically, what I'm saying is that I'll be arbitraily deleting comments at my discretion. I don't want that to be a disincentive to posting, but thems are the rules of the house. Unless you intend to curse me out or wax racist you shouldn't have much to worry about. Down the line, I may decide to keep all comments but my pool is still to small and the chemical mix is still too new to let anyone piss in it.

As Drudge says: Evolving....

Posted by ebogjonson in ebog housekeeping at 5:25 PM | Permalink

humility inc

My man calls me up with a martini-fueled brainstorm yesterday: "Accept your lameness," my man says, "it's what makes you human/not an asshole." He announces that he will soon be building a Dr. Phil-type self-help empire on the back this insight and that he intends to plow the resulting proceeds into the shooting of cinematic genre epics (and associated videogames) whose core aesthetic conceit will be the image of Africans on horseback. Like, lots of them.

My man rocks. He dreams the funny, big, transformative dream. Me, in the grips of a monster case of geographic dislocation, PTSD, and general disorientation, I am thinking: I should maybe get down with his program. How's that serenity prayer go again? "Eshun-Elegba, grant me the strength to change endure accept yackity smack what it is I need to change endure accept yackity smack?"

My man's proposed empire is built out of humility and I have always had a hard time with humility. This is an odd trait for someone whose inner voice is long practiced in telling him "you suck!", but a certain aristocratic and high-yellow grandiosity is unfortunately one of my main defects, so much so that my own ambition inhibits my ability to do the work at times. I mean, why bother? It won't be a good as the other man's work, or even the work of my countless in-group friends and pals and neighbors. And I'm getting gray on top of it all, should finished that shit circa 1996.

(And by the way? You suck.)

Moreover, I've been down with the Miltonian devilish thing - i.e., that it's better to rule in hell than serve in heaven - for so long that accepting my lame lot feels a little funny. Accepting my lameness may hold the promise of a liberatory exhale, but it also holds the terror of a final seeming admission of defeat. Ruling in hell keeps the game afoot. I mean, the thing about the devil isn't just that his ego prevents him from serving his lord, it's that the motherfucker figured/figures he has some kind of actual shot. Dude believes he just might win, which is reason enough by his lights (and I guess mine) to risk it all. Fidelity to possibility - which is to say to himself - even past the point of seeming reckoning is what keeps the devil in hell.

When I think about the devil and lameness and me and my man, what I come away with is that my man is full of god's love. Not like a hot Cylon is full of god's love - which is to say, full of fundamentalist insanity - but full of god's love in the measured, post-Vatican II, socially conscious way the lay teachers at my Catholic high school were filled with god's love. It's the only possible explanation. He proposes to not only forgive himself but to lay out a path whereby others can come to forgive themselves in turn, which is to say, lay out a path whereby others can come to forgive themselves through him.

Me, I self-abuse by identifying with the devil. My man - unguarded by drink - bursts with Christ-like enthusiasms.

It must be why we're friends; we need to start a production company.

Posted by ebogjonson in brain maintenance at 3:12 PM | Permalink