Monday, February 21, 2005

The Hunter Has Left the Building

[Ed. Note: Hunter S. Thompson died last night of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Jeremy wrote the following last night but I was only able to post it today. His real-life alter-ego is trying to get it published in the Montreal Mirror but we can't guarantee they'll accept it. En attendant, here it is, unedited.]

It's getting damn close to 4 AM but I can't sleep right now. What I wouldn't do for a drug tonight, anything to get my mind out of this soul-sucking space. I can't believe that another one of my heroes has died; Doctor Gonzo is no more.

Hunter S. Thompson was once a writer, before he became a lab rat and singed his neurons into charcoal. Thompson was a barbarian in his early days, clanging his pen against the gates of the publishing world, trying to prove that electrified prose and quick wit could triumph over accuracy. The 50's was mostly a wasteland until he rolled up on his motorcycle, drugs in one hand and a gun in the other.

Thompson used a novelist's eye to get to the epicentre of the story, sometimes lying to get his point across. Many credit him with ushering in the style known as "New Journalism", a school now relegated to trashy mags like Vice or the occasional college rag. His detractors painted him as a fraud--nothing more than a celebrity-cum-writer who milked his reputation for all it was worth--to them, he was more a drugged-out gun nut than a literary figure.

Hunter was all of these things. More importantly, he set the journalists free. Why else would I be compelled to write that my hemorrhoids are really burning right now? His death makes my soul burn more than any pile ever could.

Often going by the pseudonym "Raoul Duke", Thompson showed the American Press that their "inverted pyramid" technique was just as boring as the missionary position they would employ on their wives once a week.

Thompson proved that colour and flair (along with a keen sense of what is right) can compensate for gaps in the narrative; ultimately, the truth will emerge even if it is submerged beneath a sea of falsity.

Hunter never did wipe out the "Pyramid crowd"; those dinosaurs will still walk the earth when we're all just bones and plastic beer cups. I don't know if we'll ever be rid of the type of people who work for Fox News.

It must be said that Thompson never did a journalism class. Hell, he probably would have choked on the endless fluff pieces that I and my fellow scribes are forced to ejaculate for our loveless Concordia professors. Hunter's whole career was based on a sham, after he convinced the U.S. Air Force that he was qualified to write, edit, and produce a newspaper.

Hunter was an exception.

Now, I'm left here with all these Rules and no Buzz with the walls closing in like lobster claws. Where is Wendy, my one and only, when I need her? Has the world gone mad?

Maybe the Canadian Air Force is hiring?

Thursday, February 17, 2005

The Dissonants & The Casingles, Reggie's Pub, Fri. Feb. 18th, 9 PM, $5

As listed in the Montreal Mirror, don't miss the Dissonants & the Casingles show tomorrow night @ Reggie's Pub. (Friday, Feb. 18th @ 9 PM!) It will be bedlam, I tell you.

Note: This is not the real logo from Reggie's Pub but a visual aid was needed, so use your imagination.

The Dissonants have a prolific set planned to ease you into the "Reading Week" Holiday Spirit. The D's plan to play a handful of originals and some inspired covers (ie. Arcade Fire, Wolf Parade, Turbonegro). Their sound is hard to pigeonhole but probably lies somewhere between Dinosaur Jr. and Old-School punk. [Ed. Note: More like the unholy bastard child of Alexisonfire and Counting Crows! Despite this, I assure you that they will rock your casbah.]

After the Dissonants, headliners the Casingles will bring some of that voodoo garage punk that you all know and love. After the hysteria-inducing set they played a couple of Sundays ago at Cafe Chaos (accompanied by Manic Manon and the surprisingly excellent psychobilly band Flesh), expect them to put on a hell of a show tomorrow night.

[Ed. Note: Shaking Judy could not make it to the show because they were abducted by Space Raelians. Our hearts and prayers are going out to them (to Shaking Judy, not to the Raelians!)]

I am not usually one to agree with hacks like the New York Times but Montreal's burgeoning rock scene is home to a lot of impressive acts (ie. Arcade Fire, Wolf Parade, Launnie Andersohn, The Stills, The Unicorns, The Dears, etc.). Support your local scene!

The Dissonants, The Casingles, 9pm, $5
Feb 18, Reggie's Pub, Concordia U, 1455 de Maisonneuve W.
For more info: 848-7423 or 242-9840

Friday, February 11, 2005

The Ayatollah's Edicts & Whether Holding Hands is Permissible

I was reading an interesting article by Patrick Cockburn on Counterpunch Magazine (""Sistani's Vision for Iraq") and it lead me to Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani's Official site.

Ayatollah al-Sistani is one of the key figures Iraq's Shi'ite community, a group that represents over 60 percent of the Iraqi population. In the January 30 election, the United Iraqi Alliance is claiming to have won a majority of the seats in Iraq's National Assembly. According to the Economist, the UIA "claims Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani as its chief mentor."

A recount is underway in Iraq but if the preliminary results hold to be true, will the UIA (which some have described as fundamentalist) turn Iraq into another Iran? Ayatollah al-Sistani has not expressed an interest in running for public office, but will the UIA decide to bring in Sharia law or something similar?

Will America's attempt to inject democracy serum into an Iraq, bound by the chains of occupation, turn it into another fundamentalist Arab regime indifferent to American demands? [Ed. Note: JB, can you make these sentences any longer? This is amateurish bullshit. Get to the point.]

I decided to do a little digging and on al-Sistani's website, I found some startling revelations. Thanks to his very comprehensive FAQ page, here are the Grand Ayatollah's views on:

"Question:Is suicide permissible in Islam?

Answer:It is not permissible.

Question:What does the Qur’an say about suicide?

Answer:Islam does not allow it in every circumstance."

Oral Sex
"Question:Is oral sex by husband or wife allowed?

Answer:It is permissible provided no liquid out swallowed."

Checking Out Some Guy
"Question:Which part of strange man’s body is it allowed for a woman to look at? Is it allowed to look at his breast? On the tv in the western countries its very oft, that the men show their bodies till the belly ?

Answer:Looking of a woman at a stranger’s (ajnabi) body is forbidden, if it is with lust and fear of falling in sin. It is not even permissible to look without that (lust and fear) also as a measure of obligatory precaution except for the parts of body which normally a man does not cover i.e. head, hand and ankles which a woman can look at if it is without lust and without fear of falling in sin."

"Question:If my wife wants me to masturbate in front of her, is it then allowed?

Answer:You are not allowed to do it with hand, but your wife is."

"Question:I wanted to know about friendship norms in islam about females ?

Answer:Friendship with her is not permissible. Because in such friendship man is not immune from sin."

Backdoor Action
"Question: Is anal intercourse permissible.?

Answer:Permission is bound to wife’s agreement, but it is strongly undesirable."

"Question:Is having an orgy permissible under the Qur’an?

Answer:It's forbidden."

Or Just Getting Acquainted
"Question:Are shaking of hands with girls allowed?

Answer:It is not permissible."

After reading al-Sistani's site, I've realized that I take a lot of my freedoms for granted.

I didn't quote his ultra-religious edicts to mock him in any way--I am equally disdainful of all religions--it's just that a party that sees him as its spiritual guide could very well win the Iraqi election and write a constitution that will absorb edicts like these.

Saddam was definately a brutal tyrant but he was still more of a secular leader than a religious one, mainly because his Sunni-led regime used secular policies to minimize the power of Shi'ite religious leaders. Now that the Shi'ites will be running the show in Iraqi, can they be relied upon to protect the rights of women? What about those of minorities like the Kurds, the Turkmen, or the Sunnis?

My heart of hearts hopes that there will be an end to the fighting between Iraqi versus Iraqi and the occupation will end by Bush's strained National Guardsmen and tired Marines. Then, you can bring the boys home, Mr. Bush. [Ed. Note: Tell them not to buy their tickets just yet. There's 20 or 30 thousand Iraqis running around with heavy weaponry looted from Saddam's weapons depots. JB, you are one deluded informer! The occupation will end the year we have a female President.B]

Oh, and just in case you were wondering:

"Question:I have a cat, and I heard that I couldn’t pray in clothing that have cat's hair. Is this true?

Answer: It does not make the prayer void.

Question:Praying in a condition that you have a leather wallet (bought from un Islamic country & unaware of the nature of leather) in your pocket is acceptable or not?

Answer:That is permissible and there is no objection in it."

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Bush's 2006 Budget; "Just When You Thought Things Couldn't Get Any Worse!"

The Bush administration released their FY 2006 budget proposal on February 7th and I think that it truly proves that he is a compassionate conservative. The only downside is that his compassionate nature only extends to wealthy industrialists and other shady characters, the ones with the keys to the war machine.

Bush's sordid gang of looters are planning to invest the retirement savings of American workers into the stock market. As Lyndon Larouche pointed out, this economic plan was already tried out in Chile with disastrous effects for their population. Of course, this was under the Pinochet Regime and was pushed through at gunpoint; hopefully, the American public will have the good sense to rise up and demand that their representatives throw this idea out before it bankrupts their future.

While Bush seeks to reduce federal expenditures, he has no real means of doing so without cutting his bloated military budget. The War on Terror don't come cheap, eh Mr. Bush? Since 2001, the Bush Administration has raised "overall Defense spending by 41 percent." It is disheartening to see so much money available for bombs and unmanned attack vehicles but less to provide for health care or education.

The Bush budget has a couple of other doozies that stand out like erections on a crowded subway car. For example, Bush has slated "$100 million to fund competitive grants for States to develop innovative approaches to promote healthy marriages." Healthy marriages? Are they going to pay for Viagra or perhaps give each American married couple a free night at some swanky hotel? My instincts tell me no, that this is just a polite way of saying "if you can stop those queers from getting hitched, we'll toss you some coins!" Past experiences tell me that the term "healthy marriage" can't be bought with currency; it must be fought for, tooth and nail, by two loving partners, whether they be straight, gay, or just plain crazy.

U.S. federal spending on education should amount to $56 billion USD, a decrease of 1 percent compared to the FY 2005 budget. The Environmental Protection Agency will also feel the pain next year; their 2006 funding will decrease by 6 percent to $7.6 billion. Even with reductions in these departments, the U.S. will still have a $390 billion dollar deficit to contend with, and projected annual deficits of at least $200 billion or more over the next four years.

Bush is definately concerned about young people who fuck without getting married first. The proposed budget will "(provide) more than $206 million for abstinence-only activities this year." Paradoxically, these sort of "activities" haven't really worked in the past, as teen pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases show no sign of disappearing across America. Neo-puritanism will never solve the issues of our time, no matter what the Religious Right's televangelists are preaching.

If there is a silver lining, it is for the Richie Rich jet-set club. The wealthiest Americans will enjoy the fruits of their lobbying and connections; they will save about $1 trillion USD over the next decade, money that could have gone to rebuild America's tumbling infrastructure or to uplift the needy. This will also exacerbate the ballooning national debt (an eye-popping $8.6 trillion USD, which is projected to rise to $11 trillion by 2010!).

Budgets like this one prove that when you put a blind man behind the wheel, you are sure to run into oncoming traffic. Fifty years from now, Americans will spit whenever somebody mentions the name George W. Bush. He makes "Tricky Dick" Nixon look like Ghandi. George Dubya's "faith-based" leadership is just that; he believes that his disjointed economic policies will work despite all other evidence to the contrary. If America is to climb out of this hole, they had better start praying.

[Ed. Note: This budget hadn't yet been approved by Congress as of press time. Also, most Democrats and a few key Republicans oppose many of the cuts in the slated budget. It will be interesting to see whether Congress gives Bush their seal of approval.]