Thursday, August 31, 2006

The Failing Power of American Rhetoric in Film

Mikaela writes:
Fascinating article today in the NY Times about a new sequel from the author of The Player, which was turned into a movie with Tim Robbins, directed by Robert Altman, which is one of my top ever films.

This guy is a real insider outsider, and a crank, and an incredibly interesting man. He's a Hollywood screenwriter who talks about the dark side of Hollywood.

In this article, though, he goes further to talk about the role of American cinema in today's geopolitcal world. His a fascinating perspective that I need to think about more, and I'd love to hear what some of you think, too.

"I do think the movies help bring people together. If there was an Arabic cinema that was as good as the Asian cinema, there’d be less tension in the world. I believe that. When the movies were good, America was more popular in the world. The movies showed the world something really powerful, and that vision was so powerful that the movies were restricted, totalitarian regimes tried to keep the movies out because they were so powerful.

"The American myth is the little tailor that could, the yeoman who can grow up to be president, the humble log cabin leads to the emancipation of the slaves. That’s the most threatening idea in the world."

At least it was. Now, as Griffin Mill explains, the world has turned off the fantasies that America once fed it: “When the moral lessons of the movies can’t blunt the pain or give you energy because you’re too poor or hungry or scared or trapped — so trapped that the Journey of the Hero is the story of how your oppressors won King of the Hill — you can’t be helped by anything except violence in the real world, but it’s the kind of violence the movies lay off on the villain, mass violence.”

The Yes Men cut to the quick of Katrina

Maggie says:
Our modern-day Jokers have struck again. In their customarily fearless fashion, The Yes Men pulled a prank the other day on the City of New Orleans, just in time for the one-year anniversary of Katrina. But in the classic Yes Men twist, the joke, of course, is really on the power players themselves, namely Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco and New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, who were sharing the stage with who they thought was a HUD official there to save their city from itself. Oops. Sadly, the joke is also on residents still hoping for a helping hand in the wake of massive human-caused devastation in their community.

Let me back up.

The Yes Men are a group of political activists who practice "identity correctness," or as we might call it, "impersonating the dark side in order to make a good political point." According to Wikipedia:

Their method is often satire: posing as corporate or government spokespeople, they might make shocking denigrating comments about workers and consumers, only to discover that instead of shock or anger, their prank is received enthusiastically, with no one realizing the reactionary rhetoric was only a joke. Sometimes, the Yes Men's phony spokesperson makes annoucements that represent dream scenarios for the anti-globalization movement or opponents of corporate crime. The result is false news reports of the demise of the WTO, or Dow paying for a Union Carbide cleanup.

The Yes Men have posed as spokespeople for The World Trade Organization, McDonald's, Dow Chemical, and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The two leading members of The Yes Men are known by a number of aliases, most recently, and in film, Andy Bichlbaum and Mike Bonanno.

Their experiences were documented in the film The Yes Men, distributed by United Artists, as well as the book The Yes Men: The True Story of the End of the World Trade Organization (ISBN 0-9729529-9-3).

Here's what went down on Monday, according to Amy Goodman.
Speaking before a thousand construction-industry members at a privately-organized conference in Louisiana, Governor Kathleen Blanco and New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin both introduced what appeared to be a HUD official. That supposed senior HUD official, Rene Oswin, was actually Andy Bichlbaum - a member of the political pranksters group The Yes Men.

Posing as Oswin, Bichlbaum went on to announce grandiose plans for HUD to reverse course in New Orleans such as: scrapping plans to demolish 5,000 housing units, spending $180 million dollars to fund one public health clinic per housing development, having Wal-Mart withdraw its stores from poor neighborhoods and having energy giants Exxon and Shell spend $8.6 billion dollars to finance wetlands rebuilding.

Did you catch that? The HUD "announcement" amounted to nothing less than a revolution for our urban areas, local businesses, and the legacy of Katrina. The Yes Men's "new direction" for HUD - which you really should read in detail, because it's brilliant - includes:
1. Let People Come Home. "Until last week, our M.O. here at HUD was to tear down public housing whenever we could... We were wrong. We will not make this error again. This afternoon, we will reopen all housing projects in New Orleans and allow these Americans to be part of their city again."

Create Opportunity. "We're first going to stop the flow of money out of these communities. You know something's wrong when local earnings of poor folks end up in pockets of Wal-Mart shareholders in Manhattan. After extensive discussions, Wal-Mart and three other chains have agreed to withdraw from areas near low-income New Orleans neighborhoods and to help nurture local businesses to replace them. Legislation under study at state and federal levels will make sure this sticks."

Provide Basic Services. "In partnership with health departments and the CDC, and with your help, we will ensure there is at least one well-equipped public health clinic for every public housing development. We have 180 million dollars to make sure they're the best.... As for education, we all know that government education just isn't up to snuff. But why? It's because government schools are dependent on local taxes; when an area is underpriviledged, its schools have no money. That's why we at HUD are teaming up with the Department of Education to create a national tax base for schools."

Fix the Environment. "I am pleased to announce that Exxon and Shell have agreed to finance the rebuilding of the protective wetlands from part of their 60 billion dollars in profits this year."

How amusing - and how sad - that the most innovative recommendation in the wake of Katrina is, in fact, a joke. Why should an announcement bringing recommendations to rebuild local economies, give people their homes back, and protect the real health of its people have to be a prank? Have we sunk so low that anything innovative is absolutely impossible to achieve? In a neighborhood like New Orleans' Ninth Ward - where only 1,000 people out of 20,000 former residents have moved back, while money is pouring into richer, whiter neighborhoods - must some sense of salvation come only in the form of someone pointing out that no one's saving them at all?

Oh, and it seems that the crowd - remember those 1,000 construction contractors gathered to hear the announcement? - agree.
"I'm not angry at them for pulling this joke," said one New Orleans contractor, "I'm angry that it is not for real."

Shame on us all that it's not.

Women Underrepresented in the Court

Mikaela says: Just when we need women more than ever...

Women Suddenly Scarce Among Justices’ Clerks

Just under 50 percent of new law school graduates in 2005 were women. Yet women account for only 7 of the 37 law clerkships for the new term, the first time the number has been in the single digits since 1994.

[Last year] by the end of the term, there were 16 women among the 43 law clerks hired by last term’s justices. ...

[Law clerks] play a significant role in screening new cases, though, and they help their justices in preparing for argument and in drafting opinions. [Important when Roe v. Wade is under attack this term...]

While their pay is a modest [*&^%!@*] $63,335 for their year of service, a Supreme Court clerkship is money in the bank: the clerks are considered such a catch that law firms are currently paying each one they hire a signing bonus of $200,000....

A post on one popular legal Web site, asked, “Why so few women Supreme Court clerks?” The answers included the relative scarcity of female students among the top editors of the leading law schools’ law reviews — an important preclerkship credential — and the absence of women among the “feeder judges,” the dozen or so federal appeals court judges who offer a reliable pipeline to the Supreme Court for their own favored law clerks.

Some speculated that Justice Antonin Scalia, who hired only two women among 28 law clerks during the last seven years and who will have none this year, could not find enough conservative women to meet his test of ideological purity. (Justice Clarence Thomas will also have no female clerks this year, but over the preceding six years hired 11.)

In a brief telephone interview, Justice O’Connor said she was “surprised” by the development, but declined to speculate on the cause.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg expressed no such surprise. In a conversation the other day, she knew the numbers off the top of her head....

Justice Ginsburg declined during the conversation to comment further on the clerkship numbers. Why not ask a justice who has not hired any women for the coming term, she suggested.

One who is in that position, Justice Souter, said he was disappointed to find himself without any female clerks. He explained that he had hired the top four applicants, who turned out to be men.

Unaware of the overall drop in numbers, Justice Souter said he assumed it reflected no more than a random variation among this year’s applicants.

That was also the assessment offered by Justice Breyer, who nonetheless has hired his usual total of two women for his four law clerk positions.

In the last seven years, Justice Breyer has hired more women than any other member of the court; more than half his law clerks, 15 of 28, have been women....

  • [T]he clerkship cadre remains overwhelmingly white.
  • It was not until the 1940s that any justice hired either a female or black law clerk.
  • [T]he first female clerk [was hired] in 1944, and it was 22 years before the second. The first black clerk [a man] was hired by Justice Felix Frankfurter in 1948.
  • Justice Frankfurter was not, however, ready to hire a woman when the dean of Harvard Law School strongly recommended a former star student in 1960. He turned down Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Go see George

Maggie says:
Last night, a group of nerdy bloggers (m-pyre + Alterdestiny) went to check out the George McGovern documentary playing at the Guild.

"One Bright Shining Moment: The Forgotten Summer of George McGovern" is a must, must, must see. We laughed, we (okay I) almost cried, we got goosebumps, our stomachs turned, our heads spun...

See Rumseld in action as part of the Vietnam planning team (you know, training for Iraq). See Nixon&Co smack of imperialism in a way that foreshadows... oh, you know. See young people get inspired and connect to a candidate for the first time ever. See a broken Democratic party eat its own candidate alive.

Just see it. It's at The Guild every night this week, showing at 5:30 and 8:00.

Big bad Geraldine

Maggie says:
In the best lead paragraph of a local news story I've seen in a while (I love jokes that you either really get or you simply don't), the Trib's Peter Rice tells us today that:

Repeated talk of "international bankster conspiracies" and other off-the-wall topics might be a little less common at future Albuquerque City Council meetings.

That's right, folks. You know a Geraldine Amato reference as soon as you seen one. In "City Council may limit public comment," we find out that the City Council brain trust is still searching for ways to squash Amato's personal expression without squashing everyone's right to personal expression. Tough balance.

Amato has a curious habit of often saying right-on things, but in such a way and a manner that I hate to admit I agree with them. Know what I mean?

At any rate, the Council's right on about the problem:

It can be especially frustrating if a member of the public comes to make one comment on one issue, then sits through a five-hour meeting only to have the subject tabled because of so much public comment, Heinrich said.

"We have to be able to get through our agenda," he said.

Was I the only sucker hoping for a decision on the Volcano Heights plan last week? I went to the meeting hoping to see something, anything... but had to leave around 8:00 to pick up a friend from the airport. I got back home around 10:00, sure I'd missed all the action, and checked in with the live meeting online to make sure. Uh oh... public comments still in full swing. The meeting ended after 11:00 p.m. with no decision made and yet another continuance.

That night (okay, every night), Amato was at the microphone every chance she got, whereas many of the folks who'd signed up to speak on Volcano Heights (which was last on the agenda) gave up and went home to bed.

This is a tough call for the Council, who care about fairness for concerned citizens... and don't mind a little expression now and again, either.

I feel for Geraldine. Like I said, I kind of have a soft spot for her radical ramblings and free spiritness. But if, as she says in the Trib article, the Council meetings are just "charades," she might consider that they could better embody actual democracy if more of the regular folks who come to speak out about something were actually able to be heard on the issue they care about.

Personal responsibility, Geraldine... the government's, the citizenry, mine, and yours, too.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Who writes these Journal editorials?

marjorie says...

As ever, the Journal shows its bias in this morning's editorial about SWOP's dust up with Marty. In the very first paragraph they blatantly spew a falsehood by suggesting that the name of the youth event was "graffiti contest" when they know full well it was "Rock Out with your Cause Out." Their phrasing suggests to the public that the event was about promoting graffiti as art, when they know full well it was about educating young people about the large array of resources available to them in the city.

And when it comes to graffiti art, its more about providing space for a form of youth expression that isn't going anywhere. The Journal closes its editorial by saying that SWOP "could have educated the artists on how appropriating private property for their canvasses creates more grief than art."

Well, DUH. How better to do that then to provide actual canvasses?

No...what the Journal really means is that graffiti in all its forms is criminal and that the youth strata that engage in graffiti art should be considered criminals. No surprise here...we've always known the Journal Bias quite lies squarely with the Mayor and his cronies.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

SWOP Youth Rally

Maggie says:
A beautiful Saturday with beautiful energy coming out of City Hall Plaza. Kudos to the SWOP youth for pulling off today's rally and keeping their spirits strong.

PS: Juan José Peña gave the best speech I've heard in ages.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Who's Repugnant? That would be Marty...

marjorie says...

Three months ago young interns at SWOP began planning an event in collaboration with the South Valley Male Involvement Project. The event was envisioned as a way to inform Albuquerque youth about all the varied resources available to them. Eventually, the organizers of the event had commitments from almost 30 different resource organizations to set up informational tables at the event, which would also include nine different local youth bands for entertainment. Hence the name of the event: Rock Out With Your Cause Out.

Last week, the city pulled the permit for the event, using as an excuse that the organizers refused to provide security or cleanup, or pay the fees. I know these charges are blatant falsehoods, and I also know that the city routinely works with groups up until the very last minute to ensure that events take place. Security and cleanup were arranged and the fees which were sprung on the youth organizers at the last minute were well on their way to being raised.

So…security, cleanup and fees issues are the official reasons given for pulling the permit. But SWOP youth also know that Mayor Martin Chavez harbors an antipathy toward them going back many years. In 2002 there was a non-violent direct action at Marty’s office to protest what many young people see as an anti-youth city agenda that criminalizes young people of color specifically. Its amazing really that a grown man who claims to be a seasoned politician can be so bent out of shape for years on end due to teenagers stringing up police crime scene tape in his office. This is what that horrendously threatening event actually looked like:

Yep...these teenage girls look like real criminals don't they? Does Marty have no sense of humor? His comments since that action have shown time and again that he is a petty man who takes out his frustrations on easy targets…in this case, young people who don’t fit his notions of what people should think and be.

And it’s a shame that his attitude has caused city bureaucrats to pull the permit for an event that would have been very positive for young people.

But Marty really shows his true colors when he uses this opportunity to go a step further and attack one component of the planned event, which was a “Graffiti Battle” …an art competition between young graffiti artists. SWOP has held three graffiti battles in the past couple of years, as have other organizations in Albuquerque. Here’s what one of them looks like:

SWOP's graffiti battles have always had a theme and as it turns out most of the young artists who participate are intelligent politically aware people. Here's the winning mural painted during the first battle a few years ago..."Power to Choose." This mural was subsequently used on T-shirts used to get out the vote among young people.

Marty shows the class and the color divide of the world we live in when he calls Graffiti Artists “Repugnant” across the board and impugns the young people organizing this event as “Ghettocizing the city.”

So does this mean that Basquiat and Haring were “Repugnant” to Mayor Marty?

Does this mean that the vivid graffiti murals to be found in our most vibrant urban centers don’t contribute to that vibrancy AT ALL? That they are in fact “Repugnant”?

In reality it’s an attack by Marty on people unlike himself. It’s behavior all too familiar to SWOP
organizers and we can only hope that the petty behavior of Marty this past week makes it all the more obvious to greater Albuquerque.

Graffiti is used in different ways and means different things to different people. One important thing to consider about it is that it's a form of expression used the world over by disenfranchised people. I encourage all those who read m-pyre and are engaged in this internet form of expression...which by comparison is a privileged support the young people who were disenfranchised by the city this week by speaking out: through your blogs, through letters to the editor, through communicating directly with city government. Not to mention come to the rally tomorrow at noon in civic plaza and show solidarity with an important organized youth voice in Albuquerque.

PRO-Youth Rally: Support Organized Youth Voices in Albuquerque

Saturday, August 26, 2002


Civic Plaza, Downtown Albuquerque

Ya Basta!

"The Exonerated"

Maggie says:
This weekend is your last chance to see "The Exonerated," playing at the Adobe Theater through Sunday. 1/3 of m-pyre saw it last weekend, and the other two are going tonight. To be honest, we'd see pretty much anything involving Gene Grant and Darryl DeLoach, but this one means more. It's about something that really matters.

"The Exonerated" has gotten fabulous reviews from our local dailies, and this week the Alibi adds to the praise, calling it "one of the finest pieces of social theater I've ever seen in Albuquerque."

Kerry Max Cook, falsely imprisoned for 22 years on death row, is one of six innocent death row inmates portrayed in "The Exonerated." This weekend, the real-life Cook will attend the talk-backs after the performance, driving home the poignance of this play and the significance of this issue.

Help support great social theater in Albuquerque this weekend. We hope to see you there!

June Values

Mikaela says:
Here's what some of your neighbors said they valued in June 2006. I've only listed the ones that match SWOP's Rock Out with Your Cause Out event. It's a long list!

Note how many of the itmes do NOT match Mayor Marty's viscious attack criminalizing teens and an art form.

Albuquerque Goals Forum, June 2006

Diversity, Inclusion, Respect

· Tolerance, acceptance of others, tolerance for dissent, people respected for who they are

· Equity, justice, social justice, ethical standard- treating everyone fairly, sense of fairness, equality, equal access to city services

· Diversity, respect, respect for values of others, respect for individuals, mutual respect, climate of respect, inclusion, inclusive and respectful

· Embrace community diversity

· Balance of rights and responsibilities

· Choices, freedom / variety for individuals

Government honest and open /community participation

· Everyone has a voice and is valued

· Community involvement, participation, stakeholder involvement in community planning, collaboration/ consensus building

· Government to the people

· Positive and progressive innovative attitude-stay focused on what we can do; positive, effective leadership

· Visioning, respect for differing opinions, Youth input

· Events that stimulate education in the community

Cultural Heritage

· Cultural diversity

· Retaining cultural sensitivity in growth, cultural impact of progress

· Respect for land, history, e.g. Culture

· Historical legacy, preservation of historic and cultural resources

· Concern for interlaced economic, physical and cultural

· Sustain and encourage the retaining and maintaining of the original Tricultural flavor of New Mexico while learning from new cultures (Black, Vietnamese, etc.)

· Preservation of cultural traditions through the arts

Sense of community

· Appreciate community and culture

· Touch of neighborhoods - “Contact”

· Value of having community spaces that are available and well maintained

· Culture of service, community service as a duty

· Shared commitment to community, strategic alliances, communication

· Maintain sense of community, camaraderie, caring for one another, trust, teamwork, living in caring community where people talk to each other, people help each other

Arts and Creativity

· Opportunities to express creativity

· Sense of entrepreneurial spirit

· Aesthetics truly valued in creation of built environment

· Optimism, creativity, possibility, imagination, and play

· Value innovation

Public Safety - Freedom from physical threats-sense of safety, personal/community safety

· Safety, security, community safety for all

Educational Excellence

· Improve educational system for the city

· Valuing youth development

· What is good for children?

Other comments

· Family recreation

· Learning from other places

· Provide desirability for our children and theirs

· Supporting your Family

· Respect for personal property and people’s rights

· Enjoy life/ have fun

· Regional collaboration in all quadrants of the City

· Richness of existence; wonderful life

Hey Neighbors: What's Your Vision?

Mikaela posts:
As the Mayor rails against the youth that make up our future, here's a chance to envision together the community we want. What do you think of mail-in visioning? What's the difference between mail-in visioning and blogging-as-community-building? Hmmm... Thoughts to ponder.

August 11, 2006

Dear Neighborhood Association Leader [and/or Blog reader],

Albuquerque has a culturally rich history and citizenry as demonstrated during our Tricentennial Celebration activities and participation. Albuquerque’s vision, adopted in 1998, is “a thriving high desert community of distinctive cultures coming together to create a sustainable future.”

This vision honors the past yet looks to the future. As we look forward to the next 100 years, Mayor Martin J. Chavez and the Tricentennial Committee would like to involve all neighborhoods throughout the city in developing a set of values that carry forward the positive spirit of the celebrations. These values will serve as a guide in reaching toward our vision.

Values help us decide what we expect of ourselves and others. They can help us make decisions, establish boundaries and prioritize. Examples are “respect for one another, trust, responsibility, integrity, fairness, etc.” ...

The Tricentennial Committee would like neighborhood associations to provide your thoughts and suggestions as to the critical values necessary in our journey to realize the vision quoted above. Upon gathering ideas from a variety of sources, the committee will integrate and develop a short and focused list.

This community dialogue will take place during August. As a neighborhood leader, you have a key role to play. Please tell us:

  • What do you most value about life in Albuquerque?
  • What do you most value about the Tricentennial celebrations that have taken place over the last 18 months?
  • Why are these values important to our community’s future?

Please submit your responses in writing by the end of August by e-mail to If you have questions or need more information, please call Signe Rich, Executive Director, Shared Vision at 266-1178.

Thank you for your time and energy in this process.

Jerry Geist, Executive Coordinator, Albuquerque Tricentennial
Michael DeWitte, Senior Manager, External Relations and Communications, Sandia National Laboratories

Thursday, August 24, 2006

One night, three choices!

Maggie says:
Lots to do around ABQ tonight, folks. Why, here are just three possibilities:

1. Celebrate university-community collaboration. Ten years ago, the Resource Center for Raza Planning was born in UNM's Community and Regional Planning program. Started by now-BernCo Commish Teresa Cordova, RCRP has become a major player in community-based planning, public process, and infrastructure projects, particularly in the South Valley. Heck, they've even employed 2/3 of m-pyre over the years! New director Jacobo Martinez takes the helm tonight, so come celebrate RCRP's success and wish Jacobo luck for the future. Tonight at the Wool Warehouse on 1st St., 6:00 p.m.

2. Rock out with Devo and the Psychedelic Furs. Oh, how I love '80s New Wave music. Now before you scoff that Devo is nothing more or less than "Whip It," consider the very cool fact that Devo co-founder Mark Mothersbaugh is the genius behind the scores of Wes Anderson films (think about how The Life Aquatic sounds and it'll all become clear). And if you're still not convinced, how about this madness from Wikipedia: "Devo actively embraced the Church of the SubGenius, a parody religious cult. In concert, Devo sometimes performed as their own opening act, pretending to be a Christian soft-rock group called "Dove (the Band of Love)". They appeared as "Dove" in the 1980 televangelism spoof Pray TV. They also recorded "E-Z Listening Muzak" versions of their own songs to play before their concerts." As for the Psychedelic Furs, well, they're just plain awesome. The moodiness, the voice, the score to Molly Ringwald's getting-ready-for-the-prom scene (in what really was a terrible pink dress, I should add)... Hey, I'm not the only one who loves them some Furs. Tonight at the Convention Center, 7:00 p.m.

3. Channel all that Wal-Mart hatred into a good cause! Wake-Up Wal-Mart rolls into town tonight as part of their "Change Wal-Mart, Change America" tour. Albuquerque is one of 35 cities the group is hitting and tonight, they're hosting a town hall that features Democratic candidates Patricia Madrid, Diane Denish, and Gary King. Take part in the town hall to talk about local struggles against the corporate behometh, discuss what helps and hurts truly local economic development, and make sure these candidates know where you stand on corporate giveaways, fair labor, workplace discrimination, and strong communities. While you're there, be sure to congratulate Patricia Madrid on her promising poll numbers, see what you can do to help out the campaign, and even throw some cash her way... because every bit will help come November. TVI/CNM, Smith-Brasher Hall on University Blvd, 7:00 p.m.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Know where Oman is?

Maggie says:
My pal Saleem led me to this little game, one that took me waaaaay longer than I'd like to admit to complete. Yikes.

Think you've got some Middle East geography smarts? Only one way to find out.

Marty is Picking on Young People...ONCE AGAIN

From: Mónica Córdova, SW Organizing Project
To: Friends and Supporters,

I am angered to inform you that the event the SWOP youth and the South Valley Male Involvement Project have been planning for the last three months has been cancelled. The youth have faced numerous difficulties from the city in trying to put on Rock Out with Your Cause. We received word via our lawyer that the city is not going to grant us the permit to go forth with the event, meant to entertain and educate young people on how to lead healthy and informed lives. Proving once again that the city does not support youth.

SWOP would like to ask for your supports in the days to come. The rally will be held on Saturday August 26, 2006 at Civic Plaza at 12:00pm.

There is a much BIGGER situation at hand than the youth not getting the permit, youth are not supported by the mayor and the city and our community needs to know!!!!

You can help by:

Attending the press conference in support.
Attending the rally to support youth of this city.
Sending me a statement in support of our event and the youth.
Outreach by getting the word out about the rally!!

Again THANK YOU for your support and we hope to see you at the rally!!!!

Mónica Córdova, Youth Coordinator

Press Action Today

UPDATE: Mayor Marty is so afraid of young people that he has now moved the press conference to his office. Heaven forbid that all voices be heard in Marty's World.


WHEN: 3:30PM


The other day the City of Albuquerque, without informing event organizers directly, denied a permit for the "Rock Out for your Cause Out" event planned by the youth of the SouthWest Organizing Project and others for this coming Saturday afternoon. The youth had originally scheduled a press conference for tomorrow at 3:30pm to address the issue.

Mayor Martin Chavez has called a pre-emptive press conference of his own this afternoon, Wednesday, at 3:30pm in an attempt to beat the SWOP youth and their allies to the punch.



For more information, call Mónica Córdova at SWOP - 247-8832 or 385-6590.

On accents

Maggie says:
So in the midst of an insane week where I've barely looked at news of any kind, I'm sitting here eating lunch and just saw a little news flash that made me really, really happy. And on weeks like this, smiling really big really means something, you know?

But first, I digress...

I am a full-on lover of accents. I love twangs and lilts and drawls and clips and rolls. I love it all. In another lifetime, maybe I was a linguist. Or maybe in another lifetime, I will be one. I was raised in the South, where fans of accents are as close as we might get to heaven. Southern accents aren't like movie accents - you know, everyone sounding like a high-class Georgia peach. My Southern accents are decidedly ocean-sprayed, cultivated in the same fields where my family has grown corn, peanuts, and yes, tobacco (okay fine, "tobacka") for what seems like forever.

For fans of Southern accents like myself, North Carolina is truly hog heaven. For full-fledged linguists, this is also the case. See, North Carolina is a strange place, one with isolated pockets that allowed folks who settled there to remain there, largely unbothered, for generations. What this means today is that the Appalachian accent in the NC mountains is the purest modern sound of Scottish settlers in the U.S. But there's more:

My family is from northeastern North Carolina, a swampy mess of farmland en route to the Outer Banks, nearly unreachable by travelers with any sense for hundreds of years. The swamps of northeastern NC are so... swampy, in fact, that they lay claim to a rich history of freed slave towns (runaway slaves could easily hide out in the swamps, and did, without much risk of being caught), native American culture, strange misfits, and absolutely independent and stubborn sensibilities. Those same swamps and the island chains where no rich planter from Raleigh - and certainly no Chahlston gentlemen - dared navigate are now home to an absolutely fascinating accent that's part North Carolina Southern, part Old English settler, and part pirate brogue. Really.

In this great selection of linguist clips, you can check out the many and varied dialects of North Carolina. Want to know what my grandma Jessie Mae sounds like? Listen to North Carolina One and Two for an accent that at first listen is pure South... until you start hearing a British lilt, that is. The famous Outer Banks accent even has a catchy saying (our version of "pahk the cah in Havahd Yahd," perhaps): "It's hoi toide on the sound soide." (Bonus: On saving the "hoi toide" accent.) That's "high tide on the sound side," folks, in case your ears are too landlocked to figure it out.

The real tragedy here, of course, is that I am virtually accent-less myself. With a family full of Hoi Toiders, it's a bit of a wonder that I don't sound like they do. For a while my parents blamed Virginia, where I went to elementary school. But later, my dad fantasized that my non-accented self might become an NPR anchor some day. Sorry, Dad.

Anyway, all of this was a long rambling preface to avoid getting back to work and to explain the news story that made me so happy earlier. Here it is: Cows moo with a twang. That's right, folks: cows have regional accents, too.

As well they should.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Raging Grannies kicking ass locally

Maggie says:
Yay for the Raging Grannies, m-pyre's mascots and who we want to be when we grow up. They're kicking ass up in Santa Fe and taking a stand... in prarie skirts at that!

Albuquerque Journal: Raging Grannies Protest War, Promote Justice and Peace

SANTA FE— Dolled up in colorful prairie skirts, straw sun hats and protest pins, the members of the Albuquerque Raging Grannies were belting out an unabashed set of protest tunes during Santa Fe's recent Peace Day.

To the tune of "Battle Hymn of the Republic" and "99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall," the grannies engage their Santa Fe audience in an impassioned sing-along. It's protest activism at its catchiest.

"Glory, glory hallelujah. Greedy men'll no longer rule ya'. Lying media won't fool ya' and the truth will make us free!"

The seniors are members of the Raging Grannies, a loose-knit network of senior activists who have formed clubs— or gaggles, as they call them— in the United States, Canada and Europe.

Equipped with a canon of protest songs, vibrant wardrobes and a predisposition for irreverence, Albuquerque's Raging Grannies are breathing life into the local peace, justice and anti-war movement.

For more info on the Albuquerque chapter of the Raging Grannies - even to become one yourself! - visit the Albuquerque Center for Peace and Justice.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Head down... what news?

Maggie says:
Busy times in M3 land... no time for blogging on my part. Work calls in a big way, and these are the songs that keep me going on my work headphones:

  • Don't Think Twice, It's Alright - Joan Baez and the Indigo Girls. Great live performance from 1200 Curfews. "You just kinda wasted my precious time..."
  • Heart of the Matter - India.Arie. Surprisingly awesome cover of the Don Henley song. Who knew that song could be this damn good? India.Arie's singing is like the best hug in the world.
  • Satellite - Guster. Perfect driving-on-a-summer-night-with-someone-beside-you song.
  • Fire Door - Ani Difranco. Another great live one, this one from Living in Clip. I think I listened to it ten times in a row yesterday. "I wasn't joking when I said goodbye..." "When you and I are lying in bed, you don't sleep so tall..." " I could feel the future on your skin..."
  • Most of the Time - Bob Dylan. Ahhh, Bob. "Most of the time, I can keep both feet on the ground..."

In my nearly extinct free time, I'm:
  • Pissed about the unfair outing of Girl with a One-Track Mind in London, which brings up all kinds of blogging issues that pertain to lots of us, not just sex bloggers.
  • Drinking wine with the Ms.
  • Crossing my fingers for the Madrid campaign.
  • Thinking about the three weddings in five weeks
  • that I have coming up... all back east. And loving those new travel restrictions, by the way.
  • Canceling camping trips due to weekend work, but reallyreallyreally hoping I can sleep outside for at least once this summer. Somehow, someway.
  • Reallly looking forward to seeing "The Exonerated" Friday night, featuring m-pyre faves Gene Grant and Darryl DeLoach. Go find the Journal review - it's getting great buzz!

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Today's Tidbits

Mikaela says:
Awesome analysis by E.J. Dionne in the Washington Post of the need for Democrats to think about how to strategically use donations to build the party AND help candidates in key races. Republicans have us beat in this sense. Why?

"Republicans, who defend individualism in theory, act like communitarians where their party is concerned. Democrats claim to be more community-minded but act like radical individualists in their penchant for candidate-centered, one-cause-at-a-time politics."
Great quote in support of women in the AIDS crisis by Bill Gates via Democracy Now:
“A woman should never need her partner's permission to save her own life."

In Toronto, at the 16th International Aids Conference, Microsoft founder Bill Gates criticized the Bush administration’s push for abstinence policies. Gates said the "ABC" program promoting abstinence, being faithful and using a condom has saved many lives. But Gates said the power to prevent HIV must be put in the hands of women. He said abstinence is often not an option for poor women and girls; being faithful will not protect a woman whose partner is not faithful. And he said that using condoms is not a decision that a woman can make by herself.

Ruining bowties forever

Maggie shudders:

Arrogance + Bad Fashion Sense + Ignorance + Annoying Punditry USED TO =
Tucker Carlson, The Biggest TV Blowhard Ever

BUT NOW, thanks to reality TV...

Arrogance + Bad Fashion Sense + Ignorance + Annoying Punditry
Tucker Carlson, The Biggest Turn-Off Ever

Oh my. Ugh.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Poetry + a slow weekend

Maggie says:
I told Mikaela I'd keep m-pyre updated with National Poetry Slam news while she's camping, but then I started house-sitting without an internet connection. Oops.

I'm sorry to report that our ABQ poets were eliminated in the semi-finals Friday night. But there's good news for the region: the big winners were Denver, a team I don't even remember from last year's slam here in ABQ. [Mikaela adds: Anis Mojgani of Seattle won Individual Championship, for the second year in a row.]

We congratulate Hakim and the rest of the team for a strong showing, and for always representing ABQ well. Thanks, guys!

You know, it's funny how weekends without the internet go. I've been dog-walking, working, sunning, reading, cooking, shopping, phone-chatting, listening to loud girl music, and sleeping. Happily. Without obsessively checking on the news etc. Hmmm... maybe our web addictions need a break from time to time. Sounds like Sophie would agree, too.

Have a happy rest of the weekend, everyone. I'm sure next week we'll be back into full addiction mode, so we'll be seeing you then!

Friday, August 11, 2006

ABQ Slams Austin

Mikaela says:
You should be following this shit!

Our very own Albuquerque Slam Team has taken Austin by storm so far in this year's National Poetry Slam, where they seek to defend ABQ's champion title.

  • On our way to the competition, the team stopped in San Antonio to cut their teeth on a smaller slam stage. And we won.
  • On the first night of Nationals, we came in first in our bout, with a score that left us in 11th place overall.
  • Thursday night, we came in second to Denver, but that still keeps us in the running for the Semi-finals tonight.

Team Semi-Finals

Ruta Maya Ego's Hideout Antone's 501 Studios
Albuquerque Atlanta/Java Monkey Brooklyn Austin/Ego's Baton Rouge
Charlotte Austin/Southflavas Dallas/Clearview Columbia Hollywood
D.C.-Baltimore Berkeley Ft. Worth Denver Miami
Hawaii Chicago NYC/LouderARTS Omaha San Jose
NYC-Urbana Houston NYC/Nuyorican Providence Seattle

I'm thinking: Duke City Sweep, baby.

Our team can bring back the trophy for one more year. Beating Charlotte in the semi-finals would be a sweet, sweet revenge. Remember Charlotte? They of the slavery X arms standing in defiance and bad sportmenship as our 17-year old poet performed? Yeah, them. Would be nice to do well, wouldn't you say?

Everyone send slam vibes their way, wouldja?

Oh, and keep track of their progress here.

You can catch up and learn more about this year's team in a great Trib article here.

Your Albuquerque Slam Poetry Team 2006:
  • Hakim Bellamy
  • Age: 28

  • Damien Flores
  • Age: 20

  • Lee Francis IV
  • Age: 29

  • Jessica Lopez
  • Age: 28

  • Esme Vaandrager
  • Age: 18

  • And the coach:
  • Kenn Rodriguez
  • Age: 37