Blanketing opinions that I'll probably regret soon.

Saturday, December 31, 2005

Notes from the PostSecret Gallery

I've recently had the privilege to work with my old friend Frank Warren on his collection of over 13,000 "postsecret" postcards, part of which is on view at a local gallery. In case you haven't logged onto the internet for eleven months, PostSecret is an ongoing art project where people mail in their secrets anonymously on a homemade postcard. Launched in January of this year, Frank's blog is now the third most popular on earth.

For the past few weeks, I've been helping Frank at the gallery space by taking payments for his book, talking to people, and pitching in where I can. And I've observed a few striking things.

First, in addition to the typical artsy crowd of college students and hipsters,
the exhibit attracts hundreds of people that you would never expect at an art gallery. Here's a sampling of the characters I've spoken to in the past two weeks: Two older married French physicians visiting the US as exchange visitors; A mother and daughter who'd driven from Connecticut just to see the gallery, and who mentioned that their dad had just died; A middle-aged African American woman who sings gospel in a local church group; three deaf women in their early 20s; A dad in a camouflage cap, his wife and 15-year-old son; Four super-cute DC private school girls; A white, middle-aged suburban-looking man who said he happened to be walking by the gallery space, stopped in, and had been there for almost three hours; A Brazilian dad and his teenage son; A drunk 18-year-old with a fat lip who said, "I'm not the type of dude who'd go to an art thing, but this is really cool."; A 12th grade teacher from Los Angeles in a black leather jacket who bought the book to show his class of inner city kids back home.

Secondly, Frank is able to answer the same set of questions from gallery-goers with steadfast patience and sincerity. "How did you get the idea? How do you choose the postcards? How many postcards do you receive?" Gallery visitors asked Frank those questions hundreds of times, but he takes his time responding and doesn't leave out key details. An amazing ability.

Lastly, the media coverage can only be described as a stampede. During my first week, Frank was interviewed on CNN, MSNBC (Tucker Carlson live), Fox and local news Channel 9, but that's a small portion of the attention it's received.

Do most artists or curators hope that their work will be this well-received by the public? If so, how many can say it's happened to this degree? Each visitor browsed the PostSecret gallery for an average of an hour and a half. When they come to our table, they have a sort of exhausted, enlightened look on their faces, many half-speechless. I'll skip all the introspection about the psychology of secrets, and suggest that you see the gallery and judge for yourself.

The exhibition is on view in Georgetown through January 8th.

Friday, December 30, 2005

Ann Coulter is a sub-fascist. No question.

If we codify Ann Coulter, it will be easier to deal with her. Fascist is an overused term and I'm the first to dispute the inappropriate use of it. For instance, Newt Gingrich is not a fascist. A right wing Republican? Yes. And Rush Limbaugh. Again, a big fat idiot, perhaps, but without a doubt, NOT a fascist. But let's define our terms before I prove that Coulter is deserving of this damning title.

Fascism is a system of government marked by centralization of authority under a dictator, stringent socioeconomic controls, suppression of the opposition through terror and censorship, and typically a policy of belligerent nationalism and racism. Coulter has not publically advocated centralization of authority under a dictator, so I've created the term "sub-fascist", which I define as consistent with the traditional definition, minus the dictator aspect.

The only way to judge her is by what she has publically said. From the whorse's mouth:

" [ . . . ] I think the government should be spying on all Arabs, engaging in torture as a televised spectator sport, dropping daisy cutters wantonly throughout the Middle East, and sending liberals to Guantanamo." (Link)

"We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity. We weren't punctilious about locating and punishing only Hitler and his top officers. We carpet-bombed German cities; we killed civilians. That's war. And this is war." (Link).

"It would be a much better country if women did not vote. That is simply a fact. In fact, in every presidential election since 1950 - except Goldwater in '64—the Republican would have won, if only the men had voted." (Link).

Coulter is such a pissant gadfly that she only rises to "sub-fascist" level because she doesn't have the guts to say what she really thinks and earn the title of full-on fascist. But my god, for a 44 year-old she is smokin' hot. At least the USA has beautiful fascists unlike the rest of the earth. Take that, world!

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Taking a bath is not unmanly.

"A typical day for me begins with reading a book in my bathtub. That's right, Gunny reads in the bath---got a problem with that, moron?" -- R. Lee Ermey

There's an unjust stereotype out there that taking a bath is a woman's activity. The popular image of the bath-taker is of a female, partially submerged under a fluffy layer of white bubbles, half-smiling, eyes closed, aromatherapy candles burning, Enya on the CD player, and perhaps a little showerhead-to-crotch action down below. But this is not the only reality. Some of the manliest men in the world enjoy baths, including former Marine drill instructor, R. Lee Ermey, better known as Gunnery Sergeant Hartman in the movie Full Metal Jacket. And my grandfather never stepped foot into a shower after 30 years in the Navy. If he was going to get clean, he wasn't going to do it on his feet, dammit. That's for Navy life---a bath is the only way to go for the civilian man.

The image of the bathtub being womanly is further evidence of the grip that femininity has on our culture. Most marketing of domestic products is meant to satisfy a woman. And a typical woman uses a whole array of frou-frou products when she bathes. But when a man takes a bath these products aren't used, so no market-driven manly image of the bath-taking experience exists in the modern imagination.

The bathtub is ours, brothers. It's the regular man's jacuzzi. The drudgery of every day life is erased for 30 minutes and your manly-ass self is made whole again. It's time to take the bathtub back from the pussies who took it from us.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

I've gone from agnostic to atheist. Finally.

What convinced me in the end? Listening to the mash-up between AC/DC's "Shook Me All Night Long" and the Black Eyed Peas' song, "Humps", of course.

No, just kidding. Seriously, I've made the leap from agnostic to atheist. You always hear about people who are agnostic, but you never hear when they make the switch-over to 100% non-believer. You can now say that about me.

What did it? What pushed me over the edge from near-godless heathen to full-on heathen? The Science Channel.

People, people. We're all fuckin' star dust. It's so logical it's just amazing that it took me 32 years to finally realize it: everything is explainable, logical and measurable. If it can't be measured now, it will be some day. Believe it. There's no such thing as faith---it's all on chance. An agnostic is someone who's afraid to say there are just stars, and zero else.

But I don't have the time or the space to elaborate here. Hopefully you'll be able to catch the Science Channel's earth science programs so you, too, can be a heathen like me.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

From the bottom of Hitchens' cold, curmudgeonly heart...

It wouldn't be Christmas without at least one anti-Christmas rant from Chris Hitchens. Here're a few choice bits from his recent Slate article:

"On all media and in all newspapers, endless invocations of the same repetitive theme. In all public places, from train stations to department stores, an insistent din of identical propaganda and identical music. The collectivization of gaiety and the compulsory infliction of joy. Time wasted on foolishness at one's children's schools ..."
"The Fox News campaign against Wal-Mart and other outlets—whose observance of the official feast-day is otherwise fanatical and punctilious to a degree, but a degree that falls short of unswerving orthodoxy—is one of the most sinister as well as one of the most laughable campaigns on record. If these dolts knew anything about the real Protestant tradition, they would know that it was exactly this paganism and corruption that led Oliver Cromwell—my own favorite Protestant fundamentalist—to ban the celebration of Christmas altogether."
And his last line is the kicker. Referring to religious people, he ends with, "God damn them everyone."


Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Third World Democracy Board Game

I need to find out where I can purchase this board game. Squares include things like, "Hand out $5 bills with voting guides, Gain 12%", "Your government provides US with 25% of its oil" and "Highlight conceptual nature of international loan obligations." If anyone can find where to buy this, please get it for me for Christmas.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Best DON'T from Vice Magazine

Hey Nepalese garage sale, are you a college girl’s floor? You look like one of those $5 boxes at an EVERYTHING MUST GO sale if it was a gay loser dwarf instead of just a big box full of crap.

Vice now has "DOs and DON'Ts dolls". I expect it to get worse and worse to the point where I won't be able to post a monthly best. Oh well. It was fun while it lasted.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Dan and Giselle Go to Latin America

My friends Dan and Giselle are currently driving through South America armed with a 1997 Ford Explorer, a wholesale case of No Doz, ten liters of mezcal and a 12 gauge scatter gun. They left DC about a month ago and plan to go all the way to Cape Horn and back---however long it takes. THANK GOD, they're keeping a travel blog for us lame-ohs to follow.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

A Political Rantlet for Saturday Morning

Iraq is not Vietnam. Nowhere near it. Let me lay out the stark differences.

In Vietnam, the US picked up the reins from a dying colonial regime which had been fighting a widely popular insurgency. That insurgency had mass appeal because Vietnam had been ruled by foreign powers for over 100 years. When the US decided to become the new colonial overlord, it immediately subverted planned elections because they knew the wrong side would win (those fighting for indepedence). The US then fought a near genocidal war in three countries against peasant populations. They dropped more tonnage of bombs on those nations than were dropped in the entire Pacific theater of WWII. US casualties were miniscule compared to the mountain of rotting Asia bodies created by US aggression. Estimates of southeast Asian dead could top the four million mark, while only 58,000 Americans died. Even today, popular, educated discourse is about how much the US suffered at the hands of the Vietnamese, and how the US "lost" the war, despite the fact that the US economy and infrastructure remained healthy and functional while the Vietnamese were left with millions dead and carcinogens in their rice patties.

In Iraq, the US invaded a country against international law based on false pretenses. The US took over from no colonial entity. Compared to Vietnam, it's laughable that the pissants blowing up cars are called an "insurgency". They have no popular appeal. In Iraq, the US quickly started working with the many communists that had opposed a fascist regime. It's hard to even mention "winning" or "losing" because the US is not fighting any organized broad-based resistence. As opposed to Vietnam, the US did not subvert bona fide elections, but held them. The legitimacy of the elections was seen by the number of people who turned out. While the media spun it as if the people risked their lives to vote, the facts tell a different story: the pissant murderers who blow up cars are such a minority that it likely was not a huge risk to go to the voting booths. As with all US-run wars, the number of non-American dead is unimportant to policy-makers; a fetid mountain of foreign corpses could rival Mt. Everest and the focus would still be on how much the US has suffered with its 2,000 some-odd cadavers.

The US shouldn't leave Iraq immediately. Whatever your opinion on our motives for going into Iraq, to leave now would be adding insult to injury. There isn't any army or massive organized political movement waiting to take over like Vietnam. Elections have shown that there's a popular will to have a stable country. Iraq has unorganized, unmotivated forces; the iron fist of the US is needed until Iraq has its own. As Mao Tse Tung once said, "All political power grows out of the barrel of a gun." Until Iraq has a level hand on that gun, we can't leave. It's always been quick and easy for my fellow leftists to oppose war prima facie. A more difficult stance would be to recognize and accept the present reality.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Ponce De Leon @ Mercury Lounge

My friend Greg's band, Ponce De Leon, is playing in New York on Sunday. I would like to nominate his band's flyer as Best Band Flyer of 2005. I think it'll be the winner, hands down:

(That's Greg in the pink hat).

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

The Black Eyed Peas are the biggest douchebags on earth.

Long before Slate did a wonderful article on how horrible this monstrosity of a band is, I have hated these poor-man's-No-Doubt fuckwads. It's not surprising that the BEPs yield more than 10 pages when you do a google search on "Black Eyed Peas" + "Douchebags". It's self evident that the song "Humps" is One of the Worst Songs in the World so no need to go into it here. Actually, much more text devoted to these pieces of human garbage would further pollute the world. Why the fuck can't these types of bands just stay the fuck in fake-ass California and never leave? And one last thing: anyone who likes the BEPs (EXCEPT JIM W.) is also a double D douchebag. I won't change my mind so don't try and convince me otherwise.

Monday, December 12, 2005

My Work Christmas Party Actually Rocked

Everyone says work Christmas parties suck. The sucky-work-Christmas-party is even part of a re-occurring joke this time of year. Except in my case. My work party was awesome. Below is an email I sent to our HR department about it. (Later, the CEO forwarded this email to the entire company!):
From: Lonnie Bruner
Sent: Sat 12/10/2005 12:19 PM
To: HR Department
Subject: Xmas Party RAWKED

Dear HR,

As I drink my coffee in my apartment this morning, the thought that keeps going through my mind is that my work Christmas party is one of the best Christmas parties I've ever been to. My wife and I were impressed. Is there an award for Best HR Department in the World? If so, you should get it. Let me run down a few of the finer points that show that you really put some talented effort into planning last night's event.

- Excellent DJ. Most DJ companies play crappy music that no one dances to. Not the case with your choice. Good job.

- Gambling. What a great idea! You even had a FULL-SIZED craps table, not some lame miniature version. Wonderful.

- Great choice in free giveaways. iPod Nano. Nuff said.

- Perfect venue. It was one block from work and the building is hip and beautiful!

- Great food. You had carving stations! Yes!

Happy holidays and THANK YOU,



I would also add two more points, off the record:

1) Everyone was truly happy about the guy who got the Employee of the Year Award. Does that ever happen? I've heard most workers just grumble that he shouldn't have gotten it.

2) The eccentric older woman at work----who I thought was sad, old and lonely---brought a date! He even wore a tuxedo and was quite charming. That made me very happy.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Five Tens from

Vice did something similar a while back about I think it's only appropriate to do a scaled down version for Btw, despite how glamorous the people seem to act in the photos, most are very average-looking if not downright ugly. Below are the five exceptions to that rule. Enjoy.

Friday, December 09, 2005

I got in an argument with a cab driver tonight.

I've taken cabs in countries all over the world. I find cabbies to be a good lot---never had a problem with them. Until tonight. We got to my place and he didn't have enough change. I gave him a $20 bill and he scrounged around in his center console for some pennies encrusted in pubic hair for like 10 mintues---no, 15---before I got fed up. All the years that I've overpaid DC cab drivers came rushing forward. I think I said something like, "You fucks are overpaid anyway. Don't give yourself that tip. In New York this would've cost five dollars. DC is the only place that it costs two people eleven bucks to go less than a mile." Ok, those weren't my exact words, but I do remember the rantlet ending with something to the effect of him taking his measly paycheck to the bank and getting some change to pay his customers. It felt so good when I pointed to his filthy candy-wrapper-and-penny-stuffed center console and said, "You call yourself a professional?".

It got really ugly. Not violent-type ugly, but ugly in the sense that I felt like one of the dick-stick lawyers that I deal with daily. And what a strange feeling. It was a mixture of being pissed off and feeling guilty about it, and feeling like I had done a good deed for my city.

Our cab drivers have been stealing money from us for too long in the form of jacked-up fares. So even though they're jacked-up, people are supposed to lie down and take it because cab drivers are proletarian. Fuck all that. It's about time a dickhole like me gave them a piece of his mind.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

DC Drinks Blog

I've started a blog about the joys of alcohol in DC called DC Drinks. The blog's co-author is my friend, "Isaac Washington", who is the manager of---as he puts it---"a popular DC restaurant". He won't say which one, but he has appeared on the 7:00 news knocking on a fake tree ...

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Over a Week Ago, in Another Country

I need a reminder of my vacation to get me through this week ... I mean, month. Why can't I have Lucky Strikes, 3-hour dinners, balconies and breezy warm weather whenever I please?

Ahh ...

... the streets.

... John & Emily.

... the lovely wife.

... Angie.

... Roman.

... some douche-bag at the restaurant.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Everyone Gets a Free Pass to Sleep with Five Celebrities

On Saturday, I played the game Zobmondo with a group of friends. During one part of the game, each player wrote the five celebrities that they would sleep with if given the chance. These were all written on little scraps of paper scattered all over my living room so I kept a few. Below are the results.

Player #1:
- Any of the girls from the Wedding Singer
- Jessica Simpson
- Kirsten Dunst
- The girl on 24
- (illegible)

Player #2:
- Jeannette Lee
- Martina Hingis
- Mila Kuns
- Rachael Ray
- Elin Words

Player #3 (my wife):
- Hamid Karzai (president of Afganistan)
- Beck
- Mark Ruffalo
- Martin O'Malley (Mayor of Baltimore)
- Gil Grissom
- Stephen Colbert

Player #4:
- Angelina Jolie
- Halle Barry
- Scarlett Johansson
- Kate Winslett
- Madonna

Player # 5 (me):
- Scarlett Johansson
- Parker Posey
- Heather Graham
- Maggie Gyllenhall
- Angelina Jolie

Should I be worried about my wife's choices? What's with the attraction to political leaders? Also, for those who played, I couldn't read all of your scribblings so I may have some of the names mis-spelled.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Zach Klein: 23-Year-Old Ironic T-Shirt Selling Millionaire

Here's a link to an article about Zach Klein, blogger and the owner of the multi-million dollar ironic t-shirt company, I've been reading his blog for quite a while but didn't realize he was such an amazing entrepreneur, and seemingly good-natured, small-town guy. Plus, he has a stunningly cute sister. (No disrespect, Zach. I'm married anyway.)

From the article:

"For now, the dot-commer (Zach) opens his eyes each morning inside his 5,000-square-foot posh New York City apartment on Broadway ... The 2000 Bishop Luers High School grad rents the $10,000-per-month space with his three business partners. Their morning commute is a three-floor elevator ride to an office the same size and price but occupied by computer desks, not beds."

I'll say what everyone else is thinking while reading this: "Why can't I think of an idea that good?"

Saturday, December 03, 2005

TSAPS in Chinese

Just looked at my site meter and found that someone had been reading my blog in Chinese:

I'd like to change the blog permanently to Chinese. I'm huge in China. Believe.

Friday, December 02, 2005

My Vision for a Great Rock Band

I'd love to produce a band that would be a combination between US garage rock and reverbed-out female and male call-and-response Cambodian folk pop or Thai language vibrato nasal whining. I would recruit singers like those from Dengue Fever or Ros Sereysothea and a rocking drummer like Russel Simins and a guitarist like the guy from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. It would be like the music in Matt Dillon's movie, City of Ghosts, if those bands had recorded right after riding a stallion while getting tattoos and snorting coke.

It would be a huge success. I'm sure of it. Now I just gotta figure out how to find said singers and instrumentalists. Perhaps one of the local SE Asian newspapers in Rockville ...

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