15 July 2006


Do any of you watch "That '70s Show?" Of course, its a TV series based on an amusing concept: a group of teenagers in small-town Wisconsin growing up in the basement of the family of Eric Forman. Everyone in the show, even the stern war veteran Red Forman, seems to believe in a goofy hedonism that seems to render any of their life-concerns trivial by comparison.

Of course, "That '70s Show" has made its run, and is now only in syndication. But, looking over the episode guide, one can see a steady devolution in the quality of the show itself. It was charming during the first three seasons, up until the point when Eric and Donna break up. Season four becomes a whole lot more soap-operatic, with the drama between Eric and Donna, but still quite funny. Season five, with Jackie paired up with Steven, is really the last funny season. Seasons six and seven are uncomfortable, six less so than seven. The whole marriage thing doesnt work as a plotline. Giving Steven a Black father was weird and inappropriate and they didnt really do anything with it.

Season eight was a complete mistake. Danny Masterson was at that point way too old to play Steven Hyde. Eric Formans basement without Eric Forman seems wrong. All of the regular characters lapse too easily and too often into monotonous self-parody. I can't watch season eight episodes at all.

There are specific signposts marking the decline and fall of "That '70s Show." Eric and Donna's breakup is the beginning of the end; after that the show becomes less of a parody of unserious relationships. The disappearance of Lisa Robin Kelly as Eric's sister Laurie was one of the big ones. Lisa Robin Kelly was funny; when they replaced her with Christina Moore (playing Laurie's part) at the beginning of season six, it was as if everyone was embarrassed that Kelly wasn't there.

At the end of season five, Red suffers a heart attack this takes the edge off of his character and makes him less funny. After the core characters graduated from high school (in the last episode of season five), some of them (certainly Donna; perhaps also Eric) should have gone to college; the late '70s was, after all, the easiest era in all of American history to go to college, 1980 being the highest point of per-student college financial aid ever. Instead, Donna wastes three seasons playing a small-town girl before (in the final episode) doing what she knew she should have done all along: leaving for college. Her bleached-blond look made her a lot less compelling as a character, too. The point of being Donna, from the beginning, was that she wasnt supposed to change her hair-color, looks, or brains for anybody.

Getting rid of Eric (sending him to Africa) and bringing in Randy deprived the whole series of its central tension, which centered on what Eric was going to do with his life. And when Eric returned from Africa in the last episode, he should have brought something back or become someone different than what he was. The scriptwriters didnt do anything with it.

Throughout the series, one sees a steady disappearance of the charming relics of 1970s culture. The highlights of this were, for instance, the roller disco derby, the episodes set around the movies Star Wars and Annie Hall, the appearances of Ted Nugent, Alice Cooper, and Shirley Jones, the Led Zeppelin concert, the punk girl (Chrissie) who almost steals Hyde, and so on.

So with "That '70s Show" one can see a steady decline after season 3, leading to serious downturns at the end of seasons 5 and 7. I think one can say the same thing about American history as a whole, from (more or less) the end of the 70s to the present day. I suppose the two big downturns were the passage of NAFTA in Clintons first term (after which the Republicans brought forth the Contract with America), and the botched election of 2000, which ushered in that great desecration of American schooling, the No Child Left Behind Act. Soon thereafter, of course, we had the 9/11 disasters, the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, the evisceration of the Bill of Rights, and so on.

The cultural downturn is clear; most of what counts as pop music is in serious decline. This is at least true in the American version of pop music the British have been the worlds best pop musicians since the Beatles, with the Americans doing most of the rest of the work. (There are plenty of other countries that deserve honorable mention: Canada (Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, Gordon Lightfoot), Australia (Midnight Oil, Yothu Yindi), Senegal (Baaba Maal, Youssou NDour), Brazil (Gilberto Gil, Caetano Veloso etc.), and Jamaica (reggae) come to mind first.) American pop seems to have peaked around 1981 (or 1970 for the pre-punk generation), and fallen into serious decline thereafter. The great expansion of grunge and hip-hop in the 1990s was mostly derivative; rock had long ago shot its wad by then.

The great inflation of rents and mortgage payments that we call the real estate bubble, when combined with the utter immiseration of student life due to increases in student fees and reductions in financial aid, appear to have taken the joy out of American economic life. Once upon a time in America, one could use the American university/ college system to push aside the capitalist rat race and pursue a number of various and easy-to-get degrees in the humanities or social sciences, while following the life-philosophy of do what you want; the money will follow. Those opportunities have almost all dried up. Sometime in the late '90s, I remember reading that per-person financial aid peaked in 1980, and had become only half of what it was then. The situation has to be worse now, given the significant rise in student loan rates since July 1 of this year.

The prostitution of American politics to the process of capital accumulation is typified by the prostration of the Two-Party System toward the Bush Administration. Even the so-called Left in America has elite gatekeepers reporting monthly to the Rockefeller Foundation. The so-called revolt against the status quo, in its many cultural forms, invariably proposes remedies for today's politics that are about 0.01 percent adequate to the real soup which Americans are objectively sinking into. And still, an inordinate few of Americas responsible citizens have the ganas to support a third party with their votes, if not with their voter registrations.

One can only suspect that the process-as-a-whole is in its last, ugly stages, and that a new chapter of American history will begin sometime soon. Following the news these days is like waiting for "That '70s Show" to go out of production, so that its last wretched run can be terminated. It is time for all of us to seek friends, to watch and prepare.

14 July 2006



on the so-called "left"... pieces like this bring it out... it's time for a talisman to remember how bad things have gotten.

It's important to remember that Bush is where he is because the elite is solidly behind him, and that he makes a great punching bag in order to deflect responsibility away from the Democrats, whose failure to present an alternative to Bush's policies keeps him in place. I expect that, once again, we will see on the Republican side a "leader" as tyrannical or idiotic as Bush keeping up the elite's end in a capitalist world that no longer pretends to be rational. And the Democrats will nominate his twin brother, under the banner of the "lesser of two evils."

Imagine, if you will, convention hall after convention hall stretching to the horizons, filled with "progressives" in an eternal Boston, in a year 2004 frozen in time, all listening silently while a billion suited John Kerrys spout pro-war rhetoric unto eternity. You scream as loud as you can to wake yourself from this horrid nightmare, but your voice has been restricted to the convention-approved "free speech zone" conveniently located under a bridge miles away from the convention halls. It would make a great horror movie if it weren't so real.

Mexico always cheers me up -- the vegan-friendly diet (rice and beans, anyone?), the blatant electoral fraud, Sup Marcos, and now Oaxaca... Greg Palast brings us a cheery report, as well...meanwhile, we appear to be in for another rock and roll fire season here in southern California, as record heat plagues the nation...

13 July 2006


On Sept. 6th, the League of Women Voters will be hosting a

Debate in NYC with "major candidates or officially recognized parties," qualifications in an attempt to ensure Green Party candidate Howie Hawkins for US Senate won't be in the debate.

Howie Hawkins was not invited to this event, and stemming from my discussion with the NYS Executive Director Rob Marchiony, it is possible Hawkins will remain excluded from the debate.


Because Howie Hawkins is the Green Party candidate for US Senate.

Although it is ultimately Rob's decision and not the NYC division of LWV, I'm requesting Greens, Hawkins supporters and democratic-elections advocates around NYS to call the NYC LWV as well as Rob and urge them to allow Howie in the debates while Rob is mulling it over. Please tell him and the LWV staff nicely that you WANT HAWKINS INCLUDED IN THE DEBATE.

I also informed Rob that -- after Tasini loses the primary, which he will ---that will leave just Clinton, the Republican, and ...Hawkins. Does Rob really then want to exclude Hawkins, in that case? "Hawkins is telling voters he is Plan B when Tasini loses," I told Rob--- and, hopefully you will repeat to his staff.

With enough phone calls flooding in, I want to show Rob he really needs to think twice about his decision and include Hawkins in the debate as there are hundreds of watchful and angry voters tracking his decisions.

If Rob decides to stick with his original decision of only allowing "major candidates" in the debate, he will be very, very sorry.

And I will need YOUR help in making sure he and LWV will be very, VERY sorry.

Although he will be leaving his post at the end of August (which could be positive for us, and hopefully for the organization as a woman will be taking over the League of WOMEN Voters), I want us to raise a very loud, very public ruckus LWV. Pretty much anything to get them really bad publicity will go, including the usual protests, to expose them to be the Democratic front group that they often are, should Rob remain firm on his anti-democratic stances.

Unfortunately, exclusion from LWV debates is nothing new for us Greens, but this time around, let's give 'em hell if they dare do so.

League of Women Voters,
(212) 725-3541

NYS: Rob Marchiony,
Executive Director
(518) 465-4162

Harangue the national office about this affront to democracy:
Washington DC:
(202) 429-1965


"Hi, I'm from (NYC, etc) and I heard there will be a Clinton debate here soon.
Great job on getting Clinton to actually come to a debate! But my candidate so far isn't included in the debate -- I'm supporting Howie Hawkins for US Senate, and I want him included in the debate. Will you be inviting Hawkins to join the debate soon?"

(depending on the answer...)

"Why not? You do know that Tasini is going to lose the primary, and then that just leaves Clinton, the Republican and Hawkins, right? Wouldn't you want to make sure then, that Hawkins gets in on the debate so New Yorkers know they have an anti-war choice in the elections?"

(depending on the response:)

"What kind of group are you guys? Are you TRYING to suppress certain candidates from being able to publicly speak? Are you actually a non-partisan VOTERS INFORMATIONAL organization or a FRONT GROUP FOR THE DEMOCRATS? "

(At that point, that is most likely the farthest you will go with the LWV, so say goodbye if you haven't been hung up on already.)

Sally Kim

Kudos to JMG's blog for noticing a Christian Science Monitor article showing that the US is now importing coal from other nations... what this means, of course, is that the good coal is being burned now, and the crappy coal will be burned later, another energy trend pointed straight downward with capitalism...

From Democracy Now:
The campaign for Mexican presidential candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has released preliminary video of what it says proves he was cheated out of last weeks Presidential election. In a video shot in the central state of Guanajuato, the footage shows an apparent supporter of conservative candidate Felipe Calderons National Action Party stuffing a ballot box on the day of the elections. Lopez Obradors campaign says the footage is the first among many it has received from across Mexico.

try not to belong to them

read here...

this came up in the public response to an Alternet article that apparently revealed how much of the Left is really the Right...

accoring to an article in Counterpunch, the City of Los Angeles didn't own the South Central Farm to begin with, so they couldn't have sold it to Horowitz...this is important as it's going to court...

10 July 2006


Vietnam-era poster circa 1971


See the LA Times article here... kudos to Polizeros for noticing it first... they're so desperate to rule ya that they can't be bothered to fool ya...

This article exposes the mainstream press, speaking ignorance to the ignorant, as having adjudicated this dispute early. It's hard to say, though, that the Mexican system is as good as he says it is, not until it actually performs the task assigned it.