Notes on how things seem to me from out here in Hollywood... As seen from Just Above Sunset
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Photos and text, unless otherwise noted, Copyright 2003,2004,2005,2006 - Alan M. Pavlik
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Consider:

"It is better to be drunk with loss and to beat the ground, than to let the deeper things gradually escape."

- I. Compton-Burnett, letter to Francis King (1969)

"Cynical realism – it is the intelligent man’s best excuse for doing nothing in an intolerable situation."

- Aldous Huxley, "Time Must Have a Stop"







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Sunday, 31 October 2004

Topic: Photos

New food for thought!

The parent site of this web log Just Above Sunset was posted today. This would be Volume 2, Number 43 for Sunday, October 31, 2004

This week in the virtual magazine? The annual Halloween issue, of course. Since I have been without television or my high-speed cable modem since the 25th this week you will hear many other voices. Of course there's a bit on the new Bin Laden videotape, and a whole lot on the pledge one must now recite a Bush rallies in unison with the other true believers. In the "Breaking News" item friends in Paris, Atlanta, Canada and upstate New York try to make sense of the week's events - and that gets pretty lively. Our expatriate friend in Paris, Joseph, kicks off a lively discussion about class warfare, and takes some digs at Southern California. And the Week in Review hits the odder stories out there.

Bob Patterson? Read his endorsement of George Bush for president. You decide if he's serious. And in the guise of the Book Wrangler he visits the Borders at Hollywood and Vine and notes some good reading ahead.

Features? Much on the flurry of books in France now that try to figure out just what we're doing here in the United States, with comments from Ric in Paris and Vince in upstate New York, who worked with one of the key French cultural critics. And as a Halloween bonus - notes on the Salon du Chocolat in Paris we all missed. If you have to attend a trade show, attend that one.

Local Hollywood photography is devoted to Halloween - with a cute kid in a pumpkin patch, then Hollywood Boulevard all strange, or stranger than usual - and the pithy quotes this week are about who believes in what, from Robert Burns to Isaac Asimov to William S. Burroughs.

So enjoy.

Current Events ________

The Short Snark: The New Bin Laden Videotape

The Pledge: The Cult of Personality Returns (atavistic instincts are fascinating)

Breaking News: October surprises as seen from Paris, Atlanta, the London in Canada and upstate New York...

Class Warfare: We're not in Kansas any more? Oh yes we are!

Catching-Up: The Week of Quite Odd Events in Review

Bob Patterson ________

WLJ Weekly: The World's Laziest Journalist - He's makin' a list and checkin' it twice. (Christmas comes early for the Republicans)
Book Wrangler: Bookstores always remind the columnist of "Bring Cash Alley" in Saigon

Features ________

The Francophile Corner: How we are seen by the French, who we so love to hate...

Halloween Extra: Notes on chocolate...

Photography: Halloween

Quotes: Useful Pithy Observations... Just who believes in what?

And one of the photos...



Posted by Alan at 21:32 PDT | Post Comment | Permalink
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Saturday, 30 October 2004

Topic: Photos

Offline for another week or more...

When I got home from work on October 25, I discovered my cable was out. No television - no big loss. But no cable modem connection to the internet. I am writing this to you all from an internet caf? on Sunset, and they are charging me many dollars an hour to connect.

Comcast, my cable company, cannot work the issue when I am not home - and things are hot at work so I just cannot stay home. Well, Comcast did come here and try to figure out why all the lines into my Hollywood apartment are all quite dead - on Saturday afternoon, October 30.

They cannot fix the connection at all. There is a break in the service two floors below me. They need access to that unit and the manager is nowhere to be found. I will need to reschedule next weekend, or sometime when the manager is around to let them into that unit, and when I am here. The coordination is a bother and this could take weeks.

Just Above Sunset - the weekly virtual magazine - will take, using dial up, maybe two or three hours a page to load. Photos are impossible as they time out during load - the line disconnects even with special settings. I may build Just Above Sunset tomorrow from the internet caf? at ten to twelve dollars a half-hour for access, but at least I can work rather fast. I just have to put all the text and photos on floppy and lug them down there. That's where you will find this week's commentary.

No television for two or more weeks? Whatever. I missed the World Series. No big deal.

Sunday late, if I'm done in time, I will go to Good Guys and buy a satellite dish and arrange for installation so I get television back, and then I will contact SBC and buy DSL - that's high speed internet over the telephone lines. What's two hundred more a month? I can maybe get out of my long-term contract with Comcast if they agree they cannot offer me service.

Bah. Commentary and email will be scant.

This means no blogging, and the next issue of Just Above Sunset is iffy.

Needless to say, I will not be cruising the net and doing commentary. Such is life.

Oh yes, readers with too much time on their hands can, of course, contact Comcast and tell them what a sorry service company they are, but I suspect they won't care much.

But here's a Halloween picture - my nephew Neal and his wife Michelle send this along - that's their Nicholas born last December...



Posted by Alan at 16:38 PDT | Post Comment | Permalink
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Monday, 25 October 2004

Topic: In these times...

Offline

When I got home from work this evening, October 25, I discovered my cable was out. No television - no big loss. But no cable modem connection to the internet. I am writing this to you all from an internet caf? on Sunset, and they are charging me many dollars an hour to connect.

Comcast, my cable company, cannot work the issue when I am not home - and things are hot at work so I just cannot stay home. The earliest Comcast can come here and try to figure out why all the lines into my Hollywood apartment are all quite dead is Saturday afternoon, October 30. I will be waiting here for them. Until then I will deal with the print media and NPR radio.

This means no blogging, and the next issue of Just Above Sunset will be the week after the election.

Needless to say, I will not be cruising the net and doing commentary. Such is life.

If I get the time I will look into ordering a satellite dish for television and the high-speed modem - as using landlines is, it seems, really, really unreliable. Comcast cannot at all guarantee any sort of reliable connection - this has happened before - and cannot fix problems easily.

So that's that. I should be back on line - unless the problem is unfixable - late Saturday afternoon, a bit more than five days from now.

Oh yes, readers with too much time on their hands can, of course, contact Comcast and tell them what a sorry service company they are, but I suspect they won't care much.

Posted by Alan at 20:26 PDT | Post Comment | Permalink
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Sunday, 24 October 2004

Topic: Photos

New items now on line...

This week's issues of Just Above Sunset - parent site to this web log - is now on line. That would be Volume 2, Number 42 for Sunday, October 24, 2004.

This week? In the feature article there is a discussion of that Republican television ad with the hungry wolves, and the dialog gets hot - vastly expanded from what originally appeared on this site. The current events items center on political epistemology - what is true and how do we know it is true and all that. Again, these extend what originally appeared here. Friends in Cincinnati and Paris discuss religion and its uses in the now extended Dialogs Concerning Natural Religion - and you will be surprised. And, as appeared here first, there is a follow-up to the idea that Bush had a little radio into his ear during the first debate, and why there was no follow-up on that in the mainstream media, with some points further clarified.

Exclusive to the weekly, Ric Erickson returns with a report on the ongoing presidential straw poll for expatriate Americans in Paris, at the legendary Harry's New York Bar in the 2e arrondissement - and Ric sends photos. Kerry is leading over there. And Ric in a second item discusses the use of English in France, which kind of got hot again last week.

Exclusive to the weekly too are Bob Patterson's two columns. The World's Laziest Journalist column takes on the New York Times (well, they did print his letter) and most everyone else, and the Book Wrangler visits a famous Los Angeles mystery bookstore.

And a special feature of the weekly magazine format (separate pages for photography) - a guest photographer shows us Paris as you have not seen it elsewhere. Local Hollywood photography is Sunrise over Sunset - and the pithy quotes are about art. So enjoy.

Here are the direct links.


Current Events ________

Political Advertisements: Never Cry Wolf

The New Community: Say what? Who are you going to believe? Me, or your own eyes?

Faith in Action: Everyone piles on as we move toward civil war, maybe ...

Dialogs Concerning Natural Religion: Not David Hume in the late eighteenth century, but Paris and Cincinnati this week...

Basic Facts: Here in the reality-based community ...

Follow-Up: The possibility that Bush was wired with a little radio into his ear during the first debate, and its implications ...


Our Man in Paris ________

Paris this Week: Kerry Gets the Edge At Harry's

Language: Le 'Must' Globish


Bob Patterson ________

WLJ Weekly: The World's Laziest Journalist - Alien Abduction or Breech of Security?

Book Wrangler: A book reviewer's Christmas season bonanza ...


Features ________

Guest Photography: C'est ? cause que tout doit finir que tout est si beau. (Paris candid shots)

Photography: Sunrise over Sunset Boulevard, October 24, 2004 (Hollywood)

Quotes: What is art?

___

And one of the arty photographs at the site....



Posted by Alan at 15:43 PDT | Post Comment | Permalink
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Saturday, 23 October 2004

Topic: Dissent

Follow-Up: The possibility that Bush was wired with a little radio into his ear during the first debate...

In the pages of Just Above Sunset the topic of whether Bush was wired with a little radio into his ear during the first debate was covered pretty thoroughly, with lots of quoted commentary and links, including a link to the Is Bush Wired website. For all that you can call up the item Irony from the 10 October issue to review the details

After that mid-month flurry of speculation - Was it true? - and commentary - If it was true what did it really mean about our leader? - the whole topic seemed to go away.

And Charlie Brooker wonders why.

See Dumb show
Charlie Brooker, The Guardian (UK), Saturday October 23, 2004

His opening reveals his leanings -
Heady times. The US election draws ever nearer, and while the rest of the world bangs its head against the floorboards screaming "Please God, not Bush!" the candidates clash head to head in a series of live televised debates. It's a bit like American Idol, but with terrifying global ramifications. You've got to laugh.

Or have you? Have you seen the debates? I urge you to do so.
Okay then, we see he's not a big Bush fan. Well, such fans are hard to come by outside the red states, and even harder to find in Western Europe, and even harder to find in the rest of the world.

So after some matters that only the UK folks care about Brooker comes to his main point - he was skeptical and then thought about it a bit more, and really does wonder. The emphases are mine.
... The internet's a-buzz with speculation that Bush has been wearing a wire, receiving help from some off-stage lackey. Screen grabs appearing to show a mysterious bulge in the centre of his back are being traded like Top Trumps. [That must be a British thing.] Prior to seeing the debate footage, I regarded this with healthy scepticism: the whole "wire" scandal was just wishful thinking on behalf of some amateur Michael Moores, I figured. And then I watched the footage.

Quite frankly, the man's either wired or mad. If it's the former, he should be flung out of office: tarred, feathered and kicked in the nuts. And if it's the latter, his behaviour goes beyond strange, and heads toward terrifying. He looks like he's listening to something we can't hear. He blinks, he mumbles, he lets a sentence trail off, starts a new one, then reverts back to whatever he was saying in the first place. Each time he recalls a statistic (either from memory or the voice in his head), he flashes us a dumb little smile, like a toddler proudly showing off its first bowel movement. Forgive me for employing the language of the playground, but the man's a tool.
A tool? Not a term much used on this side of the pond. But you get the idea.

But then Brooker turns on our fickle and feckless media. He's terrified, and puzzled.
So I sit there and I watch this and I start scratching my head, because I'm trying to work out why Bush is afforded any kind of credence or respect whatsoever in his native country. His performance is so transparently bizarre, so feeble and stumbling, it's a miracle he wasn't laughed off the stage. And then I start hunting around the internet, looking to see what the US media made of the whole "wire" debate. And they just let it die. They mentioned it in passing, called it a wacko conspiracy theory and moved on.

Yet whether it turns out to be true or not, right now it's certainly plausible - even if you discount the bulge photos and simply watch the president's ridiculous smirking face. Perhaps he isn't wired. Perhaps he's just gone gaga. If you don't ask the questions, you'll never know the truth.

The silence is all the more troubling since in the past the US news media has had no problem at all covering other wacko conspiracy theories, ones with far less evidence to support them. ...
Well, The Swift Boats Veteran for Truth had a lot of money and were well organized, and the press was impressed at having a narrative all set up for them and ready to go. The Is Bush Wired crowd presented some evidence, but no real narrative - no story - so given the press would have had to do some work at developing a story line that made this all hang together, nothing much came of it. That would be hard work. Hard work? You heard Bush whine about that in the first presidential debate. He doesn't like hard work. The press doesn't either. Present them with a fully formed story and they'll run with it. This? No, no digging. No investigative reporting. That's so Woodward and Bernstein - so last century. And investigative reporting isn't "fair and balanced" or something.

Oh well.

But Charlie Brooker isn't finished and moves on to larger issues... sort of. God and all that -
Throughout the debate, John Kerry, for his part, looks and sounds a bit like a haunted tree. But at least he's not a lying, sniggering, drink-driving, selfish, reckless, ignorant, dangerous, backward, drooling, twitching, blinking, mouse-faced little cheat. [Tell us what you really think, Charlie.] And besides, in a fight between a tree and a bush, I know who I'd favour.

On November 2, the entire civilised world will be praying, praying Bush loses. And Sod's law dictates he'll probably win, thereby disproving the existence of God once and for all. The world will endure four more years of idiocy, arrogance and unwarranted bloodshed, with no benevolent deity to watch over and save us. John Wilkes Booth, Lee Harvey Oswald, John Hinckley Jr - where are you now that we need you?
Did Charlie just suggest assassination would be appropriate? It seems so. Over here, where John Ashcroft keeps us safe, such talk would land you in jail, probably without charges and for as long as the government wished. And maybe in far southeast Cuba at our facility there. You'd be disappeared. And most Americans, it seems now, would be just fine with that.

It also seems the British, or at least this one Brit, don't understand that free speech means you watch what you say in a public venue, in this case in a major newspaper - because Ashcroft and his minions are also watching what you say. One needs to be careful.

Ah, had I more readers I'd be worried at even pointing to this Guardian item. As it is now - with my sixty or so readers each day - no one cares what I point to and what I say. And too, we are all possessed of the freedom to click on opinion from the UK and elsewhere - so far - and that is a sort of freedom. Things aren't that bad.

But two things bother me about this Guardian piece.

First, I think this fellow is right about our media. Things fall away - as we have "readers" working radio and television, not reporters who do digging. Digging up "the story" is for the print media, when they get up the courage to do it, and when their editors allow it, bucking the corporate masters who expect profits.

And secondly, of course, one wonders what would happen if such an item appeared in a wide-circulation US newspaper - which, of course, would never happen. But say it did. There would be a firestorm, and possible arrests. You cannot say things like this. And that is most curious. We are the beacon of freedom in the world. We are. Here you can say anything you like - responsibly, of course.

Now I've got to think about the fine line between responsibility and timidity, or putting it another way, the line between lively, forceful writing and prose that don't offend or upset folks. Should one be allowed to shout "FIRE!" in a crowded theater? Is that what Brooker is doing? It doesn't seem so, but America has become a sort of crowded theater these days, full of edgy, frightened and angry people. Best not say what you think.

Why are things easier elsewhere? Here, this is a puzzlement.

Posted by Alan at 22:58 PDT | Post Comment | Permalink
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