Friday, June 30, 2006

Jerry Falwell on NPR

NPR did an extensive feature this morning on Rev. Jerry Falwell commemorating the 50th anniversary of his occupying the pulpit at Thomas Road Baptist Church. At the same time, Thomas Road Baptist Church is moving to a new 1 million square foot, 6,000 seat facility.

My pastor reminds me, and the rest of his congregation, that Jesus asks us to love our enemies. So, it is in that spirit that I did not begin the previous paragraph by writing: "NPR did an extensive feature this morning on fat, intolerant gas-bag Jerry Falwell..."

The segment irritated me initially because the reporter offered little to balance Falwell's self-congratulation, self-righteousness, and self-importantance. Then, the old student of journalism in me noticed that the story was something much more important than "balanced." It was objective. Though the reporter did quote Falwell's former ghost-writer, now openly gay minister Rev. Mel White who attends Falwell's church with his partner in order to directly protest his bigotry, he mostly focused on Falwell himself, and let Falwell speak for himself. And, in that way, he gets Falwell to hang himself. Twice in the report he admits that he makes his controversial statements purely for the media attention.

Falwell acknowledges that his controversial remarks about homosexuality and other issues are designed to get attention.

"A pastor has to be media-savvy if he's going to reach everybody," he says. "I don't mean to be ugly and harsh, but to be forthright and candid. And the result is that people that don't like you start listening."


Elsewhere in the broadcast report he admitted he was critical of Bishop Desmond Tutu in the 1980's, when Bishop Tutu was leading the human rights campaign to end Apartheid in South Africa, purely for the media attention his statements would bring to him.

I came away from this report with the impression that Rev. Falwell's mission was to expand his influence and his ego through appeals to the lowest common spiritual denominator: fear. Follow me or God is going to get you is his central message.

To be sure, he preaches that God is love and Jesus forgives sins, but he is just as quick to preach that if you do not follow as he prescribes, God is just as quick to withhold that love and Jesus will stand in judgment against you for your sins.

Here is where I must interject some of the wisdom I have learned from my Calvinist parents, though I think they would probably disagree with my interpretation: God saves who God wants to save. Though I still believe that each person has the free will to decide to be a follower, God calls the shots when it comes to how he is going dish out love, grace, mercy, etc. Now, if I don't get to decide who is saved, then I also don't get to decide who is damned. I don't get to speak for God's judgment. Which sounds achingly familiar to what Jesus said, and my pastor, when he said don't judge or you will be judged. It also shines a light of understanding Christ's teachings to love your enemies and do for other people what you want them to for you. "Love your enemy," for instance, because God loves them. Serve others because God became a servant. When Jesus was asked if he came to rule as a king, he said that his kingdom is in the heart.

Keep in mind, Jesus made that statement as a citizen of a staunchly theocratic nation. The Old Testament laws weren't just spiritual guidelines to the Jews in Israel in the first century. They were THE LAW. Much as they would be today if Rev. Falwell had his way. I don't think Rev. Falwell sees the irony of this. There is a historical clip of him preaching from 1974 when he came out strongly against the Equal Rights Amendment claiming that it would usurp the godly authority of husbands over wives. But if he had read a history book as well as his Bible, I think Rev. Falwell would have realized that Jesus, in total opposition to his culture, did treat women as equals. But I think there's a lot about Jesus that Rev. Falwell doesn't understand. Or if does understand, he purposefully misconstrues that understanding to protect and spread his own influence.

It is probably redundant at this point to point out that Rev. Falwell is more like the first century religious leaders who spent years trying to prove that Jesus was a fraud or a heretic than he is the man he calls his savior. Indeed, I'd bet that if Jesus were to return today (not in the Left Behind sense, my problems with those books, closely associated as they are with Falwell's theology, are a whole other topic), Falwell would likely denounce him as a liberal, a communist, a homosexual activist, and a moral relativist.

And Jesus would still love Jerry Falwell.

In light of that, I wonder if I am being uncharitable to Rev. Falwell. Upon reflection, I don't think I am. Jesus didn't hesitate to call religious leaders hypocrites, a gang of snakes, or well-manicured graves that are that are landscaped and have fancy monuments on the ground but are rotten and full of decay down below. Jesus didn't condemn these religious leaders outright. But, in today's cultural terms, he did say it was easier for a limousine to squeeze into the "Compact Car Only" space in the mall parking lot on Christmas Eve than for the self-righteous and self-sufficient to get into the Kingdom of Heaven. In first century terms, the "needle's eye" Jesus said it was easier for a camel to go through than it was for a rich man to get into God's kingdom was a small, pedestrian gate through a city wall, large enough for a person to walk through, but not large enough for a pack animal or a religious procession or an entourage. No one noticed or trumpeted your arrival if you came in that way. His point was: to get in, you go in humbly and without a lot of baggage.

Going back to our 21st century metaphor, Rev. Falwell is driving a pimped out Hummer and he's eyeing that parking spot by the door. Let's pray he realizes soon it'd be easier to get that parking space if he was driving a Civic.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Let's hear it for Global Waming!


Mom always told me to look on the bright side of a bad situation. Sure, global warming is going to melt the polar ice caps, raise sea levels and drown the coasts, then cause atmospheric destablization that sets off a new ice age. But in the mean time all this warm, sticky, wet air is giving us the best flora and fauna I've seen in my life. Seriously. Maybe it's because I'm taking pictures and I'm seeing things I didn't notice before, but I honestly can't recal a year when I've seen more or such vivid blooming foliage. Spring was spectacular with all the Bradford pear trees and dogwood. Now the Crepe Myrtles are bursting like fireworks. Next up is the hydrangeas which I'm sure will put on an impressive show as well... or all die from the stifling, crippling heat.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Happy Birthday, Antonio!


Today is my ex's birthday. But, since we haven't spoken since February or so, I have to acknowledge the occasion here.

Happy Birthday, Antonio! I hope you are well.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

From The Onion's Archives

I think this photo perfectly sums up the actions of Southern House Republicans today.

From The Onion, November 4, 1998: "Georgia Adds Swastika, Middle Finger To State Flag"

"The House of Representatives is filled with insane jackasses."


America got treated to a double helping of "Fuck You" today by Congressional Republicans. First up, the Senate failed to pass legislation increasing the national minimum wage. Seriously, could their priorities be any more out of whack? Rich people get tax cuts, even after they're dead. Corporations, looking to protect their bottom line, make campaign contributions to corrupt politicians, then lobby Congress to keep the minimum wage low and to give the rich and big business tax cuts in a fucked up form of quid pro quo. So, the working poor not only have to shoulder a larger percentage of the tax burden, but they have to do so off stagnated wages? Keep in mind, this vote comes mere days after Congress voted itself a huge pay raise. I feel like my head is going to explode from the sheer hypocrisy. Americans need not only an increase in the minimum wage, but it needs to be indexed to inflation so the poor don't see their purchasing power decline for ten years until Congress can be goaded into handing them a few more crumbs.

Next up, Representatives from Southern states, go figure, have tabled legislation extending the Voting Rights Act, ostensibly because of provisions that affect those Southern states more than other states. In other words, it singles out the nine states who have the longest history of racially-biased voter discrimination. And here I thought Republicans approved of profiling. Maybe Camille Cosby was right.

For dessert, we get congressional hearings on video game violence featuring, in its best moments, Representatives who were merely 30 years out of touch, and, at its worst, idiotic latent racism.

But, you may ask, what IS on the Congressional fast track? A constitutional amendment to ban flag burning. Because, apparently, the root cause of global warming is the intense heat generated from all the millions of dissidents burning flags. No? Maybe because the gay-marriage ban didn't quite get the same play this time around as it did in 2004. The funny thing is, as evidenced by the AP photo at the top of post, President Bush was caught on film desecrating the flag by signing flags presented to him at a speech he made today in Vienna, Austria. Writing your name on the flag is defacement according to the US Code. Even if you're the President. Personally, I think the President should be able to autograph the flag. But, then, I think political dissidents should be able to burn it too. Free speech is arguably the most precious right enumerated in the Bill of Rights. And if there are forms of political expression that are not allowed in a free society, then we are not a free society.

Today, Congressional Republicans showed they are against the interests of poor people, they are against guaranteeing fair and free elections, and they are against protecting the First Amendment. Jon Stewart hit the nail on the head tonight when he said Congress "is filled with insane jackasses." Let's clean the House in November.

Tips: Arkansas Times "Arkansas Blog" and America Blog.

Why I like living in Little Rock, parts 1 and 2


I take a lot of guff from people who think Little Rock is an uncultured backwater for the fact that, although there are other places where I wouldn't mind living, if given the chance, there's no place I'd rather live. Little Rock has a lot going for it these days, especially if you're old enough to remember when University Avenue was a gravel road past Asher. (Well, my dad is. And he told me about it.) So, from time to time, I'll share with you all a few of the reasons for my hometown pride.

Part 1: As I mentioned a couple of posts earlier, Jay Bakker was in Little Rock from Atlanta this past weekend. And he brought with him the camera crew that is filming him for a reality series to air on the Sundance channel this winter. These out of towners brought with them some perspective on some of the positives about living in Little Rock; little things that impressed them about the city that people who live here take for granted.

For instance, you can drink the water here. All three visitor were shocked and amazed that you can actually drink the tap water here! Straight from the sink! These guys from Atlanta and Los Angeles use bottled water to make even ice cubes and coffee. They have to. The water there is either so laden with chemicals or pollutants they don't dare actually drink it. I told them Wal-Mart actually bottles Little Rock tap water and sells it nationwide. (Which is not in any way an endorsement of or encouragement to patronize Wal-Mart.)

Part 2: Secondly, by way of Arkansas Times' "Arkansas Blog," comes this report from the Christian Science Monitor about Little Rock's growing kick ball league and how it's bringing together divergent segments of Little Rock society:

Kickball has become to the '00s what bowling was to earlier generations. Adult leagues have sprung up across the country. But perhaps few cities have embraced the game with more fervor than Little Rock - nor seen more social barriers broken as a result.

More than 1,000 people now play on dozens of different teams in this city of 185,000. When people aren't playing, they come out with barbeques and ice chests to watch those who do. It has become the closest thing the city has to a community water cooler, a town hearth, drawing different social classes and racial groups together in a place where most people stick to their respective ZIP codes and political cliques.


The story was filed by Suzi Parker, with whom I used to work when I did grunt slave labor for the ArDemGaz. Now, who says the mainstream media never prints any good news?

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Happy Morning!


A follow-up to my previous post: The marketing guys at Folgers have apparently been watching me. They know it takes copious amounts of their product (actually, I usually buy Jelk's House Blend, but you get the point) to get me through each morning, as I am decidedly not a morning person. And going out at night makes it harder to get up in the morning, sure. Metafilter describes it thusly: "We've just replaced Bob's Folgers with 5,000 micrograms of LSD." I'm going to say it's more like a sleep-deprivation-induced hallucination.

Nightlife, Here I Come

KUAR is reporting this morning that both Vino's and Juanita's are going smoke-free next month. They both say they need under-age patrons more than they need smokers. I'm still waiting to see what Easy Street, Sticky Fingerz, and Backstreet decide. But it looks like, thanks to the new no-smoking law passed earlier this year in the state legislature, it's going to get a lot easier for me to go out at night again in July.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Son of a Preacher Man


Jay Bakker is a cool guy.

I got to meet him and his wife Amanda last fall when he first spoke at my church, Open Door Community Church. He made a return visit this weekend and we got to hang out some more. For those of you who don't know, he's the son of televangelists Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker. Say what you will about them, and many have, but if you want to see evidence of how God really used those two, look no farther than Jay. He's not perfect. But he uses his imperfections to show people God's perfect love. He has every reason to be bitter and crushed. But he's channeled all of those trials in to a passion and depth of conviction that is inspirational and magnetic. He is also going to accuse me of sucking up to him.

Tonight I got to watch a movie with him, my pastor Randy and his partner Gary, Michah, and Donald Bruce from the church. It was a documentary called "Frisbee: The Life and Death of a Hippie Preacher" about the impact upon the 70's Jesus Movement by Lonnie Frisbee and how he was nearly written out of its history when he was discovered to be gay and died of AIDS. It was a sad and tragic story, not because of Frisbee's failings, but because throughout his whole life he was used and then abandoned by everyone he trusted and loved. But it was beautiful too, because Lonnie was such a free spirit, wild and untamed and completely open to the work of God. He might have come a little unglued from LSD, but he proved that God will use who he wants to use. Millions came to know Christ through a crazy, ex-druggie, gay hippie who never quite got all his shit together. Truly, "God exalts the foolish things of this world to confound the wise." And, "His strength is made perfect in our weaknesses." Frisbee is airing this October on PBS. Check your local listings.

Jay and Amanda are moving to Brooklyn, New York, in August. Jay is beginning a new chapter in his ministry, Revolution, and Amanda is beginning med school. Jay is a New Yorker at heart, I can tell. He's selling his car next week. I'm jealous as all get-out. Stop by Revolution's website and show them a little love.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Exquisite Decay

At the same gallery show where I lucked into Stephano's unique Johnny Cash, I also found a series of manipulated photos by Charlie James that he calls "Exquisite Decay." The series is on display at Lily's Dim Sum and Then Some thru July 3, 2006, and at the website for Localist Magazine. Contact info is listed on the Localist's site if you would like to acquire some of this fantastic series. Charlie is a real renaissance man, an artist, photographer, musician, and probably several other things I don't know about. His wife Lisa Klaas is also an artist. She stuns me with the detail and vision of her art.

After the show, I picked up my favorite shot from the series, which now adorns my office wall, and Charlie has kindly agreed to allow me to display the image here.

Do see the exhibit at Lily's or Localist and be sure to visit any show he and/or Lisa have hanging in the future.

Johnny Cash


Stephano is an artist here in Little Rock who's stock in trade is Warhol-esque portraits of cultural icons like Pope John Paul II, Pres. Bill Clinton, Frida Kahlo, Bob Marley, etc. His most popular paintings, like Marilyn Monroe was for Warhol, are of Johnny Cash. In case my review of Personal File didn't make it unequivocably clear: I think Johnny Cash is The Man. Stephano agrees.

I've long admired his Cash portraits and a couple of months ago, while socializing with Stephano at a gallery reception, he offered me the opportunity to purchase one at an unbelievable price. Which Johnny did I want? Young Sun Records Johnny, rail thin and speed racing behind his eyes? American Prophet Johnny, the righteous voice of God like his name sake, "The Baptist"? As I was considering, Stephano confided there was one Cash portrait he'd never painted but wanted to cap off the series with: Johnny pissed off, flipping off a photographer who kept flashing photos while Johnny was trying to sing to some prisoners. It is THE iconic photo of Johnny Cash. And Stephano agreed to paint it for me.

A reasonable time later, he rings me up to tell me it's done, I go to pick it up and it is absolutely amazing. With his permission, I'm posting an image of the painting so you can all share in my joy.


Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Identity


At Starbucks, I'm now "venti-iced-house-with-half-and-half-and-six-splenda" guy.

At home, I'm "can't-sleep" guy.

At work, I'll probably be the "increase-productivity-by-taking-a-nap" guy.

My Cousin's Wedding

Oh Lordy, is there any occasion more harrowing than a family wedding? My cousin April got married last weekend to Justin, her long-standing boyfriend. I'm always surprised by the nerves of people getting married who have been together for a long time already. Standing before the minister (who spoke like a drive-time radio DJ), April had the giggles and Justin was sweating buckets. April's mom, my aunt Cindy, was cussing the chapel staff, the groom's family, her ex-husband, and anyone who wasn't handing her a stiff drink. It was a beautiful occasion.

The reception turned out to be a pretty fun party. They cut the cake, served the finger foods, took the pictures, and finally goaded family and friends into dancing. The bride's maids all line danced to the electric slide and some country tunes but the floor finally filled up when the slow jams started playing. My stepmother asked me to dance with my grandmother so she wouldn't be left out. It was a touching moment, to be sure. But I'll never be able to listen to Marvin Gaye's "Let's Get It On" again.

Congratulations, April and Justin. Much love to you both.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Contact Congress!

Take a look over at the right side of the screen. You'll notice a couple of new items in the "Links" section: direct links to pages for you to contact your own representatives in the U.S. Congress and Senate.

My friend Pepper Pepper reminded me at dinner last night of the importance of staying in contact with your elected representatives. He visited the home office of Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AR) last week and was shocked to see that right-wing Christianists were bombarding his office with calls condemning not only the Senator's vote against the so-called "Marriage Protection Amendment" (despite right-wingers claim that this legislation is about "protecting" their marriages, it only makes sense as an attempt to permanently set sexual minorities at the margins of society, enshrining discrimination in the Constitution), but also personally and hatefully condemning the Senator himself.

I made it a point to both call of my Senators' offices this morning and sent an email through the form provided on their websites thanking them for opposing this amendment, encouraged them to consider the rights of their GLBT constituents when voting, both on the Senate floor and in their home districts in Arkansas, and reminded them that those who support such discrimination and extreme right-wing rhetoric are not likely to vote Democrat in any election, regardless of the issue.

I followed these comments with another note to each of my Senators encouraging them to protect "Net Neutrality" when the issue is introduced in the Senate in the near future.

When writing to your representative, keep a few tips in mind:

* Keep it brief. Don't go on a long tangent, detailing the history of the issue, or a number side issues. State simply what action you would like your representative to take with a simple, well-reasoned rationale. Maybe include a brief statement on how this action would affect your personally.

* Keep your letter to a single topic. Keeping your correspondence to a single issue will better enable your representative to know how to take action. If more than issue is important to you, write more than one letter.

* Be polite. Using invectives and coarse language will cause your representative and his staff to be dismissive of your request or comment. By maintaining a courteous and professional tone, you can make a better case for your position, especially if it is at odds with your representative's position. Your representative is the representative of all of his/her constituents, even those that voted for the other candidate in the last election. Being polite preserves the proper representative/constituent relationship. Throwing verbal rocks only lets your representative know you aren't likely to vote for him or her in the next election cycle and makes him or her less sympathetic to your view point.

* Write your own letter. Many political activist websites feature forms that allow you to input your name and address, select an issue, and send a copy/paste form letter to your representative. These form letters are problematic, however. For one, when representatives receive hundreds or thousands of identical letters from a single IP address, they consider it as receiving mail from Focus On The Family or Move On and not their own constituents. Secondly, don't presume that you and any organization are in lock-step on a given issue. For example, though you may feel strongly that late-term surgical abortion is immoral and should be legally permitted only under extreme circumstances, communicate that to your representative your self, in your own words. Political action groups will often use your support for one facet of their agenda to imply your support of another facet. Don't let your support for legal limits on late-term abortion be misconstrued by the organization as opposition to contraception or marriage rights for homosexuals. These groups are often umbrella organizations advocating a wide array of policy positions, all of which you might not agree with.

*Say "Thank You." This might fall under the category of "be polite," but wite a follow-up note thanking the Senator his or her vote, or for considering your request if they do not act in the way you had hoped. Stay engaged. Stay in contact with your representatives. Be a good constituent.

Ok, with these tips in mind, click on the links to the right and tell your representatives how you feel.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Johnny Cash "Personal File"


My review of Johnny Cash's Personal File is up now at Relevant Magazine's website. It's good to see my byline again, even with a couple of typos in the article.

This publication is encouraging. Hopefully it will inspire me to write more (so long as they continue to publish me), and might even drive traffic to my blog, fueling my narcisism and desire for global recognition. Or, best of all, get me back on some music label publicity mailing lists so I can quit paying for cds.

And if you're reading this because Relevant linked to my blog, Welcome.

Johnny Cash
Personal File
Recorded by Charlie Bragg
Reviewed by Brad Caviness


In the publicity run-up to the 1994 release of his classic American Recordings album, Johnny Cash said there was no record he wanted to make more than that one, just him and a guitar with no excessive adornment. As it turns out, not only was that statement not hype, but Cash had been quietly making that record for over 20 years in his own studio back in Tennessee.

Personal File collects an astounding 49 recordings recorded by Cash and engineer Charlie Bragg in the House Of Cash studio from 1973 to 1980. Like what has come to be regarded as Cash’s many most popular works for Rick Rubin’s American label, these recordings are just Cash and a guitar, singing songs that meant the most to him, be they his own compositions, songs written by friends, or traditional numbers. They stand in pretty stark contrast to the production of Cash’s released output from this period. In 1973, Cash was at the height of his popularity. He had just wrapped up two seasons of The Johnny Cash Show on network television and was releasing finely polished records that, while they contained many of these same compositions, featured a glitzy production style reminiscent of the evolving “Rhinestone Cowboy” phase of popular country music in the 1970’s.

These sessions were a retreat for Cash. They were dedicated to the song for the song’s sake. With no commercial pressures, producers, or A&R company men standing guard over the process, Cash stripped these performances down to only the most essential and elemental level: the singer and the song. Twenty years later, audiences would discover this to be the definitive expression of Cash’s artistry. For three decades, however, these recordings would be catalogued away for Cash’s edification only, in his vault in a box marked “Personal File.”

The songs on this two-cd set are arranged thematically rather than chronologically and reflect many of the recurring themes of Cash’s oeuvre: Love, Sin, Redemption, Life, Death… Adding to the intimacy level, many of the songs feature spoken introductions by Cash, as if he were introducing the songs to an audience, in which he talks about his history with the song, how he learned it, or wrote it, and, more personally, why he feels such a deep connection with the composition. It’s hard to know exactly where the line is drawn between Cash the performer and Cash the person, but it’s easy to imagine the line being remarkably thin in these recordings that Cash presumed that a precious few other people besides himself would ever hear.

An extension of the spoken introductions, perhaps, the song-cycle even includes a spoken word performance, a reading of Robert Service’s grimly comic poem, “The Cremation of Sam McGee.”

The second cd is devoted entirely to Gospel music and religious songs, one of Cash’s a long-time passions. Among the traditional songs such as “Have Thine Own Way, Lord,” “Lilly Of The Valley,” and “In The Sweet Bye and Bye,” Cash sprinkles in compositions of his own. They range from very traditional songs like “What On Earth Will You Do (For Heaven’s Sake?)” and “No Earthly Good,” to more unorthodox, but no less inspirational songs like “If Jesus Ever Loved A Woman (It Was Mary Magdalene).” The song selection underscores the profound role faith played in Cash’s life, while also demonstrating that his faith was fleshed out with the same maverick streak that epitomized other areas of his life.

In virtually any other artist’s career, such a voluminous collection of what are essentially demo and home recordings would be a curiosity, an artifact dug up that is of interest only to hard-core fans and critics. Coming from Cash, however, knowing that he spent much of his career at odds with his record company and/or music producers, and that he began making these recordings just after the peak of the earliest portion of his career, these renditions take on the authoritative voice in his catalogue. Cash pounds the sound of a full band out of his guitar on “A Fast Song” making it hard to imagine the song could be much improved by adding additional players.

Indeed, Rick Rubin has gotten a lot of credit in years recently past for “rediscovering” Cash’s authoritative voice. What we long suspected, and now know thanks to Personal File, is that Rubin knew well-enough just to get out of the way and let Johnny Cash be Johnny Cash. These recordings, far from being a curious historical artifact, sound less dated, and, indeed, carry a timeless quality far more convincing than much of Cash’s commercial output from this period. Though lacking the grave specter that shadowed much of the work from the last decade of his life, these songs carry a gravitas that proves that this period was far from creatively fallow for the Man In Black. Indeed, Personal File invites a strong re-assessment of the middle period of Cash’s career by providing the evidence that, while there was money to be made crafting music that pandered to the lowest common denominator, Cash worked at his own expense to develop his artistry. And in that regard, Personal File is a remarkable and significant addition to the legend and legacy of Johnny Cash.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Required Reading: Was the 2004 Presidential Election stolen?


Robert F. Kennedy has a fascinating article appearing on Rolling Stone's website about Rethuglican dirty tricks in Ohio that, if his allegations are true, fraudulently gave the presidential election to George W. Bush. Again.

Money Quote:

"Almost without exception they hurt John Kerry and benefited George Bush. After carefully examining the evidence, I've become convinced that the president's party mounted a massive, coordinated campaign to subvert the will of the people in 2004. Across the country, Republican election officials and party stalwarts employed a wide range of illegal and unethical tactics to fix the election. A review of the available data reveals that in Ohio alone, at least 357,000 voters, the overwhelming majority of them Democratic, were prevented from casting ballots or did not have their votes counted in 2004(12) -- more than enough to shift the results of an election decided by 118,601 votes."


Read the piece for yourself here.

It is incredibly indepth and heavily sourced and cited. I hope it will fuel public outrage over the blatant disregard Republicans have the American citizens' right to vote and help to bring about real change. I also hope it will bring about criminal prosecutions of the election officials involved, and help sweep this corrupt cabal from power at the local, state, and federal level.

Volvos are safe cars.

This morning on the drive into work, I nearly bumped one of my traffic neighbors, an attractive young woman in a red Volvo, while I was attempting to change lanes. After the initial "Oh, shit!" moment, I flashed back to a nearly forgotten pop-culture artifact: a sit-com that ran very briefly in the 1980's about the last five or six American survivors of a nuclear holocaust. One of the survivors was directly under the blast, but lived because he was in his Volvo. That's all I remember about this show. Except that it also starred a black man. And maybe a white woman. And perhaps a cockroach. Anybody remember the title?

Volvos were the "safe" car of the 1980's. Thus was the humor of this otherwise tragic scenario. I wonder if Volvo's are still safer than other vehicles? With all the crumple zones, airbags, radar enabled braking systems, etc. in cars today, wouldn't they nearly have to be bulletproof and/or have a paramedic team on standby in the trunk to do that? And now that virtually every car gets a four- or five-star crash test safety rating, you have to wonder, what kind of rolling death traps were we voluntarily getting into back then?

UPDATE: God bless the Internet. I found the show in five minutes on Google. The show was called "Woops!" Fox aired 10 episodes in 1992. The funniest premise, following the gag involving the guy who survived the blast by being in his Volvo, was the episode in which they adopted the twist-tie as their official currency.