Daily Archives: November 13, 2010

Quote of the Day II: “Applies lipstick in the vicinity of her mouth”

Courtney in her “kinderwhore” phase

After a day of rather gloomy posts, an uplifting quote of the day might dilute the fug a little.

Jenna Sauers of Jezebel explains, and very well too, “Why Courtney Love Matters.”

Courtney Love has been the subject of vicious takedowns and spirited defenses for over twenty years. The vastly different interpretations served up, I would suggest, say more about the journalists who write them and the audiences who consume them than they do about Love herself. For Love presents a conundrum: even at her most drug-addled, she’s as cheerful and self-secure as she is self-destructive. We truly don’t have enough women capable of or willing to play the bad girl with a smile — and without a trace of victimhood.

So even though she is a bad singer (the point of Courtney Love is kind of that she’s a bad singer, just like it’s kind of the point of Dylan) and (probably) a bad mother, and even though her Twitter was like a harrowing download from her Id, and even though I do not really understand what she was doing wandering a hotel naked with Anselm Kiefer and I do not believe that “a combination of Zoloft and a cocktail” really explains it, I love Courtney Love. Because she’s not a role model — and, even more, because she has never aspired to be. Because she’s not passive. Because she’s a woman who takes issue with the view that she ought to be defined by who she used to fuck in the early 90s and who she gave birth to as a result. Because she auditioned for the bloody Mickey Mouse Club at age 12 by reciting Sylvia Plath’s “Daddy.” Because she is subjected (and subjects herself) to industrial-strength moral and legal scrutiny at every turn and still gets up in the afternoon, applies lipstick in the vicinity of her mouth, and faces the world. Are these achievements too small to cheer? In a world that still orders up sacrificial pop virgins — Britney, Lindsay, Demi — to swallow down whole, I’d argue they’re anything but.

After the jump, a video from Courtney’s heyday, “Celebrity Skin.”  She’s always been a consistently smart lyricist — that talent has never failed her — and the lyrics here are typically ingratiating and sardonic: “Oh make me over, I’m all I wanna be / A walking study in demonology.”

Continue reading

Frye on Advertising and Propaganda


Conservative attack ad on Michael Ignatieff, accusing him of (wait for it) attack ads — and, a la Kory Teneycke, not being sufficiently Canadian.  This is now a very familiar tactic from the right.

Further to the previous post

Frye in “City of the End of Things” in The Modern Century:

Similarly, the technique of advertising and propaganda is to stun and demoralize the critical consciousness with statements too absurd or extreme to be dealt with seriously by it.  In the mind that is too frightened or credulous or childish to want to deal with the world at all, they move in past the consciousness and set up their structures unopposed.

What they create in such a mind is not necessarily acceptance, but dependence on their versions of reality.  (CW 11, 13)

Government by Fear


This ridiculous artifact is so not-Canadian that it would be laughably dismissible except for the very real intimidation tactics it reveals.  The message to Canadians in this and a whole string of other commercials is fear, fear, fear and still more fear.

Anyone living in Canada will know that the Harper government has deployed a battery of government funded television ads to tenderize the public for an upcoming election.  The ads have an unmistakable common theme: national emergency preparedness, kids taking drugs, elder abuse, victims’ rights — and, of course, bringing it all together, the military interception of a ship whose cargo is drugs: drugs that would otherwise be fed to our children and escalate crime (including attacks upon the elderly) to national emergency levels.

This not-so-subliminal advertising is particularly distasteful coming from a government that set the stage for unprovoked police violence against its own citizens last June.

It isn’t that the issues represented in these ads are not important — they most certainly are — but they are exaggerated, de-contextualized, and unrelenting.  They represent the only message this government wishes to relay to the public it is supposed to serve.

It’s ugly.  And it’s an abuse of the public trust to use tax dollars to promote propaganda calculated to demoralize citizens rather than enlighten them.

Here’s the whole lot.  Imagine being subjected to them around the clock every day.

Continue reading



Amy Miller describes her incarceration, which included threats of rape by police at last June’s G20 summit.

Let’s call it what it is, shall we?  How else to characterize a regime that budgeted a billion dollars to hire goons who brutalized and unlawfully detained hundreds of Canadian citizens?  According to The Globe and Mail, 10,000 uniformed police were involved, as well as 1,000 “private security.”  Private security? Private security forces were unleashed on citizens exercising their constitutional right to free and peaceful assembly?  Under what laws was this private security operating?  Was it private security operatives or publicly accountable peace officers who were responsible for attacks on citizens?  Who provided this private security?  How much was this private security paid?  What is the liability of this private security for any mischief, damage and harm it might have caused?  This is why we need a public inquiry.

Catherine Porter has a report today in The Toronto Star.

A sample:

Sean Salvati was the 10th person to slip behind the skirted table Thursday afternoon. He looked like a guy’s guy — jeans, long-sleeve T-shirt, short brown hair. He’s 32 and works as a paralegal.

He went to a Blue Jays game with four buddies three nights before the G20 summit. On his way out, he passed two police officers. He wished them good luck on Saturday, before hopping into a cab.

The cab made it two blocks before he was “pulled forcefully” out by the same officers and asked about his “suspicious comment.”

After an hour-long interrogation by a growing number of officers, he was arrested for “being intoxicated in a public place.” He’d drunk 31/2 beers over the course of the ball game.

At the station, Salvati said he was violently strip-searched — “they kicked me in the knees, kneed me in the torso, slapped me in the face, dragged me along the floor until my pants and underwear were removed” — and left naked in a holding cell for four hours. He was never permitted to speak to a lawyer. Upon his release, he asked the sergeant for the name of the officers who interviewed him.

“I was told nobody came to interview me. I imagined the entire interview,” he said.

You can find coverage (including video) of the G20 violence by police in posts from last June 28 – 30.  (Click on the archive link for June 2010 in the right hand menu column.)

(Thanks to Ross Belot for the tip)

Robert Louis Stevenson

Today is Robert Louis Stevenson‘s birthday (1850-1894).  Even Google is celebrating, as you can see from its Treasure Island-themed link icon (above).

Frye in “Third Variation: The Cave” in Words with Power:

In most descent mythis there is some formidable enemy — Minotaur or dragon or demon like Asmodeus — to be fought and overcome, and frequently this enemy is blocking the goal of the descent.  The goal is often, in popular romance especially, a treasure of gold or jewels, as in Treasure Island or Tom Sawyer or Poe’s Gold Bug. . . The type of society that searches for such treasure is an instensely selective one.  In popular literature the searchers may be boys or antisocial groups (pirates and the like) that boys find it easy to identify with.  The standards of admission often reverse those of more conventional societies. . . Often the dragon-guarded hoard is a metaphor for some form of wisdom or fertility that is the real object of descent.  (CW 26, 203)

Quote of the Day: “A zen kind of chutzpah”

Tremonton Utah’s indefatigible satirist Jesus’ General (“an 11 on the manly scale of absolute gender”) posts his review of George Bush’s Decision Points at Amazon.com.  A taste:

The presidential memoir serves an important function in our society. It provides a former president with an opportunity to shape how we will be viewed by history.

They aren’t easy books to write. Facts create roadblocks that the ex-president must overcome. Most attempt to do so by twisting and tearing at the facts until an acceptable truth emerges. My president, Our Glorious Leader George W. Bush, boldly took another approach. He tortured the facts until they confessed to their treachery. Then, He summarily executed them with a Hellfire-C missile launched from a Predator drone.

And the results are breathtaking. I stood up and cheered when I read His claim that waterboarding isn’t torture because He paid His lawyers to say it isn’t. That’s chutzpah, my friends. It’s a zen kind of chutzpah, one that is only achieved when self-delusion and a supreme lack of self-awareness come into perfect balance.