Friday May 31, 2002

I got some stuff from Brian today. Brian Hallett, the fashion photographer, if you don't know. My host on the subcontinent. I think I know what he feels like, to be marooned from sanity, to have to reach out, if only through email, in hope that people will feel just a little portion of the lunacy and bless your presence in it.

Here's an email from Brian about being in India. Couldn't have done it better myself.

Dear friends,

I'm sitting in a little internet cafe outside of my studio in the old business district of Mumbai writing to you. Honestly the last few days I have been filled with anxiety about the brewing war over here. It's not just fear of war, because I have been here during a war. It's more a feeling of complete lack of involvement with the political process with people seemingly bent on blowing themselves up with nuclear weapons. We (x'ers) grew up with the concept of mutual annihilation so the notion that someone would actually use a nuclear bomb was not really a possibility. But here, nobody seems to grasp the enormity of the situation. NOBODY IS TALKING ABOUT IT!!! It's like something happening very far away. There are no protests, no peaceniks, no rallys, no marches, no big articles or speeches calling for restraint. The feeling is more like, "oh well, we've been fighting for so long, let's just get it over with and blow the suckers up." People on the ground don't want war. But they feel too completely powerless against the tidal wave that's happening to do something, let alone to talk about it. There is a lot of political force working towards war as well. And it's freaking me out. But I am very torn about the idea of leaving to be safe. I have lived here for a long time and to leave is to escape when the going gets tough. I often think about the guilt I would experience if I ran away and something happened to my friends and family here. Survivor guilt.

I must also add that it is extremely frustrating to know that the US has treated Pakistan as an "ally" and "trusted friend" to help wage its war against the Taliban, all the while turning a blind eye to the fact that Pakistan is the source of trained Islamic militants. This has forced India's hand by creating a situation where India must allow the situation to escalate to make its case against Pakistani infiltrators. Only now is the US beginning to change it's tune against Musharraf, and I fear it is far too late. India has its own culpability, not the least of which is that India has absolutely no intention of creating a situation where the Kashmiri people could "self-determine" themselves into a Muslim state. India is not about to go to the talking table with that as a possible outcome. I suppose that centuries of foreign domination including 700 years of mughal (Muslim) rule by outside forces has created the Indian psyche of today. India is a country where Muslims, Hindus, Christians, Buddhists, Jains and Parsis live side by side, not always peacefully, but under a common law that allows them to not only worship as they please, but actually exercise their own relgious laws (India has separate courts for different religions). The solution to the crisis is not self-determination for the Kashmiri people. Kashmir is a state and part of India. India is not occupying Kashmir. It would be like giving Texans self-determination. The answer for Muslims cannot and should not be separate Islamic regimes throughout the world. Muslims must live within pluralistic societies that protect all people's relgious beliefs and values. And terrorism, infiltration, and nuclear blackmail are clearly not answers to resolve this conflict. Tremendous pressure must be put on Pakistan NOW to back down. It is the only way I see out of this conflict.

It is estimated that a limited nuclear exchange would kill 3-4 million people, and leave another 1-2 million people seriously injured. This is unfathomable. Frankly, I don't fear dying in this exchange, I fear surviving it.

Peace and love


Sunday May 26, 2002

910 AM. I punched it up as I was heading down 101. Back to Palo Alto. Burnin it back down the strip. Saturday night on AM radio. David Lawrence in a verbal hurricane. He wraps every listener in his wide firm sysadmin arms. What's a sysadmin you ask? Well, that's short for System Administrator. The sys stands for system, and the min stands for administrator. That's System Administrator. A system administrator is someone who administrates a system. Any user of a PC is also a system administrator. Because a PC is a Personal Computer. The relationship of the person to the computer is a personal one. A computer is a system and a person is an administrator. And the person is an administrator because he has a personal relationship with that system.

I have had many personal relationships with many systems. I have had many personal relationships with persons as well and I believe that David is the king of all administrators. What is astounding about David Lawrence is that he is radio entertainment. That people, who are off from work by the time he comes on, are still interested in listening to the system administrator go on and on about how they should back up their computers or how much RAM they really need for their system. Now, I used a couple of 'tech terms' there but I'm gonna let them go for a bit because I want to explain what it's like listening to David Lawrence on the radio as you steer down 101 in the night.

This man really cares. This man has the tenacity and directness of delivery that I have not witnessed since my last visit to radio preach-a-thons a little further up the AM band. You listen thinking that this is really just a commercial and he's doing one of those Howard Stern-like personal testimonial promo bits where he tells a big long story. "I use Eberhards Extra-Dicklength Cream and, godamnit, it works." But this station has 10 minutes of solid commercials and then David Comes On to do 15 minutes of straight hard DJ talkin. If you have data, like I know YOOOU do. You got millions and millions of bytes on that computer. You need to stop just one second, just one second this long MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND and backup up that computer. Yes, you must backup that computer and when you backup that computer I want you to mirror.....the.....hard drive. You'll say to yourself that you only need those bits from your checkbook or those megs from you work documents. But I'm telling you that you must make an exact byte-for-byte copy of your hard drive. That means you're gonna need a tape drive and to drive that tape drive you're gonna need some software. And there are a lot of drives out there and I'm not gonna tell you which one to get because that varies depending on what size of hard drive you got and you gotta count all the hard drives that you got and add them up to determine what kind of tape drive you need but I have used every piece of backup software that there is and then some others that aint, and I am sure that you should be using Retrospect backup software. Retrospect will back up all the computers on your network and if you've got Macs and PCs there is a version of Retrospect for each of those operating systems. But before I go any further I just want to say that you can call me at 1800-93-ONLINE with any question you have, and I say that knowing that some you will think that your question is just too ignorant and amateurish but I want to assure you that if you have the question that everyone, and I mean everyone, has that question or has had that question at one time. You should ask it. You ask it by calling me. I prefer phone calls but you can also instant messenger me at Lawrence at aol do com. I don't have time to answer at length your queries over instant messaging because I do it during the breaks. I'll respond with a yes or a no or thanks but as I said, you should use the telephone. That is the preferred method. If you must use some other method, such as email, I'm david at online-today dot com, remember that I prefer you call. We are open for your calls any time and I do answer them. If you have any question, no matter how small relating to the internet or internet based services, your personal computer or your privacy while using it. From the latest happenings in the word of MP3, new sueings by the RIAA this week, to the proliferation of handheld PDAs, I am here to give you the very best information you can get.

BACKUP. You gotta do it. And if you do it you will be able to get back everything. Your entire hard drive at that moment in time, all the settings, the fonts, the utilities you downloaded off the internet that you didn't think were that vital but it turns out they've become incredibly important. All of that. And you will get backup software that you can schedule and you will run that backup software every day. And you will take the tape or that removable hard dive or the media that results and you will take it away from you computer. Take it to work or home or to your sister's. You back up Every Day and you worry no longer. If you have a problem, a corruption or a virus or a crippling bug, you are never farther away from a working system than the time that it takes you to run a restore. Just think of that the next time you spend hours fiddling with device drivers and un-unistallation.

At this point a commercial came on and I popped over to the Aphex Twin CD in the Alpine. I was feeling particularly grandiose after listening to a system administrator on the radio. A direct delivery of a fire-and-brimstone system administration lecture, and the Aphex hit hard to my stoney brain. I realized that if I was having my Close Encounter of the Third Kind I would just point some speakers playing Aphex Twin at the hovering spacecraft and pray for the best. That is the music I would choose to portray all the promise and accomplishment of man and a good idea of the beauty that man can produce. Or I'd play some Vic Chesnutt. Either would work.

Monday May 13, 2002

I just wanna say Jimmy Carter RULES!

He's in my beloved Havana this week kickin it and trying to calm things down between the governments of Cuba and the US. I don't usually get all excited about political stuff but I love Cuba and so should the US government. Forget all the rhetoric by Castro and Bush. I was all teary-eyed when I read about that sweet old grey-haired house-builder peanut farmer and his wife Rosalynn walking around in Old Havana. Plus, recently over 11 thousand people, faced with nasty dudes with AK47's hassling them night and day, signed a pettition calling for a national referendum on free speech, free assembly, political prisoners, private business ownership and democratic elections.

Aww, shucks. That's really nice. And brave. I hope they keep doing good stuff. Go World.

Here's Squash in a love-fest with our Cuban friends

mojitos   27591 bytes

Monday May 6, 2002

I got a nice mail from a guy who had some info about some stuff I wrote a couple years ago while I was walking along the canal in Aleppey. I'm posting this here because I wanted to put it somewhere except over top of what I originally wrote. For reference, listen to this crazy shit. Someone corrected me a while ago and told me that all that yelling was a lotto ticket seller but I don't go back and revise stuff on my website. If I did that, I could take out all the initial impressions that I had that turned out to be uninformed and wrong. I decided that they're good primarily because they're immediate and unrevised. So I'll post on my blog and leave the original in its bewildered state. Some people, mostly Indian, who are dismayed at my speedy judgments, don't really get this and think I'm writing a serious essay. They are serious thoughts and I think hard about them, but I also want to record the process of understanding and that includes a lot of guesses.

Hey Dave

This is about the Aleppey Newscast mp3 you have on your site on /november/kerala_and_back_to_bangalore.html.

I think I recognize what it is you heard - not a newscast, gossip or an auction, but a promo for lottery ticket sales! I don't know if you noticed, but the guy who was playing the stuff prpbably also had a bunch of lottery tickets you could buy and get in the running for the 'Who want to be a millionaire' big one, almost. What the guy's saying roughly translates to

"The Kerala Weekly Lottery draws tomorrow tomorrow tomorrow tomorrow tomorrow! Don't miss your big chance folks. The first prize is 10 lakh rupees, (1 million). The second prize is a Maruti car. Its only 5 rupees come try your luck. Its your day dude, the draws tomorrow tomorrow tomorrow tomorrow tomorrow tomorrow" and pretty much the same thing over and over interspersed with the sounds of Darth Vader zapping the universe...!

I'm from Trivandrum, about five hours south of Aleppey, and these lottery ticket guys are a way of life.

I thought you did a good job on your website... your impressions of India are pretty damn accurate! To quote a line from a hit movie starring Govinda, "it happens wonly in India..."

Keep up the good work!


Thursday May 2, 2002

Teddy was askin me why I didn’t have a pet and I said, “Why I gotta have a pet?” She said, “Don’t you get lonely or anything?” and I said, “Well, I have my laptop”.

Might sound funny but my laptop is like mouse, the cat I had in my teens. Used to sleep with her every night. Loved that fucking cat. But I loved it so much that now I’m allergic to cats. If I was gonna have an animal for a pet it would be a cat, but I have a machine for a pet and it does nicely. Its keys are so soft and they fit my hands. The screen is big and bright and cheerful. It’s quiet, quick and wireless. It brings me the world. I create on it. You all know how laptops work. Mine works incredibly well. It sits on top of my lap for upwards of 15 hours a day.

But all the attention was taking its toll so I sent it back to Dell for repair on Tuesday, thinking I’d not see it till next week but Airborne rang my doorbell at 9am this morning and it was my old friend the laptop wanting to come inside. That’s a one day turnaround. And they swapped out the freakin motherbboard in Memphis! So here’s to Dell computer corporation for making such a lovely beast and to their fulfillment partnership with Airborne Express corporation. I owe you my life.

This posting on ebay will probably expire soon but I thought it was a nice bunch of photos of my camera and example of what I did with it. 89 bucks might be kinda spendy but that's the way it goes on ebay these days. The guy even asked for permission to use my photo.

Wednesday May 1, 2002

Mini movie review for "Suddenly" 1954.

From the very first moment of the movie you can feel the camp. It spills off the screen almost as quickly as Sam Fuller's "The Naked Kiss" (the uncontestable peak of twisted melodramatic motion picture brilliance) but here's it was surely a complete mistake. Or could it have been spiced with subversion? I don't know the director or writer but their bios seem spotless. I’m sure Sen. McCarthy loved them. Sterling Hayden, is fucking ridiculous as sheriff "Tod" (were people named Tod then? Guess so.) So ridiculous that after the first two goofy minutes I asked myself, "you're gonna stay up all night watching b-movie crap instead of helping the needy children of your community?" and I didn't have time to answer. I popped a Salisbury steak TV dinner in and parked it. I love Sterling Hayden and something about his delivery is so wooden that at the very moment he's proclaiming his otherworldly patriotism he reminds me of poor Ellen when she is coerced to front for the assassins and lie that everything is ok and send the cops away. There's something about that guy. After all, he was hanging with Stanely Kubrick at the time (The Killing) and he would play General Jack D. Ripper in Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove.

From IMDB:

"To modern eyes the all-American good guys look ever-so-slightly psycho in their undying patriotism, love of guns (but hey!, not killing), and idol-worship of the Prez. Even the pacifist heroine has to relent and understand that guns solve problems, suddenly."

Of course, monologing through the whole thing is Mr. Straight, Frank Sinatra. Even though he plays a psycho killer, he doesn't fit with the wierdos in this movie. I found this on the back side of a "The Man with the Golden Arm" DVD and I'd forgotten that I'd already seen that. That movie sucked. Its message is simplistic and boring and dated. I was amazed how boring it was and angry with my rental so I didn't have much left for "Suddenly" (which, for some reason, I thought was a recorded live performance of Mr. Frank.) But let me tell you now, "Suddenly" is worth finding at the vidstore and bringing home to your loved ones.

From IMDB:

"This is the film that Lee Harvey Oswald supposedly watched mere days before assassinating JFK, a fact that Frank Sinatra learned years after the tragedy prompting him to withdraw the film from circulation."