“Things You Should Know Before Trying to Run a Freakshow”

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Do they have lectures like this in other cities? Or is this an “only in New York” thing?

 

A lecture by Dick Zigun founder of the Coney Island Circus Sideshow will reveal secret information gathered during 30 years of producing circus sideshows.

Cautionary information for those foolish enough to try and produce a freak show and humorous tales of triumph and horror learned from my three decades of attempting the same for those in the general public who have no intention of trying.

Topics to be covered include:
Tattooed Faced Junkies
Little People’s Big Egos
Dressing Room Excapades
Pickled Punks, Giant Killer Rats, Tattooed Dogs and The Law
Why you don’t want to own a big snakes but need one
Employees as slaves, rivals or thieves
Tents vs Buildings
Insurance and Payroll Taxes vs. Working Illegal
Burning Your Territory (not if you want to return the next season)
Good vs Bad Publicity
Etc etc etc

This is a 2 hour lecture followed by a one hour Q and A.

I wish I could go but I have a prior engagement. If anyone else wants to, tickets are $25-$50. Details are here

Fractured Democrats, Part 2: Resisting the Right

The right's use of sex to take down Bill Clinton roused some of those most disappointed in his presidency to his defense in the internet trenches.

When Democratic Underground  was first formed (for background, see Part 1 of this series here), it was an ideal refuge for Gore voters from the indifference of the news media and the outright hostility of Bush voters in non- or bipartisan forums, such as Usenet‘s political groups (alt.politics, talk.politics.misc, my own hangout during the late Clinton years alt.current-events.clinton.whitewater, etc.) . I was attracted by the subtle aptness of the new site’s name. It did, indeed, seem as though Democrats who believed Bush had been illegitimately installed as “president” had been driven out of the public discourse. We felt, without too much exaggeration,  like a resistance army gearing for rebellion against a tyrannical regime.

DU became well known in certain circles for its weekly contribution to the national discussion, Top Ten Conservative Idiots, a satirical summary of ten of the previous week’s most stomach-churning (from a liberal point of view) acts or statements from right-wingers in politics and the media. Bush, Cheney, Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh usually topped the list, which was often linked to on other boards around the net. Other DU staples were the Hate Mailbag, featuring actual letters from the enemy with all their misspellings and SHOUTING IN CAPITALS left intact; Questions for Auntie Pinko (I remember the name better than the content); and satirical ragings from an invented right-winger named Bob Boudelang. The front page often also carried an essay by someone on staff or a contributor. I had a couple of essays published there (including one just after 9/11) before I became a regular on its forums.

But DU wasn’t the only game on the left side of cybertown. It was just one of a thriving subculture of dissident websites that had actually grown up around reaction to the successful right-wing grassroots campaign to impeach Bill Clinton at the dawn of the world wide web.  The left watched in mixed horror and admiration for the way their counterparts on the right used the fledgling internet to spread like wildfire every smear that had ever been formulated about the Clintons (many of which, it’s true, came from the hot medium of talk radio) to build a groundswell in the Republican party for getting rid of the Clintons by any means necessary. Truth didn’t matter, just effectiveness as a meme, to use a word that was just acquiring its imprecise shade of meaning as a viral idea that can literally be copied, cut, pasted and clicked on to move from one contaminated mind to the next. It was a sickening spectacle and a clear, disturbing sign of where the Republican base was moving in the post-Reagan era. It wasn’t toward reason or, least of all, reasonableness. Continue reading

I was hacked.

Some soulless creep who nicked my password from Twitter has exploited a security weakness of mine (advice to all: mix up your passwords!) to hack into several of my accounts and use it as a base for his spam.

Gods help you if you followed that link:

l espritd  ecordoue.o rg/com.frie nd.php?a gluck y=76i1 This is what it looked like. (I’ve disarmed it. Don’t follow it!) Continue reading

Is Private Property in America Ever Justly Acquired?

Property acquisition in the Americas begins.

Back to the critique of Ron Paul’s libertarian principles that I began with this post. We’re onto principle number 3:

3. Justly acquired property is privately owned by individuals and voluntary groups, and this ownership cannot be arbitrarily voided by governments.

–from The Ten Principles of a Free Society

[Aside: There’s that word “voluntary” with groups (associations) again! ]

As I’ve shown in my previous critiques, Paul’s principles are half-baked by-products of social contract theory. They want to assert that rights precede government (which even social contract philosophers have to take on faith) and then do away with the government that those philosophers posited as a necessary evil for preserving those rights in society with other individuals. Really? Do away with the government, you might ask? Doesn’t Paul, like Jefferson, for example, just want to keep the government to a size that isn’t able to overwhelm the individual with its potentially arbitrary and despotic power? I would argue that the way these principles are phrased–and this one in particular is a very good example–Paul seeks to postulate a society that operates according to natural rights, with or without a government. He seems to believe that rights in themselves, if we would only just respect them, are sufficient for self-government.
Continue reading

Fodder for #DEMANDside Argument: 12 Graphs to Make the Blood Boil

From Mother Jones, a dozen bits of graphic evidence that supply-side economics is the wrong medicine for what ails the US economy, if shared prosperity is the health standard for national prosperity. Just one pair makes that point perfectly:

GROWTH IS BACK…                                    …BUT JOBS AREN’T

Spread the word: #Demandside

Three articles in today’s New York Times have only reinforced my determination to get the word #Demandside into the national conversation. I have little faith in anything, let alone American politics or the national discourse, but I do have utter faith in the notion that if our political so-called leaders do not return to pre-Reagan-era demand-side economics, we can kiss the prospect for shared prosperity good-bye. Continue reading

Writing Sample: Academic Paper

Witchcraft and Statecraft: The Political Uses of Magic in Shakespeare

If Shakespeare held his mirror up to Elizabethan and Jacobean society to produce his art, it was inevitable that he would catch his own image along with that of his society. The author’s image is, I think, most interestingly reflected in the passages of his plays that concern magic. I would not argue that Shakespeare presents the reader with any faithful self-portraits in a superficial sense. It is not necessary to take the monomaniacal Prospero in The Tempest, for example–Shakespeare’s most famous magic “artist”–as an autobiographical figure representing a one-to-one correspondence between the play’s author and its central figure. However, on a deeper level the magic of Prospero and the other magicians in Shakespeare’s plays reflects the artistry behind the scenes in a number of important ways.

Where magic is used by Shakespeare it inevitably serves as the engine by which the action is propelled forward, thus miming–in fact, dramatizing–the author’s structuring of the action. This self-reflective, mimetic function of Shakespeare’s magic is clearest in The Tempest, where Prospero’s magical “project” is the plot of the play. Yet even in Macbeth, in which magic is practiced by non-humans, the supernatural elements serve on one level to reveal in coded form the outcome of the dramatic action. Shakespeare’s magic also mimes the relationship between the author and the audience. The audience of Macbeth, for example, stands in relation to Shakespeare as Macbeth stands in relation to the Weird Sisters; in each case, the former is forced by the relationship to interpret the “imperfect”–that is, latent or not wholly manifest–signs of the latter. Continue reading

Writing Sample: Feature Article

Uptown: The New Downtown?

by Chris Pierson

At the intersection of Forest and Cumberland Avenue in the heart of Portland, four corners meet but do not shake hands.  On the southeast corner, the monolithic art deco AT&T building glowers across the street at a lonely vacant lot to the northeast.  A new parking garage on the southwest corner seems preoccupied with the developments in the condominium space at its foot.  And on the northwest corner, Thomas Moser Cabinetmakers, in an elegant civil war era residence, casts an interested eye on the less than harmonious proceedings all around. Continue reading

Welcome to My World

It’s good to be back in WordPress!

I’ve been unemployed for almost two months. In my last job, from which I was laid off rather abruptly, I spent a lot of time posting with WordPress. As I began looking for work, I gravitated to Tumblr, probably because my teenage daughter was raving about it. Fact is, though, it wasn’t doing much for me. I’m much more comfortable in this environment.

Here’s hoping it accomplishes for me what I want it to accomplish, namely:

  • To serve as a springboard for my job search
  • To serve as a home for my writing samples
  • To serve as a journal for my thoughts
  • To serve as a muse for those thoughts

We’ll see what other functions I can wring out of this blog as I go along.

Onward!