Monthly Archives: April 2010

Charlie Crist and the Great Triangulation of 2010

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The old cliché that people get the leaders they deserve is usually true—in America, anyway—and rarely as much so as in the curious case of Charlie Crist. Just three months ago, it seemed likely that he would be shuffled off to the private sector, a high-profile casualty of an economic meltdown he helped set in motion. Whether Rubio beat him in the Senate primary or not, logic almost dictated that Kendrick Meek would beat the GOP nominee with a brutal decisiveness worthy of Randy Orton.

That would have been both fair, and fitting. But instead, the embattled Governor of Florida stands at the mid-way point of the most audacious act of political triangulation since Obama’s “Black Caesar” act in 2008. Like Obama, Crist has challenged his party’s establishment and all conventional wisdom, hoping to assert himself amidst utter chaos on all levels of the electoral system. He’s like a surfer, riding waves of boiling-hot water, on a surfboard made of ice—but oh, such balance!

The text of Crist’s announcement, in St. Petersburg on April 29, was amazingly not leaked beforehand, although the essence of speculation proved correct. He is running as an Independent, turning the Senate race into a three-way dance that could be the most entertaining spectacle of what should be a hilarious year.

Crist’s speech was scheduled for 6pm, then pushed back half an hour; the headliner didn’t start talking until 5:51. Insert your own joke here. He might as well start wearing robes with sequins and feathers, and calling himself the New Nature Boy. Some might say he’s been doing that for a long time, more power to him. He’s already got the hair and the rep; all he needs is better enforcers.

Crist’s theme—“Straight To November”—will surely elicit witty responses from the blogosphere, which has been flogging rumors of Crist’s sexual complexity ever since he was a candidate for Governor in 2006. It’s anyone’s guess to as which elements of this broken system will choose to play that card first, or why, but it seems a certainty at this point. The politics of personal destruction, typified by the ongoing campaigns against Sarah Palin, fills a vacuum created by an absence of real debate, just as it did in the late ‘90s, in the years just before 9/11 briefly realigned America’s focus on policy concerns. Crist may be lucky to have hit the national stage just as Americans are getting tired of the Beltway’s parlor tricks.

Whenever the media is openly talking about a politician’s sex life, people should take it as a clue that something else is going on. In this case, Florida is in serious trouble. Both Meek and Rubio erred severely in not linking Crist inextricably to the recession in Florida, even though it would have happened anyway. Rubio is too beholden to the fake conservatives holding down the right to ever question the wisdom of tax cuts, and Meek might be understandably reluctant to point out that, by inducing an economic crisis here, which quickly went national, Crist helped Obama get elected.

The property tax cuts that Crist forced through, to benefit downstate development interests that anchored his 2006 campaign, cut into the operating budgets of most cities in Florida. The I-4 corridor that has dominated Florida politics for three decades draws enough revenue from other sources that their budget issues were neither as dramatic nor traumatic; there was some cushion for the impact of the tax cuts. Things were worse up north, but ultimately bad everywhere: Almost every municipality has had to deal with budget issues during Crist’s term. Services have been slashed, workers fired, taxes and fees raised; longstanding political alliances were torn apart faster than, well, anything that gets between Justin Bieber and his fans. For the smallest counties, the results have been catastrophic—whole departments closed, lifestyles permanently altered.

And it’s only just begun. The budget-wrangling will continue for years to come; rebuilding the state’s revenue base is a generational matter. As for pensions, we’ve been having the relevant discussions in Jacksonville for some years now—John Peyton knows the subject back-and-forth—but the entire country is facing multi-billion-dollar shortfalls that cannot be rectified during a recession that has proven persistent, to say the least. While I question Crist’s decision to go to Washington, for many reasons, here’s one argument in its favor: He won’t be in Tallahassee when the hammer drops.

Crist has shown a real gift for political calculations—witness the way he used his veto of merit pay for teachers to burnish his centrist cred ahead of the party switch. The bill was devised as a fairly-transparent union-busting move, one which undermined the efficacy of merit pay a supplement to fair, competitive compensation for teachers. As Governor, and nominal leader of his state party, he could have pulled just enough strings to keep such weak, ill-conceived and unpopular legislation from ever passing at all, if he felt that strongly about it. He could have intimated to key pols in Tallahassee that he would veto the bill if it did pass, and encourage them to put their energy into any of a number of things that he would happily sign into law.

Instead, he allowed the bill to develop, along with several weeks of accompanying public discord, including protests by thousands of students, teachers and parents up and down the state, who took the time to lobby Crist in a direction he was already leaning. He wasted their time, so he could score political points by sweeping in with his veto pen, like he didn’t initiate the budget crisis that has led to so many teachers having to worry about their jobs. Crist correctly calculated that his move would be seen as an act of heroism, rather than cold, cynical manipulation of women and children.

There is a glut of bland, boring blubber-butts in Florida politics, a bunch of lightweights that are barely shadows of the folks who held their spots a decade ago. Charlie Crist is one of them, of course, but he has found a way to be slightly better than his peers, and that’s pretty much all you can ask of Florida. As for Meek, his chances were low-balled from the get-go by a Democratic Party that began projecting its vulnerabilities before the Obamas had finished one load of White House Laundry.

As Crist and Rubio dove headlong into a caterwauling catfight that leaves the impression that the smoldering hatred for one another is rooted somewhere beyond policy beefs, the odds should have solidified in Meek’s favor. But they haven’t, which left room for Crist to move. Instead of being pressed between Rubio’s hotshot push and Meek’s liberal legacy, Crist made the election about him and not the issues. It became a game of personalities, which is unfair because his opponents have none.

Instead of taking 2008 as a real mandate for change, and then consolidating control of state and local governments, they’re working a rope with no dope. And that is just not how power works. Clearly, Democrats in Washington are reluctant to challenge their friends across the aisle, even if the feeling is not reciprocated or is, in fact, exploited to install a brand new batch of sorry-ass Republicans, already greasy with gluttony, graft and malicious intent. It’s all a replay of 1994. How Obama (and, critically, Rahm Emanuel) have played right into it is a complete mystery to the entire world, and probably themselves. Instead of Crist kissing up to Obama, maybe Obama should be kissing up to Charlie Crist!

sdh666@hotmail.com; April 29, 2010

New York Hardcore 4 Life Art Show–May 1-30

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[Brenda Kato is a local girl made good. A longtime fixture in Northeast Florida’s art scene, Kato moved to NYC several years ago and is now a fixture in their scene. She sent along this release about an art show she’s involved with up there, running through the month of May.]

NYHC4LIFE ART SHOW :: May 1st to 30th at TenEleven Pub on 171 Avenue C between 10th and 11th in NYC-LES!! Reception May 16th, 3pm to 8pm.FEATURING
Sean Taggart :: Illustratons
Craig Holloway :: Illustrations
Gary Gilmore :: Illustrations
Chris Roque :: Photography
Samma Jamma :: Photography
Brenda Kato :: IllustrationsThe New York Hardcore scene is strong, with 25+ years of history. There are several books and videos out about the history of hardcore. The scene is also very strong in Europe. The NYHC4LIFE online community grows every day.

This group of awesome artists and photographers have work relating to the New York Hardcore Music Scene. The art show content is photographs of the top hardcore bands, band members, album art, show fliers, posters and paintings. The reception will be May 16th, the day after the BNB Bowl at Webster Hall in NYC. The BNB Bowl lineup this year is sick with Cro-Mags, Scarhead, H2O, Yuppicide, Wisdom In Chains, Cruel Hand, Trapped Under Ice, H8 Inc., SAND, Incendiary and more. Go to pitchforkny.com for tickets soon, this always sells out.

Tomas Fujiwara & The Hook Up–Jazz Gallery, April 29

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[I’m only now getting acquainted with the music of Tomas Fujiwara, mostly through YouTube so far. I first noted his presence as part of the The Thirteenth Assembly, a sort of super-group of NYC’s rising sons and daughters of jazz that also includes Jessica Pavone on violin and guitar goddess Mary Halvorson under the nominal leadership of trumpeter/writer Taylor Ho Bynum (whose blog offers unique insight on the genre from a professional’s perspective). All four members are active on the scene in numerous incarnations. Fujiwara also plays in duo with Bynum; their newest CD, “Stepwise”, is out on the Polish label Not Two Records.

Fujiwara is leading his own band into the Jazz Gallery, one of the singular spots for live music in the Apple, on the 29th. (The same group also plays The Firehouse in New Haven, CT on the 30th.) I saw Dana Leong there in 2006, with Aviv Cohen, Baba Israel and John Shannon, and I’ve been a stone-cold mark for the place ever since. If money were no object, I’d be on a plane first thing in the morning for a long working weekend up north; I’m sure there’s all kinds of stuff going on there. Tomas Fujiwara & The Hook Up are releasing their first album, “Actionspeak”, on 482 Music, which also released the first duo album with Bynum, “True Events”More on the group, and its leader, courtesy a mass-mailing from his Facebook page.]

Tomas Fujiwara & The Hook Up

Tomas Fujiwara – Drums
Danton Boller – Bass
Mary Halvorson – Guitar
Brian Settles – Tenor Saxophone
Jonathan Finlayson – Trumpet

With “a quiet energy that propels” (All About Jazz) and a style that is “both volatile and watchful” (New York Times), Tomas Fujiwara’s “alert drumming has propelled some excellent ensembles on the new-music landscape” (New York Times). He has appeared at the Jazz Gallery on numerous occasions with, among others, Taylor Ho Bynum, Matana Roberts, Amir ElSaffar, and Positive Catastrophe. He performs regularly with Sunny Jain’s Red Baraat, Josh Sinton’s Ideal Bread, Matt Bauder’s Day in Pictures, and Matt Welch’s Blarvuster as well as co-leading and composing for The Tomas Fujiwara / Taylor Ho Bynum Duo and The Thirteenth Assembly.

For tonight’s performance, his first Gallery appearance as a leader, Tomas presents his original compositions performed by his quintet, The Hook Up. They will perform compositions from their forthcoming album, Actionspeak (September 2010 release on 482 Music) as well as the premiere of two new pieces. With inspiration ranging from Wayne Shorter to Haruki Murakami to Talib Kweli, Fujiwara’s pieces deal with the intersection of composition and improvisation as well as concepts of shifting roles within an ensemble. “Fujiwara’s writing marries postbop elegance to propulsive groove and subtle abstraction.” (TimeOut New York). WWW.TOMASFUJIWARA.COM

sets at 9 & 10:30

The Jazz Gallery–290 Hudson St., Manhattan, NY; (212)242-1063

www.jazzgallery.org

Art Chicago 2010: Nancy Hoffman Gallery

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Hung Liu, “Fantasy III (La Cage IV)”, 2009

NYC’s Nancy Hoffman Gallery will be among the dozens of vendors and non-profit organizations from all over the world (at stand #12-339) participating in “the International Fair of Contemporary and Modern Art”, Art Chicago 2010, held at the Merchandise Mart April 30-May 3, with a special preview May 29. You can visit the gallery in New York at 520 W 27th Street, or contact them at (212) 966-6676; email: info@nancyhoffmangallery.com.

Money Jungle extra: “Battle of the Mediocrities”

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[Melissa Ross, host of the stellar “First Coast Connect” show on WJCT-89.9 FM, issued a standing invite to deliver some pithy guest commentaries on the issues of the day. I’ve not taken her up on that offer yet, being perhaps too-careful to find just the right topics. I’d like to be entertaining, but without courting any extra controversy, as I have concluded that the status-quo (for better or mostly for worse) is basically acceptable to the majority of the population in my city, and it’s simply self-defeating to attempt any further challenges to that dynamic. Below is a revised-and-extended version of the commentary I’d planned to deliver about the Ahmed/Yarborough dust-up; it would have aired today. However, it doesn’t make much sense to criticize city government, so close to budget-time; after all, we all know that such budgets are used primarily as political tools. So, instead, I post it here, where only that narrow fraction of fresh thinkers would ever think to look. Self-censorship, done right!]

On Tuesday, the City Council votes whether to accept the nomination of Parvez Ahmed for a spot on the Jacksonville Human Rights Commission, a nomination being challenged by councilman Clay Yarborough. Like many of you, my first thought was “Who Cares?” Here in Florida, we’ve developed a special gift for meaningless political scandal, and this is a case in point.

Instead of talking about how Jaguar management stomped on the hearts of their fans by not only throwing away Tim Tebow, but leaving him to be drafted by a conference rival, we’re stuck watching a schoolyard spat between cultural stereotypes. And it’s not like our council isn’t bush enough, between threatening to fire loyal civil servants and ducking corruption charges related to widespread misappropriations of public funds. This JHRC gig is the kind of no-work job mobsters get.

Is Ahmad qualified for the position? Absolutely. After all, he holds a degree from Harvard; Bush and Obama have shown us how useful they can be. A cynic might use the bin Laden scholarship fund endowed at Harvard Law to make a blanket condemnation of its entire student body, and do real damage to many people’s careers. That is how these politics work; guilt-by-association works like a double-edged sword, yielded by a lunatic.

The savage violence—the cold-blooded, indiscriminate brutality—associated with Radical Islam represents a threat to all of humanity. Hundreds of Jews, thousands of Christians and millions of Muslims are dead now, and those numbers are growing by the minute. Extremists have been empowered, as moderates are cowed into silence. The only winners are demons and demagogues, many of whom live right here in America.

Organized religion has earned the widespread skepticism and overt hostility that seems its destiny in this century. The Vatican has only recently begun to face the real, dollars-and-cents consequences of their ritualized system of child-rape, which goes back farther than the living memory of any priest. Of course, many saints and martyrs of the faith were killed by the church itself—an irony lost on our current Pope, who couldn’t even be bothered to burn the pictures of himself in a Nazi uniform. (Maybe he should have married Sandra Bullock!)

Anytime one finds oneself ceding the moral high ground to Madonna, a serious inventory is in order, but the Catholics have had this process forced on them by their enemies. The Baptists are moving in the same direction, but faster. The so-called “evangelical right” has shown remarkable clumsiness in its many failed attempts to engage Islam on its own terms. It’s not just that their arguments were ill-conceived and poorly argued; in many cases Christians have worked aggressively against their own interests.

The most notorious example may be in 2002, when Dr. Jerry Vines, the then-leader of the First Baptist Church of Jacksonville (which has been a leading force in the city for most of its century-plus in business), disastrously dissed the Prophet Muhammad as a “demon-possessed pedophile with nine wives, the last of whom was 12 years old”. Coming just months after the most brutal terror attack to ever occur in the western world, Vines knew exactly what dark forces he was invoking with such loose talk. Ultimately, the entire city was endangered by Vines’ loose lips, much as the “South Park” crew deliberately risked their lives, and the lives of their families and colleagues, just to pop a rating for their nasty little show. Why the reckless provocations?

A few months earlier, in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, members of the editorial board of the once-great National Review magazine openly floated the idea of bombing Mecca, as part of a larger-scale nuclear assault on the major cities of the Islamic world. NR has since scrubbed the references from its website, and would have you believe their own  idea was first proffered by Tom Tancredo, years later. Good job, losers!

Unfortunately, when the finally time came for a serious reckoning of the issues lingering between Islam and Christianity, all the best talent from both sides was already dead. We should be so lucky to boil these conflicts down to debates between Billy Graham and Ayatollah Khomeini, or even Fulton Sheen and Freddie Mercury. If the dais included Christ, Moses, Muhammad and Buddha, there might be no disputes at all. We might be having these discussions on the moon, or Mars, or maybe at the center of the Earth. Instead, we’ve got Parvez Ahmed and Clay Yarborough at City Hall. Kitty Kelley was right: The blood really does get thinner as you go down the line!

Yarborough is holding down Council District 1, for now, but he has done himself no favors. No one’s filed to challenge him yet, but that will change. No Muslim is going to seek elected office in Northeast Florida, but Yarborough’s done a great job reminding liberal voters that Barack Obama’s election has little or no effect on their own political fortunes. That the White House is clearly unsure whether to back Kendrick Meek, who helped Obama win Florida, or Charlie Crist, whose tax cuts helped tank Florida’s economy, making Obama’s victory possible, speaks against the best hopes of local progressives. But Clay Yarborough is no Charlie Crist.

It’s one thing to make needless hay of Ahmad’s past and present associations, but it’s another to go too far in making inferences. Surely in the struggle waged by Muslim groups to control the PR damage wrought by 9/11, etc., a few bad apples may have gotten into the bunch. The question at hand is: Has Parvez Ahmad ever knowingly dealt with people he knew were either directly or indirectly engaged in terrorism?

Short of some smoking guns (literally), there’s no way to know for sure, but to job the guy out of such an cozy gig on what is currently hearsay and speculation creates a precedent that will undermine the political relevance of the Muslim community in this country. It’s would be like banning anyone who ever attended a Black Panther rally, or the inevitable crackdown on the inevitable shady right-wing domestic terror provocation. Or saying Klansmen can’t serve in the Senate. If you start running such people out of politics, we’ll have nothing left but Dennis Kucinich.

Here’s a bold idea: Dissolve the Jacksonville Human Rights Commission, and then dissolve the City Council. If you took all the taxpayer dollars being wasted on these groups, piled it all up and set it on fire, you could at least make ‘smores!

sdh666@hotmail.com; April 22, 2010

Tehila Marks Pilates–Yoga Ananda, May 5

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[Received this e-mail from author/activist Keith Marks, whose sojourn to Israel produced some of the most interesting writing I’ve seen in years, not to mention his glorious union with Tehila, who returned to Florida with him.]

Yoga Ananda is pleased to announce the arrival of Tehila Marks all the way from Israel!  Tehila has just relocated to Jacksonville.  Her enthusiasm and her knowledge of the body and the pilates method are a breath of fresh air in Jacksonville

Tehila is certified in mat and machine work, with over five years of work as a trainer and three years as a pilates office manager.  She recently closed her own studio in Tel Aviv to join us in Jacksonville.  Tehila has trained with Tamar Tzachi in Israel, who studied under Deborah Lessen (Co-founder and President of the Pilates Method Alliance).

A typical pilates class is tailored accordingly to the students’ needs.  Pilates is an exact science that requires small class sizes so that the instructor can give as much individual attention as possible.  Pilates is a system of pain prevention as well as a system to bring people out of pain.

Yoga Ananda is holding an “Introduction to Pilates” lecture on Wednesday, May 5th.  We invite anyone interested in body work, healing, health or just plain curious about pilates to join us.  Topics covered will include:

· The history of pilates

· The general idea behind the method

· The differences between yoga and pilates

· What a typical lesson consists of

· Who pilates is for

· How pilates can tighten up anyone’s physical practice

· Tehila’s vision for pilates in Jacksonville

(May 5, 2010, 6:30pm-7:30pm, free event)
 
Ongoing Pilates Classes will start 5/12/10 and will be held 2 days a week: Wed., 6:30pm & Sun., 4:30pm. Pre-registration and background info is prefered before the day of class so Tehila can ensure the best methods and success for each individual. Class size will be limited to 8, so register early!

1.  Control: The pilates method focuses on control in a way that the mind is in the present moment, focusing on the control of every action, small to large, of the body.  Pilates helps a person develop control over their body and their mind.

2.  Precision: The concept of precision focuses on specific movements done in a specific way to create accuracy of movement within the body.  By learning precision, a person learns how to move efficiently with their body.

3.  Concentration: To achieve both of the above, one must learn how to discipline the mind.  Focus is a key element of the pilates method.

4.  Centering: The center, or core, is the basic physical principle in the pilates method.   Working from the center gives balance to the body.  Strengthening the center allows muscles to cooperate and move synergistically.

5.  Breathing: Each movement comes with a specific breathing pattern.  Pilates has a number of different breathing techniques depending on the goal of the individual.  By focusing on the breath, the principles of pilates have a base to begin. 

6.  Flowing Movement: To put it simply, we are looking for grace.  Each movement should be flowing, gentle and graceful.  Ultimately, this grace comes into all aspects of our life.

6 basic principles of pilates:

Sunbears! & MRENC Limited split 7″ EP

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SUNBEARS!/MRENC: Split 7″ EP
New Granada Records 2010; NG018

TRACKLISTING:
1. Mind’s Trapped in Static (Sunbears!)
2. His Little Head (SUNBEARS!)
3. La La La La (MRENC)
4. Oh Oh Oh Oh (MRENC)

[I haven’t heard MRENC yet, but I do enjoy Sunbears. Their version of “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough” was a highlight of the public mourning that followed Michael Jackson’s suspicious and premature demise. This lightly revised e-mail comes courtesy ofTamps-based New Granada Records.]

Out just in time for this past weekend’s Annual Record Store Day is this new split 7″ EP. 2 songs each from FL’s Sunbears! and MRENC (pronounced MR. E-N-C; a new solo project from The Dark Romantics frontman, Eric Collins). This release is limited to 500 copies, hand-numbered copies on randomly mixed colord vinyl.

 

http://www.myspace.com/mrenc
http://www.myspace.com/sunbearsIf you’d like to hear a sample, please visit each band’s Myspace page:

Keith & Susie
New Granada Records
P.O. Box 360276
Tampa, FL 33673-0276
www.newgranada.com
granadainfo@gmail.com

Current Roster: Building the State  * Candy Bars * The Dark Romantics * Dear and Glorious Physician
King of Spain * MRENC * New Roman Times * Rec Center * Red Room Cinema * Sunbears! *The Tenant * Jen Wood * Zillionaire