Workingmans Death, Kansas and Winter Games


Workingmans Death

I just had a chance to view the documentary Workingmans Death which is a German documentary by director Michael Glawogger. The doc gives the viewer an eye into some of the worlds nastiest and most daerous professions. It shows you bootleg coalminers in Ukraine and shows you their families, sulfur workers in Indonesia who are mining just enough Sulfur to get money for hookers and booz, Nigerian butchers who slaughter cows and goats in a bloody and chaotic and filthy urban market and those who roast the meat ( most of these guys are Muslims), workers in a Pashutn run ship wrecking yard in Pakistan that have an extremely dangerous job and like the Nigerians they are shown praying, and a modern Chinese steel mill. The film ends with us getting to look at an old German steel mill that has now been turned into an amusement park where young couples go and make out. This was a nice doc and it also contains a lot of humor ( even though you would never know it as the sterile Manhattan crowd made no reaction to the film other than to shiver at the site of animal throats being slit).

Whats the Matter With Kansas
I started to read this book by Thomas Frank like a year ago and even talked to the writer on the telephone but this weekend I finally got the chance to sit down and read the whole thing. For those of you unfamiliar with the premise of the book it is basically about how conservatives have taken over he Midwest and seeks to answer the question as to why many Americans are voting against their class-interests and voting Republican. In order to answer this question Frank deals heavily with religion and hot button issues like abortion and gay marriage.

Frank is a native Kansan, from the suburbs of Kansas City, MO, and takes us all over the state of Kansas ( but not to the Democratic stronghold of Lawrence) and tells us of how Sen. Sam Brownback, a Republican stalwart has said ” Kansas voters don’t care about economics” which would seem to be true as the poorest Kansans are voting for Republicans who implement polices that will only make them poorer. We are told of Republican candidates speaking in tongues while campaigning and fistfights over yard signs accusing people of being ” Pro-Gay”.

Particularly Frank is upset with the caricature David Brooks makes of urban liberals and it is here where I disagree with Frank. I firmly agree with him that most Americans are voting against their class-interests by voting Republican and I also agree when someone in the book said ” how can anyone work for someone else and vote Republican”. But the root of the problem, as I see it, is what one Wichita union worker says. He said that after Clinton supported NAFTA and when he saw the Democrats supporting Free Trade he knew they were no longer representing his economic interests. So he then starting voting for other issues he cared about, like the cultural ones, and on those issues he was closer to the Republicans.

The Democratic Party has allowed itself to be hijacked by a group of urban liberal elitists, and I do think there are liberal elitists contrary to what Frank says, and in the process has become a party that cannot win nationally ( or even in some regions). If the Democrats want to keep in fighting for  issues like that they are going to lose every time outside of Lower-Manhattan ( where they even lost because of culturally liberal Republicans). The Democrats win when they fight for the economic interests of the masses; social security, health care, public education, minimum wages, public transport, jobs programs, etc. .

Winter Olympics
I have to admit that I am a big fan of the Olympics and I enjoy watching them a lot. Like most Americans I enjoy the summer games more than the winter games though. There are many reasons for this but I think the major one is that in the summer games people play games that not only are Americans familiar with; but they re games played by people we actually know. Sports like track and field, boxing, baseball, softball, soccer, table-tennis and badminton are blue-collar sports that are practiced by a lot of Americans. Then you have sports that may be elite sports, like tennis, swimming, diving and gymnastics but at least they are pretty easy to follow the rules of what is going on. Other sports like skeet shooting are easy to figure out as well.

The summer games are also very diverse in the sense that you see many people of color competing and winning and the American team has a lot of participants from working class backgrounds. As a Muslim I am also happy that during the 2004 Athens games a number of Muslims rose to prominence in winning the medals.

Now the winter games I like as well bu I think like most Americans I don’t feel a real connection to the games. Half of the sports I have either never heard of or don’t know the rules of and the only sport that I knew anyone who ever competed in the sport is hockey. Most of the sports are those that are practiced by the upper-crust in American society. I’ve never seen two Italian guys in Bensonhurst or two Irish guys in Dogtown St. Louis talking about Alpine Skiing, speed-skating or bobsledding. Having said that I do appreciate these sports when I watch them especially bobsledding, luge and curling and they look fun even if I am not really sure of what I am looking at and that goes for the skiing events as well.

Freedomland, Citgo Pressure, Iraq Violence, and Chechnya Day

Freedomland
Yesterday I had the opportunity to see Freedomland which is a film that featured some of my favorite actors and people from TV. The film starred Samuel L. Jackson and Jullianne Moore and also Eddie Falco from The Sopranos who I really like and a few actors from the HBO show The Wire which is, by far, the best crime drama on TV.

The film got mixed reviews and I guess the reviewers save their rave ratings for those who rape their adopted children like Woody Allen but nonetheless the critics are often wrong. Maybe if Samuel L. Jackson adopts a nine year old Thai or Rwandan girl and then marries her a few years later he will become a Hollywood darling.

Like The Wire this film was gritty and without a lot of the speacil effects or Hollywood glitz. Most of the film was dark as it dealt with a dark subject matter. The premise of the film is that Jackson with his partner are the beat detectives in the Armstrong Projects in New Jersey and a white woman, Moore, gets carjacked and her son supposedly kidnapped in the projects. Because of this a surrounding police department, for whom the victims brother is a cop, seals off the projects and doesn’t let anyone out and goes door to door for a few days which causes tensions between the residents and the police. Time goes on and stories in the story of the mentally unstable victim, who is a recovering addict, change and things take a predictable course with a few surprises along the way. Eddie Falco comes in as the head of a mothers organization that is dedicated to finding abducted children and her own child had been abducted years ago.

Perhaps because the film deals a lot with race and the racial divisions between many predominately white police departments and their communities some will be turned off. Towards the end of the film things break down in a riot and you are not left with a warm fuzzy feeling but with Jackson visiting his son in prison. Probably this is the kind of film that highlights a lot of issues that the bobos in the media don’t want to recognize exist and would rather pass on this but I recommend it.

Citgo Under Scrutiny from GOP Big Oil Buddies
The column of Juan Gonzalez today in the Daily News highlights the fact that many Republicans in congress are seeking to go after Citgo, the Venezuelan owned Houston-based oil company, for so called interference in American energy policy for offering discounted heating oil for the poor in Boston, the Bronx and other parts of the Northeast. This is being led by Congressman Joe Barton a Texas Republican with strong ties to Big Oil who seems embarrassed that while his golf course buddies are raking in record profits some nation, not ours, is offering out a hand of compassion to Americas poor and that is coming from the leadership of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

Iraq Violence
What can I say about the Iraq violence? It is inevitable that there will be civil war in Iraq and this may have just speed things up. Now I can sympathize with Iraqi Sunnis who do not want Iraq to be an extension of the Persian empire or a satellite state of Iran; but attracting religious sites it totally wrong and unacceptable. It is wrong to attack any religious houses of worship of any religion at any time and this was a despicable act.

Chechnya Day
Umm Zaid over at Sunni Sisters has reminded all of us that today is world Chechnya Day. The Chechens have suffered far far more than the Palestinians or Kashmiris but receive much less support from the Muslim community. If you are interested in helping the children of Chechnya I have a link to the Chechen Children’s Fund in my links.

On Cops and The Phony Port Scandal

On Cops
In response to what I have written about slain NYPD officer Eric Hernandez several cops have commented on the New York Indymedia site. They don’t seem to get the point that everyone is up to scrutiny and that is you, me and even cops…no one gets a free pass and there are no angels walking the streets. Many cops have this attitude that cops can do no wrong and feel that everyone should kiss their asses at all time. They also feel that they should be able to disrespect people and talk to them like dogs and that people should just take this with a smile on their faces.

Remember the video tape of the elderly black man being beaten in New Orleans after Katrina? Was he beaten because he was a criminal or had been committing crimes? No; he was beaten because they talked shit to him and he wouldn’t kiss their ass in return. These are not tough guys these are bullies. If they are so tough let them talk shit to people without the radio, badge and gun by themselves in the projects in the middle of the night and see what happens.

I am not anti-cop and I respect the job they do and am glad to see them around. A lot of cops are very hard working, dedicated and honest people making the community a better place to live. However, this does not change the fact that many cops are assholes, most are racists and anti-working lass ( when that is what they are themselves) and right-wingers. This translates into them treating people like shit. My own sister who has never did any drugs in her life was once old by a group of officers “come here bitch you look like you’ve been smokin crack”. So, don’t give me some shit about all police officers being angels because they are not and they would never in a million years go out to the leafy-suburbs or to the bobo areas of the city and call people names and yell at them for no reason. Respect is a two way street and if a cop respects me then I respect him and we will get along fine; and if he or she wants to be a dick then guess what? I can be a dick too and don’t need a badge and a gun as a permission slip to be a tough guy.

The Phony Port Scandal

There is a big story in the New York media right now about a company based in Dubai taking over some ports from a British firm in the area. New York One ran over and over the news bulletin that a country with terrorist ties was taking over local ports. The tabloids ran with it and the next thing you know politicians, both Democrats and Republicans are out taking a stand against the port handover as a security “risk”. On local talk radio they have got rid of all the filters and are just proclaiming that the ports are being “sold to terrorists”. Ibrahim Hooper of CAIR is in the Daily News today saying that this is nothing more than anti-Arab bias and he is right. This is a bullshit story and a non-issue. Unlike what some people are reporting the US Homeland Security, Coast Guard and Port Authority PD are going to maintain all security of the ports. The workers are sill going to be well-paid unionized American workers and there will just be new bosses and corporate interests running it. The media has been irresponsible and is attacking a company with no ties to terrorism and a nation with no ties to terrorists other than some hijackers lived there. What do Peter King, Hillary Clinton and Chuck Schumer want? A new federal law that says when government contracts come up NO MUSLIMS OR ARABS NEED APPLY ?

Flat Out Police State Racist Plan in Brooklyn

My blood is boiling once again. If you want to know why just go and read this story on a popular Brooklyn gentrification blog and it is one of the reasons I am writing a refutation to Upskis Bomb the Suburubs. If you read the story you will see that you have Fulton Mall which is a popular pedestrian mall in downtown Brooklyn that is always crowded. It has prices that regular people can afford and serves food a lot of working people eat and is doing fine financially. But for no other reason than the bobo Brownstone owners surround the area do not like the type of people shopping in the area ( they are polite latte sippin bigots) they want to revamp the mall to make it loft condos and expensive and trendy restaurants and clothing boutiques that your average Brooklynite cannot afford to shop or eat in. There are already places like this in Brooklyn and all over Manhattan and if that is what you want then go there. There is Fulton Mall and 125 St for working people and they are gunning for them both and stores like Conways put clothes on the backs of children, the poor and the elderly.

What I cannot understand is how anyone, with any social conscious or progressive mind, can say that they honestly believe this is not wrong and not racist. Stop using the polite statements, this is just flat out old racism; but this time it is being engineerd by the secular urban elite. This is not only racist action and classist action as they seek the states power in removing the poor and the people of color; this is part of the Republican takeover of the city. Of course, once again, I will tel you these same people would never Vote for Bush, but they might as well. These are phony urban liberals who are worse today than any southern redneck.

Because there is no outrage at things such as this I am learning one thing; the white elite in this country, and those who run up behind them, on the Left and the Right, must be pretty silently united on these issues.

What Have I Been Reading?

I am going to pass along a few gems that I have found.

A friend of mine gave me a short memoir by writer Paul Auster about his life as a young man and a writer called Hand to Mouth which was very good. It tells the story of Auster as he struggled in New York and Paris and struggled with finishing college. He also amuses us with tales of his job working on a ship and his invention of a baseball card game that he tried to shop around in vein. The reason I liked this memoirs was that it reminded me so much of many of my struggles in trying to pursue my vision and the things that are important to me such as my writing and political activism. Like the young Auster I have always been broke; the difference, of course, is that I don’t have a Columbia degree or any monied family to help me when time gets tough. When shit gets tough for me then I’m just ass out.

After reading Hand to Mouth I walked into a bookstore a couple of days later and just happened to see his new novel The Brooklyn Follies. At first I just thumbed through it; but when I realized that the book was set in Brooklyn, had a character who was a cabbie and another indie bookstore owner ( I have two good friends who own an indie book store in St. Louis and it made me think of them) I realized I had to read this book. As the pages turned it had more of things that I like; stories about Brooklyn neighborhood people, a hot Latin waitress, a religious fanatic preacher who thinks his dick is an instrument from the Lord, and a messed up family like many I know ( including mine). I read the fist 254 pages of the book at the bookstore and then about a week and a half later I went to 7th Ave in Park Slope Brooklyn and read the last 47 pages and that was fitting because most of the book took place in Park Slope and as the book ended the hero was walking down 7th Ave on 9-11 after getting out of Methodist Hospital and as I finished the book I headed down 7th Ave in the same direction.

The United States of Europe by TR Reid and How Soccer Explains the World by Franklin Foer are two other books I have been thumbing through. Reid makes a lot of interesting points about the economic power of Europe and the power that Europe yields in being the world regulators in most areas. He also does a good job ( even if he got some facts wrong regarding the American unemployment and welfare system, Americans get much less than what Reid states) in contrasting the European Model and Welfare State to that of America; where the term “welfare state” is one that is used in menacing terms. What Reid neglects in the book, in my opinion, is a real examination of how the demographics of Europe and the fact that people are not having children in Europe is going to affect the future. For example Muslims are only mentioned once in the book.

DA, from the now defunct Crime of Aquinas blog, recommend How Soccer Explains the World and the only chapter I have read so far is titled Soccer and the Jewish Question and it is a fascinating look at European Jewish Football clubs in the early twentieth century and their relation to politics and Zionism. Earler this year I found out, and I am sure that Abu Sinan and other European football fans already knew this, that a lot of football clubs have political affiliations.

Eric Hernandez: NYPD Saint or Victim of Own Bad Decisions

The death of Eric Hernandez has been a big story in New York. For those of you unfamiliar with the story Hernandez was a young officer in the NYPD. He was a good looking guy who was a running back on the police football team and was well-liked. A few weeks ago, I don’t remember the date but you can look it up, he was out clubbin one night in plain clothes and on his way home after drinking ( and being intoxicated) he stopped at a White Castle in the Bronx to get something to eat. While at the White Castle he got into an argument with several young men, and apparently identified himself as an NYPD officer, and was jumped and beaten badly by the men. They left the store and left him lying on the floor and he took his gun out and ran after them and grabbed someone, who he thought was one of them, and pulled his gun on him. A veteran police officer saw him and pulled out his gun and asked him to put down the gun and when he didn’t (he wasn’t able to hear apparently) he shot three times hitting and killing Hernandez.

In the weeks since the event it has been a huge story in the local media. The funeral was attended by thousands and well-covered in the media and the mayor and police commissioner both spoke at his funeral. In a city with two separate medias, at least, it has been a big story in both the English and Spanish media. Like only the New York media can they have built Hernandez up to be someone on the lines of Jesus Christ. Let them tell it he was perfect and without error. He lived a perfect life and was gunned down for the sins of New Yorkers….bullshit.

For starters Hernandez was drinking and driving before going into the White Castle which is a crime. Next move on to the fact that there is nothing out there at five in the morning but trouble anyway and it just isn’t wise to be schlepping around the Bronx drunk by yourself in the wee hours of the morning. Then, we don’t really know why the fight started; but we do know he was badly beaten; but where the guys supposed to take a plain clothes drunk young man serious when he said he was a police officer? Then Hernandez runs out in the street and pulls a gun on someone who didn’t have shit to do with the beating and a cop see this, tells him to put down the gun, and when he didn’t the veteran cop made a veteran move and did what he had to do. That’s the story. Mr. Hernandez was victim of his own bad decisions.

Do I feel sorry for him? Of course I do; from all accounts he was a nice guy and a fun guy to be around and I am sure he was a good officer, but he wasn’t flawless and his recklessness cost him his life. I have been through numerous nights such as this myself and I could have ended up like Hernandez, alhamdudilah I didn’t, but when you play with fire on a late night in the Bronx you might get burned and he did.

Internet Cafe, Brownsille and Snow Balls

Using the Internet at an Internet Cafe can be tricky. There is one in Brooklyn that I like. It is owned by a Muslim brother, it is quiet, you can print and scan and there is a pretty good mix of people at the place and it is close to a masjid. Sometimes, such as now, I have to go to Manhattan and I stop in and use the computer at one of the big Internet Cafe places and for the most part they suck. The keyboards are filthy, the place is filled with sex perverts booking reservations to toe sucking parties and sessions in a dungeon and then you have people who are scamming or loud in the place. So when I come here, and I have been coming on and off for years, I always try and carefully select where I will sit. If I see an empty computer in between one of these Bobo men wearing a purse and three scarves around his neck chances are he is up to some cray shit and if on the other side of him there is a sweaty guy with a big grin on his face and his hand in between his pants then I know not to sit there.The best people to sit around are non-homeless females because more often than not they are online looking for a job or chatting without masturbating and not trying to seduce a nine year old online like a lot of men. About a week ago Long Island police raided a whole group of men’s homes who were online doing precisely that and it turns out that a Lieutenant Colonel in the military was arrested. The thing that made me laugh when watching the news is the detective said ” he emailed what were supposed to be photos of his body…and when we got him in custody we were able to find out that wasnt his body.” Meaning he sent the supposed kid he was trying to fuck a picture of a porn-sized dick and he wasn’t packin all that.The area that I am staying in Brooklyn is strictly African-American and Latino and one Arab Muslim family I have found. It is in Brownsville, where boxers Mike Tyson and Riddick Bowe both grew-up ( and John Gotti in an earlier generation). It is one of the most crime-ridden areas in New York City and gentrification ( thank God) has not visited yet. At night you can fall asleep to baby mama drama and gunshots and the mornings are dead-silent as everyone is sleeping.Brownsville, where I have lived before, is temporary for me. I am looking for an apartment in other places a little more quiet like somewhere in Southern Brooklyn ( Bensonhurst, Bay Ridge, Sheepshead Bay, Boro Park or Flatbush) or even the Bronx ( is is the cheapest boro and the best place to get away from the Bobos…for now).This is also not the first time I have been the only white person in a neighborhood I have lived in and this has never been a problem with me. Since I was a kid people also thought if that whiteboy is crazy enough to live around or hang around here he must be crazy or tough. That is no longer the case. When I go to Bed Stuy now to go to the masjid or to Crown Heights there is a lot of gentrification going on in those areas and a lot of Bobos and as a rule almost all Bobos are pussies. These are grown men who get mugged when the other guy has no weapon. These are grown men who let school kids beat their asses and throw snow balls at them. Why these Bobos would want to live in such a place I do not know other than that they just see themselves as old school white settlers. This creates a problem for me; because unlike the latte sippin Bobos I’m not getting mugged without a fight and I for damn sure am not going to let some kid throw a snow ball at me. In previous years this was never an issue, for the reasons earlier stated, but the other night a kid threw a snow ball at me, and missed. When I turned around to look at him the kid was shocked and I told him as I picked up a brick ” now, come on lets play this game, you throw your snowball and Ill throw the brick and lets see what happens”….the kid ran inside.

Fron the Blizzard: Schoolkid Terror and Urban Imperialists

Disciplining Children
If you wanna know where the real terrorists are in New York they get on the subway every weekday around three during the school year and they are the schoolchildren of the city ( middle schoolers and high schoolers mostly). Now of course at least half of these kids are functionally illiterate but they know every 50 Cent tune by heart and are rocking the newest sneakers to school. Of course those who would like the kids to wear uniforms are rebuffed by Manhattan-liberals ( with no kids in the public schools more than likely) who think creative expression is more important than preventing poor kids from getting made fun of because they cant afford stylish clothes and other kids who could get their brains blown out for wearing the wrong colors. This is the same crowd that also tells you that disciplining kids is passé; and who would have teachers locked up (as happened last week in the Bronx) for trying to put a little discipline in the classroom. Until then I will be on the train having Getzian fantasies or waiting for one of these punks to give me the excuse I need.

Eminent Domain Story from Brooklyn

It can be said that the bulk of the new urbanists fail into two categories; those who are in bed with big developers and those who are seeking urban revitalization from the grassroots level. One can argue that at the end of the day, despite how these two camps may view themselves, differently, they both are working towards the same goals of a more upscale and affluent city at the cost of the rooted working-class in the city and both have no qualms about using the power of the state to intervene on their behalf in order to displace undesirables.

A story today in the Brooklyn section of the New York Daily News has made my blood boil. A Greenpoint business owned by a man named Herb Engler is being taken out along with a number of other businesses by eminent domain from the city so they can build 10,000 upscale apartments for bobos. The city is using its power,and the power of the developers and the citizen groups who condone these Stalinist tactics to force long rooted and committed local business out of the area in order for the wealthy ( who a generation ago wouldn’t have dreamed of being in Brooklyn) to move in. The irony is that I guarantee you that a majority of these urban imperialists who will move into the apartments will fancy themselves as some kind of political progressives.

Mr.. Engler it seems in addition to being a committed local business man who took the courageous step and hired two parolees over a decade ago who have been with the company ever since.Where does this good citizenship get him in Bloomberg’s New York ?Absolutely fuckin nowhere unless his business can cater to the Latteheads.