Thursday, May 27, 2010

Country Club Blues

The Wall Street Journal has an interesting story on the push by generation X and younger aspiring social elites to increase the permissibility and acceptance of denim in the halls of various country clubs. The article speaks to how touchy younger generations are with one marketing consultant claiming that the tradition bound rules that govern many county clubs "is tantamount to "a sign out front saying, 'I hate you' " to them. Have we become so vain, soft, and weak that rules to prohibit denim are a new form of hate? Get the fuck out of here.

The real irony is noted towards the end of the article that while these "young turks" are agitating for a change in the club house, they still firmly believe that the courses should maintain a prohibition on denim lest they become "too muni." (In reference to public and municipal golf courses.) In essence, they want to degrade the traditions in the club house for convenience, yet maintain the same rules the find so disturbing on the actual course. For you Caddyshack fans out there, it is the worst hybrid of Judge Smails and Al Czervik.

As the article notes, if they are interested in their long-term survival, private country clubs should express an adaptability with their rules and try and foster a long term strategy that attracts and grows members that reflect the values and traditions they wish to project. However, they should screen-out members who seems to have under appreciation for tradition and wish to erode the ethos of the club.

Personally, I have no problem with dress codes and think they are refreshing. Especially given how pathetically most people present themselves in public in this modern. I also think a little discipline foisted upon people who voluntarily make an association shows a sign a commitment to an organization. With the exception of family, virtually all associations are voluntary in this day and age. If not wearing denim is too burdensome for some folks, then perhaps they should frequent the municipal golf courses they hold such contempt for.

This just smacks of an aggressive short sighted hypocrisy, laziness, and self-centeredness that speaks very poorly to values of my generation, and those immediately preceding. The future is grim.

London Calling: Elvis Costello, Bruce Springsteen, & David Grohl (Live)

What an incredible tribute to Joe Strummer at the 2003 Grammys. That's what you call rock n' roll.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Mugabe's Ark.

In one of last week's stranger unnoticed stories, Zimbabwe is donating some exotic wildlife to North Korea. WTF, right? It's like sending your kids over to the local pedophile's house for a sleepover. Nothing good will come of it. It is almost kafkaesque in absurdity when one stops to consider it. What the hell does a autarkic communist relic need with some prize African game? It's always amusing to observe the bizarre shenanigans of the worlds petty dictators, but even this action defies logic.

Zimbabwe is the textbook basket-case. It desperately needs legit business partners and capital just to make it to next month. North Korea is the retarded belligerent state, that is actually irrational, destabilizing, and dangerous. Do they even know what an elephant or giraffe is in North Korea? How do these two actors benefit each other? It is no secret that Mugabe has used the North Koreans to train his infamous Fifth Brigade "death squads," which butchered the Matabele in the mid-1980s. However, trading exotic game for war crimes seems like an odd currency to balance the books with.

Assuming the animals survive the passage from Zimbabwe to North Korea, which is dubious on some levels, what next? North Korea is on the brink of famine, has no expertise in any kind of African animal care or husbandry, and, as mentioned above, is a regime that prides itself on being archaic, isolationist, out-of-touch, and strange. Let us not forget that Kim Jong Il, the leader of the North Korean Regime, has scored a 15 while playing 18 holes of golf and written several operas in his spare time. How long do these critters have?

Other than the profound weirdness, I  am not sure what the reaction should be, if any. Although, I am surprised that the animal rights wackos aren't shitting bricks and throwing an international hissy fit.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Top Gun: Greatest Movie Intro Ever!

Like the Rock of Gibraltar, few things are as timelessly awesome and consistent as the title/opening sequence of Top Gun. Between the perfectly harmonized music, mind-blowing sounds, evocative imagery of seamless naval flight operations,  and unabashed conveyance of Pax Americana, it covers all of its' bases. It's tough to dispute the all encompassing awesomeness of these first four cinematic minutes and with the exception of the opening sequence of Casino Royale, the werewolf has yet to find a film that gets so much right so quickly.

The werewolf's father is the consummate technology geek and is always upgrading his home theater systems. One of the best tests you can perform to assess the quality of your domestic entrainment set-up is load the Blu-Ray of Top Gun and crank the sound as far as your willing to risk it. If you're spleen is shaking, kidney's are tickled, and the cockles of your American heart are teased, life is grand. It is full-proof and worthy test.

Although far from perfect (is there a perfect film?), Top Gun is an undisputed classic. The Cold War themes, unapologetic pro-Americanism, pro-U.S. military, plus a killer cast that launched multiple careers. Household names such as Tom Cruise, Val Kilmer, Tim Robbins, Tom Skerrit, Meg Ryan, Anthony Edwards, Michael Ironside, and Kelly McGillis all showed up in the cast. Plus, do you remember the call-sign for the token black pilot? I bet "Hollywood" comes to mind. Wrong! "Sundown" is his call-sign, I shit you not. This a legacy of many a night devoted to pub trivia.

The Mighty Mighty Bosstones: The Rascal King

Who knew that a ska ballad about a tough-minded and acceptably corrupt urban politician would be one of this wolf's enduring favorites from his reckless youth. The Bosstones are a noteworthy ska act, who actually have a number of hits under their belt that embed them as a distinctly 1990s era act. I will confess to loving the portion of this video where the "Rascal King" does a Fred Astairesque dance that just radiates cool confidence. People, especially guys, have long lost a sense of how to really dance in these modern times. The werewolf has drunkenly crashed and burned trying to replicate these moves on more than one occasion.

Why are there so few good ballads about bad-asses out there these days?  Having growing up loving songs like Manfred Mann's "Quinn the Eskimo," Jim Croce's "LeRoy Brown," and "Tales of Brave Ulysses" by Cream,  it disappoints me that there are so few notable ones of there these days. Especially, given how many great tales of corruption, heroism, and the extraordinary could be told. Maybe, this wolf is sniffing around the wrong holes. Any suggestions?

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Blind Drunks

Over at the Daily Mail, this article reveals a new trend that may lead to legions of blind Britons.
"Even as drunken student antics go, it was, by any stretch of the imagination, a disturbing scene. Surrounded by cheering rugby players, applauded by fellow members of the university netball team, 19-year-old Melissa Fontaine tipped back her head and giggled as fellow drinkers in the Students' Union bar pulled apart her eyelids and allowed them to pour a shot of vodka into her left eye.
'Vodka eyeballing', as it is known in student circles, is the latest drinking craze to sweep through Britain's universities"
This wolf loves his booze, when it is poured down his throat. I guess this gives new meaning to the term "blind drunk." 

There was honor in drinking yourself blind with moonshine. Vodka eyeballing, not so much.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Haircut 100: Love Plus One

Another classic finger-dancing and sing along song when in the car.

Not sure whatever happened to these guys. Faded into forgotten obscurity.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Tories back in the saddle. Is this a horse they want to ride?

The werewolf is pleased that the eternally frumpy and unimpressive Gordon Brown resigned from the Prime Ministership of the United Kingdom. That simple act was long overdue. Brown was a dud extraordinaire.

Tony Blair, despite his flaws, was a tough act to follow. Every trait that made him such an impressive, likeable and charismatic PM, Brown seemed to lack. Where Blair articulated, Brown stumbled; when Blair charmed, Brown put to sleep; Blair project a moral conviction, whereas Brown seemed to unenthusiastically read retreaded talking points. Was their ever a more stark study in contrasts?

 Although a little left for the werewolf, Blair possessed a combination of personal tact, political deftness, and deep appreciation for the transatlantic “special relationship” that should define Anglo-American relations. Brown is a freakin’ Scottish dial-tone. Brown may be one of the most underwhelming and unimpressive leaders of a great western power since that joke of a U.S. President Jimmy Carter. At least Carter can find marginal redemption via his eccentric killer bunny sightings, naïve county bumpkin act and bad peanut farmer jokes.  Hopefully, with David Cameron as the newly ascendant Prime Minister, a degree of charm, conviction, style, and gravitas will be restored to the venerable office. Let it be noted that Mrs. Brown looked far more stately and elegant than her drab husband, something that took the werewolf  unawares.

This brings a second point to bear. It’s a shitty time to govern, anywhere in the civilized world. That unto itself should be a call to govern in order to try and usher in stability and a restoration of something better than what we currently have in place. However, given the United Kingdom’s bizarre electoral system, and the Tories shortfall of the minimum votes needed to form a government, the werewolf wonders if slipping into bed with the naïve and strangely out-dated Liberal Democrats is the best course of action towards achieving their long-term goals of righting the various deficiencies and hurdles Britain faces both economically and strategically. The last time a hung-parliament was formed in the mid-1970s, it lasted a few months before crumbling. Here are the question the werewolf wonders, will the Liberal Democrats prove to be reliable coalition partners who will deliver the needed votes on recovery centric legislation and fiscal austerity that the U.K. needs? Is there a risk of Labour’s recent reputation of do-nothingism and ineffectual governance being transferred to the Tories by entering into this untraditional coalition? Will voters be sympathetic and forgiving of the obvious hurdles or hold their new government to exacting standards?  Would it have been strategically sound for the Tories to eschew a coalition, and let Labour and the Lib-Dems govern ineffectually for a few months? There is a clear and definite risk to the latter and it is always dangerous to pass up opportunities in politics. However, I am trying to assess to best strategic move from an amateur political analyst perspective.I am well aware of the multitude of additional considerations.

If the werewolf were a Briton - in more than fan-filled honorary spirit - he would likely align himself with the Tories. The werewolf was imbued with a profound admiration and fondness from PM Thatcher from a young-age and holds her and her stewardship of the UK in the highest regard.  He is interested to see how Cameron will measure up given the profound circumstances surrounding his ascension, although he does welcome the fresh face at 10 Downing. Still, as noted, Cameron seems more like a creature of opportunity, and less like man of conviction.  I am ready to be proved wrong.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Original vs. Cover: Nena/Goldfinger "99 luft balloons"

80s Euro rock vs. punk/ska. Like picking between my own offspring, I love them both.

Nena: 99 Luft Balloons (live)

Goldfinger: 99 Red Balloons (studio)

Imelda Marcos, a comeback queen?

Eclectic to the very core, few things capture the werewolf's imagination as much as a random comeback story being realized by the octogenarian widow of long dead third-world autocrat ousted from power a quarter of a century ago. According to the NYTimes, the world's most legendary collector of shoes, Imelda Marcos, is staging a small political comeback in the Philippines. The wife of legendary Filipino dictator and American ally, Ferdinand Marcos, Imelda ingrained herself into the pantheon of kleptocratic legend by leaving behind more than dozen mink coats, 508 ball-room gowns, over 1000 handbags, and more than 3000 pairs of shoes, after she and her husband had been ousted from power. If you're going to go overboard, you best do in ridiculous stylistic extreme, and Madam Marcos certainly qualifies by the werewolf's humble standard. Mink coats in Manila, really?

The werewolf is absolutely captivated by tales of third world largess and dictatorial extreme, primarily when it comes to style and nurturing both image and a cult of personality. He reads endlessly about the amusing antics of Mobutu in Zaire (for managing to rip off over $1B in foreign aid and bathing in Chanel), Bokassa in the Central Africa Republican (for reenacting the coronation of Napoleon and casting himself in the lead), the Duvaliers in Haiti (for being weirdo voodoo practitioners and shameless kleptocrats), Tito in Yugoslavia (for communist largess), Suharto in Indonesia (for having his finger in every single economic transaction in the country), Idi Amin in Uganda (for importing and wrecking Alfa Romeo's with reckless abandon), Sani Abacha in Nigeria (for skimming about $1B off the top of Nigeria's oil economy), to name a few of the more eccentric and colorful ones. (This in no way, shape, or form is an endorsement of corruption, political oppression, violence, ethnic cleansing, and all of the other nasty legacies of the aforementioned cast of characters. They are all despicable and offensive examples of humanity who happen to have a slightly endearing flair for managing their projected brands'  in a fashion that makes the werewolf smile) Notice, to, that not all corrupt dictators have the same ability to project ridiculousness the way these aforementioned few have. Brutality and nastiness don't always translate into fiction worthy expressions of character. Nor are all of the aforementioned particularly brutal or murderous when contrasted against history's greatest murderers of Mao Zedong, Joseph Stalin, Adolf Hitler, Pol Pot, Agathe Habyarimana, and Mengistu Hale Mariam. Idi Amin and Bokassa certainly are nasty, but the others less so. (Again, no excuse or endorsement, just a humble observation of scale.)

The other factor has do to do with the third world ethos and affection often associated with these characters. Part of Madam Marcos' comeback is being engineered by playing to her maternal image within the minds of many Filipinos. The article describes Madam Marcos on the campaign trial in this passage.

“I’m running not only as your representative, but as your mother,” said Mrs. Marcos, still the queen and maybe still the winner, as she passed out juice packets to the children and packs of Winnsboro cigarettes to the men of Nueva Era. “I’ll take care of all of you.”

Fascinating and amusing. Good luck seeking political redemption legitimately, Imelda. This will make for pleasant distraction. The werewolf wonders if she will be seen campaigning in mink coats, or if some keen observer will keep a tally on the handbags and shoes she is seen sporting on the trail. Rarely have phoenixes  risen from stranger ashes.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Tunku Varadarajan: 10 Truths About the British Vote

Tunku Varadarajan's nails some key themes from the British election in his latest article over at The Daily Beast. The whole article is worthy, but here are some highlights:

"Gordon Brown is a dour, dithering, dry, dislikeable loser. He is Dukakis with a Scottish accent. So if (and when) he loses, let us rejoice."
"Second, we have in Barack Obama a president who values Britain as meanly as he might Arizona. OK, I exaggerate, but Obama is to the "Special Relationship" what Angela Merkel is to Greece (OK, I exaggerate again, but only a smidgeon.) So for those who say that there's anti-Atlanticism in the U.K., I say: "What about the anti-Britainism in Washington?"
"Seventh, the British electorate is genuinely unsure of what it wants, except for the fact that it's sure that it doesn't want more Gordon Brown (whom the voters never really wanted in the first place, and who was foisted upon them). Of all the world's major peoples, the British make the most unforgiving "foistees.""
"Finally, it would be nice to have the Tories back in power, if only because alternation—as any American will tell you—is the life-blood of a healthy democracy. From an American perspective, a Tory government is always useful, for it is only the Tories who subscribe, reflexively, to an unapologetic view of Britain as a great power. America—Hegemon, hyper-puissance, whatever—needs, in these times, a muscular smaller ally without a sidekick-complex. Only Britain fits the bill."

Today will be interesting on multiple levels for both the U.K. and the trans-Atlantic relationship. While Cameron doesn't really thrill the werewolf (although his wife is a beauty), Brown is so odious and flaccid, that watching his career (hopefully) flame-out, will be worthy unto itself. Still, this race is one for the history books.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Soul Coughing: Circles (Live)

In 1999, during the ascension of Napster, I got my first mobile music playing device. I think it was constructed by either  Rio or Creative Labs.  A whooping 16 megabits of storage space was offered. That equaled five to six songs. I recall going for long jogs through wooded trails that surrounded the New Hampshire boarding school I attended. The duration of the run would be determined by allowing each song to be played thrice. Ironically, this song was frequently loaded on that device.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

The cascading impact of the crude spill in the gulf

The story about the BP sourced oil spill in Gulf keeps getting worse. The slick is now the size of Jamaica and will likely devastate the coast-lines the five gulf coasts states. Not only will be the economic and ecological impact be catastrophic for the folks in the region, but the werewolf thinks there will be very nasty macro-effects that will haunt the America psyche for a long-time to come. The two most sinister macro-legacies will be reinforcing the misbegotten notion in the minds of Americans that government intervention is increasingly required to handle everything. The current administration will most definitely use this to exploit that idea.

Additionally, America's energy policy will be screwed over as the over-reaction to this disaster will likely lead to massive reductions in the ability to exploit the abundance of domestic energy as irrational fears take over. This will increase America's dependence on overseas oil, screw over the domestic energy worker, hamper American owned energy interests, and further divert American capital away from strengthening our internal energy infrastructure. We will self-sodomize ourselves on account of the emotional scars this will cause.

Much like how Three Mile Island made American Luddites and retards  when it come to appreciating the beauty and benefit or nuclear, this gulf spill will open a Pandora's Box of contemptible retardation.

Lesser, but still severe effects of this spill will manifest themselves interestingly.

The anti-humanist environmental movement will get new life breathed into it. These people want us to have no kids, eat freeze dried air, attach sails to our cars, and live in homes fueled by love. They suck.  After a series a recent setbacks and the virtual debunking of global warming had rendered them impotent, it's unfortunate that they'll have a voice again.

There will be a spike in oyster, shrimp, and certain fish prices. The werewolf loves the fruits of the sea and has no money. The price increases will be felt. Not to mention the real tragedy of a regional American industry being virtually destroyed.

BP has really screwed the pooch. One wonders if they are competent and fit to operate. They lied, mislead and mis-managed this whole affair from the get go. $25 billion in shareholder equity has been wiped out. That's a mere glimpse of what we can expect when this is all done. Tens of billions more can reasonably expected to evaporate as the situation gets worse. This is all before the lawsuits, regulatory fine fines and consumer outrage kick in.  BP has invested millions heavily in making themselves the "nice energy company." However, it is clear that it was all sham. The werewolf loves the energy sector. He is pro-energy sector, pro corporate social responsibility and pro growth. BP has manged to blow the lid of these things through their vile display of incompetence.Compliance, proper risk management, foresight, and honesty are all part of the bargain of believing in the power of the private sector. BP doesn't erode all of that, however, they are dead to to the werewolf.

As mentioned earlier, the government, which has been asleep at the wheel, and Americans should learn to shun, will leverage this to further expand as the all consuming leviathan that dominates our lives.

The double standard of how the current administration is being given a pass is shocking, especially when one considers the mountains of unfair shit hurled at President Bush. (Granted Bush and his PR people should have fought back with more vigor).

This whole thing is tragic. The werewolf is convinced that the impact will be much more far-reaching than anyone currently realizes.

The White Wedding

Last Saturday the werewolf found himself in Staunton, Virginia. He was attending the "white wedding" of a business school friend he's written about previously. The werewolf learned that Staunton is the birthplace of the progressive movement's favorite segregationist, President Woodrow Wilson. Although small and remote, the foothills of western Virginia are stunning in their beauty, and the town had a quaint charm that made it tolerable for the 18-hour incursion. After clearing the vast jungle of DC suburbs, the drive itself was scenic and calming. It was also refreshing to catch-up with several friends from the days of business school yore.

The wedding itself was an experience. Despite the fact that he considers the recently minted bride a friend, it doesn't discount how unhinged she had become during  time that the werewolf has gotten to know her in pursuit of her fanatical quest to get married. True to form, the wedding was replete with several cringe worthy moments that were engineered by the bride's over-zealous approach to getting married. The bride allowed her hunt for a wedding dress to be filmed by TLC's garish display of bridezillaism "Say Yes to the Dress." Highlights from the episode include her bragging about how "pure she is on account of being of 31-year virgin," crying over not getting the dress she wanted, listening to hear mother boast about how she "deserves to wear white," and watching the mother trying to haggle over prices as if she was some sort of Turkish rug-merchant.  'Twas a creepy and weird spectacle. Anyhow, back to the wedding.

The werewolf went into this whole venture not knowing what to expect other than some sort of mild disaster. True to form, it manifested early. Firstly, the wedding was aggressively marketed by the bride as some sort of hyper-Southern wedding. The dress-code on the invitation was "classy southern." (It should be noted the bride was born and raised in Northern California and didn't move to the south until college and is about as southern as the werewolf is liberal.) However, "classy southern" gave the werewolf extra-cause to do what he loves and kick his sense-of-style into high gear. He sported a blended linen-silk patch pocketed tip-over sport coat, with a yellow-blue patterned English shirt, a Churchillesque dotted bow-tie, seersucker slacks, weathered brown loafers, and his favorite Labrador themed belt. When he strolled into to the chapel, he found himself in a sea of drab black and gray, ill-fitting suits; accompanied by ties so ugly he wouldn't donate them to the blind. It could have easily been mistaken for a funeral for someone not well liked. The only source of color was the shiny and monochromatic sea foam green tie and pocket square combos being worn by the groomsmen and the mossy colored dresses being worn by the bridesmaids.

For all of the hoopla and the television debut, the bride's dress was remarkably traditional and somewhat forgettable. The fringes/hem looked as if they be cut from the gnarled roots found at the base of an old tree. However, she had a veil that was larger than the mosquito nets that the werewolf had grown accustomed to sleeping under during his time in black Africa. I guess it's called a cathedral veil, but this should be donated to some mosquito relief foundation that could be used to cover the beds of a dozen African children. It (the veil) had it's own train that must have flowed several feet behind the bride. It was so large that it actually got caught by the friction caused by the carpet and become dislodged. The seething rage behind the brides eyes at this unforeseen imperfection was most amusing.

However, some of the most cringe worthy moment occurred during the actual service.Word like submit, submission, obey, and respect were thrown around with such casualness that the werewolf was expecting a slave auction to follow. One of the lines included how a wife "must submit to the man the way the man submits to the lord," and how "submission is the ultimate act of love." Early in their friendship, the bride used to claim the mantle of being a proud, strong, and independent woman. There was one point where the minister went into speech about how he had asked the bride and groom to write letters to the lord about what they see in each other and what they expect from their marriage. The bride was quoted "liking how [the groom] embraces his manhood." That line almost set the werewolf off. On the upside, the service was just shy of an hour in length which was a small act of respect for the attendees.

However, with every yin, there is a yang. Having briefly re-entered the 18th century during the service, the werewolf was pleased that the reception was held at a local vineyard where he could re-enter the modern world with the help of some grape-distilled lubrication. Although no hard-liquor was served, the wedding was pouring generous amounts of beer and vino. The local vintage was decent and became more-so after each glass was consumed. It was here that the werewolf lived up to his jack-assy reputation. He ended up running around the reception with his fly down for a good portion of the evening. It has shown up in a few photos and made him blush ex post facto. The food was edible, the cake excellent, and the band, a bunch of kids hired from UVA, played a great set list that ranged from Miles Davis to Jackson Brown to KC & The Sunshine Band.At one point, some body's little four year old was doing these strange Pilate's moves in the middle of the dance floor that warmed every one's hearts.

It should be further noted that the wedding photographer was this petite woman who was so pregnant that her stomach looked like a large breast with an erect nipple.

As much as he tried, the werewolf couldn't find the opportunity to land the back-handed compliment he was hungry to try. In hindsight, it was probably for the best that he held his tongue. He did walk away realizing that this whole exercise in getting married was about the bride living out her longstanding fantasy of being the center of attention at a wedding more than forming a meaningful and lasting partnership with the groom. It's sad that validation is sought through such superficial status and a single event. 

Here are a few pictures of the werewolf's attempt at "southern class." For the record, the chick in the first picture is 6'2 and the werewolf is not a midget.