Friday, January 27, 2006

Friday shoe porn

It's my last day at the paper. It's cold out. I have nothing to do.

I have no new kitty pics (and she looks pretty much the same anyway) and no new music (though I've been putting Tarantella and Neko Case into heavy rotation lately) so here's something new.

The latest addition (Pair No. 30- a landmark of sorts):

Green leather with pine suede (as a green-eyed girl, I believe green goes with anything) and a vintage stack heel. They look awesome with purple tights and a short skirt.

And I still have enough money to put aside a bit for the scooter.

For actual, substantive, politically relevant content, I direct you to the other place where I write for free: Colorado Soapblox. Otherwise, I'm tapped and bored and shoeblogging is about all I can manage. Happy weekend.

I'll be out through next Monday on vacation, so probably no posting unless I make it to the gay coffeehouse up the hill that has free wireless (all these older gay dudes go up there for Internet dates. So my surfing/blogging is conducted through the ambient noise of older gay men making small talk). So until next time . . .

Thursday, January 26, 2006

We broke it. We're buying it.

Hamas won the election.

Nobody can tell me that the Bush administration's so-called "War on Terror" isn't among the bigger reasons for this.

We've proven very efficient at manufacturing terrorists and solidifying Islamic extremism. Here's the proof. Here's what happens. Here is what we will point to one day as the moment it became clear that Bush's actions in the Middle East did nothing to curb terror and everything to further energize militance and fundamentalism.

As my dad would say, way to go, Ace.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Go back to Russia!

Among my many obsessions, which include shoes, scooters, convertibles and dive bar rock shows, is MST3K. For those unfamiliar, it's a show from Minnesota where puppets make fun of bad movies. Trust me. It's good.

Well, I have taken to ordering DVDs of the show from eBay, and sometimes the people who sell them (people far more obsessed than I) will throw in extra goodies with your order. I have a couple DVDs of bizarre 1950s and 1960s sex ed shorts as well as several short films produced by the U.S. Government that detail the threat of communism.

Well, I'd never really watched the Red threat ones until earlier this week, and I have to say it was an eye opener. Although the main thrust of these vignettes seem to be that communism means death to individuality, there is also the tangle of bureaucracy so feared by Americans in general. A permit to make a phone call? A permit to send mail? Communism is damned inconvenient!

But here's something else- Baby Boomers were raised on this kind of attitude. They were raised that the biggest threat to freedom, justice and the American way was a society in which all of your actions are monitored, all of your beliefs homogenized, all of your individuality stifled.

And yet, they- and what's more, their parents- are the very kinds of Americans that are defending the actions of a government that spies on its own people, stifles dissent, and manufactures propaganda.

How did this happen? How did we go from our fear of the commie "other" to our acceptance of facist tactics? How did the fear of terrorism become so pervasive that it overtook our fear of losing the so-called "American Way?"

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Tuesday Meme/List two-fer

Phila, our very favorite Nudibranch Blogger tagged me for this meme, which is a fun little exercise in nonsequitir:
1. Go into your archives.
2. Find your 23rd post.
3. Post the fifth sentence (or closest to it).
4. Post the text of the sentence in your blog along with these instructions.
5. Tag five other people to do the same thing.

Now, my 23rd post was a long long time ago (I can still remember how the music used to make me smile . . . now try getting that out of your head all day! Ha!). I started VV up back in 2003 when I had a really boring job with lots of downtime, and it didn't really get political in any meaningful way (if you can call anything I blog about meaningful) until 2004 or so. Nevertheless, the 23rd post's fifth sentances is this:

On the one hand, I feel that I am really getting along well with the people I work with, that we are all quirky and weird but hardworking individuals.

This is from back when the site functioned mainly as a place for me to vent about life after graduation, the travails of a girl making sense of the hoary and uncharted landscape of the so-called "real world."

This reminds me that Vestal Vespa will be celebrating its third anniversary in May. Weird. Three years is a long time for any relationship, but on the Web it's a geological eon.

When I look back at old posts, I realize how much living and learning I've done in those three years . . . growing from a fresh-faced graduate to a somewhat jaded, cynical 20something with a political axe to grind. It is an interesting study in personal growth, to say the least.

So here's who gets to do this next:

1: Blog brother/MST3K buddy Dex
2: Little Vespa
3: Allison, our buddy out in KC
4: Blog brother/small sum sugar daddy NTodd
5: Mustang Bobby

None of you have any obligation to reciprocate . . . I'm just following the rules.

And now, a short list:


Like a natural woman
Like dancing
So young
Brand new
Mighty real
Like a whore
So Free

Monday, January 23, 2006

Save America's Bowling Alleys

I love modern architecture.

I love I.M. Pei, I love googie, I love Quentin Tarantino Diners and vintage Arby's restaurants. But I really really love bowling alleys.

I recently found a page for a group called the Recent Past Preservation Network- a group of civic-minded architecture lovers who want to see the wonders of hyperbolic roofs and kidney-shaped motel signs be enjoyed by generations to come. I encourage you all to visit- it's a great site that gives up-to-date info on the state of modern architecture, coast-to-coast.

Here in Denver, we've seen our fair share of amazing 1950s and 1960s architecture be swept away for the sake of "progress." A good example is Zeckendorf Plaza, a 1960s I.M.Pei designed urban pavilion featuring a hyperbolic entrance canopy for a local department store and a stunning hotel building, as well as an ice rink. The entire pavilion was retooled, the canopy demolished, back in the mid-90s. The site is now home to a really ugly hotel.

What is rather puzzling about the destruction of modern architecture in city centers like Denver is the same thing that is puzzling about the prevalence of chain restaurants. Here's the thing: a beautiful, authentic 1950s bowling alley will be demolished in the name of progress, utility, modernism, etc. Then, give it five or ten years, and you have a chain of bowling alleys that adopts a mission to re-create the look, feel and environment of a beautiful, authentic 1950s bowling alley. It's like how a TGI Fridays, Applebee's, Chili's, Bennigans and Red Robin will move into town, chase every locally-owned, neighborhood bar and grill out of town, then spend billions on marketing to try to look and feel like a locally-owned neighborhood bar and grill. It's stuff like this that makes me hate postmodernism.

But yes- it is my humble (and correct, by the way) opinion that motels like this, coffeeshops like this, and yes, bowling alleys like this are no less a part of our American architectural history than traditional Victorian or Colonial buildings.

Picture a future in which the only evidence of postwar architecture will be a revisioning designed by Madison Avenue bigwigs and existing only in the shopping centers surrounding exurban housing developments. And then go and give some scratch to the folks at the RPPN.

1,000 Words

I've had my suspicions that the Abramoff scandal would go to the highest levels . . . and here my suspiciions are at least partially confirmed.

Who wants to bet this will come back to haunt Scottie in the near future:

"The president does not know him, nor does the president recall ever meeting him," White House spokesperson Scott McClellan said of Abramoff.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Friday Stockshow Blogging

Cowboys in love? Or just watching the coal cars go by the stockyards?

Who knows these days . . .

Thursday, January 19, 2006

The Coalition of the Less Willing than Initially Thought

Remember the Coalition of the Willing? Remember that? All those nations, supposedly coming to the aid of the Mighty United States, those supporting actors who were going to help bring peace and democracy to the people of Iraq?

And then someone forgot Poland and it all went to hell.

At any rate, we've lost Italy now, too . . .

The Italians join Nicaragua, Spain, The Dominican Republic, Honduras, The Philippines, Thailand, Poland, Bulgaria, New Zealand, Tonga, Hungary, Portugal and Moldova on the Coalition of "Yeah, Uh, We Have This, Uh, Thing We Have To Do" in pulling out of Iraq. Norway, the Ukraine and the Netherlands have significantly reduced their troop deployment, but remain distractedly engaged in the war.

What this all proves, I think, is that the Coalition itself was, at best, an afterthought and more than anything, just a sort of sham aimed at getting Americans to support the actions in Iraq. "See?!" the administration said. "We're not going it alone! We have the mighty force of the Tongan army to help us out!"

Sad thing is that any Americans ever bought it at all.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Arrested Development

My little sister, God bless her, got me the DVD set of season one of "Arrested Development" for Christmas. And after watching several of these, it has come to me that the entire Bluth family operates fairly well as a metaphor for post-2000 America. Bear with me, this is a very English major moment.

I mean, each Bluth family member operates as a part of what America has become. Lindsay and Tobias are the kind of liberals even liberals hate- a self-absorbed, spoiled creatures who do little more than pay lip service to causes, while benefiting from the very institutions they profess to hate. They are the Hollywood liberals. Then you have Lucille, spoiled, self-important but entirely dependent on others for everything she enjoys (she can't unload her car by herself, so starts calling up illegal immigrant maids she has employed in the past). She's the American middle class. You have Michael, the disliked but well-meaning leader who tries to accomplish as much as possible, but is constantly shut down by his family's more inept counterparts (Michael = the Democratic party). And Maeby and George Michael, the next generation of Americans, are just trying to figure stuff out while they deal with their parents' mistakes. The metaphor doesn't play out perfectly in all respects, or in all characters, but it's there, and I don't think it is by accident.

I think this is why the show appeals to me so much. And probably why it got cancelled. There's no way these people could have eventually succeeded. And that does not bode well for us.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Tuesday List: Sick of Pop Culture Edition


1. TLC: The You Wanna See Something Really Fucked Up Channel
2. Lifetime Network: The Hapless Victims Network
3. Pax: The Chuck Norris and Bible Channel
4. VH1: You Can't Stop Watching Celebrities Buy Shit Central
5. The History Channel: The 24-Hour Hitler N' Aliens Network
6. Oxygen: The Ellen DeGeneres/"Mommy Dearest"/Old Lady Giving Sex Advice Channel
7. SciFi: Fun with D-Level Actors and Latex Makeup
8. Telemundo: The Channel That Shows Good Movies with Bad Dubbing
9. Public Access: The Channel That is Really Funny When You Are Drunk
10. MTV: The Channel that Yells At Me

Monday, January 16, 2006

Citizen Vespa

You Passed the US Citizenship Test

Congratulations - you got 8 out of 10 correct!

I Love Denver

And here's why.

My weekend included a stock show, a dive bar, brunch with transvestites and a trip downtown to see "Syriana."

Life is good in the city.

But "Syriana" was particuarly exceptional. I didn't know what to expect, nothing to go on but the fact that the blogosphere was abuzz about the film and its importance. And rightly so. It's the kind of movie that will make you denounce your car and the oil trade in general . . . and will force you to you realize just how integral oil is to our society and its economy. The word "inextricable" comes to mind.

Much like "Traffic," "Syriana" shows us the parties at every level of involvement with the oil industry- from Emirs to government officials to Pakistani migrant workers on the oil fields to hapless lawyers charged with defending the egregious machinations of the oil tycoons. But unlike "Traffic," which focuses on an addiction that is shared by an arguably small population, "Syriana" shows us how the oil addiction we all share has everyone- if you'll pardon the pun- over a barrel.

So yeah- go see it. And if you can, do what we did, and walk to the theater. You'll feel marginally better on the way home.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Friday random ten, busy edition

OK, here's what's been rattling around in my head lately:

1. Neko Case: "Furnace Room Lullaby." Killer voice, killer lyrics.

2. Deathcab for Cutie: "I Will Follow You Into the Dark." Christ, what a depressing song. But catchy . . .

3. Bloc Party: Pioneers. Shaking hands with a hurricane: not recommended.

4. Franz Ferdinand: "Well That Was Easy." Particularly relevant after giving my notice at the paper.

5. Modest Mouse: "Gravity Rides Everything." When I saw these guys live at Red Rocks, I was of the mind that they were terribly overrated. But this song presents a good argument against my hypothesis.

6. Interpol: "C'mere." I don't know why, but this song just creeps into my brain and refuses to leave.

7. Frank Sinatra: "I've Got the World on a String." I've been feeling like I do have the world on a string lately.

8. The Walkmen: "We've Been Had." I like this one- it's about growing up. And I dig the surreal, child's piano sound at the beginning.

9. Rufus Wainwright: "Cigarettes and Chocolate Milk." While the combination sounds truly disgusting, the song is excellent.

10. The Decemberists: "The Engine Driver." I like these guys. They're like alt-minstrels or something.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Now it's time to say goodbye

So. Looks like I'm not long for the newspaper world. And I have to say I am glad.

It definitely feels like I'm getting out while the getting is good. Although they are telling me they will keep me on as a columnist til the contract is through and I offered up my services as an arts and entertainment correspondent on an as-needed freelance basis.

Moving on feels really good, especially since it means no more 40-minute commute, more money, much better benefits, a really creative and fun company and three weeks of vacation my first year.

In three short weeks, the Times-Call chapter of my life will be effectively over. Which is bittersweet. I have met some amazing and talented people, and I've had some great times. You can't beat getting paid to write about a ride on the back of a scooter, getting paid to watch a world-class theater production, getting paid to vent your thoughts in print. But there are also the not-so-small considerations of student loans, savings, financial breathing room, and just generally having enough scratch to do what you love to do. And so capitalism guides our life decisions . . . but that's another blog altogether.

So I'm moving on. That's the big news. Growing up. Some might say selling out. But it's time.

Meantime, this l'il site will still chug along. The new job, as a proofer at a local ad agency, will mean no longer sitting in front of a PC for eight hours a day, so posts will probably pop up late in the evening, and probably with less than daily frequency. But I'll throw in my .02 on the world's problems when I can.

Wish me luck!

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Sit tight

Got tons of work to do today, but I might have some very exciting news by the weekend.

Oooh, it's so exciting . . .

Meantime, talk amongst yourselves. Topic: Alito sez he can't answer questions that might come up in future trials. Imagine if any job interview could be conducted this way.

MANAGER AT PERKINS: Well, Mr. Alito, do you have any experience as a short-order cook?

ALITO: I can't tell you whether or not I have any past experience making a skillet scramble. I don't want that to affect the quality of any future skillet scrambles I may be asked to make.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Bye bye, Tommy

They said he'd get away with it. They said the indictments would prove fruitless. They said he'd prove to be untouchable.

Not. So. Much.

The gravy? He's running for reelection in 2006. A disgraced, discredited Republican trying to court voters is going to make for some tasty fall entertainment.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Friday kitty

Audrey, mid-squawk.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Be it resolved

The New Year's resolution is to save enough to buy a scooter by May.

This is no easy task. Beautiful shoes beckon. Chipotle burritos cry out to me. And on the pittance I make at the paper, it is these things that threaten to break my resolve.

Which is why I need to meditate on this.

Someone in Denver on Craigslist is selling this baby for $2300.

It will be mine!

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Coal Miner's Granddaughter

My grandfather finished high school in Hanna, Wyoming, right at the ragged end of the Great Depression. Everyone in Hanna worked at the coal mines. Everyone also had the memory, either by proxy through older relatives or firsthand, of a great disaster that very nearly wiped out the town's entire population of working-age men.

In 1903, a seam caught fire and exploded, killing 169 miners.

And here we are, more than a century later, and miners are still subjected to some of the most dangerous, frightening working conditions in America today.

I was raised in a family where we understood the danger miners face everyday. Think about it: an entire vocation built around digging a tunnel, then working in said tunnel, chipping away the very walls that support hundreds of tons of earth and rock above your head. Add to this the fact that every miner is constantly surrounded by stagnant air and combustible dust. This is dangerous, dirty, ugly work. And it is the lifeblood of thousands of small American towns.

Coal miners make pretty good money. As pay and benefits go, it beats working at the WalMart or joining the Army. But something about this story gets to the Socialist in me. The Sago mine had knowingly ignored safety citations in order to mine as much coal as possible, to feed the endless coal appetite of the industrialized world. The mine had a shamefully high injury rate- about three times that of other mines of its size. This is not just a tragedy. It is a disgrace.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

In lieu of lists . . .

A word of advice.

If you haven't yet, go to your nearest Landmark cinema and see "Brokeback Mountain." Now. No questions, no whining, no excuses, no "I accept homosexuality as a lifestyle but I don't want it shoved in my face," nothing. Just. Go.

It's a great Western, a great romance, a great movie. Something for everyone. Take your straight boyfriend (if you have to, you can tell him that Anne Hathaway's breasts make a rather exuberant appearance), your gay friends, your girlfriends, your grandma, everyone you know.

Absolutely gorgeous- from Jake Gyllenhall's Wyoming sky-blue eyes to the sharp spires of the Tetons to Michelle Williams' face when she cries.

It's one of those rare victories of postmodernism when a Taiwanese director can create such a quintessentially American film with the help of two Argentinian music composers and a Mexican cinematographer.

So yeah. Go see.