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March 29, 2006

Heckuva Puzzling Interview, Brownie

Brownie Malbug_13I was filled with a mixture of pity and revulsion as Stephen Colbert interviewed Mike "Brownie" Brown, former head of FEMA, last night.

On one hand, he seemed completely willing to accept the mantle of whipping boy for the debacle of the response to Hurricane Katrina, despite the evident culpability of a host of characters.  On the other hand, whether he was joking or not, he seemed comfortable having the blame shifted to his former boss, DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff.

Brown's glib attempts to make light of his situation and his nervous laughter were more than a little disgusting, even in the context of a comedy show.  I kept thinking about the hundreds of needless deaths, and here was this guy who was in charge of coordinating the federal response chortling away on national TV just five months later.  It merely reinforced perceptions of the ineptness that precipitated his downfall.

Yes, FEMA was but one player in the Katrina cluster-fuck.  Compounding the mistakes of a brainless FEMA administrator were also a feckless governor and a clueless mayor.  (Katrina was a tragic "perfect storm" in many ways.)

But if Brown's goal last night was to rehabilitate his character and integrity, then I don't think he did himself any favors.

[Watch video – 7:11, WMV format, high bandwidth]

[Watch video – 7:11, WMV format, low bandwidth]

Of course, it wouldn't be a "Colbert Report" without some hilarious allusion to homosexuality.  Colbert brought out a thinly disguised David Cross as "ultra left-wing radio talk show host Russ Lieber," putatively to discuss school vouchers.

But the interview soon morphed into a bizarre and tangled debate on gay adoption.  See for yourself.

[Watch video – 4:46, WMV format, high bandwidth]

[Watch video – 4:46, WMV format, low bandwidth]

March 02, 2006

Not a Fan of the Peencicle

Cold_103_1 Note to self: When informed there will be giant holes in the walls due to window work, in Chicago, in the middle of winter, make plans to be somewhere else.

I feel how the guy on the right looks.

And the contractors? Nothing like hottie latino furnace cleaner who made a pass at me a few weeks back. No, I can smell these two through closed doors.

And I'm out of cocoa.

Damn it.

February 13, 2006

I Recall, Central Park in Winter

Malbug_13Sunday was a good day for frolicking in New York.  A fresh blanket of deep, crisp snow covered the area, even deeper than the 16 inches promised (and these weren't "Gay.com inches"), and ending almost precisely when forecasters said it would (4 p.m.)  In fact, it was a record snowfall.

So we sallied forth to Central Park, an idea that just about every other Manhattanite seemed to share.

A few photos follow after the jump ...

Continue reading "I Recall, Central Park in Winter" »

February 10, 2006

Peace, Love and Warmth

Malbug_13Weather_map Have a safe weekend out there, especially those of you who are on the East Coast.

As much as a foot of snow is forecast for New York City this weekend!

If you're trapped inside and need something to do, I hope you'll consider clicking on our fabulous advertisers.  They're the ones that help keep the Mal-content flowing:

Homo Mojo's GLBT Blogger Writing Contest: Submit your entries by Wednesday!

Jeff Cook for Congress: Send your family to Congress.  He was talking about ethics reform before it was cool!

The Fat Old Jewish Guy Who Lives in the Projects: His first love is the public domain.

Gay.com: Two weeks free!  Limited Valentine's Day Special.

And Heather Graham starring in "Cake" on Lifetime: How can a woman who never wants to be a bride, run a bridal magazine?

January 12, 2006

Run, Run Now.

Jake_1 This is a little disturbing. Life imitates . . . ok, well, I wouldn't call The Day After Tomorrow art, but near enough.

*Antarctic ice shelf the size of Rhode Island breaks off into ocean.

*New Delhi is hit by freak winter weather.

*Scientists find the North Atlantic current is weakening.

Finally. Cuddling with Jake Gyllenhaal is no longer simply a desire or fantasy: it is now a survival imperative.

January 05, 2006

A Wee Little Tale, 10 Years Later

Malbug_13You know that post I just did, linking to the comment I wrote telling where I was and what I was doing exactly 10 years ago on New Year's Day?  Remember?  Rose Bowl, 80 degrees, humiliating defeat?  Here is the rest of the story:

1996blizzard_2So after the game, I returned to Washington, D.C., blissfully unaware of how much farther my spirits were about to sink.

I would wager that, like me, most residents of the eastern United States remember vividly what happened, or began to happen, 10 years ago tomorrow: the infamous "Blizzard of 1996."

I had gone to see a movie on Saturday, Jan. 6, 1996 with a friend of mine from college.  We were still commiserating about Northwestern's Rose Bowl loss.  As we entered the theater, the night air was crisp; the sky hung low and heavy.  (I don't remember what movie we saw – probably this or this, judging by the release dates.  A crucial literary detail, I realize.)

When we emerged, there was already a good coating of snow on my buddy's Mustang ragtop, and it was still coming down hard.  It would snow and snow and snow, all day Sunday and into Monday.  A few days later, it would snow and snow and snow all over again.

In the end, Washington, D.C., a city totally incapable of dealing with even a dusting of powder – that is, unless it was going up the nose of the mayor at the time, in which case, residents considered it a political resumé-builder – much less mountains of snow, was completely shut down.  The rest of the Northeast was essentially paralyzed too.

It was during the area's second pummeling at the hands of that cold bitch, Mother Nature, that cabin fever really began to set in.  Fed up with my slow-going commutes on desolate roads better suited to Samoyeds, I joined several coworkers after work one evening in a quest to drink ourselves oblivious.

Like any sane and broke Senate staffer would do, we chose the Red River Grill, noted for its extremely cheap beer and drink specials.  I opted for the swirled margaritas, which should have been a giveaway for my colleagues right there.  (The Red River Grill, which occupied a building that was previously a Bermuda Triangle for restaurants, was re-purposed in 2005 as "Union Pub.")

Anyway, by the time I had sobered up, I had met the woman who would eventually, for a time, be my fiancée.

One of my most memorable moments from that night (or, more precisely, the next morning) was my desperate hunt in the huge Capitol Hill rowhouse that she and several roommates shared (a common existence for low-level congressional staff) for a place to relieve my distended bladder.  My search ended in the basement, where I found a toilet standing amidst unfinished walls, with studs but no sheet-rock.  I triumphantly threw open the lid of the loo and had barely unzipped before I was whizzing merrily away.

I urinated for what felt like minutes, carefully squeezed off the last few drops and then toggled the toilet handle.

Nothing.

I tried to flush again.

Still nothing.

I flapped and flapped and flapped the handle as if trying to strike life-saving fire out of flint, but still nothing happened!

This was when I learned that I had just fouled a non-working toilet that wasn't even hooked up to plumbing.  Number one, I felt like a monumental retard.  But number two (if you get my drift) the situation could have been much, much worse.

Some walks of shame are more embarrassing, more memorable – and colder – than others.

But I never did find out who was unlucky enough to happen upon my micturative misfire.


So where were you during the Great Blizzard of '96?

November 01, 2005

Top of the Rock

Malbug_13

You can almost feel the collective Seasonal Affective Disorder lifting from the city.  With sunny skies and forecast highs of close to 70 through the weekend, people's moods have lightened.

A woman was commuting to work on a Razor scooter.  Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons ("Oh What a Night") wafted from the radio.  And my cabbie was positively delightful, contrasted with the guy a couple of weeks ago who kicked me out of his cab essentially because my umbrella got his backseat a little damp from the pouring rain.

So the timing of NBC's Today Show could not have been better when it broadcast live from the "Top of the Rock," the newly reopened observation deck on the 70th floor of 30 Rockefeller Plaza.  The gorgeous views are sure to give the Empire State Building some competition.

Rock1
Rock2
Rock3
(Click pics to enlarge)

Enjoy your Tuesday ...

October 25, 2005

Make It Stop

Malbug_13

15-and-a-half inches of rain in New York City so far this month, more than five times above average, and it just keeps falling.

And if this weren't bad enough, Robbie tells me some people are finding eerie echoes in the current Northeast weather to 1991's "perfect storm."

UPDATE: I knew we had been getting close, but Saturday pushed Central Park over the top as the wettest October in history, and we're now only about an inch behind the wettest month on record in New York City: September 1882.

Storm

October 24, 2005

Roker Face-Plants

Malbug_13

RokerjpegEver since Dan Rather tethered himself to a lightpost to anchor the CBS Evening News live from a hurricane, reporters in the heart of a storm have been a staple of TV news disaster coverage.

NBC's Al Roker tried to get a little of the Anderson Cooper mojo working for himself in Naples, Fla., as Hurricane Wilma came ashore.  The result instead sent him scrambling for cover indoors.

The Malcontent's clip is followed by a hilarious, slo-mo replay.

[Watch video – 0:51, WMV format, high bandwidth]

[Watch video – 0:51, WMV format, high bandwidth]

[Watch video – 0:51, QT format]

October 21, 2005

Weekend Grist

As we drift into another weekend, and New York drifts toward a record for October precipitation, a few random meanderings ...

Malbug_13

Taxis If you are a cabbie, you might want to consider how your choice of radio programming affects your bottom line.

I was riding home the other night, and my driver was listening to a radio program hosted by someone known as "Citizen K."  (Google references to him are sparse, and for good reason.)  This guy was recycling every boilerplate bulletpoint from the fringe left, and was hawking some sort of conspiracy-mongering video.

His grand unifying theory to all that ails Planet Earth was stultifyingly predictable: It's Bush's fault.

Continue reading "Weekend Grist" »

October 19, 2005

Paging Norma Desmond . . .

Cindy3  "Peace Mom" and resident lunatic, Cindy Sheehan, proves why it is ultimately useless for any politician to deal with her.

Cindy Sheehan, the so-called "peace mom" on a crusade to end U.S. involvement in the Iraq war, is publicly blasting Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., for her continued support of the ongoing conflict.

"I think she is a political animal who believes she has to be a war hawk to keep up with the big boys," Sheehan writes in an open letter. "I would love to support Hillary for president if she would come out against the travesty in Iraq. But I don't think she can speak out against the occupation, because she supports it. I will not make the mistake of supporting another pro-war Democrat for president again: As I won't support a pro-war Republican."

Earlier this morning, Mother Sheehan accused U.S. Air Force Reserve forces of "hostile action" against the "sovereign airspace" of Hurricane Wilma. Responding to claims by Department of Defense spokesman, Lawrence DeRita, that the aircraft was engaged in meteorological reconnaissance, Sheehan released a blistering statement:

Once again the Bush administration has used the pretext of humanitarian disaster to advance its imperialist, neo-con agenda into the furthest reaches of the Carribbean. My son Casey did not die so Zionist forces within government might countenance war with the great statesman, Fidel Castro, by sending military units perilously close to the worker's paradise of Cuba.

Ms. Sheehan's twenty spokespeople, Jesse Jackson, and an underutilized therapist could not be reached for comment.

WIIILLLLMMAAAAAA!!!

Malbug_13You have got to be kidding me.

October 12, 2005

Monsoon Season in Manhattan

Malbug_13And this is on top of rain every day since Saturday (when New York got more than 4 inches):

Weather

September 23, 2005

A Bitch of a Sister

Malbug_13

I hope to God that Rita, already a tragedy, doesn't turn into a replay of Katrina.

But I am prone to start thinking that major disasters strike every time I fly home from overseas.  (Rita is scheduled to make landfall about the time I get on my plane tomorrow; Katrina hit as I was on my way back from Beijing.)

September 02, 2005

A "Gray" Outlook on America

Malbug_7The aptly named reporter Andrew Gray of the Reuters "news" service has penned a piece that spells a more dismal assessment for America than even his own surname might suggest.  His article is a laugher from its lead paragraph onward:

"The world has watched amazed as the planet's only superpower struggles with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, with some saying the chaos has exposed flaws and deep divisions in American society."

Gray continues his anti-American orgasm by quoting such headlines as "Anarchy in the USA" from Britain's newspaper The Sun or "Apocalypse Now" from Germany's Handelsblatt.

Repeatedly using the delicious term "some" that journalists routinely retreat behind to thinly disguise their own biases, Gray writes that "some view the response to (disasters such as the tsunami) more favorably than the lawless aftermath of Hurricane Katrina."

Gray then turns to the "some" who hate President Bush as an excuse to heap more scorn from abroad on the POTUS: "Some compared the sputtering relief effort with the massive amounts of money and resources poured into the war in Iraq."

Apparently, to "some" such as Andrew Gray, any dollar that goes to the very militaries that protect his right to think idiotic thoughts is a dollar wasted.

Thus, on and on goes Gray, managing to wrap everything from still-on-the-lam Osama bin Laden and America's racist nature into a piece ostensibly about hurricane relief, finishing at last with the most disingenuous of quotes:

"It's unbelievable though -- the TV images -- and your heart goes out to them."

I'm sure your heart does, Mr. Gray.  Why else would you spend every preceding paragraph trashing my country, its people, institutions and leaders?

It makes perfect sense that the piece would bear a London dateline: Anyone with an ounce of actual, firsthand knowledge of America and her citizens knows that we are a country that has suffered mightily before, and we always prevail.  And such supremely smug European assessments of the USA are perfectly illustrative of why Americans are so quick to rename our food products "freedom fries."

By the way, Mr. Gray, "some" of us think you're a big dick.

September 01, 2005

Log Your Donation!

Malbug_13

If you decide to donate to Hurricane Katrina relief, and you feel like logging your donation, click here.  (You might also kindly choose "The Malcontent" as your referring blog.)

It's not just the big blogs that are making a difference!

Yes, I suppose TTLB is appealing to people's crass competitive streak, but it is certainly for a good cause.

Katrina and the Waves of Hysteria

Malbug_13

Having spent the last year establishing his bona fides in the Bush-Can-Do-Nothing-Right Club, Andrew Sullivan renews his dues by linking to a quote on far-left lunatic Josh Marshall's website from Mike Parker, former head of the Army Corps of Engineers:

"I'm not saying it (New Orleans) wouldn't still be flooded, but I do feel that if it had been totally funded, there would be less flooding than you have."

The Dem-turned-GOPer Mike Parker was fired in 2002 not just for publicly criticizing the President's budget, but for the over-the-top way in which he did so, saying he had no "warm and fuzzy" feelings for the administration.  So this isn't exactly a man with no ax to grind.

Moreover, Parker, a former congressman, was so critical of that budget because he wanted more pork for his erstwhile colleagues to spend, and the Army Corps budget is chock full of bacon.

Parker, by the way, is the same man who was previously criticized by environmentalists for "questioning the validity" of the Army Corps' environmental role, and who also received a zero from the League of Conservation Voters.  So if Parker's comments are meant to spin his own tenure at the Army Corps as environmentally sensitive and prescient of New Orleans' needs, then he is revising history.

President Bush, in a photo taken atop Mount Olympus

It is ironic, then, that Andrew Sullivan has made a crusade of President Bush's supposed abandonment of fiscal austerity, then snarkily quotes as an "authority" a man who was fired for his own profligate ways.

But bashing President Bush is all you need to do to have credibility with Andrew Sullivan and his ilk.  Bush just can't seem to win with some folks.

What is really remarkable, though, is that leftist wackadoos would blame George Bush for the weather.  They did it during the tsunami; they're doing it again.

Jonah Goldberg broaches a similar topic in his latest column, focusing on enviro-fanatical fervor that sees in every passing cloud Bush's rejection of the Kyoto Protocol.  They forget, of course, that 95 U.S. senators voted to put themselves on the same page as George Bush.

One update: The Army Corps budget for FY2002, the year in which Mike Parker was fired, had more money for Louisiana per capita and in real terms than any other state.  Any other state.

0.7 Percent or Bust!

Malbug_13Flood Americans have proven time and time again that we are unmatched in our private generosity, in addition to our government's (including the military's) mobilization of resources to trouble spots around the world.  We are also the world's largest donor of international food aid.

Despite our unrivaled charity in overall terms, international-aid gadflies believe the U.S. government is stingy, saying that it should commit more to development efforts in poor countries -- specifically, 0.7 percent of our GDP.  This artificial target, however, fails to account for private giving and many other areas where U.S. government spending contributes to international security and development.

So I have decided to contribute the same amount -- 0.7 percent of my annual net income -- to assist relief efforts in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.  I hope others can do the same, if you are able.

Don't get me wrong, I put my money where my mouth is when it comes to international relief and development (as I did during the tsunami), but Katrina was, quite literally, a low blow to our own nation.

The New York Times has published a comprehensive list of how you can help, including where to make a monetary donation.  Please give what you can, and to pass the word to others.

There will be plenty of time to talk later about how the disaster might have been mitigated, or about the heartless assholes in the Middle East who celebrate death and take joy in pain.

But right now there are people hurting, and Americans always take care of our own.  It is our nature.

August 23, 2005

B.A.B.F. 4

Malbug_13Spanning the neighbloghood to skim you the cream from recent New York City postings, it is the Big Apple Blog Festival 4.  [Hosted by A Guy in New York]

The Malcontent's contribution this week was my sorrowful tale of loss -- or, more to the point, of being a loser.

August 16, 2005

The L Word

Malbug_13

Despite the rain on Sunday, we headed out between showers to kill some time in Union Square.  I was on umbrella duty most of the time, and holding that big lightning rod made me jump just a little higher with every thunderclap.  But I didn't realize then just how lucky I was not to be struck dead.

We started out at the magnificent and huge ABC Carpet & Home store, which is six floors of moderate to expensive furnishings.  We wended our way among the Buddhas and silks, past the chandeliers and bedding, until we came upon their line of vintage furniture made from salvaged wood, drawing upon sources including abandoned barns, demolished building and fallen trees.

Shelves I got out the camera-phone to click a photo of a tall shelving unit that would go wonderfully under a soffit in our entryway, stepping backward to get just the proper angle.  Just as a felt a gentle brushing against my elbow, the Hubbie yelled, "Look out!"

I wheeled around.  Frozen in front of me for what seemed like a minute was an enormous wooden pot, carved from the trunk of a tree, beginning to tip over on its base.  My mind was paralyzed with horror as I did some quick math on whether dropping a $400 camera-phone would be more foolish than reaching out to save a pot of indeterminate value.

As the Hubbie went running to save his flip-flopped toes, the pot crashed to the floor and tottered around face-down like a coin dropped on a table, until it finally came to rest.  I darted over to pick it up and saw a saleswoman making a beeline for us.

Fortunately, the Hub's dash to safety was just the diversionary tactic I needed.  The saleswoman was busy joking with him about how he was more concerned about getting the hell out of the way than he was about helping me, so I quickly scooped up the pot and heaved it back onto its base.  As he and she continued their banter, I positioned the pot so that the gaping vertical split that had opened up on one side was strategically facing away.

The saleswoman seemed convinced that no harm had been done, so we skittered to the elevator and onto another floor.  We were too scared to stop and check the price on that monstrosity, surmising from the cost of the surrounding merchandise that it must have been at least $1,000.  A big, ugly, wooden bullet had been dodged.

We eventually headed to an early dinner and shelter from the rain at the Coffee Shop.  It was a Brazilian-themed place, and while I opted for a rather pedestrian Caesar salad, I accompanied it with a frozen caipirinha for a splash of authenticity.  It came served in one of those tall, 16-ounce milkshake glasses, and I downed it with dispatch.

After dinner, I decided that another frozen caipirinha would do nicely for dessert.  For some reason, it took forever for the waitress to materialize with the second drink.  I decided to split it with the husband, picking up the drink to shovel half of the frosty yumminess into the empty glass.  In a flash, the full glass slipped out of my hand from the moisture that had condensed on the outside, crashing into and shattering the glass that I had been filling.

I sat ruefully shaking my head, a stream of caipirinha dripping onto my pantleg, as a hostess rushed over with napkins.  She sopped up the mess and gingerly placed the shards of glass into a pile, and I noticed a broad smirk cross her face when she saw the T-shirt I was wearing:

It was raining outside, but indoors at Union Square, lightning had struck twice.



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