fremont peak park

salamandir with the fremont philharmonic certificate

so we played for the official opening of fremont peak park. i was late, which is to say that i was supposed to show up at 11:00, but i didn’t actually show up until 11:45, thinking that we were supposed to start playing at 12:00, but actually what happened was that politicians and park organisers started talking at 12:15 or so, and we didn’t actually start playing until almost 1:30… and the street was closed, but after driving around for longer than it should have taken, i was able to convince one of the “we’ve got the road closed” people with safety vests, that i was a part of the celebration, so they let me through. i parked across the street, and was able to watch from the “bandstand” (which was a little terrace off to one side of the park, with an excellent view) as people gawked at my car and wondered what it says. there was a couple of people who were old enough that they probably remember when the swastika was just a swastika, but the old lady looked disgusted as she was walking away from it. the cake that they made for the celebration was an exact, scale model of the park, and was entirely edible. the terrace that the band had set up on was supposed to be reserved for the band, but unfortunately, someone gave it away to someone else before we got there, so they gave us other parts of the park instead. i asked if it was ethical to eat the park that they had just opened, and the guy said “you can have your park and eat it too”…

i got some decent pictures, but my picture of the band turned out to be a movie, which i didn’t take correctly and didn’t work. better luck next time…

fremont peak park

the fremont philharmonic is playing for the official opening ceremony of fremont peak park today at noon. it’s one of the only non-fremonstor things we have done since i have been a part of the band, it’s open to the public, and it’s free.

i’m kind of worried about how long the fremont philharmonic is going to last as a band. we’ve had three Puss In Boots rehearsals in the past 3 weeks, and there have been a grand total of 3 band members there. we have a string of performances in a month, we have new music to learn, old music cues to re-learn, and new music cues to learn, and most of the band (which, admittedly, is only 3 or 4 other people) haven’t even seen fit to call and say they weren’t going to be at the rehearsals… which doesn’t sound like it’s much of what i would call a “real” band. we’ve been talking about re-arranging some of the parts, as well, with me doubling on tuba, trombone and sound effects, and getting a bass player who also doubles on something (trombone?). maybe malcat could do it…

weird contact from india

someone sent me email with the contact form on Hybrid Elephant yesterday, which i just noticed was from a yahoo address in india. it was confusing. it said:

info

contect details

it was apparently from someone named s.m.patel and it had an IP address that resolved to here, which is apparently a Ram Mandir in indore (not this one, but south west, on the other side of indore, in between Devi Ahilyabai Holkar Airport and Sirpur Tank, in Angad Kapoor’s Region)…

anybody have any clue what it means?

important things to remember

An elderly Chinese woman had two large pots, each hung on the ends of a pole which she carried across her neck.

One of the pots had a crack in it while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water.

At the end of the long walks from the stream to the house, the cracked pot arrived only half full..

For a full two years this went on daily, with the woman bringing home only one and a half pots of water.

Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments.

But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection, and miserable that it could only do half of what it had been made to do.

After two years of what it perceived to be bitter failure, it spoke to the woman one day by the stream. “I am ashamed of myself, because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your house.”

The old woman smiled, “Did you notice that there are flowers on your side of the path, but not on the other pot’s side?”

“That’s because I have always known about your flaw, so I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back, you water them.”

“For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate the table.

Without you being just the way you are, there would not be this beauty to grace the house.”

Each of us has our own unique flaw. But it’s the cracks and flaws we each have that make our lives together so very interesting and rewarding.

You’ve just got to take each person for what they are and look for the good in them.

SO, to all of my crackpot friends, have a great day and remember to smell the flowers on your side of the path!

random bits of this and that

last night was the Sousa Bash, in honour of John Phillip Sousa‘s 153rd birthday, and, coincidentally, it was also Antoine-Joseph Sax‘s 193rd birthday. it went well, in spite of the fact that the west seattle bridge was closed for 3 hours, immediately prior to our concert, which made everybody, including a significant portion of the band, late. it was held at Kenyon Hall (formerly “Hokum” Hall), which, despite the fact that i actually lived in west seattle for a year or so, and have driven past it so many times i have lost count, i have never heard of it. it’s a good thing i know were it is now, however, as we apparently have the hall scheduled for the next 2 tuesdays in a row for recording.

it also makes me interested in talking to lou (the proprietor) about scheduling the fremont philharmonic there at some point…

<weird dream>
i was in this hotel in a big city somewhere, lots of glass, modern architecture, doing something, when these three guys with automatic weapons came in and started screaming and spraying bullets everywhere. fortunately i was off to the side, so i wasn’t a direct target, but also the shots that i did take were, apparently, fairly low velocity, and they were buckshot about the size of a dust-speck, so they stung, but they didn’t actually injure me – it was frightening, none the less, and everybody was cringing and trying to convince the guys to let them go. somehow i managed to find my way to an elaborate laundry chute which lead to the basement, but the guys were not letting anyone escape that way – despite the fact that there were three or more people that jumped down the chute that i saw. when i was getting ready to jump, one of the guys waved a gun in my direction and told me to stay put, so i didn’t jump, but i continued to work my way towards the exit, and i eventually managed to escape into the parking garage. at this point, i realised that moe had been there as well, but instead of going back for her, or notifying the police or something like that, i decided to get out of town by the most direct means possible and not tell anybody about the fact that this hotel was being held up, or that my wife was in danger. towards the end of the dream, when i was going out of town, it vaguely resembled 5th ave., in downtown seattle, except the buildings were all different, and if it was 5th ave. then the hotel that i was coming from would have been approximately where the westlake mall is, except that it was backwards, and a hotel instead of a mall.
</weird dream>

i also got another email from the 2008 art car calendar people, indicating some vague interest in knowing more about the swastika, and the meaning of my car, which, on the surface, sounds like i may have made an impression on them. i’m not holding my breath, however, because one of the questions they asked was answered in plain, clear language, in the blurb i sent them about the car originally, which makes me wonder if they even bothered to read the blurb in the first place, or they just had a knee-jerk reaction to the swastika.

i may be a terrorist, but i’m not the only one

a personal transcript of Keith Olbermann’s Special Comment on Waterboarding and Torture

November 5, 2007

Finally tonight, as promised, a special comment on the meaning of the story of the former US Acting Assiatant Attorney General Daniel Levin. It is a fact, startling in it’s cynical simplicity, and it requires cynical and simple words to be properly expressed.

The presidency of George W. Bush has now devolved into a criminal conspiracy to cover the ass of George W. Bush. All the petulancy, all the childish threats, all the blank-stare stupidity, all the invocations of World War III, all the sophisic questions about which terrorist attacks we wanted him not to stop, all the phony secrets, all the claims of executive priveledge, all the stumbling tap-dancing of his nominees, all the verbal flatulence of his apologists; all of it is now, after one revelation last week, transparently clear for what it is: the pathetic and desperate manipulation of the government, the re-focusing of our entire nation, towards keeping this mock president and this unstable vice-president and this departed, wildly-self-overrating attorney general and all the others from potential prosecution for having approved or ordered the illegal torture of prisoners being held in the name of our country.

Waterboarding is torture, Daniel Levin was to write. Daniel Levin was no theorist and no protester, he was no trouble-making politician, he was no table-pounding commentator. Daniel Levin was an astonishingly patriotic American and a brave man. Brave not just with words or with stances, even in a dark time when that kind of bravery can usually be scared or bought off. Charged, as you heard in the story from ABC News last friday, with assessing the relative legality of the various nightmares in the pandora’s box that is the Orwell-worthy euphamism “enhanced interrogation”, Mr. Levin decided that the simplest and most honest way to evaluate them was to have them enacted upon himself. Daniel Levin took himself to a military base and let himself be waterboarded.

Mr. Bush, ever done anything that personally courageous?

Perhaps when you’ve gone to Walter Reed and teared up over the maimed servicemen, and then gone back to the White House and confirmed and determined that there would be more maimed servicemen. Has it been that kind of personal courage, Mr. Bush, when you’ve spoken of American triumphs, and the triumph of freedom and sacrifice of your own popularity for the sake of our safety, and then permitted others to fire, or discredit, or destroy anybody who disagreed with you, whether they were your own Generals, or Max Cleveland, or Joe Wilson and Valerie Plame, or Daniel Levin?

Daniel Levin should have a statue in his honour in Washington right now. Instead, he was forced out as Acting Assistant Attorney General, nearly three years ago, because he had the guts to do what George Bush could not do in a million years: actually put himself at risk for the sake of his country, for the sake of what is right. And they waterboarded him, and he wrote that even though he knew those doing it meant him no harm, and he knew they would rescue him at the instant of the slightest distress, and he knew he would not die, still with all that reassurance, he could not stop the terrors screaming from inside of him, could not quell the horror, could not convince that which is at the core of each of us, the entity who exists behind all the embellishments we strap to ourselves like purpose and name and family and love, he could not convince his being that he wasn’t drowning.

Waterboarding, he said, is torture. Legally, it is torture. Practically, it is torture. Ethically, it is torture. And he wrote it down. Wrote it down somewhere, where it could be contrasted with the words of this country’s 43rd President: “The United States of America does not torture.” Made you into a liar, Mr. Bush. Made you into, if anybody had the guts to pursue it, a criminal, Mr. Bush.

Waterboarding had already been used on Kalid Sheikh Muhammed, and a couple of other men none of us really care about, except, sir, for the one detail you had forgotten: That there are rules. And even if we just make up these rules, this country observes them anyway, because we’re Americans, sir, and we’re better than that. And we’re better than you! And the man your Justice Department selected to decide whether or not waterboarding really was torture had decided. And not in some phony academic fashion, nor while wearing the Walter Mitty “poseur” attire of flight-suit and helmet. He had put his money, Mr. Bush, where your mouth was. So your sleazy, sychophantic henchman, Mr. Gonzales, had to have him append an asterisk suggesting his black-and-white answer wasn’t black-and-white after all, that there might have been a quasi-legal way of torturing people, maybe with an absolute time limit, and a physician entitled to stop it. Maybe, if your administration had bothered to set any rules or guidelines. And then, when your people realised that even that was too dangerous, Daniel Levin was branded “too independent”, and “someone who could not be counted on”. In other words, Mr. Bush, somebody you couldn’t count on to lie for you.

So Levin was fired, because if it ever got out what he concluded, and the lengths to which he went to validate that conclusion, anybody who had sanctioned waterboarding, and who knows what else, anybody – you yourself, sir – you would have been screwed. And screwed you are!

It can’t be coincidence that the story of Daniel Levin should emerge from the black hole of this secret society of the presidency just at the conclusion of the unhappy saga of the newest Attorney General nominee. Another patriot somewhere listened as Judge Mukasey mumbled like he’d never heard of waterboarding, and refused to answer, in words, that which Daniel Levin answered on a waterboard somewhere in Maryland or Virginia, three years ago. And this someone also heard George Bush say “the United States does not torture”. And he realised that either Mr. Bush was lying, or that this wasn’t the United States of America any more, and either way, he needed to do something. Not in the way Levin needed to do something about it, but in a brave way none the less.

We have United States Senators who need to do something about it, too. Chairman Lehey, of the Judiciary Committee, has seen this for what it is and said enough. Senator Schumer has seen it, reportedly, as some kind of puzzle piece in the New York political patronage system, and unfortunately, he has failed. What Senator Feinstein has seen to justify in joining Schumer in rubber-stamping Mukasey, I cannot guess. It is obvious that both these Senators should look to the meaning of the story of Daniel Levin and recant their support for Mukasey’s confirmation.

And they should look into their own committee’s history, and recall that, in 1973, their predecessors were able to wring, even from Richard Nixon, a guarantee of a Special Prosecutor, ultimately a Special Prosecutor of Richard Nixon, in exchange for their approval of his new Attorney General, Eliott Richardson. If they could get that out of Nixon, you, before you confirm the president’s latest human echo, tomorrow, you better be able to get a yes or a no out of Michael Mukasey. Ideally, you should lock this government down, financially, until a Special Prosecutor is appointed. Or fifty of them! I’m not holding my breath. The yes or the no on waterboarding would have to suffice. Because remember, if you can’t get it, or you won’t, the time between tonight and the next presidential election is likely to be the longest year of our lives.

You are leading this country, and all of us, to the waterboards, symbolic and otherwise, of George W. Bush.

Ultimately, Mr. Bush, the real question isn’t who approved the waterboarding of this fiend Kalid Sheikh Muhammed and two others, it is why were they waterboarded? Study after study for generation after generation, sir, has confirmed that torture gets people to talk, torture gets people to plead, torture gets people to break, but torture does not get them to tell the truth.

Of course, Mr. Bush, this isn’t a problem is it, if you don’t care if the terrorist plots they tell you about are the truth, or just something to stop the tormentors from drowning them. If, say, a president needed a constant supply of terrorist threats to keep the country scared, if, say, he needed phony plots to play hero during, and to boast about interrupting, and to use to distract people from the plot he did not interrupt – if, say, he realised that even terrorised people still need good ghost stories before they will let a president pillage the constitution – well, heck, Mr. Bush, who better to dream them up for you than an actual terrorist? He’ll tell you everything you ever fantasised doing in his most horrific of daydreams, his equivalent of the day you “flew” onto the deck of the Lincoln to explain you’d won in Iraq.

Now if that’s what this is all about, you tortured not because you’re stupid and you think that torture produces confession, but you tortured because you’re smart enough to know it produces really authentic-sounding fiction, well then you’re going to need all the lawyers you can find, because that crime wouldn’t just mean impeachment, would it, sir? That crime would mean that George W. Bush was going to prison.

Thus the master tumblers turn, and the lock yields, and the hidden explanations can all be perceived in their exact proportions, and in their exact progressions. Daniel Levin’s eminently practical, eminently logical, eminantly patriotic way of testing the legality of waterboarding had to vanish, and him with it. Thus Alberto Gonzales has to use that brain that sounds like an old car trying to start on a freezing morning to undo eight centuries of the forward march of law and government. Thus Dick Cheney has to ridiculously assert that confirming we do or do not use any particular interrogation technique would somehow help the terrorists. Thus Michael Mukasey, on the eve of the vote that will make him the High Priest of the law of this land, cannot and must not answer a question, or even hint that he’s thought about a question, which merely concernes the theoretical definition of waterboarding as torture.

Because, Mr. Bush, in the seven years of your nightmare presidency, this whole string of events has been transformed. From it’s beginning, as the most neglectful protection ever of the lives and the safety of the American people, into the most efficient and cynical exploitation of tragedy for political gain in this country’s history. And then to the giddying prospect that maybe you could do what the military fanatics did in Japan in the 1930s, and remake a nation into a fascist state so efficient and so self-sustaining that the fascism itself would be nearly invisible. But at last this frightful plan is ending with an unexpected crash. The shocking reality that no matter how thoroughly you might try to extinguish them, Mr. Bush, how thoroughly you might try to brand disagreement as disloyalty, Mr. Bush, there are still people, like Daniel Levin, who believe in the United States of America as true freedom. Where we are better not because of schemes and wars, but because of dreams and morals. And, ultimately sir, these men, these patriots will defeat you, and they will return this country to it’s righteous standards, and to it’s rightful owners, the people.

Good night and good luck.

i have a swastika on my art car… get used to it!

so i submitted pictures of my art car to the national 2008 Art Car Calendar.

this was the response they sent me:

Hi,

You have a beautiful car, but I do have a problem with the swatstika on top.

Yes, I know that I am ignorant and narrow minded, but the image is embedded in my brain as an evil symbol of hate.

Next year if you would allow me to cover it up or replace it with another symbol, then I would feel more comfortable to have it in the calendar.

I truly apologize if I have offended you in any way, but that is my opinion and I publish the calendar.

Thank you for submitting your car for the calendar.

so this was the response i sent back:

if people like you continue to be in positions where they can determine what other people see, then the swastika will never regain that which it had for everyone, for literally thousands of years before anybody ever heard of the nazis. if that happens, it will be a sad day for humanity.

one of the reasons why i put a swastika on my car is to show people that it had another, entirely opposite meaning from the one people like you have put upon it in the past 85 years.

you may not cover or alter the artwork on my car. to do so would be a misrepresentation of what i meant for my art car, and i will not permit you to do so.

i am offended, but i will get over it. however, you should examine your prejudices again in a year or so and see if they haven’t changed, because if they haven’t, then it is possible that you have offended The Remover of Obstacles, and i can’t speak for Him.

grr!

paypal has changed the “add to cart” button from the one that i like – infernal button – to one that clashes with my nice, clean web site – infernal button, which means that i have to go through and change all of the buttons in my site. i wish they would give me a “heads up” before they just do things like this… 8/

help for those addicted to microsoft

i have decided that i’m going to become a community distributor for OpenOffice.org, as a way of making it easier for the computer illiterate to get things accomplished without having to resort to using microsoft products. OpenOffice is definitely preferable for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that most computer virii in existence these days are made to take advantage of “features” in microsoft office that leave the affected computer open to all sorts of nasties. others are, of course, that it is cross-platform compatible with Windows, Mac and Linux/UNIX, it is 100% compatible with microsoft office, and that it is completely free of cost. to that end, i have added a page to the Hybrid Elephant web site containing FREE downloading information, and i am downloading ISOs of the three disks required, so that i can start out by giving copies of them to my (computer illiterate) clients.

The Fremont Players “Puss in Boots”

Who: The Fremont Players

What: “Puss in Boots” A Panto-style play, a British holiday tradition

When: (two weekends)

Saturday, December 8 at 3:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.
Sunday, December 9 at 3:00 p.m.

Friday, December 14 at 8:00 p.m.
Saturday, December 15 at 3:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.
Sunday, December 16 at 3:00 p.m.

Where: Hale’s Palladium at Hale’s Brewery
4301 Leary Way NW, Seattle (Ballard/Fremont)

Tickets:
$12/adults
$6/kids 15 and younger or seniors 65 and better
Tickets available at the door and in advance:
www.brownpapertickets.com 1-800-838-3006

The Fremont Players present “Puss in Boots” as a play in Panto style – the lively, interactive entertainment for the whole family that has been an English holiday tradition for hundreds of years. Our hero Will is down on his luck – shafted in the will, bullied by sibs, way out of his league romantically, and now, he thinks his cat is talking. Whether or not your family has experience with hearing voices or imaginary friends, Will needs your helpful vocal guidance! The Fremont Players welcome your cheers, boos, ad-libs, and “Look behind yous!” as a part of the appeal for all ages. Of course, no panto would be complete without full musical orchestration. To that purpose, the Fremont Philharmonic has composed 99.9% original music and plays it with vaudevillian gusto. There will be refreshing snacks, soda and Hale’s Ales, too!