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January 03, 2012


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OT, but wanted to catch readers where they are. Latest email to my author site:

"I, too grew up in Phoenix and have suffered the big-city downside of sprawl, smog, traffic and crime. Having just read South Phoenix Rules, I gather that Mapstone has never, for instance, visited the Phoenix Art Museum with its excellent collection, attended a delightful Phoenix Theater production, listened to an opera at the lovely Civic Center or taken a boat ride on Tempe Town Lake. After reading 200+ pages of him whining, I began to hope he would take his Colt Python and stick it in his mouth! I see you have run off to rainy Seattle where you can gripe and moan from a distance without having to do anything about the problems here. Nice gig if you can get someone to read your books. If you care, there is now one less of those."

It's such a revealing window into the weird local-yokel defensiveness. Imagine such a thing coming from a Bostonian about the city where Dennis Lehane sets his crime novels, or an Angelino (go, pSf!) about the setting of Michael Connelly or Raymond Chandler's noir? Amazing.

Well, most Phoenicians don't do those things! I've done most of it -- but paddling around Tempe Town "Lake" is a bit contrived for me. I would much rather still be able to romp around the riverbed in my 4x4 (which was denied to us just about the time as cruisin' Central was).

I have also noticed a tendency of late to lump Goldwater in with the Kooks. I really don't think its fair, or accurate. BG was a traditional Conservative, not a Christian Talibanista.

Well, I hope you offered the commenter a link to this site. Sounds like he/she needs a little context.

He didn't have the guts to leave his email address. But the point is: These are noir, crime novels. That's the point. They're not meant to be Chamber of Commerce brochures. But, oh, no, in "the Valley," everything must be "positive!"

There's another slice of reality-denying isolationism in our lack of engagement with Mexico. Both Condi Rice and Hillary Clinton have admitted that they spent too little time and resources in collaborating with our neighbors to the south. What if we had a few drones tracking the narcos in their hideouts? What if we had a much stronger economic development collaboration? What if the racists could no longer inflame the bovine masses?

OK . . I know folks will say, "dream on", you enviro-whacko! But just maybe with Pearce and Arpaio out of the picture, the worm begins to turn . . at least for Arizona. On the national stage, I'll hope for "O" and Hillary to team up on the ticket so we can keep the nutso conservatives in check.

Has this appeared on the frontpage before? From 'What's the matter with Kansas?' to 'What's the matter with America?': The Tea Party’s “utopian market populism” - Thomas Frank on the dream that fueled the right wing's improbable comeback

The tea party came into the vacuum of anger that 'No-Drama Obama' et al. didn't want to fill and thus we have this alternate reality story sloshing around in the mainstream of Republicanism. As evidenced by the display put on by the Republican field, it tastes like a strange innard soup. Yes, the hades will clean up America. However, the debris left will spoil the catharsis.

The other big problem we never talk about in America is human overpopulation. Even if we do begin to seriously work at developing and implementing "green" energy sources, the more we breed, the less time we have to solve these kinds of problems.

AWinter, thanks for the link. I often think everything I write here is a gloss on Frank's work. I've never given him credit for what's his insight, not mine.

We don't have much time left before the toll of Peak Oil really hammers our economy. By that time, the Republicans will be fully embedded in their cornucopian fantasy. That is, all we have to do is drill everywhere, deregulate everything, and reward the producers. A nation as alternatively insane and ignorant as ours will be looking for panaceas wherever it can find them.

Driving the political discourse to the further reaches of Dumb and Crazy has been the collective effort on the part of millionaire pundits, yeoman shills for the plutocracy, and corporate media barons. If Mitt Romney wins this November, there won't be much if any relief here since Romney will have to prove over and over that he is a True Believer. On the other hand, Obama, if successful, will face the same nihilists in Congress, the same gridlock, and the same inadequate response to them: "let's compromise. You can have 90% of what you're demanding".

The biggest story not being told is that we're committing national suicide. It's happening politically, environmentally, economically, and socially. We cannot aspire to Norway's prosperity with Somalia's tax rates. We can't function as a 1st World nation with the idea that government is the enemy. And we can't keep denying science and expect to rationally assess real-world challenges. No one will tell us these hard truths. It's forbidden because the right effectively screams down anything that violates their view of reality.

One more thing: if you're an optimist despite all this, you're really an idiot.

Wow and angry Soleri, hard for me to picture? Annalisa U got that right. I have been on the subject since 58. By the way I still have a few save the animals and the planet condoms from SWBIODIV. Tempe lake is a shill for developers and a joke. Wonder what Ed Abbey would think. The Phoenix art museum is OK for Amarillo. Actually I like the Desert Botanical gardens better. In case U all didnt notice summer is back. All my friends plants that die in the winter are still alive. Dennis Lehane and Michael Connelly, not anybody I read but now Raymond Chandler and Jon Talton's noir are where I am. And I could not live in Boston or LA. Too many rats. You know like that Rat Bastard Whitey Bulger. After 62 years in Phoenix (once a nice town) I am thinking open space in Cochise county or somewhere close to Las Cruses, NM.

Jon, Great piece I copied and sent it on to all my red neck racist whacko religious and white tea bagger acquaintances. Some are even "friends."

Cal Lash is like an Ellroy character except nicer. I zapped my little 200cc bike around Cochise extensively a few years ago and found damn too few places where I wasn't running up against a trailer or manu-home. Conversely, Catron County, NM, was a slim-to-no-population revelation. Could it be that all of us old-time Zonies need to suck it up and admit that New Mexico does many things better? But no saguaros.

As a Contrarian, my defense system has always been my sphincter,(the outer vountary one).

With Phil "the slimball" Gordon, my micron closure threat level has been at 1 x 10 to the -6.

I've recently had the occasion to listen to and observe Stanton. Closure level, 1 x 10 to the -12.

Good luck Phoenix, you'll need it.

Peak oil, high-speed rail, car dependency, sustainability all at


Click the first link to listen to the discussion (starts about 07:30 mark).

Tooleerollem welcome to "My Dark Places"

The Phoenix Civic Center is a fine example of Soviet inspired building design. Tempe Town Lakes? And of course the reference of using a hand gun to shoot some one you disagree with is a Phoenician classic.

The critic claims to have grown up in Phoenix, but I'm sensing Kentucky or southern Indiana anger. True native Arizonans are usually chill and the critic writes like a wannabe.

Drill, baby, drill and the illusion of US energy self sufficiency. There is no conceivable scenario in which a US energy producer will chose or be forced to sell a unit of its production to a US resident for $90 when it can receive $95 from an Asian or European buyer. Another vapid slogan of the well funded corporate right.

Shame! Shame! Shame!

Someone here employed the word 'debate' in reference to the Republican prime-time, idiot-box-ready uberblatherfest without putting "debate" in quotes.

Cal Lash - Re Rats - Seattle has rats, too. (See http://www.kingcounty.gov/healthservices/health/ehs/rats.aspx) but the scariest rats these days, are the ones swimming from Iowa to New Hampshire!

Our last (heated) discussion has bearing on this one as well. How can cities so dependent on cars be sustainable? Bus transit won't suffice. I may be optimistic about downtown Phoenix growth, but I'm more guarded on issues of national politics, transit, and the environment. Here, I do believe we have a small window to change things but a Republican president in office at this time in our nation's history cannot be allowed.

Question: When did schools stop teaching history?

Human rats are an insult to the magnificant rodent

As an Iowa native, I'm hard pressed to find any rationale that justifies so much attention on so few voters. The state is full of good people with (mostly) solid values, but they tend to be insular (another form of isolationism) and not particularly in touch with the critical issues we face. The only answer that makes any sense is that the media needs something to do . . . .

Mr. Talton beat me to the punch: the novels fall into the detective genre known as noir. San Francisco is a cultural promised land compared to Phoenix, but Dashiell Hammett didn't write Sam Spade or the Continental Op as a pleasure boater, a culture maven, or a sightseer. Ditto Raymond Chandler, Los Angeles, and Philip Marlowe. Even the curmugeonly Inspector Morse preferred to listen to his opera records at home, alone, and drunk.

That said, it's clear that the letter writer (talk about WHINY) has never even read the novel. The sole concern of this "critic" is Talton's LACK OF LOCAL BOOSTERISM. The adaptation of something (presumably) beloved by Jon Talton is merely a catty tactic for serving up a cold dish of revenge. There simply aren't any fans of the detective genre -- much less of the noir sub-genre -- for whom boosting local cultural and site attractions is the paramount concern. The critic is as fictitious as Mapstone, but unlike the latter has no redeeming values or interest.

Mr. Talton really needs to grasp the fact that celebrity (be it a column in the newspaper or authorship of a series of books) brings with it a fair share of trolls, particularly if the author's non-fiction writing has made waves and stepped on toes over the years.

Don't take these poisonous morons seriously. But the next time you receive such a letter, try PRETENDING to: tell the writer he's got a good point, that you never thought of it that way before, and ask him to come up with a series of scenarios for Mapstone. If you get an answer, tell him that it needs a bit more work and variety and see if you can keep the sucker dancing on the hook. Make sure that he does almost all of the writing in the correspondence -- you wouldn't want to waste your time even for a joke. When he runs dry, send him a "haha -- sucker!" final reply and put his email address immediately into your bounce filter.

I wish the coward would have left his email address. Now he'll go to Amazon and give me a one-star slam review.

Make no mistake, the GOP candidates are anti-transit, anti-rail, anti-urban:


Mitt Romney has promised to eliminate Amtrak. Obama had a chance to come into office campaigning on rebuilding America's rail system and funding transit. He didn't. While he's spent more than W. on trains in corridors such as the Cascade trains up here, Amtrak is again in danger. A whole post could be written about this.

Cities based on cars aren't sustainable, and the bite is going to get worse as Iran rumbles and oil prices shoot up. Buses are never enough (although the transit intervals in places like Phoenix are shameful). Buses get caught in congestion and bus-only lanes never materialize after a place has voted down LRT in favor of a bus-only system.

This is the kind of country we are: "Police kill armed eighth-grader in Texas school" (today's headline. National suicide, indeed.

A must-read from Taibbi, very much OT:


7,000,000,000 people minus one stupid Texas school kid = 6,999,999,999 people.

The gene filter is working.

That's called progress.

Helen, the word isn't progress. It's eliminationism.

Sweet music for our radical ears:

Mr. Solerium,

You attach a link to a TWO HOUR AND 59 MINUTE VIDEO for an old biddy with a 2 minute attention span and a 5 minute bladder???

Shame on you.

Rogue write:

" Back to the Republicans. The spectacle of the debates shows us that the blend of theocracy, libertarianism, fear-mongering and lie upon lie is a new GOP. Agree with it or not, it is a radical program at odds with anything seen before in a major American party."

Does anyone have an explanation why the Republican base has become so extreme? Especially worrisome is that the majority of Americans haven't been listening closely to what the new Republican agenda is, don't take it seriously, and haven't considered how it will effect them individually.

Does the American public deserve the coming Republican disaster due to their apathy or ignorance?

"Back to the Republicans. The spectacle of the debates shows us that the blend of theocracy, libertarianism, fear-mongering and lie upon lie is a new GOP. Agree with it or not, it is a radical program at odds with anything seen before in a major American party."

Yes and no. You're right that the dominance of this wing of the party is new, and that the media (for the most part) have allowed this remarkable fact to go unremarked. However, these folks were always there. They were there in the days of Herbert Hoover, when they were probably as dominant as they are today. (Take a look at speeches of the day by major Republicans in FDR's day, especially before he managed to bull-through his popular policies.)

Though they remained, they could not continue as the face of the Republican party in an era when Democratic presidents had led the country out of the Great Depression and through World War II, and legislation like the GI Bill ushered in a new era of post-war upward mobility for returning members of the working classes, who for the first time could, in large numbers (and consider the size of mobilization in WW II) afford a single-family home and university. The country had had a taste of "socialism" and they liked it.

The Cold War brought additional pressures. I don't think it is as widely appreciated as it should be, that so much of America's progressive advances, not only during the Great Depression but post-war, were motivated by the threat (real or perceived) of domestic Communism, and later by the international propaganda war between Communism and capitalism for which the USSR and the United States were proxies; this was a propaganda war for the hearts and minds not only of Europeans but of the Third World, who in the post-colonial era controlled increasingly important strategic geopolitical assets.

There was also a strong left-liberal intellectual establishment dominant (though in the 50s, submerged) in the United States for most of the post-war period.

Before the time of Perestroika, international Communism was no longer a serious threat, and neither Europeans nor third-worlders had any practical political alternative to the status quo that needed to be undermined with high-profile deeds demonstrating that social and economic justice were consistent with capitalism.

The external pressures had ceased, and the domestic left had fractured and weakened in a transformation taking the Old Left solidarity among men, women, and all races and nationalities -- provided they shared common class interests -- to a New Left identity politics in which each group acted for its own, limited interests and ignored or actively opposed others: black and Latino nationalism, feminism, gay rights, and so forth.

Unions had been in decline for decades as their highly political and effective radical leadership was forced out and replaced with leaders who either had mob ties, were venal, or were simply focused on "bread and butter" union issues that affected chiefly members of their own craft union.

Again, all of this had the effect of isolating and disconnecting what had previously been members of a unified domestic left-liberal movement, in which each group could now be bought-off or co-opted piecemeal: as long as they got their concessions they didn't care about the political concerns of the other groups.

Without solidarity, the dissipated political organization of splintered identity groups slowly eroded broad popular support; the groups were increasingly taken over by extremists within their own identity movements, thus alienating broad public sentiment further.
Today, less than 7 percent of the private U.S. workforce is unionized (including public workers the rate is 11.9 percent, but even as late as 1983 near the start of the Reagan era this was 20.1 percent). Union dues feed union activities. Union members can be tapped for political donations. Most unions traditionally support Democrats.

Money is increasingly important in political races, and there are fewer restrictions than ever (in the modern era). Aside from organized labor, which as noted is severely weakened, most campaign finance comes from corporations and wealthy individuals.

There is no propaganda war for the hearts and minds of the world -- nobody to impress, no foreign threat to beat.

Media ownership is increasingly concentrated and increasingly conservative.

According to the Washington Post in a late December article, citing a panel study of income dynamics from University of Michigan, from 1984 to 2009 the median net worth of the U.S. House of Representatives rose 2.5 times *in inflation adjusted dollars and excluding home equity* (from $280,000 to $725,000). Over the same period, median American family net was static, declining slightly from $20,600 to $20,500. According to the same article, from 1976 the amount that winners of House races spend quadrupled in inflation adjusted dollars, according to data provided by the Federal Elections Commission. Many of these wealthy individuals contribute to their own campaigns.
There is simply no reason for Republicans to compete with Democrats on their own terms anymore, or to moderate their behavior.

Radical conservatives that have always lurked in the woodwork, biding their time, have come to the fore once again. And the leadership of the Democratic Party has moved to the right in response to the new realities of campaign finance, rather than attempt the difficult task of changing the political framework (legislatively and otherwise) to accommodate a more vigorous and healthy democracy.

Translation, most of the US population are brain dead or on video steroids.

Some research suggests that people playing video games have the same brain activity of someone that just ingested crack cocaine.

If we don’t do something about the planets destruction the forces of nature will destroy Republicans and Democrats alike and without prejudice.

RIP Bill Heywood.

You were one of the good guys.

Heywood's death is a blow. Based on what I've read about his and his wife's recent financial troubles, it's a sign of the human toll of this recession.

Phoenix radio was a small world and you felt as if you knew the DJs. I listened to him on KOY's morning drive time in the 1970s (when afternoon guy Alan Chilcoat would sing the weather). It was a very different world from today's highly concentrated broadcasting industry and talk-radio screamers. RIP Bill. You brought happiness to many Phoenicians.

I was an avid Heywood fan in the 1980s. His brand of sketch humor (with a team of cohorts that included people like Cathy Dresbach) was far and away the best thing in local media. When radio descended into the darkness of shock talk, Heywood's career was pretty much over. You can almost date the descent of Phoenix into its current hell from that point.

The idea of putting a gun to my head is about the most chilling thing I can think of. The pain the Heywoods were in must have been equal to the remedy they chose.

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