Tuesday, September 30, 2003

A fine piece on the Wilson scandal from democracy now.
Goodness gracious, i'm enjoying this. Everyone should be reading talking points memo. Josh Marshall bit onto this story with the tenacity of a pit bull. For about three weeks he was the only one writing anything, and then this Sunday:BLAMMO, the Washington Post and MSNBC break the story.
As counterspin points out, new legislations (aka USA PATRIOT act) makes it legal to hold journalists in contempt for not revealing confidential sources.
See the thing that's funny about conservatives is that they're so arrogant, they can never seem to grasp that what goes around comes around. So don't talk, Novak. I wanna see you sitting in a jail cell you fat fuck.

UPDATE! At least one journalist has fingered Rove has being the caller, at least to Julian Borger in the Guardian (thanks to John Salmon, who got this from atrios. John, by the way, runs a great site called sugar in the gourd: all old time, all the time.
And goodness gracious, even the right wing nutjobs at newsmax are pissed off about this!

Sunday, September 28, 2003

I love Philadelphia. After moving here almost four years ago, I decided to make the city my home and buy property. So before I launch into what is going to be a major bitchfest about what's wrong with this fucking place, please keep in mind: I love it here. And I get mad because Philly is not the best place it could be. We've gone through a few slogans since I arrived. The City of Brotherly Love. The Place the Loves You Back I have a better motto: Philadelphia: The Loveable Place That Makes Astonishingly Bad Decisions.
We have so many wonderful things going for us. We are strategicallly located, a few hours from new York City and Washington DC. We're home to some of the most architecturally diverse and historically relevant sites anywhere else in the entire United States. We have a beautiful park, the largest city park in the world. yet we also have some of the worst schools in the country, a steady brain drain, a history of racial tension. We have an oppressive wage tax. All of these cons balance out the pros of living in Philadelphia, and all will someday have to be addressed. For my money however, the one thing that simply must be changed in Philadelphia, for the good of our air as well as for city's collective well-being, is an overhaul of how we deal with public transportation, especially revamping the light rail and trolley lines and how they connect our neighborhoods. Because if there is ANYTHING that is going to send me screaming into the night with my duffel bag over my shoulder it is the way the state and SEPTA have completely and utterly fucked up what was once an amazing rail system.

To understand the magnitude of this, it's informative to look to the past. There is an absolutely wonderful site called phillytrolley.org, that provides not only a look back at the cars, but how the system has changed, largely for the worse, over the years. For instance, this map is from 1944. Zoom in on any of the quadrants, and you will see that on nearly every single street in Center City, there was a trolley or trackless trolley. Northeast Philadelphia had an extensive network of streetcars. Even the less populated ares to the west had a variety of options. Today, a fraction of those lines remain and they are woefully mismanaged.

Subways and subway surface cars will always be preferable to buses, which tend to bundle and get caught in traffic. Furthermore, they don't pollute the air as much nor do they make as much noise. Yet only two of the five running trolleys run all night, and both the Market Street El and the Broad Street Subway shut down at 12:30n or so. They provide shuttle buses, but it has been my personal experience that the shuttle service is much slower than the train. The regional rails lines to both the suburbs and neighborhoods far from Center City like Manayunk and Chestnut Hill shut down before last call, isolating our neighborhoods and costing people money in cab fares and parking fees.

Friday, September 26, 2003

Everything piles up at once.

On my plate right now are the following victuals:

Henry, my little guy who is due sometime around January 10.

My band UncleFucker just got booked for a 2-month tour with a band called Mindless Self Indulgence. National Tour!! Playin' The Whiskey in Hollywood!

It is now a given that my job will be phased out by June at the latest, and may well be gone by the time i get back from tour.

These three developments mean:
I have to write a letter requesting a leave of absence.
I have to sort my bills and next 2 months mortgage payments out NOW.
I have to fill out my family/medical leave forms, NOW.
I have to make arrangements for my paycheck to be deposited into my account.
I have be prepared to take on a double workload in the weeks ahead in order to take the load off my editor.
I have to figure out how much wil be covered by vacation time and how much time I'll have to take.
oy oy oy. and my friend and fellow Flat Possum Boy, banjo player nik fox is moving to fuckign Portland Maine. What the fuckety fuck fuck fuck?

Wednesday, September 24, 2003

Iraq for sale! Get your fresh Iraq for sale, right here, step right up!

Yup, Iraq's services (or what remains of them) are about to be privatized.
Just like American Democracy, it goes to the highest bidder.
I am proud to be an American today.

Monday, September 22, 2003

Afghanistan: a wonderland of women's rights and freedom. "What Good Friends Left Behind"
Winning Hearts and Minds by killing tigers.
Brilliant. The cannon-fodder brigade plugs along in Baghdad...

Thursday, September 18, 2003

Cragg Hines has a fine bit of comment on the California recall, which has now been delayed by the 9th Circuit Court, citing the Supreme Court's one-time-only-non-precedent Bush-Gore precedent extensively.

At a dozen or so points in their 66-page opinion, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals judges were careful to quote Bush v. Gore. And as they concluded, the judges said: "The Supreme Court's admonition in Bush bear re-quoting: "The press of time does not diminish the constitutional concern. A desire for speed is not a general excuse for ignoring equal protection guarantees."

For whom were the three judges (all Democratic appointees) "re-quoting"? One would guess they were recalling the language for five Supreme Court justices who espoused the strong interventionist view less than three years ago. Was it something of a judicial dare? Sure, given that the often liberal 9th Circuit is so often reversed by the Supremes.

Ho ho ho. The law of unintended consequence is very funny.

Dick Cheney on Saddam Hussein:

"We now know that Saddam has resumed his efforts to acquire nuclear weapons."

"There is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction."

"We know he's reconstituted these programs since the Gulf War."

"We know that he has a long-standing relationship with various terrorist groups, including the Al Qaeda organization."

"We believe he has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons."

By the way, now even Bush is admitting there was no Iraq-September 11 connection. I'm wondering when someone's gonna hold someone accountable for all this bullshit. Seriously: 28 pages of the September 11 report redacted simply because of the political embarrassment; the carnage in Iraq; the "road map" that lasted, oh about a week and hasn't been heard from since; and now this blatant admission that Saddam's connection to our tragedy was a fraud.
Is there no one with any degree of power who is willing to do something about this?

Wednesday, September 17, 2003

I was riding my bike through Clark Park on my way back to work today. The weather was beautiful around noon. I passed by a guy who looked familiar, but when I turned to look he was a junkie scratching himself in anticipation of his midday fix. I passed by my friend John, the on-and-off-again homeless guy that lives around my neighborhood. he's go a place right now, and he looked liek he was enjoying the day, sitting on the grass with his dog Yona lying beside him.
Random observations, political and otherwise.

I will reiterate that it is blackly hilarious to see the 9th Circuit Court hold up the California recall, using the exact same tactics as used in Bush-Gore.
Some interesting takes on the whole charade, which may see the Supreme Court dragged into the fray, may be seen on the letters page of today's LA Times. A recap of the whole thing is here at the Washinton Post (caveat lector).

Speaking of caveat lector, it is also funny to see the Washington Post get shrill in today's leading editorial "It Isn't Florida." I don't know about that. Am I wrong in understanding that the Supreme Court's argument in Bush was that different types of voting machines constitute a violation of equal protection? Has it also not been documented that not only are punch card voting machines less reliable because they are so outdated, these old machines are concentrated in poor and minority districts, potentially disenfrachizing an entire bloc of the voting public? Do I really need to find a link for this information? I doubt it. But yet here's the Post saying that this really isn't a problem and subverts the will of California's voters.

The problem, in my opinion, is not the delaying of the recall; it's not even necessarily the recall itself, although this blatantly partisan move to undermine an already decided election is pretty close to treason by my definition (greater loyalty to the party than to the good of the nation). It's the partisan fashion in which the Court intervened in Bush-Gore. And the Court, argues Harold Meyerson (again in the Post, which can't seem to make up its mind on this one), may find itself in an uncomfortable position no matter what they do.
Now the 9th Circuiters have called Bill Rehnquist's bluff. Did he really mean all that stuff about extending the equal protection clause to voters who stood a greater chance to be disenfranchised by the absence of a uniform standard of counting votes? Was he really concerned about the tabulation disparities between one county and the next? Or was Bush v. Gore just a one-time-only decision crafted to elect a Republican president...
That move may soon be the Supreme Court's to affirm or overturn. And in that case, "There's no way to reverse [the decision] and not make Bush v. Gore into a laughingstock," says Mark Rosenbaum, the ACLU attorney who argued the case before the appellate judges. But that has not deterred this court before.

And the Democrats aren't exactly unhappy about this:
"We've been down this Supreme Court route before, so we're continuing to go full blast with our [voter mobilization] campaign," says Miguel Contreras, head of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor and architect of the nation's most successful Democratic get-out-the-vote campaigns over the past decade. If the Supreme Court overturned the decision, says Contreras, it "would give us an issue with Democratic voters: There they go again, the Supreme Court playing partisan politics."

Let me just jump in for a minute with a broken bottle and some partisan hack ranting of my own (partisanship in moderate doses isn't necessarily a bad thing).
While the California recall is a horrifying affront to our democracy, the sight of these bastard, smartass, election-stealing republicans hoist by their own petard is extremely gratifying. There is something terribly droll about so-called right-wing conservative Republicans, who have spent the past... goodness gracious, the past 20 years, at least since the Reagan Administration, standing by their champion, pot-smoking, gang-banging, pro-abortion, pro-gay marriage Arnold Schwarzenegger, and seething with outrage that the Democrats would dare to make this an issue. It is very funny, at least to me, to see the Republicans livid that the Democrats would dare subvert the Supreme Court's partisan decision in 2000.
I have said it before and I will say it again. The real traitors to our country are those politicians who take party allegiance and dominance more seriously than they do what is best for the country. People like Tom DeLay. People like Karl Rove.
And people like Dick Cheney, who is still profiting, albeit indirectly, from Halliburton, winner of no-bid contracts to rebuild Iraq after we destroyed it.
In the interest of expedience, I just did a Google search for "Dick Cheney Halliburton" and the results are here. caveat lector of course, but there is something for everyone here.
These revelations come as no surprise to anyone, and as the media gets more weary of his same-old, same old Iraq-9/11 story (trotted out to great disdain over the weekend), perhaps we'll see more attacks instead of just on the pages of the New Republic's "&tc" site.
By the way, the article cited above as "trotted out to great disdain" is simply a must-read editorial in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

Frankly, I don't know why Cheney's bothering to lie about Iraq anymore. No one else in the administration seems to think it's worth the effort.
More on Dick Cheney, his bald-faced lying, and the media's recent reactiosn to it can be found here and here

Tuesday, September 16, 2003

Do you know what's funny?
After all the strum und drang over hanging chads in Florida back in 2000, now the Republicans are getting a taste of their own medicine in California. And they don't like it one bit.
This is a fun article, because the Republicans are getting tastes of 2 different types of medicine.
Not only are they tasting "hanging chad" they're also dealing with "character assasination." Oh yes, Arnie is hitting Oprah to tell everyone, "I'm not a mysoginist."
Should't have shot off your mouth to "Oui" you big dumb Nazi-sympathizing lummox.

Friday, September 12, 2003

So sad, so predictable, and so embarrassing: Quick Help With Iraq Unlikely, U.S. Says
Some banner points:
The Bush administration is warning that significant international help will not come quickly even if Powell strikes a deal at the Security Council.
Donald H. Rumsfeld told senators this week that the bill for postwar reconstruction in Iraq was expected to run $55 billion more than the $87 billion President Bush sought by Bush.
Hopes of further financial contributions are sinking.
But my favorite paragraph is this one:

When senators asked how Powell and Rumsfeld thought they could fill the gap, "they looked at each other and there was sort of an embarrassing pause," a Senate official said. "Powell said maybe we'll get a few hundred million from Europe [the European Union] and maybe a little help from Japan."

Hee hee hee. Indeed.
I have been saying for some time now, it's not the evil so much as it is the stupidity. These guys make Dr. Evil look a frikkin' genius. Throw me a bone, people!

Thursday, September 11, 2003

So hard to watch, so necessary to watch: the latest Take Back the Media flash: Bush Knew, And Did Nothing.
While you're there, take a look at the campaign the have against Showtime, for that absurd and offensive 9/11 movie they have made, written by a Bush shill, depicting Bush as a macho leader (when as we all know, he and fellow chickenhawk Dick Cheney were running like hell).
Good opportunity to write a letter to the Showtime folks there too; TBM has the links.

As a matter of fact, I myself wrote a letter: second one today.

Bush movie: attention Matthew Banks, Jerry Offsay
I am upset and perturbed by your decision to air a fictionalized account of George Bush's activities on 9/11, not least because I lost friends in the attacks.
It is widely known that Mr. Bush was flying scared around the country after the attacks, and as a matter of fact spent a half-hour after hearing of the attacks reading stories to kindergartners. We didn't see our leader when we needed him most. This is a matter of historical televised record. What you are doing is nothing short of Orwellian, and it disgusts and frightens me. It is becoming apparent that the war in Iraq was predicated on distortions and perhaps even lies: why do you want to prostitute your otherwise fine network to the service of government propaganda? This is an insult to every person who lost a loved on in those towers and you should be ashamed of yourselves. this program should not be aired at all, and certainly not without frequent disclaimers that it is a fictionalized account: the movie has already been reviewed on Slate by one of the September 11 widows, and she was scathing.
I am forwarding this letter to my family, friends, and to my local newspaper urging people to turn off Showtime. Have you no shame at all that you would try to profit from the tragic and needless deaths of your countrymen? Have you no personal morality?
Sirs, I would pray for you but it is clear you have no souls and no compassion. Someday you will choke on your bile, and it will taste like money.
Brendan Skwire

I got a response

DC 9/11: TIME OF CRISIS is a docudrama based on extensive research, as well as numerous interviews with those who were present during the hours and days that followed the tragedy. It is the freedom to express ourselves that we as Americans enjoy that not only gives you the undeniable right to disagree with the viewpoints in this film, but also enables SHOWTIME to present other opinions that are equally valid and protected.

which generated a response

Your response is unacceptable. Are you actually
saying that reported fact is nothing more than a
statement of opinion? Because if you are, you have an
overly broad definition of opinion.
"The World Trade Center was attacked and 3000 people
died" is not a matter of opinion; it is a matter of
fact. Your representation of Mr. Bush and his actions
during this time is not a matter of fact: it is a
fiction. It is not even really docudrama, because the
story presented is not presnted objectively. The man
who wrote that movie is a deeply consrrvative
republican who has close ties to the adminsitration:
this is nothing but a piece of propaganda, but without
the kitsch of Leni Riefenstahl. When you bend the
facts to suit your opinions you are distorting the
Considering that Bush has gone to the lengths of
stymying, via executive order, 28 pages of an
investigation into the failures of 9/11 that would
have embarrassed his administration and family,
considering that he has not even gone to ONE MILITARY
FUNERAL, considering his wife won't even meet with the
widows of 9/11, it is wrong that Showtime play part in
some sort of mythologizing of this man. Your
presentation of Mr. Bush as a hero is as fabricated as
his march on the USS Lincoln.
I am going to continue to argue this point with you;
and I will make sure I forward your response to as
many people as possible.
I am very angry with Showtime. Your response is
neither adequate nor intelligent, not does it take
itno account Showtimes power as a media outlet.
Sirs, where is your shame? Why are you taking the
blood of innocent Americans and using it to write
"Triumph of the Will"?
brendan skwire

ahhh,. the joys of polemic....
Richard Perle go home!

Good article in the Hartford Advocate. It inspired me to write a letter:
I read in the Hartford Advocate that you have invited Richard Perle to join your board and I must admit I have one question: HAVE YOU COMPLETELY LOST YOUR MINDS?

Let me give you some facts about Richard Perle: he's one of the people who engineered our little adventure in Iraq. he's one of the leading hawks who has alienated our allies in Europe, basically turning the Iraq adventure into one funded nearly 100% by the US, by increased borrowing (that is, deficit spending). As a result of Mr. Perle's encouragement to fight a war in iraq, our social programs (or what is left of them) will get even less funding.
Mr. Perle is also dishonest: he was forced to step down as Chair of the Defense Policy Board due to conflict of interest. He was just recently caught in a quid pro quo with WorldCom over cell phone service in Iraq. He threatens investigative journalists, most recently Sy Hersh, with libel suits. Even a brief reading of Mr. Perle's oeuvre reveals a man with a deep antipathy toward civil liberties. A Straussian, he man believes in lying to the public.
You simply must reconsider having this monstrous person on your board: it is an insult to your integrity and to your intellectual underpinnings that you would endorse such an awful person.
besides, do you really want to LOOK at this fellow day in and day out? http://www.middle-east-online.com/english/?id=6490
You can see the evil seeping through his pores. For the love of God, and for love of the country, please reconsider.
Brendan Skwire

Tuesday, September 09, 2003

More proof that Evangelical Christians are the stupidest, most benighted people in the world: they actually believe that the fighting in Iraq is a precursor to Armageddon. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA... hoo boy, I almost shit myself that time.

Add this to other brilliant concepts right-wing Christianity (actually, Christians in general, but it's the right wing that actually truly believes this medieval garbage, mainly because conservatives and fundamentalists are just plain stupid) has come up with: evolution is a lie, the world is only 3,000 years old, dinosaur skeletons are actually flying devil skeletons, Jesus Christ as Yahweh personified, life begins at conception. Listen, I am all for freedom of religion, but in this case i make an exception. My dad used to joke that the reasons the Romans were busy throwing Christians to the lions is because Christians are such fucking condescending obnoxious uptight assholes. "Blah blah blah, let me tell you the good news for the tenth fucking time today! Did you know that there is a special person who's invisible and has magic powers who loves you? yes and if you ask him (we've conveniently assigned gender) for anything, he'll grant it! Yes, this magic invisible being is running the universe but has time to get you your new washing machine." It was DC Dart who sang, "Closest thing to witches I've ever seen/ Let's get out the gas and set 'em on fire!"
I was on the phone with my mother the other night, ranting about the stupid Christians (she hates them too), when she made an interesting comment. "When I was a kid," she said, "Christian didn't mean what it does now. Back then, there were Jews and Christians, and that meant if you weren't Jewish, you were a Catholic or a Methodist or a Baptist or any other sect. Now, "Christian" refers to those nasty, spiteful stupid people. It's time the word was taken back, the same way the black people have to some degree taken back 'nigger'."

OK, so let me point out some things to our less-fortunate brethren. Number one: THERE IS NO GOD. Certainly not in the sense that YOU assholes believe in God. Number 2: THERE IS NO GRAND BATTLE COMING BETWEEN THE FORCES OF GOOD AND THE FORCES OF EVIL. LIFE IS NOT LORD OF THE RINGS. Number 3: Neither Superman nor Santa Claus nor the Easter Bunny exist either. Number 4: Everything your boy Jesus said was said before by Chinese philosophers, and said better. So shut up: you cribbed your truth from a far older culture and dumbed it down.

Here's how life works, Christians: people kill people. We do nasty horrible things to each other in our struggle to survive. This has been going on for thousands of years. There is nothing we can do to stop it. There will always be evil in the world: in fact if there was no evil, there would be no good. It has always been thus, and it will always be thus. "Hope" is a myth that keeps you from doing the things you need to do today, because "hopefully" things will change tomorrow. Hey, I'm still hoping that George Bush does a 180 degree turn on all his "policies."
Jesus is not coming down on his magic flying saucer to save everyone. As a matter of fact, he's not even coming down to save "just us Christians" as you so smugly believe.

My favorite thing about Christians is their approach to death. To hear these fools talk about it, death is like a big pile of cotton candy AND an all-day ticket to Disneyworld. Look at their stupid songs, all about how they can't wait to be dead so they can go to be with Jesus. What will they do there? Why they'll all join hands and sing 'round God's great goilden throne forever and ever. Considering that, by their own description, it's never night time in heaven and Jesus glows with the light of a thousand suns, I hope they're serving iced tea.
But then one of them dies and they cry and cry and wail. Like these idiots calling Paul Hill (just last week executed for murdering an abortion doctor) a martyr. "Waah, he's a martyr, don't kill him, please don't kill him." Hey Dummy, he wanted to be dead: he's like you, singing these songs about how he can't wait to get to heaven. You can't go until you're dead right? You fucking morons should be dancing in streets (lord knows I was dancing when I heard the news, and I hate christians)! Hint: if you dance in the highway, you may be dispatched to your imaginary reward all the quicker.

If there is one good thing about my impending fatherhood it is that I will have the opportunity to set at least one person right about Christians. Actually, I guess that's my duty: if the kid becomes a Christian of his own volition, I suppose I'll have to disown him.

Thursday, September 04, 2003

The Cat is Out of the Bag: I Made a Baby.

Or, A Serio-Comic Tragedomedy

About three weeks ago, I came home from work to have lunch with my girlfriend Melissa. We were upstairs in her apartment when she broke the news. "I'm pregnant." My jaw dropped, and I felt the words "when are you due" spill out of my mouth. "Planned Parenthood says I'm about a month along; we're doing an ultrasound next week." She sighed. "I'm thinking of keeping it." Her eyes got teared up, which gave me a start because Melissa is one of the most level-headed, unflappable people I have ever met.

I took a deep breath. I have never ever wanted to be a parent. It's not that I don't like kids, but I've never wanted that type of responsibility. Not only am I self-centered and narcissistic, I have always held a deep personal antipathy toward human reproduction. My father and I have had deep, meaningful philosophical discussions about the human race: our impact on the planet, our failings, and how our failings will some day be our doom. I like being alive, but I HATE this world and it is never going to ever ever ever ever get better. There is never going to be a time like the cover of the Jehovah's Witness magazine where everybody is happy and there's clean energy and people are nice and everyone's fed. People cannot solve the world's problems because people ARE the world's problem, and that goes treble for Americans, who by simply sitting quietly and doing nothing use up more energy than anyone else on the entire planet. For as long as I have been aware of my own capacity to reproduce, I have always thought it was a terrible idea. I do not want to add to the problem. As much as Melissa has a personal conviction against getting an abortion, I have a deeply held personal feeling against reproduction. By making a kid, I have done the worst thing I could have ever done, short of murdering someone. "You're going to have a baby" is NOT good news to me. And so I began what was to be a futile campaign to convince Melissa to have an abortion. The next 2 weeks were like walking around with one of those lead aprons from the dentist's office on my head.
I emailed my friend Scott:
I made a baby by accident and now we have to figure
out what comes next, consdering my [usually quite
sane] girl is leaning toward [the utterly insane]
option of keeping it.
please keep this little factoid to yourself, because
nothing has been written in stone yet.
I need a drink or 11.

Scott wrote back,
dude, you're not going to believe this...
and his wife is pregnant too. Now both of us were shittin'.

I wrote my friend Neil Cleary:

That parenthetical statement above says how things are
going. I'm pretty stressed (although I just got some
polarity work and massage done so I'm in pretty good
condition right now). Melissa is still thinking of
keeping it, although we have had some pretty long
copnversations over the past few days. Last night I
think I was pretty blunt. I know she was awake long
after I fell asleep, at least until 5:00 am. It's
breaking my heart Neil; I'm not in love with this girl
and she's going through this shit cus of my dick. And
she knows it's breaking my heart because I ended up
getting semi-weepy last night. You know how it feels
to be pressuring your girlfriend to get an abortion?
it feels like shit. the voice inevitably makes you
sound like a coward, like someone who can't face up to
his responsibilities, and like a weasel. But what
fuck other choice is there??

there shouldn't be any stigma over the procedure but
there is, and it's hard to not be affected to some
degree by it. But I was blunt and told her straight
out she was ruining her life if she kept the kid.
"Where will you live? How will you handle grad
school? if you have to do school all day and watch
the kid all night, how will you work? No more going
out on the weekends, at least for a few years." You
know, if it wasn't for the war in iraq (and i reminded
her of this), Melissa would have spent the entire
summer working for the UPenn anthropology department
at an archaeological dig in Egypt. I asked her if she
thought that would have been feasible with a young
child. I asked her what possible good she could see
coming out of keeping the baby and she really couldn't
come up with anything substantial.

I also reminded her that at 24, she has her whole life
in front of her and plenty of time to have a kid when
she's ready and prepared (and she says right out that
she's not ready to be a mom and she didn't want to get
she gets her ultrasound tomorrow. I'm just gonna have
to keep working it. I'd hate to break up over this,
but if that's what it takes to get her to abandon this
foolhardy tack, so be it.

Neil wrote back,
Hey man --

You're not a coward.
You're only saying what's on your mind. And it's also widely true that
people generally shouldn't have babies unless they really want to and
capable. So it's not a matter of being slimy or evasive, whatever.
encouraging her to have an abortion, but not only because of
-- which would be fine anyway, as yourself and your interests are
in it -- but because it's the smarter decision.

I believe that you are truly a virtuous person (not to sound like the
Tao te
Ching here) and that you are dedicating the best in yourself to this
situation. It's not that there's a responsibility that you're not
living up
to, it's that there's a choice over whether to take on a huge
responsibility, which understandably you'd rather not if possible. But
definately don't see you running away from anything. In fact it sounds
you're meeting it head-on, which is amazingly brave (although it may
feel that way).

You also need to make sure that you have the right kind of support and
in case things get rougher -- it's an important time and you don't want
overstress yourself. It sounds like you're doing this with massage,
etc. but
make sure you have someone to talk to. Penn probably has free
which you should be going to anyway. It's good we're in touch, but I
you have someone there you can unburden yourself to. I'm sure you do,
sayin so...

I worte back,
>Thanks for the support man. I need it.
So here's the deal as it stands now. We had another
long talk last night (although thankfully, it didn't
go until 3:00 AM). What became clear is that her
problem with getting an abortion have to do with her
personal convictions: she's pro-choice but has always
seen abortion as a last resort for herself.. And like
anyone else, she doesn't want to betray her own
convictions, which I can understand. She's trying to
figure out her situation, and to that end after the
ultrasound, she's going to be talking to a counselor
at Planned Parenthood, and later the two of us are
talking to someone together. I'm going to seek some
individual counseling too if she decides to keep it.
God knows I'll need it.

we have agreed that we need to make a decision soon,
and that the longer we delay the harder the decision
will be.
That massage yesterday did a world of good. I was
shaking and jittery all day and the polarity work just
calmed me right down.

However, the visit to Planned Parenthood didn't go exactly as planned. The ultrasound came back and Planned Parenthood's initial estimate of Melissa's pregnancy was a little off. Melissa wasn't 1-2 months pregnant. She was almost 4 months pregnant!! Both of us were stunned, and abortion became a serious option. At one month, Melissa was reluctant to have an abortion. "I've talked to my old RA," she said. "Katherine not only ran the dorm while pregnant, she got her degree while pregnant. And since the baby's due in March or April, I can do my first semester of grad school, go back to Montreal to have the kid, and defer school until he's six months old and I can put him in Penn's childcare program." I didn't agree with this logic, but I had to admit it did make some degree of sense. Now, with the kid scheduled to arrive in December of January, the timetable was off. BIG TIME.
"Four months pregnant?? How did this happen?" I asked.
"Well, my period was late 4 months ago," Melissa admitted, "But then it came, it really did come!" Melissa had been a track star all through high school and college: she's ranked nationally and has gotten some offers for coaching jobs. What a lot of people don't know is that women athletes tend to have problems with their menstrual cycle, because their hormones are out of whack. A few years of professional sports, and a woman basically becomes a boy with a vagina. When we'd first started dating, Melissa was a few months out of school and on the Pill: we had always simply assumed any weight/ breast gain was because her hormones were leveling out. And when a period was late or missed, this was expected. "What makes me mad," Melissa piped up, "is that they've known I was pregnant for a month and they didn't say anything!" "Nothing?? How could they do that?" "Well," Melissa said, "They said that there's a backlog of results and that 'you get what you pay for.'"
"WHAT??? They actually said that?? 'You get what you pay for'? What kind of bullshit is that??"
After a few moments of staring at the wall, I looked at her and said "Well, what are you gonna do?"
"I don't know. It's too late now, we have to keep it. Your fuckin' country doesn't make life easy do they?"
"Actually, I think you have until 6 months Melissa. In fact I'm sure of it. 'You get what you pay for.' Jesus fucking Christ."
"If that's the case, then I'm leaning toward getting rid of it," she said. "I don't want to but it's all coming too fast, the whole schedule is messed up now."
After weeks of not knowing what was up, this was a relief, and we quickly scheduled a trip to New Jersey, where abortion is a lot easier to get (in Pennsylvania apparently they make you watch a movie about how abortion is horrible and murderous). We got some counseling at women's clinic, and decided to make an appointment for early the next week. I left for practice in Brooklyn with my band, UncleFucker.
I was riding back to Penn Station on the f train when I saw him. He was somewhere in his late 30s, with a wife and kid. His wife was overweight, but not unacceptably, and it was clear they loved each other. Their kid looked up at me from a stroller, and waved a plastic fire truck at me. "Now put that down sweetie," said the woman, fussing with the boy. I glanced at the man: he had the beginnings of a dewlap, and his button-down short-sleeved shirt and pleated chinos hung poorly on his pudgy frame. His wire framed glasses and snake tattoos betrayed him as someone who once had been in the counterculture. He sat like a tired pudding in his seat. I idly looked over my steadily growing beer belly and the skull tattoos that were still healing on my forearm, skull tattoos that I still don't know why i got. Thank god that's not me, I thought. Thank God my girl's getting an abortion. The woman fussed with her child. The man looked at his reflection. I shuddered.

As it turned out, our schedules made that week impossible. College move-in had started, and melissa and her housemate were moving their stuff out of their 2 bedroom. I had to get the money, $1500, together and it was already late in the week. Plus, I was scheduled to go to a bluegrass festival and there was no way i was going to leave Melissa at home alone recuperating from an abortion.

A day or so before I left for festival, Melissa made a spooky comment. "This abortion thing is freaking me out Brendan. I'm feeling it kick." "Ugh." I shuddered. "Ok, we'll do something right away when I get back." And so I went to the festival, where I had a pretty good time.

I came back late Sunday evening, and called ahead for Melissa to meet me at the house and maybe watch some videos. By the time I got home around midnight, she was waiting for me. We went in the kitchen where I sucked down a beer and did a couple of bong-hits, talked about the festival. Went upstairs with the bong and the beer and jumped on each other.. hey, it'd been 3 days! I was lying on the bed, sipping my beer and reaching for the bong, just floating along on my little cloud of postcoital bliss when without warning she dropped the bomb. "I'm keeping the baby. I know you're going to be resentful."

It was as if I was Dracula and she'd thrown holy water at me. I felt like I'd been hit in the chest with a baseball bat wrapped in a warm towel. I recoiled into the corner like a wet cat, gasping for breath. My entire body started shaking and my teeth set to chattering. Until this past Sunday, I have never really known what it was like to see my life flash before my eyes: I know what it's like now. I felt like a cornered rat, and was looking this way and that. "Are you OK?" melissa asked. "Hum hum uh hum munnuh humm um." All I kept thinking was "I'm losing my mind. I'm losing my grip on reality. I'm losing my mind. There it goes." Making it worse, I sort of disassociated from my body: I could see myself on the bed in the fetal position, I could hear my thoughts about losing my mind, and my disassociated self thought it was funny. "Ha ha.. that scene is like something out of a movie. hey wait,why am I thinking this? Fuck, I must be losing my mind."
"I-I-I-I-I th-th-think I need to c-c-call s-someone," I babbled as I got out of bed to find my cellphone. In the time it took to go downstairs and return, my grip on reality was firming up again. I still couldn't talk though. Instead, I found myself silently and meticulously cleaning my room at 2:00 AM, carefully separating my clean and dirty laundry, picking up small scraps of paper. Finally, I sorted and organized the empty beer bottles that had to go downstairs. Melissa was watching me from the bed warily. It was clear that for the time being, I'd snapped.
The next 24 hours I was pretty harsh. I was angry about the way she delivered the news. I was angry about having to be a father. I was scared about what it was going to happen to my music career. So when I finally emerged from 20 minutes of catatonia, I was in no mood to be friendly, and we didn't speak for the rest of the night. Or for most of the next day. Part of it was that I was angry, but a lot of it was that I couldn't talk to ANYONE. I did nothing but spend the day doing bong-hits and just wandering around in a daze. I complained to a couple of friends. I talked to Melissa, who told me if I was going to be that much of an asshole, we could break up. I talked to my folks. My dad called me up for a "heart-to-heart" that scared him so badly he asked, "Have you been drinking?" Truth of the matter was I hadn't been: in fact, I was so freaked out I ended up in bed by 12:30. "Look," I said, "I gotta get this shit out now. If I'm still all resentful when the little fucker arrives, this is going to be a serious problem."

Tuesday I went into work with a chip on my shoulder the size of Utah, grumbling and ruminating and muttering to myself.
"There's three options," I said to my coworker. "I can just up and split, sign some papers that waive my rights and responsibilities, but that's immoral. I can continue to cry and whine and act like a fucking baby, but THAT'S not an option either. The only choice i have is to suck the shit up, get used to it, and deal. JESUS FUCKING CHRIST I'M GOING TO LOSE MY MIND." Noon came quickly, and I headed home for a bong hit and a shave (what with my sleep cycle completely fucked up, I've had to move back morning rituals like showering and shaving to my lunch break so i could sleep an extra half-hour). I made my first step toward accepting everything at about 12:30, standing in front of the mirror with a razor on my cheek. Fucking kids... *sigh*...well, if I have to have a kid, I guess it'd be kinda nice to have a little girl. I could dress her in a party dress, and buy her a banjo to annoy Melissa... I could name her Laurel or something pretty like that... You can see where this is going: now that I was imagining the kid, it was a little easier to stomach. When I got back to work, I gave her a call. "Yeah, I already know what it is.... well, I didn't want to know either, it's just that, well the ultrasound made certain facts kind of er, obvious....yeah, it's a boy." [I have seen thye sonogram since: he has my nose. He's also got quite a ding-dong hanging off him.]

OK, so I'm not getting a girl. We've chosen his name, which also help me to accept this. We agreed on Henry for his first name: at least i can call him Hank. She gave me the boobie prize: choosing his middle name: Morris, a name I love and she doesn't.

And so from there I'll spare you the sundry conversations I've had with other musician/parents, all of whom have been helpful and positive. Melissa and I have made some concessions and compromises: we'll see how many stick. I can't stop thinking about the man with the snake tattoo on the f train. I am seeing him now when i close my eyes.

I will say that everyday is different: ten minutes ago i was ready to kill someone, but writing about it helps. Spreading the word and knowing my friends and family are happy helps. That Canadian safety net looks like it's going to help A LOT. But what helps most is knowing that a Hank gets a little older, i'll be introducing him to the banjo, the fiddle, and the drums, which I plan to encourage him to learn and practice regularly.

Because after all, he will be living primarily with Mommy. Yes, I'm going to be a daddy alright, and I'm excited to raise my boy. But Daddy will have his revenge.