Saturday, January 07, 2006

R.I.P. New Orleans (1718-2005) ???

The Rude Pundit has an amazing photo essay on NOLA four months after Katrina:
Katrina Plus Four Months, Part 1
Part 2 - Riding Through Slidell
Part 3 - Chalmette
Part 4 - Essay In Black (and White)
Part 5 - In Conclusion

Majikthise: Reflections on Katrina

Friday, January 06, 2006

friday random ten

Photo by Ryan McManus

friday random ten:

"This Train (Bound for Glory)" - Big Bill Broonzy
"Hearsay" - Soul Children
"Girl on the Brain" - The Ugly Beats!
"Poison Heart" - The Ramones
"Crow Jane" - Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
"Crab Town" - Throwing Muses
"Disconnect the Dots" - Of Monteal
"A Nervous Tic Motion Of The Head To The Left" - Andrew Bird
"Many River to Cross" - Jimmy Cliff
"Rusted Guns of Milan" - Art Brut

quote of the day

"We're embracing the pin-up girl and beating the crap out of her."
--Molly Shipwreck

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Fort Wayne Derby Girls

The Journal Gazette

The Fort Wayne Derby Girls whiz around the rink, right legs crossing left ones as they round the corners of the Roller Dome North’s flat track. Most of the 10 skaters are beginners, many displaying the awkward knees and elbows, the teetering-forward posture of tentative first-timers. Occasionally, backside meets floor – hard – as one of the girls misjudges an angle and loses her balance.

“Get down! Push! Push!” Skating instructor Kathy Wall skates along with the team, encouraging them to elongate their strides. “Pick up your feet when you’re going around those corners,” she says. “Use your butt!”

“Um, she doesn’t have a butt,” team co-founder Danielle Abbott says, pointing at a fellow teammate. “I think that’s the problem.”

Wearing pigtails and a Rat City Rollergirls T-shirt, Abbott, 38, epitomizes the tongue-in-cheek attitude of the Fort Wayne Derby Girls. By day: a vice president of a local advertising company and a mother of three. By night: a corn-fed, black-and-blue roller derby queen known as Little D. Evil.

“No one here is a great skater, but that’s not what the team is about,” Abbott says. “It’s about career women and moms who need an aggressive outlet – something that may draw a little blood. During a roller derby bout, we can skate our butts off, throw a few punches and fix our makeup and fishnets without any guilt.”

For Abbott, the inspiration for the Fort Wayne Derby Girls happened during a trip to her hometown of Seattle in October last year. On the trip, Abbott and Fort Wayne Derby Girls co-founder Tonya Vojtkofsky caught the championship match of the Emerald City’s female roller derby league, The Rat City Rollergirls (

“It was amazing,” Abbott says. “There were 2,000 people there – a lot of them dressed to represent their favorite team and using homemade noisemakers. But what really impressed us was the diversity of the crowd. I expected just to see people our age, the alternative crowd, but what we saw were grandparents, PTA moms, children, fraternity and sorority people, metal heads. You name them and they were there.”

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So Happy It's Thursday


Massive Campaign of Violence Kills 68, Wounds Dozens;
Bush Says Guerrillas Marginalized

A horrific day unfolded in Iraq on Wednesday, with a massive bomb at a funeral, a daring raid that destroyed fuel tankers, and deadly bombings and shootings all over the center-north of the country, even reaching into the south.

President Bush's and Vice President Cheney's recent pronouncements do not seem to me to fit very well with the Iraqi reality they say they are describing.

"Those who want to stop the progress of freedom are becoming more and more marginalized." -Bush 1/04/05.

Suspected Taliban militants have beheaded a headteacher in central Afghanistan, the latest in a string of gruesome attacks on teachers working in schools where girls are taught.

Armed men burst into the home of Malim Abdul Habib in Qalat, the capital of restive Zabul province, on Tuesday night. They dragged him into a courtyard and forced his family to watch as they cut off his head, said Ali Khel, a local government spokesman.

Mr Habib was head of Shaikh Mathi Baba, a coeducational secondary school with 1,300 pupils. Threatening notices calling for an end to the education of girls had been pinned to shop walls in the town in recent months but Mr Habib was not thought to have been directly targeted.

Hundreds of students attended his funeral yesterday. "Only the Taliban are against our girls being educated," Mr Khel said.

The Taliban insurgency has taken a brutal twist in the past year with militants avoiding shoot-outs with American troops - which they usually lose - in favour of targeted assassinations of teachers, aid workers and pro-government clerics.

A boy is believed to have died from bird flu in Turkey, its government said last night, while his sister was seriously ill with the same virus. They are the first human cases outside south-east Asia, bringing the spectre of the feared pandemic to the European border.

Mehmet Ali Kocyigit, 14, died on Sunday amid initial assertions from the Turkish authorities that he did not have the H5N1 virus which causes avian flu. His sister, Fatma, was said at the time to be in a critical condition. But the Turkish health minister, Recep Akdag, said yesterday that preliminary tests had found the avian flu virus, H5N1. A third sibling is also suspected of having the virus.

41 - 38

ut tower

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Abramoff: The House That Jack Built

Think Progress has a comprehensive look at the potential scope of the “biggest scandal in Congress in over a century“.

Bush as Bad Theatre

Sherman Yellen

We have three more years of Bush as the main player in our national drama, three more years of platitudes, certainties, grinning, winking, cajoling, but never owning the consequences of his own actions. Since he cannot change his act, we will continue to get what we see -- an empty man propped up with a foolish sense of his own worth, taking us from one new disaster to another -- that is, unless the other players in our national drama, the stumbling Democrats and few surviving decent Republicans effectively oppose a leader who cannot lead. We don't need a hero for our national play, just some strong supporting actors with enough courage and sense to stand up against this comedian in our tragedy. More important is an enlightened electorate who must ultimately take center stage and restore the values upon which this country was founded.

Monday, January 02, 2006

The 2006 Dust Devil Invitational

The Texas Rollergirls, Arizona Roller Derby, Tucson Roller Derby and Minnesota Rollergirls claim the top seeds in the 2006 Dust Devil Invitational to be held in Tucson, AZ February 24-26.

Pool 1
Texas Rollergirls
Gotham Girls Roller Derby
Kansas City Roller Warriors
Atlanta Rollergirls
Duke City Roller Girls

Pool 2
Arizona Roller Derby
Mad Rollin' Dolls
WIndy City Rollers
Dallas Derby Devils
Bay Area Derby (B.A.D.) Girls

Pool 3
Tucson Roller Derby
Rat City Roller Girls
Providence Roller Derby
Rocky Mountain Roller Girls
Rose City Rollergirls

Pool 4
Minnesota Roller Girls
Carolina Roller Derby
Sin City Roller Girls
Assassination City Roller Derby
Houston Roller Derby

Tournament Schedule (pdf)

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Shorter administration: "There is nothing left to loot"

U.S. Has End in Sight on Iraq Rebuilding

BAGHDAD -- The Bush administration does not intend to seek any new funds for Iraq reconstruction in the budget request going before Congress in February, officials say. The decision signals the winding down of an $18.4 billion U.S. rebuilding effort in which roughly half of the money was eaten away by the insurgency, a buildup of Iraq's criminal justice system and the investigation and trial of Saddam Hussein.

Just under 20 percent of the reconstruction package remains unallocated. When the last of the $18.4 billion is spent, U.S. officials in Baghdad have made clear, other foreign donors and the fledgling Iraqi government will have to take up what authorities say is tens of billions of dollars of work yet to be done merely to bring reliable electricity, water and other services to Iraq's 26 million people.

Happy Birthday Val Capone

Rollergirls - some reviews

Lonestar Rollergirls

UPDATE: A review from a Grand Raggity Roller Girl in the Grand Rapids Press

The feuds, the friendships, the betrayals, the adrenaline rush of the game -- these things make for good television.

But of course, not everything is done right. At times, the dialogue is awkward and seems scripted, as though to provide background details not otherwise covered. The music often is too wimpy for roller derby, and there are far too many cliche camera shots of the moon or characters staring longingly out a window.

"Rollergirls" deserves credit for balancing sensationalism with reality. There is an emphasis on the disagreements that naturally arise when dozens of strong-willed women pull together to make something happen.

On the other hand, nonmainstream women of this caliber rarely get the type of positive, national attention provided by this show.

"Rollergirls" presents television audiences with a new, real type of female role model not based on stereotypes of femininity.

I say -- it's about damned time.

Girls just wanna have fun, but the ones having "fun" on reality TV are often babelicious boneheads or man-obsessed needies. Their personal contentment is less crucial than frenzied social climbing, preening, whining and backstabbing. Does every American female really want the stilted life of the "next top model"? Isn't there something more soulful to finding success and happiness than using "feminine wiles"?

Well, yes - and some strong-willed Texas women are finding it on a banked Roller Derby track.

Tonight's fresh and funky new series "Rollergirls" follows a different kind of chick - the artsy, independent rock and roller who sets up her own competition league as a means of personal expression, camaraderie and aggression-venting. They're "feminine and athletic, sexy and threatening at the same time," as one Austin skater puts it on A&E's delicious new reality surprise.

NY Daily News
The promos for the new A&E reality series "Rollergirls" make the most out of the concept's raw materials. That inventory consists of outrageously costumed female roller-derby skaters, who act up on and off the rink while sporting such sassy stage names as Miss Conduct, Catalac, Venus Envy and, yes, Punky Bruiser.

The program, which premieres tonight at 10, is another matter entirely. It gets nothing right - not the potential sexiness, not the negligible drama and certainly not any solid shot at explaining, much less popularizing, the alleged sport of roller derby.

"Rollergirls" looks so low-rent, with crowds around the rink that may number in the thousand, viewers would be forgiven for mistaking it as an ersatz reality show - an improvised comedy like "Curb Your Enthusiasm" or "Reno 911," only performed ineptly. Certainly the games are so dull, and the women's antics so pedestrian (Let's toilet-paper a rival's house! Let's drink!), that the whole thing could understandably be dismissed as bad actors, acting badly.

Seattle Times
During a Web chat the other day, a reader asked for my favorite guilty pleasure. I replied "Bull-riding on Outdoor Life Network," because I wasn't thinking of roller derby — then.

Tonight at 10, A&E debuts "Rollergirls," a super-lively documentary series that captures the growing roller-derby craze and offers final proof that the once-artsy cable channel has said adios to its Jane Austen days.

That's OK. For one thing, "Rollergirls" is a lot more female-empowering than marriage to Mr. Darcy. For another, it's a well-balanced hoot. The reality-style tracking of the competitors, who hail from Austin, Texas, offers loads of personality along with abundant displays of flesh and NASCAR-style wrecks.

This fishnets-and-philosophy approach might seem like a cover for exploitation. But the producers, who also created the MTV hit "Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County," are sincere. And the results aptly reflect today's roller-derby scene, currently undergoing a third or fourth revival since its Depression-era origins.

One of the ladies featured on the A&E’s newest series describes the action in its debut episode as “beer, booze, music, babes.” She left out cigarettes, catfights, cleavage, cussing.

It doesn’t sound very ladylike. But then these ladies answer to aliases like Miss Conduct, Venis Envy, Jail Bait.

Clever, no? Classy? No.

LA Times
From its opening moments, "Rollergirls," a new "non-scripted drama series" from A&E about the TXRD Lonestar Rollergirls of Austin, Texas — one of the first of the grass-roots roller derby leagues that have been popping up around the country over the last few years — makes an impression just by looking good.

Produced by Gary and Julie Auerbach of Go Go Luckey Productions, who are also responsible for MTV's "Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County," it's a reality show with an aesthetic consciousness. A "heightened reality" show, one might call it, but one which makes its subject palpable and which, because it is made with care, lets you care too. It's the more artful portrait, paradoxically, that paints the truer picture.

Shot with multiple cameras using longer lenses (which not only makes the camera less intrusive but reduces distortion), its visual values are highly cinematic — the colors vibrant, the images deep, the framing and composition rooted in contemporary art photography, or at least to the commercial photography and music videos that steal from it. (Jennifer Lane and Shane F. Kelly are the directors of photography here.)

These are no small things: One of the worst things about reality television is that most of it looks cheap and ugly, a mix of wide angles, dead lighting, nervous editing and restless pans to convey as much information as possible and to create superficial excitement. There's little beauty there, even in the makeover shows. "Rollergirls," by contrast, is luminous and luxuriously alive.

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