I was walking to my local Starbucks when I noticed how many of us were waiting at the intersections. So many people at 8 in the morning all drawn to the same place. We're like lemmings and the pied piper is the lure of the siren. I was tempted to turn around and go home, who wants to be one of the masses--but the pull of the place, the lure of the smell, the taste of the brew--and I don't even like coffee!!!
(p.s. the art work is by Barry Kite you can find it here)
From Moby's website, a few ridiculous, insulting and dumb statements from our friends on the right end of the political and religious spectrum--enjoy!
• Former Reagan administration Secretary of Education Bill Bennett: "[Y]ou could abort every black baby in this country, and your crime rate would go down." [Salem Radio Network's Bill Bennett's Morning in America, 9/28/05]
• Pat Robertson: "If [Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez] thinks we're trying to assassinate him, I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it." [Christian Broadcasting Network's The 700 Club, 8/22/05 ]
• Bill O'Reilly to San Francisco: "[I]f Al Qaeda comes in here and blows you up, we're not going to do anything about it. ... You want to blow up the Coit Tower? Go ahead." [Westwood One's The Radio Factor with Bill O'Reilly, 12/8/05 ]
I got quite a few cool things for Christmas but this one takes the biscuit. Astronaut Jesus is an adult collectible not a child's toy, and he's mine! According the box he arrived in he has returned with a message of love, unity and peace to the people of the earth after a long journey from outer space. Apparently,"the past few centuries he was traveling the outskirts of the universe bringing the great power of his word to other planets in need of his righteous ways. And now just as we thought we had been deserted, Jesus has returned to restore order to our chaotic world...Please teach us and show us the way!! He is an elite member of the astronaut gods that have come to our planet since the beginning of time to shape our civilization and the world as we know it. Let the passion of AstroChrist fulfill our lives and hearts once again." Yeah! Astronaut Jesus is the work of an Argentine creative collective called adfunture, and he comes with a removable helmet and movable arms and feet--all the better to greet you with. It will join my Kozik glow in the dark Smorkin' labbit.
When we first dined at the Little Door they had a long table which ran down the middle of the patio where they would sit you with people that you didn't know. Many times we went there and had a fabulous time talking with people we met over dinner. We went last night, planning a quick dinner for two before the Christmas Eve service as All Saints. We were a bit early and had to wait at the bar for a minute. To cut a long story short I struck up a conversation with a bloke at the bar and before we knew it we were joining their party for dinner! It was really lovely, interesting people and a fun way to celebrate the true spirit of Christmas; love, kindness and mutual hospitality. There were five others at the table; actors, lawyers, film producers and publishers. One of the guys was a former Marine who has recently finished a documentary called, Voices of Iraq. We were joined a little later by a couple of other film makers, one of whom did a documentary about the plight of women in Afghanistan. We had a great time making new friends. They even joined us at All Saints for the late service-a fine way to end an evening. As I sat in the sanctuary I wondered which of the experiences really constituted church for me--perhaps both of them in different ways. All Saints 'does' Christmas really well. There were harpists,string sections, and some beautiful singing. I love the sound of people singing together in a church, the way you can hear people singing their hearts out. It is always such an interesting blend of voice styles and phrasing--quite a lot of vibrato knocking about the room! Once in Royal David's City--great carol. Home by 12:30, feeling a little worse for wear after helping to demolish a couple of bottles of Cotes du Rhone--I violated my 'two-glass' limit--the no headache level for me--but it was fun, a true Christmas gift.
A subtle shift in retail is happening here in the U.S. Convenience stores are going global. Nipping down to the corner shop for a packet of fags and a newspaper might also include some sushi and a manga magazine now. Famima, a Japanese convenience store chain have opened a store in Westwood and will open another one on the 3rd Street Promenade pretty soon. It is not just high end fashion stores that are globally represented, there is a growing trend of smaller, more economically accessible brands making their appearance on the U.S. retail market. This year saw the opening of Zara and M-N-G here in Santa Monica, european companies that once required a visit overseas in order to purchase their stuff. No big thing, just a glimpse at a changing global economy-it's is not all going one way anymore.
Well, well. A judge in Dover, Pennsylvania, just handed down a 139-page ruling declaring that the actions of the school district in forcing teachers to put forward theories of intelligent design along with evolution in science classes was unconstitutional. "The evidence at trial demonstrates that 'intelligent design' is nothing less than the progeny of creationism," wrote Judge John Jones III, "We find that the secular purposes claimed by the board amount to pretext for the board's real purpose, which was to promote religion in the public school classroom." Ouch. Some of the critics of Intelligent Design call it 'stealth creationism,' and it is a theory that President Bush apparently likes. Last August he told a group of reporters that he thought a debate in classrooms was a good thing. Even though he was appointed by Bush, Jones was categorical that "intelligent design" was not science, and that its attacks on evolution should not be admitted into the classroom. "This tactic is at best disingenuous and at worst a canard. The goal of the [movement] is not to encourage critical thought but to foment a revolution which would supplant evolutionary theory with ID." Not much of a surprise really.
The fact of the matter is that whether one likes it or not evolution as fact, myth, or fairy-tale, has become the origin story of our collective imagination, supplanting the creation version. I don't think many Christians realize this, but when the collective imagination, or consensual illusion, gives way, a new one will replace it that is more consistent with the socio-cultural perceptions of the particular society. It is not really even a matter of science versus religion, is about how the stories that shape us change as we change. All cultures have their big shaping stories; how the world was made, what God is like etc. The movie Whalerider gave us all a glimpse into a Maori myth of creation and how its continued embrace by the community was contingent upon new interactions with it. In the West, Christianity's Genesis creation story used to be our collective story about the origins of life but it has been under threat for over a century. It is not that evolution is necessarily better, it is just that it fits with a world built on scientific-rationalism and enlightenment notions. I doubt that we will ever go back to a Bible-based creation story as a shaping myth, it is too mono-cultural. I personally don't really care much. Where we came from is a bit of conjecture anyway. I never truly bought into the whole idea of the Genesis account as fact, that doesn't even seem to be its purpose. If anything can be gleaned from Genesis it might be that life, all of life is a gift, a gift from God--whoever that may be!
I am sure there will be lots of response from certain portions of the Christian church, those for whom, everything that is not etched in the concrete of their particular interpretation of the Bible is a threat to the very state of the universe--I wish Jon Stewart wasn't on holiday!!
The blogging is a little sporadic right now as the book deadline is looming. Have been trying to write my way out of a bit of a creative dead spot, which happens. Was up until about 4:30 last night determined to capture the soul of a particular chapter in spite of the distance I was feeling from the material.
I have been so locked into this that I haven't been getting out much but I did run a couple of Christmas errands yesterday. Came across this cool store, Flight 001, devoted to travel items and ideas, on 3rd St. It had all kinds of great stuff for travel, very trendy, but inventive and great ideas for making journeys a more pleasurable experience. On a shopping note, I may have already mentioned this but last week LA'S first Paul Smith's store opened on Melrose, maybe it was the week before, but it was recent! The store cannot be missed, it is a fantastic shade of pink. Inside it is up to Sir Paul's usual standard of brilliance, lots of stuff you need, well want actually.