Burroughs Adding Machine

Social justice, arts and politics, life in New York City

A Whole Lotta Crazy: The Glenn Beck Rally

America is “becoming communist”! We don’t teach patriotism in our schools! Barack Obama is anti-progress, a Muslim, and a racist!

Curious about the right’s viewpoints? This video of Glenn Beck supporters at Saturday’s “Restoring Honor” rally speaks for itself–though it may also test your patience.

Filed under: politics, republican, , , , , , ,

Effigy of Obama Set on Fire

There’s not much to say about this unfortunate incident in West Allis, Wisconsin.

In the grainy video, patrons of Yesteryears Bar set up an effigy of President Obama and light it, country music playing in the background. Thank goodness someone had the good sense to tape it and post it for the world to see. When the image of Obama finally catches fire, the patrons can be heard whooping it up.

How many steps until we’ve got a mob? And is this simple stupidity, or outward (not so subtle) displays of racism?

Filed under: hate, obama, , , , ,

Palin: God Cheated on Hand, Too

“I’m like, ok, I’m in good company.”

She’s found more justification. Sarah Palin’s latest defense of her note-scribbling palm is that God, too, engraved words of wisdom in his palm. Her excuses–this time in the form of the almighty himself–is the latest example of Palin’s extreme personality. Is it necessary for her to go to such lengths to justify herself? Why does the former VP candidate continue to draw attention to this idiotic behavior, instead of just letting it go? And why do we (I include myself, and this blog post, as evidence) continue to give Sarah Palin such attention?

At times, Palin is too an easy target. (She’d probably agree with this herself: except that her targetting is only from the “liberal media.”) However, if you choose to be a public figure, if you choose to deliver multiple speeches and media appearances each day, you have agreed to allow the public into your life. Sarah Palin knows this. So her criticism of undue attention on her character flaws is simply a smoke-and-mirrors act. Calling attention to her empty populism, poor memory, or illogical thinking (think of the disastrous Katie Couric interview) are only to be expected.

Russia is Alaska’s “next-door neighbor”? “right there, right next to our state”?

What’s particularly troubling about Palin is the sense that she is above criticism–her talking points and mannerisms betray a state of defensiveness or denial. In the debacle where she accused Rahm Emmanuel of bigotry but gave Rush Limbaugh a free pass, this knee-jerk, cover-up modus operandi revealed Palin’s inability to acknowledge contradictory positions. How can she accuse Emmanuel of malice while Limbaugh engages in satire?

It’s hard to imagine Palin as Vice President–or, more horrendously–as a Presidential candidate in 2012. As is obvious, however, she has an easily-blinded, sizable base. Palin’s default mode of nasty defensiveness and figner-pointing is undeniably appealing to many.

Filed under: politics, , , , ,

Shepard Fairey’s Obama, Part II

R1085COVERShepard Fairey’s second Obama commentary (because that’s the only thing to call it–more than art, Fairey is a master of cultural criticism), thoughtfully designed and gracing the cover of Rolling Stone. All those college kids summering at home while August slips through their fingers are gonna go nuts.

My first thought was the placement of the presidential seal behind Obama’s crown. Intentional, surely. Approaches a bit of bombasticness. The great Barkley Hendricks used the halo (or an initimation of it) to much more powerful effect in “Lawdy Mama,” his stunning gold-leafed portrait that typifies the 70’s mantra of “Black is Beautiful.

About his second Obama cover, Fairey writes:

However, a lot can and will change. As Joe Strummer of The Clash once said, “The future is unwritten.” In my illustration I make reference to Gilbert Stuart’s famous unfinished portrait of George Washington to capture the idea that, although we’re quick to judge, it’s too early to tell how Obama’s presidency will turn out. Hopefully Obama and all of us who have stood behind him will do everything we can to fill in our incomplete future the way we’ve pictured it.

It’s a great thing to ponder: As he enters the second part of his first year in office, will President Obama step boldly into the fray, fulfilling his promise of hope? Or will he suffer under the necessary weight of compromise?

Filed under: art, politics, , , ,

What does Jay-Z have to do with U.S. hegemony?

Jay-Z and Obama

Jay-Z and Obama

Great article by Marc Lynch, a political science professor and rap aficionado, drawing parallels between timely feuds in the rap world and the international political scene. Sound like a stretch?

The article has its roots in L.A. rapper “The Game”‘s attack on rap behemoth Jay-Z. Lynch’s comparison likens The Game to a small nation and Jay-Z to a superpower (the only remaining one) like the United States. He says that it’s a crap shoot whether The Game will actually make a dent in the Jay-Z’s hegemonic rap empire, but it’s the effort that will make a name for The Game. Kinda like a newbie politician who knows that he’ll lose his first campaign but gain name-recognition for future runs.

Jay-Z is entrenched in a prince-like seat of power in the rap world. Lynch notes that few rappers have challenged him:

As a young 50 Cent spat at him (twisting one of Jay’s own famous lines), “if I shoot you I’m famous, if you shoot me you’re brainless.”  He’s generally avoided getting embroiled in beefs since reaching the top, only occasionally and briefly hitting back at provocations from rising contenders like 50 Cent, Lil Wayne, and others.  Responding to every challenge does not become a hegemon.

We know that often our greatest success comes in the student surpassing the teacher. This may be the case for The Game, a rising young star who was once a protege of Dr. Dre. We’ll see how the feud–and its parallel to international politics–plays out.

Filed under: music, politics, , , , , ,

Writing

BIOGRAPHY

RECENT PUBLICATIONS
» "Pinays," AGNI, Spring 2016
» "Dandy," Post Road, Spring 2015
» "Wrestlers," Fifth Wednesday, Spring 2014
» "Babies," Joyland, August 2011
» "Nicolette and Maribel," BostonNow, May 2007
» "The Rice Bowl," Memorious, March 2005
» "The Rules of the Game," Screaming Monkeys: Critiques of Asian American Images (Coffee House Press, June 2003)
» "Deaf Mute," Growing Up Filipino (Philippine American Literary House, April 2003)
» "Good Men ," Genre, April 2003
» "The Foley Artist," Drunken Boat, April 2002
» "Squatters," Take Out: Queer Writing from Asian Pacific America (Asian Am. Writers' Workshop, 2001)
» "Deaf Mute," The North American Review, Jan 2001
» "The First Lady of Our Filipino Nation," The Boston Phoenix, 1999
» "Paper Route," Flyway Literary Review, 1996
» "Brainy Smurf and the Council Bluffs Pride Parade," Generation Q (Alyson, 1996)
June 2017
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Ricco Villanueva Siasoco is a Manhattan-based writer and non-profit manager. More

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