Somewhere In Utah

a one-stop shop for Jason Piccolo's photography updates. fine art color and black and white photography.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

new direction

so i sit here wondering why people blog...and I've come up with an idea.

no one knows. the best blog online, rather...the only blog i go to consistently each and every day is about nothing of consequence, yet i get so very much out of it. it's genius in many ways.

so, if there's anybody out there, i want to rededicate my blog to being something that may lead people to think when they choose to 'tune in'...currently it's funny notes about my daughter and idle prattle.

i dunno if i have the energy for much more, but i'd like to think that these things are worth something. i'd like to think that by posting something out here in the ether, that someone, somewhere will read it and think about. i'd especially like that focus to be politically or socially progressive in nature. that's my goal, i guess...

i's just the's not like it's for real, right?

and now...presenting the news item of the day that you most likely this...


Louisiana residents pull back from coast

By MICHELLE ROBERTS, Associated Press WriterTue Jan 30, 6:29 AM ET

More than 16 months after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita forced an unprecedented exodus from the Louisiana Gulf Coast, tens of thousands of homeowners have decided not to rebuild or have yet to make up their minds, an Associated Press analysis found.

The AP looked at applications to the federally funded Louisiana Road Home program, which dispenses up to $150,000 per homeowner to rebuild or sell out to the state. Nearly 98,000 people have applied so far.

Two-thirds of all applicants said they want to rebuild their damaged properties, while more than a quarter have indicated they want out or can't decide what to do.

But in dozens of towns and neighborhoods, particularly those closest to the coast, the percentages of homeowners on the fence or on the way out are higher than average, with as many as two out of three homeowners not committed to rebuilding. The areas, 31 ZIP codes in all, include several heavily damaged New Orleans neighborhoods such as Lakeview and the Ninth Ward.

Michael Kurth, a McNeese State University economics professor who has done research for the Louisiana Recovery Authority, said he is not surprised.

"With the scale of destruction that occurred in those coastal areas, it wasn't a matter of `Let's return in a month or in two months,'" Kurth said. "In a lot of cases, you couldn't go back to what was there before. It's just not there."

Homeowners who remain undecided could still rebuild their destroyed homes. But by now, many are resettled in new homes, schools and jobs. Louisiana demographer Elliott Stonecipher said it is safe to assume that those who were going to commit themselves to rebuilding would have done so by now.

As many as 123,000 homeowners may be eligible for Louisiana Road Home aid. The program dispenses grants not only to rebuild damaged homes, but also to fortify undamaged ones by raising them off the ground or installing hurricane shutters.

Applicants must indicate whether they want to rebuild; sell and move in-state; sell and leave the state; or are undecided. Thousands of homeowners can still apply for assistance, and those who have already applied can change their minds on whether to rebuild or leave.

"The folks in south Louisiana whose houses were flooded by Katrina and Rita are necessarily going to be a little gun-shy," LRA executive director Andy Kopplin said. "There are some areas that are more vulnerable than others."

In Arabi, Chalmette and Meraux — all in hard-hit St. Bernard Parish, downriver from New Orleans — roughly two-thirds of applicants want to move out or are still uncertain about whether to rebuild.

"My old neighbors won't be back. She went to Covington. This one went to Tennessee," said Gerald Perry, a 59-year-old Chalmette man, pointing to the abandoned properties on either side of his newly fixed home. "They let a little water scare them."

In some cases, there is nothing to go back to.

Karen Ritter, 45, said the home she shares with her 80-year-old mother in Arabi is on the verge of collapse.

Other homeowners are old and have "lived here all their lives. They had everything they lived for in their houses. If they don't have children to help them, there's nothing for them to do" but give up and move out, Ritter said.

St. Bernard Parish President Henry "Junior" Rodriguez called the pullback from coastal areas a "knee-jerk reaction." He predicted residents eventually will be lured back: "People are infatuated with water. They love to be near water."

soph and the quest for the holy doschers...

about...hmmm...Lemme count...i guess it was 11 years ago my high school buddy JD and I took a road trip to Charleston, SC via Statesboro, GA (to pick up the Ensign)...

While there, we were awed by the sight of a grocery store named for a feminine hygiene product. Doschers...aka "Douchers" was one of our favorite sites in the city. now, 11 years later, I sit with my 3 year-old daughter in that parking lot to pick her sister up from the bus.

weird.Also, i still have this commemorative pee cup in my car, sophie just finished using it and is dumping it out here...

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

The Signal is Received at Sundance!

There's nothing better than waking up for a lousy corporate gig stuck out in the country of South Carolina and seeing Scott Poythress' beautiful face and the words "$2.3 million" under it.

This years' Sundance Film Festival featured the arrival of PopFilms' "The Signal". A 3-part horror film helmed by David Bruckner, Dan Bush, and Pops' own Jacob Gentry.

Click these links to check some press on the whole affair and be sure to peep the film's MySpace page.
The Peeps speak for themselves here…
Official site - Do you have the crazy or not?
Ain't It Cool News' write up
Interviews with the Directors Jacob and Dan, and a comparison to PJ's 'Bad Taste'...Quite the compliment!

Congrats guys...You've earned every bit of your success.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Brilliant piece @ AlterNet - Please RE-Post - Finally, Alpharetta Explained!!!!

The Radical Christian Right Is Built on Suburban Despair

By Chris Hedges, AlterNet
Posted on January 19, 2007, Printed on January 19, 2007

The engine that drives the radical Christian Right in the United States, the most dangerous mass movement in American history, is not religiosity, but despair. It is a movement built on the growing personal and economic despair of tens of millions of Americans, who watched helplessly as their communities were plunged into poverty by the flight of manufacturing jobs, their families and neighborhoods torn apart by neglect and indifference, and who eventually lost hope that America was a place where they had a future.

This despair crosses economic boundaries, of course, enveloping many in the middle class who live trapped in huge, soulless exurbs where, lacking any form of community rituals or centers, they also feel deeply isolated, vulnerable and lonely. Those in despair are the most easily manipulated by demagogues, who promise a fantastic utopia, whether it is a worker's paradise, fraternite-egalite-liberte, or the second coming of Jesus Christ. Those in despair search desperately for a solution, the warm embrace of a community to replace the one they lost, a sense of purpose and meaning in life, the assurance they are protected, loved and worthwhile.

During the past two years of work on the book American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America, I kept encountering this deadly despair. Driving down a highway lined with gas stations, fast food restaurants and dollar stores I often got vertigo, forgetting for a moment if I was in Detroit or Kansas City or Cleveland. There are parts of the United States, including whole sections of former manufacturing centers such as Ohio, that resemble the developing world, with boarded up storefronts, dilapidated houses, pot-hole streets and crumbling schools. The end of the world is no longer an abstraction to many Americans.

Jeniece Learned is typical of many in the movement. She stood, when I met her, amid a crowd of earnest-looking men and women, many with small gold crosses in the lapels of their jackets or around their necks, in a hotel lobby in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. She had an easy smile and a thick mane of black, shoulder length hair. She was carrying a booklet called "Ringing in a Culture of Life." The booklet had the schedule of the two day event she is attending organized by The Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation. The event was "dedicated to the 46 million children who have died from legal abortions since 1973 and the mothers and fathers who mourn their loss."

Learned, who drove five hours from a town outside of Youngstown, Ohio was raised Jewish. She wore a gold Star of David around her neck with a Christian cross inserted in the middle of the design. She stood up in one of the morning sessions, attended by about 300 people, most of them women, when the speaker, Alveda King, niece of Dr. Martin Luther King, asked if there were any "post-abortive" women present. Learned ran a small pregnancy counseling clinic called Pregnancy Services of Western Pennsylvania in Sharon, where she attempted to talk young girls and women, most of them poor, out of abortions.

She spoke in local public schools, promoting sexual abstinence, rather than birth control, as the only acceptable form of contraception. And she had found in the fight against abortion, and in her conversion, a structure, purpose and meaning that previously eluded her. The battle against abortion is one of the Christian Rights's most effective recruiting tools. It plays on the guilt and shame of woman who had the abortions, accusing them of committing murder, and promising redemption and atonement in the "Christian" struggle to make abortion illegal, in the fight for life against "the culture of death."

Her life, before she was saved, was, like many in this mass movement, chaotic and painful. Her childhood was stolen from her. She was sexually abused by a close family member. Her mother periodically woke Learned and her younger sister and two younger brothers in the middle of the night to flee landlords who wanted back rent. The children were bundled into the car and driven in darkness to a strange apartment in another town. Her mother worked nights and weekends as a bartender. Learned, the oldest, often had to run the home. Her younger sister, who was sexually abused by another member of the family, eventually committed suicide as an adult, something Learned also considered. As a teenager she had an abortion.

She was taking classes at Pacific Christian College several years later when she saw an anti-abortion film called The Silent Scream. "You see in this movie this baby backing up trying to get away from this suction tube," she said. "And, its mouth is open and it is like this baby is screaming. I flipped out. It was at that moment that God just took this veil that I had over my eyes for the last eight years. I couldn't breathe. I was hyperventilating. I ran outside. One of the girls followed me from Living Alternative. And she said, 'Did you commit your life to Christ?' And I said, 'I did.' And she said, 'Did you ask for your forgiveness of sins?' And I said, 'I did.' And she goes, 'Does that mean all your sins, or does that mean some of them?' And I said, 'I guess it means all of them.' So she said, 'Basically, you are thinking God hasn't forgiven you for your abortion because that is a worse sin than any of your other sins that you have done.'"

The film brought her into the fight to make abortion illegal. Her activism became atonement for her own abortion. She struggled with depression after she gave birth to her daughter Rachel. When she came home from the hospital she was unable to care for her infant. She thought she saw an 8-year-old boy standing next to her bed. It was, she is sure, the image of the son she had murdered.

"I started crying and asking God over and over again to forgive me," she says. "I had murdered His child. I asked Him to forgive me over and over again. It was just incredible. I was possessed. On the fourth day I remember hearing God's voice. 'I have your baby, now get up!' It was the most incredibly freeing and peaceful moment. I got up and I showered and I ate. I just knew it was God's voice."

In the United States we have turned our backs on the working class, with much of the worst assaults, such as NAFTA and welfare reform, pushed though during President Clinton's Democratic administration. We stand passively and watch an equally pernicious assault on the middle class. Anything that can be put on software, from architecture to engineering to finance, will soon be handed to workers overseas who will be paid a third what their American counterparts receive and who will, like some 45 million Americans, have no access to health insurance or benefits.

There has been, along with the creation of an American oligarchy, a steady Weimarization of the American working class. The top one percent of American households have more wealth than the bottom 90 percent combined. This figure alone should terrify all who care about our democracy. As Plutarch reminded us "an imbalance between the rich and poor is the oldest and most fatal ailment of all republics."

The stories believers such as Learned told me of their lives before they found Christ were heart breaking. These chronicles were about terrible pain, severe financial difficulties, struggles with addictions or childhood sexual or physical abuse, profound alienation and often thoughts about suicide. They were chronicles without hope. The real world, the world of facts and dispassionate intellectual inquiry, the world where all events, news and information were not filtered through this comforting ideological prism, the world where they were left out to dry, abandoned by a government hostage to corporations and willing to tolerate obscene corporate profits, betrayed them.

They hated this world. And they willingly walked out on this world for the mythical world offered by these radical preachers, a world of magic, a world where God had a divine plan for them and intervened on a daily basis to protect them and perform miracles in their lives. The rage many expressed to me towards those who challenge this belief system, to those of us who do not accept that everything in the world came into being during a single week 6,000 years ago because it says so in the Bible, was a rage born of fear, the fear of being plunged back into a reality-based world where these magical props would no longer exist, where they would once again be adrift, abandoned and alone.

The danger of this theology of despair is that it says that nothing in the world is worth saving. It rejoices in cataclysmic destruction. It welcomes the frightening advance of global warming, the spiraling wars and violence in the Middle East and the poverty and neglect that have blighted American urban and rural landscapes as encouraging signs that the end of the world is close at hand.

Believers, of course, clinging to this magical belief, which is a bizarre form of spiritual Darwinism, will be raptured upwards while the rest of us will be tormented with horrors by a warrior Christ and finally extinguished. This obsession with apocalyptic violence is an obsession with revenge. It is what the world, and we who still believe it is worth saving, deserve.

Those who lead the movement give their followers a moral license to direct this rage and yearning for violence against all those who refuse to submit to the movement, from liberals, to "secular humanists," to "nominal Christians," to intellectuals, to gays and lesbians, to Muslims. These radicals, from James Dobson to Pat Robertson, call for a theocratic state that will, if it comes to pass, bear within it many of the traits of classical fascism.

All radical movements need a crisis or a prolonged period of instability to achieve power. And we are not in a period of crisis now. But another catastrophic terrorist attack on American soil, a series of huge environmental disasters or an economic meltdown will hand to these radicals the opening they seek. Manipulating our fear and anxiety, promising to make us safe and secure, giving us the assurance that they can vanquish the forces that mean to do us harm, these radicals, many of whom have achieved powerful positions in the Executive and legislative branches of government, as well as the military, will ask us only to surrender our rights, to pass them the unlimited power they need to battle the forces of darkness.

They will have behind them tens of millions of angry, disenfranchised Americans longing for revenge and yearning for a mythical utopia, Americans who embraced a theology of despair because we offered them nothing else.

Chris Hedges, a graduate of Harvard Divinity School and former Pulitzer-prize winning foreign correspondent for The New York Times, is the author of American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America.

© 2007 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved.
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Wednesday, January 10, 2007

UPDATE!!!!! Sophie was in studio in January... UPDATE!!!!

so, over the new year week, we set out to Ben and Vera's house in Avondale Estates to record Sophie's long awaited 1st album, Monkey Crazy.

It was a long session, but with the help of her talented background singers we got it down.