Thursday, March 30, 2006


Check out my new rims...

Wednesday, March 29, 2006


I recall very clearly. When Jim Rowland was on the city council he told me, in no uncertain terms, that he was fundamentally and morally opposed to sales tax because of how it disproportionately impacts the poor.

Yet I read in the paper today:
Jackson County Sports Complex Authority executive director Jim Rowland, a former city councilman, said he was excited about the possibility of getting a Final Four.

“We were anticipating it,” Rowland said. “It is one more great event we could host as a result of a positive outcome of the election.”

I guess fundamental, moral principles aren't worth much compared to a six-figure patronage job.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

i wanna love you tender


rich people

Forbes' billionaire list is out and, once again, I'm not on it -- thank God. The only Kansas Citian I could find was Donald Hall of Hallmark, who comes in at 428th place in the world, with $1,800,000,000. Not bad for a man who cares enough to send the sappiest.

I was surprised to find no Blocks or Stowers on the list. What other names should I look for? I've sort of drifted out of touch with the Mission Hills crowd, I'm sorry to say.

I went to the list in search of David Glass and Lamar Hunt, our benevolent sports team owners. But neither one of them made it. But, then again, neither of them are Kansas Citians.

But still, they're really contributing locally. They're doing their part to make KC a better place. They're keeping our democratic traditions alive.

What would KC democracy be without rich, self-interested people outspending the poor common folk 2,613 to 1? Would it still be the best system in the world if the elites couldn't dump tons of dough into the hands of a pair of unprincipled snakes like Steve Glorioso and Pat Gray to manipulate a low-turnout April election in order to increase the tax burden for folks who can't even afford their gas bill so that millionaire out-of-towners can sell $100,000-a-year luxury boxes to the Friends of Donald Hall?

So the proponents of this slow-motion mass mugging have ponied up $1.55 million. And who are these so-called advocates? Well, $1.4 million comes from the pockets of the two men who stand to gain the most -- Glass and Hunt. There's another $50 grand from the grunts who'll build this unneeded monstrosity: the Heavy Constructors Association. And rounding out the list are the perrennially misguided sluts at the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce.

Ah, freedom. What did our syllabolically challenged leader say about freedom? Oh yes. Freedom "is the almighty God's gift to every man and woman in this world."


Monday, March 27, 2006

easy choice

The Star ran a helpful article yesterday about the stadium tax referendum. Money quote:
The Royals have lost 100-plus games three out of four years, so what city would embrace them like Kansas City?

Yeah. Good old Kansas City. Where even losers can snarf at the trough.

It occurred to me as I was reading this that our so-called leaders handle money in exactly the way personal finance experts tell us not to.

Like, they're compulsive debtors. They're those pitiable folks who are bound for bankruptcy. The ones who'll have to suffer through old age on a Social Security check.

Seriously. The article says that if this referendum goes down then they could just turn around and ask for a smaller amount -- which is all they're obligated to provide.

So it's like, "Well, I need to have the sink fixed. It's gonna cost $100. But, since I'm going to put it on my credit card anyway, I might as well apply for two new cards and completely rehab the whole kitchen for six grand!"

Yeah. That's smart.

It's also smart the way the dolts pushing this stupid idea are constantly saying it's a $450 million plan. Well, that's not counting interest. This new sales tax is going to raise $800 million over the next 25 years -- nearly half going to to rich, fat, white male bankers in places like New York and Charlotte, North Carolina.

And it seems all the smarter when you couple this with the article last week about how we have a vintage 19th century sewer system (and, no, sewers are not collectable antiques). It's going to cost BILLIONS to un-vintage-ify. And why, pray tell, has this problem not been dealt with? Because our leaders have been on a 30-year shopping binge. Bartle Hall. Kemper Arena. Flush Creek. The new arena. Many, many TIF projects.

It's like a closet full of expensive shoes in a house that's about to fall apart.

If our local leaders were a person. A friend. An aquaintance. Whatever. We'd think they were sick. We'd be talking to mutual friends. We'd be getting together to stage an intervention.

Well, now's our opportunity. On April 4 we can tell them it's time to stop the insanity

black and white and (not) read

This might be a bad sign:

Yesterday I attended the 9 am service at one of the largest churches in the KC metro area. There were perhaps 2,000 people in attendance. The demographics might have been a little skewed -- not a perfect representation of KC's population. But it was a diverse group nonetheless: a little more than half black, 30 or 40 percent white and the rest Hispanic and Asian. I'd say they were mostly middle class, with some very poor people mixed in, and probably a few you could classify as very rich.

Anyway, midway through the service the pastor asked who had read an article in Saturday's Star which quoted a couple of the church's pastors.

Three people raised their hands.


Out of 2,000.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

saturday documentary

Today I cleaned and I went to the library to return books. These events are documented here.

Friday, March 24, 2006


I'm on Amazon already. What a trip.

But Actually, I was already there. If you click on the link in my name you'll see I've already written 26 books.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

The Big Stink

Karen Dillon wrote an excellent story about this city's sewers. Sounds like a crappy subject, but sewers are a pretty compelling issue for anyone in who cares at all about KC.

What makes this story great is that it clearly takes the perspective of the reader. It has a healthy dose of righteous indignation. It's fair and balanced, in that it allows the city officials to have their say. But it still accurately portrays these so-called leaders' comments as complete bunk.

I wish that daily newspapers -- not just theStar -- would make this kind of story the norm rather than the exception. Too often government stories read as if the reporters are scared of what the government officials will think of them. I know it's hard to get those folks to cooperate after they're knocked around with a kick ass story. But, you know, they're not really the audience. They're the ones who are screwing up.

And good God are they screwing up.

How can we even think about building arenas and an absurd rolling roof for the football stadium and a convention center and all this vanity crap when we've got a multi-billion-dollar sewer problem?

Idiots. Total freakin' idiots.

More Meth

Yesterday I asked Geoffery, "Why don't blacks use meth?"

"Because that's a white drug."

"I know. That's why I'm asking."

"Black folks like to know where they are when they get high. That shit's too radical."

"But black people smoke wet."

"And meth's too expensive. We're poor. That's why we smoke crack."

"But meth is cheap. Poor white folks use it."

"Yeah, but that stuff's full of chemicals. It ain't natural."

"And crack is?"

"Joe, crack is cocaine. At least you know where it comes from. And it's too hard to cook it up. You gotta cook that meth shit up in your kitchen, and it'll blow your face off."

"Wait a minute. Are you saying some dumb white biker dude can figure out how to do it, but black folks can't?"

"No Joe! That dumb biker dude get's his face blown off. That's what I'm saying."

I still don't get it. Not that I want blacks to start taking meth. I just don't understand how a cheap street drug can be so -- I don't know -- divided by race.

(For the record: Geoffery doesn't smoke crack; the "we" was a solidarity thing, I think.)

Wednesday, March 22, 2006


I don't read the paper regularly. Would someone please tell me if this report has gotten any coverage?

Amazingly blunt language. I can't believe how awful this stadium deal is. I know I've read stuff about it, how it's one of the worst packages that's ever been put together. But it's really dawning on me how absolutely outrageous this is.

They want us to raise sales taxes -- which disproportionately screw the poor -- to build luxury boxes for the rich?! And the tax is only for Jackson County?! Not Johnson County, where the richest people in the metro live?!?!

I've said it before, and I'll say it again. Our local leaders are sluts, plain and simple. Insecure, stupid sluts who'll hand over their dignity the second someone offers to buy them a drink.

Some of the people behind this crap have actually looked me in the eye and said with a straight face that they're a Democrat, or a liberal. Dude, you're robbing from poor folks to give to rich people! Disgusting. Absolutely disgusting.


Go Away!

A friend of ours came back from a business trip and told us that Omaha rocks. It's got a lively downtown, a developed waterfront and a refreshing sense of community.

All this despite the fact that the city has no major league sports teams.

I'm going to vote no on this referendum to raise taxes to spend half a billion on stadium improvements, and I'm going to cross my fingers and hope that the cheifs and the Royals pack up and leave. KC will be a much better place.

Here's some more righteous grassroots propaganda.

For once in our lives we've got to tell these corrupt, clubby Democrats to stop raising our taxes every freakin' April for their "Big Visions" that don't fit in with what Kansas City obviously wants to be.

Sure, folks want to go to Chiefs games. And they're willing to pay out the nose to do it. Seems like a viable business to me. How 'bout these business owners bo what business folks do: Make an investment to earn some more.

Yeah, we've got this downtown arena coming. Not much we can do about that. Stiill, the fact is that Kansas Citians don't want to go downtown. We want the sidewalks around our houses to be smooth, the roads pothole free. We want our backyards to not flood and our sewers to not leak stench into the summer air.

Sure, let's give incentives to economic development. But lets put them in distressed areas that the market is actually interested in embracing. Not sure-bet places like Zona Rosa up north of the river, but areas that are a little riskier, like the St. John corridor, Troost from 31st to Cleaver II, yet still potentially viable. I'm talkin' micro loans for mom and pops that want to offer good products and services near the places where we live. Not major condo developments. Just a little fertilizer to enhance what'll grow organically.

Our so-called leaders are so freakin' stupid and arrogant.

Half a billion would make a pretty good dent in our $1.5 billion worth of unfinished infrastructure chores.

But our Democratic leaders want to give us bread and circuses. And give boatloads of unearned cash to people who are already filthy rich.


Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Final Cover

Here it is, front and back. Click on the image for bigger ones. Or here for full size.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Weekly Walk

Every Saturday Allie and I take a long walk with the dogs. Today I brought a camera.

Mad About Bubba

We awoke last night to shouts and screams. I went to the window and saw a crowd of people gathered in front of the house across the street. I asked Allie what time it was. 2 AM.

I lingered at the window for a while and watched. The crowd started to roil at the edges like a pot of water on a stove.

"Allie, come check this out," I said. "They're fighting."

Allie put on her glasses and came to the window.

I had to pee so I took a break from the action. When I came back, Allie had the window open.

"Apparently, Gina's mad about Bubba," she told me.

"How do you know?" I asked.

"Because they shouted, 'Gina, you're drunk, and you're mad about Bubba.'"

She added, "And she kept shouting, 'I wouldn't fuck a white bitch!'"

Allie said she's happy we have them as neighbors.

Friday, March 17, 2006


A few weeks ago I came across a fascinating essay by Berkeley sociology professor Loïc Wacquant. It was a real moment of clarity. The main point of the essay is summed up in these three paragraphs:
The task of defining, confining, and controlling African Americans in the United States has been successively shouldered by four "peculiar institutions": slavery, the Jim Crow system, the urban ghetto, and the organizational compound formed by the vestiges of the ghetto and the expanding carceral system. The first three served, each in its own way, both to extract labor from African Americans and to demarcate and ultimately seclude them so that they would not "contaminate" the surrounding white society that viewed them as irrevocably inferior and vile.

These two goals of labor extraction and social seclusion are in tension: extracting a group's labor requires regular intercourse with its members, which may blur the line separating "us" from "them." Conversely, social isolation can make efficient labor extraction more difficult. When the tension between exploitation and exclusion mounts to the point where it threatens to undermine either of them, the institution is re-stabilized through physical violence: the customary use of the lash and ferocious suppression of slave insurrections on the plantation, terroristic vigilantism and mob lynchings in the post-bellum South, and periodic bombings of Negro homes and pogroms against ghetto residents (such as the six-day riot that shook up Chicago in 1919) ensured that blacks kept to their appointed place at each epoch.

But the built-in instabilities of unfree labor and the anomaly of caste partition in a formally democratic and highly individualistic society guaranteed that each of these peculiar institutions would in time be undermined by the weight of its internal tensions as well as by black resistance and external opposition, and be replaced by its successor regime. At each new stage, the apparatus of ethno-racial domination became less total and less capable of encompassing all segments and dimensions of the pariah group's social life. As African Americans differentiated along class lines and acceded to full formal citizenship, the institutional complex charged with keeping them "separate and unequal" grew more differentiated and diffuse, allowing a burgeoning middle and upper class of professionals and salary earners to partially compensate for the negative symbolic capital of blackness through their high-status cultural capital and proximity to centers of political power. But lower-class blacks remained burdened by the triple stigma of "race," poverty, and putative immorality.

But where the essay really changed my understanding of the world was in the passages about the production of race:
Slavery, Jim Crow, and the ghetto are each "race making" institutions: they do not simply process an independently-existing ethno-racial division; rather, each produces (or co-produces) this division (anew) out of inherited demarcations and disparities of group power and inscribes it at every epoch in a distinctive constellation of material and symbolic forms. All three have consistently racialized the arbitrary boundary that sets African Americans apart from all others in the United States by actively denying that boundary's cultural origin in history, and ascribing it instead to the fictitious necessity of biology.

The highly particular conception of "race" that America has invented, virtually unique in the world for its rigidity and social consequences, is a direct outcome of the momentous collision between slavery and democracy. The Jim Crow regime reworked the racialized boundary between the free and the enslaved into a rigid caste separation between "whites" and "Negros" (comprising all persons of known African ancestry, no matter how minimal), that infected every crevice of the postbellum social system in the South. The ghetto, in turn, imprinted this dichotomy onto the spatial and institutional schemas of the industrial metropolis. So much so that, in the wake of the "urban riots" of the sixties, "urban" and "black" became near-synonymous in policy making as well as everyday parlance. And the "crisis" of the city came to stand for the enduring contradiction between the individualistic and competitive tenor of American life, on the one hand, and the continued seclusion of African Americans from it, on the other.48 Now, a fourth "peculiar institution"—joining the hyperghetto with the carceral system—is remolding the social meaning and significance of "race" in accordance with the dictates of neoliberalism. To be sure, the penal apparatus has long served as accessory to ethno-racial domination. But the role of the carceral institution today is different. For the first time in U.S. history, it is the primary apparatus for the social production of "race."

I'd heard the argument that race isn't real before, of course, but I'd never believed it. Now I understand.

Wacquant is expanding this essay into a book, which will be released later this year (cover art by Jean Michel Basquiat -- cool!).

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Book Review

Incredible story. Callie House was a dirt poor woman from Nashville who lead a remarkably large grassroots movement to push the government to pay pensions to ex-slaves. It was obviously a long shot, but the movement was big enough to scare The Man. Government officials cracked down on her, blatantly violating her constitutional rights over and over again. In the end she was found guilty of mail fraud by an all-white jury and locked away in Jefferson City, Missouri, for just long enough to pretty much kill the movement. She went down about the same time Marcus Garvey rose in power and influence.

The book drags a bit in some parts. But you can skim the ponderous parts and still get your money's worth. This is an important chapter in our story. Mary Frances Berry definitely deserves a big hand for digging it up!

Our Tax Dollars


I knew we spent a lot of money on the military, but I didn't know Congress spent more than half of its discretionary budget on it. This chart gives a proportional representation of where our money goes.

There are so many ways to look at this, all of which make me feel really awful inside.

For one, it displays very starkly an overwhelmingly male ethos. It's like, Fuck everyone else! We want our dick toys!!

Or, 51 cents out of every dollar goes to the art of killing people.

And to filthy rich war merchants.

On the other hand, I know thata lot of that money on the right side of the charts -- the help-our-fellow-Americans money -- is totally tainted with bureaucratic dysfunctiionality by the time it reaches street level. As in, idiots like Steve Glorioso and Kathy Walter Mack (KC SchoolDistrict attorney) and thousands upon thousands of unmotivated, disaffected and/or disempowered drones wind up controlling it.


Thank God America's got so many totally freakin' cool redeeming facets. Because it totally sucks otherwise.

Donkey Doo

It's bash on the Democrats day here at KC Soil. This video is hilarious and, unfortunately, totally on point.

Stadium Flap

A couple days ago Dave Helling called me and asked for my opinion about the rising controversy over political blogs and campaign finance disclosure. He said local political snake Steve Glorioso is all in a tizzy about a couple of homegrown website (here, here!) that have dared to speak the truth about the local liberal morons' latest scheme to raise taxes in support of a worthless boondoggle.

I told Dave, "Here's your quote: I find it supremely ironic that Steve Glorioso is bitching about fairness."

Obviously that didn't make it into the article. I think Dave was digging for background and perspective.

With regards to the larger question, I was legitimately stumped. I told Dave that the question aims right at the gray area between two principles I feel passionate about: unfettered free speech and government/political transparency.

But after a few days of thought, and after reading the article, I feel strongly that websites and blogs ought to be placed in the same category as newspapers and other media outlets. The main reason is that it's only fair. As it stands now, the law only protects those who are rich and powerful enough to control the airwaves and buy ink by the gallon. In all honesty, there's never really been anything to stop those folks from using their expensive mediums to push partisan ideas.

My other reason is more gut-level. Honestly, if Steve Glorioso and snakes like him are against it, then I'm for it.

I'm pretty much a left-leaning guy. But it's public-bilking, inside-baseball-playing, idiotic, arrogant whores-to-the-corporate-elite like him that make Democrats damn near unsupportable.

Besides, who would want to do anything to limit such wonderful free expression as this? (Warning, Grandma: It has dirty pictures at the end.)

(Sheesh. Only four posts into the revamped blog and I'm already getting myself in trouble again.)

Vote no on this stupid rolling roof scam!

Full campaign disclosure: I'm broke phi broke, cracka!

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Debate Diary

Some of you who read my blog before it went into hybernation may recall that I was starting up a debate team at a local alternative school. Well, I'm still at it. We meet on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I have five students who regularly attend.

Yesterday was probably our best session of the year. All five kids were there, and when I showed up they were full of energy and ready to debate. They wanted to debate about whether or not drugs should be legalized.

"That sounds good to me," I said. "Except none of you will want to take the negative side."

Fortunately, one kid declared that he was adamently anti-drug, so the teacher and I teamed up with him to go against the other four.

Usually when I'm with kids from De La Salle or Central or wherever and the subject of drugs comes up we talk about crack as the default worst of the worst. But lately I've been trying to mix things up a bit by mentioning meth. I did this yesterday as we were preparing for the practice round. It was interesting because as the round progressed more and more of the students began using meth as an example of the worst drug you could do. At one point one of the kids even suggested that it is so bad that it has no redeeming value.

I wanted to ask the students if they know anyone who does meth, so as to determine if there are any blacks who use it. But the opportunity didn't really arise.

Besides, I'm a little nervous that my experiment with mentioning meth in conversations about drugs might somehow begin some sort of word-of-mouth buzz that'll make meth popular among blacks. Which is a pretty absurd notion, I know.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Design Change

They did a little tweeking of the design. Some color changes, and Marcus and Brandon are drawn just a bit differently. Plus, you can see the spine here. I think the back cover will have a drawing of a classroom with a chalkboard filled with debate jargon and debate-themed drawings, including pictures of Michel Foucault and Aristotle.

Monday, March 13, 2006


Allie found $11 on the ground in our neighborhood. I told her to frame it.

For the past several weeks, Allie has been worried about money. She works freelance. She makes very good money doing so, but the paydays are somewhat unpredictable. So far it has worked like this: She gets worried about running out of money and starving to death. To avoid this she does a lot of work to find more work. The work comes in, often from the most unexpected places, and she gets busy working. Because she's working, she doesn't do a lot of work finding work. So when the work's all done, she gets worried again about where more work is going to come from. And that starts the cycle over again, with her working to find more work.

During the worrisome times she confides in me about her worry. I tell her, "Don't worry. When you put it out there, stuff always comes through. You always find money in the most unexpected places."

And right after I said this she found $11 on the ground. This proved me right. I told her to frame the money. Because she won't really need it. Not with the several thousand dollars of work she's suddenly gotten from the most unexpected places.

These are good things to remember. If you have a computer and are privileged enough to be able read this or any other blog entry, chances are things will work out no matter how tight things seem with money. You will not starve until the revolution comes and the East conquers the West in capitalism.

(Allie will not frame the money but instead she has photographed it and she will use it as wallpaper on her laptop.)

Sunday, March 12, 2006


Could someone out there please tell me how to get rid of the gap at the top of the page, above my title graphic? It doesn't show up when I hit "preview" in Blogger. But after I upload it shows up in both Safari and Firefox.

Please help me.


This week I received six copies of the galleys for my book. I give five to the principle subjects of the book, and kept one for myself.

The cover here is pretty much what it'll look like when it's released this fall, except it'll be a hardback. I'm very excited. I think the art looks cool.

It weighs in at 477 pages. I'm worried that's a bit too long. But too late now.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Grocery Store

In the supermarket checkout line today I went to pull out my debit card, and as I did the KKK card that was hidden in my wallet slid out an inch or so, just far enough for black checkout lady to see the bold, red "KKK" printed across the top. I wasn't sure what to do.

I'd been carrying the card in my wallet for the last month or so, ever since I was at the Johnson County Library and I opened up a book called Profiles in Black Power and the card tumbled out in my lap. This was a disconcerting experience. I kept the card. I showed it to the kids at Central and told them the story and we were all suitably appalled. I'm not sure why I kept the card. I guess as a reminder of having found it in a book about Black Power, as a testament to how chicken shit and sleezy KKK types are.

A few weeks ago the card fell out of my wallet and I told Allie that I should get rid of it lest it fall out at a moment when it would not be welcome, like when I'm around black folks, which I often am.

So it came out today in the checkout line. I don't know if the woman saw it. She works there a lot and I shop there a lot. I don't want her to think that I'm with the KKK.

Right before the card fell out, the checkout lady had to call a manager over to her register to deal with someone's check. The woman had a gaunt face that looked like a skull. Her teeth appeared as though they are rotting. I immediately assumed that she is on meth.

I've been making this assumption a lot lately, ever since I saw a special about meth on Frontline. The show reported on the physical effects of meth. One of the cops interviewed for the show said he can spot a meth addict from a mile away. After seeing the show I now think I can too.

I live in a relatively poor area of town. It's racially diverse. Often when I see whites walking down the main drag in my part of town I take a good long look to see if they have sunken cheekbones and eyes. When they do I say to myself, "I bet they're on meth." There are a lot of white people with this look.

The woman had the look. It was interesting because she's obviously gainfully employed. As she dealt with the check I conjured a story about her. I imagined that she was high on meth at that very moment. It seemed plausible because she seemed to have a lot of energy. I thought that maybe this woman thought the drug actually helps her, that it gives her the energy she needs to survive in the 21st century marketplace. But then I also thought about how tenuous this would be if it were true. My hunch is that a meth addict would eventually run into big problems down the road and their success would disappear along with their cheeks and teeth.

Then I wondered, why don't blacks do meth? Do they?

What am I going to do about this woman who thinks I'm a Klansman? I hope she never covers the express lane while I'm there.