Whoo boy, my back hurts. Lower back. It's been varying degrees of not good since mid-to late August. I think I exacerbated things this afternoon while folding shirts. Now in addition to bending down, standing up straight is a dicey proposition. But anyway. I remember how bored and annoyed I was when my brother so much as alluded to his back pain, (he tells me, "just do like ten sit-ups a day. It'll go away." What he forgets, of course, is that sit-ups are exercise, and I don't do that), so I'll quit whining about it now. [Update: I stayed in bed today, the 20th, to give my back a rest. We'll see how it feels tomorrow.]
Anyway, I've been seeing a bunch of stuff on the internets (you may have noticed that calling the internet the "internets" has become de rigueur for "hip" blogs and websites when referring to the internet, alluding, I guess, to Bush's famous verbal slip-up from the 2004 campaign; so I'm succumbing to "peer" pressure, just this once), and I wanted to share some of that stuff with y'all.
1.) Taser guy. Did you guys hear about the University of Florida student who got tazed by campus security because he was being obnoxious at a John Kerry event? Here's a video of that. After seeing it, I felt conflicted. On one hand, this guy's one of those ass-holes who go to events and ask questions primarily to hear themselves speak. There's one at almost every author signing, though never this egregious. They don't care about the answers, they just want to be the center of attention. This guy seems like that kind of guy to me. But when the campus cops arrive on the scene after he's managed half a question, standing just to one side with arms crossed as though waiting for him to ask what they might deem an "inappropriate" question, it gets my dander up. Why did the campus cops need to be there? He was being annoying, but not yet disruptive. He asks his 3 questions, all of which seemed worthwhile, if not articulately stated (though being inarticulate is still legal I believe), and then at the mention of Skull and Bones, they just start hauling him away. The crowd applauds because the punk is going away, but the question he keeps asking the cops, "Why are you doing this?" seems pertinent, and "Because you're annoying the crowd," doesn't seem like a good enough answer.
On the ground, he says, "Please don't taze me, bro." And then they taze him.
I'll spare everyone my cheap outrage. I think it was a clear overreaction on the part of the campus cops, and I think that overreaction is endemic of a more pervasive atmosphere of clamping down on speech that comes right down from the Bush administration. If it's okay to confine protestors to so-called "free speech zones", if it's okay to boot people from public places for wearing anti-Bush t-shirts, then it's not a stretch that some campus cops would think tazing an obnoxious but non-threatening questioner would be a-OK. These are not happy times for people who enjoy civil rights. Is it January 2009 yet?
On the other hand, there's this. This makes him a less-than-palatable free speech martyr, particularly the part about him barging suddenly to the front of the line. I don't know what else preceded what the video shows, but the fact that four campus cops appear alert and ready to go so soon after he takes the mic makes me think Andrew Meyer was, perhaps, up to some serious douchebaggery prior to the clips. Not that that excuses what the cops did, but it might help explain it.
One other thought: what if these cops did not have a taser? What would they have used to "subdue" Meyer? Would they have used their billy clubs a la Rodney King in front of John Kerry and all of those students and cameras? Doubtful. I think they would have done what they'd begun to do, namely carry him bodily out of the room. But when Meyer made that too difficult, the campus cops decided to pin him down and make use of the handy-dandy, non-messy, non-lethal zappy toy that makes people do what you tell them. If I dared talk back to a cop with a short fuse, would I rather be billy-clubbed into submission or tazed? Kind of a shitty choice, sure, but though a taser doesn't pose the same threat of undo concussions as a enthusiastically-wielded nightstick, I think the advent and rapid adoption of tasers by law enforcement is a real danger to we, the unarmed citizenry. (sigh) Oh, cops.
2.) The New York Times Book Review has a blog now. Called Paper Cuts, it's updated by Dwight Garner, the senior editor of the Book Review. It's cool because the blog offers a glimpse into what one important institution of the New York literary scene thinks is worth posting up about on any given day. Every now and again, Garner talks to a novelist about what music they're listening to. In this post, Garner asks Joshua Ferris, author of recent much-discussed novel (written in the first person plural -- "we did this", "we did that") "And Then We Came to the End", this question. The question I have after reading these posts, is "where are they exposed to all of this music?" Where do they get their super-awesome taste? I, for example, listen primarily to film soundtracks. This excludes me from most cool-guy music conversations, which makes me sad. Stephen King is always talking about what new music he's listening to, but a.) he's rich and could buy whatever CDs he wants, and b.) he gets whatever CDs he wants for free anyway. Is it internet radio? I know it can't be regular FM radio, so what is it? Are they just spending their money on CDs as opposed to books? Me wantee new music, the liking of which will make me cool.
I guess I'm suffering from new music withdrawal. Since downloading music off of Morpheus essentially shut down my laptop with viruses, I haven't gotten back into the practice of stealing music since the computer guy cleaned it off. Score one for the RIAA, I suppose.
3.) Did you know Richard Russo has a new book coming out next Tuesday? A review was published in the Boston Globe this past Sunday for Russo's first novel since his brilliant "Empire Falls", which won the Pulitzer in 2001. I've read everything this guy's put out and this is, for a book nerd, pretty exciting news. Pity me.
I guess that's enough for one post.
Have awesome Fridays tomorrow, all of you. I demand it.