October 17th, 2000

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Of drunken babbling and weird weekends...

One of the more interesting people I have met in my life is Louis Thoreaux.

Once upon a time, long ago, downtown San Jose had a small, somewhat interesting and eccentric community. Louis had just started writing for The Metro, the local "alternative" paper... and was really a street-level kinda guy. He got to know and to document the odd behaviour of downtown S.J.'s streetlife. Louis would go out to drink with one or another of these characters in tow, much to the chagrin of local bartenders, who probably booted the person from the bar only a few days ago.

What impressed me about Louis is that he was somewhat like me at the time, somewhat quiet and unassuming, yet he was able to befriend and connect with these people on some kind of level. He wasn't just interested in getting a story... he had a great deal of kindness and a kind of childlike curiosity about everything that allowed him to get past societal barriers and wiggle his way into odd subcultures, and sometimes, bravely, into dangerously awkward situations... For obvious reasons, though, we both avoided getting too involved with downtown San Jose's odder characters. At a certain point, you have to say to yourself "That person's reality is amazingly strange... an interesting place to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there..."

Well, about 4 years after Louis left downtown San Jose, I noticed him on Michael Moore's TV Nation... which, of course, could never survive on television, but was easily the best social satire on the air. I thought Louis' bits on groups like the Ku Klux Klan were brilliant... it seemed to be exactly what he was meant to do all along... well, at least I thought that way until I saw his own show on Bravo, Louis Theroux's Weird Weekends which was even better. Don't know why I didn't check it earlier, but the show has a website. Unfortunately, Bravo seem to be taking a break from showing any more episodes at this moment, but hopefully this will not be the last we all see from Louis...

Unfortunately, most of the most interesting and most eccentric of S.J. aren't around today... they have long since become terminally intoxicated versions of their old selves, vanishing without a whisper, or they have moved on and somehow survived those days, choosing to extricate their eccentric behavior, doing selective surgery on themselves... cutting away the cancer that made them uniquely dysfunctional. Either way, they aren't the same old personalities anymore. There also seems to be a shortage of promising new eccentrics to take their place... About the only true downtown eccentric still left standing is Bill Chew, the cowboy hat wearing roller skater who is in constant motion, except when he stops to tell you about his latest (unsuccessful) campaign for mayor. All this goes to show you... if you aspire to lasting eccentricity, it helps to stay fit.
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A message from Bravo...

"Thanks for contacting Bravo, The Film and Arts Network. We are delighted that Louis Therouxs Weird Weekends will return in January for a second season! Check back with us in December when well have dates and times."

So that is what Louis has been up to... so there. ;-)
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the debate debacle...

You know your country is f*cked when the political debates are not only rigged, but have corporate sponsorship...

Tonight's debate, in case you didn't know, is sponsored by Budweiser!
... yes... Budweiser! Proud to be your Bud!

How did such a big company come to sponsor the debates? Well, it's like this... Democratic and Republican leaders were very miffed when the League of Women Voters allowed John Anderson to take part in the 1980 debates... you see, Anderson created a dangerous precedent... I mean, anyone could run for office!

As a result, these concerned Republicans and Democrats took it upon themselves to form the Commission for Presidential Debates, which, of course, would allow them to control just who could take part in the debates. They set rules that made it even more difficult for anyone who wasn't a Republican or Democrat to take part in the debates... unfortunately, Perot managed to meet the stricter criteria anyway, so they changed the rules again... This year, they have managed to protect us all from third party candidates by requiring that such a candidate have no less than a 15% average rating on several polls, some of which don't even count third party candidates!

Um... all I can say is that any reasonable person should see how grossly unfair this whole election has been. From my perspective, while Gore may be a better choice than Bush, they are enormous juggernauts... the will of the majority is such that if I vote for either candidate, I am throwing my vote away, especially if you consider the outdated Electoral System that was designed for a distant past where counting every vote just wasn't practical. What that means is that your vote doesn't count for anything if you either vote for the person who doesn't win the electoral votes for your state, or if you vote in excess of the amount needed to win... in other words, more than half of our votes are pointless...

If you think your one vote for Gore will make a difference, think again... but it can matter much more for Nader, since if the Green Party can get 5% of the vote, not only will they get matching funds in the next election, they will also seriously challenge the political establishment, particularly when it comes to the exclusionary and corrupt practices of the Republicans and Democrats to shut third parties out of the debates.

I can honestly say that I do not believe that we will have good government until the political system has been reformed. If Gore won, do you honestly believe that he would reform the political system? ...or would he just use the issue as a way of attacking the Republicans, or increasing the chance for the Democrats to win future elections while making no allowances for third parties... After all, aren't the Democrats just as culpable in these exclusionary practices as the Republicans? In short, aren't they stealing the public forum and essentially stacking the ballot boxes? As long as we have unfair debates, candidates for hire, and a system that invalidates the votes of millions of voters, then there will be a lot more wasted votes out there than those cast for third party candidates...

Of course, the Democrats and Republicans don't want to be associated with vote theft, so they still need someone(s) with big money to sponsor the debates... fortunately, Budweiser was kind enough to kick up a lot of money, in exchange for being the sole sponsor for the Missouri debates. So, with that in mind, I hope any of you who want to vote for Bush or Gore will pick up a six-pack of Bud, rush home to watch the debates, pop open a cool one, and, ideally, choke on it. 'nuff said.