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  INCOMING! APRIL 11, 2005.  


The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics is holding a job fair in Chicago today. The fair is for people interested in working for … the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Am I the only one who finds this fishy? I mean, say you're a President or a Congressman with poor approval ratings, and you want to improve your public image. Wouldn't your first move be to artificially inflate employment numbers by hiring as many people as possible for the Bureau of Labor Statistics? The job description is easy: Everybody stand around and count each other! Ha! Yer not foolin' me, Uncle Sam. I knows me a boondoggle when I sees one!

In other expo-related news, the Hannover Fair launches in Germany today, the "world's leading showcase for industrial technology." I can only assume this means music by Kraftwerk, and lots of it. Pale-skinned performance artists in skinny black shirts roaming the convention center as Metropolis flickers on every wall and the repetitive electronics of "Pocket Calculator" bounce through the smoky air. Booths constructed in geometrically impossible shapes, lit in harsh contrast from below. Maybe a demonstration of washing machine as rhythm track by Einstürzende Neubauten, or a merchandising seminar with Rammstein. We Americans may have Trent Reznor and Al Jourgenson, but the Hannover Fair is a strong reminder that we're way behind in the industrial race with Germany. Maybe Chicago should spend less time contributing to government employment schemes and more time trying to resurrect Wax Trax!

Of course, if you know who Einstürzende Neubauten, Rammstein and Al Jourgenson are, then you're probably also aware that today is the birthday of Anton LaVey, the deceased leader of the Church of Satan, born in Chicago in 1930. It's a good thing LaVey wasn't born in Germany a couple centuries earlier, or he may have been put to death for his beliefs under the Holy Roman Empire. However, on this day in 1775, Germany held its very last execution for witchcraft, so anytime after that would have worked out just fine. It's not as if the Germans ever found other crazy reasons to execute people…

Oh, yeah -- they did. And today marks the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the concentration camp at Buchenwald, where some of the worst atrocities in the history of humankind took place. Dr. Harold Herbst, a New Yorker who took part in the liberation under General Patton's Third Army, recounts a particularly macabre moment on the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Web site: "…I was walking to the back of the barracks just to see what was back there. And as I walked by a little window that probably was one foot square or thereabouts, I heard a voice and I



turned around and I saw a living skeleton talk to me... and he said, 'thank God the Americans have come.' And that was a funny feeling. Did you ever talk to a skeleton that talked back?"

Talking skeletons. Sounds like something a witch would create, eh? Maybe Germany should have continued executing folks with those proclivities rather than picking on an innocent race. Or maybe nobody should ever be executed for anything at all…




The New York State Assembly will be tackling this very issue today when a bill to reinstitute the death penalty goes to a legislative committee for a vote. The Democratic majority in the Assembly will no doubt strike the bill down, although this will only serve to delay the issue for a while. Despite the devotion of his Republican cronies to a "culture of life," Governor Pataki does seem to like his death penalty, so how it'll all end up is anybody's guess.

Meanwhile, other tough moral issues are being taken on by our neighbors to the north, as Canada's House of Commons votes today on an amendment that would define legal marriage as a union between a man and a woman, while providing a form of civil union for gay couples. It'll probably pass, although no legislation is currently under review to officially determine who in the couple would the "Mountie" and who would be the "Mounter."

Max Weinberg, if you're reading this, I'd appreciate a rimshot on that one. Thanks.

The fate of another type of union was suddenly in question today in 1861, when a Confederate general opened fire on Fort Sumter, thus starting the American Civil War. Indeed, today is a big day for interior strife on the American continents; on this day in 2002, popular president Hugo Chavez was ousted from power in Venezuela by his moneyed, U.S.-backed opponents. His return to power a mere three days later is brilliantly chronicled in the documentary The Revolution will not be Televised, which unfortunately is still pretty much unavailable for viewing in the U.S. If you


hear of a screening in your area -- run, don't walk. Seriously, it may be a documentary, but it's also the best action film I've seen since Die Hard.




Speaking of action films, NBC will be making a grab for a little of that Passion of the Christ sugar tonight when they debut their miniseries "Revelations," in which Bill Pullman and a hot nun watch a bunch of crazy shit from The Bible actually happen. If I were a hot nun, I'd be more concerned about this exact day in 2029, when NASA predicts that an asteroid called 2004 MN4 has something like a 1-in-45 chance of striking the planet. Most scientists say it probably won't hit, but it's at least more likely than, say… a bunch of crazy shit from The Bible actually happening.

Plus, today is the Ides of April. Doesn't have quite as much going for it historically as the Ides of March, but still -- sounds pretty sinister when you say it out loud…

…Which is something you won't be allowed to do if you take part in the "Day of Silence," an event sponsored by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network in which people who support making anti-gay bias unacceptable in schools take a day-long vow of silence. Now, I'm an advocate of all civil rights, and I definitely favor non-violent protest over, you know, the kind that happened on the Ides of March, but this whole event strikes me as fucking stupid. Respect for differing lifestyles is best advanced through education and



communication -- so the bright idea here is to disrupt the classroom and not talk to anybody? I don't have the answer to making life easier for a gay kid in high school anymore than I knew how to stop getting picked on myself back then, but in the real world, this type of showy, bitchy thing just seems to invite harassment.




And you can always count on Christians to accept that invitation. Today is the "Day of Truth," established by the Alliance Defense Fund to counter the promotion of the "homosexual agenda" and express an opposing viewpoint from a Christian perspective. Students are encouraged to pass out cards to their peers between classes that


express the following:

I am speaking the Truth to break the silence. I believe in equal treatment for all, and not special rights for a few. I believe in loving my neighbor, but part of that love means not condoning detrimental personal and social behavior. I believe that by boldly proclaiming the Truth, hurts will be halted, hearts will be healed, and lives will be saved.

I hereby offer a few quick amendments to this card, if the Alliance would be good enough to hear me out (my comments in brackets):

I am speaking the Truth to break the silence [not because I just like telling people what to do]. I believe in equal treatment for all, and not special rights for a few [the few being gay or non-Christian, and the special rights being equal treatment]. I believe in loving [organizing against, ostracizing, refusing to understand and treating as morally inferior] my [homo] neighbor, but part of that love means not condoning detrimental personal and social behavior [because clearly, I know better than everybody what's good for them]. I believe that by boldly proclaiming the Truth [unless it pertains to the age of the earth or the origin of the species, in which case I favor crazy bullshit], hurts will be halted, hearts will be healed, and lives will be saved [and God will stop giving fags the AIDS they deserve and help them to live untrue, uncomfortable lives in the service of invisible, improvable and illogical forces invented by savages more than 2000 years ago].

See? Isn't some well-placed sarcasm so much better than a vow of silence [and doesn't it make you feel intellectually superior] Hey! Who wrote that?




Today's the deadline for income reporting tax in America. Even if you're getting a return, there's something depressing about having to comb through all of your earnings and report it to the government. There's no pretending you're a kid anymore when you've got to do your taxes. Plus, how do you handle filing status if you're in a same-sex couple? Even worse, what if the IRS won't accept "counting co-workers" as a legitimate trade? Those new Labor Statistics jobs will be worthless.

That's why I expect The Amityville Horror to go over very well tonight. Nothing puts a troubled mind at ease like watching a bunch of ghosts wreck shit. I don't know how good this remake will be, but I don't begrudge the American public a bit of familiar escapism. Just -- please -- I think we can all agree on this -- take a vow of silence for the couple of hours in which the movie runs. Gay, Christian, chicken or child, refraining from shouting commands to the characters in a horror movie is truly the most positive step anybody can take toward improving human relations in the modern world.




Chad Fifer is a Los Angeles-based writer. Visit him at


INCOMING! runs every Monday on The Black Table.