April 01, 2015

King Dork Approximately

Posted by Dr. Frank at 12:06 AM

March 19, 2015

Trust the state. The state is your friend. It hardly ever uses its power to oppress people, particularly minorities.

A few links of the day, on a general "careful what you wish for" theme. Proponents of greater state control in a good cause never seem to consider the quite likely possibility that these instruments of enforcement might well be turned against themselves.

1. Here's an almost literally interminable denunciation of the First Amendment, the United States, and liberalism in the name of furthering "progressive" aims for a more just society.

Now, it may well be a parody, or "trolling" or somesuch. On the other hand, it may not be, and I've bumped up against enough right-on good and true self-identifying "progressives" who sincerely share these views to put that question in irresolvable doubt. If this particular writer is not sincere, she might as well be. tl;dr (and boy is it ever "tl"): the US is backward and uncivilized for failing to join Europe and other more "progressive" countries in imprisoning those who express unpleasant, unhelpful, offensive, or otherwise forbidden views about this or that. In a better world (e.g. Australia) people would be judged "automatically guilty of offending, insulting, humiliating, or intimidating minorities unless they can prove their innocence beyond any reasonable doubt." Further: "in Australia, you absolutely cannot call yourself a progressive unless you actively work to criminalize all forms of un-progressive speech."

Well, what could go wrong? "Progressive" in the sense used here is quite vague, characterizing a mood and a sense of cultural affinity rather than anything specific or concrete; and what might, over time, constitute the presumptively inviolable ok "progressive" type of speech is accordingly subject to a great deal of uncertainty. (Indeed, it varies widely from progressive to progressive at present; everyone has an ox they'd rather not see gored, even the putative "good people.") Moreover, states can and will use such laws as pretexts to target those it deems to be enemies, who could well include some of the good people, oddly enough. How do you know whether your ideas are forbidden or "okay" at any given point? Answer: wait to see if the state decides to punish you for them. Trust the state. The state is your friend. It hardly ever uses its power to oppress people, particularly minorities.

Indeed,the notion that the sort of system proposed here is likely to protect minorities, rather than subject them to arbitrary abuse, now or down the road, is puzzling-to-insane. It can only seem sensible, it seems to me, to someone who believes he or his will never, ever be in the crosshairs, a particularly ludicrous assumption for a left-activist to make. In fact, this essay itself feels quite hate-y, as it were. Would our ingenuous Australian progressive care to roll the dice and let someone else decide whether or not she should be imprisoned for it? The First Amendment is an attempt to take the state out of that equation, and thank God we've got it. Maybe, if the article is a parody, that's the point being made here as well, oblique, leaden, and interminable though it may be. ("Assaults on the human dignity of Muslims are simply not tolerated in Europe." Irony or mere distance from awareness of reality? You decide. Regardless, Bill of Rights all the way.)

2. Fredrik deBoer comments on the latest Laura Kipnis controversy summarized here. tl;dr: Professor Kipnis wrote a flippant article decrying sexual policing and the new censorious spirit on campus, in response to which a group of students showed up outside her office with mattresses (because apparently this is a thing now -- the mattress is the new pitchfork) demanding that the university officially condemn her, and demonstrating her point more eloquently than the essay itself ever could. Irony noted by deBoer, who adds:

That should be a lesson to the left in general: we should oppose incursions on free speech not merely out of principle but also because the left is vulnerable and lacks power, by its very nature. Precisely because we speak for powerless constituencies, the left will very rarely control the ability to dictate which kinds of speech are permissible. We are much more likely to be censored than to effectively censor others. Only in the funhouse mirror views of campus life or online bubbles could we become so sure of our own ability to dictate who gets to say what, when. It’s for that reason that I say, for example, that the day we pass anti-hate speech legislation in this country is the day that Palestinian activism is declared hate speech, because of inequities in political power in this country. The left’s flirtations with censorship are not merely wrong on principle; they’re self-destructive.
Indeed.

3. Finally, a quote from Reason's Robby Soave, in his post about the latest case of abuse by Virginia's Department of Alcohol Beverage Control. (They beat a black UVA student bloody after he was turned away from a bar.) Apparently the increased police presence was at least partly instituted "for the protection of women."

Soave:

It does suck. But as was the case with the terrible choking death of Eric Garner, liberals should remember that a general call for more things to be illegal—for the government to do more about a problem—is by necessity a call for increasingly vigorous policing. A demand for bigger government is essentially a request for more clashes between cops and citizens (socially-marginalized citizens, in particular).

Or, in meme form:

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Whenever government agents are caught abusing citizens on the basis of some inane pretext, well-meaning people always respond with sincere calls for the institution of still more such pretexts, that is, for greater, rather than lesser, effective power to the institutions responsible for the abuse. There are great problems in our society, obviously, but if anything is clear from the last several decades, it's that you can't simply criminalize your way out of social problems without the risk of making them far worse. e.g., the War on Drugs most egregiously but I believe it's something like a generally applicable dynamic as well. Activism for greater state power on behalf of those most vulnerable and likely to suffer from it truly boggles my mind.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 06:02 PM

March 18, 2015

We've got to catch this guy in the act of paying for the stuff we're selling him...

But he doesn't have any money. So, we just give him some money, then have him give it right back to us, wouldn't that work? I don't know, that might make it look kind of implausible that's he's at fault, like the only reason he did it is because we arranged it all and told him what to say and what to do and who to take the money from and who to give it to. I know, we'll give the money to someone else to give to him, then tell him to give it back to us. Wait, can't we just skip the middleman and give the money directly to ourselves, blaming it on him? And actually why does there even need to be any money in the first place? We can just say there was some money, somewhere, and it'd be the same difference. And that way we could even maybe use the technique on people who aren't mentally ill. That would really widen our field of targets. No, no shortcuts, this is a big case. We have to do it by the book.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 06:24 PM

The Best of All Possible Charts and Graphs

A revolving metal cylinder containing a sacred text, the Tibetan prayer wheel is set in motion by the turn of a human hand. The result is an automated form of prayer, which the votary believes may secure good fortune and the prospect of liberation from the round of birth and death. The belief system that the prayer wheel serves may possess a certain archaic charm, with its sacred texts displaying a dialectical subtlety not often found in western philosophy. Still, it will be self-evident to any modern mind that the device is thoroughly unscientific. How much better to fashion a high-tech prayer wheel – an electronic tablet containing inspirational statistics on the progress of humankind, powered by algorithms that show this progress to be ongoing.

Unlike the old-fashioned prayer wheel, the device would be based on the latest scientific knowledge. Programmed to collect and process big data, it would have the ability to deliver statistics that never fail to show long-term improvement in the human condition. If regress of any kind was happening, it would appear as a temporary pause in the forward march of the species. In order to ward off moods of doubt – to which even the most convinced believers in improvement are occasionally prone – the device would broadcast sound versions of the uplifting statistics. Best of all, the device would be designed to be worn at all times.

-- John Gray, on the role of the stats, charts, and graphs in Steven Pinker's account of our nature's better angels' inexorable Whiggish progress from the Englightenment to the positivist earthly paradise that is allegedly just about almost pretty much here already. (He also references the matrices of John Dee's angels, unexpectedly and aptly. The sweeping final section would be worth reading for the masterful rhetoric alone, even if he weren't on to something, which I believe he is.)


Posted by Dr. Frank at 04:23 PM

March 12, 2015

Pipo Marta Beppe

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Posted by Dr. Frank at 08:12 PM

Our Love Will Last Forever and Ever

This is evidently a school project -- I've linked to this guy's videos of "Sackcloth and Ashes" and "Love is Dead" before. Anyway, nice job, Gus.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 06:49 PM

March 05, 2015

King Dork

Posted by Dr. Frank at 09:40 PM

Here's some links

Mostly just random:

-- At the end of a run of joyful riffing on the manifold absurdities of Treacherous Love by Beatrice Sparks (of Go Ask Alice fame) the host of this podcast has nice things to say about King Dork and my musical oeuvre, if oeuvre means what I think it does. (The podcast's theme is "godawful books," and it was funny/interesting enough that I checked out a few other episodes as well. Good-natured ridicule is the best kind, and this is fun stuff.)

-- here's an interview I did for WYPL's Book Talk program in Memphis.

-- Q&A w/me in the Berkeley Monthly.

-- King Dork Approximately is on this list of "six of the best YA outsider stories" on the Barnes & Noble teen blog; also on that blog (and I can't remember if I've linked to it before so if so, sorry) King Dork appears as a Catcher in the Rye counterpoint on < href="http://www.barnesandnoble.com/blog/teen/some-actual-young-adult-suggestions-for-times-young-adult-list/">this Time magazine-baiting list.

-- Dr. Frank, the Punks in Vegas interview.

-- I wound up on this list of 15 authors to watch on Popcrush.

-- They compared me to Sondheim ("a Sondheim he ain't...") I think that's what the reference in this Washington Post post is getting at.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 08:56 PM

March 03, 2015

March April

Here be my shows update. Some are book things (where I usually play songs) and some are MTX etc. rock and roll shows. See if there's anything you like.

Thurday, March 12

Indigo Literacy Night, Frost Elementary, 530 Gettysburg Dr, San Jose, CA 95123. 6 PM.

w/Dashka Slater, Jennifer Fosberry, Sarah Jamila Stevenson


Wednesday, March 18

Adobe Books, 3130 24th St, San Francisco, California 94103

7PM. with Bucky Sinister, and Michael T. Fournier. Note, this is at the new location of Adobe on 24th. Should be a good time so come on by. (Facebook page here.)


Saturday, March 21

Geekfest 2015, 924 Gilman Street, Berkeley, CA 94710

Noon - 8PM. Free. w/Black Fork, Bobby Joe Ebola and the Children MacNuggits, Jewdriver, the Hammerbombs and many more. This'll be a solo acoustic set from me.


Friday, March 27

Thee Parkside, 1600 17th Street, San Francisco, CA 415-252-1330.

MTX show w/the Queers, the Bombpops, and the Piniellas. $20. Buy tickets here.


Saturday, March 28

The Troubadour, 9081 Santa Monica Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90069.

MTX show w/the Queers, The Bombpops, and the Piniellas. $20. Buy tickets here.


Sunday, March 29

Burgerama, The Observatory, 3503 S. Harbor Blvd., Santa Ana, CA. 714-957-0600.

This is a big festival that MTX and the Queers are crashing. I'll get to say I shared a bill with Gang of Four, Weezer, and Roky Erickson, kinda like the time we played in a parking lot marginally related to show featuring U2, I guess. Real show biz, in other words.


Saturday, April 4

Atomic Books, 3620 Falls Rd, Baltimore, Maryland 21211

5PM. This is a pre-show bookstore appearance, the show being the Insub Spring Thing listed just below. Reading, signing, Q&A and (probably mostly) acoustic songs. Facebook event page here.

and then, at 9PM:

Insub Spring Thing, the Sidebar Tavern, 218-20 E Lexington St, Baltimore, Maryland 21202

The line-up is supposed to be a secret, but there are five bands, one of whom will be backing me playing MTX songs.

Tuesday, April 14

Teen Book Fest, Lafayette Library and Learning Center, Lafayette Public Library, 3491 Mt. Diablo Blvd., Lafayette, CA, 94549. 6PM.

w/ Yvonne Prinz, Betsy Streeter, Mitali Perkins and Veronica Rossi


Posted by Dr. Frank at 04:18 PM

February 27, 2015

Quote for the Day

Post-structuralism has destroyed two generations of graduate students, who were forced to mouth its ugly jargon and empty platitudes for their foolish faculty elders. And the end result is that humanities departments everywhere, having abandoned their proper mission of defending and celebrating art, have become humiliatingly marginalized in both reputation and impact.
Camille Paglia in America Magazine, via Instapundit.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 09:10 PM

Windy

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Posted by Dr. Frank at 06:46 PM

My Self-flattering Cultural Pretensions, Right or Wrong

If you're not aware that the word "liberal" in contemporary American understanding means in many respects something close to the exact opposite of its literal/historical/actual meaning, this debate will be largely incomprehensible. Nevertheless, as even those on the opposing side seem tacitly to concede, FIRE wins.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 05:50 PM

January 20, 2015

The Shows Get Booked, the Shows Get Played

Well, this is a show update I probably should have posted a bit sooner, but these things have a way of sneaking up on a person. Anyway, come to these.

Friday, January 23

Vroman's Bookstore, 695 E. Colorado Blvd, Pasadena, CA, 91101. 6 PM.

I will "rock" as hard as it is possible to do in southern California's largest and oldest independent bookstore.

Then afterwards on that same night:

Redwood Bar, 316 W. 2nd St., Los Angeles, CA 90012. 9PM

With Kepi, Bad Cop/Bad Cop, Turkish Techno, So Social, Pizza Wolf. This is a rock and roll show at a pirate bar and it cannot fail to be real, real fun it seems to me. (FB event page here.

Saturday, January 24

I can't figure out exactly when it goes up, or out, or off, or whatever the word you use to describe where a podcast goes when it is released to internet, but I'm doing the Jordan Jesse Go! podcast on this day.

Sunday, January 25

Porchlight + Sketchfest, Verdi Club, 2424 Mariposa Street, San Francisco, CA 94110. 8 PM.

This is the Porchlight storytelling series show where they team up with the SF Comedy festival Sketchfest, and I'm gonna be doing it. These are always a good time, so basically you should come.


Monday, January 26

StudioNPL, Nashville Public Library – Green Hills Branch (with sales by Parnassus Books), 3701 Benham Avenue, Nashville, TN 37215. 5:30 PM

Tuesday, January 27

The Booksellers at Laurelwood, 387 Perkins Extended, Memphis, TN 38117. 6:30 PM. More here.

Saturday, February 7

The Night Light, 311 Broadway, Oakland, CA 94607. With Blag Dahlia, Kepi Ghoulie, and Jon Gianoli. 9 PM. $10.
Posted by Dr. Frank at 06:39 PM

January 09, 2015

Linkus Interruptus

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Here's a bunch of links I would have posted earlier if the book release, Christmas, New Years, and Second Christmas (Feast of Kings) hadn't got in the way.

-- Photographer (and great all around gal) Julie Pavlowski Green took a bunch of photos on the day of the Oakland book release show and posted some of them under the title Dr. Frank: A Day in the Life of a Rock n' Roller. Yeah.

-- Once again, I was honored to be invited to contribute a playlist to Laregehearted Boy's excellent Booknotes series.

-- I did an interview with Tuffgnarl.com.

-- Some reviews of KDA: Guyslitwire; Willamette Weekly; Jersey Beat; V's Reads.

-- SF Chron: Grab a title from one of 2014's notable Bay Area authors.

-- Popsugar recommended KDA as a Christmas gift for the awkward high school guy. I really should have posted this earlier. Next year, maybe?

-- According to OC Weekly, I've got one of the five best punk rock day jobs. I agree it's great, except for the always being broke part.

-- I am interviewed about songwriting on Terry Morrow's blog: "My dad took me to see the Pirates of Penzance when I was a kid. Probably the first brush with music I liked. Then I heard Metallic K.O. and decided to try to combine the two as best I could."

-- If It's Too Loud... recommends the purchase of the "King Dork Approximately" cassingle, because why not? I whole-heartedly concur.

-- Hippodilly Circus has kind things to say about KDA.

-- Sophie has also has kind words about King Dork: "I urge you all to read this book at some point in your lives. I'm a 17 year old British girl and I related to the 15/16 year old American boy in this book so much."

-- Finally, I'm doing a KDA book + t-shirt giveaway on goodreads.


Posted by Dr. Frank at 12:17 AM

January 08, 2015

Fan Mail

Most correspondence I get these days is of course electronic, but every now and again I'll get an envelope from my publisher containing physical mail sent to their address in New York. These are almost always the result of write-a-letter-to-an author school assignments, from what I can tell.

This one, carefully written in pencil on lined notepaper, comes from a middle school somewhere in Indiana:

Dear Frank Portman,

I just read your book King Dork. It was horible. It could not keep my attention at all. Sorry but it was probably one of the worst books I have ever read. The only reason I even read the book was because my teacher made me for a book report. To be honest though I might have liked it if I liked to read. But I am not a fan of reading.

Sincereley,

[name withheld, of course]

The teacher added the school's address underneath the student's name, and of course I'll write back. Maybe this kid will find something to interest him in King Dork, and in reading, in a couple years or so. Then again, maybe he won't.

Take it away, Leonard:

Posted by Dr. Frank at 06:15 PM

January 06, 2015

Come to Moe's, Prevent a Tragedy

Just reminding you all that my thing at Moe's in Berkeley is tonight. (Tues. Jan. 6, 7:30PM, free.)

I just learned last night that one of the events co-ordinators happens to be my upstairs neighbor. Basically what that means is that if no one shows up, I'll be (or will remain) the laughing stock of the building. Help me out here, folks, come on.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 07:53 PM

Patrick's

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Posted by Dr. Frank at 06:43 PM

January 05, 2015

My January

Well, Christmas, New Years, and Second Christmas (Feast of Kings) always come all in a row and it's weird how that always seems to come as a surprise. Hope you all had a great one.

I have quite a bit of catching up to do with my all-important "web presence" and I'm getting right on that but first things first here: you must go to these shows. I mean, if you're in the area and feel like it and it doesn't conflict with anything more important of course. Don't forgo surgery or miss a funeral a wedding or a parole check-in or anything like that. But if all you've got going on on the days in question is watching the endless succession of Big Bang Theory reruns that are all TV ever shows anymore these days, well, I bet I'll be at least as funny as the Big Bang Theory. At least I'll try.

The first one is tomorrow, Tues., Jan 6 at Moe's in Berkeley, followed by all the other ones.

Tuesday, January 6

Moes Books, 2476 Telegraph Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94704, 7:30 PM

I'll be playing songs, talking up my book, reading something maybe. I'll make it fun I promise. (This is the fb invite/event thing.)

Saturday, January 10

Powell's Books at Cedar Hills Crossing, 3415 SW Cedar Hills Blvd., Beaverton, Oregon. 4PM.

Songs, talking, reading, that sort of thing.

Sunday, January 11

Sandy Hut, 1430 NE Sandy Blvd, Portland, OR, 97232. 9 PM.

With Beach Party and Faster Housecat. This is a rock and roll show in a bar. The plan is for me to around half the set solo-acoustic and then to be backed up by Faster Housecat for the other half. They learned some songs I haven't done in forever so I've got to work on trying to remember how they go as soon as I finish typing this. Wish me luck. (FB event page here.)

Friday, January 23

Vroman's Bookstore, 695 E. Colorado Blvd, Pasadena, CA, 91101. 6 PM.

I will "rock" as hard as it is possible to do in southern California's largest and oldest independent bookstore.

Then afterwards on that same night:

Redwood Bar, 316 W. 2nd St., Los Angeles, CA 90012. 9PM

With Kepi, Bad Cop/Bad Cop, Turkish Techno, So Social, Pizza Wolf. This is a rock and roll show at a pirate bar and it cannot fail to be real, real fun it seems to me. (FB event page here.

Saturday, January 24

I can't figure out exactly when it goes up, or out, or off, or whatever the word you use to describe where a podcast goes when it is released to internet, but I'm doing the Jordan Jesse Go! podcast on this day.

Sunday, January 25

Porchlight + Sketchfest, Verdi Club, 2424 Mariposa Street, San Francisco, CA 94110. 8 PM.

This is the Porchlight storytelling series show where they team up with the SF Comedy festival Sketchfest, and I'm gonna be doing it. These are always a good time, so basically you should come.

There's more to be filled in here I think, and I'll update as appropriate but this is what I've got now.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 07:07 PM

January 04, 2015

Priscilla

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(Here she is with AK from a ways back.)

Posted by Dr. Frank at 06:05 PM

December 24, 2014

In Love with Leather

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Posted by Dr. Frank at 04:10 PM