Dedicated to classics and hits.

Friday, March 03, 2017

Blood and Guts in High School (1984) by Kathy Acker

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Author Kathy Acker
Book Review
Blood and Guts in High School (1984)
by Kathy Acker

   Kathy Acker was a Post Modern (capital P capital M) author and performance artist, closely affiliated with the literary scene surrounding the punk movement in 1970's and 1980's New York.  Her works are heavily influenced by the experimental writing techniques of William Burroughs, and her themes reflect feminist, gender theory and queer theory of the 1960's and 70's.  If you went to an American university in the 1990's, you probably ran across her books in one form another.  Since then, I'm not sure what's happened to her relevance, but her pastiche/cut up/punk aesthetic and post-2nd wave feminist queer politics seem particularly apropos for what you might call the "Tumblr Aesthetic."

  Blood and Guts in High School is her break-through work, probably because it actually resembles a novel in form, even with her lengthy digressions in the form of line drawings and sourced materials.  Her heroine, Janey Smith is a ten year old nymphomaniac and long-time sufferer of vaginal health issues that hardly inhibit her precocious sexual activity.

  It's hard to know what to make of Blood and Guts in High School.  I chose to read it as a parody of a 18th or 19th century bildungsroman/coming of age novel that was particularly concerned with the sexual exploitation of young woman in contemporary society.  However, that reading requires that we credit Acker with some kind of humorous intent in her writing, and considering the horrific travails of Smith as an incest victim and teenager forced into prostitution (by a "Persian slave trader," no less.) it seems inappropriate to call Blood and Guts in High School either intentionally OR unintentionally funny.  It is shocking, still.

Thursday, March 02, 2017

Clearing Warrants in Southern California

   I just put up this new web page for clearing warrants in Southern California: CLEAR SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA WARRANTS.

  I've noticed there is a need for this service all over Southern California, because our Court system generates many different warrants, and they pop up on back ground checks, they interfere with obtaining a driver's license, and of course, they can cause you to get arrested in an otherwise non-arrest-able situation like a traffic stop.  The situation is especially perilous for those who are not in the country legally, they risk falling into the hands of Federal officials.

   The first question that people ask is, "Do I have a warrant?"  The answer to this question is often available from the facts that people possess when they call me for the first time.  There are three major categories of warrants.  The first is the "bench" warrant, typically issued in traffic and misdemeanor cases, most often because the individual charged with the traffic infraction or misdemeanor does not appear for a scheduled court appearance.    The second is the arrest warrant.  Most people think all warrants are arrest warrants, but this is not true.  Bench warrants are a lower priority for law enforcement and do not result in an arrest if you come into contact with a police officer.

   Arrest warrants are issued in felony cases or if someone misses a court appearance or for a misdemeanor after the case has started.  Thus, if you know of a scheduled court appearance, and know that the person involved didn't make that court appearance, it is highly likely that a warrant has been issued, either bench or arrest. The exceptions are when the case itself is filed.  For example, if you are arrested for driving under the influence, and it turns out that your blood alcohol level was under .08, you likely won't be charged, and so if you don't show up, and the case isn't issued, no warrant is issued.

  95% of the time, any confusion can be resolved by figuring out whether the underlying case that resulted in the missed court appearance was actually filed.  In traffic cases, tickets always result in the case being filed (an infraction, usually), in misdemeanors the likelihood varies by type of crime and jurisdiction.  Felonies are filed some of the time after arrest, but not always.  If a court date has been missed, the easiest way to verify the existence of a case is to find the appropriate county court website and search their party case index.  This typically works for felony and misdemeanor cases, but may or may not work for traffic cases.

 If you have determined that a warrant exists, you can clear it by either appearing at the appropriate court house yourself, or you can hire a lawyer to do it for you.  For traffic infractions and misdemeanors, a lawyer can appear for you, but for felonies you need to go- preferably in the company of a lawyer.

 When people call me about traffic warrants, I typically recommend they handle it themselves (unless they are out of the area.)   Misdemeanors can also be handled by the person with the warrant, but a lawyer is a better value for these cases, since they can require several court appearances.  Trying to appear on a Felony warrant by yourself will clear the warrant, but often results in the arrest of the person appearing.  A lawyer may be able to help you avoid being arrested for a felony warrant, but typically the person will need to post bail, on top of what they pay their lawyer.

  Unfortunately, warrants do not go away, so the only option is to deal with it, or to have the warrant remain outstanding forever.

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Neuromancer (1984) by William Gibson

Book Review
Neuromancer (1984)
 by William Gibson

   Fact I didn't know about Neuromancer, the 1984 "cyber punk" trailblazer by William Gibson: It was the first novel to win the "triple crown" of science fiction: Nebula, Hugo and Phillip K Dick awards.  It is typically credited with coining the term "cyberpunk" itself, though that actually happened two years prior in another William Gibson title, Burning Chrome.   You can make the argument, and support it by Gibson's own statements on the subject, that Ridley Scott's Blade Runner (1982) actually was the first work to describe the cyber punk world, but that was a film version of an earlier science fiction story that itself lacked the certain something which Gibson brings to the table in Neuromancer.

  The plot of Neuromancer is straight forward, pedestrian even, the story of a disgraced hacker who is brought back for "one last heist."   Everything else about it is hard to follow, and only the accumulated familiarity with the world Gibson describes makes reading Neuromancer any less disorienting than it was when it was originally published.    

Monday, February 27, 2017

The Unbearable Lightness of Being (1984)by Milan Kundera

Book Review
The Unbearable Lightness of Being (1984)
by Milan Kundera

   A minor theme of this blog in recent years is the strain of philosophical-existentialism which manifested itself in many notable examples of "European" literature in the 1970's and 1980's.  This aesthetic trend had a particular home in Soviet and post-Soviet Eastern Europe, with the two most notable elaborations occurring in Poland (cinema) and then Czechoslovakia, now Czech Republic (cinema and literature.)  The literature from this period generally eschewed the trend towards "magic realism" that was happening in the rest of the literary world for a style that was closer to the philosophical-existentialist French novel of the 1950's.

  I would argue that Milan Kundera's contribution was the incorporation of explicit sex into the dour lives of his Central European intellectuals.  The Unbearable Lightness of Being is built around one of the central social programs of 20th century Communism:  Taking loyal community members and stripping them of their positions and status because of some imagined ideological purity.  Here, the victim is Tomas, a surgeon, who is called to account for a letter to the editor/editorial he has written some years earlier.  Tomas has both a wife and a lover.  Also his lover has a lover.  It is all very French, except for the fact that it is Czech.  The Unbearable Lightness of Being was actually published in French before it was published in Czech, and Kundera has argued that his work should be considered French literature.



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