"Undermining my electoral viability since 2001."

Hymns

Music is a main weapon in the struggle against apathy and sloth and disinvestment. Poetry is another, but it's still pretty fringe. If poetry ever becomes mainstream again, maybe through hip-hop -- still currently a bit overdominated by ego and sex, like the early rock'n'roll scene -- that will be a good sign. In any event, the rhythm and imagination common to both of these forms of expression make them powerful media for putting new memes on the market, and when they're put to use in the service of Truth, good things tend to result.

Right now we've got a lot of musicians making alt.politix songs. Thank goodness for that, but they're not getting a lot of airplay thanks to the Patriotic Consensus which keeps the highly risk-averse music conglomorates in check, to say nothing of openly conservative elements like Clear Channel. However, artists are continuing to pump up the volume. The latest entry into the fray is former Rage Against the Machine frontman Zack de la Rocha with his well-tuned DJ Shadow collaboration, March of Death. I used to spend some early-teen years grooving to the leftist mind-control sounds of Rage (fuck you I won't do what you tell me...), and so for me this is a welcome addition to the field.

On a slightly less serious, but maybe more personally satisfying note, some dance DJ has lifted quotes from Howard Dean's speech at the California Democratic Caucus and made a remix. As you may have gathered from the little banner on your left, I'm endorsing Dean at this time out of the Gang of 9 Democratic hopefuls. I plan on putting together a page explaining this and adding my polemic to the mix, but that's hasn't happened yet. Feel free to ask me questions though.

Finally, for more music (anti-war and otherwise) you won't hear on stations that are controlled by Bush donors, check out the listings at protest-recorts.com. There's also a lot of stuff coming out of international outlets. It seems that paradoxically (or not so), we radical Americans must look overseas for our inspiration, internal media crackdowns and chilling effects creating a real -- and I must admit at times exciting -- samizdat atmosphere. What's samizdat, you ask?

On the wonk end of things, I've been reading excerpts from The Unconquerable World in Harper's Magazine. Dense and academic, but really really good and real in a way that nothing I've read in a long time has been. This, the bus ride down from Boston, everything is giving me shivers of possibility.

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More on Tim Robbins

Looks like my man Tim Robbins is still getting the shaft. Here's some documentation of what happened a couple of days ago on the Today Show. Reminds me of how MSNBC axed Donehue and of the fact that GE owns NBC.

Full Disclosure: I once shared a theater space w/Mr Robbins (I was putting up Nitewerk and he was teaching a master class during the daylight hours) and apparently pissed him off by having my lighting guy rewire some things.

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This Time It's Personal

Fellow New Yorkers, as you may or may not be aware the Republican National Convention for the 2004 Election is going to be at Madison Square Garden. It's just been announced that they are moving the convention back to September in a transparent attempt to cash in again on the memory of 3,000 dead. You will hear more from me about this in the future, but for now here's the theme for the opposition:

Republican National Convention NYC 2004: This Time It's Personal

I have had enough of this shit. If these corrupt clowns think they're going to come and have their pep-rally in my town and not catch some serious beef from me and my people, they've got another thing coming. Bonus points to anyone willing to get a haircut and volunteer to work the convention so they can throw stinkbombs or something. As far as I am concerned, these people are not welcome to masturbate over 3000 dead in my backyard, and I intend to let them know that.

Or, as Frank likes to put it, "those funky bastards are gonna pay."

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Revolution is Not an AOL Keyword

Thanks to good old Slashdot, I saw this, a loving parody of Gil-Scott Heron's The Revolution Will Not Be Televised, updated for the early 21st and all us netslaves. I dig the humor and the truth; here's a sample:

 Survivor, The Osbournes, and Joe Millionaire  
 Will no longer be so damned relevant, and 
 People will not care if Carrie hooks up again with 
 Mr. Big on Sex and the City because Information
 Wants To Be Free even while Knowledge Is Power. 
 Revolution is not an AOL Keyword. 

I've loved the original jam since I first heard it, and can't wait for someone to lay down a remix with the new lyrics. The whole text is hyperlinked out the wazoo, so give the links a click if you want to learn what any reference is all about.

Oh goodness, and this comment is too poignant to miss. Reminds me of when a semi-acquaintance of mine from NYU -- now in Army Intel -- sent an angry response to a peace-petition email forward which referenced The Rock (the flick, not the wrestler) as part of its central thesis.

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Political Theater From Frank

Frank, apparently bored with data entry, sends this gem in:

I just read the entirety of Mr. Robbins' speech to the Press Corps, made me proud to have shared a black box with the man. I've been thinking a little bit more about the statement "Susan Sarandan's statements have endangered our troops." What's interesting about this to me is that the only non-com who actually endangered our troops works for Fox News (I would have given a half dozen Quatari prostitutes to the platoon that fragged Geraldo).

Or at mail call:

"Mail Call!"
everyone rush's around the dude with the mail

"Spitzer, you got a package"

opens it

"Oh Boy, my grandma's peanut brittle! I've shore missed this over here."

"Phillips, look like a letter from your girlfriend"

Phillips opens it "Wow she sent me nekked pics of herself, whooo-eeee!!"

"Santana, you got something from your cousin again" calls towards Santana, who is calling from inside of an outhouse.

"I'm kinda busy, Sarge, could you open it up for me"

"Sure thing son" opens up package "looks like a clipping from the NY Post"

"Swell, what's it say?"

"It's an article about Susan Sarandan"

"You mean the star of Bull Durham, Dead Man Walking and countless other classic films, whose every word I hang on?"

"Yep, that's the one"

"Oh boy, what's the new scoop on her?"

"Well, says here that she's not very happy about the military campaign in Iraq."

silence

"Santana?"

silence

"Santana, you all right in there?"

sound of a gunshot from the latrine, men rush over, but it is too late, PFC Jeffrey Santana is yet another causalty reaped by Miss Sarandan's reckless machinations.

While we're at it, the BBC online is featuring a list of unanswered questions about coalition reporting and media coverage of various incidents in Iraq.

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Stopping the Bully, Turning the Mob

Salon.com is running the text of a speech given by Tim Robbins at the National Press Club in Washington. It's good:

And in the midst of all this madness, where is the political opposition? Where have all the Democrats gone? Long time passing, long time ago? With apologies to Robert Byrd, I have to say it is pretty embarrassing to live in a country where a five-foot-one comedian has more guts than most politicians. We need leaders, not pragmatists that cower before the spin zones of former entertainment journalists. We need leaders who understand the Constitution, Congressmen who don't, in a moment of fear, abdicate their most important power, the right to declare war, to the executive branch. And please, can we stop the congressional sing-a-longs?

In this time when a citizenry applauds the liberation of a country as it lives in fear of its own freedom, when an administration official releases an attack ad questioning the patriotism of a legless Vietnam veteran running for Congress, when people all over the country fear reprisal if they use their right to free speech, it is time to get angry.

Again, the whole thing is here, thanks to kos for the link. You have to do a little registration dealy to get your day-pass to salon.com, but it's worth it. I can't agree more that the opposition needs figureheads and powerful leaders. Yesterday if possible. If we have to wait for my generation to grow up and get elected to congress, it may be too late.

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Smoking Ban Murder

In more proof that nicotine addicts are dangerously attached of their drug of choice, a bouncer was stabbed to death in an altercation arising from the recent smoking ban. I've already weighed in on the law here, but I would like to take this opportunity to remind y'all that no measure in history has ever stopped tobacco-smokers from getting their fix. Imperial Russia used to behead people for traffiking in nicotine. Pre-industrial England has similarly harsh penalties (later dropped when the American colonies became the #1 exporter) against the "stinking weed." Neither worked, though I imagine the pain of death made cigarettes something of an underground phenomina.

P.S. I'm linking to the post just to remind you all that it si out there and it is cheaper than a stamp and for the most part propaganda.

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Which Way From Here?

People are quitting. As the war in Iraq seems to be winding down (at least the conventional part of it anyway), witness the fragmentation and dissolusion of the anti-war movement that sprung to life in the run up to conflict. Recently there's been discussion among the more progressive technorati about the validity of protest, hope, and the destructive nature of opposing "certitudes" in politics. Here's a sample:

I also stopped supporting the peace protests when I felt they did little good. And I won't attend the ones this weekend because, to me, they lack focus and discipline. Are we protesting to support Iraq? Or against Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld/Ashcroft? Are we for UN? Or against the Patriot Act? And before you say the lines are clear on all these issues, they aren't. The 'peace movement' needs to make a decision about what the fight is, develop an effective voice, and then stick with it.

On the one hand I must aggree, and I've been stressing the "develop and effective voice" point for a while. On the other hand, I find the attitude taken here to be quite diseartening. What I find disheartening is that Shelly (the author) has drawn a box around the "peace movement" and then difinitively placed herself outside it, as have many self-identifying progressive people I know. The message is that maybe we'll come back out if God forbid things get really bad or better yet y'all get your act together, but until then I'm staying home. Partly this is due to the nature of the people with juice in the peace movement -- they tend toward dogma -- but mostly it's because this is the easy thing to do, to abdicate responsibility. This is the thing which requires no work, no effort, no sweat, no arguments or struggle. It is a position of material and emotional privilige, predicated on the ability to comfortably abide by the current order.

This is the consumer mindset at work in politics. "Gee whiz, I don't like any of the current flavors of Peace Movement on the market just now, so I guess I'll just wait and see if they come out with something new next quarter. Maybe I'll submit some on-line feedback to help the process along!" I'm being harsh, and I'm not exempting myself from this criticism in any way shape or form, but this wait-and-see attitude will be the utter end to us. Lambasting ANSWER for not being more on-message (as I've done in the past) really is a waste of time and energy. I mean, when was the last time you got 100,000+ people to do anything? We the throughtful, less certitude-full, less likely to ramble off into Marxist rhetoric people need to pick up the slack.

However, I don't think there's a one of us that doesn't want the best for the people of Iraq right now, regardless of the events leading to this moment. Agreeing to this one point is not selling out, or going over to the enemy, is it? And it's a start, a follow up to a belief that there's hope.

And then there's this, which is highly debatable. How much are you (or I) really willing to give up to see that the Iraqi people get "the best"? This is not a pointless question. At what point do we put our money where our mouth is on this one? It's very easy to say you want the best for someone when it's not going to cost you anything.

But then again it is costing us quite a lot. It's costing us billions of dollars and it's costing us allies and it's costing us in terms of world opinion. These costs (deficets, geopolitical factionalization, decreased global security) won't really sting for a few years, maybe even a few decades, and so they're easy to ignore in the face of cheering crowds served up for TV. It's like smoking and cancer. As the carcinogens take root, we tell ourselves we'll quit tomorrow, next month, next year. "Hey I still feel good. No reason to stop now. Come on, let's be hopeful (cough cough cough), by the time I'm 60 they'll have a cure for cancer."

No, they won't. It's time we realized this. I'm not trying to attack Shelly for what she's saying. Most of my fury comes from the fact that I've heard her words echo around in my own head time and time again. It hits close to home. But we need to start seriously working on alternatives to the current swing of the pendulum, or it may be too late to turn back the tide.

At the moment, it's not looking good. I'm incensed by the plattitude/critical thought ratio among people I would like to believe are in "my" camp, and don't even get me started on the rest of the country. I've caught myself slipping into -- or passively aggreeing with -- elitest anti-plebian commentary far too often as of late to be really comfortable believing in my countrymen. But this is too damn important to pull the "screw those Ugly Americans" card. The future forks are either turning this country around or jumping ship, and I don't believe that running off into a green corner of utopia and living out the time between now and the end of the world in relative peace is a course of action I'll ever be cool with. If it ends up going that way, I'm going to be one bitter-ass ex-patriot.

I'm not being mellodramatic. From where I'm sitting, a good chunk of my future is riding on how this all plays out, and I don't like the crowd who are setting the course at the moment. Case in point, as hospitals and museums were looted, Marines protected the Ministry of Oil. The best possible spin on this is that we didn't have enough manpower to protect everything, and the Ministry of Oil is sure to be vital to the reconstruction effort. However, that begs the question of why don't they have the additional manpower to protect hospitals, museums, neighborhoods, etc? Why didn't we execute the Powell doctrine of overwhelming force? Why didn't we plan to have 3x as many people on the ground to keep the pressure cooker from exploding when the regime crumbled?

These are legitimate questions, and the only possible answers I can see are that Team Bush is A) incompitant, or B) willing to place personal/political concerns ahead of doing the right thing. Looking at the history and the resume's in play, I lean to the latter. And while I'm all for retaining one's sanity and not getting dragged down into the rhetorical mire that this polarizing course of events has created, I don't feel that I can simply float above it all and reasonably expect a positive outcome.

We can't quit now. We can't abdicate. We can't let someone else take care of this. Have you seen the poll numbers? Who the fuck do you think is going to come to your rescue other than your self? Ain't that America.

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Daily Optimism/Pessimism

It seems like more and more people in my age bracket are talking about a vision for out generation, something that's authentically different and authentically ours. As I was drifting off to sleep last night I entertained a breif fantasy of starting a simple discussion group, pulling in people with different skills and backgrounds, and doing some salon-style meetings to just get all the thinking out in the open. The notion kind of excites me.

We need something to hang our hats on, dammit. In case you hadn't heard the latest war news -- a telling bit of irony -- one of the only buildings being protected from looters in Baghdad is the Ministry of oil. From this Knight Ridder report:

At the Ministry of Oil, Marines had set up a machine gun and barbed wire to prevent further pillaging. A tank sat behind a steel fence. A handwritten sign next to a machine gun nest said "Looters Lane."

"Why do the Americans go to the Oil Ministry and not the hospital, not the college?" asked Khader Alias, 45, a musician. "They must do something. Believe me, all Iraqi people are not like this."

The Ministry of Industry burned as looters ran off with furniture.

Nice to see we've got our priorities straight. Congradulations liberated people! It's almost enough to make me feel like grumpy bear in this comic by my old friend Eric Murray, escept it's a real spring day and I had encredible brunch at Enids. It's remarkable how good the early brunch vibe is at that place in contrast to the snide hipster one-upmanship that reigns throughout the night. Little bohemian families with little bohemian cherubs, mismatched serving-ware, flowers on every table, copious coffee, good music and lots of freindly faces. Strawberry and Brie cheese pancakes...

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Another View

Here's another view on the Iraqi's pull down the statue thing the other day. I have to say, if this is an accurate arial shot, then the propaganda machine is in full swing. I was watching some live satelite feed from Baghdad with my oatmeal this morning, and part of what they had was footage of teenage boys running around smashing just about everything. One of the kids had an RPG launcher and was using it to break windows. Good thing he had no ammo, I suppose.

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