Sunday, September 03, 2006


So the print edition differs from the online edition in every way. Reading over it, we decided to do a completely different version online. What's going on?

We've moved. As Mike guessed, we (Ty, Jess, Ava, Dona and Jim) aren't going back to New York. We're staying out here with C.I. It makes more sense for us to all be in one place and it was obvious Ty's intern job was both enjoyable and going somewhere. Jess was taking courses out here this summer and enjoying them. Ava's attitude was she had family here, she had family in DC, she had family in NYC, she was used to being 'mobile.' She also prefers the West coast for a number of reasons including demography which tends to cut down on the assumptions that, as a Latina, she can be called on to explain every issue in any Spanish speaking country.

There's more diversity for us out here. There's also more committment. We're not surprised that much of the media coming out of the East coast can't focus on the war or any issue for long. We'd say that's reflected on the campus we were on. We'd seen the spread of the Sammy Powers fervor. We'd seen those crazies, those zombies with their chants of how the US must unleash the Bully Boy and his military might on Darfur. We saw them get their matching orders from various psuedo liberal profs on what was the focus this week. We saw them rush from cause to cause like chickens with their heads cut off.

We aren't speaking of all Eastern campuses or all in New York but what we saw the same sort of defocusing that the media provides. One of the psuedo liberal professors even counseled Dona that she shouldn't get so involved in the anti-war movement and should focus on more 'humanitarian' issues. We went to a trusted prof to ask what the hell was going on and she closed her office door and informed us that for 'humanitarian' reasons psuedo liberal had cheered on the war with Iraq. We weren't surprised by the connection, we've noticed it in others. The Sammy Powers movement will have to move without us. We don't think they'll suffer, please, they have their leader, they have their right-wing evangicals and they get face-to-face time with the Bully Boy.

We leave behind many friends who will continue working hard on the war issue but they understand our decision (our print edition was a salute to them). Along with our families, we discussed the decision with them. We explained how nasty it would get the next time the Sammy Powers pushed (in class, on campus) one of their "Military might good" talking points.
We see the Sammy Powers (the modern day Carrie Nations, as Mike has dubbed them) as an organized effort to take the heat off the Bully Boy and to pull activism from the anti-war movement and the immigration rights movement. We think they're led by manufactored spokespersons and are disgusted about how they annoint and spread one another, without noting the ties, every press opportunity they get. (We're also question the press access, big and small, they have. The same paper of no record can refuse to run an op-ed against the war on Iraq by Alice Walker -- an actual humanitarian and world renowned writer -- but can fork over space to an otherwise unknown English prof who styles himself as an 'expert' on Darfur.)

Out here, the six of us will be under the same roof and can focus more on activism and the editions. As we noted in the print edition, our first edition began January 16, 2005 following Jim going to an event on campus that C.I. spoke at. Jim, Dona, Jess and Ty were already tight friends. Dona and Ava were roommates. Four of us had spoken about how we needed to do something online. Dona had insisted that if we did, Ava was brought in. There wasn't a day in December on through January 15th that we hadn't spoken of doing something. We'd probably still be talking about it (and not doing anything) if Jim hadn't gone up and asked the question, "You're C.I. of The Common Ills, aren't you?" The first time anyone had made the connection catching C.I. by surprise. With C.I. in the area, it made sense to start then and we did. Dona and Ava knew a student who'd had an abortion and was willing to talk about it so we were sure we had one story in us. We thought we'd be a weekly site. We had no real ideas other than that. But we all gathered at Dona and Ava's (much cleaner than Jim, Jess and Ty's) and did the interview, wrote it up and were pretty pleased. (It still works and that's thanks to the story that was shared and the woman who shared it.) But what else would do?

Ironically enough, TV was insisted upon by Jim. Ava and C.I. weren't interested. Jim pushed it and picked the show. Jim, Dona, Jess and Ty wrote a review. We all looked at it and . . . it sucked. It really, really sucked. C.I. and Ava created some things for the review, to tighten it up and to give it a form. The collaborative writing that we would make our focus was established. And we'd quickly realize that TV was really Ava and C.I.'s beat. Ironic because neither were watching it. In those first few weeks, there were a lot of questions, among us, about the TV commentaries and a lot of doubts as Ava and C.I. began adding more and more of their input but those vanished quickly as it became the most popular feature (it continues to be that each week). Dona was the first to realize what they were offering each week and Jim was the last one to grasp it. Once we all grasped it (readers were ahead of us), we were happy to turn the beat over to just them and, like the readers, just enjoy the writing and criticism which is sharp, strong and funny.

But that first Saturday night, we still had other things to pull together. We managed. It was around three a.m. when we thought we were finished. A friend had designed a wonderful template. We loved it. We were eager to add our links to it. In the process, we somehow damaged the template. It was five a.m. and we suddenly had no template. As we were all in various stages of depression and whining, C.I. stay focused and picked a pre-existing template from Blogger ("see, it's green, just like the other one") and we worked on posting.

The technical difficulties have never gone away and we expect them each week. We are never disappointed. It all set the pattern of the non-stop all nighter.

With future editions, C.I. would sometimes be present and sometimes just on the phone. But C.I. worked on every edition and we were glad when we were finally able to add C.I. to the credited six. We appreciate the help we get from everyone but the core six are the ones responsible for the site if you have a complaint. Since the edition we were working on was our bye-bye NY edition, it made sense that this edition should be put out by the core six. It also allowed us to say, "Take the weekend off" to everyone. (Two were already going to have difficulty participating this edition and another had time issues.)

How it usually works is a conference call (often with phone problems such as echoes, disconnects, you name it). At some point, if C.I.'s not present, Ava would grab her cell and C.I. would leave the line open (to the conference call) and speak to Ava on another phone as they pulled together their commentary. It's so much easier when they're physically together to write a commentary. It's also true that Ava was already contemplating moving out here and, more and more, was traveling out here to see friends and family.

Along with working together on each edition, Dona and Jim became a couple. So did Ava and Jess. (One of the things that was struck from the roundtable by C.I. -- Ava doesn't plan to speak of her personal life but we are noting this here with her permission.) Regardless of whether she was moving or not, she was planning on spending her summer out here which is why Jess signed up for classes out here to give it "an audition" (it passed). Ty's intern job has meant he's switched majors and, fingers crossed, found a career. That left Dona and Jim returning to NY by themselves. (And the way they both fight, they're going to need witnesses to explain the double murder!) If they returned. Jim is from that region and had that as possible draw pulling him back but Dona's midwest and she'd already relocated once for college so doing it again wasn't going to be a big deal. She told Jim what they'd do could be his decision since he'd be the one leaving family. The deciding factors were the weather, the activism and visiting various campuses. And while it was true he would have five friends out here (six including Kat), it was also true that as he worked on a number of issues, he made more friends. ("And also flirted shamelessly with a starlet," adds Dona.) ("She flirted with me. I was just letting her down easy and 'starlet' is too weak a word. That's something I'll tell my kids about someday," replies Jim.)

More than anyone else, Mike sensed the change and has been asking us. We figured we'd make the announcement the first weekend in September and allowed Mike his "I knew it!" moment Saturday morning. For a number of reasons, we made the decision. We'll be back in the NY area from time to time (Jim has family there as does Ava) and that's true of the East coast as well.

The Sammy Powers movement did factor in hugely. We just didn't want to be around those zombies. But, as we prepare for the site to wind down (the plan is November 2008), we thought it made more sense to all be in one place. (C.I. will still be on the road speaking some weekends.) In terms of the site, the hope it it will allow for stronger editions.

And also more rest for all involved. This morning, when Blogger went screwy, we still had an editorial, Ava and C.I.'s commentary and a feature to post. When Blogger went screwy and nothing could go up here or at The Common Ills, we were able to say, "Look, if we'll all agree to just get some rest, we can all stop." Usually, that's not possible. Usually, C.I. still has the morning entry at The Common Ills and Isaiah's comic to post. C.I. did the morning entry while we were doing the musical roundtable and when Blogger went screwy, the comic couldn't go up. It's one thing to say, "Okay, we'll all just get some rest" on the phone. But that usually means, after we hang up, C.I. goes and posts at The Common Ills (or mirror site) and then we end up feeling guilty because it has been an all night session and while the rest of us went on to bed, C.I. stayed up an additional hour or two doing posts. Face to face, we can all agree and, as we did this morning, clean up the mess of food, papers, magazines, books, CDs and other artificats of our evening to night-to-next-day marathons, pop in a CD or DVD (this morning Cactus Flower) and nod out.

And, though C.I.'s saying not to put this in, it's all true that thanks to generosity, we just lost the requirement of paying two rents. There's enough room for all of us here (and more). It reduces expenses for five college students. (C.I. says that if we're noting that it should be noted that the family of all five of us made a point to offer something towards lodging.) (The kind offer was turned down.) Add in that we've got a Pacifica station over the airwaves that is quite a bit more serious than the one we were used to. (We doubt a show supposedly for women, broadcast on independent media, would air urging them to marry "up" because that's the key to "success" and offer that women should come home from work and "cook for their men" because that's how it should be. We hope we're not wrong on that.) Yeah, we'd love it KPFA had more Iraq coverage. But it is true that they provide more coverage period. There are some good shows on WBAI (including, but not limited to, Law and Disorder, First Voices and Cat Radio Cafe) but it's also true that there are shows we listen to and wonder what the point was. (We also wonder where the Christmas Coup Players went? That was a strong show providing insight and humor and we weren't pleased when it vanished.)

So despite the abundance of Smoke Police/Nazis (Dona smokes), we decided to relocate. Gina and Krista have stated they're running all the features in the print edition so for readers who are members, they'll see it in their inboxes Friday in the gina & krista round-robin. (Long term readers of this site that we've exchanged e-mails with can write us at and we'll also e-mail you a copy of that edition if you don't receive the round-robin.)

We did like the print edition and had ideas for it throughout last week. But we also felt it was too personal to go up here. (And too self-referential.) We noted a lot of really special friends, Ty shared his hopes to maintain his relationship despite the distance, we noted some of the best rallies and meetings we'd attended and the very real activism (as opposed to the manufactured Sammy Powers movement) that we saw on our own campus. (Ava and C.I. reviewed Don Johnson's show -- now cancelled but airing one more Sunday on the WB before it becomes the CW.) Since that was our goodbye to a very special period of our lives, we also started thinking it should be done in the print edition. (Ty's lovey-lovey plans to continue to distribute to the print edition on our old campus.) Which left us, at four a.m. PST, suddenly deciding to do two editions. We think it actually went pretty well and would have gone better if we hadn't had Blogger go screwy.

When we told Mike Saturday morning (he was the first one in the community we told) he asked that we end our feature on the move with John and Michelle Phillips' "California Dreamin'" (first appearing on the Mamas & the Papas If You Can Believe Your Eyes and Ears). For Mike:

All the leaves are brown,
And the sky is grey.
I've been for a walk
On a winter's day.
I'd be safe and warm,
If I was in L.A.
California Dreamin'
On such a winter's day . . .
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