Sunday, April 23, 2006
Sunday afternoon. Very late.
Music: Kat contrasts Ben Harper's Both Sides of the Gun with Carole King's The Living Room Tour
Encuestas: Apoyo a Bush y a la guerra de Irak disminuye a cifras historicas
From Ruth's Public Radio Report, her coverage of Law and Disorder
Blog Spotlight: Cedric addresses fluff and Hawaii
Blog Spotlight: Kat on music and Guns and Butter
Humor Spotlight: Betty on Thomas Friedman's reaction to Nicky K's prize nomination
Blog Spotlight: Rebecca covers Flashpoints and notes women better not count on the lisper
NYT critique -- still little to no interest in reporting on the peace movement
Blog Spotlight: Elaine takes on the Force Wagon
Humor spotlight: Wally on the death of free speech
Blog Spotlight: Mike sharing the wealth
Recipe Spotlight: Cookie Marshmallow Cups in the Kitchen
Thanks to everyone for their permission to repost. Thanks to Dallas for hunting down links.
The following participated in the writing of new content for this edition:
The Third Estate Sunday Review's Dona, Jess, Ty, Ava and me. Jim;
Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude;
Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man;
C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review;
Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills);
Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix;
Mike of Mikey Likes It!;
Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz;
and Wally of The Daily Jot
New content includes:
"Strange times in the U.S.A." which you can consider a lyric or a poem. Inspired by Carly Simon's "Safe and Sound" (Ty reminds everyone that Simon does a voice on Family Guy tonight**Jess here -- we all watched for Carly. Didn't see it. We're guessing Fox changed the air dates. We'll try again on Sunday.). Use the link for information that's new to you or just to see where they go.
"About this edition" was supposed to be a hasty roundtable that moved quickly. Didn't happen. (Does it ever?) But it's a pretty strong roundtable in terms of indymedia. Let me put in here, at Dona's request, that no one blames Ruth. Ruth needed help, we helped, same as she would us. We're going to continue to attempt to figure out ways to eases Ruth's load -- she's got a full plate and then some.
"CD Review: Ani DiFranco's Carnegie Hall .4.6.02" is something we thank Kat for. We were supposed to do a book thing this edition (we'll pick it up next week). We were worn out. We were desparate for eady features. We all love Ani's CD but didn't think of it until Kat said she had been thinking about reviewing it but, instead, we should grab it.
"People forget Jessica and I are real people dealing with real hurt" is a quote from Nick Lachey. Rebecca had US, C.I. and Kat had Rolling Stone. Lachey pops up in both. This was an easy feature and exactly what Dona was looking for when she said, "Let's not make this last a day and a half, people are tired."
"KPFA and Pacifica Radio celebrate 57 years of broadcasting" contains a little info on Pacifica and some links you may find useful.
"Monday: Jane Fonda on KPFA's Cover to Cover with Denny Smithson" where we steal from an entry Jess did for The Common Ills. Listen on Monday. [**And from Isaiah, thank you Isaiah.**]
"Pacifica Radio Highlights for Sunday" where we steal from Ruth. (Thank you, Ruth. We love you.)
And we've got a TV commentary and an editorial that aren't showing up. This is the sort of the problem we always have when we're exhausted and think, "We're almost done, we're almost done."
Okay, we got it to post. "Editorial: Remember Guantanamo" is the editorial for this editon. And Ava and C.I. wrote "TV: The Limp" ("In our sleep!" Ava adds -- meaning they think there's nothing here -- there is, read it, you'll laugh -- Jess has seen the show reviewed and thinks Ava and C.I. captured it perfectly.)
Hopefully, you found something to make you laught, make you think or piss you off. See you next week -- if we're still alive (or awake). Us? We're going to bed.
-- Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess, Ava and C.I.
Jess here for P.S. We forgot to thank Isaiah for allowing us to use his drawing of Jane Fonda. Thank you, Isaiah. The drawing first posted at The Common Ills.
So many questions, such a whirlwind of news. Tel Aviv knocked events in Iraq off the front page last week.
Guantanamo? It wasn't even news to The New York Times that two prisoners (Abu Bakker Qassim and A'del Abdu Al-Hakim), cleared by the US but still held, couldn't get a hearing in front of the Supreme Court.
Haider Rizvi's "Rumsfeld Linked to Guantanamo Torture:"
NEW YORK -- A leading international human rights group is calling for the Bush administration to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the alleged involvement of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and other senior Pentagon officials in the torture of a prisoner at Guanatanamo Bay some three years ago.
Rumsfeld could be criminally liable under federal or military law for the abuse and torture of detainee Mohammad al-Qahtani in late 2002 and early 2003, the New York-based Human Rights Watch said this week as some Democratic lawmakers demanded that Rumsfeld step down as Pentagon chief.
[. . .]
Last week, a military report obtained by Salon.com included a statement by Lt. Gen. Randall Schmidt that raises serious questions about the conduct of the Pentagon chief and other officials concerning al-Qahtani's interrogation. In the report, Gen. Schmidt says Rumsfeld was "talking weekly" with Gen. Geoffrey Miller, a senior commander at Guantanamo in early 2003, about the al-Qahtani interrogation, and that he was "personally involved in the interrogation of (this) one person."
Schmidt's statement also signals that Rumsfeld maintained a high level of knowledge of and supervision over al-Qahtani's treatment, although he did not specifically order more abusive methods used in the interrogation.
Austria's foreign minister, Ursula Plassnik, has joined the ranks of those calling for the closure of Guantanamo.
And Reuters notes the following:
Nearly 30 percent of the Guantanamo detainees have been cleared to leave the prison but remain jailed because the U.S. government has been unable to arrange for their return to their home countries, the Pentagon said on Friday.
The Pentagon refused to identify these 141 men despite having released on Wednesday its first comprehensive list of detainees held at the prison for foreign terrorism suspects at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Are you getting disgusted yet? The prison was set up with rules that are contrary to way the American justice system is supposed to work. People have been held for years. If that wasn't enough to disgust you, what about the fact that 30 percent should be gone but aren't?
We call them "prisoners," not "detainees." Detainees shouldn't be held for months, let alone years. We also don't think it's a "prison" or "detention center." We agree with Amnesty's call, it's a gulag.
But in the news cycle, with a new revelation or scandal on the administration every 24 hours (Condi Rice leaked classified information to former AIPAC lobbyist Steven Rosen, maintains Rosen's attorney), Guantanamo often can't get traction. It's too bad because we'd guess that among the many shameful actions of the current administration, when history is written, Guantanamo will rank near the top. (Our guess is the illegal war will rank number one, then Guantanamo, then Bully Boy's warrentless spying on Americans.)
We also think this will be the hardest to explain to future generations: how year after year, the gulag continued -- despite the beliefs America is supposed to work under. Yet in real time, it's the first story the mainstream press loses interest in. And Guantanamo isn't even the worst gulag the US government is operating. As Amnesty noted:
As the most visible part of this iceberg (although still operated behind a veil of secrecy), Guantánamo is also serving as a diversion. Its continued existence is distracting public attention and diverting legal resources from the greater mass of detentions elsewhere. Perhaps this fits the US administration’s ends for those other detentions, which it wishes also to keep unscrutinized. Indeed, just as the courts are beginning to reassert a degree of scrutiny over the Guantánamo detainees, the executive may be looking to transfer large numbers of detainees to other locations for continued detention there. The US government must not be allowed to outsource its unlawful detention practices to other governments or to other agencies in order to bypass judicial scrutiny in its own courts. The rule of law must be reestablished.
That may have to do with the so-so writing and some lousy casting. It also isn't aided by a really bad "concept." Here's the concept: 20-something has one foot in the corporate world and one foot in the world of PAR-TAY!
Possibly, someone looked at it and thought, "Hybrid!" If so, it's not a good-for-the-environment hybrid. It gives off far too many noxious fumes to be that.
What is it? It's The Mary Tyler Moore Show, a really, really bad version. See Mary went to work at the TV station and Sam (Brett Harrison) goes to work for an airline corporation. Mary went home to Phyllis and Rhoda who lived in the same house that was converted to apartments -- Phyllis was actually management of the building, along with Lars, but we didn't learn that until well into the series. In fact, that's part of the problem with The Loop, you learn everything in any episode. Pick an episode, it's all on display.
That's due to the fact that the characters, as written, have no layers and most of the performers have no ability to add textures. What you see is completely what you get.
What do you see? Eric Christian Olsen is not the third member of the Mary Kate and Ashley matching set, but his acting convinces you that, on some level, he is their spiritual brother. He plays Sully. You've seen Sully everywhere. He comes under many names. He's never a character, just a stereotype and, here, he's just wasting everyone's time. The problem's not that Sully's a slacker (The New Old Christine and Free Ride both have slacker characters you can enjoy), it's that the writers haven't filled in the blanks for Sully and Christian Olsen either can't or won't. May he have success in another show, but this one's history.
Sully is one of three roomates Sam has (four is company too?). If there's anyone worse than Sully, it's the character of Lizzy who appears to be blend of Chrissie from Three's Company and
Bambi from Welcome Back Kotter. Sarah Mason is more a Teri Copley than a Suzanne Sommers and she never appears to know who Lizzy is from one moment to the next -- a problem when you're the actress playing her. Is she stupid-sweet, stupid-mean, stupid-stupid, the writers don't know and Mason either doesn't know or doesn't care. The latter option will be the audience's reaction to her performance.
While Mason is about as lively as a corpse in any perp walk TV show, Sam's third roomate may be who you're wondering about? Let's kill the suspense. It's the Joyce Dewitt role. No one cares. No one ever cares. Which is why when one episode it's the voice of practiciality and the next it out dumbs the blond, no one raises an eyebrow because no one cares.
To varying degrees, all par-tay, par-tay, PAR-TAY! Sometimes that means getting an academic tutor to hop in the hot tub (filled with NAIR) to get rid of the long wisps of hair all over his body (fortunately, we're only shown the back, chest and shoulders -- quite enough, thank you.) Sometimes that means putting everything aside, we're headed to the bar for shots! And maybe after to a pig stye because what's a wild night of drunken fun without wrestling a pig?
Someone thought it would be funny.
But it never is. Maybe because four White kids trying to "make it" in a spacious apartment doesn't make for the six Friends. (But the economic struggles there were generally confined to one character struggling a season.) Maybe because they all seem to have so much money (until it's time to spend it on academics) that you really don't give a damn about them as they move from one drunken haze to another and don't even get any good sex out of it. (Or even bad sex.) Next on Fox! When Celibates Get Drunk!
Someone thought it was wild and crazy. Probably the same someone who thought we needed to see Eric Christian Olsen not just shirtless -- but in a what had to be a g-string. (A thong should offer more coverage.) Sully has an obsession about panties. Not only does he wear them, he also likes to talk about them. About them riding up on him, mainly. If the 'bland creeps' was the emo he was going for, he has succeeded. The audience is left disgusted by Christian Olsen's character and performance. His agent is left to try to convince others that Christian Olsen can really act. We wonder who suffers more?
When not stuck in the wanna be Animal House (whose inhabitants, unlike this show's, did have sex, did have adventures), Sam goes to work. He's PAR-TAY boy by night, corporate slave by day. The office is populated with a wretched cast. Chief among the offenders is Philip Baker Hall who apparently never met a line he didn't like better if he could shout it. Which is why he shouts every line. He plays the boss, Russ and, at seventy-four, that may be one of the most unbelievable things about the office. He's always got a gay "joke" or a Chippendales joke or any other insulting joke in the world to tell. Which makes you wonder why he wasn't forced into retirement long ago. He doesn't do anything but lead meetings. (In which, Sam always finds the problem with a projection or proposal.)
If you were spared the shower scene between Russ and Sam, consider yourselves lucky. We think the term used, when Russ was gazing at Sam's groin, was "man hairs." Two actors could probably pull it off, even make it funny. Those two actors are obviously not Baker Hall and Harrison.
Forget the other dull males, Joy Osmanski plays Darcy (the receptionist) and she's actually funny. Her punishment for that must be "little screen time." Mimi Rogers plays Meryl and she's walking all over the place (and all over her co-workers). It's an amazing performance by Rogers who is shaping it with no help from the writers. Meryl's a sexual predator. To the point that she's verbally harrassing (sexually) Sam in episode after episode. The looks Rogers gives and the way she delivers the lines make them so much more than the writers intended.
If they were smart, they would have figured out already that Meryl actually has to do something at some point. Yeah, it's sexual harrassment and it's against the law. We're not disputing that. But what she's saying to Sam is already sexual harrassment. Get her off the treadmill and let her move forward already.
While Meryl's devouring Sam with her eyes, Brett Harrison appears to be attempting to figure out his character -- on air. Let's break it down for Brett, he's a nebbish. He's Miles from Murphy Brown as the lead. And who would watch that? Exactly.
Harrison is the focus of Rogers and various other female guests (Adam Brody, playing a same-sex oriented character, didn't show a flicker of interest) only because he's been cast in the lead.
There's nothing interesting about him. All the layers and laughs that Free Ride offers have been stripped away from The Loop and chief among the bland is Brett Harrison. Harrison is probably better looking than Josh Dean, in a cartoon way. Cartoon describes the acting as well. You may wonder, as we did, whether he studied with Charo?
If there's a funny moment to be found in a scene, Harrison will kill it with broad reactions. Where Dean can compress and compress making you anticipate the explosion, Harrison just grins blankly as though all he has to do is recite the lines and BAM! he's an actor. It's not that easy.
The Loop isn't easy to watch. Watch it for Mim Rogers but be prepared for the fact that she's always at the starting line and the writers never allow the race to start. Maybe Harrison is your idea of hot? Someone thinks so as he's shown in underwear, shirtsleeve-less (his sleeves are ripped off in one episode) or shirtless (with a black bra drawn on him -- it was supposed to be funny) or naked (as much as broadcast TV will show you). Someone is obviously quite taken with Harrison, but it's not the audiences. He comes off as having far fewer dimensions than Miguel of Maya & Miguel (the PBS animated cartoon).
We're not sure which is the bigger mystery -- how Fox ended up being convinced this was a show to air or how anyone thought Harrison could carry a show? One thing we know is that the show stinks of cancellation.
Rumsfeld's staying in place
Even though he's helped to give
The country an ugly face.
One of a string of pearls
In the mouth of a swine --
As the dream unfurls
And democracy goes into decline.
Bully Boy dubs himself the decider
People are left out of the equation.
Dick Cheney has a travel rider
Including TV's turned to his favorite station.
Condi gave Jack the bed
Professional reporters giggled.
The topic of boos and hisses went dead
And the story was jiggled.
NYT gearing up for war with Iran
But still gets trusted
Like Larry Franklin, did they cop a plea
Or were they never really busted.
Patriot Act II awaits in the wings
When Bully Boy's asked about accountability.
He lies, laughs, slurs and stumbles
But someone thinks it's virility.
Condi No One Could Have Guessed Rice
Thinks the nation suffers from senility.
Scooter's leaking publicly to the press
While the most Colin Powell can confess
Is to a blot.
To a blot.
Strange times in the U.S.A.
It used to be the land of the free.
Terror alerts and scare tactics
We've become a nation gripped by insanity.
[Note: Three weekends ago, Dona heard Carly Simon's Hotcakes and fell in love with the song "Safe and Sound." This is our homage to that song. And note this: "Carly will be making a small "animated" appearance (as herself ) on Fox's The Family Guy TV show on Sunday, April 23rd."]
Dona: Helping Ruth. Which is not a "let's blame Ruth"! But it is to note that Ruth busts her ass each week on those reports. I had no idea how much work was involved, how much ended up on the cutting room floor, or even how much time was put into the writing involved, let alone the listening.
Rebecca: Let me jump in to explain that Ruth had worked and worked on her report.
Mike: With Tracey.
Rebecca: Yes, with her granddaughter Tracey and they had nothing but problems. They'd lost a portion of the report, they'd lose the whole thing. It became an all night affair for them. Nightmare, all night nightmare for them.
Jess: And the thing is that crap happens all the time at The Common Ills. I know when I post, it's a nightmare. We think we have nightmares here, but if you knew what went on there.
Elaine: I've been a floater in terms of Pacifica and may continue to be but I am rethinking that because I knew Ruth was working hard and the thing to do may be to grab a show she's covering to help out. I know she Mike and Cedric are covering WBAI's Law and Disorder and that allows her to not have to go as in depth on all the segments.
Cedric: Mike and I had already decided we'd grab different segments. So hopefully, that will let Ruth focus on other segments. That is her favorite show.
Mike: And I'm going to try to grab another show next week because Tracey told me about a broadcast I'll want to catch. That's a fingers crossed thing.
C.I.: And that's great but I don't think anyone realized how much work Ruth puts in.
Jim: Or how much work it is for you and Dallas.
C.I.: I just do the tags, Dallas does the links. And Kat's done the tags for one report. The hardest thing is when Ruth calls after she's e-mailed a report. When that happens, she's found a little more time, and this is really difficult for Ruth to figure out what to focus on, a little more energy and wants to note another program. So that means what was ready to post is now delayed and more work on tags for me and more on links for Dallas.
Dona: We'll note that Dallas is hearing this and can jump in at anytime but we doubt he will.
C.I.: And I want to be clear I'm not griping about Ruth. Her work is wonderful. Her dedication is wonderful. I'm noting that her report requires too much out of one person. There's someone I have asked, as a personal favor, to grab a Pacifica show. I then begged. Twice. And it never happened. I'm sick of that shit to be quite frank. I explained how much work it was for Ruth and how much work it was for Dallas and for me. I said it would mean an easier Saturday for me and I begged, twice, that a show be covered. It didn't happen. I'm not pleased. To put it mildly.
Ava: And that's all you want to say on that.
C.I.: Right. Because after the second time where it wasn't done, I feel I've been avoided. By the way, the asking -- I was told 'sure.' The begging, twice told 'sure.' I'm really not pleased and wondering if there is an excuse for it or not. I'm doubting there's an excuse since I've been avoided. If that is the case, I may have more to say on the subject, until then, as Ava noted, that's all I'm saying.
Cedric: I want to clear up something. C.I. was not griping about Betty Friday morning. That was an attempt to explain why I hadn't posted. We, and Kat, were being sounding boards for Betty. No one was sorry to do that, we were happy to do so. C.I. got a nasty e-mail that Jess forwarded from a racist visitor. I delete him without reading when he writes me. But it was just laughing at me, in racist language, because I'd only posted Tuesday and had missed Thursday.
C.I.: Thank you for bringing that up because I did want to be clear on that and I don't think I was. We were glad to listen and, me, I'll listen to anyone here that needs a sounding board.
Betty: Well, it does mean that there won't be evening entries at The Common Ills, let's be honest.
C.I.: I don't think that's true. What's true is that I hit the e-mails in the evenings. I can't do that to the level that I do, and the e-mails are out of control these days, and still have an evening entry. That's life. People will have to adjust. I'm also doing a column for the gina & krista round-robin and for Polly's Brew.
Mike: And living a life.
C.I.: Trying to. But listening to Betty, Elaine or Kat doesn't really prevent an entry. While I was listening to Betty on Thursday, I was working on the "And the war drags on" entry. I was going through the e-mails and deciding which ones should be included, which highlights from members. I had done all of that. When I got off the phone, all that was left was the commentary. I was wiped out from listening to the process Betty goes through for each chapter, but I imagine Betty's more wiped out than anyone. I'm glad to help anyone and know anyone would help me.
Ava: I want to talk about e-mails for a minute. Jess and I go through them Mondays through Friday for about two hours each day, each of us for two hours. We can't keep up. But with the public account, I'm really tired of people who want links. Are you giving a link? Then why are you asking for one. This is my pet peeve. It pisses me off. Everyone and their dog is asking for a link. There was this one guy that I e-mailed who was using a site that looked like a business. I asked him what his site was. C.I.'s not going to link to a refinance site or anything like that because a member might see it as, "This is a company I can trust!" I don't know what Jess read or C.I. read, but I kept track and there were 111 requests for links. There's a guy who also writes The Third Estate Sunday Review, the same e-mail it turns out. I mentioned the guy, because he's really getting on my nerves, to Ty and Ty said he trashes those.
Ty: I do. That guy, and I went to his site, offers no link to anyone in the community and sends out these mass e-mailings wanting links. He probably writes twice a week. If a reader wants a link, fine. But this nonsense of you're going to e-mail everyone with a site and try to get a link, I don't have the time for it.
C.I.: And we should note that Ty's taking a break from the e-mails starting Monday. He's off for at least one week. During which time, Ava, Jess and I will be attempting to help out here.
Dona: I do some of the e-mails, I read them, but Ty really has had the whole thing pushed off on him. And it can really get to you when you've got some teeny bopper screaming how dare you insult John Stamos or whatever. I know I've been curt in some e-mails that I've replied to where someone's made some racist or sexist comment and then thought, "I shouldn't have even bothered to reply."
Ty: But someone pours that crap on you, and you do end up replying. It's like, "Oh no, I'm not going to ignore this crap."
C.I.: I think everyone does that. Saturday mornings are the worst for me because I'm wading through the public account solo and the sixth or seventh person who wants to tell me how stupid I was for writing ___ and each of them are referring to something that I didn't write, something that's clearly noted as an excerpt with a link --
Jim: Like what?
C.I.: Margaret Kimberley's thing on Iran a few weeks back, her column, really angered right wingers who for some reason felt the need to write in and tell me how ignorant I was to say this or that about Iran. At that point, I'd never written one word about Iran. So when I was going through the public account and kept coming across that, I started replying along the lines of, "Who's the idiot? You can't read a post with, "And Keesha highlights Margaret Kimberley's ___" and see a link and an excerpt and not tell that I didn't write it.
Jim: And people argue in e-mails all the time, right?
C.I.: I don't care if they disagree. I don't care if they say I'm stupid for something I wrote. It's their opinion and they're entitled. Time permitting, I'll read it. I may even learn something from it. But I do try to hear where the person is coming from. But that's people who know what I've written. Telling me I wrote something that I didn't pisses me off. It always has.
Elaine: And that goes way back. Way back. That is the easiest way to piss off C.I. and always has been.
C.I.: I'm sure I'll immediately regret this [In fact, C.I. did and pulled the personal reason for not wanting to be distorted. This topic will be covered in C.I.'s column for the round-robin this coming Friday.] So I do not like to be told, this is what Elaine's getting at, that I said something I didn't say. I'm very aware of what I said and what I didn't say. I may not remember everything at that instant but I do know generally, if someone's screaming at me, whether I said it or not.
Jess: I'm wondering if the e-mailers noted what entry they were complaining about.
C.I.: They rarely do. With Kimberley's piece, it was "Iran!"
Jess: I'm thinking of an e-mail that came in on a NPR station in Marfa. I was looking at that and started a reply to the woman, I think it was a woman, and couldn't finish it because I had no idea what she was talking about. But then I told you and you said, "Oh, she's talking about an article The New York Times ran" and you give me the date. I'm amazed when you can track that but if people are commenting on something, they really should note what they're commenting on. It would be like me writing The Washington Post and saying, "You're story was so one sided and you failed to interview Leslie Cagan. In addition to that, the position you took was slanted." And never mentioning the name of the article, when it was published or anything. I mean the Marfa article was like at least a month old when that came in. It was one article and the woman didn't mention The New York Times. She just opened with something like, "You wrote about the Marfa NPR station and I would like to share a few things with you."
C.I.: On that. I'm tired of following up. It says on the profile, if you want to be quoted, note it. That woman has done a lot of work on an issue important to her. I have no idea if she wanted me to share it or not. She never said. I did reply to her. She wrote back. I have a life. The policy is noted to prevent this, "Do you want to be quoted" e-mail. I didn't quote her. If she's upset, and she may not be, I took it that she was just sharing, but if she is upset, the policy is clearly noted at the profile. It's not my job to say, "The e-mail address for this site is ___ and remember that if you want to be quoted . . ." Know about the site you're writing to.
Betty: If this was a sound file, people would hear a very tired tone in C.I.'s voice so let me say I'm accepting that it's not a problem to listen to me. I was wondering and I had called C.I. when I read the Friday entry to ask if I had caused a problem. C.I. said no and explained there was an e-mail but didn't go into it. But I honestly have felt, until right now, like I was causing a problem.
Cedric: If someone trashed you in an e-mail, C.I. wouldn't tell me. That's why you didn't get told about the one trashing me. I wouldn't have known about it but C.I. mentioned it to Jess who e-mailed me to ask if I wanted to see it and I did.
Wally: Well what I can do at The Daily Jot is note the Christmas Coup Players on WBAI, but I'm not sure that they're even on now. They didn't air this month. If they are still airing, I can note a joke or two from that and help ease the strain on Ruth.
C.I.: And thank you for that because that would be a help.
Jim: Another thing that's going to be done is we're going to cover Living Room next week. I've already told Ruth. Laura Flanders may still be on vacation and we may cover Living Room itself or along with Flanders. Or we may not cover Flanders. We love that show but Ruth really does need some help.
Ty: Right, community comes first. And we need to do more to note Pacifica. I know it's been noted elsewhere, but people are tired, our readers, community members, of hearing: "The New York Times reported . . ." or "NPR had a great . . ." I mean if you're criticizing them, cool. But to just give shout outs to them, why? I see this site as part of an alternative media and I think that means we note alternative media. We can hold the mainstream accountable and should but this fawning over it, it shouldn't exist in the alternative realm.
Rebecca: We all love Democracy Now! and I think all the sites do a pretty good job noting it and getting the word out. But when I was speaking to Ruth and asking her how I could help her, she said it would be a huge help if I would grab KPFA's Flashpoints. I really didn't know the show. I'm amazed at how much information is in each episode. Five days a week.
Mike: Or take Law and Disorder. I pick a tiny part of a segment. Cedric uses a segment as a jumping off point. But to write about what they pack into every hour would take me all week. I understand why it's Ruth's favorite, it's a great show. But it's a hard one to cover.
Kat: And Ruth's trying to provide so much. With Guns and Butter, I'm noting the guest and the topic. I can do that. I think everyone should be able to with the exceptions of the humor sites.
When I started covering it, I got some hate mails on it. Now the stuff that gets forwarded from Jess is just delight that it's being noted. The point there is that if someone's impressed with my half-ass coverage, it's because they love the show and are just glad to find someone else who does. I'm amazed at how little is noted. I listen to KPFA because I live in that area and I love the station. But I rarely read about it online or in print. I can stumble across "NPR did this" and "NPR did that" twenty times a week without trying. And it really is starting to annoy the hell out of me.
Ty: My guess is that what you're seeing is people using those QUOTE "established sources" END QUOTE, to be CounterSpin about it, because they're trying to piggy back on them. Why they want to, I have no idea? If you're indymedia, be indymedia. But, just to focus on websites, I know a lot of them don't seem to want to be indymedia. They want to be --
Cedric: "Playas" and gatekeepers. Take Rebecca's favorite, Robert Parry, okay? I think in the last six weeks, he's been on a Pacifica program six times. So if you respect Robert Parry's work, why aren't you following his appearances. But I've noticed that he doesn't get that much attention online, really. Let me explain that. Online, I see him as Sy Hersh. Hersh does an article in The New Yorker and it's everywhere over and over. Parry does four or five articles a week and it's maybe at one place. That can be turned back on me, I know. I think I've noted him once. I blog twice a week and I have a link to him. I'm usually writing more of an account of what I happened. I'm not a news site or a resource/review. But for sites that are that way, I'm really surprised at how little he's noted.
Wally: Well, it's also true that you'll link to an entry someone else has done and he'll be excerpted in that.
Cedric: That's true.
Dona: But I mean, and Rebecca raised the issue at her site, think about how few sites even link to Pacifica. Forget coverage of it or shout outs, just a link. And you'll find very few that do when you compare it to the links that NPR gets.
Rebecca: That's true and to pick up on Cedric's point, think about Democracy Now! -- I mean, C.I. was frustrated two weeks ago when dictating an entry and I could tell. C.I. was pointing out that if you're praising some ground breaking story in the corporate media, chances are that Democracy Now! and others have already been there. I just think there's a lack of awareness as to what's out there. And I would agree with Ty and Cedric that it also has to do with, "I'm going to be on the outside but watch me be accepted as inside by just noting these publications." Elaine had a great point about the guy driving the Force Wagon, where she noted maybe he shouldn't rest his call for force on a story that ran in The New York Times since that's the paper famous for Judith Miller, Michael Gordon and what's the other guy?
C.I.: William S. Broad.
Rebecca: Right. I mean, come on.
C.I.: I was frustrated. I don't remember what the story was that day, the one that was apparently being linked to all over the web, but the person I was dictating the entry to told me it was all over and I was thinking, "Hello, Democracy Now! reported on that a week ago." I don't get why we continue to see these institutions as "trusted" if we've truly leanred anything from being lied into war.
Kat and Elaine overlapping.
Elaine: You go.
Kat: Elaine and I were making the same point which is: "Pacifica didn't lie you into war." NPR did. Is that how we thank news outlets that did do their job? By ignoring them?
Elaine: Right. And let me add that if the war hadn't been a lie, the mainstream still wouldn't have done their job. Their job was to cover the issue, not just quote official sources, named and unnamed. They failed at their job. Not because of the way the war turned out, but because they did not encourage and advocate a real discussion. That's what reporting is supposed to do and they, the mainstream or corporate media, didn't do their job.
Kat: They imposed their own restrictions. Having seen that happen, and seeing the disastorous results that have come from that, you'd think they'd have learned something but the coverage of Iran has demonstrated that they haven't learned a thing. So why are people still citing them as though they were the voice of God?
Mike: Ma put together an entry quickly this morning. She was rushed and she grabbed The Boston Globe off the table because she hadn't planned on writing early.
Cedric: I phoned her when I was doing my thing and told her C.I. was holding the main post so that Kat and I could get something up and be mentioned. That was partly due to the racist e-mail laughing about how I hadn't posted, and offering his thoughts on why, which was mainly that he had scared me off of posting. I hadn't read his 'scare e-mail,' I just hadn't had time.C.I. wanted to note my latest as soon as it went up to show that guy that I didn't give a damn what he said.
Betty: Okay, now I really get why C.I. made the statement at The Common Ills. My apologies for misunderstanding.
Cedric: Right. So the thing was I called Trina and she put that together really quick.
Mike: Right. Ma, did it and was freaking out. I'm serious. She was like, "Help, I need something newsworthy" because she didn't want people to think she was slacking. So Dad and I are both listing off topics and, looking back, I think we just confused her. Too much talking all at once. So she grabs our paper off the kitchen table and finds a story. It was from The Boston Globe. Even rushed, Ma didn't write, "Praise be The Boston Globe." She noted a paragraph or two and used it for her own jumping off point of how she views the immigration issue. But you see, online, all the time, this heavy praise for stories in print, in a newspaper, that aren't that great and that aren't covering anything new if you've been following the alternative media.
Ty: It may be like race. There are people I know who don't see themselves as African-American or Black.
Betty: Or any other word for it. They won't hang out with anyone but White people. They won't listen to anything or watch anything that isn't popular in the White culture. It's like, "I'm not Black."
Ty: Yeah. And I think some people don't get that they are alternative media. I almost said indymedia. But there's a blogger who's been e-mailing this site pretty regularly and I told him that he had a great indymedia site. I meant it as a compliment. But he e-mailed back, and he was really offended, saying he wasn't "indymedia," he was "new media."
Betty: For some people in the minority, it's really hard for them to accept that they are. I think we can see the same thing with some in indy or alternative media. I know C.I. will call out The Times and I know that the thought or wish is to drop the coverage of the paper. Since we're on this and it's gone longer than planned, I'd like to address that.
C.I.: We cover The Times at The Common Ills. I'm tired of it. No thought was put into it. I thought I was doing a blog. That didn't pan out. But on a Friday, after intense suggestions from friends, I started the site with a little four or five line entry. The next morning, when it was time to do a real entry, it was a Saturday, I subscribe to the paper and I used it. It wasn't cheerleading.
Jim: It wasn't. In fact, by the next day, you'd be picking apart Dexter Filkins.
C.I.: Yeah. But I'd like to get away from it. I've tried to and suggested that but members want it. Not out of love for the paper but out of the fact that it can be held accountable, it can be called out. If there's a good article in it that day, I will try to note it. But we're not there to cheerlead the paper. And we're not giving high-fives to it to look "respectable" or "big time." Someone, and I don't remember who, it may have been Jim or Dona, early on e-mailed about how the coverage could be seen as an endorsement if that's all there was. That was a good point. Which is why we note every episode of Democracy Now! It's the anti-Times because it's reality. No heavy gauze covering the realities, no thick filters used for a look at Henry Kissinger or whomever. Martha notes The Washington Post and if it fits into an entry or can be forced in, I'll work it into a morning entry. That's her highlight, her contribution, one of them as a member. She also highlights independent sources. But we need more of that at The Common Ills. I know that. And as I say that, I'm also aware that, for me, there are too many highlights in the morning. I'm juggling e-mails, the paper, the phone or phones some mornings, and all I want to do is get out the door and get a workout in before I face the world. So I don't know what to say. I think I'm aware of many shortcomings all the more after doing this for over a year but short of a box of Time Helper that lets me increase the time in a day by adding water, I don't know what there is to do.
Elaine: I don't think that's fair. Take CounterPunch, just as one example. I wasn't aware of that magazine before The Common Ills and now I'm purchasing it and reading it. I think, if there was a survey -- and this isn't a suggestion -- you'd find that a lot of members would say, "I didn't know about ___ until I saw at the site and now ___ is a trusted voice or a trusted publication."
Ava: You have just invited a deluge of e-mails to The Common Ills.
Elaine: Didn't mean to. Write me. I'll note it at my site. But I think that is true. I mean, Sunny was saying the same thing when there was a highlight of Kim Gandy this week. She was telling me that she had no idea who the president of NOW was. But thanks to the highlights at The Common Ills, she knows her name and she knows the issues she cares about.
Wally: Or like me. I didn't know Danny Schechter before the site. Now I'll check out News Dissector. And that's just one example of someone I've learned about from the site.
Jess: It really is a resource/review. It grates on my nerves when a reporter e-mails C.I. and says, "Your blog." It really is a resource/review.
Jim: Want to share any names?
Jess: Are you trying to get C.I. to kill me? There's a reason you don't get to check those e-mails.
Dona: Do you reply to them?
Jess: The deal is, Ava and I can if we want to. If we do, we don't talk about it with C.I. That's the deal. C.I. feels like there are enough conflicts of interest without striking up some friendship online or strengthening an enemy-ship online. Most of the time, no. I have replied to every author, not journalist, author, that's written.
Ava: We do not respond, either of us, to officials. There are a number of right wing officials who write in to complain. That's usually dealt with, by C.I., by noting a "visitor" had e-mailed and after the entry goes up, Jess or I will respond by e-mailing that entry and noting that the question or issue is addressed in it. C.I.'s writing may not be popular with the neocons, but it's certainly read by them.
Dona: You know that it kills Jim not to know?
C.I.: And you know that I walked out on a roundtable because Jim had found out about one reporter and named him in a roundtable.
Jim: I didn't think that was a bad thing to do because he liked the site.
C.I.: Liking the site might not go over well with his employers.
Jim: Point taken. So this ended up being about a lot more than we had planned on. We thought it was a mini-roundtable but it ended up growing on us while we were doing it. Point? Support independent media. Talk it up. Get the word out on it.
Ani DiFranco has a new CD out: Carnegie Hall 4.6.02 which is a live recording, a single disc "official bootleg." (Others can be found at Righteous Babe.) As Ani writes in the linear notes, this was recorded "seven months after 9/11, which in emotional time is more like seven minutes." She dubs it "a feral recording." We'd agree and add "ferocious."
Ani DiFranco is an artist traveling through a land of plastic. One of the key points of any DiFrancio live album is rediscovery. Songs that you heard on a studio album but might not have given their full due, as you focused on the ones that immediately caught your attention, are resurrected on the live albums -- not just brought back to life, but brought back to life stronger.
For us that would include "Serpentine" which showed up earlier on Evolve but had to, for us, stand in the shadow of the amazing title track and "Promised Land." The lyrics to "Serpetine" are included on a fold out and we're not sure if there are additional verses or it's just DiFranco's new take but you will take notice.
Those with So Much Shouting, So Much Laugher (a live double disc set) are familiar with "Self-Evident" -- a powerful poem song grappling with the issues of 9/11. The previously released recording was recorded in Ann Arbor. This one is at Carnegie Hall (hence the title). It's one of her masterworks and she didn't need a few years to begin writing it. (Yeah, we're talking to the fence sitters.)
[. . .] every jack ass newscaster
Was struck dumb and stumbling
Oh my God
And this is unbelievable
And on and on
And I'll tell you what
While we're at it
You can keep the Pentagon
You can keep the propaganda
You can keep each and every TV
That's been trying to convince me
In some prep-school punk's plan
To perpetuate retribution
[Cheers and applause]
Along with the fierce, spoken word performance, you get some of Ani DiFranco's best songs. "Educated Guess" remains one of our favorites and it's joined by "Subdivision" (the song they refused to let her play on David Letterman's show) and many others. Long terms fans will feel the excitement rise during the opening chords of "Out of Range."
The album comes with a cover. A photograph. Why is that important? We're huge fans of Tori Amos but we had no desire to pluck down eighty dollars or more for her bootlegs. We're aware that . Hey, at the heart, this site is run by five college students. Where did Tori think we'd get the money for the bootleg packages? (Containing 12 discs.) Those who could afford it, passed as well. C.I. states it would have been a "sure purchase" if Amos had included her cover of Carly Simon's "Boys In The Trees." Kat says, "Who has the time to listen to twelve discs in a row? I love Tori, but I wasn't ready to give my week over to her." Rebecca felt that while the price might be a bargain considering the number of discs, she was embarrassed to even pick it up, "Thinking of how much goes on in the world and someone's releasing a package for that kind of money. I could've afforded it but it really seemed to be putting a squeeze on most of her listeners."
Point? Ani's given you one disc. At an affordable price. It'll rock the room. Plunk down your money and pick it up. You won't have the buyer's remorse Kat had when she purchased Elvis Costello's latest live album, My Flame Burns Blue.
"I saw Elvis, I saw live, and I grabbed it and rushed to the counter," Kat remembers. "I hadn't even gone in for that, didn't know he had anything coming out. I rush home, eager to hear what songs he's reworking, only to discover it's Elvis is in his Rod-Stewart-without-spikey-hair period. For me, it was the most disappointing CD of the year thus far. Elvis goes Big Band. It was bad enough when Brian Setzer did it. I feel like he slaughters 'Watching the Detective' and it's slow, gruesome murder. I keep hoping that if I pick it up in a few months and listen, I'll find something to enjoy but that's not happened yet with one exception. 'God Give Me Strength' finds him performing the song almost, amost, as well as it was performed in the movie Grace of My Heart." (Performed by Kristen Vigard, C.I. notes.)
Ani DiFranco's Carnegie Hall .4.6.02 won't disappoint you or creep you out (you'll love the treatment she gives to "Angry Anymore" here -- including the spoken interlude).
Lacking the taste of Rolling Stone, US Weekly (both are put out by Jann Wenner) tosses Nickster on the cover of their May 1, 2006 issue. The cover story in US is actually . . . a report on the Rolling Stone story (which didn't make the cover). Why? Because US thumbers aren't readers and couldn't take four large pages of text (which US kindly condenses to slightly less than two pages of text) -- but then who could.
A few tips for Lachey.
*If people forget that you're a real person it may be due to the fact that most people don't try to market their divorce in a desperate bid to stay in the spotlight.
*When your spouse tells you they want a divorce, most people don't decide to share the story with the world. They certainly don't need all the details of your attempts to beg your equally freakish wife to seek counseling.
But did you really think counseling could solve all your problems? Acting lessons, singing lessons and maybe a little reality lessons would assist as well.
*As breakups go, you're hardly Carly Simon and James Taylor or any other famous for being talented duo. That's largely due to the fact that neither you nor your ex-wife is talented.
*People who don't want prying eyes on their private life, don't generally follow a very public breakup with nonstop coverage and really bad songs with lyrics like "Now I'm broken, and I'm fading . . ."
*Unless you're in the running for a Lifetime bio-pic entitled Richard Gere: The Later Years, keep your shirt on until you can get to a gym. Those pillow pecs became fold-out-sofas about half a year ago.
*So scary are the pecs that, on the cover of US, where he has his arms crossed and chest stuck out, they look like an ass. Butt cleavage is never attractive when sported on the chest.
*Did Jessica get custody of the skin care products? The reason we ask is that, even with the photos touched up, we see that you have an acne breakout above your right eyebrow. We'd also suggest less facial makeup unless you're going to do something about that large dry patch underneath your right eye. Don't feel too badly about it, your ex-wife has a freakish nose that continues to need careful lighting and and safe angles to photograph as normal.
* When "6" is the "Number of times Lachey breaks down in tears" during the interview, you might want to consider some solo counseling sessions.
*While we understand that you needed to pull your pants down as low as possible to make your waist look slimmer, go on a diet, stop posing shirtless or accept that you're chunky. Any more weight gain, and you'll have to pull your pants down below your testicles to create an illusion of thinness. (For the Lachey fans who object, take the US or RS shirtless photos and a piece of paper. Hold the paper up to where his pants should begin and you'll realize how large the love handles are.) (How large? He has a pear shape.)
One current rumor is that they'll be back together by June and this is yet another publicity stunt from two people who've rode to shallow fame on the public's curious interest in their coupling. Too harsh? Nick Lachey's last hit single was? Never, unless you define a hit very loosely. Both are failures as recording artists, Dukes of Hazzard underwhelmed at the box office (they thought they had a hundred million blockbuster until the rushes were viewed). So you're looking at a whiney John Davidson and a less talented Sandy Duncan.
All they have to sell is their personal lives. If a shallow personality cries when no paparatzi is around, did he shed a tear?
Matthew Lasar speaking to C.S. Soong on KPFA's Against the Grain, April 12, 2006.
KPFA, the first Pacifica station, went on the air April 15, 1949. This month is the 57th year anniversary. Criticism of the mainstream media is nothing new. Similar criticism to the current talk today is why Lewis Hill felt the need to start Pacifica, the nation's first noncommerical,radio station focused on listener-sponsored programming. There were ups, there were downs, KPFA is still around. Fifty-seven years later, it's still around and joined by four other Pacifica stations:
KPFK listen live · visit online (L.A.)
KPFT listen live · visit online (Houston)
WBAI listen live · visit online (N.Y.C)
WPFW listen live · visit (D.C.)
It's been a free speech leader and has led debates on McCarthyism, on gay rights, on liberation, on the Civil Rights movements and war (including Vietnam, from its inception). Broadcasting from Berkeley and, thanks to the internet, heard around the world, KPFA continues to air programming that challenges the listeners and, by doing so, continues to inform our understanding of the world around us.
In honor of the 57th anniversary, a special page has been created to note some of the highlights from years past. You'll find clips of coverage of the 1970 occupation of Alcatraz Island, of one time KPFA host Richard Pryor, an interview with Rosa Parks, an interview with Lena Horne, a panel discussion on homosexuality from 1958, James Baldwin speaking out for the political prisoner Angela Y. Davis and much more.
You can also check out the KPFA Timeline where you'll find that in 1965 "WBAI reporter Chris Koch is the first U.S. citizen to cover the war from North Vietnam." Or that in 1973, Pacifica provided full coverage of the Watergate hearings. There are many milestones on the timeline
including this one:
1993 Amy Goodman, WBAI News Director and co-anchor of WBAI's Morning Show, wins the following awards for the program "Massacre: The Story of East Timor": Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Award for International Reporting; Unda-Gabriel Award for Nationally Distributed News and Information; Radio &Television News Directors Award; and the Unity in Media Award from Lincoln University.
Amy Goodman, host of Democracy Now! (along with Juan Gonzalez). Hopefully, you already tune in, listen or read (transcripts) of that show and, if not, hopefully, you are aware of it. Celebrate KPFA 57th anniversary by familiarizing yourself with more programming that it and other Pacifica stations have to offer. Others? The anniversary is a KPFA anniversary, it's also an anniversary for Pacifica Radio which got its start on one station back in 1949.
The one and only Jane Fonda. We're fond o' Fonda. And Monday on KPFA she's the scheduled guest for Cover to Cover with Denny Smithson. Fonda wasn't afraid to come out against the war. And last spring, when she spoke out on David Letterman's show, she was greeted with applause.
Last week, it was suddenly NEWS! that she felt Cindy Sheehan was more effective as a speaker against the war than she was. (We love Cindy Sheehan, but we'd line up for hours to hear Fonda speak.) She said it on Good Morning America! It was NEWS!
But, a point we make in our roundtable posted later, it wasn't, in fact, NEWS!
Maybe it was news when she said it to Robin Morgan in the interview Ms. magazine ran in their Winter 2006 issue? But for that to happen, people would have to pay attention to alternative media and we don't think it's getting its due. From "Jane Fonda Talks Sex, Politics, & Religion with Robin Morgan" (page 38):
JF: You know, nobody's asked me to speak about war for over 15 years. I carry too much baggage from Vietnam. Recently I was feeling, "I can't be silent anymore. I'm going to go on tour." I did anti-war tours around the U.S. every year during the 70s, they were amazing. But then, Cindy Sheehan surfaced! I thought, "I don't need to tour, she's the appropriate one!"
OMG! It's just what you heard on Good Morning America last week! But you heard it in Ms. magazine first. If you paid attention. Support your independent media. One way is to listen Monday to:
Cover to Cover with Denny Smithson
One of the most recognizable women of our time, America knows Jane Fonda as actress, activist, feminist, wife, and workout guru. In her extraordinary memoir, Fonda divides her life into three acts: her childhood, early films, and first marriage make up act one; her growing career in film, marriage to Ted Turner, and involvement in the Vietnam War belong to act two; and the third act belongs to the future, in which she hopes to "begin living consciously," and inspire others who can learn from her experiences. Fonda reveals intimate details and universal truths that she hopes "can provide a lens through which others can see their lives and how they can live them a little differently."
It airs on KPFA at 6:00 pm Eastern, 5:00 pm Central, 4:00 pm Mountain and 3:00 Pacific. You can listen online, for free, or you can listen over the airwaves in the Berkeley area on KPFA (94.1 FM) and probably on KPFB (89.3 FM) in Berkeley as well as KFCF (88.1 FM) in Fresno.
Two programs worth noting on KPFA Sunday (today, and times given are Pacific):
Sunday Salon With Larry Bensky
In our first hour...
The French youth labor law controversy... Millions protested and made a difference. How big a difference?
In our second hour... What's the media been up to since September 11, 2001. We'll speak with author Kristina Borjesson, who interviewed some of the nation's top journalists for her book "Feet to the Fire: The Media After 9/11" (Prometheus Books), and others...
Act One Radio Drama
Act One Presents a witty and compassionate look at the effects of the Hollywood Blacklist on personal relationships, "The Value of Names" by Jeffrey Sweet, starring Hector Elizondo, Garry Marshall and Sally Murphy. Thirty years ago, Benny Silverman's acting career was nearly destroyed when his friend and colleague, Leo Greshen, "named" him in front of the House Committee on Un-American Activities. The two men haven't spoken since. Now Benny's a successful comedian with a posh home in Malibu. Leo, now a sought-after director, hasn't done badly either. In fact, Leo is in town to direct a hot new play -- and Benny's beloved daughter is in town to star in it. Sit back and relax, you've got the best seat in the house.
Three programs on WBAI Sunday (times are Eastern):
11:00 am-noon: The Next Hour
A presentation of rarities from legendary radio satirists Firesign Theatre.
6:30-7:00 pm: Equal Time for Freethought
Michael Neumann on his book, The Case against Israel
9:00-11:00 pm: Everything Old is New Again
In recognition of the 45th anniversary, we present the entire Capitol Recording of Judy at Carnegie Hall.
a few have started to think I didn't like Ben Harper's Both Sides of The Gun. I don't like the album, I love it.
But it turns out there was a problem. A reason for the delay. Elaine and C.I. helped me figure out what was causing me the problem. It has to do with whether or not you stand for something or just pretend to when things are easy.
See Both Sides of The Gun is a great album. The second disc rocks, no question. The first disc, which I listen to equally as much, is a quieter sound. Elaine and I were speaking of Darfur and then an hour or so later I phoned C.I. and, at that point, wasn't even thinking of Ben Harper when C.I. mentioned "Peace in the Valley."
That's the problem. Both Sides of The Gun is the work of an artist. It's the work of an artist who's grappling with the world we live in. An artist who believes in a "Better Way" as the first track on disc two notes.
And disc one? Reminds me of Carole King.
Carole King back when she had principles.
I loathed The Living Room Tour. I loathed it for the fact that she destroyed the Toni Wine & Carole King favorite "Sweet Seasons" by changing the words to "Sometimes you win/ Sometimes you win." Politicians may prefer to hear that but does Carole really think her own audience isn't damn well aware of loss?
The Living Room Tour is a piece of crap. It goes beyond her screwing over classics to please/appease politicians. It goes beyond her vague statements that can be read as "Rally 'Round the Bully Boy" or "Well, we're there now." All the more embarrassing when even Paul McCartney has stopped drinking the Kool-Aid.
The problem with The Living Room Tour is you realize Carole King may be desperate for a buck (or attention) and willing to sell out everything she believed in. (Or too scared to sing of what she so often did in other times.) She does record "Peace in the Valley" on The Living Room Tour and offers an embarrassingly bland comment. And that's really it. She's trotting out the love songs (hits and misses) and if she thinks anyone's fooled that "Being At War With Each Other" is a 'statement' on the war she's the fool because those of us who remember the song when it first appeared know exactly what it's about (racism in this country).
Carole King spent the 60s churning out hits for others. She didn't take a serious stab at recordings (forget "It Might As Well Rain Until September" and other one-offs) until 1968 with The City. That group's album features a New York City woman trying to act like a hippie. Which is probably why Lou Adler, of the Mamas and the Papas fame, produced it and her solo work for years. If you're hoping to find a peace song on the album, forget it. She's high . . . on the land.
For years, I'm a long time Carole King listener, she's been trashed by some critics as a "Pollyanna." I never saw it that way but understood the position that critics were trashing. I don't know that she still maintains that position. Or, in fact, if she ever really did.
Yes, she made generic statements that could be read to be about Vietnam and the mood of the country on her first solo album Writer (1970). On the break-through follow up (Tapestry), "Smack Water Jack" could be read as a statement against the bullies Nixon, et al. She campaigned for George McGovern. But 1973's Fantasy contained no real statement on the war. It did allow her to pretend to be someone else.
That's key to the type of writer King started out as. She wrote for others. (With her husband, lyricist Gerry Goffin.) They would try to figure out a way to write the next Drifters' hit based on the last hit they'd had. It was pretend time. Some great work came out of that period.
But what Living Room finally drives home is that the whole thing, the entire career, may have been pretend. That's why I hated it so much. 1975, when it would have been safe for our peaceful, easy feeling King to make a statement regarding Watergate or Vietnam, she's off doing a children's album (Really Rosie). Before that, when record buyers had turned against the war but elites and pols still hadn't in large numbers, she was offering her "Been to Canaan" type songs (toss in "Brother, Brother"). They gave the appearance of someone with beliefs. But maybe someone with real beliefs would have actually written about what was going on in the country? So the army withdrew from Vietnam and suddenly King had a lot to say. Nothing specific but more on the mark than anything she'd written (or recorded in cases where she recorded others' lyrics) while the war was raging.
This is the "One to One" period. The "One Small Voice" period. The "A Time Gone By" period. She was being called Pollyanna constantly. I wonder now if I was wrong to defend her -- and think others might have been wrong to attack her as a Pollyanna for different reasons than I had thought at the time. Now it looks like it may have all been an act.
"What will the kids buy?" she and others who wrote songs in the 60s would ask and then try to write that in the style of a popular group. I'm now wondering if she wasn't doing that her entire damn career.
In 1993, when it was cool to be political for some in music, she beefed up her sound on Colour of Your Dreams and actually had some concrete statements (such as in "Friday's Tie-Dye Nightmare"). Our Queen of Peace continued her reign in song as late as July 2001 when she put out Love Makes The World ("go round," if you don't know the title track off the album).
So let's be really clear, Carole King sat out the sixties (chronological sixties) and when the seventies rolled around, there she was a solo, writing non-specific evocations of peace, brotherhood (never sisterhood) and the like. She continued that throughout her career. Stopping only after 9/11.
I guess it really did change everything. It certainly changed a Carole King recording as mealy mouth statements cancelled out anything a live version of "Peace In the Valley" might have offered (however weak). That's really it for the piece of crap, double disc Living Room. King would be smart to figure out what happened? Was she too scared to offer one of her peace songs? (This is, after all, the woman who rarely performs songs by others but went all over California in the nineties singing Patti Smith's "People Have The Power.") Was she, not scared, but afraid it wouldn't reach her perceived market? (Don Kirshner would be so proud if she instilled that.) Did she decide war was the answer after all? Or was she pretending (and therefore wasting everyone's time) with all those musings on the state of peace and the state of man (after we withdrew from Vietnam)?
Disc one of Both Sides of The Gun is the disc Carole King should have released last year. In vocal tone, in topic, it's exploring things not dissimilar from what was the hallmark in King's work.
"Morning Yearning" has all the soft sexuality King could dream of. But Ben Harper's the one singing it and the one writing it.
a finger's touch upon my lips
it's a morning yearning
pull the curtains shut,
try to keep it dark
but the sun is burning
The guitar playing on this and the other songs is as remarkable as King's piano playing on Tapestry. There are figures and fills. It's not just a chord that lays there, droning on. For nine songs, the first disc takes you to a place where there's time to stop and think, where there's a need to stop and think. It breathes. The accompaniment does more than provide the main line of the melody. Light the candles, lay on the floor and think or light the candles, lay on the floor and make out. This is a wonderful disc. The song that nails it for me is "More Than Sorry:"
hasn't been so good to me
stepped out into the night
back against the moon
i saw ten thousand hands with candlelight
we all think that we're right
it's hard to tell
if the night is full of hope or doom
The thing that kills me is that this could have been written and sung by Carole King -- if she hadn't shown up with a thematic case of laryngitis in her Living Room. I don't know that it could have sounded this well due to the fact that so much of her work post Tapestry had musical arrangements that sounded like first attempts as opposed to the polished work of a pro. But in terms of themes, in terms of vocals, Carole could have made this album or one damn well similar.
Disc two kicks things off with "Better Way" which everyone rushes to tell you is "like the Beatles' "Tomorrow Never Knows." Me? Musically, I'm hearing the Bangles' "In Your Room." Not an insult. I had high hopes for what ended up being the break up album when "In Your Room" came out. Seemed like they might be returning to the life of "James" and "Hero Takes A Fall" and leaving behind the generic pop-sound that finally brought them fame. Lyrically, Harper's "Better Way" is several notches above "In Your Room" but it's not "Tomorrow Never Knows." I always wonder when someone raves over John Lennon's lyrics in that song if they're aware he cribbed from Tibetan Book of the Dead. It often seems that they aren't. (Similarly, in "Engraved Invitiation," I hear more of a nod to the music of "Honky Tonk Women" or "Tumbling Dice" than the other Rolling Stones' songs that some critics keep saying it sounds "just like.")
While "Better Way" is a fun track that has a point of view, "Both Sides of the Gun" is everything that a song commenting on the world today should strive for. We are living, Harper sings, on both sides. We are under a government pointing the gun outside the United States and within. It is "rotten to the core" with "one foot in the grave and the other on the flag." In every measure of the song, the music runs and then clomps perfectly capturing the mood occupying our nation when led by a "one dimensional fool in a three dimensional world."
"Black Rain" addresses the government's non-response to Hurricane Katrina:
you don't fight for us
but expect us to die for you
you have no sympathy for us
still i cry for you
you may kill the revolutionary
but the revolution you can never bury
Both Sides of The Gun is two discs of strong music about the state of the world, about our humanity (which Harper obviously believes we still have) and much more. The second disc is for rocking out but carries the theme on through.
I remember a time gone by
When peace and hope and dreams were high
We followed inner visions and touched the sky
Now we who still believe won't let them die.
Though the lyrics above would fit perfectly, that's not from Both Sides of The Gun. It's from Carole King's title track to Time Gone By (1979). Apparently, it's real easy to make promises and talk peace when the nation's not at war. It's apparently equally easy to ditch that attitude when it's time to rally 'round the Bully.
Carole would be smart to forget the Living Room and get back in the studio quickly because her live album is offensive on so many levels but mainly because it betrays her entire career. Put up or shut up. Otherwise admit that either you never believed in those lyrics -- what some called "drippy" and "Hallmark" lyrics -- or that 9/11 transformed you into a hawk.
Her live album is as disgraceful as if Judy Collins, one day, decided, "I know I liked the environment but I think I'll start recording songs in praise of DDT now." Her listeners would balk. Carole's heavily promoted (on TV) album crashed and burned quickly once people heard it and word of mouth got out on it. From the "peace queen," it would have been disgusting in 2003 or 2004. Coming after Green Day, the Rolling Stones, Cowboy Junkies, Dolly Parton, Bright Eyes, Etta James and others stepped up to the plate, Living Room is disgusting and cowardly.
Ben Harper, in scope, has always struck me as one of the musical children of Carole King. The "child" has managed to do what the parent couldn't or wouldn't. Take ideas that were espoused in peace time and stuck by them. There's not a day that's gone by where I haven't played Both Sides of The Gun at least once. (I still haven't listened to the bonus disc.) It's become a staple. Living Room has sat on the shelf since I wrote the review (July 19, 2005). Until I needed to confirm what I finally grasped, there was no need to listen to it. Having confirmed it, it'll go back on the shelf and if I weren't a Carole King fan (previous work), it would go in the trash. Both Sides of The Gun will go in your CD player and stay there.
both sides of the gun
the living room tour
the cowboy junkies
like maria said paz
the common ills
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Encuestas: Apoyo a Bush y a la guerra de Irak disminuye a cifras históricas
Volvemos a Estados Unidos. Una nueva encuesta indica que el índice de aprobación del Presidente Bush disminuyó a una nueva cifra histórica. Según Fox News, tan solo el 33 por ciento de los estadounidenses dicen que aprueban la gestión del Presidente. Mientras tanto, una nueva encuesta de "Bloomberg"/"Los Angeles Times" descubrió que el 58 por ciento de los estadounidenses considera que la guerra en Irak es innecesaria.
Gasto mensual en ocupaciones de Irak y Afganistán cercano a los diez mil millones de dólares
En otras noticias, un nuevo informe del Servicio de Investigaciones del Congreso indica que Estados Unidos gasta alrededor de diez mil millones de dólares al mes en las ocupaciones de Irak y Afganistán, un aumento de casi ocho mil millones de dólares con respecto al año anterior.
Bush se niega a descartar ataques nucleares contra Irán
El martes en la Casa Blanca el Presidente Bush se negó a descartar el uso de armas nucleares, en el estancamiento de las negociaciones sobre el programa nuclear de Irán. Bush dijo: "Todas las opciones están sobre la mesa. Queremos solucionar este asunto por la vía diplomática y estamos trabajando duro para lograrlo. La mejor manera de lograrlo es unir esfuerzos con los países que reconocen el peligro de que Irán tenga armas nucleares. Por esa razón estamos trabajando estrechamente con países como Francia, Alemania y Gran Bretaña. Pretendo, por supuesto, hablar este jueves con Hu Jintao sobre las ambiciones iraníes de tener armas nucleares. Continuaremos trabajando diplomáticamente para solucionar este problema".
Físicos advierten a Bush que no utilice armas nucleares contra Irán
En otras noticias, un grupo de destacados físicos estadounidenses escribieron una carta abierta al Presidente Bush, exhortándolo a abstenerse de utilizar armas nucleares contra Irán. Entre los signatarios de la carta se encuentran cinco ganadores del premio Nóbel y un físico que fue galardonado con la Medalla Nacional de Ciencia. Según los físicos, la utilización de armas nucleares sería "sumamente irresponsable", y acarrearía "consecuencias desastrosas para la seguridad de Estados Unidos y del mundo".
Cuba conmemora 45 aniversario de la invasión de la Bahía de Cochinos
Cuba está conmemorando el aniversario número 45 de la invasión a la Bahía de Cochinos organizada por Estados Unidos. El 17 de abril de 1961, un grupo de más de 1.400 combatientes armados, entrenados y dirigidos por el gobierno de Kennedy, arribaron a las costas de Cuba en un intento por derrocar a su Presidente, Fidel Castro. A los pocos días, los combatientes fueron derrotados en lo que resultó ser una gran vergüenza para el gobierno de Kennedy y para la CIA.
1200 trabajadores indocumentados detenidos en histórica ofensiva contra inmigración
1200 trabajadores indocumentados de 26 estados diferentes fueron rodeados y detenidos a altas horas del miércoles, en lo que está siendo calificado como una de las mayores ofensivas contra la inmigración en la historia reciente de Estados Unidos. Las redadas se centraron en la empresa IFCO Systems North America, con sede en Houston. Siete gerentes y ex gerentes fueron acusados de conspirar para trasladar, encubrir y alentar a inmigrantes ilegales a que residan en Estados Unidos por motivos comerciales y económicos. Los gerentes podrían ser sentenciados con hasta diez años de prisión, así como también deberían pagar una multa de 250.000 dólares por cada trabajador indocumentado. Los arrestos surgen luego de las manifestaciones masivas para apoyar los derechos de los inmigrantes, que fueron realizadas durante el último mes.
Amnistía: Estados Unidos entre los cuatro países con mayor índice de ejecuciones
Mientras tanto, un nuevo informe de Amnistía Internacional indica que Estados Unidos es el país con mayor índice de ejecuciones estatales luego de China, Irán y Arabia Saudita. El 94 por ciento de aproximadamente 2100 ejecuciones en el mundo entero se consumaron en estos cuatro países. Según Amnistía, en China se llevaron a cabo al menos 1700 ejecuciones el año pasado, pero la cifra real podría estar en el entorno de las 8000.
Bebé recién nacida entre civiles afganos que resultaron heridos en tiroteo estadounidense
En Afganistán, la policía y los residentes locales dicen que soldados estadounidenses dispararon e hirieron a seis civiles afganos que viajaban en diferentes autos el martes. Entre las víctimas se encontraban una bebe recién nacida y un niño de cinco años de edad. La abuela de la bebe habló después del ataque: "Luego de que la bebé nació en el hospital nos dirigíamos a nuestra casa, y en el camino escuchamos disparos, y vi que nos estaban disparando. Todos los que viajábamos en el auto resultamos heridos. La bebe sufrió heridas en la cabeza. No sé qué fue lo que hicimos, ni por qué atacaron a personas inocentes".
Corte Suprema rechaza apelación de ciudadanos chinos detenidos en Guantánamo
La Corte Suprema rechazó una apelación de dos musulmanes de nacionalidad china que han estado detenidos por más de cuatro años en la prisión militar estadounidense de la Bahía de Guantánamo, a pesar de que el gobierno reconoce que fueron detenidos por error. Sus abogados dijeron que deberían ser liberados de inmediato, pero el gobierno de Bush rechazó la solicitud. Funcionarios dicen que no han logrado encontrar un país que acepte a los hombres tras su liberación. Ambos detenidos son uigures, y no desean regresar a China por temor a ser encarcelados y torturados.
Hospital de Asuntos de Veteranos de Nuevo México reconoce que enfermera fue acusada erróneamente
Actualizamos una noticia que hemos cubierto anteriormente. En Nuevo México, El Centro Médico de Asuntos de Veteranos de Albuquerque, reconoció públicamente haber acusado erróneamente de sedición a Laura Berg, una enfermera. En septiembre, Berg escribió una carta a un periódico local criticando el manejo que hacía el gobierno de Bush del Huracán Katrina y la guerra de Irak. Sus empleadores respondieron confiscando su computadora, y poco después se le informó que la estaban investigando. Hasta esta semana, el hospital se había disculpado en privado con Berg, pero se había resistido a reconocer públicamente que sus acusaciones eran falsas.
Maria: Good morning. Now in English, here are ten stories from Democracy Now! Peace.
Polls: Support For Bush, Iraq War At New Lows
Back in the United States, a new poll shows President Bush's approval rating is at a record low. According to Fox News, just 33% percent of Americans say they approve of the President's performance. Meanwhile, a new Bloomberg/Los Angeles Times poll has found that 58% Americans believe the war in Iraq was unnecessary.
Monthly Spending on Iraq, Afghan Occupations Nears $10B
In other news, a new report from the Congressional Research Service says the US is now spending close to $10 billion dollars a month on the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan -- an increase of nearly $8 billion dollars from one year ago.
Bush Refuses To Rule Out Nuclear Strikes on Iran
At the White House Tuesday, President Bush refused to rule out the use of nuclear weapons in the impasse over Irans nuclear program. "All options are on the table," Bush said. "We want to solve this issue diplomatically and we're working hard to do so. The best way to do so is there for (sic) to be a united effort with countries who recognize the danger of Iran having a nuclear weapon. And that's why we're working very closely with countries like France and Germany and Great Britain. I intend, of course, to bring the subject up of Iranian ambitions to have a nuclear weapon with Hu Jintao this Thursday. We'll continue to work diplomatically to get this problem solved."
Physicists Warn Bush On Using Nuclear Weapons Against Iran
In other news, a group of prominent US physicists has written an open letter to President Bush urging him to refrain from using nuclear weapons against Iran. The letter's signatories include five Nobel laureates and a recipient of the National Medal of Science. According to the physicists, the use of nuclear weapons would be: "gravely irresponsible" with "disastrous consequences for the security of the United States and the world."
Cuba Marks 45-Year Anniversary of Bay of Pigs Invasion
Cuba is in the midst of commemorating the 45th anniversary of the US-organized Bay of Pigs invasion. On April 17, 1961, a group of over 1,400 fighters armed, trained and directed by the Kennedy administration landed on Cubas shores in an attempt to overthrow Cuban President Fidel Castro. Within days the fighters were defeated in what proved to be a major emberassment for the Kennedy administration and the CIA. Jose Ramon, who fought for the Cuban government during the Bay of Pigs, said: "Every year we celebrate this, it is celebrated in all of the country, and it brings us great memories. I don't wish for this to happen again, not only here, but in no other place in the world."
1200 Undocumented Workers Detained In Record Immigration Sting
In what is being called one of the largest immigration crackdowns in recent US history, 1200 undocumented workers from 26 different states were rounded up and detained late Wednesday. The raids focused on the Houston-based company IFCO Systems North America. Seven current and former managers were charged with conspiracy to transport, harbor and encourage illegal immigrants to reside in the US for commercial and financial gain. The managers face up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each undocumented worker. The arrests come on the heels of the massive rallies in support of immigration rights that have taken place in the last month.
Amnesty: US Among Top Four State Executioners
Meanwhile, a new report from Amnesty International shows the US ranks only behind China, Iran, and Saudi Arabia in carrying out state executions. 94 percent of an estimated 2100 executions worldwide took place in those four countries alone. In China, Amnesty says at least 1700 executions took place last year, but that the actual number could reach as high as 8,000.
Newborn Girl Among Afghan Civilians Injured in US Shooting
In Afghanistan, police and local residents say US troops shot and injured six Afghan civilians who were traveling in separate cars Tuesday. The victims included a newborn baby girl and a five-year old boy. The baby's grandmother spoke after the attack: "After the baby was born in hospital we were heading to our home, on our way home we heard gunfire, I saw we are being targeted. Everyone in the car was hurt. The baby received head injuries. I don't know what we did, why they attacked innocent people."
Supreme Court Rejects Appeal of Chinese Men At Guantanamo
The Supreme Court has rejected an appeal from two Chinese Muslims who are being held at the U.S. military prison Guantanamo Bay even though the government acknowledges they were mistakenly detained. The men have been held for more than four years. Lawyers for the men said they should be immediately released but the Bush administration has refused the request. Officials say they have been unable to find a country that will accept the men after their release. Both men are Uighurs and do not want to return to China out of fear that they would be imprisoned and tortured.
New Mexico VA Hospital Admits Nurse Wrongfully Accused
This update on a story we've been following: In New Mexico, Albuquerque's Veterans Affairs Medical Center has publicly admitted it wrongly accused one of its nurses of sedition. In September, the nurse, Laura Berg, wrote a letter to a local newspaper criticizing the Bush administration's handling of Hurricane Katrina and the Iraq war. Her employers responded by confiscating her computer. Shortly after she was informed she was being investigated. Up until this week, the hospital had given Berg a private apology, but had resisted calls to publicly admit that its allegations were false.
the common ills
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