Sunday, December 17, 2006

Truest statement of the week

Also on today's Democracy Now!, Amy Goodman interviewed lefty mag Poster Boy Sherrod Brown and asked him what he would say to US war resisters such as Ehren Watada who think the war is immoral and illegal and the poster boy replied, "I don't know, I don't know what you say to them." [Goodman interviewed Watada's mother, Carolyn Ho, yesterday.] When asked by Goodman if there should be "pressure on the military not to prosecute these men and women who . . . are saying the war is wrong," Poster Boy replied, "I don't know. . . . I don't know the answer to that." Possibly had the leading magazines of the left, The Nation and The Progressive, put war resisters on the cover or printed even one article on them in 2006, the Poster Boy might have been prompted to consider the issue?
The Progressive ran two photos, November 2006 issue, in their multi-page photo eassay. The two photos (by Jeff Paterson of Not In Our Name), on a page of five photos, were of war resister Ricky Clousing. The Nation has provided nothing in their print edition. ["Leading" is based on circulation. Left Turn has published an article, in print, on Watada. Off Our Backs and Ms. have dedicated entire issues to war and peace this year.] While the New York Times and the Washington Post, two leading mainstream, daily papers, have covered the war resisters (the Times has done major stories on both Watada and Clousing) and a leading wire service (the Associated Press) has significantly covered the war resistance within the US military, leading magazines of the left continue to avoid the topic and 2006 may end without either The Nation or The Progressive providing one single print article on war resisters. No wonder the Poster Boy feels comfortable avoiding the issue.
While the magazines have repeatedly avoided the issue, one of the Iraq stories of 2006 has been the war resistance within the military. Kyle Snyder, Ehren Watada, Darrell Anderson, Joshua Key, Ivan Brobeck, Ricky Clousing, Mark Wilkerson, Camilo Meija, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Jeremy Hinzman, Corey Glass, Patrick Hart, Clifford Cornell, Agustin Aguayo, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, and Kevin Benderman are part of an ever growing movement of resistance within the military.
Speaking last Thursday with Nora Barrows-Friedman on KPFA's Flashpoints, Kyle Snyder noted that more war resisters who have not yet gone public are planning to in the coming months. (Snyder also noted that he meets war resisters who have self-checked out as he speaks around the country.) The failure of the leading magazines of the left to cover this story stands as one of the biggest barriers of a free flow of information on the issue of the illegal war. It also calls to question, for many politically active college students across the United States, the magazines' committment to ending the illegal war -- more so for The Nation which is a weekly and which managed to mention Carl Webb in an article this year but failed to note that he was a war resister. (Webb was quoted in the context of an article on the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.) [For what is focused while Iraq is avoided see the parody "The Elector."]

The above was noted today by nine members and the bluntest was Sheila who wrote "This better be the truest statement! Damn it!" We actually hadn't planned on doing a truest statement this week but we're happy to note this (and we agree). It's from C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" Tuesday.

A Note to Our Readers

Hey --
The note's going up late this edition. It was all we could do to make it through. The following helped write this edition:

The Third Estate Sunday Review's Dona, Jess, Ty, Ava and, me, Jim;
Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude;
Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills);
Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man;
C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review;
Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix;
Mike of Mikey Likes It!;
Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz;
and Wally of The Daily Jot

We thank them and we thank Dallas for his help hunting down links.

New content?

Next week? -- tells you what little we know about what's going up next week. Jess, Ty, Rebecca, Mike and Kat wrote this.

Highlights -- Jess, Ty, Rebecca, Mike and Kat wrote this and selected the highlights.

The US military divides up Baghdad -- Dona loves short features (so do some readers). They provide variety and can be done quickly. This is the map you may not have seen.

Look who's invited out of the stye -- Jess hit the e-mails earlier (Ty is on a break from the e-mails until the new year) and was surprised (happily) by the number of e-mails on this. One woman who self-identified as a victim of sexual abuse wrote, "It needed to be said. Thank you."

MyTV's Fascist House -- the popular feature is back. This is Donald the Rumsfled's last 'episode.' (As a regular!)

Truest statement of the week -- we just put this up. At the request of nine readers.

The Susan Seaforth Hayes of independent media -- how many mistakes are allowed in a single article and who, if anyone, bothers to fact check? Ladies and gentlemen, the Susan Seaforth Hayes of independent media.

Tower Records R.I.P. -- this is the sort of feature we'd like to do. It's a fun feature (Christy calls it the best thing on the closing of Tower she's read -- thank you for that e-mail, Christy). It's creative, it's alive and, yes, it was real.

Danny Schechter's The Death of the Media -- this is where we take another look at Danny Schechter's book and this time see how we can apply it. If you haven't checked out the book, please do -- it will give you ideas as well. (For those asking about the illustration -- when they cut off, that's beyond our control -- usually in 8 or so days, they fix themselves.)

"F.U." from The Nation -- a very popular feature. Jess hasn't read all the e-mails and we haven't been able to either. C.I. gave a teaser last week and that's because Jim really wanted to open with "F.U." and C.I. was worried that some might stop reading at that point. So a heads up was given to the community.

TV: What About Rosanna? -- with the usual problems, Ava and C.I. said they didn't know that anyone would like what they wrote this week. We did. We loved it. They blew us off. No surprise, of the e-mails read, this is the most popular feature of the week. Read it.

Editorial: Thanks to those who strive for peace -- a different sort of editorial. Jess read one e-mail asking why, if it was important to note, the war resisters referred to in two e-mails weren't noted? One of the two got a response from Ava and Jess (they work the e-mails for The Common Ills along with Martha, Shirley, Eli and, of course, C.I.). They asked if it would be okay to note the family celebrating in Canada. Since it wasn't, we didn't name names.

That's it, see you next week.

-- Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess, Ava and C.I.

Editorial: Thanks to those who strive for peace

Kyle Snyder, the war resister print media (independent) hasn't taken an interest in. Their loss. Their readers misfortune.

That's true of all the war resisters whose stories aren't being told in the indy print media. The list includes Ehren Watada, Joshua Key, Ivan Brobeck, Darrell Anderson, Ricky Clousing, Mark Wilkerson, Camilo Meija, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Jeremy Hinzman, Corey Glass, Patrick Hart, Clifford Cornell, Agustin Aguayo, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, and Kevin Benderman.

E-mails to this site and The Common Ills bear out that there is interest in this topic. Even if some refuse to cover it. Along with interest, there are often e-mails from those related to or friends of the war resisters. Two arrived last week to C.I. One of them contained good news, a war resister in Canada will be celebrating the holidays with his family -- in Canada. His family has gone up there for just that reason. It was a wonderful e-mail and those of us inclined to tears cried and those of us not just felt happy to know that, though largely ignored by independent media, they aren't always ignored by their friends and family.

Another e-mail came from someone who wished they were spending the holidays with their family. These are stories that could be and should be told. But when the wife of a war resister has to go to an organization's message boards to plead that her husband gets attention (and her plea is ignored) that's not going to happen.

The coming days are supposed to be about "Peace on Earth."

The war resisters who are standing up against this illegal war are doing their part to try to make that happen. Each and everyone of them has a story to tell about how they came to their decision, how it effected their lives, how it effected the lives of those around them.

We're not going to get Peace on Earth this year. The Bully Boy's already announced that he won't even announce his non-change of course until next year. But what a world it could be if we could get some coverage of the war resisters.

Stealing from Ruth:

The military's trying harder to continue the war. That includes the decision to court-martial Ehren Watada in Feburary. As part of that effort, they are attempting to legally compel journalists Dahr Jamail and Sarah Olson to testify for the prosecution. Monday, on KPFA's The Morning Show, 7:00 a.m. PST, 9:00 a.m. Central and 10:00 a.m. EST, Mr. Jamail and Ms. Olson will be among the guests addressing this development.

The efforts are laughable. The military maintains that it's just attempting to gauge the veracity of what was reported. Were that the case, Darh wouldn't be asked to appear in court. Why? He transcribed Ehren Watada's speech. That's what he did. And if the US military needed to determine whether or not the speech was transcribed accurately, they could simply watch the video.

This is an effort to crackdown on the reporters who have covered the war resistance. (For links and more on this, see C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" for Friday.) The targeted should see the efforts as a badge of honor for them. We'll note that not a whole lot of badges are being passed out.

Watada's speech, that few could print or broadcast, was used as evidence against him in the August hearing to determine whether or not to go forward with a court-martial. Years from now, Howard Zinn or the future Howard or Harriett Zinn will include it in a history book. It's a real shame that those pretending to cover the world around them couldn't note it in real time.

As Melanie wrote and sang, "There's a chance peace will come . . ." But it won't come from refusing to note those who are working actively to end the war.

As the year winds down, we say a loud THANK YOU to everyone in the peace movement, every war resisters and everyone else working to end the illegal war. Your actions do matter and, even when little covered, they do register.

TV: What About Rosanna?

Last week, we (Ava and C.I.) noted the failure of any new era of acting to take hold. Ty summarized five e-mails that disagreed with that. They didn't disprove that (we'd been happy if they had). They noted an actor or actress. There are many wonderful actors and actresses but there is no new era.

Sean Penn didn't come up in the five e-mails which surprised us because he's one of the best actors working today and he explores avenues that don't lead to vehicles. Penn hails from a crowd that could have helped create a new era but the sad fact is that there weren't many actors among that crowd. Tom Cruise has . . . cruised through one vehicle after another to the point that when he actually attempts to play a character the advance on it is like a Garbo ad: Tom Acts! After Penn, the only one who went the art route was Emilo Estevez.

The rest pursued one vehicle after another with their bad acting on display in a desperate bid for success. Well, not everyone took that 'approach.' One on the edges thought he could sleep his way to stardom -- didn't quite work out that way.

The Penn crowd (we'll avoid using the term ___ Pack) had males firing blanks, but the women were something amazing to see. Of all of them, only Demi Moore still has a film career that interests the studios. That's a real shame because, while we think she's much more talented than she's ever been given credit for, we're also aware that she was far from alone. Elizabeth McGovern gave some amazing performances. Ally Sheedy had a fearlessness you rarely come across. And of course, there's Jennifer Jason Leigh.

Any beliefs that a new acting era took hold end with JJL. The bravery, the brava, of her performances can't be constrained in vehicles (see Backdraft or Road to Perdition), they need space for art (see just about anything else). While the actors came off like they were doing one screen test after another for TV Dad, the women were amazing.

One of those women was Rosanna Arquette. With the TV miniseries The Executioner's Song, she gave the sort of performance that, in better days, would have led to a string of films. The clue to why that didn't happen may have been revealed unintentionally in a Rolling Stone profile where the (male) writer couldn't shut up about how the European version included nudity. Yes, Rosanna Arquette has breasts. That's really not what created an amazing performance.

In Baby It's You, she demonstrated that her abilities weren't confined to the mini-series genre.
But she was up against the same thing that women of her generation were -- the backlash. Too young to be the middle aged "bitch" or the "happy wife," there were no roles for them. The Slugger's Wife, seen today, is junk, garbage and any other negative judgement you want to apply to it, but the reason every actress under 35 wanted the lead in that film (Rebecca De Mornay landed the role and did better than most could have) was because there were so few roles written for young women. You could be the girlfriend in a vehicle and not a great deal more.

One of Arquette's films started a craze that didn't benefit actresses. Desperately Seeking Susan (which Arquette did all the acting in) deluded many into thinking (a) Madonna could act and (b) there was a market for pop tarts. This led to many studios wasting time and money on far too many films (that never got made) that would star, for instance, a Tiffany or a Debbie Gibson while the actual actresses stood around wondering exactly when it was going to be their turn? Arquette's career was hurt further by her involvement in Radio Flyer which started out one thing, sucked up everyone's time, then was reshot (with new actors) and bombed in its watered down version far worse than the original could have.

Despite all of that, Arquette's always made an impression. Like Jennifer Jason Leigh, she usually has to do it outside the studio system. After Hours, Pulp Fiction, New York Stories can stand with Baby It's You and remind you just how amazing she is. Studio fare? In vehicles like Nowhere to Run and Hope Floats, she's given far more than they deserved, and avoided embarrassing herself, cementing a respect in the industry that, unfortunately, hasn't translated to the roles she deserves.

What does any of this have to do with TV? Arquette is a regular on TV now. You may not know that. Many don't. Her show's in the second season and hopes that TV would give Arquette the break films refused to vanished before the series premiered.

The show's title is What About Brian? and every bad thing we heard about it last year, before it started airing, turned out to be true. It was, honestly, unwatchable last year (and audiences took note). We like Arquette, we know her, even so we couldn't sit through that crap.

A friend who's writing for the show asked us to take another look this fall and we did.

It's actually better. That's largely due to the fact that Arquette's been given the space to create. Her character, Nicole, also has a storyline. But before that happened, we were impressed enough with one scene, Arquette solo, dancing, that we agreed we'd review it but told our friend, "You're not going to like the review."

The biggest problem with the show, a problem ABC realized only after shooting started, is that Barry Watson is not good looking enough to get by on that. He can't act. It's the same non-performance he gave on 7th Heaven, it's the same non-performance that sunk Teaching Mrs. Tingle. He is the worst actor working on television today and that is saying quite a lot.

It probably doesn't help that his generic line readings and attempts to stare soulfully for the camera have "The WB" stamped all over them. At 32, he's too damn old to be thinking that teenage girls and boys are going to swoon over him and that will translate to a career. What it has translated to is a show that no one watches because he's not just playing a character on the show, he's playing "Brian" -- a wisp of a boy -- and the show's title is What About Brian? The audience has already loudly responded, "Who gives a shit."

Before the show went on air last spring, ABC suits talked about recasting or maybe having him cut his hair. (He needs to cut that hair but it won't make for a better performance.) In the end, they did nothing and audiences couldn't take the stink.

Last spring, America was supposed to give a damn (but didn't) about the triangle of Brian, Sarah and Adam. Adam's played by Matthew Davis and he's the only one of the three that bothered to act and sparked any audience interest. Sarah is, unfortunately, still played by Marjorie Seaver who appears to believe she's still on Saved By The Bell: The Next Generation. If there's anything worse than achieving 'fame' via Saved By The Bell, it's not-achieving it via the lame update. How this woman was cast as the romantic lead in a drama is beyond us -- she can't act and she's quite frightening to look at.

But audiences were supposed to be caught in Sarah's drama of "Should I go ahead and marry Adam or should I get back together with Brian?" This year, the powers that be have accepted that no one cares about Sarah and that audiences do not like Seaver. The triangle went bust when Davis got a lap dance (Adam is now married to the lap dancer). Now Seaver lingers in the background like Maggie Wheeler when ABC decided to turn These Friends of Mine into Ellen.

That's actually what ABC should do now. They should change the title of the show immediately and give Watson and Seaver parting gifts as they move on to the next project someone's idiot enough to hire them for.

Instead, Seaver's sidelined and they're hoping that William Devane, as Brian's father, can somehow make Watson appear to be a man and not the faded teeny bopper he is. It's not going to work and when the audience gets stuck with those scenes of Brian working for "Dad" and trying to hit big on the sales board, they're left to wonder what year this is supposed to be?

Matthew Davis, who was the actor the suits weren't sure of, may not be the world's best actor, but he's nailed the character of Adam and the only sour notes he hits now is when it's time for Adam and Brian to have one of those soulful scenes that reminds the audience how Watson is supposed to be the star of the show. Adam, an attorney, is with Summer, the exotic dancer, and the scenes are tailor made for the performance he gave in Legally Blonde. That's not an insult. That is to note that the writers have grasped his strengths. Davis could walk through the scenes, he's done them before, so he could Barry-Watson-it and just bank the check, but he's finding darker moments (and, in one instance, lighter moments) that make him one to watch in the future.

What's the future for What About Brian? Not very good. ABC was never sure if they wanted a prime time soap/trash or a quality drama along the lines of Family. (This indecision explains how non-actor Watson was cast in the first place.)

While decisions were being postponed, Rick Gomez and Amanda Detmer, as the now seperated couple Dave and Deena, left their intended second banana slots.. They did that by providing more heat than Sarah and Brian. They didn't get the 'drama' of running out on your own wedding (Sarah) or the non-stop close ups (Watson), but they proved that well acted characters could interest audiences. With Davis, Gomez and Detmer, there are the building blocks for a strong weekly hour of television.

Arquette? Nicole's now widowed. Last spring, she was married and pregnant. This year, she's just pregnant. Even before the funeral, we saw the soap line coming (her late husband may have had an affair). We shuddered fearing what she'd be saddled with. Wisely, the writers realized that when you have Arquette, you don't need to add on a great deal more. There was no need for Arquette to tell the audience what Nicole was going through, no need for a lot of bad dialogue junking up the scenes. Just point the camera at Arquette and get out of her way.

The generation that came of age between WWI and the Depression is often termed "The Lost Generation." We think that term applies to the young actresses of the eighties as well. Films never saw them as leading ladies, only arm pieces. It would be a real shame if, all this time later, even television couldn't provide them with the showcases their talents deserve. We've read several scripts and still marvel over, for instance, Rosanna Arquette's scene where Nicole is on the phone. What's on the screen, what comes through, is not on the page.

Giving her room to breathe has made What About Brian? watchable. Tossing to Davis, Gomez and Detmer has vastly improved the show. But unless ABC has the guts to follow through with the idea they flirted with before the show ever aired (firing Watson), Rosanna Arquette's doomed yet again to give an amazing performance in something that she's so far above.

"F.U." from The Nation

No, not from us, from The Nation magazine. If you've missed the latest, lucky you. The rest of us have lived with the stink off the December 25, 2006 issue (that would be "the Christmas" issue for those who celebrate) for a bit now.

That's a big f.u.
To the tried and true
Watch us put the hammer down . . .

If the cover sang, that would be the song you hear. (Sing it to the tune of Jackson Browne's "Shaky Town" off Running for Empty.) The cover boasts the latest from the Susan Seaforth Hayes of independent media. That's been an in- joke for some time, but never was it more true than when we trudged through Christopher Hayes' "9/11 The Roots of Parnoia."

Backstory, in the seventies, NBC's Days of Our Lives decided, rather last minute, that they should address the issue of same-sex attraction. So Julie, played by Susan Seaforth Hayes (think Hope's mother/sister -- step-mother and half-sister -- for the younger readers), is chatting with a female neighbor who, it turns out, is interested in her. Julie freaks out and exits quickly. And that's where the Days of Our Lives' lesbian/bisexual storyline ended as well. (Well, actually the lesbian/bisexual ended up in the nut house and, you know this is coming, she wasn't really attracted to Julie, it was later revealed.)

Who kissed the Susan Seaforth Hayes of independent media, was our big question? SSH turns in another article not noted for facts (see this edition's "The Susan Seaforth Hayes of independent media") or for prose. (We did enjoy the second half which basically repeated what we'd said here some time ago.)

Now let's back up. 9/11 is an event most people are aware of. (We'd say "all" but . . .) The 9-11 Truth Movement is obviously bothering some people. Matthew Rothschild (The Progressive) elected to 'celebrate' 9-11 by rushing out his lengthy attempt at a book review (attention seeking behavior) on the anniversary this year. He earned the nickname "Drunk Uncle" because, as Kat put it, it was like visiting a warm, friendly uncle who suddenly grabs your breasts. Now Alexander Cockburn followed and one reader of The Progressive is mad that we had nothing to say about that. We actually did have something to say. C.I. says it and it's in a roundtable where Dona tells C.I. we do not have time left (in the round-table) to word it nicely.

But for those who don't get the difference between Cockburn and Rothschild, let's speak slowly: Cockburn's writing is angry, outraged and much more (we all enjoy Cockburn's writing). Rothschild? He generally comes off like the kind uncle. It's also true that Cockburn didn't rush out his piece so that it ran on the fifth anniversary of 9-11. But Cockburn, most important, didn't attempt to disprove or prove to any degree. The column he wrote can be summarized as, "It's not true. It's a waste of time. Others have addressed this at CounterPunch." Rothschild wanted to explore the 9-11 Truth Movement via a straw man and it was embarrassing to read.

But Rothschild need no longer feel that he's done the worst job. That honor goes to the Susan Seaforth Hayes of independent media. For laughs, someone please send us this on air promo Katrina vanden Heuvel did for this issue of The Nation. We can't remember if she called it an "exhaustively" researched article or what, we were laughing too hard, but we know she praised Susan's research. That should be hilarious to all familiar with the writer. (Again, see the "Susan Seaforth Hayes of Independent Media." Seriously.) The laughs just kept coming when the issue arrived. This is research? Susan's read Popular Mechanics.

That's research for those who believe that all the hard hitting scientific research today is being done in the Populars (Mechanics and Psychology). For those with a brain, not so fast. In the interests of an informed public, we'll now reprint the entire research from Susan's article:

In March 2005 Popular Mechanics assembled a team of engineers, physicists, flight experts and the like to critically examine some of the Truth movement's most common claims. They found them almost entirely without merit. To pick just one example, steel might not melt at 1,500 degrees, the temperature at which jet fuel burns, but it does begin to lose a lot of strength, enough to cause the support beams to fail.

And that is it for the laughable research that Katrina vanden Heuvel so breathlessly pants over in the on air promo for this edition. In doing so, she calls into question her own research habits. (We'll leave that for the online latter day Dylan to tackle. He has it out for her.) Matthew Rothschild created a straw man, his own false Frankenstein, in order to refute. We're not praising what he did. We will note that however he misused his research, he did do some. Susan?

Well for Susan, that probably does pass for research.

And one can also give Rothschild some credit for being first out of the gate this time of year. One can even note that his piece had an additional purpose besides slamming, he was 'reviewing' books on the topic.

There's no such excuse for Susan's 'work.' And that's why it's a big F.U. to the readers of The Nation. This crap is a cover story.

Now The Nation works overtime to ignore conspiracies -- real or imagined -- and if that's news to anyone, sorry to burst bubbles. That may be why it avoided the historical roots of the NSA, illegal, warrantless spying. God forbid the readers know what the government actually has done in the past.

We stated our feelings re: 9-11 Truth Movement in an article sometime ago, one Susan appears to have read. (Maybe that was research as well?) But to summarize it briefly, we don't have the time. If someone else does, have at it. Bonnie Faulkner has done intelligent, probing work on the issue. We applaud her for that. We know people avoided the topic like crazy and we know, unlike Susan, Faulkner is a serious journalist. On that and on other topics, Faulkner continues to demonstrate that there is not an off-limits and that she won't be brow beaten into silence. That's so much braver than anything Susan could ever dream of doing. (Faulkner hosts Guns and Butter, which airs on KPFA Wednesdays at one p.m. PST.)

We don't slam anyone involved in the Truth Movement. If someone is interested in that topic or a part of that movement and starts a conversation, we always listen. We think skepticsm is very important (a point we made months ago and one Susan trots out in his article). We also do not believe that the truth has been told about 9-11 and we think anyone who feels it has left the factory with too few screws. The Truth Movement has and will continue to unearth information. That's true of anything people dedicate their lives to researching.

We're also aware that 'conspiracy' could have tagged those who originally claimed the world was round and not flat. We could offer many other examples. We salute those citizen researchers who are tireless and involved. To repeat, they have made a difference and will continue to do so. Anyone who thinks otherwise should compare the once official story and the ever altering one of 9-11.

We're even more of the opinion that if you're going to scream "conspiracy" theory, you should be upfront about your own faith -- which does include religion. If you think people who believe in a god are nuts, you should let readers know that. Especially if you're attempting to make the case that the Truth Movement rests on 'faith.' If you're deriding them for what you see as a 'faith-based' belief as opposed to a reality-based one, you should be sure that everyone reading you knows exactly what you think of 'faith.' (All but one of us believe in a higher power, for anyone wondering.)

We're sure that there are readers of The Nation (or there were readers before Susan's story appeared) who are members of the Truth Movement. We're sorry if they paid for money for that crap issue. (We'll assume that they, like most of us, are subscribers who get stuck with whatever piece of crap gets squeezed out lately. Those who bought the nonsense at a store have only themselves to blame because they could have read it before purchasing.) And for those readers, we're genuinely sorry. We're sorry that your money's good enough for the magazine (in subscriptions as well as donations) but you aren't. (As one friend told the core six last week, "Well they cleared that up.") You got a personal F.U. from the magazine.

But we think everyone got an F.U. We think putting Susan's garbage in the magazine was nothing but an F.U. to readers. Exactly how is that article timely or needed? Who was saying, "Man, I wish The Nation would weigh in on the 9-11 Truth Movement?" (Who was saying that who actually pays for the magazine as opposed to . . .) No one. No one was asking for it. No one needed it.

And it certainly didn't require a cover unless the intent was to be sure readers got that they were being flipped off.

For over a year now, The Nation has wasted everyone's time as it hopped and bopped along from topic to topic. The magazine, like the Democratic Party they can't stop cheerleading, has no focus. It has been bad before but it has never jerked from print issue to issue over topics and issues. You think it's building up a head of steam on something and then, apparently plauged with ADD, it's off somewhere else in the next issue.

It's an out of focus travelogue that grazes but never lands. It's not a case of utilizing a broad vista, it's a case of having no vision.

Week in and week out, there's never time to address the war. As C.I. noted Tuesday of last week:

Also on today's Democracy Now!, Amy Goodman interviewed lefty mag Poster Boy Sherrod Brown and asked him what he would say to US war resisters such as Ehren Watada who think the war is immoral and illegal and the poster boy replied, "I don't know, I don't know what you say to them." [Goodman interviewed Watada's mother, Carolyn Ho, yesterday.] When asked by Goodman if there should be "pressure on the military not to prosecute these men and women who . . . are saying the war is wrong," Poster Boy replied, "I don't know. . . . I don't know the answer to that." Possibly had the leading magazines of the left, The Nation and The Progressive, put war resisters on the cover or printed even one article on them in 2006, the Poster Boy might have been prompted to consider the issue?
The Progressive ran two photos, November 2006 issue, in their multi-page photo eassay. The two photos (by Jeff Paterson of Not In Our Name), on a page of five photos, were of war resister Ricky Clousing. The Nation has provided nothing in their print edition. ["Leading" is based on circulation. Left Turn has published an article, in print, on Watada. Off Our Backs and Ms. have dedicated entire issues to war and peace this year.]
While the New York Times and the Washington Post, two leading mainstream, daily papers, have covered the war resisters (the Times has done major stories on both Watada and Clousing) and a leading wire service (the Associated Press) has significantly covered the war resistance within the US military, leading magazines of the left continue to avoid the topic and 2006 may end without either The Nation or The Progressive providing one single print article on war resisters. No wonder the Poster Boy feels comfortable avoiding the issue.
While the magazines have repeatedly avoided the issue, one of the Iraq stories of 2006 has been the war resistance within the military. Kyle Snyder, Ehren Watada, Darrell Anderson, Joshua Key, Ivan Brobeck, Ricky Clousing, Mark Wilkerson, Camilo Meija, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Jeremy Hinzman, Corey Glass, Patrick Hart, Clifford Cornell, Agustin Aguayo, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, and Kevin Benderman are part of an ever growing movement of resistance within the military. Speaking last Thursday with Nora Barrows-Friedman on KPFA's Flashpoints, Kyle Snyder noted that more war resisters who have not yet gone public are planning to in the coming months. (Snyder also noted that he meets war resisters who have self-checked out as he speaks around the country.)
The failure of the leading magazines of the left to cover this story stands as one of the biggest barriers of a free flow of information on the issue of the illegal war. It also calls to question, for many politically active college students across the United States, the magazines' committment to ending the illegal war -- more so for The Nation which is a weekly and which managed to mention Carl Webb in an article this year but failed to note that he was a war resister. (Webb was quoted in the context of an article on the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.) [For what is focused while Iraq is avoided see the parody "The Elector."]

Now before some dumb ass writes in, "The Nation did two storeis on Ehren Watada!" -- we're talking about the print edition. We pay for the magazine, we don't just visit the website. And only a dumb ass who thinks they read the magazine but doesn't would offer up the two stories on Ehren Watada since they never ran in the print edition.

They had time, repeatedly, to profile Democratic candidates and ponder them (whether they were left, center or right) and they had plenty of time to waste -- but not on our damn dime.

There are writers we enjoy at the magazine. We all now flip to Katha Pollitt, Alexander Cockburn, David Corn and Patricia J. Williams. (We all now flip? C.I. finally gave up on reading the crap cover to cover.) We think those four demonstrate everything that's wrong with the rest of the magazine. How so? To use only one example, David Corn is the DC columnist. He is not the media beat guy. So why is that he, and not AlterPunk, was the one at the magazine seriously examing Bob Woodward's tortured conflicts of interests?

Corn and, outside the magazine, Arianna Huffington were all over the issue but the media beat guy, AlterPunk, was doing another scattershot column that never adds up to anything, that usually misses the point or declares a 'first' when it's only part of a long, long line of errors by whichever outlet he's criticizing.

Who needs his babbling? Someone does, someone requires a lot of babbling males which is why in the last three years one male after another's been added while women can hardly get a foot in the door. Want to explain how that happens when the magazine is under the helm of a woman?
How well did sad sack fetch the coffee that someone decided he is the go-to contributor to the magazine? Or maybe his 'jokes' about Alexander Cockburn were so 'delightful' that it required promoting him to writer?

We're not sure but we know he'll never do half of what Alexander Cockburn does in one year because pasty-faced little centrists never amount to much and they sure as hell don't belong at The Nation. What's going on behind the scenes, intentional or not, is a realignment politically and most long term "loyalist" are starting to catching on. Subscribers in general are catching on which is why the magazine that once trumpeted their circulation figures is now being mum about all the cancellations and expired subscriptions.

That happens when you have no direction and when your only purpose now appears to be electing Democrats (any Democrats!) to get a majority who . . . will do nothing or very little.

Last week, Carne Ross' statements to the 2004 Butler inquiry in England (over whether or not the BBC's report that facts were 'fixed,' and who said they were, was correct) were unsealed for the public. Where's the story on that? Not at the website and it does matter because it was The New York Review of Books and not The Nation that printed the Downing Street Memos.

Let's repeat that because it's an important point: The New York Review of Books published the Downing Street Memos, not The Nation. How does that happen? Well, when you dabble as opposed to lead, it happens quite often.

The failure to lead is why the magazine didn't run one article on war resisters this year. (War resisters who were profiled as war resister. The Nation did manage to mention Carl Webb in an article on the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, it just didn't tell readers that Webb was a war resister.) The illustration to the left is the cover you didn't see all year from The Nation -- not on Kyle Snyder, not on any war resister. Nor did they manage to cover any of the war resisters in Canada or the ones turning themselves in even though this was one of the biggest stories of 2006. How do you manage that when you're a weekly, when all summer it was one war resister after another going public? How do you manage to miss that?

Maybe because you've been so damn busy hiding behind flags and uniforms that you can't cover the enlisted who go AWOL? Maybe because you find the topic distasteful? (If so, issue an inneroffice memo to that effect, some people would stop grumbling about the silence and leave the magazine.) Or maybe you're so damn busy trying to be 'respectable' to the outside world that you can't serve the readers?

That's all Susan's story was. An attempt to please the mainstream. There was no reason to cover the topic, there was nothing in the 'researched' article that was new or interesting. But, hey, it might allow for the 'respectable' sheen.

That's why ex-generals were a cover. It's 'respectable' to hide behind them. It's not brave. But there's been no bravery at all on Iraq. After the 2005 editorial that the magazine wouldn't support any candidate who wasn't calling for an end to the war, 2006 was non-stop puff pieces on Democrats who didn't call for an end to the war. If the editorial meant anything a year later, it meant that those candidates who were actually calling for troops home now would have gotten coverage. That would be using your power as opposed to hiding it so no one called you a bad name.

But there was time for that. There's time for the tag team of Dumb and Dumber to write their "More College Students Voted! So We're Going To Talk To The Ones Who Didn't!" and yet another hideous "red" state and "blue" state comparison -- thought pieces for the non-thinking and racists. (Toss in the "suburbs" piece as well.)

Actually covering the war? Please. They found an officer they could hide behind, a major. He should have been one of the 'fighting' vets running for office in 2006 because his thinking was as muddled as any of those 'geniuses.'

After the election, The Nation wanted to tell you the election was all about the war. If that is their belief, if people care that much about the war, why hasn't the magazine been covering it?
(Again, dumb asses, don't write us and say, "They just did a piece by Joshua Scheer . . ." No, they didn't. The website reposted Scheer's piece from Truthdig. Truthdig, still not a year-old, has covered the war more than The Nation has all year long.)

And that's why the cover of the December 25th issue is a big F.U. to the readers. They'd rather throw something on the cover (a badly written article at that) on a topic they don't believe in than cover what they supposedly believe: Ending the war.

And on those rare occassions when Iraq is covered, it's not the people, not we the people, it's an official or a general. The war resistance movement has received no coverage. Marc Cooper has an article online that won't run in a print edition in 2006 on Appeal for Redress. When Ruth noted the classist stance of hiding behind officers and generals, Appeal for Redress suddenly got a blog post at the magazine's website. But Appeal for Redress, whose petition is turned over on MLK day in January, will have gone all year without one print article.

Is it "a war"? (Only those who don't grasp how much C.I.'s bit the tongue while participating would even ask that question.) No, it's a refusal to accept bad independent media. It's a refusal to accept so-called independent media that wants to ape the mainstream media by making it all about officials. It's a refusal to accept that this is the best The Nation can do.

The Nation should be leading instead it plays it cautious. Those who visit the website saw that last week when Katrina vanden Heuvel weighed in on the death of a spy. It was a Russia story, her area of expertise. It had been brewing in the media for some time. We haven't noted it at any community site, we knew it was a media circus and we had more important things to focus on. So vanden Heuvel weighs in last week, obviously irritated and the question has to be: Why wait so long?

This was a media circus for some time, full of half-truths and associations. Possibly, like us, she felt it wasn't worthy of noting and then it got so outlandish that she had to weigh in? But when that's your field of expertise, people expect you to weigh in. Seventeen days is an awfully long time to form an opinion. Or, more likely, to express one.

It's another example of how The Nation could be leading but isn't.

Whenever any of us speak to students (high school or college), it's not very long before the topic of The Nation is raised by one and, more and more, that quickly leads to a lengthy discussion of the magazine as they point out everything that's not being covered and the useless crap that is being covered. Last week, Jess was with C.I. at a college where they ended up having to use a dry erase board and note the problems the students saw with the magazine before they could address any other aspect of the war. They ended up with thirty examples on the dry erase board before C.I. asked if they needed to give more examples of if the topic could change? The topic changed (but would have continued if that's what the students had wanted).

If The Nation thinks it can build a long term audience with students of today on the basis of its current work, it's kidding itself. While some are waiting for the return of Naomi Klein others are too new to the magazine to know her work and have a hard time believing that it was ever published in the magazine. It probably wouldn't be today if Klein wasn't established because the magazine can rah-rah and run any scribble by the increasing cast of male writers, but they can't seem to find women worth keeping. Possibly that's why Marie Claire had the article that should have run in The Nation? Or maybe Marie Claire's just more interested in Iraq than is The Nation?

As the magazine continues to dally and dilly and ignore Abeer, war resisters, the peace movement and so much more, it flips the bird at the readers each week. Students are noticing and they aren't the only ones. Older adults are comparing the current stage of the magazine to Torch Song -- where Joan Crawford's surrounded by untalented, young, suck up males. There's a reason for that and until the magazine finds a direction, it should expect to continue to bleed readers.

Danny Schechter's The Death of the Media

One-hundred and seventy-three pages, smaller (in shape) than a greeting card, but packing a punch you may not expect, Danny Schechter's The Death of Media is a must-read. We discussed the book back in February. Instead of discussing it, let's utilize it.

Schecter surveys the landscape today and notes what's dying and what's coming to life. He also notes the efforts to curb and control new life. Mainly, he puts the 'you' front and center.

We think that's the biggest problem with media today -- All Things Media, Big & Small. There is no "you." There's a great deal of 'officials.' There's a lot of hiding, there's a lot of sneering at the people. Take the Susan Seaforth Hayes of independent media who opens the latest junk-fest declaring, "According to a July poll conducted by Scripps News Service, one-third of Americans think the government either carried out the 9/11 attacks or intentionally allowed them to happen in order to provide a pretext for war in the Middle East. This is at once alarming and unsuprising."

Woah, Nellie!

Before you sound the alarms, this is reality. The percentage is what people think. Though Susan Seaforth Hayes will sneer at what people think ("If only they were as smart as me!" you can practically hear him whine), it's reality. In one form or another, on topic after topic, there's a we-know-best attitude that only gets dropped when it's time to hide behind a governmental official (current or past). The little 'peons' are either scorned or otherwise unremarked upon.

We don't think that cuts it. Thanksgiving weekend, a friend of C.I.'s was reading the book and called to say there was "a strong thread of Howard Zinn" in the book. That wasn't an insult or an attempt to say, "He ripped off Zinn!" That was acknowledging that The Death of Media is about what the press could and should be if we the people actually mattered.

There are many examples throughout the book but we'll zoom in on the 'decision makers' who decide that the people/peons just aren't interested in international coverage because the world doesn't interest them. The reality is that polls demonstrate otherwise. But this we-know-best-because-they-aren't-as-educated-as-us attitude is on display in that decision and in far too many media outlets -- big and small.

'People don't care about the war.' 'Truth' most infamously pushed that on her laughable radio appearance where, unlike Robert Parry, she hadn't done her homework on any issue and attempted to gas bag her way throughout. Gas baggery was all that laughable claim was. People don't care? Well election polling demonstrates otherwise.

But that's been the cry of the media, big and small, for some time. Last Friday, Reuters did an article on how students don't care about the war and won't unless there's a draft. They trotted out an old fogey for that piece of if-we-keep-repeating-this-conventional-spin-it-will-be-accepted-as-fact.

But it's a nice little cop out that allows the media to avoid covering the war, the peace movement, war resistance and, oh, so much more. Why? "People don't care."

Before the next gas baggery is done, try leaving the desk. Try getting out onto a campus. Now if you're of the crew that can't find student activism unless you stumble across some Eisenhower Democrats, don't expect to hear from students. They don't trust you, they're sick of you and they're tired of your attacks on them.

But if the media covered things as if they mattered, as opposed to rushing to assure us nothing is happening, then where might the student activism be, where might the peace movement be?
Desk jockeys rarely show up at teach-ins or rallies but damned if they don't feel they know enough (if not all) to write about students.

We've said it before and we'll say it again, the coverage has been poor. 2006 is one of the worst years in recent time. And guess what, we're talking small media.

We're talking small media to you, baby, small, small media. (Nod to Teena Marie.)

If you don't get that you're being lied to, go to a campus yourself. If you're not able to, let's note this from the AP (from "National Briefing," New York Times, A13, December 16, 2006):

GALLAUDET WILL PROCEED WITH ACTION AGAINST PROTESTORS Gallaudet University will proceed with disciplinary actions against student demonstrators who forced the ouster of the university's president, trustees said. The trustees' decision, made after a one-month suspension to review amnesty pleas, may mean academic penalties for the 125 students who helped shut down the campus in October to prevent the appointment of Jane K. Fernandes as president. The decision threatens renewed turmoil on cmapus in Washington, D.C., less than a week after the university named Robert R. Davila, a former Education Department official, as its interim president.

Gallaudet? Well we covered it. Outside of Democracy Now!, where was independent media? Where were any of the gas bags who repeatedly whined/bemoaned that nothing was happening over and over? The protests didn't start in October. They had been going ongoing for months and months.

How do you render the students of Gallaudet invisible? Is it that they're 'different'? Are you uncomfortable if you have to address someone who's not just like you? Did the idea of signing (or learning to sign) frighten you?

Or did you just decide to ignore the longest running student protest of 2006?

Give it up for the students of Gallaudet. Not only did their actions send someone who would destroy what their university stood for packing, their actions also ran off the so-called Straight Talker John McCain (he resigned from the board following the student's hard won victory).

We would never call Robert Parry a gas bag. But in case anyone's confused, Robert Parry hasn't been desk jockeying over how "kids today" just don't care. He keeps his nose down and focuses on the administration (which is the focus of Consortium News). We're also not talking about bloggers. They're not paid, they should write about whatever they want. We are talking about our independent print magazines.

There was time to devote an issue to food and one to books, but there was no time to cover Gallaudet. Excuse us, but we think The Nation, like our nation, should be made up of all people regardless of gender, physical abilities, sexuality, you name it. Maybe if Galluadet had tacked "Vote Democratic!" onto their efforts to save their unviersity, they could have passed for the well funded Eisnhower Democrats who so love to put on those suits and go hob-nobbing with politicians?

It's really interesting that our print media (independent division) can travelogue on a thousand issues but when they had a huge, long lasting protest they weren't interested. Was it a disinterest in people with disabilities or challenges? Seriously, was that it?

Is there a willful blindness when it comes to people who are different?

Or was it just easier to tell people what you didn't see but what you wanted to be true?

We the people were not honored in the silence on Gallaudet.

It'll be interesting to see which, if any, independent print magazines decides it's worth covering the attempts to punish the students. We'll also note that educators were part of the activism as well. Are they going to be punished?

We don't think anyone should be. We think the students of Gallaudet did what any citizen should and then some.

We think that in an environment where we the people actually mattered, everyone would know their story. They didn't sit back and let history happen to them, they made history.

In other ways, people do that around the nation, around the world, day after day. The networks make the decision that they won't cover international news as much and claim that's due to the interests of their viewers. What's the claim for the lack of coverage of Gallaudet from independent media?

What would our world be like if the news was covered as if people mattered? That's the thread running through Schechter's book, the thread that resulted in the comparison to Howard Zinn. What would independent print media be like if Howard Zinn (or Danny Schechter -- though he'd probably prefer to work in broadcast) were the editor?

After 2006, we're honestly not expecting a great deal from independent media. We're honestly concerned that all the open-mouthed kissing of centrist Dems may have left them with mono. (Or worse.)

We think independent magazines and their writers should be booed (loudly) the next time they want to lecture about 'kids today' when they either were ignorant of or chose to ignore Gallaudet.

Schechter's addressing what media should be and how it can get there.

It's about owning your power, in the end. It's about educating yourself and getting active. Nothing is given freely.

Since discussing Schechter's book again over the Thanksgiving weekend, we've come to many conclusions.

The chief one is no more passes. If the non-stop, continual finanical train-wreck that is Air America Radio has taught the left (which has never been their target audiences -- in aim or programming) anything, it's that silence out of fear you'll lose something doesn't help anyone.

CounterPunch has been willing to seriously address the problems with AAR. Others? The Progressive tossed Baby Cries A Lot on the cover -- in the interview where he admitted, no surprise, he's not that left. The Nation? They tossed him on the cover as well and 'criticism' appeared to be offense as the term 'ass baby' or 'butt baby' or whatever so alarmed the writer.

OMG! Did Janeane Garofalo say that???? Shocking!!!!

What was the point she was making when she (a professional comedian) used the term? You couldn't tell from the article which laid out the praise for the not-so-left Baby Cries A Lot. Whether you agreed with CounterPunch's attempt to seriously analyze the network (we largely did with the exception of Rachel Maddow as a troops-home-now-er), they were addressing it. Everyone else? Writing the equivalent of episode summaries for TV Guide. (A similar piece is running in the current issue of The Nation, focusing on a cable show.) Can you think? Can you form an opinion? Or do you need to others for that?

Air America Radio did not benefit the left, did not benefit the peace movement and, as Michael Moore warned on it's first day, did not succeed. It's still on the air and still struggeling and this notion that being silent on the very real problems was somehow helping the left because 'we' had an outlet damaged everyone. Middle-of-the-road (what most of the daytime programs are) hasn't landed a huge audience. No surprise there.

But the left shouldn't have to be silent and they shouldn't have settle. So when The Nation refuses to cover the peace movment (we're referring to the magazine -- as we've noted before, their blog did cover the peace movement -- one post -- long enough to slam it), we're not going to be silent.

The first time we ever criticized The Nation we got three e-mails about our 'war' with the magazine. You know what? You call it whatever you want.

On our end, if the magazine wants to blow what they built up in 2003 (and they are blowing it as circulation figures will demonstrate when they're disclosed), they can do so. That's their decision. But we won't be silent. That's our decision.

The point we're at, as Schechter notes, is the opportunity to remake the media. Whatever we do or do not do, that's how media's going to be for some time to come. It's very rare that these moments come along. Right now, big media's in a panic. They know they have to make changes to survive. How far they'll go or not go is a window of opportunity that hasn't been seen in some time. In addition, the new forms of media can have an impact.

But that's only going to happen by people trying. It's not going to happen in silence and it's not going to happen as a result of everyone only saying nice things.

2006 was a lousy year for independent media. For most of the year, criticism of the Iraq war translated as, "Did you hear what Judith Miller did in 2002?" When Dexter Filkins was exposed as the US military's go-to-guy (exposed in The Washington Post), independent media was quick to look the other way. Norman Solomon's been hitting very hard on Michael Gordon's war pornogrpahy in recent weeks. Hopefully, others will follow his lead because, NEWSFLASH, Judith Miller left The New York Times some time ago.

Mommy's Pantyhose apparently shocked some with the CNN appearence. You can thank a lazy media for that and don't go running to big media because they didn't give him print space, they didn't turn over a weekly segment to him on one of their programs.

We want to end the war. We're not going to waste our power by staying silent. When the people turned against the war in the sixties, media actually (briefly) woke up and responded. That could be happening today (and to some degree is) but it's not going to happen with independent media playing travelogue and ignoring the obvious (repeatedly).

Some always e-mail to say that independent media (print) can't 'just cover the war'. Well, they can't cover the war -- they've demonstrated that repeatedly in 2006. But we get the point that's attempted to be made: There are many issues. No question. And what happened to Lynne Stewart this year was another issue that was ignored. The failure to confront the NSA, illegal, warrantless spying was another example. Or maybe you think Wired magazine covering it makes up for the refusal to connect the dots (let alone open the archives) to an earlier time?

Guantanamo? The New York Times announced yesterday that it was now 'get tough' time on the prisoners. If this has been soft-and-easy previously, we should all worry. But that's another story print media largely dropped (independent).

Now maybe you're an anal sort and had a freak-fest over the cold, lifeless writing that was the book issue not all that long ago. Us, we're still left wondering whether they think Cliff Notes builds excitement? (They must since the only critic they have who knows how to let loose is Richard Goldstein and he's under utilized.)

Right now as the Congressional health scare continues, independent media (print) should take a hard look at itself. It turned 2006 into being all about The Elector. Didn't have significant results and anyone who doubts that need only register the panic of "The Senate Hangs In The Balance!" All that space could have, and should have, been better utilized.

We don't think silence improves things. We don't think settling improves things. We're beginning to ask, of the majority of periodicals we subscribe to, whether doing so makes us part of the problem?
We do know this, the Middle Aged White Desk Jockey Centrist is well represented in the mainstream, we shouldn't have to pay for his contributions in independent magazines. We shouldn't be able to flip through The Nation and note, "Look, here's a piece by the guy who makes fun of Alexander Cockburn, here's one by the guy who slammed Naomi Klein, oh look, the guy who trashes Robert Fisk . . ." on and on. But thumbing through an issue of The Nation these days, we're very likely to see all those usual suspects and wonder how the hell they've been added in the last few years with so little objection.

Fix big media? That's aiming far too low.

Tower Records R.I.P.

We were in the midst of melting down our copper pennies for some easy cash (it was still legal then) when Kat decided okay, whatever, let's do the visit.

You could say Kat lived there, grew up there, and it was about to be no more.

Ever since she returned from Ireland, we'd tried to drag her there. We'd said, "Come on, you have to do that farewell visit."

She wasn't having any of it.

It had already said goodbye to her.

As far as she was concerned, Tower Records died months ago.

But then came the notion that maybe we'd enjoy "Long Live Our Love" and other songs by the Shangri-Lahs.



Was she serious?

She tossed out the Ronettes as well.

Turns out, she figured those would be the only things still in the store. Months before she left the country, she'd had her eye on a single disc collection of the Shangri-Lahs but didn't see how anyone could justify the $17.99 ($18.99 on some editions) cost for a group that's mainly known for one song ("Leader of the Pack").

But, hey, the prices had dropped. It was no longer 25 or 300% off, it was down to 50!

We didn't know, we didn't care.

We just knew that, whatever the reason, we were glad Kat was willing to go.

Nobody did Tower like Kat. She could go through the aisles and tell something was added since the week prior from about four feet away. She knew the inventory better than anyone who ever worked there.

So we pulled up into the half-deserted parking lot and wondered where everyone was.

Then we walked into the store. Suddenly it all made sense.

Jess and Ty had already noted that idiots were snapping up CDs like crazy when it fell to 30% (30% off list price, not 30% off the lower price Tower used to offer).

There was about a quarter of inventory in the store. The multiple DVD copies of Merv Griffith suggested that his idea of 'fascinating' people had been a hard sell. We weren't here for DVDs, it was just that everywhere we looked there were ten more copies of his set.

The CDs were 70% off.

We attempted to go to the soul section first. It was now sharing an aisle with soundtracks, gospel and odds & ends (which included more Merv DVD sets).

There was no one you'd heard of.

We ventured into pop/rock. Suddenly we grasped the need for arresting cover photos. When there's no 'name' to the artist, you're pretty much left with a cover that grabs you. From A through D, the only name we saw was Bob Dylan. How does it feel . . . to go unsold at 30% of list price?

At C.I.'s orders, Jim and Dona were shadowing a young, White male in low slung jeans. If anyone in the near empty store shared Kat's tastes, it was him. Watch him, see what he picks up, holds for a second and puts back.

We moved on to F through M and found . . . nothing.

Jim and Dona were excited for a second, shadowing Low Slung had paid off -- sort of. He'd picked up a Carole King CD. The only one in the store. They brought it back to the rest of us.
1983's Speeding Time. Which Kat already had. She reached for it anyway but Dona and Jim refused. The point wasn't to buy something you already had.

We were getting antsy, we were getting nervous.

We had no interest in anything for ourselves, this wasn't our home.

But this was the farewell (purchase) for Kat and we were starting to wonder if she might have to purchase the second most still-stocked item (Whitney Houston's version of the national anthem).

We went through the whole pop-rock section and there was nothing but Soul Asylum -- hard to believe they were once big.

C.I. said, "We're doing this all wrong. Someone has planned. He or she has staked out the store and hidden the good stuff in another section."

We were off! To the rap section.

"I thought 50 Cent was supposed to be popular?" someone said.

The rest were too busy flipping through the CDs madly. Some were cursing C.I. in their heads, some were doing so openly.

There it was.

The motherload.

Ava saw it and hollered, "Here!"

We all moved close but stood back so Kat could have the sense of discovery.

Artic Monkeys. Pass.

The Stereophonices' Live From Dakota -- double disc set.

Paul Katner/Jefferson Starship's Blows Against the Empire.

The Rolling Stones' Singles Collection: The London Years. Three disc set!

Phil Ochs' Live At Newport.

The latter was a CD Kat had thought about getting many times when it first showed up at $13.99. Then it got jacked up (long before Tower announced it was closing) to $16.99. It's not that Phil Ochs wasn't worth it, it was the whole bang your hand against your forehead ritual of "Why didn't I get it then!"

She was getting it now.

The store speakers kept announcing the store was closing. Not for the business day, but for good. Ticking off the days left. It was like watching the casket being lowered.

To really bad music.

Or really old music.

I know he used to do nice stuff for you --

Got nothing against Ms. Jackson, but this was how Tower Records was going out in 2006? Playing Janet Jackson's Control? Hadn't Jackson just noted, on her latest CD, how long ago that was?

We made our way to the line. Only there wasn't one. Just two White clerks who Tower wouldn't have hired in better days and who kept talking about how Janet was better off when she was working with "Timmy Jam and Morris Day."

No, they weren't joking.

These were the last guards. The ones who'd be closing the store, closing the door on Tower and they didn't even know that (a) Jackson never recorded with Morris Day, (b) "Timmy Jam" is not the name of either Jimmy Jam Harris or Terry Lewis, and (c) both Jam and Lewis contribute to 20 Y.O., Jackson's latest CD.

The duo wasn't too concerned about waiting on paying customers. We doubted we'd be either if we were temp workers in a job that had no chance of promotion and would be gone shortly. So we waited for them to stop talking about how, other than Elvis, Garth Brooks was the only 'rock star' who ever mattered.

We noticed one did most of the talking, Middle Aged Pony Tail, and the other just nodded a lot and grunted. A low-rent version of Dante and Randall.

When the first one ran out of steam, the second one suddenly grew animated, talking about how, if there were any left, he'd be snapping up that "hot" En Vogue CD when it was time to shut down for the night. That would be Soul Flower and, unless he was expecting a huge influx of customers, we thought quite a few of the forty-plus copies would still be in the store.

He was talking about how it was so cheap, it was almost like stealing. Then he emphasized "stealing" again.

We might have thought he was suggesting that we walk out of the store without paying; however, in the nearly five minutes we'd been waiting 'in line,' there'd been no indication that he or his partner had seen us.

With a heavy sigh, the more talkative one, Middle-Aged Pony Tail, suddenly called out, "Next in line!"

"So they had seen us, " Ty said as the rest of us wondered what "next"? There was just the seven of us.

As they rang up Kat we saw that the store was also attempting to sell off various posters that artists had autographed in store. We'll be kind and not mention any names but we will note that fifty dollars would have been too much for any of the posters -- let alone the hundreds being asked for. We wondered if they were giving discounts on those as well? 100%?

While Middle Aged Pony Tail rang Kat up and got her to sign the charge slip, the En Vogue fan shoved her CDs at her.

"Woah, woah," Jess was saying, waving his hands. "I think you've got a sack for her."

With a heavy sigh, apparently those plastic sacks were heavy, the En Voguer reached for a white plastic sack.

Tower Record sacks are yellow with red writing.

We all knew that.

We also knew the store was no more.

But surely they had one sack in the store with Tower on it?

Just the paper ones.

And could we get one of those?

"We're supposed to get rid of the plastic sacks."

Ten more dollars later, we were walking out of the store with Kat's four CDs in the paper sack.

It wasn't a last goodbye because Tower was no more. It was more of a paying respects to the dead.

In its day, there was no one like it. You could walk the aisles for hours with a good chance of finding something you'd heard of but no one stocked or discovering something new all on your own.

You could roam freely in a way you can't online. Sure, you can search at Amazon but don't expect to accidentally come across anything that they aren't pushing ("Customers who bought . . . also bought . . ."). You also miss out on that moment in the store when suddenly something comes over the speakers that you don't know and you rush to find out what it is.

Most of all, you miss out on the excitement of seeing something, purchasing it and being able to open it immediately.

Death by technology or just another casualty of a Bully Boy economy?

R.I.P. Tower Records. We'll miss you.

The Susan Seaforth Hayes of independent media

The Susan Seaforth Hayes of independent media somehow landed a fellowship despite some of the shoddiest work ever produced. For some reason, though he's an editor of another magazine, The Nation has decided he's just the guy for them and you can't seem to escape him these days.

Ava and C.I. put you wise to Susan Seaforth Hayes after his laughable claimed that Moronic Mars was all about the class struggle. As they responded: "Yes, it is -- if you believe that the class war will be costumed by Nordstrom Brass Plum and Neiman Marcus."

And long before Little Lee Lee self-imploded, Jess and C.I. had noted exactly why that New Republic(an) writer didn't belong in the pages of The Nation.

Obviously, some people never learn. So the Susan Seaforth Hayes is this year's attempt at Little Lee Lee and Nation readers should be screaming their heads off.

We've never read a piece of his work that could be validated as any thing other than a 'feelings check.' Facts always seem just past the river for Susan Seaforth Hayes.

So much so, that The Nation had to run this correction on page 28 of their December 18, 2006 issue:

If you have trouble reading the image, CAFTA passed by two votes while Susan Seaforth Hayes claimed it passed by one. That's not even the tip of the iceberg for the hideous article in question. And while the Dr. Seus like style of the correction may suggest he needs remedial help, it also makes far too light of his error (and unnoted STILL errors).

As we noted two Sunday's back -- Susan Seaforth Hayes also quotes John Kerry's DNC convention speech -- only the quote doesn't appear in the DNC convention speech. That's a problem and Susan Seaforth Hayes usually has several 'problems' in every piece he writes. That's fine when he writes for the piece of crap that nobody reads, but when he gets play in The Nation, someone should be fact checking. Magazines are supposed to do that and, goodness knows, he's not going to do it himself.

Why the magazine insists upon publishing people (in print) with other outlets is beyond us but if they want to continue to do so, they should grasp that there's a reason no one's reading them at their permanent homes. They also need to take their fact checking and corrections a lot more seriously.

The only correction they've run to Susan Seaforth Hayes' factually challenged article appears in print. It's not been ammended to the article itself nor has the article been corrected to fix the mistake.

No one's twisted their arms and forced them to print the Little Lee-Lees or Susans, they've done that by their own choice. Having made that decision, they need to grasp that writers from outside the magazine often need serious oversight -- Puffy fellow or not.

MyTV's Fascist House

This week on MyTV's Fascist House, it's out with the old-old and soon to be in with the new-old as Donald the Rumsfled departs.

Some say the performer outpriced himself in the latest contract negotiations, others point out his TV-Q was forever poor. Regardless, this is his farewell episode. Blink and you'll miss the chance to say goodbye to Mr. Stuff Happens, Mr. Abu Ghraib, Mr. Democracy Is Messy.

A tip of the hat, a clutch of the heart, a stepping on the crosses honoring so many who died in the illegal war and some giggles over the body bags of Iraqis and then he's gone.

Out with the old-old, in with the new-old.

MyTV's Fascist House airing 365 days a year, 52 weeks. All new episodes!

The US military divides up Baghdad

What's the illustration above? The way the US military now draws up Baghdad. You'll note that for some reason, they don't see the Sadr district as a troubling hot spot. You may also note they've got the deep ethnic divides they promoted.
Though you may not have seen the map or heard of it, Ned Parker and Ali Hamdani (Times of London) broke the story last Thursday.
File it under one more story on Iraq you didn't hear as the jaw boning on the James Baker Circle Jerk continued.

Look who's invited out of the stye

Katrina vanden Heuvel is a mother.

We feel the need to note that because informed readers of the November 20, 2006 issue of The Nation might wonder, especially if they turn to page 14. That's where a contributor's 'credits' are listed but not in full.

Some things go unsaid such as "reported to have twice been busted in for attempting, online, to get fourteen-year-old girls to meet him so he could jerk off while they watched, reported to have walked through a deal that raised futher questions . . ."

If the hideous cover story to the December 25th issue exists for any reason, it might due to the fact that The Nation feels that people aren't being serious enough. They may feel the 9-11 Truth Movement is a distraction.

They can feel whatever they want but if they're going to present a man in their magazine who has refused to unseal the court records, who wants to argue his arrests were a "private" matter, they might want to ask how they think they're anything but a distraction?

We're all supposed to buy the logic that the Pig was shut out by The New York Times because Judith Miller gave the orders. Miller wasn't in the position to give orders. He was shut out as a source because of his arrests.

That's how journalism works. If you're a rapist, a child molestor or any other criminal, you're not supposed to be given a platform where you can self-present as an expert. You're not supposed to be glorified.

You're supposed to be shunned.

Now if Pig wants to argue that an arrest record is a "private matter," media should shut all doors on him immediately. If he wants to claim that the news of the arrests resulted from his outspokeness against the war, he can do so. But if he wants to be treated as a 'respectable' voice, he can't continue to avoid the issue of his arrests.

It's not a secret. It's been well reported in the press back in 2003. He's had years to correc the record, if it's even untrue, but instead of attempting that, he's 'drawn the veil' by claiming it's a 'private' issue.

If only Mark Foley could have thought of that, he'd still be in Congress!

By refusing to unseal court records, we're left with his word that it's a 'private' matter versus the very public record -- reporting on the arrests and the court happenings.

So those who continue to invite him on their programs or give him space in print are sending a message whether they intend to or not: He's okay.

If a fourteen-year-old girl ends up abused by him, are all those providing him with outlets prepared to speak to her parents? Are they prepared to face them?

If the sting had caught him purchasing or using drugs, we wouldn't give a damn. If anyone was hurt by that, it would be him hurting himself. But the public record doesn't say he was caught with drugs, it says he twice got busted by the FBI for trying to recruit under-age girls (including a female not even old enough to be Congressional page) to meet him -- he was a middle-aged, adult male at the time.

Here's how CNN reported it (far kinder than other outlets):

[Pig], a former U.S. Marine and U.N. weapons inspector who has been an outspoken critic of a possible war with Iraq, was arrested in 2001 and charged with a misdemeanor after allegedly communicating with an undercover officer posing as a 16-year-old girl, a source close to the investigation has told CNN.
[Pig] confirmed the arrest in an interview with CNN Wednesday but declined to confirm any detail about the nature of the case.
"The facts are simple," [Pig] said. "I was arrested in June of 2001. I was charged with a Class B misdemeanor and I stood before a judge in the town of Colonie in a public session with my wife by my side."

[. . .]
The source said [Pig] had arranged in an Internet chat room to meet with the girl at a Burger King in Colonie, a suburb of Albany, so she could witness him masturbating. The source said [Pig] was charged with "attempted endangerment of the welfare of a child," a Class B misdemeanor.
The source also said [Pig] was confronted by police in April 2001 after communicating with an undercover officer posing as a 14-year-old.
[Pig] declined comment on those claims.
"It's not my duty to clear the air. I'm not asking for forgiveness," he said. "I'm not asking to wriggle out of my responsibility. The judge made his determination. The case was dismissed."

It's not the duty of independent media to provide a voice for someone who refuses to clear the air. The continued refusal makes it appear that the issue is avoided because the public record is correct.

If there's no concern over future victims, you'd think at least the cover-your-own-ass impulse would kick in and independent media would grasp that they don't want to be associated in the public's mind with someone who is reported to have sought sexual encounters with an underage minor.

Next week?

What's the plan for next week?

We just don't know.

There will be an edition.

Kat and C.I. will be out here. Everyone else will probably be traveling.

This means we either need to knock out some illustrations early or leave it to Kat and C.I.

We do plan to discuss the bonus DVD in David Rovics' Halliburton Boardroom Masscre. (See Kat's review.) (Remember that us and plans are pretty much strangers.)

Ty passed on that Terrie e-mailed wondering if next Sunday would be Ava and C.I.'s look back at the year? Actually, that's not what they have planned. They have that planned for the weekend after. Unless something comes up, they'll be focusing on a 'network.' And they will have a commentary up. If everything falls apart and there's nothing else up here, there will be a TV commentary.

We're late this edition and that's not Rebecca's fault. However, we have put her on "light duty."
nine o'clock her time, we sent her packing. She rejoined us at seven this morning (her time). If you missed it, Rebecca's pregnant.

We'd love to have her all night but that's not possible. We missed her and if we're behind that's (a) because we're doing the new schedule for the first time this week and (b) she's the only one who backs Jim up strongly.

Seriously, when something's not right, Jim can bear down like crazy.

Rebecca plans to contribute some next weekend (if so, it will be even lighter duty -- say us -- due to the fact that it's also the holiday weekend for those celebrating Christmas). In addition, Ruth has volunteered to help us out next week.

Due to the holiday, we'll be scattered and aren't sure who will be participating and who won't. (Ty is off e-mails until the new year. If you write and expect a reply, be patient.)

Betty and Wally are both down for the full session and between them and the holiday, it may be a lighter feeling edition. (Betty and Wally write humor very well.)

So, in answer to the question, there is no answer thus far other than there will be a TV commentary.


"Kat's Korner: David Rovic's Halliburton Boardroom Masscre" -- Kat's latest CD review -- a don't miss review, a don't miss CD. As Kat notes, we will be covering the bonus DVD in the set here.

"Ruth's Report" -- Ruth's latest that provides you commentary on the war and on Rebecca's good news.

"Did you hear the one about a Fat Ass who'd do anything for a Blizzard?" -- Betty's latest chapter and, for those wondering, yes, she did speak with Eddie, Dallas and Billie for background on Texas.

"Oven Roasted Chicken in the Kitchen" -- Trina's latest combing recipes with common sense and a world view.

"THIS JUST IN! BULLY BOY AIMS LOW!"& "Bully Boy's eternal vacation" -- Wally and Cedric address the Bully Boy's "Fiddle-dee-dee, I'll worry about that tomorrow" moment/life.

"Law and Disorder -- spy chips and prison sentences..." -- Mike covers the latest from Michael Ratner and Heidi Bohosian.

"Maria, Francisco and Miguel" -- Elaine reports on the latest community newsletter. (And if you haven't checked your inboxes this morning, do so now. Maria, Miguel and Francisco worked extra hard this edition.)

"pregnant" -- Rebecca's announcement of good news.

"smell sensors" -- this was our favorite by Kat (she really was fascinated by the guy talking about smell sensors).

"Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts 'Peggy Kerry's Allergic Reaction to Peace'" -- Isaiah's doing a repeat this morning. (It's a good one.) This was from last week and worth noting.

"NYT: Lost in the Circle Jerk" -- reader Crystelle picked this as her favorite by C.I. this week.
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
Poll1 { display:none; }