Sunday, October 09, 2011



Ty: It's been awhile since we did a mailbag and were considering a roundtable but Joy and Russ specifically e-mailed last week requesting a mailbag. Our e-mail address is Participating in this mailbag, besides me, are The Third Estate Sunday Review's Jim, Dona, Jess; Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude; Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man; 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); Ruth of Ruth's Report; Trina of Trina's Kitchen; Wally of The Daily Jot; Marcia of SICKOFITRDLZ; Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends; Isaiah of The World Today Just Nuts and Ann of Ann's Mega Dub. In other words, everybody but The Third Estate Sunday Review's Ava and C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review who are finishing up a mammoth TV commentary. First up, Joanie e-mailed to ask about our new feature on books and where we got the idea?

Jess: Before today, there were two book picks. Last week's was "Anthony's Iraq: The Logic Of Withdrawal" and the week before was "Tori's Piece by Piece." As is explained in the one about Tori's book, one of our regular readers, Christopher, suggested we do something to note libraries because they have seen a huge increase in usage during this Great Recession while at the same time seeing a huge decrease in funding. We were looking for something and Betty, Elaine and C.I. graciously allowed us to use something they were working on. Betty?

Betty: Elaine, C.I. and I were talking about books and how we get a lot of e-mails about books. At The Common Ills, Martha and Shirley do a yearly book review which is great. But we were thinking about upping our book coverage in some way. And we started talking about all the books that had come out since 2001. So we ended up making a list and whittling it down to 67 choices and I'll let Elaine pick up here.

Elaine: Okay, so we had this huge list, as Betty's saying, of books that we thought were important books of the last ten years -- 2001 to 2011. We needed to whittle it down and I came up with 67 for several reasons including that it adds up to 13. I'm not joking. So we worked on cutting to the bone and came up with 67 books. The plan was to do no more than two sentences and to divide the list up so that we all had at least 20 books a piece and whomever was the quickest would grab an additional seven. It was a piece we'd write ahead of time and then post at our sites when we needed a night off -- when Betty and I needed a night off. But it would also go up at The Common Ills. So we had just started it, I had two books covered, when Jim raised Christopher's e-mail and was asking for ideas.

Betty: And we threw our idea in here and the ten's coming from the list of 67 books we felt were the best of 2011.

Ty: Still on that feature, we've had e-mails that presume all the books will be on Iraq -- Roy, KeShawn and Ida especially felt that way after last week -- or entertainers -- most vocal there was Sydney.

Jim: There's a book by an actor on the list that I think should be chosen. I don't know at this point what the other choices will be. I'll go ahead and say that we just decided tonight that Courting Justice would be this week's pick. But there are a lot of books -- 67 -- on that list and we have no idea what we'll end up picking. I hope we have a wide range of books at the end but, that said, I don't think the Tori Amos book, Piece by Piece, is either an 'entertainment' book or autobiography. I think it's a book on society and art and a really important one at that. I'm really glad that was our first pick.

Isaiah: As for Iraq, we discussed that and how easy it would be to just do a list of ten books on Iraq. We're not going to do that. But there are three more we are considering for inclusion in the ten. I'm sure at least one will be included. Courting Justice, by Joyce Murdoch and Deb Price, is something C.I. gifts you with if you participate in these editions because at some point, something in the book -- an LGBT legal history -- is going to come up while we're discussing some article. It's a big book, too. And I'd advise anyone who picks it up and feels intimidated by the size to just look at the chapter titles and start the book with a chapter whose title interests you. Once you get one chapter under your belt, you really can't put the book down.

Ty Kawyin and Brody both wrote e-mails wondering about comic book coverage and where we are on that?

Mike: We did that hear in 2009 and 2010 and some this year. I imagine we'll continue to do it but we do have other things to focus on from time to time. I want to do a 'lost treasures' thing on DVDs, for example. I also think that all the super hero movies this summer pretty much burned everyone -- not just those of us participating here -- out on comic books.

Dona: And, most likely, we'll have one within the next 4 weeks. Not sure when but, as Mike notes, there's a super hero burnout at present. So I'd like to push forward my suggestion on a comic's piece. It's also the perfect time due to the economy -- mine takes money being tight into consideration.

Ty: "TV: Friendly faces aren't who we meet" was the most cited piece by Ava and C.I. in last week's e-mails in reply to Jim's "A note to our readers" comment, "Currently, their three most popular pieces are 'TV: Cougar Town Roars,' 'TV: Aftermath leaves an aftertaste' and 'TV: Why bad TV happens to good viewers' -- all three have over 35,000 views according to the "stats" section of Blogger/Blogspot." 57 e-mailed on the Friendly Faces piece. There were many other choices in the e-mails but that was the most cited one. I'm going to toss to Cedric on this because he got 25 e-mails about Jim's note and replied to them and forwarded me his reply to make sure he was remembering correctly.

Cedric: I explained that, in 2008, we suddenly saw a button called "Stats." Curious, we tried it at our sites. What it did was provide you stats. I don't know when it started keeping stats or how far they go back. It wasn't something we added, to be clear, it was something done by Blogger/Blogspot. But you can see most read for the day, week, month and "all time." I was surprised by Jim's note as well because those are good pieces but not what I would have guessed were the three most read. I shared my guesses in my e-mail replies and I pointed out that all of them were before 2008 -- whereas only one of the ones listed by Jim is before 2008. My point there was that I offered the hypothesis that the counter may start in 2008. If so, most read pieces prior to 2008 started at zero in 2008.

Ty: Mystique 44 e-mailed regarding Danny Schechter. M44 quoted Danny Schechter writing in 2009, "The Common Ills Blog which turned from supporting my work to turning on it, smartly features a post from Tom Ricks, author of Fiasco, an excellent book on the Iraq War. (He has new one I haven't read.)" M44 wants to know why The Common Ills "turned on Danny"?

Ruth: I reject that b.s. Danny Schechter's such a drama queen. Marcia and I called Danny out at our sites. We are not "The Common Ills." We are not even "Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills)." No one has ever held people who know Danny Schechter responsible for his bad claims and insults -- and he was very insulting to Marcia at his blog -- so it is really stupid that Danny Schechter wrote that garbage.

Marcia: He's a mincing queen. And how typical that Danny would attack C.I. And that Danny would get his facts wrong. In 2008, Danny had drunk the Kool-Aid and was engaging in non-stop sexism and non-stop insults in his tacky little blog. Ruth and I both began calling it out. I made a point to go to C.I. and ask her about it because -- get this, you stupid f**k, Danny -- she actually likes you. C.I. said to me that my website was my website and I had to write about what I actually believed in. She said that if I didn't, it wouldn't be my site.

Rebecca: Words that we've all heard at one time or another. I was just writing Friday, responding to an e-mail from someone angry that I was covering Fast & Furious and the person insisted that C.I. probably knows Eric Holder. C.I. does know Holder and likes Holder. That doesn't mean she's going to say, "Rebecca, don't write about Eric, he's my friend!!!!" My blog is my blog. I'm responsible for it and if I ever doubt that, C.I. will be the first one to tell me that or anyone else. And she will never ever say, "I disagree with you." She will generally make a point to link to that post -- less so now that she links to all community posts, but back before she did that daily, she'd make a point to link to something that she might have disagreed with just to show support for your effort at being true to yourself. And Danny was really a big baby. He and his "news dissetrix" or whatever sexist name he gave his assistant who felt she could trash Ruth in an e-mail, as I damn well do recall. Does Danny recall that? If he's blogging about when he was treated poorly, maybe Ruth should publish that outrageous e-mail from Cherie or whatever her name was?

Mike: It needs to be noted that Danny delinked from The Common Ills. What a cowardly move. I have called out a lot of people at my site and often times they were people C.I. knew. She was alway supportive of my writing and of my speaking my mind. Like Rebecca pointed out, she'd never make it a point of "I agree with you" or "I disagree with you," and would instead focus on how you had to be true to your own voice and write what you thought because without that honesty you were just wasting everyone's time. Danny's a little coward in my opinion. A stupid little coward. What a wuss for delinking from C.I. because of things others wrote. There's never been anyone as supportive as Danny as C.I.

Jim: A lot of people are wanting to talk on this and I'm jumping over everyone to make some important points first. Danny Schechter has gotten an easier ride than any other Cult of St. Baracker. Everyone working on the editions knows that. They know that we toss Danny's name out in an editorial with a list of others and C.I. immediately asks, "How do you justify his inclusion on that list? Tom I understand, but back up Danny or let's pull him from the list." So a list calling out Cultist gets Danny removed. More recently, Danny finally woke up. C.I. had critiques of his wake up that were negative and positive. She opened the snapshot with Danny's piece. Danny's piece on Barack, not on Iraq. No one else would have been able to be in the opening of the snapshot for that topic. They might not even made the snapshot. C.I. treated it as news and did far more for Danny than he's ever done for her. And I can come back to that topic. She has linked to another one of his pieces since. Danny's done nothing but trash her and act like a little bitch. C.I.'s repeatedly ignored it and gone out of her way to be as kind as she can to a crazy nut. The first time she and Ava were forced to take on Danny's Cult behavior -- they'd found other things to do repeatedly -- in June 2008. Anyone who knows their writing, knows they were more than kind in that piece to Danny. They even made him Groucho Marx -- a huge compliment from C.I. who knows all the Marx Brothers films by heart. In addition, C.I. and Ava were behind the decision of
Third to promote Plunder in 2010, and, more importantly, Ava and C.I. wrote a review of it April 25, 2010 in which praised the documentary. I find it hard to understand how Danny can argue he was turned on. Danny's helpers and organization sent non-stop e-mails to the public account of The Common Ills. Until Danny left reality in 2008, C.I. always noted them -- fundraisers, new projects, whatever. C.I. noted them over and over. And never asked for anything in return, never e-mailed Danny asking for a damn thing. I'm going to shut up and let others talk but I will be doing a solo piece on this next week and will include references to the e-mails Danny Schechter and I have exchanged over the years -- some heated, some not so. I am appalled by Danny Schechter's little vindictive attacks on C.I. who has gone out of her way to be fair to him while he's been nothing but a little bitch in return. And I'm not talking about Third here, I'm talking strictly about C.I. who has done more for him online than anyone. Danny is ungrateful little bitch.

Wally: I would agree with that. And I hope you point out that C.I. does that for a ton of people. Highlights their stuff for them at their request and has never, ever asked anything in return.

Kat: Before this closes down, I do music reviews and do them at The Common Ills, C.I.'s website. A lot of people I cover are people that C.I. knows. I took on a male rock god -- twice actually -- and the first time I made a point of telling C.I. I had pulled my punches because he's a friend -- a friend of C.I.'s. She told me to go back and redo the piece because I didn't need to pull punches for her or her friends or anyone. She gave me the, "You have to be authentic and true to yourself or what's the point in reading what you write?" speech. And I did that. I went back and tore the album apart. And though the critical consensus now is that the album sucked, back when it came out it was getting praise. Anyway, about six months later, we're in New York and eating when male rock god comes over to the table and is talking about his family life for a few minutes before saying he's furious with C.I. for that piece by "that woman." C.I. never shoves it off on me, never says, "She's that woman." She says that the piece was a critical review and that he didn't have to agree with it but it was honest and it was funny and if that hurt, we'll don't put out your stuff if you're going to obsess over negative reviews. At which point, I did interrupt and say, "Don't be mad at her, be mad at me, I wrote it." And he was kind of taken aback by that. I've encountered him twice since then, most recently at C.I.'s house, and it's not a big issue anymore. But if Danny can take criticism, he needs to put all of his writing into a box and not let anyone see it until after he dies.

Ann: I would agree with that. I get criticized all the time in e-mails. That's fine. Some are right, some are wrong. It's not been the end of my life. It's amazing that a media critic, which is what Danny was until 2008 when he refused to call out sexism and other things a media critic should have been monitoring, wants to get all testy and whiney about, get this, media criticism. Apparently, when the shoes on the other foot, fat little toes get stubbed.

Trina: I can close this conversation. Before I do, does anyone else need to weigh in?

Stan: I'll just say I think Danny Schechter's a big baby and that he drifted away from media criticism in 2008 and has never made it back to it. I don't know what the so-called News Dissector blog is today, it's a bulletin board, it's not media criticism. And the refusal to cover Iraq is why so many of us find Danny useless.

Trina: Okay, in 2010, at the start of it, something happened. Due to a piece I wrote. C.I. was in my kitchen -- my physical kitchen -- so it was probably Friday night and getting yelled at by someone she knew over the phone. It was not a pleasant call. After it was over, I made a point of saying I was sorry and C.I. said if it hadn't been over my post, it would have been over something else so don't worry about it. She sighed and she moved on. So Ruth and Marcia, don't feel bad about what you wrote. C.I.'s not going to care.

Elaine: I'll jump in one more time to point out that C.I. doesn't have time for Danny's b.s. She's got too much to do, from attending Congressional hearings and reporting on them at The Common Ills, to speaking to college groups and other groups, to writing constantly at The Common Ills, to reading over a dozen publications in Arabic in order to follow Iraq which disappeared from US news, to covering media here at Third with Ava, to living a rich and full life. She doesn't have time to sweat Danny's attacks.

Ty: Thank you, Elaine and Trina and we're going to stop there. A number of you wrote about Ava and C.I.'s "TV: The perverts still drool over Shirley Temple" and, next Sunday, I'll do a mailbag that's not a transcript piece and focus on that.
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
Poll1 { display:none; }