Sunday, March 20, 2005

A note to our readers

Well against all odds, we got an edition posted. And only a couple of hours later than the time we've set for having something up.

In this edition, you won't find a TV review. Ava and C.I. (of The Common Ills) were willing to try to pull one together but folks we're talking twenty-four hours plus that everyone's been up.
And C.I.'s still planning on posting about this morning's New York Times.

We all participated in various rallies this week. Some of us at The Third Estate Sunday Review used the rallies as an excuse to visit family knowing that a "I haven't seen you in so long" would mean travel money and the opportunity to be on the ground at as many different rallies as possible.

When that option became viable, we got together to decide how we were going to write the piece.
Local color? A log of speeches given?

Interviews with organizers?

No to all the above. It's the people who make a rally.

And what we cared about was why were they there. So we decided to ask that question. We got so many responses we could publish a lengthy book. Unfortunately, we couldn't put all of them in. We couldn't even offer more than eighty views which came down to ten for each of us. That's the five of us here at The Third Estate Sunday Review (Ty, Jess, Dona, Ava and Jim), C.I. of The Common Ills, Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude and Common Ills community member and soon to be blogger at her own site Betty. (We've been really bad about doing permanent links to other sites but when Betty's site goes up, we will link to it.)

So with that decided on, we went to various events on Friday and Saturday. And then via the net and the phone we all hooked up to figure out which quotes to include. It was a long deliberation and we each argued for the voices we had spoken to. (And C.I. slipped eleven people in instead of ten by arguing that two young women overlapped in their comments so that was actually one quote.) All told, that entry took us over four hours not counting breaks.

And on one fifteen minute break, C.I. is off breaking a pretty important story but we'll get to that in a moment.

So you've got eighty or eighty-one voices that we spoke to at various events this weekend. We hope the voices give you something to think about and that you can hear yourself reflected in some if not all. We're proud to provide this record of the two days protest. We're sure others will have other records and they'll be just as interesting and as noteworthy but we decided to focus on the people who attended and to ask them why they attended.

Our editorial was something we had no idea on. We had joked about doing one on the fact that the media wasn't covering the protests. Most will use the excuse that the Sunday paper was set to go before the protests ended Saturday. That will be their excuse for Sunday. For Monday, they'll probably tell us that the reason is that by Monday it was old news.

But a funny and to the point editorial wasn't what we were up for as we struggled to finish this edition. Luckily, when we were coming up blank with ideas for another topic, C.I. tosses out that we might want to do something on Ohio and check out The Common Ills.

We have no idea what's going on but are all furious clicking and depending on download speed immediately shocked or listening to gasps from others while we wait impatiently for the page to download.

There's a Congressional hearing tomorrow. On the vote. And it's being held in Ohio. And the mainstream media's told you pretty much everything they could about Terry Shiavo and Michael Jackson and steroids in baseball and just about every other topic that may not make a huge difference to our democracy. But they haven't bothered to tell you that this Monday there's a Congressional hearing.

We find that shocking.

We're also impressed that on a 15 minute break, C.I. manages to scan The Times, go to a web site they refer to and find on that site a story they haven't mentioned in the paper. C.I., you saved our asses and we thank you for that. You gave us a topic for a strong editorial and you helped us with the draft of that. Hopefully, the media will pay attention to this issue but we won't get our hopes up.

Also in this issue, you'll find Kat's review of Nirvana's boxed set. Kat and C.I., thank you for the permission to reproduce that review. Check out Kat's comments she made to us about that review. We weren't able to score another interview (maybe soon) but considering how late it is as this is being typed, that might be a good thing unless we want to change the title to The Third Estate Monday Review.

And thanks to Rebecca for staying on us to get that done. We were all tired and toying with the idea of taking a nap and then regrouping in an hour. But as Rebecca pointed out, this was going to be an all nighter and we were kidding ourselves if we thought otherwise.

There's a review of two DVDs and hopefully that will make up for the fact that we don't have a TV review up this edition. The DVD review of Danny Schechter's WMD wasn't easy to write because everyone was in disagreement about what the most important points of the film were.
That's because there are so many important points in the film. That thing went through six drafts before Ty asked if anyone was paying attention to the time. (Rebecca and C.I. helped on that article.)

Then it was time to highlight another wonderful comic gem performance from Jane Fonda. Fun With Dick & Jane is a movie that will make you laugh and it has a couple of messages. Whether that got into the film review, who knows? We were running on fumes and waiting for the second wind to kick in. Rebecca, C.I. and Betty assisted us on that article.

C.I. recommended we all step outside and get some fresh air and a brief walk in before we started to work on the story of the protests. Great idea because we were all starting to get on each others' frayed nerves. We came back refreshed and were able to argue and disagree respectfully and humorously. We probably would have been at each others' throats were it not for the walk. Betty, C.I. and Rebecca helped with that article. And besides the approximate of a little more than four hours to assemble the final article, we also took a number of breaks. They may have delayed this edition posting, but believe me they were needed.

Then came the editorial. Betty begged off saying she was tired and the sun was coming up. We don't blame her. C.I. already had the morning Times but stayed on to help. And Rebecca not only stayed on but rallied us several times when we felt like the editorial wasn't coming together.
With a lot of work from the seven of us, we managed to get it done. And while Rebecca said she was going to straight to sleep after she did a quick post on Ohio and though the five of us are about to fall over, we'll note that C.I. was intending to get in a morning workout to clear the brain then attempt to do at least one more post on this morning's New York Timid before getting any sleep. And we're the college students who are supposed to be used to all nighters?

Hopefully there's something for you here. To those who've written since Sunday, we haven't read you. This was a difficult week on campus and Friday and Saturday were devoted to protesting the occupation. None of the five of us even want to look at a computer screen today.
We're all just wanting to go to sleep -- finally. But your comments are read and if Ava reads them, you usually get a response. (Requests for personal information result in a non-response. That is our policy.) If Dona reads them, you may get a response. The rest of us will try to work harder on giving a response when one's needed but we do read them (except this week) and we do discuss them.

Hope you made your voice heard this week. If you did, congratulations for taking part in democracy at the most basic and fundemental form. If you didn't, maybe next time?

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

Editorial: When Does Ohio Become Front Page News

Now look, we know it's not as heady as the Ukraine and The Times won't be able to beat up on foreigners as it so often seems to love doing, but can someone tell us please when exactly the Ohio issue will be addressed by the paper of record?

We're all trying to figure out what the editorial should be and how to put this puppy to sleep so that we can get some when C.I. mentions in an off-hand manner, "Well what about what's going on in Ohio Monday?" After our chorus of "huhs?" abates, C.I. says look at the entry posted at The Common Ills. Fine, no problem, we're Common Ills community members.

We go there and see a post on this morning's Times (and scratch our heads trying to figure out when that got pulled together) and as we read down, we find this:

But of interest at the online site ( is a story they link to (by the Associated Press) that I haven't heard of (maybe you have, I've been focusing on rallies, etc. for the last two days). It ran on Wednesday, March 16, 2005 and it is entitled "Congressional Committee to Hold Election Hearing in Ohio." From that article in The Beacon Journal:
A congressional committee that blasted the secretaries of state from Ohio and Florida for missing its hearing about the presidential election will hold another session in Ohio.
Ohio Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell plans to attend the House Administration Committee hearing, scheduled for Monday in Columbus, spokesman Carlo LoParo said.
Admittedly, I'm tired. And Lord knows my math skills are spotty on a good day. But as I understand the article, the House committee will be holding a session in Ohio this Monday, the 21st.and supposedly Kenneth Blackwell will attend.
Back to the article:
State lawmakers and representatives from the boards of elections in Franklin, Cuyahoga, Mahoning and Allen counties also are to testify at Monday's hearing.
A Congressional committee (US Congressional, not state) is holding hearings and I know I didn't read about it in the New York Times this week. Did anyone see it anywhere? Isn't this news if only because Blackwell was a no-show prior? And Lord knows, Tom Zeller Jr. needs something to ridicule so you'd think the Times would have handed him this to write up.
Again, I hadn't heard of this hearing. Maybe you have. (As of Friday morning, no one had e-mailed the site about it -- -- but I haven't been able to check much of the mail this weekend.)
Now maybe I'm misunderstanding the story. (Check the link yourself.) I'm tired, I just want to go to sleep already. But as I understand it, a United States Congressional committee is going to Ohio to hold a hearing. To me that's news. To me, it's front page news.

We're reading it and our jaw drops because we had a busy week and Lord knows we haven't been online in the last twenty-four hours except to work on the articles we've already posted.
But we haven't heard word one of this.

Have you?

C.I.'s all "Check the link, check the link! I'm tired, maybe I'm misunderstanding, maybe I got the dates wrong."

We do. We see this: "Posted on Wed, Mar. 16, 2005."

Pretty obvious to us. We have no idea why no one's discussing this in the mainstream media. We hope someone's discussing it on the blogs.

But as we understand the article and as we understand this governmental press release that C.I. steered us too, this should be news that's being reported:

The Committee on House Administration, led by Chairman Bob Ney (OH-18), will travel to Columbus, Ohio, this Monday, March 21st, to convene a field hearing on the 2004 election and the implementation of the Help America Vote Act (HAVA). This will be the second in a series of oversight hearings that the Committee is holding on this issue.
The hearing will convene at 10:00 AM on Monday, March 21st, in the Senate Finance Committee hearing room within the Ohio State Capitol Building, located on the corner of 3rd and State Street in Columbus, Ohio.
The following witnesses are scheduled to testify:
Panel One

Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs-Jones, 11th District of Ohio
Panel Two

Ken Blackwell, Ohio Secretary of State
Dana Walch, Director of Legislative Affairs, Office of the Ohio Secretary of State
Panel Three

Senator Randy Gardner, Ohio Senate
Senator Jeff Jacobson, Ohio Senate Representative Kevin DeWine, Ohio House of Representatives
Panel Four

Keith Cunningham, President, Ohio Association of Election Officials; Director, Allen County Board of Elections
Mike Sciortino, Director, Mahoning County Board of Elections
Michael Vu, Director, Cuyahoga County Board of Elections
William Anthony, Chairman, Franklin County Board of Elections
Panel Five

Edward Foley, Professor of Law, Ohio State University, Moritz College of Law; Director, Election Law@Moritz Program
Daniel P. Tokaji, Assistant Professor of Law, Ohio State University, Moritz College of Law
Mark F. (Thor) Hearne, II, National Counsel, American Center for Voting Rights
Norman Robbins, Co-coordinator, Greater Cleveland Voter Registration Coalition

We're wondering exactly when our news media was going to deliver this news to us.

This past Friday, The Times did find time to question the elections in Zimbabwe but somehow this hearing has just been off their radar.

Is this news you can use or is it news management?

Can someone tell us why this hasn't been all over the place?

For those who've forgotten or missed it the first time, Kenneth Blackwell elected not to show when Congress held a hearing on this issue. If Blackwell won't go to the mountain, the mountain will go to Blackwell?

That's news people, anyway you look at it. And while Zimbabwe is news as well, we'd argue that our own domestic election issues deserve just as much attention as the elections in other countries. So why aren't we hearing of this? Didn't the close of Robert Blake's trial provide the "news" media with a substantial hole to fill? Is there a reason they can't talk about this?

Whether someone believes the election was stolen or not, this has to do with issues that will be at the heart of the voting in 2006 which is just around the corner. So why isn't the paper of misrecord covering this?

We haven't looked at the morning paper ourselves, but C.I. says they've got a life style feature about blended families on the front page. On the front page, people! And Condi goes to Korea and even more on Terry Schiavo. Where's the story on Ohio? Where's the heads up that there's a hearing tomorrow?

New York Timid, your slip is showing and it's a lovely shade of bias but it's looking old and we'd suggest you purchase a new slip -- possibly something in the shade of truth?

At the rallies, we ask, "Why Are You Here?"

With tape recorders and pads and pens, we each hit different rallies in different locations on Friday and Saturday. We includes Ava, Jess, Ty, Jim and Dona of The Third Estate as well as Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude, C.I. of The Common Ills and Betty, a Common Ills community member who will soon be starting her own blog. (We already love her title but we're sworn to secrecy.) Covering ten locations in two days, we went with one question on our mind, "Why are you here?" A question we asked at events on Friday and Saturday and one that the mainstream media should be asking but we doubt they will even if they cover some of the rallies.

Each of us whittled it down to twenty people and then to ten. Over much objections, we present more or less eighty voices. (More or less because technically there are eighty-one thanks to a sneaky trick by C.I. who used the fact that two young women alternated sentences to call them one voice, Tammi & Rhonda. If we had the time, we'd present all the voices we recorded and wrote down.) We've tried to present a diverse groups of voices and attempted also to present a diversity of opinion from the people we spoke to at various rallies. And if we had the time, we'd present the voice of everyone spoke we to.

Robyn, 19 year old female: "I would have driven hours to take part in something this weekend, to show my support for peace and to call an end to the occupation but I was really glad to see that local events were springing up all over the country. I look around at the turnout here and I'm thinking people will be going back to schools and work on Monday and someone will say, 'So what did you do this weekend?' and we'll be able to say I attended a rally downtown. It won't be about 'those people' streaming into D.C., it'll be something that happened close at home and it will give the peace movement a local face."

Doreen, 57 female: "My partner's son is back and badly damaged and no one's really helping him and the government says 'support the troops' but they don't do it. He's damaged and really bad off and there's no assistance for him coming in. It's like nobody thought about what to do if they live and come home, you know? Nobody thought about nothing, nobody in charge anyway.
Bush just wanted to prove something that had nothing to do with 9-11 or nothing but wanting to prove he was a big man and bigger than his daddy. And for that we got our boys and girls dying over there and we've got Iraqis dying there and we got nothing but blood pouring and hurt. Comes a time you got to say enough and for me that's why I'm here."

Ira, 62: "I'm here to say no to the occupation. And I'm really impressed with the turnout and with all the young faces I'm seeing because I wasn't expecting them. You got the prison scandal, you got the torture, you got the rapes, you got a scandal every other week and nothing seems to lead to any outrage. Why do I think that is? Because Bushy got some Madison avenue wiz to come up with a market slogan: 'support the troops.' And everyone keeps repeating that bullshit slogan. And it just shuts down debate, discussion and awareness. When I was a kid, you'd have seen a group of us screaming back, 'Fuck no!' but you don't get that today. And we're all managed and manipulated. And the extreme becomes 'Oh that's awful . . . but I support the troops.' And that shuts down any thought a person might have. In the 60s, you had a range of opinion and a range of people speaking out and being heard. But the range now is basically two voices: 'I support the troops and the president is right!' and 'I'm shocked that whatever happened happened but I support the troops.' That's it. No one can talk about anything for more than three minutes without piping off, 'I support the troops.' It's disgusting to see how well this war has been marketed from the lead up to the occupation."

Boyce, 32: "I'm here because I couldn't live with myself if I wasn't, know what I mean? The things out of control and we need to bring our troops home."

Sabina, 20: "I wanted to come out today partly because I wasn't sure there'd be a lot of people and I felt like there needed to be. I am really glad so many people came out on Saturday and said this is wrong, this can't continue. I want to know where we go from and I think a lot of people do but I'm glad we all made this statement here today."

Jasper, 24: "Why am I here? Look around you, man, this is America. This is the spirit of America at its best. This is people calling for accountability from the leadership. No place I'd rather be."

Tammi & Rhonda, 16 (overlapping): "Our parents said, 'You're not going to some hippie love-in.' So we told them that we were hanging out at the mall. I know a lot of kids at our school wanted to be here and we've seen like five so far but its like everyone's parentals are in denial about what's going down. They can't deal with the fact that we were lied into war and that a lot of them bought into the lie because they were scared. You try to talk about at dinner and you get speeches about how Saddam was a menace and you try to say, 'Well what does that have to do with WMD or any of the lies we were told' and it's like, 'Eat your potatoes.' They have bored us with stories about their wild and radical youths but they can't deal with the fact that they turned out to be these incredibly conformist people who could so easily be faked out by a war criminal. He comes on TV with his tricked out logic and no one thinks to look behind the curtain and look at where we are now. Our parents have a lot of guilt they don't want to deal with. They really defined themselves as so different from their parents and like get togethers are still confrontational but the reality is that they aren't that different from their parents which I think scares them. And we're not saying we're different from them or from our grandparents or that we're this new wave that's going to sweep the country cause that probably ain't happening. But we can look at a lie and call it a lie and that's why we're here."

Donnie, 17: "My mom says, 'Oh, there's not going to be any draft.' And it's like, how do you know that? Cause Georgie says so? Well what lie hasn't he told? If there's a draft, I'm not going. I don't support this war and I don't support this imperalism. We have so much falling apart over here that needs fixing and we're bogged down in another country, killing and destroying and it's just hypocritical and criminal."

Name withheld, 25: "I was there. It's fucked up and it ain't getting better. There's no plan now, there was no plan before. I just tried to keep my head down and not get shot."

Laura, 27: "I'm here because of Michael Moore. I saw Farenheight 9-11 and it just pieced together everything and made sense of what never did. It has nothing to do with a threat from Iraq and since I saw that movie I've been speaking a little louder and telling myself I would do more. When I heard there was a rally, it just made sense to come."

Marvin, 59: "I'm here because we got to speak out and we got to find our way and each day that we stay silent we lose a little more of our humanity."

Ruth, 52: "Why am I here? What, I should be home watching another CSI or Law & Order, God forbid? I'm here for the same reason everyone else is, to protest this illegal war and say enough. I repeat, enough. Bring the troops home."

Robert, 50: "Peace, brother. I'm here for peace."

Kendrick, 22: "Got a better question for you, why ain't the media here? You see any TV cameras? Somebody counting on getting reality from their TV screens is going to be in for a shock because they don't even know this thing is going down. They don't know that people are sick and have had enough. They don't know that this movement is growing and growing. TV's keeping them safe and ignorant and it's going to be a shock for them when they suddenly realize that their neighbor next door is against this illegal occupation and so's the guy on the on the other side of them, and the lady down the street. The movement is growing and growing and if you're sitting at home watching your TV for the truth you got a nasty shock coming down your way."

Lance, 32: "The yuppies have come home to roost and we're all paying the cost. We're over in Iraq redistributing poverty and creating ghettos all so a few over here can increase their own portfolios."

Peggy, 49: "I am here today because each of us has a responsibility to speak out when we think our elected officials are failing us and I think that's happening. I think that, having invaded a country that did nothing to us, we are now breeding terrorism in other parts of the world. I think that the whole thing was about oil and I think that as more and more lies are revealed, the quicksand beneath George W. Bush threatens to swallow him up. I think we need to see the notes from Cheney's energy task force and I think there's a reason we haven't."

Lynn, 58: "I am here because, in the words of John Lennon, "Imagine all the people.' The Iraqis are not savages or the other. They are human beings like us with thoughts like us and hopes for their children just like us. But you don't hear that on your radio or see it on your TV where they're treated like strange savages or weak children either needing us to tame them or coddle them. Who do we think we are? That's my question, who do we think we are?"

Fredrick, 19: "Like that sign says [points to sign] George Bush is a war criminal. When history is written, let it be noted that some of us didn't go along quietly and willing but stood up to the propaganda. Let it be noted that we didn't buy into the lie or let others shout us up. I can only take control of my own voice and that's what I'm doing here today."

Jeff, 53: "I'm here because I have children and grandchildren and I want them to have a future and if I wasn't here then what kind of a person would I be?"

Suzette, 21: "We are here tonight because we refuse to participate in the myth propagated by the corporate media that everyone supports this war, that this war is noble, that this war is just and that we are bringing democracy to Iraq."

Oliviea, 30: "Because in times of war it is especially important that free speech operates in a democracy and that we participate as citizens and not just as consumers or couch potatoes."

Georgia, 43: "To say no to the occupation. To say bring the troops home. To say this war is wrong and was wrong from the start."

Harold, refused to give age: "Cause this is where all the right thinking men and ladies are."

Michael, 20: "I'm here because I can't take the lies of liberation of Iraq, of saving Fallujah or of spreading democracy. I'm here to say no more lies to our liar-in-chief."

Amanda, 18: "I am here because the revolution will not be televised. What you have is two narratives. One is a myth and it is handed down by the adminstration and swallowed in whole by a compliant media. The other narrative is springing directly from citizen action and it is the voice of the people.

Martin, 37: "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, won't get fooled again. That's what our idiot leader said and I don't think he'll fool us again. I think we're waking up to an ugly reality that's messier than even the liars running and ruining this country expected."

Rena, 39: "I'm here because I actually heard about this on my radio this morning and that never happens. The fact that my local radio station mentioned this is so huge to me and I'm hopeful that it is a sign, like recent polls, that the tide has shifted and we can start to seriously address the issues of how we were lied into war and why we need to pull out now."

Philip, 15: "I am here because I saw a poster for this rally and wanted to come and I asked my dad to come with me and he said 'cool.' So we're both here today and we are saying no to war."

Josia, 18: "Because if I wasn't here, I would be saying that I agree with this war and I support it."

Randy, 19: "I don't believe that this war is legal and I don't believe that it can be justified."

Tame-hi, 21: "I am here today to make myself presented and accounted for in the call for the end to the occupation."

Chet, 21: "I am here because I trusted the media to tell me what was going on and why we needed to go to war and I believed what was reported. By the sixth week of the war, I saw that friends who had told me it was all based on lies were right and I was outraged. I am still outraged and I hold the administration and the media responsible for the loss of lives on both sides. I am here today because I object to this war and I object to being lied to and tricked."

Antonio, 17: "I am here because a recruiter showed up at my high school lying to us and that was the last lie of all the lies about this war that I could take. He told us, with the principal standing right next to him, that if you sign up and it doesn't work out, you can just go home.
And people were talking afterwards and saying stuff like, 'Well it would pay for college and if it doesn't work out, I could just leave.' And I was saying, 'Oh no, that's not how it works.' But a lot of kids in my school believe it and the lies have to stop and the only way they will stop is when enough people show up and say 'no más.' That's what I'm saying today and that's why I'm here."

[Note: "No más" is Spanish for "no more."]

Nolonda, 29: "I am here because I see people from my old neighborhood who were just trying to get some sort of a boost, a chance to make something of themselves, being sent off to an illegal war and used for reasons that do not make sense. I am tired of my community being destroyed and raided everytime the government decides to lie to us and start another unholy war. As a Christian, I am dismayed to see much war mongering coming from preachers who should know better. As a Christian, it is more important that I speak the truth and say the war is wrong than it is that I go along to get along."

Alison, 20: "I do not believe that war is an answer and I think we're seeing that now in Iraq where we destroy whole villages like Fallujah and then turn around and crow, 'We've brought them democracy!' Democracy at the end of a rifle isn't democracy and an illegal war spreads nothing but more violence. The cycle has to stop."

Raynha, 29: "Because this war was no good from the beginning and it is inflaming tensions in the Arab world that will have long term effects for our country that we are not prepared for because the reality is far removed from the TV coverage."

Denny, 23: "Because the only way we end this is by making our voice heard and that's not going to happen from the comfort of your couch so it's important that when people gather to support truth and justice you show up."

Safwan, 41: "To protest an illegal war that has made us turn from the things this country is supposed to be built upon and that we are supposed to believe in. I believe Congress and the media abdicated their role and I am not impressed with the lack of Congressional leadership on this issue. I voted for Hillary Clinton in 2000 gladly, but I will not vote for her again as senator or as president because she's turned into a war monger like everyone else and I expected more from the person who spoke so elequently of the need for community and the need for the purpose."

Julio, 19: "I am here because I have a friend who's over there and I keep thinking that every day we continue to plunder and destroy Iraq is another day my friend could die. We don't belong over there, we need to come home. And I will say that until I am blue in the face and out of breath with the hope that somebody will listen."

Wes, 49: "I am here because I woke up to reality through things like BuzzFlash and Free Speech Radio News. I am here because for the first time since college, I'm buying The Nation. I am here because journalists like Amy Goodman, Dahr Jamail and Juan Gonzalez are alive in this country and getting us the news that we need. I am here because I no longer will be lulled into a false sense of awareness by the soothing tones of The NewsHour or NPR. I am here because I have seen the ugly face of reality and I will not take part in endorsing the lies of this war. I am here because I care about my country. I am here because I care about our troops. I am here because I care about the Iraqis."

Bahija, 22: "Because I'm sick of being fed lies daily by the media. I listen to Pacifica Radio and only Pacifica because nowhere else do I get any truth. I go online to various sites because the newspapers in this country have failed us. I refuse to endorse the occupation and I refuse to support the corporate media that cheerleads and advocates for death and destruction as it pushes one lie after another."

Keanu, 13: "Because it's the right thing to do. Because people do care about what is going on in our names."

Barbara, 64: "I am here despite all my friends who said it wouldn't make a difference. They also said no one would show up but look around. I did not support the invasion, I do not support the occupation. I am an old woman now and if I can't speak out after all the years I've lived, then I might as well start picking out retirement communities and lock myself away in one because it's either speak out or be silent and let the lies build. I am here to speak out. And I'm glad I'm here."

Stephen, 28: "To stop the insanity of this war."

Jonah, 17: "My rabbi is a wise man and I have asked him to explain this war. He's never been able to and my concept of God does not support attacks on innocent civilians or on reporters who refuse to be embeds. I think The New York Times has a bunch of cowards working for it and my parents no longer read the paper as result. Judith Miller has a great deal to answer for and someday history will hold her and the paper accountable. I am here today with my parents because we are saying no to this war."

Patty, 55: "Because I'm an old lefty who knows and understands the power of protest and is willing to do her part to stop the madness of the current administration."

Kebin, 21: "If you don't do something, you're saying you're okay with what's going on. I'm not okay with it. I'm not okay with napalm being used in Iraq. I'm not okay with DU. I'm not okay with rapes rooms and torture being run by us. So I am here today to say that."

Levi, 17: "To say to George W. Bush, you are not representing me and you are not serving our country and you do not speak for me."

Jed, 47: "Better question for you, why are we over there in Iraq?"

Nadira, 42: "With no proof of linkage to this day between the attacks in 2001 and Iraq, there is no justifiable reason for this war and it is time to call for an immediate withdrawal of all troops."

Max, 30: "Because reality and the truth break through. And it won't come from The Washington Post or ABC or CNN. We've all woken up and realize that. If there's one good thing about this illegal war it's that big media has been exposed to people like myself who spent years defending it. In 2002, I subscribed to two papers and really believed that they would tell me the truth. I watched CNN around the clock and never missed Nightline. I defended our press and felt like I was getting solid information. The lead up to the war and the coverage since has exposed big media as nothing but the mouthpiece for official sources. This issue impacted real people, average citizens. And you didn't and don't see them in the coverage. I can't believe how blind I was to the bias towards official sources until this war began. But now they've destroyed my trust and they can't have it back. They refused to give voice to dissent and they refused to listen to the average person. They have destroyed the fabric of our country as much as George W. Bush has. The best thing to come out of this, the only good thing, is that people like myself will no longer watch them or read them and they may have to find a way to actually earn a living and that might mean actually doing some work. I just learned of Democracy Now! in January and that's about the only thing I trust. A friend gave me the book by Amy Goodman who hosts Democracy Now! [Exception to the Rulers] and I read that. In 2001, I probably would have read it and thought she was wrong. Maybe even thought she was crazy. Because I was still blind to reality. But this war has opened my eyes to the realities of how the media clamps down on opinions and offers no real debate or discussion. For the first year in my adult life, I didn't donate to NPR. I don't even listen to it anymore. But I got a letter reminding me it was time to pledge and I just tossed it in the trash can. I hope Cokie Roberts and the others get tossed out on their asses and have to actually work for a living. They have whored themselves out and they do not speak or care for what impacts our lives. So I do not care to give them money to speak. I'm a lot smarter and wiser than I was two years ago and it's too bad that so many people had to lose their lives for me to wake up to reality. That's why I'm here."

Pilar, 24: "I do not believe that the attacks on September 11, 2001 just happened with no advance warning. I believe there was a huge break down in information gathering, yes. But I also believe that a lot of the advance information was kept from us and continues to be kept from us. We have yet to see anyone fired for their actions on that day. And to me, this illegal war on Iraq is a distraction on the part of the administration to avoid dealing with accountability on any level. It's a shell game where they distract us with one thing to avoid us focusing on something else. I am not saying that our government planned the attacks. I am saying that the failure to prepare for and respond to those attacks was not because no one could have imagined but because people did not do their jobs. Why they didn't do their jobs, I do not know. But I do know that two wars have served to distract us from the reality that a horrible thing happened to America on September 11th and I do know that were we at peace, people might be demanding the answers of how and why. The attacks have been utilized repeatedly by the administration to justify everything but no one's bothered to address the how and why of the attacks and that's a huge failure on the part of our elected officials. By instilling fear and terror in all of us, the administration has used the attacks to justify everything from a failed economic plan to war and
I am sick of it. Iraq did not plan the attacks of September 11th and I do not support a war built and waged upon lies."

Owenn, 29: "I am here because killing and torture are not moral values and I am sick to death of hearing right-wing idiots go on and on about whatever today's reason or talking point for this illegal war is. The shifting sands have exposed them as liars and have awakened the people to a media that does not serve the public interests."

Kim, 20: "Why am I here? Do you see CBS here? Do you see Peter Jennings or the loser who replaced Tom Brokaw [Brian Williams]? How about some reporter from the holy New York Times? No? Me neither. So I must not be here. This must not be happening. It's all a figment of our imagination. Because if all these people were really here, surely our media giants would be here, right? Judith Miller would be here standing next to me with her steno pad ready to take down my dictation if this were really happening? Why am I here? Because if I wasn't, I'd be as useless as they are. I'd be part of the banality of evil."

Cozette, 31: "Because I'm sick of the bullshit lies. I don't care if it's from the mouth of the Bully Boy or if it's from the mouth of some overpaid network newsy. I'm sick of the bullshit and I'm sick of the destruction and loss of lives. It's bullshit and I will not be stop calling bullshit bullshit."

Molly, 73: "I've lived too long to just go along. If I'm still here, there's a reason for it and it's because one angry old lady adding her voice to this rally shows the kids that just because we're old doesn't mean we stopped caring. I think I'm the oldest one here and that disappoints me because people my age have little to lose from standing up. I don't have some political future that attending might cost me votes. I don't have a job where I could be fired if the boss finds out I'm here. I'm an old woman and I think me being here says this crosses generations and is an issue that touches us all."

Akiko, 22: "To protest the war that has been wrong from the start and to say to the media you can ignore us but you cannot make us go away. I blame the media even more than I blame Bush because the media was compliant and went along when they should have questioned."

Perry, 26: "I am here today because the lying and dying will not stop until each of us wakes up to reality and stops living in a Bush created fantasy publicized by the media. You are the only one I've seen talking to people here and you're with a web site which is further proof of how our media has failed us since this crowd is a story and the reason we are gathered here today is a story. But true stories have little place in today's media and that's become apparent with each passing day as the press rushes to assure us that the sky is green and the grass is blue just because Bush or Condi says so. I have given up on the media to tell the truth in this country or to serve the public and nothing I've seen here today changes that belief. Here today, on a Saturday, with little news breaking, I see no reporters moving through the crowd and obviously that's because the media doesn't think this story matters. It is this attitude that has destroyed circulation for newspapers and demolished the ratings for news broadcasts. News consumers want reality and when they realize they aren't getting it, they turn off their TVs and stop subscribing to papers. Press releases were sent out on this protest and yet where are the press?
People gather to protest the actions of their government and where are the press? Were this the Ukraine, maybe The New York Times would be interested? But hundreds of people showing up for a demonstration to protest the actions of the government is deemed not news worthy by the media and that's the reason the people are deeming the news media not worthy of their attention."

Qudsiyah, 31: "I am here because the war is wrong and until those of us who believe that say it and repeat it enough, we will never be able to end it. There are issues here that matter to who we are and how we see ourselves and to what sort of country we live in. We must not give our consent to an illegal occupation and we must not stop speaking just because we aren't an issue to the big media companies. This is grass roots activisim and it is having an effect and it will continue to have an effect. And with or without big media, we will get the message out. That's what today's all about, getting the message out that we are opposed to the war and saying, 'We have spoken and we did not get tossed into jail despite the Patriot Act, so you can speak to." Creating a zone where people realize that there are others like them and that free speech is something you must utilize because a Ted Koppel or a Cokie Roberts or a Brian Williams will not speak for you because it is not in their interests to do so. So you must speak for yourself. And independent media is the key to that and it has been the only way to get the word out. I learned of this protest not from big media but from a web site and as online news coverage and information becomes the only thing speaking to those of us not holding an elected office, big media will continue to wither. It has made itself useless. I trust few people in the news media these days because they are so full of excuses and mea culpas that never result in any change in their coverage. Words are useless when they are meaningless. That is why blogs and magazines and Democracy Now! are the last resources for the people who want reality. I read Harper's, The Progressive and In These Times. I know that the people there are working to put things in perspective and to get the truth out. I share those magazines and Amy Goodman's Exception to the Rulers with my friends. One by one, we are building an area of truth and it sickens me that we have to do that because big media has failed the people in this country."

Hollee, 20: "Because I do not believe this had anything to do with 9-11, had anything to do with weapons of mass destruction, had anything to do with liberation. And I'm left with only reason for this war and that is oil. And I do not believe that reason is reason enough to justify the killing of innocent civilians in Iraq who are slaughtered every day at check points and in their homes in the so-called name of liberation."

Nora, 29: "Jewel sang 'I won't be made useless, I won't be idle with despair.' And I listen to that song and I think what can I do? And this is what I can do. If I'm not here, I am useless and I am idle with despair. I'm here to be proactive."

Franklin, 40: "Because this mess gets worse each day and that will go on and on until we start saying over and over end the war and bring the troops home."

Vincenzo, 31: "I'm sick of being played by the government and the media which has acted together to push this illegal and immoral war. Everyone who is here today is saying no to this war and no the increasingly lazy and increasingly useless media that provides the public with lots of calories and no nutrients."

Tuesday, 19: "I cannot live with myself if I do not do my part in my own small way to say I object to this war. Comes a time when you realize what you can live with and what you can stomach and I can't live with anymore lies and I can't live with myself if I just act as though it's not happening. A war is going on and people are dying. We can all get caught on who's going to win on American Idol and act like nothing is happening in the world other than Michael Jackson's trial or whatever. But the reality is that a war is raging and if you don't make your objection known, whether you state you support the war or not, you are supporting it. So this is my way of saying I do not support this war."

Leroy, 44: "Because a nephew died over there and he should have never been over there to begin with. Send Jenna and Barbara [Bush] over there if it's so goddang important."

Bruno, 39: "The longer people refuse to stand up, the longer this war goes on and it should have never been started in the first place."

Carolyne, 28: "It is important for those of us who see the lies to bear witness."

Dhitika, 33: "I do not believe in war as a means to end. I do not believe it solves anything. I do not believe we are helping ourselves or the Iraqis. I believe we are creating ill will that can only harm us."

Eddie Paul, 25: "I was raised in Waco, Texas and, like the Dixie Chicks, I am ashamed that George Bush is from Texas even if he wasn't born there. I think he is the worst president we've ever had and I think he has destroyed our sense of morality and values. I think our troops are over there dying for a reason that makes no sense and a war that's been started for no reason. I think we've been lied to over and over and I'm sick of it and I'm here to take part in this protest because that's what Americans do when their government lies them into a war."

Carmine, 44: "I am here because it is important that we continue to build the community opposed to this war and create an environment where it is safe to object and to protest. With the attacks on protests coming from the administration it is more important than ever to show up for these protests and say my right to free speech will not be easily taken from me."

Gail, 41: "My husband asked me that same question this morning. He wanted to know why I was going. I'll tell you what I told him. No, I don't think this protest will end the war. I do think it is a step and that each step brings us that much closer to ending the war. I wasn't expecting there to be this large of a turnout. And I've spoken to two people already who've told me this was their first protest. I've got a garden in back of the house and it's easy when the squash comes up in summer to just think, 'Oh there's the squash.' But it didn't just pop up. The seeds had to be planted. The ground had to be watered. That's what this protest is about. And it is one step along the path that will force Bush to bring the troops home."

Zacharias, 30: "I am here to say we do not all support this war and we will do not all support the illegal occupation no more how many liars get on the TV set and claim that democracy is spreading through the middle east. Lebanon has held elections for some time. Arafat was an elected leader. Liars get on TV and talk of a 'spread of democracy' and they look like fools and liars. I refuse to be made a fool of."

Mia, 17: "I'm here because I couldn't vote basically. If I could have voted, if my friends could have voted, I don't think that idiot would be sitting in the White House. He's the biggest joke of my high school and he's on his way to becoming the most hated man in America because he's destroyed this country with lies."

Juan, 30: "I refuse to buy into the fantasy that this war was needed or a response to the attacks of September 11th. I refuse to swallow any more shit that's being served up by a lazy media that practices stenography and not journalism."

Logan, 25: "This was not a great war, it was not a noble war, it was not a just war and it was not a legal war. As an American, it is my duty to object to this war."

Delilah, 19: "9-11 has become a pretext for Bush to turn us into everything we supposedly stood against. We now torture. We now kill. The judicial system is shut out of the equation and we practice trial by sniper. The bullet is the judge and jury and if we kill someone, they are supposedly guilty. We have destroyed our freedoms and our liberties while we run around like chickens with their heads cut off and scream 'Protect us! Protect us!' when what we need protection from is the big bully in the White House."

Lewis, 24: "Oh boy, that's like an essay question. How much time you got? I don't believe that our government told us the truth. I don't believe that our media did their job. I don't believe that we should be in Iraq. I don't believe that our presence there helps anyone or anything. I don't believe that there were weapons of mass destruction. I don't believe that journalists just died by accident. So what do I believe in? I believe in saying no to lies and I believe in saying bring the troops home. I believe in bearing witness and that's what I'm doing."

Jamal, 21: "No one should have to give their life for a lie and that's what's happened and what continues to happen."

Shelia, 35: "I will not. That's my message. I will not buy into the lies. I will not put a bumper sticker on my car saying support the troops. I will not support this war. I will not. I'm digging my heels in the sand and saying no more to the lies."

Aziz, 57: "Because when one engages in illegal war, there is an effect that follows and we will be feeling the fallout from Bush's actions for years to come. We need to pull out right now."

DVD review Jane Fonda's Fun With Dick & Jane

Fun With Dick and Jane is a funny movie with many points. Readers on budgets should take note that we found copies at the library on videocassette and DVD. This film came out in 1976 (and is being remade currently) and stars Jane Fonda and George Segal. Ol' Big Ed McMahon, who's never showed up at our doorsteps with a Publisher's Clearing House check of any kind, has a supporting role.

Here's the basic plot. The economy is tanking (sound familiar) and Dick's boss calls him in to fire him. That's the first scene, we haven't destroyed the movie for you. Dick (Segal) and Jane (Fonda) are an upper-middle-class couple with a kid and a dog. As Dick announces his firing, the maid knows there's trouble but Dick's sure he'll get another job quickly. Jane comes up with ideas to economize like dropping the book of the month club and not heating the pool.

Quickly, it becomes obvious that no one's hiring. Jane manages to get a job as a runway model in a store and loses it quickly (don't miss the runway show for some good slapstick) and there left with an economy that's falling apart, no jobs and bills piling up. Especially note when the landscapers come by to collect the plants and roll up the lawn. File that scene away for your own use because if our current economy doesn't do a turn around quickly, we may all be needing a way to save face in front of the neighbors.

Fonda and Segal make a great comedy team and watching the film you may regret that they never reteamed. Though Fonda and Redford always worked well and had a strong chemistry, Segal brings his own bottle to the party. It's hard not to like Segal onscreen because whether he's working opposite Mary Tyler Moore, Ben Stiller, Tea Leoni, Patricia Arquette, et al in Flirting With Disaster, Goldie Hawn in The Dutchess & The Dirtwater Fox or the gang from the TV show Just Shoot Me, he's a generous comedic actor. He never steps on someone else's laughs and scores his own even with a less than funny line.

Segal's the master of the studied response. It's not a "slow burn" -- the sort that W. C. Fields is famous for -- so much as it's a considered reaction and he uses it perfectly for comic delight in many films. Though it's doubtful he can play any role in the world (despite the hubris of many actors), he's at home in comedies that allow his responses to take a laugh and build on it.

The role of Dick allows him to show a little more than he gets to in some because Dick's life is really screwed when he loses his job. As Segal speaks repeatedly of how the middle class cannot fail because they are the backbone of the country, you see his assurances turn to doubts and then despair and Segal conveys the awakening wonderfully.

It's a caper film and never gets mired down in heavy, over the top dramatics along the line of "Oh! The humanity!" But it's also a film that makes many strong points. Not between chuckles, because you'll laugh hardest when the film's speaking truths.

Fonda's Jane is perfection throughout. She's lived a fairly sheltered life and is initially skeptical of the problems coming down the path. When she gets a look at their finances, a sense of reality sets in and Jane (the character) is much quicker to realize what's going on than her husband Dick. That has to do with the money problems as well as their last shot at survival: robbery.

Dick gets the idea and Jane expresses her doubts but quickly takes an active role and becomes the brains of the team, always a step or two ahead of Dick. Which works well with Fonda's own onscreen persona which is always a little bit ahead of the game.

There's a lot of physical comedy in the film but the thing that stands out the most is the bantering between Fonda and Segal. The strong onscreen chemistry really drives this film and sweetens the laughs.

Segal does a great job with Dick's inner journey, but you found yourself drawn into Jane's. She's gone from college and a distant family to what appears to be a picture-perfect life only to end up on the verge of losing it all. Dick's played the role of provider in the past and Segal perfectly captures the doubts unemployment creates in him. But there are moments when Fonda's the entire show partly due to writing and partly due to the fact that she's one of our most talented living actresses in this country.

The scene where Jane and Dick go to her parents to borrow money is hilarious but it's also a great deal more. Expecting some sort of "news," Jane's parents have already dismissed news of divorce (since Dick and Jane didn't call them to tell them they were getting married) and health so they realize it has to be money. Fonda's timing is perfect in the scene but there's more going on as she captures the embarrassment of having to ask your parents to bail you out and her realization that they probably won't. (They don't.)

In another scene, where Dick has a man over hoping that he'll offer Dick a job, there's not enough money for both to eat and the plan is to tell the man Jane's on a diet. Watch Fonda studying the left over food on the man's plate and then the reaction when he puts his cigar out on the uneaten food and you'll realize how much she adds to even a throw away scene.

Or take a throwaway line when crime starts to pay and they throw a party. Dick's ex-boss (McMahon) and his wife attend. At one point, the wife gets a little more than she can handle from the food. "Is it burning you, Mildred? Oh, that's too bad," Fonda declares in measured tones that pack so much meaning into a throwaway line that you wish she and the actress playing Mildred had more of a scene together. There's so much bitterness and delight in Fonda's delivery that you're longing for more and longing to find out if Mildred's really that oblivious or if she's purposefully refusing to see reality.

Fonda handles the slapstick on the runway perfectly but there's so much more to her physicality in this film. Watch the way she moves in the car theft scenes and the way she adds details like repeatedly looking around to make sure no one's seeing them. Note the way she holds her head and the glasses perched on her nose when she's gone through the bank statements and bills to discover that they have no assets. (Other than, as she points out, a sun in the morning and the moon at night.) Her crossed arm, skeptical stance as the crime spree begins also enriches the laughs from the dialogue. Or the way she strides purposefully and hopefully after she lands her first job. And don't miss the good-bye kiss she gives to her father.

But along with the physicality she brings to the role, notice her eyes. In her second comedy since the one-two punch of They Shoot Horses Don't They? and Klute, Fonda brings the deeper meaing she'd been using in drama roles to bear in this comedy. She's firing on all cylinders and delivering a masterful performance that works on so many levels and presents a fully fleshed out woman.

In the lead up to the release of Monster-in-Law (starring Fonda, Jennifer Lopez, Michal Vartan and Wanda Sykes), we've been noting comedies starring Jane Fonda. With Monster-In-Law set to open May 13th, we will be noting Nine to Five. Of all the e-mailed suggestions, the request for a review of Nine to Five is the one that has come in the most often. We'll be noting other comedy performances as well and working towards Nine to Five (which we intend to save for the last review).

Larry in St. Paul e-mailed asking if we were trying to build excitement for the release of the Monster-in-Law. Fonda's return to films after fifteen years (Stanley & Iris was released in 1990) is excitement enough if you ask us. What we're trying to do is highlight an incredible artist and make sure that when the film comes out you're aware of how many times Fonda's made you laugh onscreen.

We're also firmly in the Fond'a-Fonda camp and feel the need to stand up and be counted. We'll be seeing Monster-in-Law on opening night. If you're regularly reading what's posted here, we hope you'll be there as well.

Must see DVD: Danny Schechter's Weapons of Mass Deception

We're pushing another BuzzFlash premium, Danny Schechter's Weapons of Mass Deception which BuzzFlash is offering on DVD. This is the third time we've alerted you to a BuzzFlash premium (Anais Mitchell's CD Hymns for the Exiled and Robert Kane Pappas' DVD Orwell Rolls In His Grave). We get no money from BuzzFlash, we don't know anyone at BuzzFlash.

We do visit BuzzFlash and think it's a great site and one that's taken over the old slogan ("Give us five minutes, we'll give you the world") that broadcast media long shoved aside. When we reviewed Anais Mitchell's excellent CD and Robert Kane Pappas' moving documentary, we got e-mails from people expressing their disappointment that they didn't have the funds to purchase either. We're not trying to guilt trip anyone.

We decided upfront not to review any TV offering on cable because a lot of our readers don't have cable. We only review broadcast TV (and realize that some remote areas may not get all broadcast signals). When we review movies on DVD (like the current series we're doing on Jane Fonda's comedy roles), we make a point to avoid video rental stores and instead check out various local libraries (campus and public) for what we review.

We're college students on a budget so we do understand the economic crunch many of you are in. (Usually in a far worse crunch than we are.) We understand that the economy sucks and finds a new way to suck each day. (Though we keep being told hope is just around the corner. That's got to be the longest corner anyone's ever driven around.)

We're not telling you "Go to BuzzFlash right now and buy this product! You're kids braces can wait!" But while providing you with reviews that hopefully everyone can utilize, we also think there are certain things that need highlighting.

In the case of Anais Mitchell, if you read the review but weren't able to buy the CD, you know about Anais now. You know about the topics she writes, you saw some of her lyrics, you heard about her album. You know a voice is out there commenting on reality.

In the case of Robert Kane Pappas' Orwell Rolls In His Grave, even if you weren't able to buy the DVD, you know some of the criticicsms and points he makes in his film. You know that film is out there. You could even request that your library purchase a copy of it.

Danny Schechter's Weapons of Mass Deception is another film you need to know about. This isn't "bad Fox 'News!'" Fox "News" is hideous. But they're far from alone.

And if you got your coverage of the start up of the war from domestic TV, you got seriously fucked up coverage. You didn't have to turn to Fox "News" for that because it was everywhere.
And this film examines that coverage.

It shows you how CNN broadcast one "reality" to American viewers and another to international viewers. You learn about how the embed process bonded reporters with the troops they traveled with and objectivity went out the window. Let's be really clear, reporters are supposed to cover what happens. You didn't see that.

Ashleigh Banfield was fired from MSNBC/NBC and it happened after a dry spell that appeared at the time to be imposed on her in retaliation for a speech she gave. (The Times chuckled about how she'd been "taken to the woodshed" for that speech by network honchos.) You get a sample of that speech in WMD.

What was Banfield's point? That you saw the bombs go off . . . from a great distance. It was fire power and shock and all that allowed for shock and jaw reporting. But you didn't see the damage of the bombs. You didn't see where they hit. The whole thing was like a video game with impressive explosions and no messy casualities to confront you with reality.

You get more in the film including footage of the attack on the the Palestine Hotel in Baghdad. That includes footage that demonstrates there was no attack on a US tank that prompted the tank's firing at the hotel. But the hotel was occupied by unembbeded journalists.

Footage you didn't see on your TV. Including the bloody aftermath. And we don't mean, "You didn't see it on Fox!" We mean that you didn't see it anywhere.

Was it an accident as the Pentagon claims? If you haven't seen the footage you may believe it was. If you've seen the footage, you'll doubt that. The attacks on journalists in Iraq were not infrequent and Schechter's film explores that. The same topic that Eason Jordan spoke on at a conference. The topic that, when his remarks leaked out, he ended up leaving CNN over.

You'll learn about the silencing of dissent, the muzzling and manipulation of thought. This is an important film to see.

The film addresses the need to restore democracy to the airwaves. Is that a topic we shouldn't all be interested in?

There is strong footage and strong criticism in this film. And Schechter has a strong and steady touch throughout. With most of us hungover from too much infotainment and not enough real news, Schechter wisely decides to start the film presenting himself as a dazed victim of shock and jaw. It's a wonderful decision to open the film and engage the viewer.

It's a film you need to share with friends and pass on. If you're unable to purchase the film, we think it's still one you should be aware is out there. Something to toss in at the mythical water cooler, if nothing else. But if you're able to afford the DVD, this is one you should check out.

Kat's Korner: Nirviana's With the Lights Out: There It Is now, It Don't Entertain Us

Last week, when we ran the interview with Kat and highlighted a Kat's Korner (on Tori Amos' The Beekeeper) and our inboxes flooded to the brim by Sunday evening. Jim was checking on this unassigned day. We all ended up checking it out. (The only day we've checked out this week due to our school schedule and then protests Friday and Saturday.)

We knew we loved Kat, we knew she was popular, but we had no idea she was this popular.

When we passed on the news to Kat and asked for any introductory comments to this Kat's Korner we are about to highlight, she made a few corrections and said, "I don't usually do corrections but there's a section where 'to do' is supposed to be 'today' and another where I use 'with' twice in the same sentence. My general attitude is, 'It is what it is.' But this was something, that to write, meant revisiting a time that was full of promise and hope and then quickly turned to despair and anger. There's a whole range of emotions riding beneath the surface and looking over it now, I can remember where I had to stand up to get away from the computer, where I had to slug back a shot or two, where I was pacing and at which point I was just wanting to pull out my hair. That may not be obvious to anyone who reads it and that's fine. But this cool detached look at this piece of crap boxed CD set that we were getting in the media was just as frustrating to me as was the little boys trying to act like they'd lived through the whole thing. If you really, really, truly cared about that music genre and if Nirvana meant something to you, this isn't a topic that's easy to discuss. When this ran at The Common Ills, I got a lot of e-mails on it from people who had loved Nirvana. They spoke about where they were when they learned Kurt [Cobain] was dead. They spoke about the life just being sucked out of music overnight and how they stopped listening to the radio. And that's really what happened because Kurt and a few others were the real deal but Kurt was the designated media star. And grunge had been popular long enough that we were seeing the corporate approximations of it showing up on the scene. When Kurt died, we desperately needed some conviction some passion but we got imitation grunge. I can remember people hoping Billy Corrigan and Smashing Pumpkins would have something to say about Kurt's death musically.
But despite wanting to be the writer of grunge, Billy passed up the opportunity by instead looking backward with songs about '1979' and production like you'd have heard throughout most of the eighties. When the fans needed life and a call to arms, Billy gave them safe product. Liz Phair was lost in a haze of pot and Mommy-dom, Juliana Hatfield and Evan Dando seemed to have forsaken celebrity for passion, Eddie Vedder and Pearl Jam couldn't comment musically because people would have screamed "Kurt killer!" and there just wasn't any reality. This was a tremendous blow at the time and made more so in the immediate months that followed because you saw these groups like the Gin Blossoms try to pass off their psuedo-Bryds sound as grunge.
Only three artists got credit for dealing with a huge loss in real time: Patti Smith, Neil Young and Sinead O'Connor who did a cover version of 'All Apologies.' The widow Courtney wasn't trying to save her daughter and herself, no one blamed or faulted her for that. But fans were wondering what the fuck was going on? Tori's Boys for Pele came out and this was an album of darkness and pursuing and embracing the darkness and surviving it in the end. This was a powerful album but by the time it came out, the pretend-grunge was all that was left on the airwaves and
the process of revision had been accomplished. Suddenly Kurt was just another pretty blond in pain like [Marilyn] Monroe before and the true power of grunge music had been reduced to the idea that somehow this musical revolution was all male, all white, all straight and included hacks singing 'Found Out About You.' So if some reviewer is dicussing it calmly, they've either achieved their own personal state of nirvana or they weren't really effected by the music. And if some reviewer is raving over this, they either didn't live through it or they're expecting lost tracks of a dead man to surface and alter music. It's a very upsetting time to revisit and I question those who stamp a happy face on it or who remain detached."

Kat's Korner: Nirvana's With the Lights Out: There It Is now, It Don't Entertain Us

Between parties and drunken binges, between bedding down with whomever and everyone, do you ever take a minute to, golly, I don't know, listen to music?

So begins a lovely mash note from someone offended that I had yet to discuss Nirvana's With the Lights Out. This four disc boxed set has actually resulted in six e-mails imploring me to, as one prankster jotted, "blow out the incense, swallow the peppermints and discover the greatness of Kurt Cobain."

I did that. 1991. I loved Nirvana. I was hopping into this hearse of a car my friend Twyla had dubbed "Big Blue" and hoping to pop Soundgarden into the tape deck when she insisted that I hear this new band ("it's f*cking fantastic, Kat!"). And it was. It was everything a rock band should be. Loud. Poetic. Sexual. Raging. Enraging. Twyla had the crappiest speakers but even with her sound system, it was obvious that rock and roll genius was at work here.

They were the real deal. And the anticipation surrounding them was like nothing else at that time. (Or since.) Crap was being kicked off the air (goodbye to all the Miami Vice "rockers" and the precursers of the Disney Kids -- New Kids on the Block and Tiffany and the rest of their ilk).

They cleared the decks.

You don't create a new radio genre without greatness. A lot of bands tried to be them (I'll be kind for a change and leave it to you to list those bands) and very few people approached their level of art. Liz Phair did, for one album. Tori Amos did.

And that needs to be stressed because that's very much a part of the grunge movement. Rap-metal and all the rest that came after (alterna-pop) were a response to what Nirvina did (primarily Kurt Cobain and Krist Novoselic -- the drummer was the weakest thing about the group -- guitarist Pat Smear does deserve note, however). They railed against the sexist and racist and homophobic notions that were so much a part of the time before them (Guns 'n Roses, anyone?).

And when minorities take a foothold in rock, it's always time to redefine the sound because there are some white boys that just can't stand the thought that they might have to listen to music made by anyone who can't join their frat. With songs like "You Ought to Know," "Uninvited," and "You Are" Alanis was outrocking the boys and it was time to change what "rock" was because God forbid a gal show up the (white) boys.

Alternative, before Gin Blossoms and other alterna-pop/alt-corp products got a toe hold, was an open genre when compared to earlier ones. (That's probably due to the fact that college radio in the eighties had been a format that produced two real superstar-crossover acts: R.E.M. and 10,000 Maniacs.) The Breeders could last splash it along side of Pearl Jam feeling all alive, next to Juliana Hatfield telling us about her sister, in front of Chris Cornell going into his Jesus Christ pose while Smashing Pumpkins were floating above trying to disarm. You could be into Hole, Bikini Kill and Alice in Chains.

Kurt Cobain's suicide ended all of that. And who can say that, had he lived, it would have been any different? I'm sure, either with the band or without it, he would have continued making great music. I'm just not sure that, having created all these artificial imitations who would go along with any demand and not rock the boat, the mega-merged labels would have stuck with him. So much easier to pour all the energy and A.R. time into a puppet who would stand where you said, play what you wanted, and be a little naughty but never stupid and outrageous.

But he died. And I'll never forget the dee jay saying that. I was driving down the Pacific Coast Highway and I had to pull over. "Heart Shaped Box" came on. I just sat in the car in shock. Hearing that song and then "All Apologies" and realizing that Nirvana was no more.

Somewhere after a long Nirvana block, Tori Amos' "God" came on.

God, sometimes you just don't come through . . .
Would you even tell her if you decide to make the sky fall . . .

Not to take anything away from Courtney Love (I'll be the last to ever slag her), but Tori was the only other writer from grunge that approached greatness. (Which no doubt will come as news to Billy Corrigan who's been in a pissing match with Kurt -- one he still can't win, even against a dead man.)

It all changed in that moment. When Tori's next album came out (Boys for Pele) she'd be played on alternative radio only. The go-alongs, the pretty boys, were churning out alterna-pop and there was no place for the real thing.

Which was a real shame because "Caught a Lite Sneeze" (intentionally or not) summed up grunge better than anything Todd Synder ever dreamed up.

Boys on my left side
Boys on my right side
Boys in the middle
And you're not here

I always picture "you're" as Kurt. All the pretty boys being churned out by the labels, blathering on about found about you and whining about sniffing sex and candy, all pale imitations of the real deal. And slowly but surely, alternative rock became alt-rock and women were nowhere to be found, though they could spin any track off The Joshua Tree -- a great U2 album but one that predates grunge and has nothing to do with alternative rock.

Maybe that's what's confusing the kiddies? They put on their local Clear Channel affiliated alterna-rock station, hear Nirvana alongside U2, Limp dough boys and a "golden nugget" from Candlebox so suddenly they think they know about grunge.

Now, all these years after we were promised a boxed set, it finally comes out. And guess what, it's still not what we were promised. And if you had any of the bootlegs, the "new" live songs aren't new at all. (They didn't even choose the best performances, just the ones they could clean up of audience noise the best, if you ask me.)

When I heard that one of the four discs would be a DVD, I was underwhelmed. Ten years later and they're having to round out the collection with a DVD? Didn't bode well.

But there are friends I have who are collectors and I waited for them to snatch it up so I could listen and find out if my fears would be confirmed. Finally, Larry (who has to have everything for his CD collection) got it and invited a group of us over to listen to it.

I was no longer underwhelmed, I was outraged.

It was product, not music. They'd packaged up what they hoped would be a big seller. If there's a theme to this set, it's "Cash in! Yee-haw! We're going to be rich!"

If you're late to Nirvana (due to birth or whatever), maybe you'll enjoy it. But I think you'd enjoy the studio albums and the Unplugged disc more. Everything else has just been an attempt to milk a cash cow, a dead cash cow. (Unplugged came out after his death. Why they haven't tried to do a double disc version of those MTV performances is beyond me since it truly would be a cash cow.)

Kurt often wore his own, self-made, t-shirts. I think if he were around to make one today, it would read "Corporate Product Still Sucks."

I found the whole thing insulting. If Francis Bean or Courtney get any money from this, more power to them. But it's nothing I'd fork over ten bucks for (let alone the grossly overpriced amount they're asking for).

Since before Unplugged came out on CD, we've been promised so much with this boxed set. I long ago gave up expecting miracles. But I had hoped it would be worth listening to if ever came out. Then came the press overkill and I was leery. So pin the blame on me if you want to as Stevie Nicks would say.

But maybe you ought to be more suspicious of the little boys with hard ons for a dead man they appear to grasp little of. They're the same crowd still waiting for Axel Rose to get it together because they just know it's going to be the salvation of rock. But those of us who remember what the band was and who realize that there's no revolution coming out of songs that are over a decade old are judging the boxed set for what it is, not for what we dream it is during our nocturnal emissions.

It's some weak songs that rightly never made it onto an album, some demos where Kurt's feeling his way towards mastering the song (interesting to collection completers and musical archivists only), and some cruddy mixes of live songs that have been so over mixed and santized they could easily fit on Sarah McLachlan's Mirror Ball.

Look, I love the Mamas and the Papas. That doesn't mean I was pleased to see John Phillips version of it in the 1980s. I did though. And I heard people trying to talk it up. "It's like Cass is almost still alive." "MacKenzie Phillips almost approaches Michelle Phillips!" "John's still got his voice!" Looking at them, and knowing they couldn't out drink me, I decided they just couldn't handle their booze. It was nothing like the group. It was just a stale attempt to cash in on people's memories and their desire that a time long since past could come back.

It wasn't happening. And it ain't happening with this boxed set.
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