Sunday, April 15, 2012

Truest statement of the week

Every mother works hard, and every woman deserves to be respected.

-- Michelle Obama.

Truest statement II

The reality is that this government sent those soldiers that they are honoring with this holiday, sent them to a war against the will of the majority of the people both in the United States and in Iraq, that they lied and we can say now without any question that they lied about why they were sending those soldiers, that they ordered them to unleash the full might of the most powerful military machine in history against a people that had committed no crime nor posed any threat to our friends or family, that they gutted our schools, our communities, our healthcare services to pay for the war, that they laid waste to a beautiful, proud country and that when the war wasn't going well or going as they planned, they kept throwing bodies and more bodies and more bodies into the grinder. And in it's wake, it left every single person who is touched by that war destroyed and abandoned with no hope while the vultures on Wall Street cashed in. This is the real history of the war and what will -- for the time being anyway -- be etched into the calendars in the United States as a national day of honor, we know that it will be something very different for Iraq. It will be the day that they'll remember as a day of fear, as a day of pain, as a day that began a new nightmare -- one that would take the lives of over 1.3 million people, there would be 5 million homeless, 4 million orphans, a day when a foreign miltary invaded their soil in a war of aggression and would not leave and remained there for years to raid their homes, torture their parents and children, shred their identity and patrol their streets. That day, March 19, 2003, will forever be ingrained into the conscience of the Iraqi people not as a day to honor the US military but as the day when they saw its true face.

-- March Forward co-founder Mike Prysner's speech. Last week, Omar Ali (Liberation) notes A.N.S.W.E.R.'s San Francisco chapter held a teach-in the afternoon of March 25th at the First Unitarian Chuch on Franklin. Prysner deliver his speech at that event.

A note to our readers

Hey --
Another Sunday.

First up, we thank all who participated this edition which includes Dallas and the following:

The Third Estate Sunday Review's Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess and Ava,
Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude,
Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man,
C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review,
Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills),
Mike of Mikey Likes It!,
Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz),
Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix,
Ruth of Ruth's Report,
Wally of The Daily Jot,
Trina of Trina's Kitchen,
Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends,
Isaiah of The World Today Just Nuts,
and Ann of Ann's Mega Dub.

We thank them all. What did we come up with?

Michelle Obama knocked out Barack. He was also in the running. Seriously. We were considering giving it to him. But we agreed Michelle Obama may have said it in less words but she said it stronger and she said it better. She earned her truest.
Mike Prysner's speech was noted by C.I. last week and we had 15 e-mails asking us if we could do something on it? Maybe during another week. This edition was too hectic. So we grabbed a quote and called it a truest. But it is a really important speech.

If we were posting this edition tonight, I (Jim) know I could convince people to go with my comparison of Nouri to Spatz in Some Like It Hot. Then we could use some of Bonaparte's speech in the editorial, "Now some people say he's gotten a little too big for his spats -- but I say he's a man who'll go far. Some people say he's gone too far -- but I say you can't keep a good man down." But we were pressed for time and Nell is a popular film -- in terms of quoting it to one another -- among many participating. So we went with Nell. And this editorial was written by everyone listed above and everyone participated on the selection of truests.

This edition was too hectic? Ask Ava and C.I. "Don't talk to us, Jim," Ava said to me at one point in the writing edition. "If you're mad, just say so," I said back. "Jim, we don't have the luxury of time required to be mad. We just have to focus on what we're doing." Which was write two incredible pieces together and Ava did a third alone. This TV piece they had to write. It was obvious this would be covered here and that it would be covered by them. They worked first on the other piece and stated they were tired when they wrote this and that it doesn't get to most of the points that they wanted to make. I disagree and love that they brought in a PRI program. They've got to be the only ones who've criticized that program (and it needs to be criticized). I don't know how they watch, listen and read all they do while they're on the road each week. They are amazing.

This became one of our Abby Road editions. Meaning we're all doing a solo piece here and there. (Clearly, Ava and C.I. are our Lennon & McCartney.) Dona and Ty did not want to do a heavy piece. They didn't want to do two individual pieces. They wanted something 'easy.' I pointed out that Rebecca really wanted us to do a short post featuring the illustration used in this article so maybe they could do that. (Rebecca's getting the word out that Revenge airs six new episodes in row, each week, starting this Wednesday.) They decided to do a dialogue, just the two of them and Rebecca discussing the show. It's a transcript piece, remember, rush transcript and all that entails.

Jim's World: Explaining Bad Reporting

My piece where I discuss the other big subject we had to cover. That's two so far. Hilary Rosen's remarks was one. Two was the nonsense of a dumb reporter. Three? That was a book.

Mammoth. And we spent an hour arguing about the title. Seriously. All of this could have gone up an hour earlier. But Ava and C.I. hated my title. Now it wasn't a case of just disliking it, they felt that it conveyed a "very wrong" meaning (I was told). I had done a play on the book title (A Natural Woman) and called it "Carole King's Unnatural Choice." They felt that could imply other things and they weren't comfortable with "unnatural" and "choice" being paired together. They also told me -- at loud volumes (I'm sure my own were loud as well) -- that what was I was calling "unnatural" was, in fact, "conditioned." At that point, I came up with a title that they could live with. Thank goodness because, title aside, this is a great piece of writing. When I read this or their other recent book critiques -- "Trapped in an AA meeting with Judy Collins" and "Books: One writes, the other types (Ava and C.I.)" -- we should say, "Okay, you've done a great job on TV but we think from now on you should just cover books." And you should have seen them, they were antsy while they wrote this. I'm not joking. They were all over the downstairs. They were roaming. It was like they were poking at a fire and they would burn their hands and have to walk off to cool it off. And just as that was something to see, this is something to read. It is the finest piece of the edition.

And Jess the self-described heretic. This took me completely by surprise and I loved it. Go Jess.

Ava's Confession

This was Ava's solo piece. As noted this was a hectic edition and we knew that going in. On the way back from Boston (the flight back), Ava wrote down a few ideas that she was able to turn into this solo piece. Now you know what Mike, Trina and Kat meant when they would explain that Ava wasn't doing something because she had a family thing right now. I told her that people also thought she'd stopped covering Scott Brown because it was an election year. She laughed at that.

We had to address Hilary Rosen's remarks in some form. In addition, we had to address the issue of the dumb reporter. In part, we had to address it because our readers were already on it and then some.

This has been restored.

They'll be a field hearing in Montana. If you're in that state, you should consider attending.

Mike and the gang wrote this and we thank them for it.


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

Editorial: Iraq

What would you say about a prime minister who insisted that a country's vice president was a terrorist? How about one who demanded a deputy be stripped of his post? And one who began arresting members of the country's electoral commission?

You might say that he's gone too far.

But apparently the White House wouldn't.

They're still pleased as punch with their puppet Nouri al-Maliki.

On Thursday, Nouri continued his attempted power-grab by arresting a member of the Independent Electoral Commission as well as the head of the commission. The arrests of Karim al-Tamimi and Faraj al-Haidari are just the latest in a series of power grabs attempted by Nouri al-Maliki.


The Kurdistan Regional Government is comprised of three provinces in northern Iraq which are semi-autonomous. Massoud Barzani (pictured above) is the President of the KRG. Two weeks ago, he gave a speech in DC in which he noted:

So we have got a situation or we ended up having a situation in Baghdad where one individual is the Prime Minister and at the same time he's the commander-in-chief of the armed forces, he's the Minister of Defense, he's the Minister of the Interior and the Chief of the Intelligence and lately he has sent a correspondence to the president of the Central Bank in Iraq that that establishment would also come under the Prime Minister.

Where in the world would you find such an example?

Where would you find that indeed.

No one can answer that question, no one in the administration, because they don't want to acknowledge reality and they certainly don't want the American people to realize just what a disaster Iraq has become.

Which is why the broadcast commercial networks repeatedly refused to report, on their very own evening news programs, that Nouri al-Maliki had ordered Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi to be arrested. They ignored it. They refused to report it. As Ava and C.I. pointed out here:

Last week, US President Barack Obama swore out an arrest warrant for Vice President Joe Biden on charges of terrorism. Did you see it on TV?
Actually, it wasn't Barack and Joe, it was Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki swearing out the arrest warrant on Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi on charges of terrorism. A political crisis is taking place in Iraq with Iraqiya members al-Hashemi, Saleh al-Mutlaq (Deputy Prime Minister) and Rafie al-Issawi (Minister of Finance). In the 2010 elections, Iraqiya won more votes than did Nouri al-Maliki's State of Law. With US backing, Nouri was able to circumvent the will of the people (expressed at the ballot box), the Constitution and the rule of law to remain prime minister when, by law and will of the people, Ayad Allawi, head of Iraqiya, should have been given first crack at the position of prime minister.
So Nouri is targeting his political rivals and doing so with the commercial, broadcast networks ignoring it. All last week, they ignored it.

At what point does the administration and the TV news get honest with Americans about the fact that a petty tyrant has been installed -- by the US -- as prime minister of Iraq?

A petty tyrant so scary that even Moqtada al-Sadr is again speaking out against him, calling the arrests "dicatorial" and stating that they mean Nouri's attempting to postpone the coming elections or to prevent them altogether.

It's past time that the media stopped 'protecting' people from the truth. Or as Natasha Richardson put it in Nell, "It's time to show her the big bad world and see how she handles it." Instead, it's the media that's playing Nell, chanting, "Chicak, chicka, chickabee. T'ee an me an t'ee an me" and other things of little value to the average news consumer.

TV: It's the context, stupid

With meanings, context is everything. It's something so many forgot last week -- if they ever knew, they're not exactly smart people -- when they rushed to tell you that the remarks Hilary Rosen made to Anderson Cooper on CNN Wednesday night were no big deal.


Background, Hilary Rosen is, at best, ineffective. The RIAA tasked her with a job and she wasn't able to do it and turned the RIAA into the most reviled organization in America. The RIAA fired her ass and she told the press that it was her choice to leave, that she wanted to spend time with her family. So she's not only a lousy employee, she's also a public liar.

She has apparently appointed herself a spokesperson for the Barack Obama re-election campaign. The campaign has not appointed her as such and they are not paying her. We were told that repeatedly and we'll believe it until someone can prove otherwise. But pit bull Rosen loves to out 'man' everyone and she certainly did when she appeared on Anderson Cooper 360 last week. Out 'man'? We use the word intentionally. There are few women -- especially among lesbians -- who have embraced the patriarchy so whole heartedly.

She started out the Wednesday segement
, in all her porcine splendor, objecting to Anderson Cooper's use of the term "war on women." And it is a term. Not a "word." Here's Hilary flaunting her sub-standard educational background, "First can we just get rid of this word war on women. The Obama campaign does not use it, President Obama does not use it. This is something that the Republicans are accusing people of using. But they're actually the ones spreading it."

She's so stupid she might not have been lying. She's so stupid, she might actually believe what's she's saying.

US House Rep. Jerry Nadler used it February 9, 2011 on the House floor, the supposed first to use it in Congress. June 10, 2011, Molly Ball (POLITICO) was reporting of Debbie Wasserman Schultz, "She’s accused Republicans of wanting to reinstate segregation and of waging a 'war on women'." US House Rep. Corrine Brown used it February 16th at the House Veterans Affairs Committee hearing we attended and that may have been it's last Congressional appearence. (Though the increasingly laughable -- and damn she's scary in that photo -- Barbara Boxer is probably currently attempting to figure out how to bring it up in the Senate.) It's been used in Democratic Party fundraising appeals, we can go on and on.

And, no, she didn't 'mispeak.' When the Republican on Anderson Cooper 360 to 'balance' her (and Paul Begala) spoke, the first thing he noted was that Minority House Leader Nancy Pelosi and Debbie Wasserman Schultz had used the term "war on women" only to be interrupted by Hilary Rosen, lying or flaunting her ignorance, declaring, "They don't use that."

But along with lying or flaunting ignorance, Rosen thought she'd play cute and began mincing and mugging as she declared of presumed GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, "What you have is Mitt Romney running around the country saying 'Well my wife tells me what women really care about are economic issues and when I listen to my wife, that's what I'm hearing.' Guess what? His wife has never actually worked a day in her life." She thought she was so funny -- check out her grin.

She wasn't funny at all.

Her remarks were disgusting. And they were rightly called out by many on the right and many on the left. Those calling out the remarks included US President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, US House Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz and, from the Obama re-election campaign, David Axelrod and Jim Messina.

But Rosen couldn't stop picking at her remarks and insisting there was nothing wrong with them. The next day, she continued her ill-advised defense: writing a disgusting piece for The Huffington Post (disgusting? when details are in dispute on a story, you note that, you don't insist that something happened just because it's pleasing to your own hatred of someone), going on CNN's Situation Room to 'apologize' but Wolf Blitzer has to prompt you to get you to offer your weak and unconvincing apology and ending up back on Anderson Cooper.

Thursday night, Hilary Rosen declared, "It is clear that anybody who knows me knows that I am actually a mother, that I was even a stay-at-home mother for several years." At which point, she got over it?

Saw the light?

We have no idea.

She was fired and she wasn't working for a very brief time in 2003 before she went back to work in 2004.

Maybe her ignorance includes not knowing how to tell time? Or maybe she's so stupid she doesn't know what "stay-at-home mother" means? It doesn't mean that during the brief time in 2003 after the RIAA fires you and before you become an interim director for the HRC in 2004, you can count that as "years."

Maybe if she ever stopped lying people might believe her.

But let's get back to what made Rosen infamous: "What you have is Mitt Romney running around the country saying 'Well my wife tells me what women really care about are economic issues and when I listen to my wife, that's what I'm hearing.' Guess what? His wife has never actually worked a day in her life."

Some apologists and minimizers tried to insist that of course she meant to say "outside the home."

And that could fly. If.

If she'd only said, "His wife has never actually worked."

If she'd said that, yes, it could be tacked on: "His wife has never actually worked outside the home."

If she really valued the choice, she wouldn't have added "a day in her life."

What idiots -- like Bob Somerby -- missed was the context. Regardless of that missing phrase being included or not, the context of her argument was that Mitt Romney listened to his wife on economic matters and his wife wasn't qualified to speak because she'd "never actually worked a day in her life."

That's not a new sentiment. Hilary Rosen didn't invent it. In 2008, we saw a number of women utilize sexism to help Barack's campaign. In 2012, Hilary Rosen thought she might finally lose her public fangs and the memory of her part in threatening elderly grandparents with jail time even they didn't pay thousands of dollars in fines because someone supposedly downloaded a song illegally on their computer. And the key to destroying that earlier image was going to be her utilizing sexist talking points from long ago.

From back in the day when "housewife" was the way women were described. Rosen damn well knows the context her statement falls into. It's the assertion, the centuries old assertion, that women aren't smart and women shouldn't try to think. As women fought back against the teachings of St. Paul and others, a struggle that was centuries long, it went from all women to those who did not work outside the home. They were the last group of women who could be dismissed, patted on the head, told to shut up, told they weren't smart enough. Samuel Johnson will long be remembered for uttering, "A man in general is better pleased when he has a good dinner than when his wife talks Greek."

That's the context in which Rosen's remark falls. A woman is not smart enough and, certainly, a woman who's "never worked a day in her life" can't know a thing about the economy. Or how to listen. That is what Rosen was stating. Ann Romney was too stupid to listen to women she spoke to and too stupid to convey back to her husband what they said. See, home makers are just really, really dumb. That's the argument, that's the sexist argument. It's been made for years. Even sometimes by women. This may, however, be the first time an out lesbian has made it on TV.

While Bob Somerby played dumb, his buddy and fellow pig Bill Maher got what Rosen meant. Brian Browdie (New York Daily News) reports Maher declared on his disgusting HBO chat fest that Rosen meant to say "tha Ann Romney has never gotten her ass out of the house to work" because there's "a big difference between being a mother and getting your ass out the door at 7 a.m. when it's cold, having to deal with the boss, being in a workplace, where even if you're unhappy you can't show it for 8 hours, that is kind of a different kind of tough thing."

Bill Maher is belittling women who are stay-at-home moms and these women have long been attacked by sexist pigs like Maher and Somerby. The reality that Maher doesn't know -- having never had children (thank the heavens) -- what raising a child entails.

Here's reality, a stay-at-home mother with a sick child? She doesn't fly out the door at 7:00 a.m. She doesn't get to go hide out in an office or showroom. She doesn't have the distraction of petty office politics. She's dealing with a baby with a fever, throwing up. She's got bottoms to wipe and clothes to change and a fever to fret over and hope that it breaks and is there any chance that she can see the pedetrician today? Maybe? Okay, she'll call back in a few minutes, the baby's upset about something. And the crying baby is something she can't escape. She doesn't have that luxury. She's got to be there because someone has to be there. So even though she didn't sleep well last night, even though she'd love to shower and go anywhere else right now, she's going to be here every minute with that baby.

She doesn't have the luxury Bill Maher does of taking his fat ass somewhere to escape.

Bob Somerby felt he could call the whole thing "silly" and "an inartful remark."

That's not what it was, it was sexism. And it's funny that Bob always rail against racism but he's got no real problems with sexism. Heck, he defends Bill Maher all the time and assures you Bill's great and he knows Bill and they did comedy at some club together once and Bill's real funny and a stand-up guy and . . .

And Bill uses every sexist and ugly term he can think of when expressing his hatred of women. And Bob Somerby never calls him out on it. Looks the other way.

He insisted , when Bush was still occupying the White House, that Lawrence Summers wasn't a sexist. Maybe Bob was trying to be funny.

Far more disturbing than that is where Bob Somerby gets off thinking he can decide what is and isn't an important issue for women. We're doubting that Bob has ever breast fed (we could be wrong) or had a period (ibid), so we're confused as to when he became the go-to on women?

Oh, that's right, he's got a divining rod -- it's called a penis. It tells him what topics are real issues and which ones are false issues, right?

When women are disrespected, mocked and ridiculed, it's an issue. It's not to be ignored because it came from some woman trying to please the patriarchy. She's a puppet for the patriarchy. She knows that's the easiest way for women to 'succeed.' (It's not real success, it's success handed out. And that which is handed out can be easily and quickly taken back. Hence the need for the patriarch's puppets to forever do its bidding.)

It's strange that women and their rights are not an issue because Bob Somerby or some other man says so. Funny, until you grasp that we're having the same battle that has been fought over and over. by all the groups except the ones that Bob Somerby belongs to. You can read their stories in Judith N. Sklar.'s American Citzenship: The Quest for Inclusion.

We're told of Jacksonian ideology arguing that all that we can "expect, ask, give or receive in this world is fair play." And in 1865, long after Andrew Jackson had left the White House, Mark Twain would write "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County" which maintains that "even a criminal is entitled to fair play."

But let a woman or a member of any other group not fully enfranchised, fully recognized or fully represented object to the lack of fair play and suddenly that's just "silly." Because some straight, White male from an Ivy League college said so, you understand.

The women's liberation movement -- like all liberation movements -- is a story of advances, yes, but also a story of push-backs. Because when a group tries to move forward, there will always be a group threatened who insists that you've got it much easier than someone else and should just be happy with what you've got.

Context is meaning. It's something Somerby might need to consider before he opens his ill-informed mouth next to tell the world what is and isn't an issue of importance to and/or for women.

Context is everything.

And context is why PRI's Selected Shorts (which airs on many NPR stations around the country) is so damn offensive. It shouldn't be that way.

It's an hour long program where at least two semi-famous people read at least two short stories or essays -- one each -- on the weekly broadcast. It should be an entertaining program for all.

But, again, there's that pesky issue of context. And a show that should make all feel welcome, especially all who love to read, has a habit of running off those not tickled by racism.

It doesn't help that there's a juvenile audience tittering throughout the readings (such as the at the word "sperm" in last week's broadcast). It doesn't help that their guffaws and hilarity so often comes at the expense of others, especially at the expense of people of color.

There are many examples of this but most recently Dana Ivey (it's okay, most people don't know who she is either, you're not alone) was brought on to read Grace Paley's "Six Days, Some Rememberings." It was an audience pleaser. Not because Grace was explaining how she was jailed for protesting the war on Vietnam. But how the audience gathered in NYC at the Peter Norton Symphony Space did guffaw and issue loud belly laughs as Ivey suddenly decided she'd act out the voice of a Black woman. And the more racist Ivey's potrayal got, the louder they laughed, especially when a dirty word popped up. Oh, listen to the uneducated Black woman, it brought joy to so many.

Thing is, what Ivey was doing? That wasn't just racist, it wasn't really what Grace wrote.

And you can click here to hear the racism that Ivey, Selected Shorts and PRI felt the world needed to hear. (If the link doesn't work for you, search the site. They're redoing their archives and that link may not work for long.)

After you listen to the racist reading, click here for the same essay read for the PEN American Center by Katha Pollitt. Pollitt gets it all across without racism and never feels the need to create some (extremely racist) Black portrayal. She uses her normal voice throughout. She doesn't alter Grace's words either.

It's the same essay by Grace. In one reading, Pollitt brings it to life in a wonderful way. In another reading, Ivey garners belly laughs as she offers a Black face reading, a ministeral show. Context really is everything.

And PRI can pretend otherwise but their celebrity readers are too White and too prone to putting on Black face (and Asian face) when reading these works. That's why this program that's supposedly about great writing struggles so to reach people of color. Who wants to sit in their home or car and listen to a symphony full of people laugh with some White person mocking people of color?

30 Rock should have gotten the axe after its third season. One good thing about that not happening, however, was that it gave us season five where Angie (played by Sherri Shepherd) gave some advice to Liz that everyone should heed, "Don't do impressions of other races." It's advice Selected Shorts should heed because it's not playing well and the complaints are building -- for good reason.

Sometimes the most important thing someone can do -- a Bob Somerby, a Selected Short producer -- can do is to stop talking and actually listen, to grasp that they can't speak for everyone despite believing that they're entitled to. And maybe, just maybe, in that brief bit of listening, they might learn something. The most important thing they can learn is that they are not the last say in other people's lives and the fact that they weren't offended doesn't mean something offensive didn't just take place.


Revenge: A discussion


Dona: Revenge is an hour long drama that airs on ABC Wednesday nights --

Ty: When it airs.

Dona: Yes, when it airs. It's been off for weeks. But the show returns this Wednesday night to close out ABC's last hour of prime time and to kick off one week after another of new episodes wrapping up the season Wednesday May 23rd with the cliffhange.

Ty: Right. If we can make an Oval Office request: Barack don't choose Wednesday night to give a speech before June.

Dona: Wouldn't that be awful. Okay, let's talk about the show. Emily VanCamp stars as Emily Thorne but she's not Emily. Who is she, Ty?

Ty: She's Amanda Clarke, daughter of convicted terrorist David Clarke. But David Clarke wasn't a terrorist, he was framed by Conrad and Victoria Grayson, he took the fall for Conrad. He'd been having an affair with Victoria -- played by Madeline Stowe --

Dona: Brilliantly played by Madeline Stowe.

Ty: Agreed. And Victoria sold him out. Why'd she do that, Dona?

Dona: Because Conrad explained to her that if he went to jail, Victoria would be broke and living in shame with their son Daniel. That's all it took to get Victoria to turn on David. And she was pregnant with David's child. Charlotte, as Emily found out late in the season, is her half-sister.

Ty: So David goes to jail and young Amanda goes to a foster home and then to juvie. And it's there that CC Pounder --

Dona: I love her, she should be used more on this show.

Ty: Agreed. CC Pounder's the warden and she gives Amanda some life lessons. Like this new crazy kid, this Emily Thorne, Amanda wouldn't have to fight her if she'd befriend her. So Amanda does that.

Dona: And then, when Amanda's out of juvie, she'll meet Nolan, a billionaire, who tells her that her father was innocenct and Amanda will pay Emily a small fortune to switch identies with her. Because?

Ty: Because, like in The Count of Monte Cristo, she's got some scores to settle. So she shows up at the Hamptons as Emily Thorne, a rich orphan, living next door to the Grayson manor on the beach, dating Daniel Grayson, much to Victoria's annoyance.

Dona: And bit by bit, episode by episode, she gets rid of the people who destroyed her father. What was your favorite one?

Ty: That's a toughie. I think I'll say Mason Treadwell. He wrote a bunch of bad, suck-up 'biographies.' Think J. Randy Taraborrelli. And he was a reporter before that. He met David Clarke and promised to tell the truth about what happened. He met young Amanda and swore to her he would tell the truth about her father and help get him released. Despite finding out that David had an affair with Victoria (as he said and she denied) and that he fathered Charlotte, Treadwell never wrote the truth. Instead, he took money from the Graysons and wrote a book saying David Clarke was a liar and delusional. So when Emily and Nolan visit his little summer college and Treadwell's preening about his new book and how he types it out on an antique typewriter and doesn't use a computer or even make a copy until he's done, Emily breaking in and setting the cottage -- and the manuscript -- on fire is one of my favorite moments. I also love how he's trying to come on to Nolan right up until he realizes his house is on fire and then he's throwing the hissy fit. It was hilarious. How about you? What was the best take down for you?

Dona: Like you said, it is a toughie. Hold on. Rebecca, is that you?

Rebecca: Yeah.

Dona: Okay, joining us on speaker phone is Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude. Welcome. We're talking your show, Revenge. And we're talking about Emily's take downs. Ty's just said his favorite take down was Mason Treadwell, the reporter turned book author. I was about to answer but I'll let you jump in.

Rebecca: I hope I'm not taking your answer, Dona, but I'd say Lydia just because it was the first take down. And it was so vicious. Lydia's very well played by Amber Valletta. Lydia is now Victoria's best friend. She used to be David Clarke's secretary. She helped the Graysons set David up for the terrorist crimes that Conrad was responsible for. Now Lydia's marriage has fallen apart. Offcamera, that was done by Emily. She set Lydia's husband up with another woman but that's before the show starts and you only realize that at a party in a later episode when Victoria -- who thinks Emily slept with Lydia's husband -- tries to force a meeting to expose Emily. So Emily's renting Lydia's beach house. And Lydia's telling Victoria that she'll rent it but she'll never part with it. And she's complaining that everyone's circling like sharks, waiting to cut her and gut her. She's referring to Hamptons' friends. Victoria tells Lydia she'll stand by her. So Lydia is protected. Except for what?

Ty: The affair she's having.

Rebecca: Correct. With Conrad Grayson, Victoria's husband. Emily disguses herself as a maid, serves lunch to them after they've had sex and Conrad thinks he's having a heart attack. Lydia calls 9-11. Outside the hotel, Emily -- out of the wig and maid's uniform -- walks up to the ambulance where Lydia is and asks of the man inside, "Is that your husband?" Lydia has no answer. Victoria gets word and rushes to the hospital only to learn Conrad's okay and it wasn't a heart attack. Then at Victoria's big party, Emily makes sure to ask Lydia if her husband's okay after his heart attack scare the other day? Makes sure to ask that in front of Victoria. Who quickly realizes now why Conrad was at the hotel and not on the golf course like he was supposed to have been. She immediately makes it clear to everyone that Lydia is socially dead and has security escort Lydia out of the party. It was so deliciously sweet.

Dona: Along with "revenge is sweet," they also say "revenge is a dish best served cold." Why do they say that?

Rebecca: I don't know. Maybe they mean that if you're not emotional, if you're detatched enough, you'll enjoy it better or pull it off better.

Ty: Who is "they"?

Dona: You know who "they" are! Okay, my turn. The best take down for me was the doctor, Michelle Banks. Remember her? She's the therapist who put Emily away as a little girl. Remember how Victoria paid her to do so and paid her to punish little Amanda? So now she's a world famous psychiatrist and the author of books and more. And Emily takes her down hard. Without telling her wealthy clients, Michelle has been taping their sessions. And Emily not only gets ahold of the footage, she shows it at Victoria's Mothers & Daughters charity luncheon. The footage includes Victoria revealing that's she's never felt anything for her daughter Charlotte. Emily's so smart. She made sure to have a session of her own where she talked about not wanting to rush into sex. That way she had a clip for the luncheon as well and that has allowed her to escape detection repeatedly. If she was behind it, why would she have included her own embarrassing moment in what was broadcast? It destroyed the doctor. And someone killed the doctor in that epiosde. We still don't know who.

Ty: There's been a lot of murders. We know the real Emily who had to pose as Amanda since the real Amanda is posing as Emily --

Dona: That's so confusing.

Rebecca: I get more e-mails about the confusion when you try to recap and bring in Faux Amanda.

Ty: Moving on. The real Emily killed Victoria's head of security and possible boyfriend Frank when he came snooping around the strip club she worked at, trying to find information on Emily. And we know that Tyler, the bi-sexual, off-his-meds crazy, was killed by Amanda's former mentor Satoshi Takeda. Though everyone thinks Daniel killed Tyler. Takeda was on the beach when Tyler had a gun on Daniel. Daniel got the gun and shot Tyler. And Takeda hit Tyler on the head with a rock and then grabbed the gun to the relief of Tyler who thought he was going to get some help only Takeda then shot Tyler dead as Tyler tried to crawl away. But we don't know who murdered Dr. Banks.

Rebecca: I wouldn't be surprised if it was Emily. Fake Emily. Let's leave out real Emily and just talk about the Emily played by the star of the show Emily VanCamp.

Dona: Agreed. But would that make her too unsympathetic? Would audiences be okay with her killing in cold blood? As opposed to some form of self-defense?

Rebecca: I would. These people destroyed her life, she's back for revenge not tag-you're-it.

Ty: Okay, Rebecca covers Revenge at her site and she's trying to make sure people are aware the show is finally coming back with new episodes this Wednesday. That's one of the reasons we're doing this piece. Rebecca, what's the biggest question the show has to resolve?

Rebecca: Whether Emily loves Daniel, whom she's engaged to and who's charged with murder, or Jack, her childhood sweetheart who never stopped carrying the torch for her. I don't think they'll resolve that until the third season. But I agree with what Takeda told her on the last new episode that aired --

Ty: Back in February!

Rebecca: Yes, back in February. He told Emily that she was going to have to choose which one she loved and she couldn't protect them both. That's because Jack was on the beach and discovered Tyler's body and Victoria's looking for a way to pin the murder on him so Daniel can walk.

Ty: What do we know about what's happening when the show comes back this Wednesday?

Rebecca: Well I posted last week about an interview the actor who plays Declean -- Charlotte's boyfriend, Jack's brother -- gave in which he revealed that the show is going to spend some time flashing back to 2003 to give us some answers on what happened in the past that we don't know.

Dona: That'll be interesting. So everyone's going to be playing like their nine years younger.

Rebecca: No. He states that Jack will be played by the same actor but that Dec and Charlotte are too young to be played by the same actors. They'd be nine years old nine years ago.

Ty: How many more episodes are left to air?

Rebecca: Wednesday night kicks off the last six episodes of the season.

Dona: And last question, Ty first, who should Emily end up with?

Ty: Jack.

Rebecca: Daniel is so gorgeous but he is so very bland. He is especially bland when the actor tries to shade him darkly. I always thought that we should have learned he and Tyler had an affair when they were college roommates because that would have given him a layer that he sorely needs. Jack's solid, dependable and sexy.

Dona: In my best John McLaughlin voice: You're all wrong! Conrad Grayson. Because that, more than anything, would kill Victoria. She's gotten used to her son with Emily. But her soon to be ex-husband?

Jim's World: Explaining Bad Reporting


Frances Robles. What an idiot.

Well it was a week. We can all say that. Frances Robles writes for The Miami Herald. I don't know how or if she reads. From all I can gather she's borderline illiterate.

The 'reporter' -- we use the term loosely -- falsely reported that the killer of Trayvon Martin called 9-11 46 times since the start of 2011. That was false.

That was incorrect.

It was alarmingly wrong.

Ava and C.I. reported here, weeks later, after no one could figure out how many calls or for what period, that it was 46 times from 2004. They did so by getting a copy of the records. Those are public records. They weren't in Florida, so they asked Wally's grandfather if he could do it and then fax the records to them which he so kindly did.

They did not pick up a number and run with it. They did not say, "Well I trust CNN!"

They knew this was a charged and overheated discussion in which far too many confusing details and facts and 'facts' had been offered.

So Ava and C.I. did what reporters are supposed to do: Seek primary research.

Having done that, they were able to tell you that in nearly 8 years, George Zimmerman called 9-11 46 times. They are also the only ones who raised the issue of race involved in the calls or noted that police reports never noted race unless the person was non-White. They told you a lot because they did the work required.

Frances Robles chose not to do the basic work required.

Here's what she originally 'reported' on March 17th:

Zimmerman called police 46 times since Jan. 1, 2011 to report disturbances, break-ins, windows left open and other incidents. Nine of those times, he saw someone or something suspicious.

Please note, it was March 17th. The paper's changed the date to March 21st.

Now when you read those two sentences, tell me what you think?

As someone with a bachelor and masters degree in journalism, I know what you're supposed to think. You're supposed to believe the reporter did their own work.

For example, if I write that, it means I did what Ava and C.I. did: I got the 9-11 records and I counted the calls up myself and checked the dates.

If I did that, I could write that sentence.

If, however, I was told that by someone else, I need to note that, for example, "Sgt. Daffy Duck tells me that . . ."

If I fail to do that, I'm not just a glory hog pretending to do work I didn't, I'm also someone who now has to eat the blame pie all by myself because I made it appear I did the work.

Frances Robles didn't do the work necessary and should have noted in her 'report' that she got that information from a police officer -- excuse me, she got those numbers stated to her from a police officer. She never checked the 9-11 logs herself. It's public information, available to all, but she was too lazy to check it herself. She was apparently too vain to share the credit with the person who gave her numbers she never checked.

It is fine to say, "Sgt. Daffy Duck gave me these numbers." It's fine. If they're wrong, you print a correcting that Sgt. Duck gave the wrong numbers. But when you don't credit anyone, it's on you. And in a case like this, the paper should have demanded that every detail be checked.

That includes 46 calls. You don't single source. She could have quoted the officer or attributed the time line to the police department. She didn't do that. She was a glory hog and it bit her in the ass.

In an e-mail, Frances Robles wrote:

It was 4 pm March 20th when the PIO of the Sanford Police acknowledged that he had given me incorrect information. It was within 30 minutes that I sent a correction to our news editor. It ran the next day and all the online versions were fixed. If you are seeing other versions, they are "cached" older versions.

I'm sorry, Francie, when in your original report did you ever acknowledge that you were told numbers by a person and that you didn't do your own work?

Robles is also misleading in the above or doesn't know what she's talking about. (It certainly wouldn't be the first time Frances Robles didn't know what she was talking about.) As she would admit in e-mails to this site last week, the correction was not showing. And that's not on 'cache' versions. If she really thinks that and isn't trying to lie, she needs to try learning the meaning of a word before she uses it.

Now in e-mails to this site last week, she knew that the correction wasn't there. I could share those but I won't.

What I've shared above is an e-mail she wrote to a reader of Betty's blog who forwarded it to Third Estate Sunday Review on Saturday after the reader figured out Frances Roble was being "a real BITCH" about Betty.

Robles wrote this website repeatedly last week. We did not seek her out, we did not contact her. She initiated contact.

Our policy here is and has been: E-mails to this website, an online magazine, are treated as letters to the editor. You have no guarantee of privacy, you should not expect it.

I don't see that Ty gave permission to Robles in their repeated exchanges.

Frances Robles is, apparently, one of those people who never knows when to shut up and always has to have the last word.

If she'd learned to shut up, I wouldn't be writing this article.

But she has no privacy.

I devised the policy here, I'm the only one who can grant privacy. No one else.

It is my policy. From the start, I have stated this policy. I have repeatedly noted that we are not running a pen-pal site and we are not devoting or spending all our time in the e-mails. I've made it clear that what matters isn't how many e-mails we read or replied to but did we get content up on Sunday?

That's what we're judged by in the end.

If we did our job, good for us. If we didn't, we're at fault.

So Frances Robles should, quite frankly, back the hell off Betty. Unless she wants me to publish those e-mails that I gave no permission of privacy on. Or I could always also 'WikiLeak' them to another site if Frances would prefer.

She's a very stupid woman, this Frances Robles. Ty made clear that he knew Betty and yet she continued to trash Betty to him. Ty went on to explain he lives with Betty and she still continued to trash Betty to him.

Frances Robles is a vile and disgusting woman. She hates everyone from co-workers to other reporters judging by her e-mails. So Betty should consider it a badge of honor that Frances Robles hates her so much.

The Miami Herald should grasp a few things as well. First up, when you're told a number, a reporter notes they were told that number. They don't self-present as if they did the work themselves. Ava and C.I. did the work themselves but they're real reporters and strong women as opposed to back-biting little babies. Apply that last section as you see fit.

Secondly, the paper should ask why Frances Robles, fed a number, refused to verify it?

That number was significant in establishing George Zimmerman as a 'nuisance caller" in the words of Goldie Taylor on MSNBC. That number created an image of George Zimmerman in the public mind.

That number was incorrect. That number was false. The 'reporter' who originated that number is Frances Robles. It would appear to me that someone needs additional training.

In the murder of Trayvon Martin, every detail mattered. Real reporters should have done more than the usual verification and vetting. They should have used great care.

But had Robles done even the minimum required, she would have known that the number was false. She refused to do even the basic work required.

It was much easier for a police officer to tell her it was 46 calls from January 2011 to February of this year. It was so easy just to run with that, to fail to verify. It didn't matter to her whether it was factual or not, it just mattered that she get it into print. And apparently that she get it into print as her own work which would explain why she failed to credit the police department with the number and instead wanted to act as if she'd done the basic work required of a journalist.

Betty's not a journalist and doesn't pretend to be. She has an online site where she mainly writes about her kids, music and TV shows. She'll note politics from time to time and she'll note the Iraq War. Mainly, though, she is writing about her kids and entertainment. The exception to that is when non-Black 'helpers' decide to stick their nose into a racial issue that has to do with the Black community and these 'helpers' then get facts wrong. When that happens, Betty will call them out. She is Black (she self-identifies as Black, not as African-American) and she doesn't tolerate distortions, nor should she have to.

She rightly called out Robles and The Miami Herald. it's not Betty's fault that Robles and the paper couldn't get their act together. (Until Ty wrote the paper at the start of last week and asked them to please fix the error or he would be writing about it here today -- that's what prompted everything, let's be clear on that.) It's not Betty's job, when reviewing a bad piece of journalism to contact the journalist.

We've had idiots e-mail that to us before here. That's not how it works. When you're offering a critical appraisal, you are supposed to have a healthy detachment and distance so that you can be impartial and fair to the work. Barring that, you do what Ava and C.I. do which is "a friend with the show tells us . . ." You disclose your links to what you're reviewing.

Betty did what she's supposed to do. Frances Robles didn't like that Betty called her a Media Whore.

Frances Robles, you are a MEDIA WHORE. You are that because you were supplied a number, fed a number, and you didn't check it out. If you'd done the basic vetting or if you'd merely credited the number to the police department, it wouldn't be the problem it is.

But it is a problem and it is your problem and the paper's problem.

The paper needs to seriously examine both your work and your work ethic.

And you need to stop trying to e-mail Betty, you need to stop trashing her, you need to take a hard look at yourself because you have made yourself into a joke -- and a dirty joke at that.

That's how I see it in Jim's World, which, Francie, is an opinion piece and you can kiss my ass.

Our e-mail address is

Carole King's Conditioned Role and Desire (Ava and C.I.)

No one is mad at Carole King for what she wrote about them -- or didn't write about them -- in her just released A Natural Woman: A Memoir. They're just mad on behalf of someone else. Saturday night*, as the calls started coming in, it was really clear everyone was upset but, again, on behalf of someone else.

a natural woman

Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann were the most cited as slighted and they do make for the most convincing case. It was, after all, Cynthia and Barry who would drive out from NYC to New Jersey to help Carole when her husband Gerry Goffin was threatening to kill himself or possibly kill someone else. They were, as one record label exec put it on the phone last night, "The Dawn Patrol on Gerry for Carole." (The Dawn Patrol refers to a group of people who took care of Judy Garland when she was making her CBS TV series in the early sixties.) And certainly, Cynthia helped out in other ways as well. Some might argue, "Well Carole's not dwelling on the negtive." That excuse flies out the window when she writes about Gerry being institutionalized and receiving electro-shock treatments.

And, besides, even if she wanted to omit those details, was it really fair of her to refer to Cynthia and Barry as just a couple who wrote songs together? They wrote "You've Lost That Loving Feeling." They wrote "On Broadway." They wrote "Walking In The Rain." And so, so much more. None of that is noted in the text of this book. Mann and Weil, one of the longest enduring songwriting teams, show up on page 94:

Gerry and I competed the most fiercely against Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil. Each couple came to think of the other as "the other married songwriting team," and each couple was intimidated by how talented the other couple was. Whether in spite of that or because of it, we four have remained friends over many decades. What we shared was unique. We Aldon songwriters may have thought of ourselves as mortal enemies when it came to getting a follow-up, but we were a tightly knit brother- and sisterhood of friends, colleagues, peers, and, most of the time, allies.

Carole wrote or co-wrote many hits including "(You Make Me Feel Like A) Natural Woman" which the book takes it's name from. However, to read the entire book is to learn that, in 1982, Cynthia Weil wrote "One to One" with Carole. No other song Cynthia co-wrote is ever mentioned. This despite the fact that Cynthia and Barry won the Oscar for "Somewhere Out There," that their other hits after the sixties include "Don't Know Much," "I Will Come To You" and "Here You Come Again." From the sixties through today, all of those monster hits, classics that nearly the entire world can hum along with or sing, are ignored to note instead what Carole asserts was a top 40 hit in 1982. (Possibly she means the adult contemporary chart because it did not make what is generally considered to be the "top forty" pop chart.)

Another notable silence is with regards to Howard Greenfield. A mogul wondered why she ignored Howie after stating that everyone at Aldon was a family? Howie appears on four pages of Carole's book, two as Neil Sedaka's co-writer (just noting one of their songs) and two more pages where he's also in single-sentences this time noting that he wrote with Carole. As the mogul pointed out, Carole claimed to know nothing of gay men or lesbians. This is in 1958, she claims she didn't know women were the victims of violence and "I was also unaware that some teenagers had feelings for others of the same gender." She'd learn "years later" about women and violence and, presumably, about gays and lesbians.

But she knew Howie. Howie was not in the closet. He was openly gay at a time when no one was. Carole knew him through Neil Sedaka before 1958. She knew him as a peer and a songwriter at Aldon starting in 1959. That's not "years later." And it's really sad that a trailblazer like Howie gets ignored in the book -- especially when Carole wants to claim to have never known about such things. [Greenfield wrote the lyrics to many hits including "Oh! Carol" (Neil Sedaka's 1958 hit about Carole King), "Breaking Up Is Hard To Do," "Love Will Keep Us Together," "Where The Boys Are," "Everybody's Somebody's Fool," "Crying In The Rain" (with Carole for The Everly Brothers in 1962), "Calendar Girl" and more.]

Ourselves, we were kind of shocked that the woman who co-wrote "He Hit Me (It Felt Like A Kiss)" in 1962 (with first husband Gerry Goffin) would claim it would be "years later" before she was aware that women were the victims of violence. Strangely, that song's never once mentioned in the book though she does detail abuse from her third husband (Rick Evers) in the late seventies. No one deserves to be the victim of domestic abuse but when you've co-written a song glamorizing it, maybe you need to write about your own role in society's denial -- long denial -- of abuse?

That's not the sort of book Carole's written.

And people reading for answers will be disappointed as well. The notoriously press-shy Carole kind-of opens up but does nothing to ease years of confusion. For example, anyone wondering why she appeared in episode 120 of The Mary Tyler Moore Show ("Anyone Who Hates Kids And Dogs," first aired on CBS March 8, 1975) will be as puzzled as they are when they come across the broadcast and see her in the role of Aunt Helen. Just as puzzled as they are over the fact that Carole chose to be billed as "Carole King Larkey." Charles Larkey was Carole's second husband. Their marriage, as she notes in the book, soured in 1974 and the divorce came in 1975. So why in the world did she choose to be billed with his last name?

It's apparently a mystery that will never be solved or, in A Natural Woman, even mentioned. Tapestry, the 1971 album that took her from the woman who co-wrote "Will You Love Me Tomorrow," "The Locomotion," "Go Away Little Girl" and more and turned her into a successful singer-songwriter, results in a highly frustrating series of chapters as you realize she doesn't remember half of what took place. So she talks about playbacks and not performances or how she could see Joni Mitchell and James Taylor whispering and she wondered what was being said? And that's the most she ever writes about an album. Some albums are reduced to a single sentence.

What she does bother to mention is written in a fresh and lively voice for which she should be applauded. A first time book author finding a voice isn't that common. A celebrity writing their own book (with no apparent ghost writer) often struggles with sounding pompous or simple-minded. So Carole's sure and steady touch is no minor accomplishment.

She often makes moments seem real and alive. This is especially true when recounting how she had to battle the state of Idaho in court repeatedly when they attempted to call a private road on her property a public one. Those pages are probably the strongest of the book because they give Carole something to really rage against.

She doesn't rage elsewhere in the book.

Everything's great and everyone's wonderful. She manages that feat of Pollyanna-ism by simply rendering major people in her life invisible. Phil Spector? Carole hated him. They fought bitterly. She fought with Gerry over Phil claiming credit on the songs she and Gerry wrote together. Carole stood up to Phil at a time when few people did. (Cynthia Weil always stood up to Phil.) Now days, Phil Spector doesn't control the music industry. Today, he's infamous for his abuse and torture of Ronnie Spector (the Ronettes lead singer who made the mistake of marrying Phil) and for being in prison currently after being convicted of murdering Lana Clarkson. And despite Carole knowing him and working with him for years in the sixties, he shows up only in a single sentence, "More recently he [Lester Sill] had been the 'Les' of Philles Records (Spector being the 'Phil') and the music supervior of the Monkees' movie, Head."

As this sort of thing happens repeatedly throughout the book, you sort of get the feeling that if she'd spent years in the Philippines with the Marcoses, she'd work in a sentence about Imelda's lovely shoe collection. Or maybe she would have developed a crush on Ferdinand Marcos and written an unbelievable portrait of him the way she has James Taylor?

It's a real shame Carole never slept with 'baby' James. If she had, her romantic and child-like view of him would have died real quick. James can't stand women, he's treated all of his wives poorly, the only ex-girlfriend he doesn't trash is the one who left him (Joni Mitchell) and was smart enough not to cater to him. (The minute you cater to James is the minute you cease to be a person in his eyes.)

Reading Carole's James stories, after you shake off the school girl crush that she can't, you realize she doesn't know a thing about this man she claims to be friends with. She has no insight into him or awareness of him or even fond shared memories unless you're talking memories located in studios and concert halls.

That's because there is no there there. At some point Carole may realize that. Maybe not. She's seventy-years-old and hasn't realized it so far.

Carole did know -- and realize -- not to mention Carly Simon. For those who don't know, a ground-rule for any JT interview is that you may not bring up the words "Carly Simon." Though Taylor is the one who ended the marriage (via drugs among other things), he likes to play injured party (he does the same with regards to his second marriage), so he has insisted that no one discuss Carly Simon, the woman he was married to for nearly a decade and the woman who gave birth to two of his children, the woman who co-wrote songs with him (sometimes credited, sometimes not, yeah we outed that truth), the woman who sang on many of his songs. You can't bring her up or he will walk out on an interview. He's also attempted to tell Carly that she can never mention him. (She attempted to follow that edict briefly before realizing she had no reason to cater her life or public remarks to an ex-husband.)

Carly and Carole weren't especially close. (Carole did sing backup on Carly's 1975 hit "Attitude Dancing.") But considering their conversations about children (much deeper than any conversation Carole ever had with James), it's rather surprising that Carole's so quick to follow James' command.

Surprising until you grasp that Carole's a sad seventy-year-old woman.

Not "sad" as in depressed. Carole loves her life. But "sad" as in kind of pathetic that a woman at her age still defines the world on male terms.

That is the whole point of A Natural Woman in Carole's mind. A natural woman, you understand, caters to a natural man. And that's the story of Carole's life. She's damn lucky that, for all of his LSD trips, Gerry Goffin was a good-hearted and usually level-headed man. Otherwise, what she went through in marriage number three could have started in her first marriage.

There are telling moments throughout the book. High school is nothing but Carole being upset that the boys don't notice her and overhearing conversations about how boys talk about girls. Decades later, when high school alumni come backstage at a concert, all Carole can focus on even then is male approval and male gaze. It's as though in her mind she was the only girl in an all boy school.

Aldon was a songwriting stable with a number of women. Not just Cynthia Weil but also Toni Wine and Carole Bayer Sager among others. In fact, Toni and Carole Bayer wrote the classic "A Groovy Kind of Love." Toni is mentioned in a rambling sentence (pages 128 to 129) that notes her and four other people but never manages to identify her as a songwriter or a singer. Despite knowing Carole Bayer before she was Carole Bayer Sager or Carole Bayer Sager Bacharach, despite knowing her since the 60s, Carole King never mentions her until page 428 ("with encouragement from my friend Carole Bayer Sager," King decided to produce her own 1997 album). Carole Bayer Sager gets another mention two pages later when she's listed as one of the writers of Carole King's "You Can Do Anything."

"A Groovy Kind Of Love" is never mentioned nor any of the other hits Carole Bayer Sager co-wrote including "That's What Friends Are For," "Stronger Than Before," "Through The Eyes Of Love," "Nobody Does It Better," "Don't Cry Out Loud," "Heartbreaker," "You're The Only One," "I'd Rather Leave While I'm In Love," "Anyone At All" (sung by Carole King on the You've Got Mail soundtrack), "It's My Turn," "Ever Changing Times," "Making Love," "On My Own," "When I Need You," "Heartlight," "Arthur's Theme (Best That You Can Do)," etc. All a reader of the book will know about Carole Bayer Sager is that she was King's friend who suggested King producer her own 1997 album and, apparently as a thank you, King gave her a songwriting credit.

Contrast that with the lengthy sections on Paul Simon, Paul Newman, John Lennon . . . In fact, she calls the chapter "John and Yoko" but she doesn't even talk to Yoko (her third husband does). She has no time for Yoko.

And that's pretty much the 'natural' story of Carole's male-defined life.

Carole's male-defined life included ignoring her stage fright when James Taylor needed her to open for him at the Troubadour, especially when she was promised all these male musicians on stage with her. As she was working her way through her set (with no stage patter), everyone was told they had to leave because someone had called saying there was a bomb in the club. Carole piped up, "As long as it's not me." That elicited laughter and Carole falsely states that's when she realized she only had to be authentic on stage. That wasn't authenticity, that was clowning.

And if she's going to claim she was authentic on stage following that moment, shortly afterwards, she'll have her Carnegie Hall concert (June 18, 1971, released on Sony's Legacy label in 1996) where she'll declare of Laura Nyro, "a great lady if ever there was one." Laura's now dead. Yesterday, Laura was (finally) inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame by Bette Midler who noted "love was the main thing" in Laura's art. Laura appears no where in Carole's book. Before there was Carole, there was Laura Nyro. Writing songs, singing, playing the piano. And at one point in her life, at least when she needed to come across with Laura's hometown audience, Carole could sing the woman's praises onstage. But there's no mention of Laura in the book. Carole wrote "Up On The Roof" with Gerry Goffin and her books notes that the Drifters had a hit with it on one page and she spends page after page noting James Taylor later sang it. But she never notes that Laura took it into the top 100 in 1970 and that Laura doing that, Laura recording it, was a major move and one that gave Carole more cachet in 1970 than anything else.

Joni Mitchell gets a few mentions, mainly for sketching King's daughters. No Carly, no Laura, no female singer-songwriters who emerge after 1980. But she's got Bono in there, praising Bono. She's got all sorts of men in her book.

In 1996, Allison Anders wrote and directed the classic Grace of My Heart which was about a Carole King type songwriter who (like Carole) became a singer-songwriter. Unlike Carole, Denise Waverly (played by Illeana Douglas) was actually from a wealthy family. That was among the many, many differences. Carole King was offended by the movie, by this film that is not based on her life and does not pretend to tell her life story. Having read her book, we have to conclude that what really offended her was that Denise wasn't male defined and that she and fellow songwriter Cheryl Steed (played by Patsy Kensit) were not just working for the same publishing house but were also good friends who meant a lot to one another.

No non-blood relative female means anything to Carole in this book except her housekeeper who makes everything perfect when she agrees to move from New Jersey to California. Toni Stern, who co-wrote many of Carole's solo artist hits, is now a professional painter. There's no time for that in the book or for much of anything about Toni. Carole does want you to know, "The Carpenters' performance of 'It's Going to Take Some Time' was Toni's and my first joint appearance at the top of the charts."

Well that's good.

Except number 12 on the top forty isn't "the top of the charts."

And a single written by Carole and Toni that was released in April 1972 doesn't come before a Carole and Toni song that hit number one in 1971 ("It's Too Late"). In fact, "It's Too Late" is on 1971's Tapestry. "It's Going to Take Some Time" appears first on Carole's Tapestry follow up (Music, released December 1971). So it's kind of a big mistake. Not the only one, but the most obvious one.

And it calls into question her re-telling and the framing device she uses. Carole got a print out of important events of each year from the fifties on up. And she worked from that list of events (without mentioning the list) to construct her book. Those who don't realize what's going on have praised that device -- even though it's very clear that Carole doesn't know the first thing she's writing about when she starts invoking those events. That true of 1980 and it's true when she wants to 'talk the 60s' and informs you that if you spoke out against the government, you would be targeted. We applaud David Harris for refusing to comply with the draft. But that's what he was arrested for, not for speaking out. There were many people who spoke out against the government and got targeted for it. Carole seems unaware of them. Again, while we applaud David's civil resistance, we are aware, as was he, that what he was doing was a federal crime. That's very different from, for example, Jane Fonda being a put on enemies list because she speaks out against the war. (Carole's anti-war stance is only with regards to Vietnam. She makes no comment on the Iraq War though she does let you know she's pro-tsunami relief, pro-Haiti relief and pro-Hurricane Katrina relief -- she supports all the easy and non-controversial causes.)

Carole wrote this book for one reason. No, not money. She doesn't need it and she's never done anything for money since Tapestry was first released. She wrote it because another recent book was a best seller and purported to tell her life story and the life stories of Joni Mitchell and Carly Simon. That book hinted at a few things and Carole's attitude, after years of keeping a firm wall around her private life, was, 'If somebody's going to start talking about this, I'm putting it out there on the record to get it right.' In that regard, she and her book are a huge success. In getting another woman in music to tell her story, the book is a huge success.

But it's a huge disappointment that she cares so little for other female songwriters or female performers. She'll argue she wrote about Aretha. Yes, she did. Several pages about a woman she never met recording one of Carole's big hits. The women she knew, the ones who were part of the same scene, her peer group? She's got no belief in sisterhood. And if you're not getting how male defined she is, she repeatedly refers to the feminist movement as "women's lib." "Women's lib" is insulting shorthand developed by enemies of women's liberation to demean and put down the movement.

But of all the women she short changes, the one she short changes the most is named Carole King. Opening for Taylor at the Troubadour at the start of the seventies, she notes, "Sitting up again, I ventured a shy smile over my right shoulder to acknowledge the audience members who would mostly see my back because I was facing the other way." And that pretty much describes the book. Anything of great consequence about her art is going to be buried because she's going to face the other way and play it shy and modest. If Carole King had given one lengthy interview in her hey-day, this book wouldn't have been accepted by any publishing house. But because the tales -- often charmingly told -- are new, they're treated as deep and insightful. They largely aren't and that has to do with Carole's refusal to honor women and her embarrassment or shame of women goes a long way towards explaining why she herself doesn't take center stage in a book labeled a memoir.


* The calls started coming in after one of us (C.I.) mentioned at The Common Ills that we'd be reviewing this book and offering a critical appraisal. The reason there are nearly three hours between that entry and the second entry is because the phones did not stop ringing as various friends -- producers, singers, songwriters, label execs, etc. -- wanted to weigh in on the book and they were all weighing in about how someone else was wronged in the book. One of us (C.I.) knows Carole King. One or both of us know Carly Simon, Joni Mitchell, James Taylor, Ronnie Spector, Carole Bayer Sager, Cynthia Weil, Barry Mann, Gerry Goffin and C.I. knew Laura Nyro.

Jess's Take on A Natural Woman

a natural woman

Carole King's new book is A Natural Woman. Carole's one of those people I grew up listening to so when Jim announced Saturday evening that the Carole King piece this edition would be written by Ava and C.I., I was a little ticked having spent the whole week reading the 450-page volume. With Ava and C.I.'s encouragement, I'm doing a short piece focusing on the book's biggest weakness.

No, not James Taylor. How anyone could be impressed with that strutting fool is beyond me. But I'm referring to the fact that Carole King doesn't grasp MP3s.

She's not just a recording artist. She's also the head of (yet another) label releasing her own work. So she should have some grasp on the issue or else shut up about it.

The words Napster never appear and I'm sure, were she to read this right now, she'd scratch her head and say, "Huh?"

At points in the books she rails against MP3s as a format. At other points, she grasps that downloads can be purchased. This isn't a minor matter because, this month in the US, digital downloads surpassed CDs in sales.

As a recording artist and as one now releasing her own product, Carole King should brush up on the basics. She might also attempt to review the work of Janis Ian on this subject or even call Janis for a tutorial.

Now let me be the heretic and explain the other reason her nonsense pissed me off. She wants you to listen to the Beach Boys "Good Vibrations" -- does she really believe most people haven't heard that song -- and download it, but pay for it.

Is she aware that when the US finally included music as a copyright, it was for one period of 28 years with a 14 year extension after that?

I ask that because I'm really shocked at how these people who made money -- made good money -- in the sixties while, for example, Little Eva got pennies seem to think that they're entitled to a lifetime copyright. By law, they are. They now can hold a copyright on a song they wrote for their lifetime plus seventy years.

"Good Vibrations" came out forty-six years ago. While I don't illegally download, I'm really not concerned as to whether or not Brian Wilson and Mike Love are still getting royalties on that song. Again, Little Eva got paid for the original chart life of "The Locomotion." Songwriters Carole King and Gerry Goffin have been paid year after year on every sale and every airplay of "The Locomotion." In what world is that fair?

The current efforts at attacking internet freedom such as SOPA are part of the lobbying that never ends by the entertainment industry. Apparently unable to create anything new of value, they have to continue to gnaw on the bones of the past. That is how you go from a musical copyright lasting 28 years with one 14 year extension to a musical copyright lasting a lifetime plus seventy years.

It's as if the whole notion of public domain has vanished, one more of the public commons steadily taken away.

Ava's Confession

"The time has come to talk of many things: Of shoes -- and ships -- and sealing wax -- Of cabbages -- and kings." That's from Lewis Carroll's poem "The Walrus and the Carpenter" (Through the Looking-Glass). Dona's always said that when we fold shop, we'll make that quote the top thing on the page. And a quote from Charlotte's Web the last thing.

But we're not folding shop. I am, however, talking about something. Jim wants to call this "Ava's Confession" and probably will (I really don't give a damn about the headline). But I don't feel it's a confession because I don't feel that my private life is anyone else's business.

Ty had an exchange with a piece of trash posing as a reporter. The trash just wanted to trash Betty. I've read the e-mails. Before reading the e-mails, I'd heard from Dona that Ty had tried to be very nice to the reporter and had answered questions, etc., etc.

My only question was: Did he tell her about my baby?

No, he didn't.

Then I could breathe a sigh of relief.

But it'll come out at some point and I always planned to bring it up on my terms so I'll write about it now.

public domain baby photo

If you read the community newsletters, this is old news. But not everyone of our readers is a member of The Common Ills community.

People like Kat and Mike and Trina have taken up for me in recent months at their site noting that I was dealing with a family issue or was very busy in the offline world.

That is correct.

I gave birth to a wonderful little girl.

That's why I haven't been subbing at Trina's site very often to cover Congressional hearings.

The full story.

I got pregnant.

I thought we were being careful.

But Jess and I only see other on the weekends. He's doing law during the week, I'm on the road speaking out against the wars. We see each other on the weekends. We're usually all over each other and both of us can get a little over enthusiastic and a condom can break as we found out.

I didn't realize I was pregnant until C.I. looked at me one day and said, "Ava, you need to go to the doctor, you're pregnant." She could see it in my face. I laughed, "Pregnant, yeah, right!" And then I thought, "How late is my period?" Really late.

So I whisper to Kat, "Get me an EPT!"

I didn't want to be pregnant. I didn't think I was pregnant and I didn't want C.I. to even think I thought I was pregnant.

Kat didn't tell anyone and we did the test together. And I said, "I don't believe it. I'm going to go buy another test." At which point, Kat tells me she bought three. So we do the other one and I don't need the third one, I accept reality.

It was a huge shock to me because I had assumed I'd have some kids in my mid-thirties if at all.

So now I'm pregnant and trying to figure that out.

I make the mistake of telling my older sister who naturally tells my entire family starting with my parents.

This is so great, this is so wonderful -- I'm told -- we all love Jess and you'll be so happy together and let's figure out the wedding and --


I don't believe in marriage.


Try "Crash."

Am I keeping the baby? Sure. Why not? It wasn't a planned pregnancy but being a mother doesn't cause the problems for me that it would other women. I have money so that I don't have to work, there won't be economic worries and that's probably the most stressful thing about most pregnancies, worrying about where the money will come from and how the bills will be paid.

Jess knows my feelings towards marriage. Longtime readers of this site will remember they popped in a roundtable here in the first or second year and Jess was rather surprised that I didn't believe in marriage and didn't plan on getting married. That was years ago. He's had plenty of time to get used to it.

What I couldn't get used to was my parents. In fairness, my mother took it slightly better. She wasn't thrilled but took the attitude of, "When have we ever been able to talk you into anything? You're going to do what you're going to do." And she was right.

My father, however, took the attitude of trying to guilt me in any number of ways including that someday he's going to die and that may be before "you come to your senses," so I might get married someday, after he's dead, and won't I feel awful then?

To which I replied, "Daddy, of course I'm going to feel awful when you're dead. It won't take a wedding to make miss you."

He did not appreciate my logic.

After various other attempts by him to make me realize he would be dead someday, he switched tactics to the child -- whom he was (wrongly) convinced would be a boy. "How will your child deal with the shame?"

I don't feel there's any shame. We are a Catholic family, yes. But I really think is the 21st century and I think we've all moved on past the notion that you have to be legally married to someone to have a baby or the baby is illegitimate. Certainly, so-called 'legitimacy' didn't prevent Barack Obama from becoming president. (In the eyes of US law, his parents could not have been married even if they had a wedding ceremony. When Barack Sr. arrived in the US, he was already married to a woman in Kenya. Bigamy is illegal in the US. Anyone who is married to more than one person at the same time is considered, by the law, to only be married to the first partner they wed.)

There was never any question that Jess would be in the picture. As some have noted at their sites, I purchased a house near C.I.'s (same street, we can walk to each other's home) in the Bay Area. Jess, Dona, Jim and Dona & Jim's baby live there. Should Jess and I break up and not be able to continue to live together and I not want the house, I'd give it to him in full. If we broke up and I did want the house, I'd pay him half the value of the house. That's because I bought the house but he made the house. I'm on the road. He's the one who oversees it. (And thank you to C.I.'s house keeper who helped Jess interview people to hire for the lawn and cleaning, etc.) If it's a home, it's because of Jess. Not me. It's our home together and if we broke up and needed to live apart, he would either get the house in full or get half the value.

So my parents were freaking out (especially my father and my oldest sister) and it was becoming a real problem.

At which point, Jess proposed.

He flashed an expensive ring and asked me to marry him and I told him, "I can't believe your doing this. You now how I feel about marriage."

At which point, he told me, "I wasn't finished. I'm asking you to do me the honor of both marriage and divorce."

Yes, that way my father could stop freaking out. We would get married and we would get divorced.

Which is what we did. I was in the hospital after giving birth when we started the paperwork for the divorce.

That's not meant as an insult to Jess. We are a couple. But I don't believe in marriage.

So there needed to be a wedding. And my parents wanted a big one but quickly learned that I didn't. And that if they wanted to attend, it would be small and private, no engraved invitations, no announcements. I was doing this mainly because for them (also for Jess who figured a way to please us all) and if they couldn't appreciate that, then I would be doing for them but without them.

We had 200 people. (Trust me, that's a small wedding. If you knew what my father wanted, you would realize that immediately.) We did it in the middle of the week. There were no announcements in the papers. It was family on my side and on Jess' side and it was our friends who could make it during the middle of the week. And Jess had to be in court the next day so there wasn't a honeymoon. We still plan on having that honeymoon. Yes, we are divorced now, but we do plan on taking that honeymoon and we've got it scheduled for July right now.

Now all the above? Even the birth. None of it stopped me or slowed me down.

Unlike Dona, I had a very easy pregnancy. She had morning sickness morning, noon and night. She was always throwing up. And her ankles were so swollen. (As she's written of here.) My 'morning sickness'? I had a morning where I burped repeatedly for three hours straight. Loud belches. Couldn't stop. That was the closet thing to an incident of morning sickness.

It was a breeze and I was determined that it would be. I think maintaining the speaking schedule that Kat, Wally, C.I. and I keep helped a great deal. It allowed me to focus on something else and to stay busy and the time flew.

It's a little different now. Just a little.

When we're speaking, it's not different at all. I take her with me on the road and one of us -- Wally, Kat, C.I. or me -- is holding her while we're speaking with various groups about the wars. She's a happy baby who gets bored if we're home on a Monday. If it's a holiday or somehow Dona's managed to schedule us a Monday off so that we're home that extra day, my daughter will fuss and fuss until you take her to the car and take her somewhere. That is normal to her. And I'm thrilled by that.

Dona and Jim have a beautiful girl (she looks just like Dona -- Jim agrees with that). And I know her daughter and my daughter will be great friends, lifelong friends and I'm so glad of that and so glad that they will be raised differently. That's not an insult to Dona. Dona does a great job with her baby. But I don't want my daughter exposed to sameness. I want her friends to ideally bring a different experience to the table so that my daughter knows about more than just her own life. And like Dona and I bonded over our differences first semester in college, hopefully our daughters will as well.

So my baby's going to spend as much time on the road as possible. She'll see the country and be used to being mobile.

But things are different now. The speaking's the same. But I can't carry her into a hearing with me. If she's sick (or just possibly sick), I'm staying with her. If she's not sick, my mother's watching her. (My mother started looking for a place in the DC area shortly after she learned I was pregnant. She bought a house two blocks from C.I.'s. She gets out schedule from Dona and leaves NYC for DC to be there when we are.) (When my father sees the place, he will be surprised. This is the first home she's decorated solely based on her tastes. It's very lovely. My parents have a lovely home in NYC and in California as well. But those were decorated with an eye towards what my father would like as well. This house she's decorated solely on what she likes.)

So there are times when I can't write about a hearing because I'm not there. There are times when I am there but when the evening rolls around, I just want to play with my daughter. There are times when I'm in the hearing but I find myself texting my mother to ask her what they're doing? And I'm focused on that and not what's going on in the hearing.

So I haven't subbed for Trina much since I gave birth.

And because I'm not doing it, Kat and Wally skip covering the hearings a lot of the time. If they covered it and I didn't, even more people would have been wondering why I wasn't? As it is, there are e-mailers convinced I'm mad at Trina or Trina's mad at me and that's ended my ever subbing for her again.

Nothing could be further from the truth. I love Trina. She's raised 8 kids and is now helping to raise her granddaughter. She is both a source of inspiration and information. I value her so much. Rebecca's daughter is the same age as Trina's granddaughter. She's also full of helpful advice (but only when asked). Fridays, when we get to Trina's, I don't see my baby except from a distance. You've got Trina, Rebecca, Ruth, Elaine, Marcia, Stan and Mike holding her and playing with her. During the week, I've got Wally, Kat and C.I. and, if we're in DC, my mother. (Or if we're in NYC. As we were for the United Nations Security Council hearing last week. If we are in NYC, Dad works from the home because he has to have to his granddaughter around him.)

I am very lucky that I don't have to worry about a number of things other mothers my age have to. That's both due to money and due to friends and family. On Sundays, Tia Rita (my mother's sister) arrives at 8:00 am and says, "Where's my baby!" And watches her the entire day. Which is good because Third is an all night writing edition (one I loathe but that is how we decided to do it) and I'm exhausted Sunday morning. At home, I also have Ty, Dona, Jim and Betty as resources and I thank them for that. (Jess, of course, as well but he's the father. It's expected that he will be there for his daughter. But I will thank him here. Thank you, Jess.)

That's the only secret I feared being exposed. I planned to write about it but was going to wait until this summer (right before the honeymoon). Having written about the baby, let me make clear that Jess can anytime he wants. He may have wanted to before but been respecting my wishes. But since I've let the cat out of the bag, if he wants to, he can now write whatever he wants to about the above (the baby, the pregnancy, the wedding, the divorce, anything).
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