james campion.com

The Aquarian Weekly 11/29/00 REALITY CHECK

SURVIVING THE GREAT “SYSTEM” ANAL PROBE

This unconscionable constitutional tragedy currently being perpetuated in Florida by party trolls and a bloated cadre of lawyers is a dangerous anal probe into what those of us on the ground floor of this abortion call “the system.” It became glaringly obvious late on Election Day that whatever the outcome someone was going to be shocked, devastated and/or pissed. What has transpired since has not only confirmed these possibilities, but sent a sickening reverberation straight to the heart of this republic. And although the framework of this fragile democracy is the best government conceived by humans, there is still no guarantee of its perfection or fairness.

It has taken the most controversial presidential race since 1876–when congress bartered land deals to anoint Rutherford B. Hayes the presidency– in order to bare our democratic wounds and the ambiguous methods of designing, compiling and enacting our voter privilege. When an election, at any level, is this excruciatingly close the chance for crazed backlash is very good, and as a result of this latest national train wreck “the system” is now thrust into the kangaroo court of public opinion, where truth is almost always defined. But the further you dig into this murky abyss devised by menlong buried, the more you understand its flawed nature.

Firstly, it is important to review the parameters available to the electorate. This country is, as noted earlier, a republic–a United States, not a united people of America– and this wild talk lately about turning it into a true democracy with a popular vote is reactionary prattle. These are the same people who would be whining that only big cities and media centers would elect a president while two thirds of the country would have little to no say.

Those hearty few attending the first Continental Congress knew empowering the colonies while erecting a government in the fumes of revolution was a sticky endeavor. It took 25 more years for the US government to emulate the Romans and allow the state to govern its own. And that is “the system” George W. Bush and Al Gore agreed to wage battle.

Secondly, above the din of outrage is the glaring fact that out of the 250 million people in this country only 100 million, 50% of registered voters, bothered to participate in “the system.” A large majority of those who did play along were able to find their way to the voting booth, cast a ballot without much confusion, and even left knowing what the hell it is they had just done.

The litany of errors and complaints by silly Floridians about their right to vote being yanked because of their own ignorance or carelessness has only caused a rash of enlightenment throughout the land. By the time of this writing there have been no less than fifteen states reporting ballot confusion, voter fraud, missing ballot boxes, paid-off homeless, double voting, police bullying, and a series of inconsistencies so foul that the amount of lawsuits being filed could not possibly reach fruition in any of our lifetimes. Meanwhile, close numbers and vacillating results in New Mexico, Iowa, Oregon, Wisconsin, New Hampshire and Missouri threaten more lengthy recounts and legal wrangling.

Into this mayhem comes the revote theory, so off-the-charts wacky that many former Manson Family members and sacked Pets.com employees are lining up to be spokespeople. So now we’ll get all those sharp tacks that screwed it up the first time, couple them with the angry dolts who are sorry they voted for Ralph Nader and Pat Buchanan, throw in the always-available paid lackeys, and let it ride. This kind of shit may fly at a Glassboro kegger, but deciding the 43rd President of the United States the first time is proving too difficult for us.

Then there is the terror of what is actually happening: a national election being decided by one state, controlled by partisan judges and attorney generals presiding over clairvoyant hand counts, where hired drones spin electronic ballots into lamp light to guess at voter intent. It is entirely possible that a Zippy the Chimp funzo dance on a Twister mat would be a more legally binding and fair-minded attempt at choosing the leader of the free world.

As much as I would love to see Al Gore deported in a rusty iron maiden and George W. Bush beaten by teenage drunks, I feel for them. There is little question that had it been Bush sitting in his cushy hotel room late Election Night staring down the barrel of defeat, there would have been noise. But many in the circumference of this firestorm do not believe it would have reached the levels of dementia the Gore people hit about 3:00 am when the numbers in Florida started dropping like a good day on the NASDAQ.

Gore has been reminded his whole life, from Viet Nam to the PMRC, from the senate to the chaotic ’88 primary, from Bill Clinton’s call to Air force Two and nearly eight years of trying to live down the most charismatic, lunatic politician in the last 50 years, that he is expected to be president. He sits a mere hundred votes from the promise land, but if he and the Democratic National Committee or the rankled Bush people insist on dragging “the system” through the courts there will be a slow dismantling of a delicate fabric that as a result might be viewed as silly and antiquated, awakening a need for mob rules, and no government has been able to survive that without massive bloodshed since the beginning of civilization.

Simply, the whole thing is fucked, but we dare not study it, for we will witness its demise. No societal ideology can withstand an anal probe like that, least of all one hatched by rebels and built with Civil Wars and constitutional amendments. Once you begin to poke under the rocks, and the slugs begin to scamper for cover, the collective horror will be palpable.

It is a cracked floor that Bush and Gore were asked to dance upon, but dance they did. Richard M. Nixon learned 40 years earlier, when the dirty deal goes down you eat shit, regardless of how badly you were robbed by bootleg cash and mob payoffs. And as the great voodoo madam, Sissy Meechum once crowed, “The time to cry is before the flood, not afterwards.”

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A Subway Series Memoir – James Campion’s 2000 World Series Journal.

Aquarian Weekly 11/22/00
REALITY CHECK

LAST EXIT TO QUEENS
Subway Series Memoir Part II – (read part I)

And so the crazed and frenzied follow this mess over bridges and under tunnels, digesting hype-job articles about the Mets being wimps and the Yankees stomping their psyches, and broadcasters calling for a full-scale war. This is the atmosphere for the third game of this Subway Series, pulling into the parking lot of Shea Stadium and the circus maximus provided by every radio station in the tri-state area. Unlike the grandeur of Yankee Stadium, this is an edifice built on the fumes of 1950s’ affluence and 1960s’ swirl, the place where the Beatles played and Joe Willie Namath used football sidelines for a fashion show. This is the home of miracles and strange happenings in post-season affairs. This is where the Yankees aim to continue an unfathomable 14-game World Series winning streak.

Teams that win 14 consecutive games in June are hailed as something of a juggernaut. In October it is ridiculous. And as the media throng descends on this orange and blue building, and the fans pour in carrying hundreds of placards screaming, “BELIEVE”, many think this could be another Yankees Fall Classic sweep. Tim McCarver, Fox analyst sent packing by the Mets and onto the Yanks to dissect the bunt forty ways to Sunday, was standing at a urinal in the Stadium Press box Saturday night bemoaning the Mets verve. “This is the World Series for crying out loud,” he whined. “You think these guys could run out a ground ball?”

Believing is good, but made better when Orlando Hernandez is considered “due for a loss”. The Yankees Cuban defector ace is 8-0 in October games. But the Mets are loose and play games with each other’s motivation before the first pitch, hanging with N’Sync who appear more like lost boys from the Con Ed bus trip than a pop group. One kid with blonde, curly hair asks me where the exit is and I cannot help but lead while asking him politely to sing the national anthem better than Billy Joel. “What?” he says, mouth agape. “Just do it,” I order.

N’Sync found the exit, kicked ass on the hardest melody to negotiate through a public address speaker, and by the eighth inning the Mets were tired of stumbling and threw up a two spot to take a 4-2 lead into the ninth that, this time, would not be relinquished. World Series win-streak halted, El Duque defeated. Strange happenings for road teams in October and life in this series.

Wednesday night there is an air that all had been tossed into some cauldron of doubt and pressure. Now we have a contest, a meaning to this push-and-shove, but there is an old adage that a series cannot be considered competitive until the road team gets one. That is what the eyes of Yankees wonder boy, Derek Jeter says. He tells us that he is lucky to be with a team that provides him three rings in four years. “The problem with other teams is that they don’t have this kid,” NY Times, stalwart, Dave Anderson tells me. He is one of only a handful of reporters here to actually cover a Subway Series. “Jeter is one of the best players I’ve ever seen in any sport,” he smiles.

The optimistic air of Shea and the cheering and the believing takes a hit when Jeter deposits the first pitch of game 4 into the left-field pavilion. By the fifth, the Yanks hold a 3-2 lead and Torre goes to the bullpen for David Cone. The once proud starter, relentlessly pummeled throughout the season, is asked to get one out, Mike Piazza, the Mets catcher and recent controversy tornado. Piazza had homered previously. Cone pops him up. Through the next four innings both teams threaten, but the Yankees win.

The mood changes immediately.

The next night, what would turn out to be the final game of the long-awaited Subway Series, goes on without me. I am physically and mentally ill. Constant parades of meaningless sound bites and media cramming, along with rapacious Woodstock-like merchandising, has rendered me unable to attend what becomes a coronation of a team that everyone with half an inkling about this game knew was going to find a way to win the last game of the year.

So from the comfort of my couch, and not those lame auxiliary media seats five hundred feet above home plate with the biting winds creasing the back of my head, I watch Al Leiter and Andy Pettitte chase the echoes of Whitey Ford and Sandy Koufax. Both are brilliant from the start and pitch their hearts out, but Leiter leaves a hard-luck loser. The Yanks scratch a two-run lead in the ninth with another string of two-out hits and walks, and when that Piazza guy drives a ball to the fence and it nestles into Bernie Williams’ glove the historical becomes history.

Since 1995 the core of this Yankees team has battled for championships, winning four. Along the way they have broken records, set impossible standards, and overcome every obstacle from disease, addiction, age and pressure. Still, facing the Subway Series with nothing more to gain, but much to lose, may have been their greatest challenge. Veteran’s Paul O’Neil and Tino Martinez hit, Martiano Rivera pitches, and Derek Jeter is Derek Jeter.

There is no way the Yankees could lose this one and make it feel alright. The Mets can speak of “close games” and “almosts”, they were pushing an envelope unopened. But when you win, like this Yankees team wins, you are expected to keep winning. This is especially true in New York where silly slogans and happy tunes are suddenly replaced by yesterday’s news for the “once golden.” From spring training to champagne pouring, it is always win or nothing for the New York Yankees, the boys of autumn.

Tough chore. Tought team.

Maybe the best in three or four generations, or a Subway Series ago.

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A Subway Series Memoir – James Campion’s 2000 World Series Journal

Aquarian Weekly 11/15/00
REALITY CHECK

GRIDLOCK NY
A Subway Series Memoir (Part I)

After ten years of covering baseball in one form or another, and entering my third consecutive season entertaining a journalistic meandering at the World Series, it is easy to see from the moment I glide off the Deegan Expressway toward Yankee Stadium that these will not be games, but times. These are times that this cathedral of baseball has known for nearly 80 years. Times from Harlem and the Polo Grounds to times in the friendly band box in Brooklyn called Ebbets Field, where the hated Yankees took 11 of 14 Subway Series building an impossible resume of winning. This was long before the times in the 60s’ when the National League came back to New York in the form of the hapless, but lovable NY Mets.

Thousands of people, hundreds of vendors and little walking room in the expansive courtyard surrounding this building, where the air is unseasonably warm, but thick with smoke and voices and music. Rock concert and a professional wrestling buzz cuts through a sport better suited for picnics and beaches, an urban, bucolic flavor that is both tense and uplifting the way Manhattan can be on any given night. It is the core of New York City when New York City embraces being the center of the world.

Inside the ballpark, down in its bowels with the sporting press and grunts and celebrities groping for a glimmer of the spotlight backwash, the atmosphere is even more cramped. The makeshift interview room is mobbed to listen to Yankees manager, Joe Torre. He is looking eerily calm despite the weight of four worlds on him. His team is attempting to do something only four other teams had done previously; win a third consecutive world championship. And his team will be asked to do it by beating another New York team in the first such a World Series since 1956.

The owner doesn’t like losing to the Mets in exhibition games, much less the grandest stage. George Steinbrenner was so worried he might give the Mets locker room fodder through a rankled slip of the lip he didn’t even attend the Yankees pennant celebration a few days earlier. Despite his team’s recent success, this is for all the cards in the deck. Torre knows this well. He says he doesn’t like people comparing this series to ones in June or July or any Mayor’s Trophy. His shortstop, Derek Jeter told me after the Yankees won the pennant a few days ago, “Forget that other stuff about rivalries, this is for the championship.” Secretly, the people upstairs didn’t want any part of the Mets. My friend, and general manager, Brian Cashman assures me that I don’t want to be any part of him over the next ten days.

Mets manager, Bobby Valentine also appears relaxed. He doesn’t carry the same pressure as Torre, save the millions of Mets fans who are sick and tired of surrendering the Big Apple to the condescending Yankees fans and the inevitable band-wagon chic who don pinstripes to feel a part of something. But Valentine’s team didn’t even win its division and it is the first time the franchise has been in one of these in 14 years. In fact, he spends most of his press conference defending his team’s right to battle history. “The Yanks are not as good as they once were,” says Mets eclectic reliever, Turk Wendell. “We’ll win in five,” Hawaiian born, left fielder, Benny Agbayani tells Howard Stern and Regis Philbin. No one wants to lose a Subway Series, but no one wants to feel they don’t belong. “We’re good too,” Valentine tells us.

From the moment the capacity crowd begins its crescendo of noises with the seesaw chants of “Let’s go Yankees” and “Let’s go Mets”, the opening game is as tight as a sealed drum. The Mets take a 3-2 lead into the ninth inning. The Yankees win in the twelfth. One young man repeatedly stabs another young man in the chest in a sports bar eight miles from my house over a baseball argument. But at nearly 2:00 am in the Bronx there are still hundreds of people waiting for the players to get in their cars or board the buses pointing toward Queens. The city that never sleeps goes overtime.

The next night there is talk of the Mets’ star slugger, Mike Piazza’s beaning at the hands of the Yankees’ newest villian, Roger Clemens earlier in the season. Even though the pitcher is from Boston and the catcher is from L.A, this is a NY thang.

Piazza’s teammates want to get Clemens back and the macho posturing reaches epic levels by game time. This brings rolling eyes and pooh-poohs from the veteran press, who think it beneath them to scour such depths of sensationalism when just playing a World Series entirely inside one town is enough. They convene for hours in the print room, literally rubbing elbows while tickling laptops, downing gallons of coffee and tearing off miles of chewing gum. Buried under a barrage of literature, stats and numbers, never to be used by anyone not acting as a nerdish, baseball actuary, they rumor, they curse, and they write anything twice. This is their turf.

In the first inning of game two, amid the flashbulbs and squeals, Piazza’s bat cracks in half and the splintered barrel fatefully skids toward Clemens’ feet. The pitcher whips it at the Piazza’s feet. Defacto commissioner and emissary of Satan, Bud Selig sees riot flashing before his eyes from his box seat as the Fox people call Los Angeles and tell them to run post-game polls. Organist, Eddie Layton plays a soothing tune. Piazza screams. Clemens points. The benches empty, but nothing happens. Yanks enter the ninth up 6-0, as Clemens did the rest of his intimidation, 2-hit shutout routine with the ball. Mets rally late against the Yankees bullpen, but lose again 6-5.

Clemens tells us he thought the bat was the ball, and more about never seeing anyone or “no intent.” Boston writers attack him and Torre with spiteful, if not useful, questions. Torre, forced to defend this lunacy, threatens to walk out of the press conference. Later, Piazza laughs and says something about it all being “bizarre.” Valentine claims to be the only man in NYC to not see anything. Mets utility man, Lenny Harris wants to fist fight Clemens right there in the hallway below the Stadium. “We have to go to their house now,” says Yankees centerfielder, Bernie Williams. “We’ll see.”

TO BE CONTINUED…

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james campion.com

Aquarian Weekly 11/1/00 REALITY CHECK

Campaign 2000LAST TANGO IN GHOSTLAND

“The victor will never be asked if he told the truth.” -Adolf Hitler

It is common knowledge among historians that the deranged make interesting public figures. Adolf Hitler was one of those rare mutant breeds that possessed a voracious appetite for the wild ride to the top. And it was an equally long drop to a syphilis-crazed breakdown that came far too late for civilization. Although he was not alone in the dark history of politics, Hitler was everything that is wrong with humanity and its societal systems; especially for those of us still hoping things like greed and hate will be kept relatively in check.

But before any of the mayhem and horror attached to his name would be unleashed, Hitler was nothing more than a political bully with no need for silly endeavors like elections. He made up the rules and no one bothered to ask him to explain it.

Elections are a tad different. When things go awry, the public is to blame. It is incumbent on us to make these people to stay in the ballpark of reality while their busy getting all hyped to fulfill their own version of some abject destiny. Surely, even the most optimistic flag waver in Kosovo today doesn’t believe the results of that election charade amount to a hill of beans, but sometimes even when we pick our leaders, who the hell really knows?

That is why a failure to vote, although oft noted as an egregious mockery of our civil right, is less a crime than voting for someone you believe would make a shambles of your weekly planner, much less the free world. And this notion that throwing a vote away on fringe loons and independent types is elitist drivel peddled by low-rent two-party sycophants. If you believe the system is fixed and archaic and the candidates boring and predictable don’t let anyone tell you that you have to play along like the company lap dog. Where, exactly, is the freedom in that?

Presidential politics stopped becoming big fun for those of us mired in reams of Kennedy and Nixon minutia. But Jack got his head blown off and Dick was sent packing as a crooked shyster. For a short time Ronald Reagan made it fun, but before long, he too became a tired windbag. This is why nearly half the nation’s populace abstained from voting for or against Bill Clinton in his two victorious runs. Many now admit they only voted as a sick joke to ram rod some hippie goofball down the throat of mom-and-pop apple pie. And for a while even they had to admit the thrill was gone when Big Bill turned out to be less rebellious and more lecherous.

So, you’ll get no argument from this space if you wish to stay home on Election Day. Mohandas Gandhi believed sedition did more for change than the normal violence or democratic attempts, especially when Indian lawyers were treated like illiterate farmers by English slave traders. Standing aside while the crazy train skips your stop is nothing to be ashamed of, unless you’re lazy or you don’t care.

This poses the greatest problem for American citizens. We are lazy and we like it that way. Just try and get us interested in anything. We’ve been dazzled and wooed with every bit of technology and fanfare available to us. Getting us pumped takes a bit of doing. But if you believe that George W. Bush or Al Gore deserve the job you’ll choose them to undertake, then you should take the time to exorcise your rights. And in doing so, you had better make damn sure they are the men you think they are.

And this is where the issue of voting with confidence gets a tad sticky. The men available to this voting public are mediocre statesmen/politicos with a weak resume and weaker leadership skills that will not bode well for the next four years. The first few months of which will be replete with monumental global turmoil including a quickly eroding Middle East stand-off from the Gaza Strip to Yemen, a highly volatile mess in the Balkans AGAIN, hordes of terrorists skulking into U.S military institutions, Korean backlash and China trade concerns. Add that to a domestic economic crossroads in oil prices and stock market fear coupled with intercity racial stresses ignited daily by a criminal lack of education and you not only refuse to put your fingerprints on this terrible craziness, but a first class ticket to Australia remains a distinct possibility.

This will be my last political blather for a while. There are too many other concerns and not nearly enough space. Do what you want and do what you must, but do yourself a favor and sleep well with the consequences. And if you don’t feel like taking the blame, abstain. Sure we have to live with the results, but we lived through Gerald Ford and George Bush, bell-bottom pants, disco, Max Headroom, a man by the name of Stump Merrill managing the New York Yankees, Oliver North Collector plate commercials, 30 Beach Boy reunions, 14 Million Whatever Marches, ten Julia Roberts’ tortured celebrity relationships, “We Are The World”, the electric car experiments, nearly a decade of “Three’s Company” etc.

We’ll make it.

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The Truth About Hillary Clinton – Political satirist, James Campion dissects the Hillary Senate Campaign.

Aquarian Weekly 10/25/00 REALITY CHECK

DECONSTRUCTING HILLARY

Political whores and power mongers are easy to spot in the waning moments of a campaign, especially campaigns surpassing a combined spending spree of $100 million between the two candidates. And there isn’t a half-assed pundit, pollster or sad commentary geek filling up newspapers with thousands of feeble prognostications who fails to be blinded by its queen; Hillary Rodham Clinton. This New York senate race is, has been, and will continue be all about the first lady. The GOP could have a door stop running against her and people will vote based on their love or hate for her.

The important element of this is the Clinton celebrity and the advantage and albatross it provides. Senator Rodham is at the crescendo of a decade-long game she’s played stumping for a man who has treated her like a scabby harlett throughout its duration. William Jefferson Clinton may have seen his wife’s gory mutations before any of us, but he has since become nothing more than a back-seat lecther in its wake.

Her opponent, Rick Lazio, is a few short months removed from sitting in his home out on Long Island and bemoaning the fact that his party didn’t think him a big enough name to take on the gaudy popularity numbers the first lady presented as a formidible senate challenge. This was a job for the Mayor of NYC, who first refused to offically announce anything beyond a raging hatred for Senator Rodham and then was diagnosed with prostate cancer. Rudolf Giuliani promptly backed out and in came Lazio with enviable spitfire and brimstone.

So Lazio jumped right in and became the anti-Hillary candidate phase two, because the New York senate race has always been about Ms. Rodham, or Hillary, as her “people” remind you she’s to be called. Sequestered in her rhinestone bathe of light, equivilant to a rock tour or a pre-war Hollywood opening night gala, the first lady’s suit of armor is shiny for a reason. The woman has never known a battle she couldn’t avoid.

Legitamate press never gets to her. Press conferences are nothing more than events for us fourth estate peons to gaze lovningly upon her devine personage. She smiles. She dances. She is a breath of jasmine from her lofty perch of azure. Television appearances are few and usually involve late-night comedians. Ted Koppel and Tim Russert, never mind traveling reporters, are off limits to the queen of pap. At the time of this writing there have been two debates, but it was deemed to rough and tumble for the delicate flower of Washington’s elite and the other was a party set-up that the Lazio people stupidly stumbled into with little investigation on their part.

Mere weeks remain in this charade of a campaign and what questions, what scrutiny, what hard-core politcs is Senator Rodham facing? Lazio brings no memory of powerful candidates with heaps of energy, but he at least he makes himself available to the press and handles the tough questions, ANY questions posed to him. His opponent is apprently too good or too busy or too sheltered for that.

These complaints may sound like the whining, selfish complaints of a spoiled journalist used to being fed fresh meat every time some ego-mad sucker needs coverage, and to that charge I plead ever guilty, but this is the very reason Hillary, with all her cries for equality and compassion, is a transparent candidate.

And how come my brethren let her get away with these lame duck and covers? Are we so silly with worshuip for a good story that campaigns are reduced to coronations before we have a glimmer of what a candidate stands for beyond notoriety? When will Senator Rodham be forced to face someone with a camera or a notepad who isn’t sporting a goon smile while peppering her with questions about the Chappaqua fire department picnic? Jackie Kennedy, princess of Camelot and national fashion plate, took more shit than this woman. The time has come for her mighty and untouchable hems to get filthy with debate rhetoric and that world-class litigious brain to crank its gears.

Lazio, predictably busy trying to be all things to all voters, has tried the credibility attack with his soft money overtures. It is admirable considering he’s had half the time to create the native New Yawker image from Giuliani’s shadow and separate himself from the stench of the Newt Gingrich clan the GOP so effectively shoved into the background at the convention. But Lazio is a New York politician and has served as a congressman for eight years. He has not been riding the ebb and flow of party casa de la Clinton for a decade of unpresidented verbal sewage.

In the end, this will mean nothing. Will Westchester, Central and Upstate New York voters despise or revere Hillary enough either way to defeat or elect her. Rick Lazio is the kid in class you hang with because the popular asshole ignores you. More than any election in this nation’s history beyond perhaps Jesse Ventura’s meteoric rise in Minnesota two years ago. And whether she wins or not there is a real sense now that celebrity can slant a race so completey that issues mean less than zero.

Senator Rodham and the Westchester crack team keeping her alive on bulging African American and women votes knows this. They will try and keep those and build on the all-important suburbs and Jewish/Hispanic votes and ride this puppy all the way to Washington without their candidate having to answer a single hard-line question about her ability to be grammar school principle, much less senator of New York. And that would be their victory and democracies loss. But this is something these people know quite well.

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james campion.com

Aquarian Weekly 10/18/00 REALITY CHECK

NOTES FROM THE CAMPAIGN FRINGE

Editor’s Note:Forty-eight hours before the first presidential debate of the 21st century, the author, sequestered in the Putnam Bunker compiled a series of random notes that this publication shall run with the warning that coherence is relative. Also included are a series of babbling rants during the two-hour debate to which we can only apologize in advance.

Sixteen hours ago an angry fucker by the name of Charles Dunwitty invited me to a fundraiser for George W. Bush for which I had no use and promptly threatened to revoke my debate credentials. This did not alarm me for I never received, nor applied for any credentials. Massachusetts is only romantic in the fall if caravans of desperate politicians and rabid protestors are miles South or West, not crawling around the best bars in Boston trying to wrest free rounds from yuppie derelicts.

Dunwitty is an ass, and so is his cheap fraud of an organization that runs its debate rehearsals in an Austin, Texas hotel for a man whose best attempt at formulating sentences was abandoned long ago at the fraternity kegger.

The Bush people, along with Mr. Dunwitty, see fit to ignore my many e-mails and letters instructing their candidate to begin dismantling this myth that their opponent is a champion of the poor and feeble while he rakes in millions from rich celebrities, huge pharmaceutical and tobacco corporations and laundered funds from corrupt union gangsters.

The standard Bush response: We appreciate your concern and support for the candidate. Perhaps they will appreciate being humiliated. Pennsylvania is teetering, New Jersey is falling and only a supreme being could fathom what the hell anyone in Missouri or Michigan will do until 11/1, and even then a sober prognostication will be dubious. Bush is going down, but for one key element: abrasive, caustic personal attacks.

********************************

Over the past twenty years I could be counted on to support or attend any Ralph Nader function, but lately things have been very shaky at his headquarters. Suddenly Nader, surrounded by the Buchanan Brigade and Jerry Brown granola-head rejects, is looking like madcap comedy relief for this thing and it is unpleasant to watch. Three times in the last four weeks there have been several Independent candidate/party rallies in New York City and each one has deteriorated into a Kumbaya mess. This is what illegitimate political campaigns have wrought; anger for change traded for whining because no one worth a damn is paid off by some group to make the NY Times or even the friggin’ Trentonian cover it.

I refuse to attend political funerals, especially for true warriors. This is why I rejected credentials to most of Bill Bradley’s final appearances last spring and why I won’t watch Nader go down in a mist of flaccid debate arguments. There is no sane reason to cover it beyond aimless rebellion, and that is for amateurs and dreamers and I will fight on the turf laid out before me or volunteer to pen another Declaration of Independence from this quagmire.

******************************

Several meetings of the Youth Vote for Westchester in the basement of Iona University in New Rochelle with the pimply peeved and we are no closer to any solid answers to why anyone under the age of 25 is paying attention to this race.

There is a strong contingent of women, who are not going to mess with any Republican chief executive saying all the right things about Supreme Court appointees respecting constitutional rights while drunken priests ram their BMW’s into abortion clinics. No one thinks much of the vice president, despite his or her fear of Bush. I tell them to ignore the news medium and make up their minds or stay the hell home.

The young men are less feisty, but want Nader or Buchanan to do anything to prove their worth. Most colleges are liberal, but this is a basin for the rich or upper-middle-class and these are the sons and daughters of Reaganites who made a killing in stocks and real estate during the 80s’ when the Democrats dragged punching bags to unseat the status quo.

None of these kids understand my tattered surrender flag. This is the new generation of “Choose-Or-Lose” offspring with little idea that something like the presidency means much more than the Queen of England or the host of the Today show. History is Viet Nam and Woodstock to these people. Debates are tantamount to bad local access television staged by pompous geriatrics with no serious long-range goals. And not one of us could grasp the notion of expensive over-the-counter drugs and social security concerns when marijuana, ecstasy and cocaine are so readily available twenty feet off campus.

*********************

The bile begins to work its way from the pit of my stomach to the tip of my throat and we’re not even through Jim Leher’s first question. Is this fossil going to ramble like this all night? Who has time for this monotone bullshit?

Gore is sighing and interrupting. Bush is stumbling and sniffling. Nobody wants to commit to anything. No one wants to piss anyone off, least of all each other. Polls say Americans don’t want negativity in their campaign rhetoric. Yes, and we watch PBS all day and never masturbate.

What level of brain-dead mannequins are we enduring with this vat of bilge? We need puss-filled, bloody ferret fights to the death now. That is how democracy works, not some number-crunching pinheads with interchangeable personalities. Likeable sods with wet feet and dapper ties leave us with grinning charlatans from the South pampered by daddy’s oil and tobacco money. This is what we deserve now. We don’t want any nasty commentary. We all hate the media. We like wimps and dignitaries to run the store. Friend of mine just said he’s embarrassed to be an American. I haven’t wasted this much time since the Eyes Wide Shut credits started to run. Dig up Kubrik and let’s try take- two.

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Aquarian Weekly 10/11/00 REALITY CHECK

Campaign 2000 TAKING THE PULSE OF AMERICA

The results of a two-week, intense and expensive Reality Check News & Information Desk investigation on 2000 presidential election polling data and the organizations that sponsor such gathered numbers have produced a few salient answers.

The first of which is that hallucinogenic drugs most likely influence the individuals conducting the Gallup agency and Cable New Network polls. The type of primary narcotic is not known from our results, but we can be relatively assured within a six percent margin of error that these people are at least mildly sedated, or at worst, pretty fucked up.

The numbers compiled and published weekly in Newsweek magazine, although even further from anything resembling reality, do not seem so much effected by recreational consumption of mind-altering chemicals as they are just stupid. And although the ever-popular Battleground polls being run by the hour at voter.com appear stable and sober, we can only conclude that those compiling this information are distracted by countless hours of porno and the 700 Club.

On 9/20 Gallup had the vice president up by 10 points with a convention bullet. Two days later they had him up by five and this week they claim he trails by three. On August 1, Newsweek positioned the governor of Texas as a 17-point leader and one month later he was down by 15. Last week they were selling a dead heat. Those still awake at Battleground have had both main candidates pretty much even for six months. CNN has been going on the coin flip/spin-the-bottle method, periodically forcing Jeff Greenfield into his nightly stammer to explain it.

Never in the history of these United States has too-much-information reached its saturation point. Somewhere Marshall McCluen is puking or laughing or something.

For example, CNBC ran some bogus poll last week that Ralph Nader was dead and Pat Buchanan reached one percentage point. This has not effected either’s notoriety. And the Wall Street Journal has printed more than one poll result with Ronald Reagan involved.

It is our conclusion that there seems to be no point to these things anymore, unless someone is getting rich, laid or attempting to sound relatively intelligent after five martinis at the weekend mixer. But as a journalistic tool, the national poll of 700 disinterested or highly rankled shut-ins with lengthy agendas is no way to take the pulse of a nation.

However, there was a significant factor not added to our less-than-detailed equation prior to postulating the drug/porno theory for pollsters, and that is the fickle nature of a nation so bored and fed up with choosing from a pool of rich, white guys from political families sucking up to rapaciously bloated corporations and interest groups that they would rather watch people eat rats on an island or wonder why Eminem disses Christina Aquilera than spend five seconds giving half a turd who is running for president.

Many volunteers for our experiment informed myself and the other poor souls involved that the last of these speculations seemed the most plausible. I had personally given up on making sense of this psychotic shit around 1974, and no one else in the room could muster a single reason to drag their asses four feet to vote for George Bush or Al Gore even if either had agreed to assume their car payments. But the guilt of not participating in the patriotic duty of all Americans was strong, and more than half forced out motivations ranging from writing in Vincent Furnier to throwing a warm Pepsi on the instrument panel inside the voting booth.

This behavior was paramount in the next phase of our experiment, which included a full-scale three-state poll of our own.

Beginning with New Jersey on the first week of September, six Reality Check participants phoned nearly 300 residents of Bergen and Passaic counties and simply asked for whom they would cast their vote. Less than 50% planned to vote. The 20 to 30% range was saved for those mired in partisanship and a final 10% wanted to do the right thing, but had little to know idea what that would be.

Nearly 250 people polled in New York’s Westchester and Putnam counties were more interested in Hillary and Lazio and felt whomever’s party seemed to have any momentum in late October would get their attention. Again, more than 50% did not give a damn.

Finally, it can be said that citizens of Connecticut are best when hanging up. Nearly half of the 200 people we called would not let us finish a sentence. The others wanted to know how the hell their senator is simultaneously running for reelection and vice president.

Unfortunately, beyond the incredible amounts of beer and pizza ingested throughout the process, the whole affair was futile for us. Our endeavor had been nothing more than spitting into the wind, which is the clearest description of any of these Gallup jobs. The glut of them alone puts no credence into what may happen in that seminal moment when you have to decide either the lesser of two evils or choosing an administration that will spend the next four years dreaming up new and improved excuses for not honoring six months of fantasyland promises.

So, with a few weeks of campaign to go, and 35 seconds of clarity peppered throughout hours of debates and television appearances, it is our suggestion that drugs might not be worth your recreational dollar as much as it might help you make sense of what you are forced to endure.

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james campion.com

Aquarian Weekly 10/4/00 REALITY CHECK

COMPASSIONATE CENSORSHIP

The concept of parenting in America is dead. The government of the United States is taking over the job. It needs to protect your children from your incompetence and allow the rest of us without children to sacrifice our freedom of choice and expression to accomplish it. Publicly funded organizations manned by non-elected officials will judge what is obscene and indecent in the films and television you watch, the music you listen to and the literature you read. It will be done with the best intentions to help protect you from yourself and save children from the increasingly large numbers of people incapable of doing the job themselves.

The entertainment industry, pejoratively referred to as Hollywood among these caring government officials, their wives, their church and whomever might want to join in, is too violent, too aggressive in promoting their product to your children, and far too lucrative in its endeavor. You do not have a clue what is out there ceaselessly pummeling your poor family and is sure to set impressionable, young dupes on a course of ultimate drug abuse, violence and godless acts of antisocial behavior.

These conscientious hard-working watchdogs of our best interest need you to know that although these efforts may cause some diminishing returns on your legal right to produce, write, create, listen, read, or god-forbid, consume this poison, it is all for the greater good. Teamed with our morally pristine government, they strongly believe we have lost the grip to decide these parameters ourselves. We lack the capacity to judge what each of us would like our children to know about this big, wide, wonderfully diversified world or what that small, but incorrigible set of demons are trying to cram down our meager throats. There are limits that have nothing to do with you or your ability to parent your offspring. This burden will be taken from you and be handled by the caring services and public officials you financially support weekly in order to take on this impossible responsibility.

Please do not be alarmed that many of these fine officials and organizations are also partially funded by the same entertainment industry they fight to the tune of millions of dollars a year. This proves they do not serve their masters. And although your hard-earned tax money, and alleged voting rights, puts them in the position to take on this glorious crusade, it is a mere droplet in an ocean of their cash and influence.

To review thus far, you give up part of your weekly pay to a government that needs to control your lifestyle in order to shelter the innocent and attack its ultimate expression, because you have no time or inclination to do it yourselves.

Here are some constants in their theory:

Television is evil. By exposing fragile minds to its brainwashing techniques there are risks to the foundation of our otherwise beautifully structured society. Our peaceful, loving planet cannot be infiltrated by the disgusting display of fictitious mayhem peddled as mere yuks to the great unwashed and poorly educated masses. Remember, you are weak and stupid and instinctively dangerous when confronted by these images and concepts. We must rely on these fine organizations led by our morally bonded government to curb this maniacal march toward certain destruction.

As bad as the insidious television gremlins are, the demons in the film industry are one hundred times worse. Movies are the bane of our republic. The minute they are curtailed the air will be sweeter, crime will diminish and a hug will be so much warmer. It’s important to understand that according to our censoring heroes, most films, especially the sex-and-violence ones, can systematically chip away at the spiritual core of this perfectly balanced country of law-abiding citizens and the honest integrity of its civil servants. The criminal element writing, directing, producing, acting, editing and distributing meaningless garbage as art are nothing more than minions of Satan diluting our natural propensity to nurture humanity while polluting our simple minds.

Doubly troubling is the apathetic theater owners and their untrained employees who will now also join our heroes in parenting your children. It will be incumbent on them to follow all minors around multiplex theaters and make sure they enter the movie they paid to see, assuming the new and improved soldiers in the army of righteousness card everyone looking to get into the theater in the first place.

Finally, there is music, especially popular culture music with its loud anti-establishment, anti-authority, free-sex, pro-violence, beat-oriented message of anarchy. If there is one reason your children cannot be controlled it is this corner of Hades. Your kids don’t care what you say or think because of it. They do not respect your responsibility to mold them into perfect robots of a society devoid of emotional problems as long as it resonates in their virgin ears. This wondrous land, with its tolerance and empathy, is being systematically punctured by distorted rock bands and hip hop lyrics. This will be a doomed generation of zombies if it continues to be exposed to this cesspool of anger and lust.

The good people running this courageous flag up the pole want you to realize that you can no longer train your children to be normal bastions of the American dream without the deconstruction of every art form available to us. They are animals and brats and aim to injure the other animals and brats with their walkmans and skateboards and loose-fitting pants, their Internet and concerts and wildly available porn. You are incapable of warning them, curbing them, explaining to them the irreversible anguish caused by professional wrestling and video games. God help us all, we need these inexhaustible champions of the vapid throngs to topple the first amendment and bring order to the chaos of this great republic before you people damage it any further.

Thank you PMRC and FCC, Empower America and the Federal Trade Commission, the Gore’s and the Lieberman’s, Lynne Chaney and Jerry Falwell. And, most of all, thank you United States government, for your discomfort with freedom is only equaled by the size of your misdirected paranoia.

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james campion.com

Aquarian Weekly 9/27/00 REALITY CHECK

BOBBY KNIGHT: MACHO THUG OR STUPID BRUTE?

Nothing is worse than authority, except, of course, abusive authority, or abusive, teacher/coach, dickweed authority. And no one over the past quarter century has cornered the market on that then Bobby Knight, who used his abused players to win a ton of basketball games and three National Championships for him. Now his employer over the length of this unprecedented reign of atavistic terror, Indiana University, has finally seen fit to fire his sorry ass.

As laughable as that may sound, a university allowing a man to physically and emotionally wreak havoc on officials, NCAA employees, players, students, faculty and the media, while lauding him as a font of society, it is all sadly true. Even in sacking him, members of the board could not bring themselves to revisit the details of Knight’s latest grabbing and berating of a student for not referring to him as “Mr. Knight.” Instead they watered down this predictable ugliness by pointing out in excruciatingly long and tiresome fashion that he didn’t respect fundraisers, the board of trustees or professors. These infractions were, of course, all fine and dandy when the man was winning, but he hasn’t been doing much of that lately, with early exits in the national tournament.

The truth is Knight should have been bounced the second these overpaid pedantic jokers saw video of this cretin choking a player on May 15. That wasn’t enough. They needed a four-month review of his chair-throwing, head-butting, expletive-laced tirades, many on video and well documented, for over two decades. Then they took the onus off themselves and put it on this nut by imposing on him impossible guidelines under the heading of a “no-tolerance policy.” They were still working on the parameters of this mess when Knight accosted the kid.

Before the hammer came down, Knight pathetically performed an impromptu discussion session with reporters, complete with visuals and reenactments, in order to deflect what he surely knew would be his swansong. Throughout, he used the same smug tone that turned every other one of his boorish acts of savage lunacy into something akin to the late Mother Teresa coddling the starving children of Calcutta. His cushy place in denial-land continued during a live interview on ESPN days after the firing when he seriously wondered why no one explained what “zero-tolerance” meant.

To say the very least, university president, Myles Brand dropped the ball on this one. For years he, and the legacy of cash-bloated basketball pimps at Indiana, chose to look the other way as Knight piled up an embarrassing litany of belligerent violence wrapped up nicely under the guise of discipline and leadership. Turns out their fat coach/god was having trouble disciplining himself.

Indiana University’s hypocrisy notwithstanding, Bobby Knight is everything wrong with the always-prevalent jock mentality in sports. Everyone reading this, especially us rough and tumble male types who played any sport, can remember having some sick oaf screaming or ranting at them. This used to pass for hard-edged teaching in an age of stupidity that had the expression of any emotion beyond anger as sissy, fag stuff to be ridiculed and suppressed. Bobby Knight is its product, a small, but annoying mutation spanning centuries of macho bloodletting.

Knight started this psycho garbage at the home office for berating, West Point. This agenda is all fun and frolic in the secret society of the U.S. Army because these victims of mental anguish reside outside the structure of American culture. This is the reason that when one of them is released from their duty they are once again considered civilians. Civility has no place in the training of men to rip, roar and kill, but playing a sport at a major college for millions of dollars a year pumped into a voracious system is another story.

The saddest part of the Bob Knight story, and its endless parade of fiascos dancing along side it, is that he survived every incident with the respect reserved for conquering heroes. Didn’t we call him “the general” with a smirk, waiting impatiently for that moment when his head would explode in a vein-popping crimson globe during every game? How we chuckled at his constant derision of officials. After all, we would like to be the ones nearly strangling the dumb fucks for not calling a foul on that last play. We need to win these games so much we turn into maniacs at the sight of a human mistake. Somehow Knight’s blow-ups became an extension of our own tired act.

So now the crazies on the Indiana campus scream and yell for Brand’s head on a platter and burn likenesses of Knight’s latest victim in effigy. They threaten to kill and pillage for their hero. They love their basketball and their icons and paint Knight as a martyr for the glory of the game.

Many of Knight’s defenders cite his clean NCAA record. He never broke any recruiting rules and made sure his players went to class and at least attempted to graduate. But that is the same logic that has abusive fathers and husbands passing muster because they pay the bills and tuck the kids into bed.

Bobby Knight has many psychological problems. These problems have been excused by being defining as old-fashioned values and stringent methods. You know, back in the day when screaming, belittling, choking and pushing was a sign of love and authority.

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THE NEW GORE RULES – Political satirist, James Campion’scoverage of the 2000 presidential race

Aquarian Weekly 9/20/00 REALITY CHECK

Campaign 2000THE NEW GORE RULES

Before Jerry Lewis was done blubbering through “You’ll Never Walk Alone”, young members of the Al Gore for President Committee, California chapter, were popping several corks of $12 champagne and sending condolences to the George W. Bush camp. Labor Day is the dead line for making a race of presidential campaigns and the vice president is back from the dead. Suddenly this is shaping up to be the closest run since 1960 when Dick Nixon considered shutting down the government for a recount.

Autumn looks to be good business for the Democrats. An underdog winter gave way to a summer slide in poll numbers, but that was history by September 1 when their boy had come from resembling a robot politician to some hipster Gandhi looking to topple all evils. Transformation # 346 has pulled Promise Boy into a statistical dead-heat with Bush careening towards those ugly weeks when his daddy turned a steady 1992 lead into a Clinton ass whupping. And for the first time since John McCain stole New Hampshire, Captain Shoe-In needs to get serious.

At press time, Bush has survived countless months in this process NOT being Al Gore. First he was NOT Bill Clinton, then NOT John McCain, but now NOT being Al Gore isn’t enough. Gore took care of that with a PT Barnumesque extravaganza in Los Angeles, complete with dramatic films, a make-out session with his wife and a line of world-class populist rhetoric aimed at every human sucking air. It was a brilliant slice of bull dung worthy of his predecessor and G.W. has had no answer.

It wasn’t long ago that Bush had Gore on many personal issues from blatantly lying about campaign finance infractions to calling an impeached president the “greatest ever.” Gore pulled out of that donnybrook and started another. He did it to Bill Bradley. He is doing it to Bush.

NOT being Al Gore is no longer working because Gore took himself right out of that equation by drawing issue lines in the sand and painting the Republican Party as corporate-subjugating power mongers. This worked for his buddy, Big Bill in ’95 against the Republican Revolution and has all-but neutered Bush’s clever “Compassionate Conservatism” slogan. Gore has redefined the fight. Now the question is: What is the Bush camp going to do about it?

Bush, a man who has set tones all the way to his own fantasyland convention, has suddenly been left at the corner of morality and integrity with a weak explanation for tax cuts and a wild challenge to restructure every government program since the New Deal. Gore put him there, a place in which he is quite obviously uncomfortable. It wasn’t long ago that Bush had Gore on many personal issues from blatantly lying about campaign finance infractions to calling an impeached president the “greatest ever.” Gore pulled out of that donnybrook and started another. He did it to Bill Bradley. He is doing it to Bush. This is the kind of fight this space has maintained a junkyard dog like McCain would have been effective winning, but popular GOP think tanks of their imbecilic masses put the kibosh on that, so Bush is what they get.

Another key question at the GOP headquarters since New Year’s has been: Can a Golden Boy with an open lane to the White House handle the big hit? McCain derailed that free ride, but when things got tough Bush leaned on the power brokers of the party, as did Gore in his primary battle with Bradley. McCain turned out to be a more difficult fish to fry. Bush was supposedly toughened up by the experience, but not nearly enough to fend off a national collapse in his numbers. Now all there remains is the general voting public and a bloodied Bush doesn’t seem so insulated anymore.

Gore’s comeback is miraculous only when considering Bush’s lack of rebuttal. Gore has been able to effectively sell the idea that he has been part of an administration that deserves to have a second act while outlining a myriad of horribly demented government programs that need rectifying. A man who has been one heart beat from the presidency and the deciding vote in the senate for eight years has ingeniously cornered Bush’s outsider market. Junior has responded to this latest political magic show by smiling like a dipshit and calling a NY Times reporter an asshole.

Don’t be fooled, the Bush people figured on a cushion before the debates. Gore is overrated as a debater, but Bush has problems explaining agenda to reporters. This is why the Bush camp has refused to acquiesce to formal debates where Gore can hammer away at long-form, uninterrupted hyperbole in two-minute increments. In this arena, he will skin Bush alive. Consequently, Bush recently tried to rope Gore into an informal, close nit battle with Tim Russert. This is a fight the Bush people think their man is more likely to win.

Not forgotten in the grand scheme of polls and trends are the bare-bones facts of bagged electoral votes. Each candidate has already a third of them wrapped up by voting history and party prevalence alone. Gore will not lose New York or California and Bush cannot lose Texas or Florida and hope to win. Many of the key battleground states are still vacillating, but the Bush people know full well the states that put Reagan and Bush sr. in the White House, and were wrested away by Clinton in two consecutive elections, are not sweeping to Gore. There has yet to be a poll invented that can figure how Michigan will go.

Labor Day numbers are fickle. In the last week of August 1976, Jimmy Carter was coming off Watergate and the pardoning of Nixon, and lead Gerald Ford by 38 points. With three weeks to go it was 15, then 10 by Halloween. Carter won by a mere 57 electoral votes. In 1992 Ross Perot had thrown the whole thing into a tizzy and Bush sr. was sitting on Pennsylvania Avenue planning his victory gala. He was trounced by 212.

Anything spoken or polled before September in a presidential campaign is bull cookies. This is what the junkies at the office pool over at U.S. News & World Report call “go time.” Gore gets this. Bush needs to.

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